Saturday, December 23, 2006

On Assumptions, for Lack of a Flashier Title

"You can't judge my brother because he's not a book."

-Melanie Marquez

Outside any religious belief, what is an assumption?

My attention-deficit hyperactive disordered "pious" classmate has made the error of raising his hand to the question posed by our high school chemistry teacher. As expected, he expounded on the spectacular event where the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. As expected too, our teacher, along with several other students, rolled their eyes. Like a teacher speaking to a mentally backward trilobyte having difficulties understanding what she is saying, she repeated the "outside any religious belief" clause. My classmate had the audacity to dispute that the assumption of Mary, who, for all I know, may or may not be blessed and may or may not be Virgin, is not a mere religious belief but a historical fact.

Suffice to say that this pleasant story ended with a chemistry teacher raising her voice and, contrary to a lot of clichè cheesy movies, the holy and divine forces of good beaten back by the evil of a strong science teacher.

An assumption, according to a handy black dictionary I have, which could well be mistaken for a cultist's handbook, is something taken for granted or supposed to be correct. For example, "I'm working on the assumption that all blondes are stupid," means pretty much the same as, "I believe my existence is heavily dependent on the stupidity of the blondes, therefore I exist."

Of course, a lot of assumptions are completely wrong. A very close friend of mine quite surprisingly and most appallingly assumed that all geeks are technophillic elven trekkies cursed with an eldritch lingua obscura spell, which is the reason why people rarely understand them. While I do agree that geeks are, in general, sometimes difficult to understand, not all of us are fans of Tolkien's LOTR or the Star Trek Series. I, myself, do like Star Trek Enterprise, although I have no idea who James T. Kirk or Spock is.

Another assumption I have had anguish encountering was that all written prose fantasy works are elven. I've had some people ask me what I'm currently working on, which, in itself, is quite a powerful balm to my ego. However, I am very much irked that, mentioning I'm working on a fantasy setting, over-enthusiastic fangirls would gush, "Oh, like Lord of the Rings?" Seriously, what's with this remarkably unhealthy obsession over white-haired elven archers who, what with their pointed ears and all, could just as well have been citizens of a primitive Vulcan civilization? Why, oh why, do people assume my fantasy stories take place somewhere in Middle Earth when they do not even have orcs, dwarves or elves? Why am I unfortunate enough to be assumed a proud and conceited writer who is too snub-nosed to admit I have been inspired by Tolkien's works when I absolutely abhor them?

Allow me, too, the audacity to point out a flaw almost innate in half the humans I encounter: females. Seriously, they think it's alright to be touchy-feely all about you. They put their hands on your thigh, on your arm, on your shoulder and, for the more aggressive ones, your butt as they give it a playful slap. We, men, on the other hand, don't have the same benefits and, with the exception of those on the extreme side of the gay scale, the softest of whispers, the merest breath of wind on their napes or the slightest touch on their arms could very well be enough to provoke some of these penisless harpies into screaming bloody rape or sexual harassment.

The other half too, shalt not be left unscathed. Aye, ye men. Think ye I be forgetting 'baout all o' ye now, hrrr?

Men have always been known to be sexual creatures. It is thought that in the same way our mouths helplessly salivate when we think about food, men, too, have organs that react at the dimmest spark of imagination regarding sex. A stereotype commonly thought to be true is that biological males are more sexually aggressive and biological females are more soft and romantic. Surely, a lot of you have heard of the quote, "Boys will be boys," used on males of all sorts, straight, bi or gay. To a degree, I am inclined to agree.

However, I do beg to differ when people just assume that males like me would love nothing more than a hard, rough climax with no strings attached. Indeed, the saying, "Dog is man's best friend," very nearly plunged into oblivion when a new saying, "His hand is man's best friend," more accurately described the picture. Not all of us, however, are any these sexually-crazy wolves always on the hunt for their prey. Some of us have our softer sides too, and no, we don't have to be gay to want for a warmer, more intimate and more romantic relationship.

A Broadway musical by AvenueQ, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, quite accurately depicts another form of presumption: racism. I am inclined to agree with the aforementioned artists that everyone's a little bit racist. I also agree that maybe the world might be a better place if we just all admitted that we are, indeed, flawed with racism and that it is but a fact of life. However, I will not agree to being subject to stronger forms of racism. You may be familiar with the sort of talk that runs along the lines of, "Oh, you're from the Philippines? Is that where people eat frog's legs, chicken's intestines, matured duck's egg or pork blood?"

While I do tend to abhor pork blood, I can see nothing wrong with eating frog's legs, matured duck's egg or chicken's intestines, which are in fact, quite delicious, if you ask me. The thrill of the utter shock radiated by other people quickly grows old and, in its stead, appalling annoyance tends to give me that sharp look in the eye and the ruffled feathers.

I could probably rant on and on about the horribly stupid things people assume about everyone else. Doing so, however, might drive away what precious little audience I have. I'd now be better off ending this transmission.

Okay, put 'er on Warp 3.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Go Ahead. Impress Me.

