Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Horoscope Hoax

It all began with the summer solstice. I was born in the daylight of June 21, the day the sun ruled the sky for the longest time. I grew up in the belief that my birthdate falls under the House of Gemini. I read the papers and I found my birthdate marking the posterior limits of Gemini. The day immediately after that, it was the turn of Cancer, the crab, to rule the sky.

When I have read enough papers, I was startled one day to find out that my birthdate has fallen under Cancer and that the day before that marked the end of Gemini. The summer solstice, this time, turned out to mark the ascension of the crab. I was positively mirthed and convinced that such was simply an error on the side of the newspapers, probably the typesetters, not that I had any idea of what typesetters really are back then. True enough and as I had expected, a year later, I believed the newspaper had admitted their error and reassigned my day under Gemini.

However, as I came across other circulation materials and, with the discovery of the Internet, web pages, I found varying limits on the twelve houses of the Celestial Zodiac. Some ended and started the reign of a sign with the dates 21 & 22, respectively. Others used 22 & 23, 20 & 21, and even as far as 19 & 20 or 23 & 24. While this would normally not pose a problem, it is quite a conundrum to people born on those dates.

So many people take their Celestial Zodiac signs for granted. "Who, me? I'm a Virgo." "Oh, I'm a Libra." "Hi, I'm a Leo. Rrrr." Meanwhile, people born on those boundary days get asked, "So, what's your sign?" and those who are aware of it would often stammer, "I'm Gemini-Cancer," or "I think I'm either Libra or Scorpio." Other people who don't know any better would simply answer off the top of their heads, "I'm a Pisces," only to be met with a hard rebuttal along the lines of, "Weren't you born on March 22? You're an Aries," or worse, "No. You're wrong. You're an Aries."

At first, I attributed such abberations on the 21st day of the month. After all, I knew that the soltices and equinoxes, also known as the Four Lesser Sabbats, fall on the 21st day of their respective months. It is not too illogical to assume that the Zodiac has been mindlessly set with these dates defining a quarter of a year. They probably chopped each quarter into convenient bite-sized months 'coz having just four signs of the zodiac was simply too boring. Then, when they were done slicing time, they looked up into the sky during each division and said, "You know, Moe, that group of stars sure look like the number sixty-nine." "Really now, Larry? I think those stars look more like a couple in the sixty-nine position." "That's odd," someone named Curly would probably say. "I thought I saw two fishes." Voila! The constellation of Pisces was assigned to the group of unfortunate, ambiguous stars.

Eventually, people began asking, "So when does the Celestial sign of Pisces rule?" and these would simply answer, "Oh, from February 21 to March 21." And Aries? "Oh from March 21 to April 21." Now, different people, occultists and astrologers alike, began making their own convenient zodiac mechanisms just so a person doesn't get two Zodiac signs while others have only one. It is, after all, not healthy to be greedy.

Of course, such a trifle tale did not, by any means, diminish my frustration everytime someone asks, "Eh? How is it possible for you to have two star-signs?" When I stepped into college, I had access, with the help of the University's libraries, to a wider range of reading materials compared to the limited, " systematized and orderly" knowledge stored in the high school library. Unlike the time I was enrolled in the Catholic high school, I now had access to books that could very well be considered heretic, paranormal or just plain weird. From these books, I was enlightened that a person's celestial zodiac is not really determined by dates or such, rather, it is defined by the constellation, or house, if you will, the sun is in at the time of birth.

Things began to get dull for a while for, with no means to travel back in time just to observe the skies at the moment of my birth, I had given up and was generally content in lording over people the fact that I did have two star-signs. I could never be sure which one I belonged to. When GoogleEarth was released, I could remember sighing, "Oh! That's pretty handy. Now if only they also had GoogleSky..."

I didn't get GoogleSky, which is probably a good thing because the name sounds so atrocious, in my humbled opinion, but I did find out that an encyclopedia software we've had for years now also carried numerous additional interactive features. Among these was a sky map, which, as you can probably infer from the name, maps the skies and the celestial bodies contained within it. Furthermore, it also had options to views the sky from different parts of the world and from different points in time. This is the starfield simulator I have long been looking for!

