First attempt at poetry

brought up by nothing

I say nothing

it’s all

one big lie

to me

in the end

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The Agony in my Diary

Today is Holy Thursday. The night when Jesus and his twelve disciples celebrated their last meal together. Breaking bread and wine and sharing it as His own flesh. Before Jesus willingly gives up His own life for the sake of providing us perpetual light, especially to those who follow in His footsteps. Anxious about tomorrow, I try to calm my nerves by writing this down on my real journal.

The skies are pitch black. An incessant downpour, almost everlasting in length, accurately sets the scene for tomorrow morning at work when my managers assign me to any position that isn’t the job that I know best and that is being the dining room attendant of my restaurant. The dining room where I am willing to do menial tasks such as cleaning tables, taking out the trash, and stocking up condiments for seven and a half hours. The reason why I fear such a First World Problem is due to the disastrous run I had last Sunday. Working under the heat lamp section of the kitchen where I served side items and kids meals for the decadent visitors, looking for no sympathy towards my fragile heart, at my resort.

My problem isn’t towards serving the food. That part isn’t hard. It’s actually towards the end of the breakfast rush where I have to undergo through a process of switching the breakfast items to the lunch items. Sounds easy enough, but every time my restaurant switches to the lunch hour I am required to complicate a simple task of disposing the morning lefovers. Considering that I have not worked in such a position for two months, the transfer was disastrous. And as weak willed as I am, I fear that I will undertake the same responsibilities tomorrow morning and each day until Easter. Perfectly explaining the chaos Jesus went through when he was in the tomb for three days.

I can’t help it. I only work weekends and ninety five percent of my workload is either by bringing food to the guests or taking out the trash. Whenever I have that brief surprise of working in the back of the kitchen, usually I end up lost and confused, resorting asking constant questions to the preoccupied chefs and slowing down the kitchen in the process. The people in the back mostly consist of Hatians who, in contrast with my laid back Americanized attuitude, are direct with what they want. If I show any hesitation with my decisions, they will call me out and lecture me. Demanding to know why that despite working there for six months, I still do not know how to do my job correctly.

There are two solutions: either I do it or ask a manager to exchange my shift with someone who knows the job better than I do. Because I’m too scared to have my “fellow” co-workers berating my work style. The job isn’t hard. Really. But anything other than being in front of the counter is my weak spot.

I love working in the dining room for several reasons: I walk around the restaurant in order to pass the time to see if the condiments to be restocked, tables need to be cleaned, and if the floors need to be sweeped up. I also love interacting with the customers. Asking them on what attractions they’ve visited and their impressions towards the resort. Thankfully I have never encountered a guest that was despondent towards my presence. Each converstaion I have is brought up with the intention of brightening up their day. One co-worker mentioned that I should work in entertainment because I find joy when I chat with the guests instead of preparing their food. I should probably do that when the time comes.

Most of all, because of the laid back environment and doing work that doesn’t feel like work, I end up having a fun day whenever I am assigned to those two.

Anything goes, but lately I’ve been a bit superstitious. Feeling no uplifting connection between Reason and Science but instead with Religion and Scripture. The latter two never make a good combination as I tend to have a pessimistic attitude whenever I use wishful thinking instead of critical thinking.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, where the son Himself goes through the process of purging our sins by passively recieving each deep laceration given by the Romans. Waking up before the sun rises to work and sweat under the clamoring of the strict, middle aged Hatians and groggy eyed families looking to gain some energy for visiting the parks. The families, who will later on have all smiles with their family on the hour Jesus looked up while hanging on the cross and closing his eyes.

I suspect that if I am assigned to work behind the counter tomorrow where I will have my share of the graceful suffering experienced by my Saviour. Willing to take up the pain due to the simple fact that it’s my duty to do so and I’m getting money in the process.

But as I mention above, anything goes. I have nothing to do but either mentally prepare myself for the day ahead of me. Tomorrow, may the Lord help me, because I know that I can’t help myself.

Why This Filipino Doesn’t Sing (until recently)

There is a special place in hell reserved for the inventor of karaoke machines which, after each song, grades your singing ability based on your performance.

Let me start off with a stereotype: Filipinos are known for being great singers. My mother, bless her heart, spends her nights and weekends reminiscing about her home country by clicking through YouTube video after YouTube video of of entertainment news reports, audition videos, T.V. Shows, and the occasional collage of a Philippine Celebrity such as the Current Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. Usually, I am guilty of delving into a few guilty pleasures of my own such as reading the blog posts of Australian fashion mogul Margaret Zhang (even though I have no interest in fashion) and the past articles of the late wordsmith/polemicist Christopher Hitchens (despite having opposing viewpoints towards religion).

A few months ago, Fourth Power, the vocal quartet that had made grounds on The X-Factor (U.K. edition), was on her radar. With each video showing their rise to the top on the program that helped create One Direction, it seemed like a good time to be a Filipino. Like many Filipinos, the allure of these four born and bred in the outskirts of Manila hitting it big in the world would make one proud of their country. Pride is a sin, but for the sake of a country that is not known for producing superstars, it’s nice to delve inside the feeling for some time.

