Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Superfluous Case of the Mexican Jumping Ladybug

Much as it is my consternation to see lengthy post subjects in my sidebar, I simply cannot resist using what you see now. For, you see, I had, just a while ago, been filtering water for human consumption when, as I was unscrewing the cap of the large water jar, I noticed a ladybug perched on the handle of the jar. As it loathes me to extinguish the life of such a beautiful creature needlessly, I tried to pick it off the jar and return it to the wild, or as close to the wild as I possibly can, which means our backyard garden.

As Mother Nature, in her wisdom and benevolence, had pre-programmed smaller creatures with a natural aversion to humans as part of their flight instinct, it should have been no surprise that it should attempt to escape me and, indeed, it did so. Now, my knowledge of ladybugs is quite limited but I was only expecting it to fly away so you can thus imagine my no small surprise to find that within an instant, it was gone from the water jar and I felt a smart poke in my upper lip. In the next moment, a ladybug was perched on my hand while my upper lip vaguely remembers a small presence on its surface.

I had never expected a ladybug to be leaping as forcefully as, say, a flea. In any case, it did give me a fright to consider that I might have opened my mouth at that instant and drowned the poor creature in my spit. As it was, I did release it in the garden where, I was pleasantly surprised to discover, some of our orchids were beginning to bloom.

What that ladybug incident had to do with my blog post, I have nary an idea. It just seemed like the sort of thing I might be dying to share with someone, anyone! However, in any case, it is entirely irrelevant except for some convoluted coercion of the bounds of reason and philosophy.

The season here, now, is quite speedily approaching summer and, while I am typing this blog post to an overcast sky, a cool breeze ever and anon would lift the cloudy curtain and expose us all to that life-giving flame in the sky. Might I remark that, as I lay in bed a while ago, I had observed that clouds do form rather faster than I thought as I saw wispy tendrils grow into honorable puffs within half a minute.

In any case, sun, wind and clouds aside, I had meant to say that quite some time had passed since my last post and, quite uncharacteristically of my life so far, quite a lot have happened.

A high school acquaintance had, this January, orchestrated for me a blind date with a friend of hers who, for some reason, she supposed was a potential romantic match for me. A date has been set, so to speak, though a certain complication, a family affair, had my potential match requesting that the date be moved to the next weekend.

That should have set off the alarm bells in my head. Over the course of the years, I have discovered a rather strange correlation: guys who make me wait a considerable amount of time often make terrible, or, at least, incompatible, partners. As far as I can tell, of all those men I can remember, two of them hooked up with another guy, one turned out to be straight, one was an obnoxious, arrogant jerk, one already had an offspring, one was an insecure nutcase and one, the last one, well, did not spark my interest. So sorry for the spoiler but there it is. Simple, brief and concise.

For those who preferred a more superfluous narration, allow me to continue by saying that the next weekend turned to be a little bit complicated too. On a Thursday afternoon, I received a request that the date be postponed again for my date is to be attending a friend's party, which I was gracious enough to grant. I finished the week finalizing my plans for the weekend, which involves resting on a Saturday and celebrating the end of the Chinese year with my senpai on a Sunday. By Friday midnight I have received a text message informing me that he had "canceled" going to the party and that our date was to proceed as "planned" that Saturday. I have also received the same message on Saturday morning; both messages were read as soon as I woke up on Saturday noon.

As pissed off as I was at having to change my plans so spontaneously and having been a last resort to having a socially eventful weekend, I just simmered silently and confirmed my attendance. Fifteen minutes after I had boarded a bus, I received a text message requesting that our 3PM rendezvous be moved to 5PM. I attempted a compromise of 4PM, which was met with a, "How about we move the date to next weekend?"

I explained, subtly, of course, how I would not appreciate going back home after absolutely nothing and he responded that he cannot make it in 4PM. I was a hair's breadth from screaming at this jerk and calling the whole thing off but I, foolishly enough, remembered that my high school friend thought that we are a match. Gritting my teeth, I courteously informed him that moving the date was very much out of the question and that I will be waiting for him by 5PM.

Such a gracious decision was met with SMS silence, which I brushed off. If this jerk did not come, at the very least, nobody could accuse that I did not keep my word, so I waited for three whole hours, during which I met with a sharp blow on my right shoulder due to an accident. All in all, the waiting wasn't that bad as I have been window-shopping anyway and I had also brought a good book with me.