Great was my disappointement when I adjusted the starfield date and time to that of my birth, only to discover the sun in Taurus, approaching Gemini. I shrugged my shoulders and assumed it was an error on the part of the computer, considering the fact that simulations have limits too and I probably happened to push beyond it by giving a date twenty years back. I tried simulating the sky at the present year giving the same date and much was my chagrin to discover the same shit. I simply heaved a sigh back then and, assuming the zodiac was just a bit out of alignment, I'm probably Gemini.

This morning, I came upon another book on Astrology, one of my least-favored topics when it comes to the paranormal. Halfway through an hour of yawning and stifling yawns, I came across an interesting tidbit, "Celestial signs generally shift about one degree everyday." It sure did make sense, after all, I have been acquainted with the fact that the moon gets delayed about eight minutes everyday. "The celestial zodiac itself shifts by one degree every 72 years." Big deal, so the sky was not as static as we once thought. I think Galileo already proved that. "The earliest horoscopes were in existence as far back as 114 B.C."

Let's see, it's been 2000 years since some guy named Christ was born, the time indicated was at least a hundred years back. That gives at least 2100 years between today and the earliest definition of a horoscope. Dividing that figure by 70 years, for easier computation, and we come up with a deviation of at least 30 degrees. Fact: each house of the Zodiac occupies a 30-degree arc of the celestial sphere about the equator. In other words, the Zodiac back then has been moved up by one house! (and a fraction of it). Thus, it should have been nowhere near surprising to find my sun on Taurus, nearing the border between that and Gemini.

Then again, I could be very well wrong to believe a starfield simulator. What better way to verify such abberations than to look up at the sky at midnight? If all goes well, I should be seeing, directly above me, the constellation of Aquarius; the sun has been in Leo for quite some time now. Unfortunately, the hypothetical midnight anti-sun has just recently left Sagittarius and entered Capricorn. The sun is crossing the stars of Taurus only in the time defined for Gemini.

Of course! It does makes sense. It is perfectly reasonable and does not really defy the law of physics in a most spectacular manner. What is surprising, though, is the fact that we are still using the aged system! We often hear from "expert" and "certified" astrologers especially during auspicious dates like the Gregorian and Oriental New Year. We are acquainted with fortunetellers diving the future of "Capricorn" or "Aquarius" with as much air of authority as the dirtiest gasbag in the government. We sometimes read our horoscopes saying, "Today is your lucky day!", "Your lucky numbers are..." and the worst "Your lucky color for the day/week/month is..." Do these guys actually look at the sky? Or do they simply use aged models that say, "Oh, by this date, the sign of Leo will probably be here and Aquarius, over there."

We've been fooled, ladies and gentlemen. I could only wonder now why nobody has ever called attention to this before? Seriously still, I am irked by the possible answer to the question, "Do these astrologers really look at the stars?" I was about to add "...or is the glitter of being paid or captured on TV just so overwhelming?" but that would simply be too much.

Oh well, at least I can shrug my shoulders in apathy now. My innate distrust of astrology has not been in vain.

Time given, time taken,
time present and time past,
time delayed and time stolen;
space collapsed really fast.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Empty my Coffers. Rock my World. Feed my Maw. Fuck me. Fly.

What would a fellow have to give
that this hour would ne'er depart?
What, too, is one to bribe
to the fellows who have seen my heart?

Reading has been a very valuable skill to me, as it has enabled me to navigate the world in a relatively safer way compared to one who knows as much as I do with the exception of the aforementioned skill. It has granted me the power of distinguishing whether a flask of spirits contained the most wholesome liquor or the most noxious poison. Knowledge I have gathered this way has given me the pleasure of directing mortals to drink such liquid, lulling them into a sleep I am quite aware they so direly need.