I tend to see myself as a complicated individual who resorts to listening to the moody sounds of Sufjan Stevens and The Camerawalls as they tend to emphasize emotion through musicality instead of how high a vocalist can hit the high note. In terms of my musical tastes, I am a hipster. The only thing that is missing from my bag is plaid shirts, baggy shoes, a kale diet, and embracing chaos. But hipsterdom shouldn’t be the main motivator on I tend to stray away on a creative pastime.

It all started when I was the sixth grade. To bring spice to our sporadically vibrant household, with the occasional sound of Sharon Cuneta or Eraserheads blaring from the stereo, a karaoke machine was purchased. Normally such a purchase was meant to entertain the middle aged, hyper-conservative parents of the English-speaking Filipinos by singing pop songs both new and old, in English or in Tagalog, as the main event for a house party. But for my family, singing is not just a passion, it’s a way of life and given the opportunity to exercise their vocal chords, they sing their heart out. My brother was involved with the school choir throughout his school years and my parents were the lead performers for their prayer group. However, of course, I had to be the different one. The outlier, the Black Sheep. I wasn’t keen towards singing or any type of music that tends to glorify the singer.

I pressed 216 on the microphone’s keypad and the song “ABC” from the Jackson 5 was selected. Blaring out the cheap MIDI files commonly associated with karaoke hits, I began singing along with the words. Gracing the lyrics, I channeled my inner Michael Jackson on the microphone. I felt powerful and music was at the helm of my shoulders as I hit the high notes and the low notes. Even the break where Jackson scats out was performed I was lost and unsure on how to blurt out random phrases to an imaginary audience. An audience who, real or not, would present me an after show present of a bouquet of roses, a straight jacket and a limo to the nearest psychiatric ward.

The song ends and the verdict comes up:

Without an applause or an upbeat melody. I sat in silence as the bold numbers flashed on the screen for five seconds. Five long seconds as I sat on the couch, coming to terms with the harsh truth that I was not good at singing.

I was bad.

Needless to say, I typed in 216 again and replayed the song. This time, I would try ten times as hard than the last one. The first attempt was simply a warm up and on this second try I was going to do far better.

This time, I transferred my whole heart onto the microphone, straining my vocal chords to hit the high notes. Feeling the rhythm pounding on my heart, once again I channeled my inner Michael Jackson on the MIDI background. My mother, listening in the sidelines, remained silent throughout. I was determined to get a better score so I could finally be placed alongside the legion of the amateur vocalists. One step closer to my family accepting me as one of them.

The songs ends and the score finally pops up. No applause was heard and no music played in the background. My efforts were left in vain.

A 68 graced its message all over my eyes, killing my self confidence towards singing and a growing disdain for the art or any song or musical that emphasized the use of vocals instead of using actual instruments. It was the first step onto becoming a vastly different family member. One that would spend a Filipino house party wandering around the house instead of conversing with like minded individuals, causing concern towards my parents.

Soon my insecurities arose whenever my family recited their lyrical poems. I became the bad son and my family grew to despise my very existence due to my antagonizing responses whenever the urge to break into song and dance came into their mind. When their part for “Real Life: The Musical” was performed, I usually covered my ears or ran out of the room to prevent my mind from going dark. There was a time when the muffled echo of my brother’s soprano voice, practicing his part for the choir, was met with my body flailing around my room, pounding the carpet in hopes that the singing would stop. When my brother finally came into my room to see what the banging was about, he was met with his sibling on the floor, huddled in the fetal position. It was the only moment when such an exchange was met with no friction between us brothers. The same couldn’t be said for the other times.

My relationship towards my older brother gradually diminished into a flattened pancake, produced by the steel toed boot of a brother’s hellish fiery fury unleashing upon me whenever I covered my ears for safety. My father had a similar reaction. Seething with anger, instead my father gave me advice on how to calm down whenever any of my family members started expressing their feelings through music. I wasn’t getting better, and such heated exchanges ultimately led me towards a year long slump towards our relationship. For one full year, after a fateful sixteenth birthday which was ruined from his anger and my reluctance to accept my faulty singing, I had an intense disliking towards my older sibling.

God couldn’t save me either. The act of singing is encouraged in church where a simple song rendition can lift up a prayer into a grandeur spectacle of praise. Oftentimes, I was pressured by my own family to start singing in order to please El Papa but I tended to stick with my values once they’ve been established. So I remained quiet, absorbing the positive energy exemplified by the faithful. I hope that I don’t go to hell because of my reluctance to perform in public.

As the years progressed, I started to grow up by reconciling with my family towards my disdain for their passion. Heck, I started singing along to my favorite songs (in private of course). In 2012 I discovered The Smiths and Morrissey’s yodel like vocals, where I would spend time in my room placing my hands upon my temples and gliding around the room. Occasionally, my parents would overhear my singing and would compliment my skills. I gradually regained my self confidence towards my works. Ultimately, inflating my massive ego towards an poppable bubble.

