i wish i were normal

We’ve all heard about it. In this post-politically correct world, scores of the mentally ill have written about how shitty things feel for them. Many responded with sympathy, some responded with hostility, others chose apathy. It’s okay, it’s not something everyone gets. This is going to be another one of those “boo hoo I’m fucked in the head and life sucks” posts, much like a teenager going through their period of angst would write in their notebook filled with emo poetry. (Is emo still a thing with teens now?)

I wish I were normal. I wish I could be as calm and collected as successful people, those who learned how to compartmentalize their emotions, to feel nothing, to stay calm in the face of great duress. I wish I could wake up some day on a weekday, and not think about wanting to skip work, not dreading the commute to work a job I sometimes have trouble performing. I wish I didn’t have to make excuses to take a sick day because I felt really anxious and depressed that day. I wish I was never forced to say that I have a migraine or a bad stomach just to make it seem like I’m actually sick. I really wish I wasn’t me.

I wish I knew what it felt to have a completely silent mind. I wish I had better concentration, so I don’t make mistakes at work as much. I wish my mind allowed me to pay attention to detail more. I wish I could commit to things, like making a habit out of writing everything down, but I just can’t for some reason. I wish I would stop making excuses for myself, to start running again or even just doing yoga at home. I really wish I wasn’t me.

I wish I was never born into a family that had a predisposition for bipolar disorder. I’ll be passing this disease on if ever I have a child, which makes me second guess if I ever want to start a family of my own. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I wish I knew what it felt to have a clear head, free of the constant buzzing of thoughts, the anxiety you just can’t ever run away from, from the suicidal thoughts that make you rethink your whole sense of being. I really wish I wasn’t me.

People tell me to appreciate myself more: find the good in you and celebrate it. Tell yourself that you’re worth more than the shitty thoughts you have about yourself. Try as I might, however, my mood is on a hair trigger; should anything shitty happen, I will most definitely be triggered, and everything I’ve been working towards – my positivity, the idea of being nicer to myself for the good I’ve done – all of it gets kicked out of the window because my brain won’t let me think about anything other than what makes me feel sad. I really wish I wasn’t me.

I often look at people who seem to have things under control. I envy them. I envy their privilege. Sometimes, I envy the fact that they seem very happy. Comfortable in their skin, doing what they love for a living, changing things, even speaking in forums – things I want to do but never really figured out. The funny thing about bipolar is that yes, you have so many good ideas, but you haven’t the foggiest on how to make them come true. You have all these delusions of grandeur (an actual symptom, believe it or not) that you’ll someday make it, tower over everything and everyone who’s ever caused you stress, and you’ll be living a comfortable, quiet life. But every single time I get triggered like this, all that goes to waste. All of that hope, extinguished like a candle in a storm of negativity. Hope snuffed. Hope trashed. Hope, gone. I really wish I wasn’t me.

Embarrassingly, I post my sad rants and my thoughts on offing myself on social media, hoping for someone to reach out and tell me “hey, don’t do it, you’ll be fine.” I turn into an attention-seeking mess, asking apathetic people on social media to pay attention to me and my problems. I know I shouldn’t, but the more emotional I get the more irrational my thoughts. I keep those posts there to remind me to not do it again – but of course, I keep doing it anyway. I really wish I wasn’t me.

I envy the people who never have to take a mood-altering pill just to feel some semblance of being “okay.” I envy the people who don’t have to break down every time they feel stressed. I envy those who can manage to balance their expenses every month. I envy the people who can confidently take a stand and defend their beliefs. I envy the people who know how to make things happen their way. I envy the people who don’t have to deal with rapidly cycling moods, or feeling shitty all day because of a thing that happened that morning. I really wish I wasn’t me.

There’s hope, I guess. Someone told me that right now, I’m feeling shitty and trapped because I have no say in how things happen. But someday, when I’ve paid my dues, I’ll be able to have more control over my career, life, and emotions, and I’ll finally be able to say that I’m happier. But that dream grows further and further away with each episode I have, which happens pretty often, to be honest. I really wish I wasn’t me.

Being bipolar sucks. But despite the shit I slog through on a daily basis, I won’t give in and take the easy way out; living is too nice, so many things to see, hear, taste, feel, love. It’s just so hard to justify living like this – working your ass off and getting depressed, sleeping late because insomnia, feeling thankless – and then spending two days trying to run away from it all, only to go back Monday and feel everything again.

I wish I were happy. That’s really all I want.

sensates forever

Yes, Sense8 is canceled, as I’m sure many of you already know. After two seasons, the critically-acclaimed, cult-loved show that talked about diversity, gender stereotypes, social issues, and most of all, love, has been canceled for God knows what reason.

We could say, Sense8 is an incredibly expensive production, what with traveling around the world with an ensemble and crew, finding perfect shoot locations while wrestling with local laws and customs; it’s gotta be hell, logistically. We could also argue that Sense8 is not everyone’s cup of tea, because it can get long-winded for some, or it puts off some people with its revolutionary ideas.

