Saturday, February 28, 2004

Buddha Moment�

If you want to be a parent, remember that your children are guaranteed to take upon themselves aspects of your character, good or bad. So while you live, it's best to keep as close to some Golden Mean as you can. Your children will benefit. And the world will certainly thank you for fewer dysfunctional basket cases to carry and nurture past their appointed span. Basket cases like me.

The Days of Rice and Salt

One- Double Takes
Finished the commissioned painting and managed to get it to my client. Set the paydate to about a week from yesterday. Was v. happy about how my life was turning around. Then I get a call later, in the evening. Client complaining that the kid in the painting looks unlike the kid in the photograph he gave me. As artist, am v. annoyed, insulted even. Had to bite back choice retort--

"If you wanted an exact likeness, you should have
a.) told me from the outset; or
b.) gotten me to photograph kid instead."

But as what customer says goes, I promised to rework the painting to his satisfaction in ff. week. Apparently, customer forgot that he gave me free rein in the conceptualization and execution of piece: reason I charged so low in the first place. Am now v. painfully aware of why portraitists along Recto charge so bloody much and why copywriters and production artists need account executives.

Have half a mind to just give him the painting as goodwill gift (kid in painting still looks like kid in photo no matter what his dad says) and be done with it. Might just do that, as gut is screaming that this guy will probably never be satisfied. Best to head off crisis before friendship goes to hell.

Moral lesson: need more practice as portraitist; whip out written contract before taking job order..

Two- Same Old, Same Old
Have been working for a publicist on the sly for the better part of two weeks. Job involves writing, generally promoting this or that product, or making this or that talent smell as sweet as roses to potential audiences. Knew that this was part time gig, probably would need more contacts if I was to sustain myself like this. But, as knew it was a start that challenged and made somewhat fulfilled, I was v. happy about the way my life was turning.

Friday arrives: payday. Previous deal with employer involves dropping off payment at store I was helping him promote. I text him for confirmation (will we meet today?) but it never comes. Get a text message from him asking for bank account number. I don't have one. Can't open one because bank always looking for proofs of my existence that I no longer have-- driver's license, school ID, passport, company ID. With what, by the by, am I supposed to open an account? The play money I keep in my wallet as some sort of shamanic ritual to bring actual money into my life? Really royally ticked off.

Problem easy to solve but will need to consult with someone to do so. Still, am not happy, as am having same feeling I had when working (no, bleeding) for CCCom and waiting two to three months for compensation. "If I did so well, why do I feel so shortchanged?"

Three- Islam Means Surrender
If Mom and Pop knew about this, they would be crowing, cavorting in a victory dance. "See, son? We were right and you were wrong. Our way is the best way to love/work/live. Submit! We're your parents so stop rebelling." Last I checked I was v.v. thirty, and should no longer be subject to this crap. Why I started moving out in the first place.

Side note: Everyone concerned at home again, by the by. And quite vocal about it. Wondering what I'm up to, voicing the old refrain: Dex is in trouble. (What's new? Dex is always in trouble, by their lights.) That's the trouble with gradually moving out instead of declaring a break from home in one go. Plusses: more time to move out your belongings and you still get some funding. Minuses: more opportunities to be asked questions you're not ready to answer. It bugs me v. much that I am still v. much a child.

Beginning to wonder if this is all that my occupational inclinations and skills have to offer me-- a choice between dying in jobs I hate or doing what I do best but having to put up with delayed payments and feelings of powerlessness and dissatisfaction. Epiphany not enough to make me fall on my own knife just yet.

Ah well. Fallen on face. Time to get up again. Even if it is to more falling on face. Not as if I ain't used to it.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Feb Birthdays

Seems I'm in good company.

02.02.04 Brent Spiner (Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
02.08.04 Ethan Phillips (Neelix, Star Trek: Voyager)
02.14.04 Andrew Robinson (Elim Garak, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
02.16.04 LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
02.22.04 Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager)
02.23.04 Majel Barrett (Christine Chapel, Lwaxana Troi, Ship's Computer, Star Trek, Next Gen, DS9, Voyager)
02.26.04 Chase Masterson (Leeta, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

02.01.04 Dex Lira (painter, poet, slave to bingo, trekkie fanboy who idolizes randy Captain Kirk)

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Entry from the Journal of a Dead Man (2)

I was drunk that day with Teresa: her female smell, the feel of her sex, her shoulders, her brown eyes. Her unsated appetites. As I knelt beside her rapidly disintegrating corpse, I was seized by those terrible desires-- for sex, for blood, hunger for actual living meat.

That morning I fought her demons in the arena of my shaking, fevered flesh. In that hour, I pitied Teresa. I had a glimpse of what her interior world was like. I saw also, the lordling of hell that had mastered her, bent her to its evil will. And in my altered vision, I saw it look at me and laugh.

To this day, I remember with a painful clarity what the demon said to me.

"We have your Teresa," it said in a voice like a tomb. "Even now, your strumpet burns as she is flayed by hooked whips of flame. Our minions ravage her with with searing iron. We spread our burning seed upon her face."