I once had the glorious opportunity/terrible misfortune to watch a copy of the movie Happy Feet. Really, there was nothing much about penguins that really strongly interest me. The plot was altogether cliché, the musical scenes were not to my taste and, probably, the only thing that really moved me so much was the twisted face of a penguin as he gasped for dear air while he was continuously being choked by the plastic rings of a 6-pack. Even then, I was hoping they'd just kill the guy and hope he has moved on to a happier place. I did like the superstitious approach to winter; all throughout that dark and frosty winter, the penguins were singing to bring back the sun.

Mumble Happy Feet, as an egg, was accidentally dropped by his father during a very cold and dark winter: a deed so severely disapproved by anyone who finds out. As it is, Mumble turned out to be slightly extra-normal; he was born feet first into the world, he danced instead of sung when he was happy and, in general, had happy feet. In his community of penguins on Emperor Island, everyone was expected to find his or her own heartsong: the special something deep within their souls that will find them their mate. Mumble, however, was not gifted the least bit with the harmony of voice; every time he is seized by a happy thought, an important fuel to the penguins' heartsongs, he breaks into dance.

Allow me to leave Antarctica for a while and bring you closer to heaven. Sir Richard Bach, an aviator, writer and fan of Antoine de-Saint Exupery, once wrote a book called The Gift of Flying. Well, that was one of his books I do not mean to discuss right now, instead, let me call your attention to another of his works: Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Yes, the main character is named Jonathan Livingston and yes, he is a seagull.

Jonathan spent most of his life in breathtaking isolation. Unlike all the other gulls, he didn't bother much to fight for breadcrumbs, screech with fellow gulls or be content with the rudiments of flying. Instead, he perfected flying, as an art; he is able to pull off maneuvers like rolls, tumbles, stalls, glides and other discombobulating terminologies an actual aviator might be able to better detail to you. For his efforts, he gained a better life; a high-speed dive brought him fish that schooled ten feet below the ocean while, riding the high winds inland, he was brought to new places and feasted on crickets there. He rode the evening wind when every other gull dared not fly in the dark and he rose above the fog, into clearer skies, when all his fellows just sat miserably in the beach, expecting nothing but rain.

His discoveries, however, were not without a price. For what the elders deemed reckless impudence, he was outcasted by the seagull society.

A lot of us people are special. There are those of us capable of "breathing" fire, running through shards of glass or capable of eating raw chickens that may or may not look ill and may or may not have come from Eastern Asia. There are those of our fellows who are stars of their own freak shows, wrestling arenas (Curse you, King Booker), concerts, movies and TV shows. Indeed, it would seem that we, as humans, thrive not only on food and water but also on attention.

When I was young, I was not particularly gifted with stage talents. I could answer a Math or Science exam good enough, bring my daydreams to life or weave stories that, strangely enough, no one but me seemed to understand. When I grew up into who I was now, I could sketch some objects fairly well, program a database application in Java or even write blogs, prose, fiction and other written compositions. However, I could not, for the life of me, sing or dance in a manner acceptable to our society.

I could dance some ballroom dances, yeah, but I bet it is not exactly the type people would like to see on impromptu performances in their pathetic Christmas or birthday parties. I could sing comfortable well in the safety of my own bedroom or under the comfortable blanket of anonymity in a sea of strangers but I doubt it is how people would like to know me better.

Sometimes, it's not always about the people who do something exceptional in public. A lot of us are not gifted with the penchant for histrionic arts, sleight-of-hand magic tricks, a soulful heartsong or a pair of happy feet. It is sad, though, that at social gatherings, people would point at other people asking, "Isn't that guy the fashion model you've been telling me?" but the moment you hear someone ask, "Isn't that the Internet's nth Blogger of the Year?" a lot of uneducated peasants would simply murmur, "Geek."

A past teacher of mine once said that programming is not a spectator sport. Commentators simply cannot tell their audiences, "Whoa! Mavi from Team Philippines has ditched recursion for an iterative approach!" or "Team Green Three, from UP Diliman, has unsealed what they called the Forbidden Quiwa Algorithm!" Even a momentary suspension of belief, like that employed by the cooking contest Iron Chef, does not, methinks, remotely allow for a programming contest a crowd could cheer on.

I am not bewailing my lack of stage talents; I would very much rather be writing this blog entry well into a carpal-tunnel syndrome rather than bend and contort my body into breathtaking postures in front of a crowd of screaming fanboys (fangirls too, but I have a lot more fanboys) I am probably just commenting with an indifference how some parents, including mine, coerce their untalented children to sing a pathetic cheesy song or dance a pitiful seizure during social gatherings. The poor children are often under pain of death, should they dare disobey, which, thankfully enough, they never do. The unwilling spectators, on the other hand, would simply say, "Oh, nice," or ejaculate, "Sugoi! Amazing!" more to the benefit of the poor child than that of the ridiculously ambitious mother.