There are, however, limits to the readily apparent omniscience offered by acquiring such a skill. For one, navigating the streets of an unknown place, while reading street signs, building signs and other signs attached to public structures and transport crafts, it is most severely affected by factors that ruin visibility such as fog, rain, sun and strato-cumulus, among others. Even shrugging off these manifestations of the Earth Mother's might, we, humans, have also introduced smoke, smog, posts, other buildings and even ourselves into the system, obscuring other people's sight of a particular sign, which, for all we know, may or may not be vital. Grant me the audacity to also point out the genetic factors, such as having two parents in need of viewing spectacles that it is naught more than a given fact that we, their progeny, would be wearing glasses or an assortment of lenses as well.

Still, reading was of great use to me at night when, after my daily excercises, I am still too hyper to fall asleep. Sometimes as powerful as some nightcaps I have imbibed, reading a novel, no matter how explosive and interesting, would, after sufficient time, lull me into a repose, likewise explosive and interesting.

I once have been thrust into the unknown world of Makati City; were it not for my reading skill, I should have been utterly lost in an ocean of particles wearing coats, jackets or wielding umbrellas. Still, as it turned out, I have hailed the wrong bus, got off at the wrong stop, walked to the wrong rendezvous, wandered about the wrong area and almost stepped into the wrong building. None of those mistakes could have been averted simply by reading stuff one sees about one's self. After all, a good sense of direction and forehand knowledge of the area might have helped me more in my predicament.

Not knowing any better, I had agreed to be at rendezvous an hour after my last class. The day was quite gray, dismal and rainy. Allow me to digress and share the dream that coursed through my neurons when the clock struck midnight and started that particular day. I dreamt of two people who were not the least bit close to me back in high school. These two were of almost no significance to me other than the fact that they managed to appear in my subconscious on the day of a very interesting event in my life.

Sure, these two were very attractive persons and the innocent and gullible part of me that believed in destiny foolishly hazarded the notion that an acquaintance from back then would make its way into my life. A girl, a boy, my best friend, the fag hag, a vicious social shark, a loud printer, an undead friend, a mystic witch, perhaps, or her loyal satellite? These people, and then some, were key to the development of certain parts of my life, molding some of my personality or shaping my, raw, and pliant, philosophy; surely, if anyone from back then turns up that day, it'd be them, right?

However, none of the sort turned up and on that bleak, misty morning, who should I find but, not too surprisingly, another neutral acquaintance, for whom I have not felt any strong feelings. Of course, the usual forced pleasantries were blurted out until the topic of the makeshift conversation eventually drifted into the subject of graduation. As it is, I have had a hard time trying to explain that I have had certain "academic difficulties", the euphemism I constantly use. He, however, was either quite perceptive, quite prejudicial or quite lucky with his guesses that he had hit upon the truth frighteningly almost immediately. It was, what I'd probably look back on in my future life, as a cosmic slap of galactic proportions. I tried my best to curtly dismiss such faux pas and move on to a much more refreshing topic: nothing.

Still, the impact of that comment echoed far into the day and, later in the afternoon, lost in a flurry of wild and colorful images so vivid yet so detached, I found myself asking myself whether I'm making another mistake in my life, right before I succumbed to an explosive moment of blasted fulmination. As of the moment I'm writing this, the sonic boom generated by that slap still reverberates quite intensely within my skull.

Of course, I have realized, just a few months back, how young, how foolish and how selfish I have been. This morning, another slap was directed to my other cheek as I lost a petty competition to a bunch of strangers. A day gone wrong, I shall spare thee the gruesomely boring details but for the fact that I just realized, at the moment, that my approach to life has been the fuck-you-jump-in-head-first-talk-later methodology. Coupled with innate habit of lying, I can say that it has gotten me so far but, believe me, wherever that so far may be, it's not a nice place at all.