"And she calls to you, poet. She pleads for you to save her with your love. And she curses you because you sent her to our waiting arms. She-- ha! She prays for madness to take her. But she will never take comfort in the moist walls of insanity or oblivion-- we have seen to that."

"We have your love-slut, little bloodsucker. And we will gladly join your fate to hers!"

I saw that it was as the demon said. Anger welled within me, and strove with my fear. Crying tears of blood --Teresa's-- I damned it, cursed it in the Name of the Savior. I could do little else.

Dawn was breaking. I knew this too on some level. It saw the encroaching sunlight and laughed again, loud and coarse and baleful.

"We are Pride, We are Lust. We are the Glutton's bottomless Avarice. We are the mortal frailties of your newmade immortal flesh."

It was fading. The vision was fading even as I was recovering from Teresa's blood-fever. Sunlight had begun to touch my eyes, my face, shoulders, arms...

You already have one foot in hell..."

Then it looked straight at the child beside me, lunged and made as if to crush her in its claws. In my fear and loathing, I had forgotten the innocent creature who had lain silent and slumbering beside me. I had saved her from Teresa-- from the demon-- once; I was deathly afraid that I could not save her from it again. But the demon was fading, the vision was fading with the dawn, melting into dream-gossamer.

Then the vision passed and I was alone with the girl-child. I hugged her to me, as much in relief as in my anxious desire to protect her from the evil in my vision. She was awake now, staring past me, paralyzed by fear: she had been that way for a while now.

That hour, I realized three things.

It was morning.

I was still "alive," intact. I was not dust.

And the girl, Rosa, had seen the devil too.

Monday, February 16, 2004

To-Do List

I'm afraid I might not be able to practice any decent form of Tai Chi. I've found that I cannot put my whole weight-- which has grown considerably-- on either knee. I hope the situation is temporary.

Apologies are in order to the people whose websites and blogs I did not access or properly read over the past three weeks. I'm feeling veeeery ragged. I promise I'll keep up with you before the month is out.

Haveta finish the articles lined up for the blog. What's waiting to be done? There's the last part of English, which has been on hold thanks to "a lot of stuff." Then there's the next installment of Journal of a Dead Man: I left a sated vampire with a kid to care for just as dawn was breaking-- surely there is more that has to be told!

I'll be trekking to San Pablo, Laguna on the morrow, to fix a problem with my social security number. Why? is the subject of a future entry. Mayhaps I'll have time and cash to stop by Los Banos to look up Lord-of-the-Undead-in-training, Homer; give Kervin and Daddy Nhel a hug.

Then it's another stop at the UP College of Fine Arts sometime this week. Loose ends. Then... to PAGCOR for the submission of the final pre-employment requirements. Or I could always go back to a call center...

Somehow, I have to sandwich a delayed painting-for-pay project in between all of this.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Blue Jay Way

Traveled to the College of Fine Arts, knowing full well that the rush painting job I was working on was not going to be rushed any more than... I'm at a loss for words.

I met someone today. Female, laid back, pretty. As spoken for as me. Doesn't live in Lilithville, but resides close enough. Our introduction and conversation were educational for me, else I wouldn't have mentioned her in the blog. She held a mirror in front of my face and forced me to take a good long look...

Her opinion of Bingo as occupaion for ex- Fine Arts dinosaur was not approving; was mitigated only by my invocation of Dex's best copout excuse-- giri or on, also known as the Honor Debt to the Folks Who Raised Me and Therefore Have Some Say in My Future Evolution.

Writing this down, I remember my snack run a coupla nights ago. The nearby school had some sort of multi-band concert. Good musicians, lousy musicians-- the whole kit and caboodle. I remember looking at some of the bands as they lugged personal equipment to and from the 7-11 I was in. They didn't know it, but these were "my" people. The music, the sweat, the after-performance buzz, the "groupies"-- I missed all of that with a pang that just wouldn't go away. I remember buying the Gatorade, the made-in-China instant noodles and walking home to Honey feeling bad.

I remember telling her about it when I returned to her bedside; what Honey told me after. I wasn't selfish enough to fully truly pursue that path.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

You have an entrancing kiss~ the kind that leaves your partner bedazzled and maybe even feeling she is dreaming. Quite effective; the kiss that never lessens and always blows your partner away like the first time.

What kind of kiss are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Well that ain't so bad. I guess Lilith will miss out on this one...
More Surprises in the Year of the Monkey

How evil are you?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Feasting at the Temple of Mammon

They're having a party down there. My mother is gloating. My father is relieved. My generation's last bastion of nonconformity has fallen, and the evil minions of The System have assimilated their latest convert: me.

Here's what happened: after a battery of pre-employment tests, PAGCOR calls up mom and my aunt and tells them I've a position waiting for me at their branch in Pampanga. One of their artists is about to retire and I had been selected to fill his shoes. Sometime later, my auntie Glo gets another call: apparently said artist isn't going to retire just yet. Maybe he heard about me replacing him and decided that hanging on a coupla years longer ain't so bad after all. I don't blame him-- I'd feel exactly the same way if I heard some young upstart was horning in on my turf courtesy of auntie Glo.