To be sure, I am quite against robbing children of the joys of their childhood. Many are the times I have seen hopelessly misguided mothers cajole an unwilling (and untalented) child to sing. Many are the crappy performances I have seen during social gatherings. Also, many are the stifled laughter I have observed among audiences at the sheer lack of skill being flaunted. I mean, if we are not meant to sing or dance, then just leave us be; if someone believes in our talent only because they're our mother or blood-relatives, then forget it. Sure, we may not be able to brag anything during the Christmas party but you could usually call us anytime you need a graphic artist, an accountant, a doctor, a cook or even just a friend.

For instance, a friend can usually find me more than willing to help him/her build his/her own web site. I may not have the blessing of a heartsong or a pair of happy feet but I do happen to have, geeky as it may sound, a heartblog, a heartprogram, ten happy clickers and happy typers, fleet feet (you never know when you need me to run for something extremely urgent) and a single, hyperactive happymagination.

I can program for you a CMS
but not advise you on PMS.
I can shampoo, but for the life of me,
I cannot braid thy hair for thee.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Any Last Words?

Two or three days ago, Maestro Bacarra had posed a question that pretty much goes along these lines: "How would you spend the last remaining days of your life?" I never really took that question seriously 'coz my days of adolescent angsting, gothic witching and aloof depression were long past. It did, however, strike me as disturbing that I no definite answer instantly popped into my mind. For a person who spends most of his daydream-time conjuring worst-case scenarios, I came up clueless with what I actually wanted to do.

True, I could easily imagine how I'd react if I were assaulted in a public transport, attempted to be kidnapped or caught in the crossfire between good and evil in the legendary battlefield but I had no idea on what I'd do when faced with the assailant known only as the Grim Reaper. It was unsettling to realize that, though I have changed from a dark brooding person, I have also lost a few precious parts of my character.

Yesterday, my mother had fallen into one of her rare nostalgic moments once more. She had been filling us in on the twists and turns of my dad's courtship and, while most of the time, I find the contents of my stomach churning at the mere cheesiness of it all, there were also times I had to giggle like a high school girl, titillating at the mere cheesiness of it all. Then came the question that strikes fear and unrest into the heart of every closet gay student: "Do you have a girlfriend at school?"

I did manage to successfully evade the question, just saying that there were a few persons that caught my eye but none that have smitten my heart. Oh! If they only knew, but this pain, I am cursed to bear alone! Woe is me, pitiful is my life and pathetic is this digression of mine!

Just earlier this evening, I guess I had one too many sips of Sol de España, Sangria. I did acquire a sweet disposition during dinner; for some reason I cannot completely fathom, leftovers seemed to taste quite good. Three hours later, I found myself tossing and turning about my bed in a fitful sleep. Sleep is not even an accurate word to describe it for I have been hovering to and fro between states of dream and consciousness. Random thoughts popped into my head, sometimes more than once. A single voice, however, overwhelmed the rest by the immensity of its message: "What are you going to do with your life?"

There, in my slightly inebriated haze, I had the answers, but it was a grim revelation.

Life had never seemed so short when the time left is compared with the sum of the time it will take one to do all that one wants to do. It seems that one lifetime is never enough and, if that were not bad already, some people do not even get to live up to as long as the average human lifespan. I could die tomorrow; you could die tomorrow; he or she could die tomorrow. Heck, we all could even die now!

I wanted to be happy; everyone does. However, not everyone knows what will make them happy. I have a few good ideas but even I am not sure if it will truly fetch me happiness in my life.

I wanted to learn to ride a bike; it has been very embarrassing for me to have reached this age without knowing the basics of riding a bicycle. I also wanted to learn how to skate or use the roller-blades. I wanted to drive a car I could call my own. I wanted to eat dishes from various cuisines and generally have fond memories of each dish.

I once wished for a boyfriend and my wish came true as though the Wishmaster himself, a Djinn, granted it. I did not wish for true love for I conceded that it might be the remotest dream that could ever fall into my hands. I did wish for a close approximation of true love, however; I wanted to have a boyfriend that could make me happy and whom I could also make happy. I wanted to dance with him, watch movies with him, laugh with him and generally share intimate moments together, sexual or otherwise.

I wished to be free of my inhibitions even just once. I seek the uncontrollable fog that drapes over an intoxicated man's eyes; I wanted to be drunk outside the confines of my own home; I wished to act as I please, without thought of the repercussions of my acts.

I wanted to have broadband Internet access so I could download all the Uchuu Keiji Shaider episodes I could watch. It has also been very embarassing for me not to remember anything about the sentai series of my time like Shaider, Maskman, Bioman and Masked Rider Black. I wanted to participate in the Neopian stock market and earn a million neopoints or more. I've always wanted to win something from a raffle or the lottery, be it five hundred bucks, an iPod or some other MP3 player, a silver ring, belts, beads or a lifetime supply of boys; I don't really care. I just wanted to be reassured that I am not entirely without luck.

There are a lot more dreams I have, but not all of them may be realized; I am aware of that. I am working towards fulfilling some of my dreams but I'm afraid time is just too short to reach them all. I wonder, though, the moment I die, will all my unfulfilled dreams be hiding between pages too?

We're here right above the dust
seeking human warmth from you.
Care to stoop down and reach for us
or shall we remain dreams never true?