It was enough to consider joining my high school choir a mere four months before graduating. I remember the faces of both the mega star choir teacher and my guidance counselor when I expressed my interest in singing halfway through the year when people were preparing to go into the real world. Everyone that I’ve talked to concerning my decision, including the choir teacher who was dumbfounded to even hear such a question, encouraged me to follow through. However, my guidance counselor stopped me on my tracks with a simple word: no. To this day, I still cringe whenever the memory flashes in my brain.

It wasn’t until the term “The haters only hate because they’re insecure of their own lives” became relevant. Normally, I would agree with such prose due to the confidence needed to continue under the face of ridicule, but then I remembered thinking about singing and receiving those two low scores. Once I put the pieces together, the puzzle solved itself.

I began to start the processes of forgiveness towards myself and to everyone around who has been hurt by my disrespectful nature. I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that my family loves to sing and the majority of songs and artists that I love exemplify their self confidence by writing out lyrics and singing into a musical backdrop to express their feelings to an unseen force of listeners. I’m even starting to sing a bit, with the occasional sing along in my car to Shark?’s “California Grrls” or MUTEMATH’s “Chaos”. But despite forgiving my tresspasses against my family, karaoke bars are still out.

First post and telling my old self to shut up

“Why am I doing this?” I ask myself when I sit alone in my desk. Classical music blares out of my speakers from the Windows 10 TuneIn app as I try to copy the writing habits of my favorite authors. I realize that I have a test next Monday for my Differential Equations course and I’m using my spare time needed to study to write this post. It’s not a good way to start off my academic career but forget about it. Tonight, I am Charles Bukowski gathering thoughts of lost loves and destructive behaviors and transferring them to the word processor. So far, judging on past works, I don’t sound like a writer who suffers from alcoholism and chronic introversion but as a dateless virgin who spends his nonrefundable minutes on Earth watching YouTube videos. After writing in a number of personal journals, or as they’re called “diaries” for everyone else, I think I’m ready to start a blog where my thoughts, biased and ignorant as they may be, can be seen and shared to anyone in the world.

Insecure thoughts continue to hinder my writing. Demons surely do exist, and they have evolved from the freak acts of nature and the evil misdemeanors of humans to the small confines of my brain. Their newest method of temptations are gradually taking control my energy to continue writing. The idea of quitting leave me desperate and towards an agnostic’s plea for God. If I submit to their taunts, by closing this page and continuing on my life, then they have won.

This blog is a gateway from removing my past self into a new form of man. The man I am talking about is the man which I want to become. The details are too hazy and they are too personal to discuss, especially for a post meant to serve as a first impression. But let’s just say that there comes a certain time in my life when I have to abandon the life I once had before the feeling continues to hold me down rather than maintaining its sense of self satisfaction needed to continue. Writing has never been my closest ally as standardized test scores have constantly proved that I’m naturally better at math instead of writing. Regardless, I’ve expressed an interest to write for quite a while. After years of diving in towards other art forms such as photography and film making, which I continue as a hobby instead of a potential career, that I might as well learn how to write and learn how to write well.

I don’t know what this blog will consist of. It may contain movie reviews, exhibitions of my own works, my own personal opinions concerning the big questions, or just random ramblings as I’m too shy to give it to a regular human being. But they will be focused on one goal: practice. I don’t know if I want to become a writer but I certainly want to be good at writing. Especially towards prose and the constraints of these poorly composed essays. I may even do the dirty work and post an entry per day. It’s going to be quite pointless, but I don’t mind writing out words with the intention of improving with any reader acting as my intellectual guinea pig

Admittedly, I showcase the two naughty no no’s of composition with a sloppy form of writing and a failure to provide additional details for each point that I make. I get too caught up in the moment of writing with my heart that I fail to reword with my head, a lesson that I’ve taken from one of my favorite movies “Finding Forrester.”  But maybe I’m not writing essays in order to prove a point, but instead I want to write out simple thoughts and words out on paper as an outlet. Similar to (yes I’m using him example yet again) Charles Bukowski and his hero, John Fante. Where each book brought out by these two are examples of how to write with an emotional and impassioned form of style. When reading their words, I was blown away on each hard boiled sentence that punched out from the page and slap me in the face, each word giving me a boost of energy needed to continue. Rumor has it that such writers such as these two are often mimicked with aspiring writers (I have been guilty of this distinction, I wasn’t as good as a writer to begin with.)

But the lesson learned here is that the form of style I often see with these two is enough to keep the reader entertained but if will need a certain lesson needed to be made through. I hope that I can continue until I can write without any sense of pretentiousness coming from this post. I can’t please everyone, but I hope I can please the few who.

So that’s my brief and somewhat confusing introduction to who I am and what I wish to accomplish with this first post. And what I want to accomplish with this blog is…I don’t really know. Maybe when I start writing often, I’ll gradually form the basis of what’s best for the blog. Other than that, bear with me. I’m a mere beginner at the writer’s circle and I feel like I don’t belong here.