Talking of places, I have, two days ago, had renewed the boyish thrill of riding a train. The last time I rode one was when I was four or five and had to take my shots someplace far. That day, I have had the pleasure of looking down on motorists stuck in traffic and, had I been unseen by anyone, I'd probably have laughed in such a demonic manner over such sheer joy of finally defeating the transport system that had once held me in its grip for two long hours. My initial apprehensions of getting off at the wrong station were dissolved when I noticed that each station has its name printed in large, bold letters quite improbable for anyone literate to miss.

Still, like I said earlier, reading is not everything. So is a knowledge of trivial facts. I have long been gloatful of things that are so overrated, even though they hardly count solely in determining a person's substance. Virginity is overrated, it does not immediately equate to fortitude or chastity. Memory is also overrated, it does not mean wisdom or intelligence. Skillful subterfuge is simply the inability to deal with the truth. Paranoia and self-consciousness are just manifestations of the lack of capacity to stare at life in the face and say, "Fuck you."

In a world where I would have liked to remain apathetic, I was thrust quite low I almost have grazed the ground; such a feat makes apathy almost impossible, no matter how much I would have liked to. This afternoon, I saw the indignant mage of shock, a friend of mine, with a partner. While I, of course, could not help but notice the outward shell, I was severly wounded by the sharp sting of jealousy in seeing him with someone else that cares deeply for him. Be not mistaken, I have no strong feelings for him but envy; where before, I would have said, "Oh those grapes were sour anyway," I found myself looking on as other foxes leap higher and sigh, "Oh how luscious those grapes are, lucky are everyone else in that they can leap high enough to reach them."

To anyone who might have made the error of reading this in the first place, I could offer nothing more than the apology for writing something while under the influence of a nightcap. However, I would also like to offer the advice to not follow my example. Be not too emotional; be not too apathetic either. Keep lying to a minimum but be not too stupidly honest, either. Life is short, do what you can, what you want and what you must. Deprive yourself not for the sake of keeping a false front because in a short span of time, such would hardly matter. Gamble not with something you don't have, spend not riches you have yet to acquire and count not your eggs before all have broken. Be not too arrogant and slyly put on a shy mask for whistling as though nothing had happened would not change the fact that something has. As Mr. Micawber, an acquaintance of Charles Dicken's David Copperfield once said, "Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!"

So yeah, there you have it guys. I've been bitch-slapped by life a lot of times, but I do remember three megaton bashes. I would love to turn back the hands of time but, as it is, I can hardly do anything 'bout it except to live through it. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to walk into people's lives. Would I find out anything that I could have used to better my own?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

First Day Fever

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub
and who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,
and all of them, gone to sea.

Storm, yes, very rainy. Downpour. Cold aches. Head night. Hurts? Not much, initially. Good, great. Dinner, yes, please. Dizzy. Thoughts very much. Dizzy? No, very much something. Fragmented? Yes, very much. You? Likewise. First? Yeah. Really. First ever. This is crazy. Dizzy, yes. A lot.

Rain, washy. Wet. Of course, it is. Cold, freezing. Fever? Slight. Bus, frigid. Wavy, bumpy. Bus? No, road. Dirty? It's fine. Just dizzy. No, bumpy. Bumpy. Wavy. Cold and frosty. Misting? Not yet. Sounds colorful. Not music. Noise. Very random. Not radio. TV. Vibrant. Colorful noise. Head aches. Dinner, good. Not cold, thank heavens. Chicken. Salty but tasty, nonetheless.

Paracetamol? Good. Dessert. Why? Hate pharmaceutics, yes? Usually. Not now, head aches, something hurts. Slight fever, probably coming. Must build resistance. Meningo-something virus. Someone died. News. Night before last. Very random. Must build resistance. Danger? Maybe. Hope not.

Very colorful, whilrwind. Dirty? Hope not. Dunno. Proud? No. Not proud. Not ashamed, either. Horrible? Atrocious? Hell no. Good. Great. Warm. Dizzy. Impulse? Doubt it. A lot. Very random. Dunno. How great? Glorious? Not really. No bells. No singing angels. Stupid angels. Curses. No stars. No sparks behind my eyes. Fireworks. No, none, haha. Spectacular, no. Good, hell yeah. Great, yeah. Okay. Alright. Fine.