 

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There’s also the most boring hetero pairing in the world, but they’re still cool

 

But Sense8 gave viewers a different kind of feeling, a different, incredibly awesome way to showcase the diversity that this world has. For example.

Despite having a grizzled white guy cop from Chicago leading the crew, you also have an Icelandic DJ that grew from a damsel in distress into a truly capable account manager (I mean, bringing Will from safehouse to safehouse across Europe while simultaneously coordinating with the rest of the Sensates can’t be a joke), a German safe-cracker who is trying to find his place in the world.

We also have a sexy gay Mexican action star struggling with being accepted as a homosexual in a testosterone-filled industry, an Indian pharmacist with a troubled, loveless marriage fighting traditional values while trying to follow her heart. There’s a Kenyan matatu driver whose only raison d’etre is to provide a better life for his motherwhose story has turned into something of an inspirational one as he runs for office to enact actual change. We have a trans kickass hacker with a super-cute girlfriend fighting biases, traditional family values, while at the same time being super-cool. And finally, we have my bae, a Korean businesswoman / fucking fighter queen out for revenge against her brother. 

 

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All the while having hot multiracial pansexual orgies. Also look at them. They’re adorable.

I’m still trying to console myself with this brilliant show’s cancellation. I love it more than Game of Thrones, or Stranger Things. I love the world-building, the sense of massiveness of the Sensate universe. I love its quirky little pockets of humor. I love the issues it tackles. I love how they frontload the LGBTQ communities around the world. I love the unconventional attacks and reflections on sexuality, acceptance, and love. I love the action scenes. I love the fight scenes, which I believe is one of the best choreographies in the history of action. I love the growth given to each of the characters – no one in the eight is too boring, or too complicated – and how it shows on- and off-screen. I love the pacing – from a high-adrenaline action scene cutting to a taichi session – and I love the gradual development of the story.

I love how Will looks in his cop outfit, his devotion to his cluster, and his pain of not being by his father’s side. I love how Riley is a stoner, and her loving relationship with her dad, and the fact that she started out as a little misguided girl, who evolves into a badass in her own right. I’ve fallen in love with Lito, Fernando, and Dani, treating each other not just as lovers (I mean, it’s practically a threesome, yes?) but as family, supporting each other every step of the way.

I love Capheus’ joie de vivre, his simplicty, humility, and badassery. I love Wolfgang and his broody personality, and the rare times he shows his brand of love for his best friend. I love Kala’s internal struggles, how she reluctantly let herself be carried by the currents of tradition, then suddenly falling in love with a complete but intimate stranger.

I love Nomi and Amanita so much, supporting each other unquestionably in the face of adversity, fighting biases, prejudice, the BPO, and staying strong together. Also Bug. I love Bug. I love Sun, not just because she’s a fucking badass, but she has an indomitable sense of purpose. She’s willing to go through so much shit just to achieve what she set out to do, and I love her vulnerability despite the tough shell she lives in.

 

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I will miss you all.

 

Sense8 is a wonderful show that gave us so much, taught us so much about a lot of things. I can spend some time talking about each issue they faced, but nah. I just…

 

I don’t know. I’m really, genuinely sad that this is over. And I can’t believe that something this beautifully crafted and well-thought-of would be discarded, to join the ranks of countless great shows that died ahead of their time. But it’s not like we can do anything about it: big money always has the final say.

It’s just that this is going down in history as one of the greatest losses in storytelling, and that, my friends, is devastating. This show, above all else, spoke about love, genuine human interaction, respect for one another, acceptance. Love, in all its purity and all its forms. You don’t get a show like that very often.

I love you, Sense8 team. So long.

 

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Sensates forever.

 

 

one time i made a fake tinder account aka the great catfish expedition

Disclaimer: Is it misogynistic if you’re playing with cishet emotions? JK fuck SJWs. This is gonna be a pretty long read, so if you have the patience for it, gora.

It was 2015, I was on gradwaiting status. I was a constant user of Tinder back then, since tangina ang landi ko kasi. There wasn’t a waking moment where I am not swiping left or right, thinking up one-liners to get myself separated from the rest of the “Hi, Hello” chaff, or setting up dates. Yeah, a broke college kid going out on tinder dates, cool right? I had a working budget of 500 pesos per date and still made it work — but that’s another story for another time. Bottom line: Tinder was seriously fun.

So much fun for me, that I wondered – how was it for the opposite sex? From my matches, I’ve heard that (wait, let me stroke my dick for a little bit, gtfo if ayaw mo ng yabang) I’m pretty much different from the rest of the dudes they match with, primarily because of the following reasons:

  • I did not start off with a “hi”
  • I did not start off with a pickup line
  • I did not start off asking if they were DTF
  • I did not start off by giving them my phone number and asking them to call me when the “mood strikes them”
  • I don’t look like a douche in my photos

(okay, dick stroking done. Still here? Great, keep reading)

So I asked them to show me their matches, and yes, it’s true: 90% of the time, it’s something as boring as “hi” or “hello.” Sometimes dick pics. Sometimes “DTF?” Sometimes din naman it’s a good one-liner or a question, but most Filipino men seem to be your typical garden-variety fuccboii with no substance at all. And I was curious – how do I play with this?