The Treachery of Saruman
By the by, it's an open secret that a sizeable portion of the PAGCOR population owes its tenure in part to some "backer," Evil Dex included. That's partly because of the nature of the institution-- not one presidential administration goes by without some PAGCOR heads rolling, and some new presidential appointee bringing in new faces. As the fates of the individual workers are tied to the fate of PAGCOR, the institution has adopted a rule that levels the playing field among employees. More or less. "Your backers have done their jobs in getting you noticed; make them proud by doing your job well." Which is par for the course.

A Hobbit Named Gerald
But back to the story. My being a "Pampanga-based PAGCOR artist" being a bust, I was directed by Human Resources to proceed forthwith to the Casino Filipino ziggurat in Lilith-ville, (also known to you as Para�aque). There, I met a dark-hued hobbit named Gerald, who asked me questions regarding my willingness to part with my hair and be posted anywhere this side of 5th-Age Middle-Earth. Natch, I said "You can send me to Baguio for all I care. Right now, I'm greedy and I'm willing to be used." Well, sommat like that.

Weeks later I received a call from PAGCOR. I was up for indoctrina-- orientations at the main office and at the Para�aque ziggurat. Now, here I am, slowly but surely ferreting out snippets of my identity: the little proofs of my existence passed out- and required by- the State for the express purpose of taxing me to death and handing out the proceeds to Congressman Corpulent and Senator Shifty.

Puppet Strings
Now my Mom and Aunt have pulled more strings with the HR people-- who aren't talking to the HR people I'm talking to-- such that I will be able to report to work at once. Normally, it ain't bad (I'm a minion of The System now, right?) but I feel that my mom and aunt have taken things out of my hands again, effectively reducing me to a little child, the way she's always had. I've tried alternately yelling at and explaining this to my mom, but she still sees nothing wrong with her actions. I have also been labelled misguided and ingrato (what else is new?). Tomorrow they will call me again and ask how "everything" went. I guess it's as good a time as any to change sim-cards, phone numbers and addresses.

God Save the King and Queen
I have said before that I'm done doing the blame game, but I'll let it out this final time. Love is a good thing, but my shrink has given me to understand that much of my difficulty with relating to the world around me stems from my parents' schizoid childrearing. The Girlfriend is surprised that I turned out functional at all. I am afraid, all of a sudden, of impregnating my wife, whoever she may be. I cannot afford to foist another overprotective, mother-instinct driven authority figure on my son.
Refrigerator Moments

Some friends of mine will no doubt be peeved at how much Lilith still permeates the brick and plaster of Dexter's internal universe. Well, it's a fact I have to live with. I take the good with the bad, however: Lilith's most important contribution to my personal growth was to loose my tongue and unsheath my pen. (Yeah, keep those minds in the gutter, folks. Mine's always been In The Bathroom.)

What few people know is that Lilith also added a few meaning-laden terms to my store of words, most notably "warm toast" (associated images and meanings are not germane to this entry) and "refrigerator moments."

Refrigerator moments are units of time, in which you-- standing before your refrigerator after coming home from the movies-- get a flash of insight re: most recently consumed photoplay. It doesn't matter what that epiphany revealed, only that it came.

"Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings) is so dyolog! He's carrying a Nokia phone in his walking stick. (That mean I should tie my 3530 to my fighting cane too?)"

"Those idiot language coaches (The Lord of the Rings) didn't do their jobs! It's pronounced 'ISSengard' not 'EYES-en garde'! Sheesh!"

"Why is everybody and his brother in Kill Bill's Japan lugging a sword? Where are the police How'd Uma Thurman get that thing past customs?"

Returning from my own foray into the movies, it's dawned on me that The Last Samurai's Ken Watanabe's other name is Carl Vergara.

Monday, February 02, 2004



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Saruman, Wizard, the leader of the council of wizards.

In the movie, I am played by Christopher Lee.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

Well, it was either that or be Merry.
Bodega Bits

I am THROUGH with comics. Really. I mean it. I don't have the time nowadays, nor the energy. I cannot compete with the big-to-intermediate guys. Thanks to some really bonehead decisions, I no longer have a comics support system. And I will always be treated as a has-been fanboy JAFO-- Just Another F_ing Observer. All I have is my pride, which I am eating in spades, along with my bingo cards and my inventory reports.

So lap it up, jerks. You've won.

My Doggie Is Dead. I mean that too. I was crying like a girl because whatever infection Piolo got from scrounging around the trash bins of the Quezon Institute (for tubercular patients) had reached his brain. He looked like sh!t when I saw him at the vet's. He did recognize me and my brother; even put up a brave front for us. But he did succumb to the convulsions just as we were leaving. I will miss my Piolo Askal.

I'm 30. As of yesterday. The knowledge filled me with such good feelings that I went on an aborted sms spree wishing everyone I could reach a good day. Aborted because my cel battery had run out of juice. And I was in Batangas without a charger. Still, I'm 30. And I'm moving out of my house: slowly, but it's happening. Sometimes, tiffs with Mother of Ian-like proportions help clear the mind and set priorities. To my younger friends, here's a secret-- 30 is nothing special, but it's as good enough a birthday to really celebrate and cherish. Have a good day!