Euphoria? Dunno. Probably still not. Maybe exact opposite; empty glasses. Empty mugs, despair. Gone. Empty glasses, gone. Opposite? Yeah. Not gone. Here. Warm. Great. Alive. Once dead? No, just numb. Good, nonetheless.

Regrets? Oh, very far. Three hour trip. No regrets, for now. Who knows? Time changes. People change. Very different from before. Three years. Strange. Unique. How about pain? Hurts a lot. Very much. Three hours after. During sleep. Cold night, dizzy head. Sharp pain. Biting towel. All night. Soft. Fluffy. Yellow. I hate yellow. It hurts. Can't be choosy. Soft. Fluffy. Warm. Clean.

Lovely. Unique. Detached but alive. Motion. Movement. I guess.

Insecurities? Still many. One less. Thank the Fates.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Chasing Butterfly Dreams

Dispel my great anxiety
and allay my untold fears.
Undermine the enormity
of troubled, unshed tears.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us have yet another moment of silence to send up a message to the omnipotent being(s) of our individual beliefs, that the death of yet another mother may not be in vain.

One week ago, I was in a nervous wreck for I had to demonstrate the prototype version of an inventory management system to a group of people who were, to the best of my knowledge, total strangers to me, save for the fact that they know I was their nephew's friends and that I know they are my friend's aunt and uncle. These two people brought along with them an aging lady who introduced herself to me as the primary user of the system.

Though I managed to hold up a facade of jovial personality and expressively colorful attitude, inside I was trembling and nervous, in fear that they might say something along the lines of, "Mr. ____, your prototype is very lovely but I'm afraid it does not meet the purposes and/or designs we have in mind," or the more blunt, "What the #3|| is this $#!+?"

My fears proved to be an exaggeration for the meeting did not prove to be the vivid horrifying ordeal my lively imagination has conjured for me, although there still is the tinge of anxiety a producer feels, held in doubt whether one's customers are satisfied with the product or not. Additional comfort came in the form of the touchy-feelly cheesy-squeezy gestures of the aging woman.

Still, my sorcerous alter-ego did not fail in remarking to me that the female half of the population, in general are so presumptuous. They would put their hands on top of a guy's thigh, wrap an arm about a guy's waist or squeeze a guy's upper arms with a playful hug, assuming such actions are acceptable for the receiving parties. Meanwhile, if we do that to them, we'd either be labelled as perverts or misinterpreted as flirting. If we did that to one another, we'd be called gay, queer, or worse, faggots.

The world really seemed to be unfair. In an online forum, a guy once remarked that when his sister caught him "playing with himself" she screeched "Pervert!" However, when he did catch her, a week later, doing, more or less, the same thing, she was just as quick in covering herself up and screeching, "Pervert!"

Three days ago, I came upon a butterfly that had made the mistake of entering our house. Truth be told, I thought it was a moth because its wings were spread out instead of folded in, like most butterflies do. Its wings were black, spotted with white and it had a singular speck of red at the bottom of each lower wing. Like I often do with water beetles, grasshoppers, mantises, snakes, cats, frogs, toads, other butterflies and most of the other wild creatures that happen to make the mistake of entering our human abode, I gently took it in my hands and let it fly outside.

No, I don't take snakes in my bare hands, I lure them into a jar before setting them free outside. I don't pick up clawing cats, slimy frogs or warty toads either, I gently shoo them out of the house by stomping my feet and making violent motions. I handle only insects, with the exception of rare cockroaches; these creatures make it out of the house in a number of pieces.

See, when dealing with roaches, just stomping on them is not enough, you have to grind your footwear back and forth to tear them up into pieces. Cockroaches' brains are spread throughout their body, like most insects do; decapitated roaches often tend to run around blindly for two weeks before dropping dead from exhaustion or dehydration. Yes, their rich, white, gooey fat can sustain them that long.