He arrived a lot later than 5PM, of course, and I have practically given up, by now, any notion of matching up with him. Nonetheless, I am a rather benevolent person in these kind of things; I, too, would not want to be turned down simply because I was a minute late... or two... or a hundred and sixty. Simply put, I gave him a chance, never mind that he had me tumbling left and right just to accommodate his fucking spontaneous, spur of the moment so-called "schedule".

We watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I wasn't exactly expecting him to grope me then and there or to engage me in a torrid kiss but, at the very least, people usually talk to each other during movies. I may have been guilty as charged during those breathtaking parts where Brad Pitt was just being his breathtaking self. Gah! He looks so cute, when he's not hot. Well, of course, I did not really dig him in his prosthetics, I mean, my preferences have always been for men older than me but not THAT old! Anyway, he's so hot and/or cute that, there were times that my gaze was practically glued on the screen.

So, I suppose part of the silence was my fault. However, it is rather customary for those participating in these social encounters to talk about the movie once it was finished. And talk we did, as the first few words that came out from his mouth puzzle about the impossibility of such a curious case. That, I suppose, effectively killed the conversation, but I tried a response, anyway, by reminding him that it was a work of fiction, after all, and that the piece explored, not the scientific aspect of whether such a condition would be possible but how an otherwise typical human would have reacted to such interesting circumstances. I followed up by asking what he would do if he, somehow, woke up in a body seven or so years younger and was met with a shrug.

Gah! Just trying to remember that "date" upsets me so lemme end by saying that we ended up exchanging minimal information. I managed to glean, through subliminal context cues, that he is not really interested in me, even as a person, and that I have been wasting my time as he does not seem the least bit interesting either.

It would seem that destiny or fate or chance or coincidence, somehow, helps keep me from forming long-term relationships with anyone else but my boyfriend-slash-it's-complicated, who, I discovered, to my joy, had been engaged in volunteer work in a hospital. It doesn't pay much, heck, it's not supposed to pay at all, but, for nursing graduates, it's the experience that counts, right?

The next day was, somehow, better. I went to my senpai's house and brought a cake as omiyagè (present) as it seemed the safest choice of cross-cultural present. Up to this date, I have brought to that house only cake, ice cream or donuts. We lounged about most of the day, had a filling lunch and a filling dinner, ate sweet oranges chilled in the freezer, watched a game of Devil May Cry in progress and learned a thing or two about this field of science called Boob Physics. Oh yeah, we also took home tikoy; sticky cakes notorious for pulling dentures right out of their bearer's clutches, those are customary gifts from Chinese people during the Chinese New Year.

It was quite a quite unproductive weekend, which is, to me, not ill-deserved as my weekdays have been spent rush-coding a project whose deadline was, to me back then, unknown. And, one day near the end of January, I was met with a "Booyah! Deadline's two days from now!"

Well, suffice to say that I have been taking half of a few working days off for the mere fact that I am feeling ill but can ill-afford to take an entire day's absence. There was one time that I did take an entire day's off on account of my back killing me after being hit by a rogue badminton racket that, somehow, slipped free of my brother's hand. Even in such a condition, so I am obliged to come online to assist my coworker(s) in some urgent, work-related matter.

In any case, as the ex-Amyrlin Siuan Sanche counted the small blessings to be found in the great adversity known as stilling, so shall I take comfort in the fact that these exhausting exertions work, in their own little way, to keep me out of the hot water otherwise known as "unemployment" Still, however, my body keeps on persistently telling me that I desperately needed a break so, here I am, taking it easy, or trying to, while I took an entire week off.

I have read before, in Reader's Digest, a snippet about this guy who has two worries about taking a leave. One is that his absence may affect things at work... the other is that it may not. The introduction read something along the lines of "There is a fine line between self-confidence and insecurity" Thus, you can very well see that, while I should be trying to get as much rest as I can, I find myself worrying why nobody has called me for help yet.

Would this week-long absence demonstrate that the team can get by without me just fine? Am I to be discovered an unnecessary appendage, perhaps even a liability very much like an inflamed appendix? Should I call to check on any of my coworkers as recommended by Scott Meyer? Or should I maximize taking it easy in anticipation of a heavier load build-up during the time I was gone? Would I be greeted with several things that demand my immediate and special attention? Or shall I be met with a memorandum politely asking for my resignation as I have been deemed... unneeded?

