Sunday, March 29, 2009


Three-day-old beddings. Slightly dingy teddy bear. Threadbare Winnie-the-Pooh pillow, already torn at the corners.

Daing na bangus, fried and salty. Cold, juicy tomato wedges. Vinegar and soy sauce mixed in a tiny bowl. Unsweetened pineapple juice.

Pale blue mint toothpaste.

Papaya soap. Apple shampoo. Coconut conditioner.

Lavender baby powder. Floral-scented deodorant. Perfumed body lotion and hair polish.

Sticky-sweet baby cologne.

Remnants of smoke from garbage fires. Exhaust fumes.

The first honest patches of sweat under my armpits, around my breasts, at the small of my back, between my shoulder blades, above the curve of my stomach, on my nape, near my collarbone.

Later in the day a friend tells me, "You still smell the way you used to." Exactly which smell she's referring to, I'm not quite sure.

Note: Finally, I'm beginning to live up to the title of my blog. Today's post is mostly half truths about me ^^ I'm not sure if I made the right decision with first-person POV, but third-person seems a little awkward...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wishful Thinking

Each glance is like a message, given either with careful intent or without a second thought. The lingering of eyes on eyes, the questioning curve of an open mouth, thoughts failing to make the transition into words. There is that brief spark of something - yearning, infatuation, desire, endless dubious possibilities - that struggles against the strictures of circumstance, often only to fail and evaporate.

He's ahead of them, his pace quickened by the power of his calf muscles. Dina, the girl she often talks to in class, is jogging beside her; the semester is almost over, and she's asking for Dina's contact information. Dina smiles as she agrees to give them later. At the sound of the words "phone number" and "email address," he turns to look at them for a few seconds. It's the first time he's ever looked her way during the warm-up jog before class.

Infatuation is a tricky thing: it convinces the stricken that her object of affection is worth the hours of sudden, irrational kilig, of contemplating a dozen possible futures (all of which, in truth, veer very close to impossibility), of agonizing over missed chances. It gives her the impression of reciprocation where, in all likelihood, there is only indifference. It feeds a steadily burning ember of longing that will send forth several little flames, each one more brilliant than the next, before finally collapsing into a small, mixed pile of memories.

On the last day of class her classmates bring out cameras and start snapping away. She poses shyly, a short girl with tanned skin and eyes that are reduced to slits when she smiles. In a few of the photos he's right beside her; she leans a little to her left, and he leans a little to his right. They both smile widely for the cameras.

Opportunities are still opportunities, however. Every awkward conversation, for all its sterility, may yet lead to something more. A friendship? A new love? A fleeting acquaintance, never to be remembered? It is difficult to say, at best. But the admirer continues to have faith in her flighty emotions; she persists, overcoming fears of rejection and humiliation. She grabs whatever awkward moments come her way. After all, there's always that possibility of something more, however small.

They talk of common subjects, teachers, grades. The conversation has more pauses than anything else. When she asks him about whether he likes the same things she does, he says he feels like an interviewee. She takes this as a bad sign - hours later, she'll be sorry she didn't tell him stories about what she likes, instead of just asking him if he has the same interests - but there's still a little room for hope. Even though the class is over, they might be able to talk online; there, behind glowing, impersonal computer screens, they might not be so awkward. If he decides to reply to the cheery messages she plans to send. If she's lucky.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday at the University

This isn't the first time that I didn't go home for the weekend, but this is probably the first Sunday that I walked around a bit and saw how sleepy UP can be. I was on my way to meet one of the graduate students from my thesis lab; I figured I would walk, since I wasn't sure if there were any Ikot jeepneys around. I was already at Molave Residence Hall when an Ikot passed by, empty save for a handful of passengers. It rumbled along at a leisurely pace, unmindful of the conspicuous lack of vehicles on the roads. I suppose neither the driver nor the passengers were in any hurry to get anywhere.

When I reached the road on the right of Engineering I came across rows of cars and SUVs parked beside the sidewalks. The road had temporarily been closed off from the intersection that joined it to the Academic Oval; joggers of all ages clogged the Oval with a continuous flow of human traffic. Many of them ran in groups, chatting amongst themselves as they took advantage of the empty Oval to run outside the bike lane. A man and a woman were playing badminton on the road next to the lagoon. I hunted around for the cyclists who hung out at the food kiosk in front of the Faculty Center; in their helmets and brightly colored tights, they whiz past the joggers on the Oval during the weekdays. They were nowhere to be found.

By the time I had passed the Faculty Center I was feeling a little hungry, but the tiny sidewalk stall of my suki for monay was deserted. The large blue cooler that she kept her bottles of C2 and water in was bound to her wooden table with a rusty chain; the colorful beach umbrella that shaded her from the weather wasn't there. The other food stalls on the street were similarly devoid of their usual occupants. If I wanted to grab a bite to eat I'd have to go all the way back to the Shopping Center, whose eateries are open all seven days of the week. At that moment I marvelled at the many ways in which the UP community catered to one of its basic needs: convenient, cheap food. On a weekday I could have had my pick of fishballs or footlong hotdogs, taho, dirty ice cream or cheesecorn. Or, if I had had a half hour to spare, I could have gone to CASAA or Katag, the canteens nearest to me at the time. (I suppose I should also mention Kenneth's Kitchen, the canteen at NISMED, but I've never eaten there, and I keep forgetting that it's near the Faculty Center. ^^;)

The road to the second Engineering Library's building (also the home of the Department of Computer Science :D) was the emptiest and quietest of all. I could hear the birds and insects in the trees, and the perpetual wheezing of the telephone and electricity cables overhead. I was almost at MSI when I heard the first rumble of an approaching vehicle; it was a half-empty Ikot. The morning sun was beginning to sting my skin. When I got to the waiting shed in front of Science I sat down on the raised concrete, there being no one around to notice. On top of the hill across the road, my department's building stood desolate, like the proverbial haunted building. One of its glass doors was open; there was no sign of the graduate student I was supposed to meet. I pulled out my cellphone, sent her a message and proceeded to wait. A few more Ikots passed, each one slowing down in front of me and honking like a persistent hawker. I ignored them.

It would be several more minutes (or at least, it felt that way) before I heard a familiar voice calling my name across the road. I got up, waved, and hurried to where she was; there was little need for caution, since the road was empty. The sun beat down on us, all vestiges of early morning cold already gone. I felt sleepy and more than a little hungry. I envied one of my roommates, whom I had left sleeping contentedly thirty minutes before. A slow Sunday like this one is just perfect for sleeping in; unfortunately, I had to help one of my thesis lab's advisers with a last-minute errand. Sigh. Oh well.