In getting insects out of the house, my unknowing human brother would use liberal fumes of insect repellent, like he did with a poor butterfly just five days ago, until I rescued the poor creature and brought it to freedom. My evil sister, on the other hand, would shoo these insects away, with the exception of water beetles; these she would literally kick out of the house, knowing thay have a hard carapace anyway.

Anyway, this butterfly I recently set free did not fly away as I had expected. Instead, it clung on even as I was gently blowing it away. In the end, I had to settle with leaving it on a leaf of an orchid, hoping it would fly away to some better place after it had rested.

The next day, as I was practicing the routine spell of hastening the process of entropy on a pile of garbage, I espied the same butterfly again, in quite a dangerous proximity to the, now burning, pile. I gently took it upon my hands again and, as though recognizing the unique taste of my fingers, my touch, the scent of my hand, or my unique set of fingerprints, it willingly crawled into my palm. To someone like me, it was a moment best described by, "Awww."

I ascended the stairs to our terraces and placed it on a group of flowers by the plantbox. I surmised that the poor creature might be starving and, with the lack of blooming flowers in our backyard, assumed that it had not the strength to fly. By putting it on top of the flowers, I hoped, if it was, indeed, a butterfly, that she would at least manage to feed herself. Later in the cloudy day, I also had the foolish thought that the creature might be solar-powered, not quite unlike some species of lizards, snakes and geckos that bask in the sun.

Yesterday morning, before I departed, I check up on the flowers only to find the butterfly still there. Inspecting much closer, I could see its proboscis but it doesn't seem to be interested in eating. Working on the assumption that the flowers were completely devoid of nectar, no thanks to the minute, ant population thriving in our plantbox, I got a teaspoon of honey from the fridge, warmed it to room temperature and tried drip-feeding the poor creature. There still was no response from it except for the shifting of its crawling limbs; I had noticed it tried its best to remain in an upright position.

Thinking that, perhaps, a gigantic teaspoon is not exactly the best feeding implement for a small creature, I settled for dousing the open flowers with the sweet mixture. I replaced the creature upon this arrangement and left for my engagement, hoping that it would eat, bask in the sun and fly. Heck, I even talked to it, gesturing to other houses in our neighborhood with gardens of blooming yellow flowers; yes, I did feel silly later on, not that it matter much, anyway.

That day, I once again met with the aging woman to receive some sample of forms such as invoices and delivery receipts. Once again, my "good boy" facade earned me the torture of squeezy hugs; even her husband, who was there, seemed amused by his wife's antics.

On my return, that afternoon, I found it dead. The butterfly was a female, if sex does exist in these flying arthropods. It was pregnant and numerous yellowish eggs were bursting out of its lower body. It was at that moment that I realized that this mother has given her life for her children. Not wishing this sacrifice be in vain, I lifted the corpse, carrying the eggs stuck to it, and placed it near some weeds. Even to the dead, flowers of consolation are of no use, but the lush foliage of the weeds would be invaluable to the progeny awaiting life's awakening touch.

It was probably a butterfly and it probably had not enough strength to keep its wings up. Due to gravity, the weight of her wings pulled them down into a spread-out position.

Later, that night, I came across the thought that the reason behind that aging woman's presumptuos gestures was a child she never had. Maybe her baby was stillborn, or died some time later. Maybe her children didn't grow up to be the respectable citizen my facade supposedly represented. I shrugged, turned over and continued to sleep. She, too, may have been a child of the beloved Earth Mother but she is human; in my opinion, there are too much of our species inhabiting this planet.

The only thing I can hope for now is that my treatment did not hasten the poor butterfly's death.

For the orphans she had left behind, I beseech thee, dear reader, once more to lift your hands in prayer to the gods of your respective beliefs.

Though your light will not be mine
nor your warmth be my shelter,
just tell me everything is fine.
Just tell me I am stronger.