In any case, it was just as well that I got this week-long leave of absence because I am in dire need of time to think. When I graduated and got a job, I was set onto a routine that, by virtue of inertia, had remained much unchanged. There is the small spot in the back of my mind that somewhere out there, the other half of a mid-distance relationship may or may not be thinking of me. As I had mentioned earlier, I had found out, just a month ago, that he had successfully gained employment as a volunteer nurse in a hospital undergoing expansion. It is his, and my, earnest hope that he would be accepted as a full-time employee once the expansion process is completed.

There were, however, some things worth pondering on. One is that he was the reason why I hated the city of Manila. We broke up under rather uncertain terms and communication between the two of us ended on an indefinite note. He did contact me again around September of last year, asking for another chance. After much introspection and hypothesis formulation on my part, I acquiesced as I recognized that I was, after all, still not over him. (I still do have fond memories of the hour-long kisses I've shared with him)

Simply put, I have given him another chance. I began hoping aloud that we might meet on a date, however, his circumstances back then, being unemployed, and the sheer fact that he lives in another province put a stop to our plans. In fear that I might offend his male ego by continually pestering him about the state of his employment, or lack thereof, I stopped speaking of planning dates and fell to rather vague and generic How-are-you?s.

Well, I did make one last effort to ask him out on a Valentine's date by the end of January, which was met with a disappointed "No". It was then that I learned he's now working. In a spur of the moment, however, I decided to call him on Valentine's Eve, just to catch up with him and, for me, simply to hear his voice again.

The first few hours were quite pleasant, though rocky, as we reminisced a lot of things in the past and what had happened with our respective lives since the time we ceased communications after the breakup. I have told him, in all honesty, some generic details of the dates I have accepted and was not the least bit surprised to learn that he had been seeing someone too.

In the third hour of our conversation, however, things had gone rather awry and I observed that, despite my wondrous illusions about that one week love affair we shared, I still know next to nothing about him. This realization dawned upon me as we were talking of the events since September of last year. I had related, in a rather carefree and careless manner, how I had turned down some dates since I gave him another chance. That he was mortified mortified me. He had admonished, rather kindly, that I shouldn't have turned down offers for a date on his account. He said that he cannot guarantee that he could show me the same devotion that I was trying to perform.

I saw things rather differently, of course. There was the implicit request that, since I was granted freedom to "shop around" so to speak, I should also reciprocate the same privilege, that is, allow him to date other people as well. I can very well accept that there are to be no guarantees, however, I was of the notion that, if you loved somebody, you don't set up any guarantees; you simply give what love you can and not expect anything. After all, wasn't the future, by its very nature and the laws of quantum physics, uncertain? Much as I am ashamed to admit it, I did give him my love by turning down other boys... except that wretched blind date courtesy of my persistent... acquaintance. Now, I realize, I have been terribly foolish to invest on a love that was not to be reciprocated. I was as disillusioned with this discovery as a little boy who learns that his well-adored superheroes are not real.

There came, two nights after, an instant message from a friend. No really, I meant friend and not "warm acquaintance" or "fleeting congenial contact". I have met him offline only once, though we have chatted considerably often online. And, in my pain and heartache that night, I have cried on his shoulder, so to speak, as much as was possible over Yahoo! Messenger windows. He had some rather consoling words and some phrases indignant on my behalf, which soothed my heart immensely. The morning after, I apologized for my unbecoming behavior. Commoners may think that a friend should be someone you can lean on in times of trouble but I never believed in relieving my burden at the expense of others. Thus, my reluctance to share a depressing story... or open a Lotto outlet. Still, he good-naturedly shrugged it off and reassured me that it's alright. So, for that night, Lee, thank you very much.

Still, however, that botched up date and that Valentine's phone call had been enough external forces to stir me out of the daily line of thinking inertia had led me to. So now, instead of thinking what I would have for lunch, I'm pondering whether I have lived a useful life or not. Instead of wondering who my next sexual contact would be, I am now debating with myself whether I really am capable of love.

I have, just this morning, found out that our village has a clean and well-maintained walkway for jogging. As I jogged up and down slopes and along a meandering path instead of a treadmill, I wondered, not what tomorrow would bring, but what I should be doing tomorrow. There is a fine line denoting the slight difference between the two and in recognizing that line, I was shocked to learn, with trembling anxiety, that I have entered a quarter-life crisis... assuming that an average human lives up to 88 years.

Nope. No poetry to begin or end this post; I feel it is quite lengthy enough, as it is.