With the help of a couple of like-minded assholes, we set up a Facebook account for the catfish. We used this Facebook account to dupe a certain gullible classmate into thinking that someone had a crush on him (that was horrible and funny at the same time) and now, this account will be reborn into the sexy, sultry, flirty Heather Anne. Yeah, that was her name. We pulled her pictures from some poor, clueless girl who lived in Zambales so she’d never find out. I’d link to the Facebook profile, but in the interest of peoples’ privacies, nah.

Anyway, Heather Anne was a 19-year-old economics major from my college, and she was “not like any other girls.” Seriously, we made sure she’d stand out by not having any of the common adjectives girls use to describe themselves in their tinder profiles on hers. Heather’s opening salvo, her profile, was something along the lines of “I like a little more spice in my conversations. Impress me and I’ll make it worth your while ;)”

We set up the account, picked up the prettiest/sexiest pictures from our sacrificial lamb’s album, and went to work. I played that Tinder profile like it was Fruit Ninja – fuckin’ swipe everything to the right. Within 5 minutes of swiping, a torrent of matches came in. No joke, Heather had more matches in 10 minutes than I ever did in 6 months. Man, women are powerful. Kinilig ako tbh because I felt like was Heather. I was acclimating to the role. It was gonna be method acting all the way, fuckers.

My phone would not stop buzzing for a couple more days, as a flurry of matches and His, Hellos, stupid one liners, broken English, and neckbeards trying to be funny reached out to Heather, thanking their lucky stars for bagging such a young looking girl who looks like she’s DTF. I had no shortage of victims here, and in a sea of matches, it was time to pick out our poor catfish.

Our first target was a SEC D-looking motherfucker who posed like he was hot shit with his Suzuki motorcycle adorned with shitty stickers and his name spelled out on the side. He had an H in his name, if I recall correctly. Anyway, he lived in Caloocan, and he messaged us first. For the sake of clarity, I’ll be posting the convo here as best I could remember.

Victim 1: “Hello pu”

Heather:  “Hi. Wru from?”

V1: “Caloocan. Icao?”

H: “QC. And I’m really, really wet right now.”

It went on like this for a few more hours, back and forth libugan. I asked him what he would do to me if he met me, and pretended that Heather was touching herself all the while. And then, the kicker:

H: “You got me all wet. Punta ka dito, meet me at McDonald’s Banaue.”

V1: “Wala aco pera. Pwede bukas na lang?”

H: “Now or never, babe.”

V1: “Wala talaga aco pera. Sorry. Pero gus2 ko tlga.”

H: “Just get here. Ako na magbabayad ng taxi mo.

I should mention that I was doing this whole conversation with a bevy of laughing straight men, and we decided that we should see this to the end. We piled up on our friend’s car and headed to McDonald’s Banaue, and parked in front of the store, stakeout style. We waited for the guy to come and look for Heather. He was asking for my number because “wala ako data” but of course, fuck that.

H: “No numbers. No last names. Fun lang.”

And sure enough, 45 minutes later, all the way from Caloocan to Banaue, appeared Victim 1, obviously not carrying anything but his shriveled bayag. He leaned into the taxi’s driver’s window, probably asking him to wait for a bit, yung magbabayad parating na. And of course, Heather was not there. He looked and looked, scoured the whole McDonald’s for any sign of his beloved Heather. Of course, he found nothing. He looked like a complete ass, even asking the guards if they saw her by showing them her photos. Heh. He went back into the taxi, the driver looking irate, and then they sped off. I got messages from Victim 1 30 minutes later, asking where the hell Heather was. I simply told him he took way too long and Heather had to go. I promised a next time – oh my god, he said yes.

Inside the car, we could barely contain our laughter. The whole situation was just so surreal – men, when flattered and given a tasty bone to chew on, are incredibly gullible. And it was quite the rush as well – we were all hooked on catfishing. So we set out and did it some more. We had a Victim 2, 3, and 4: a skater dude who doesn’t look like he showered in decades, a med student with a Hyundai Genesis, and a nerdy programmer-type with Poindexter glasses. I shit you not. For this stage of the hunt, however, we mixed it up: we asked them to come over to a Starbucks somewhere bringing random things: a pillow, random potted plant, a saw, respectively. And they complied, can you believe that? Men are stupidly gullible. Oh, and we also asked them to say a phrase that would tell us that they are who they are.

H: “Sabihin mo, ‘Game, kantutan na.‘”

I know, this is gonna be horrible for a lot of people, but we were kids and kids are dumb. We staged another stakeout in front of the Starbucks. Upon their arrival, we asked them to go to a random girl who looked roughly like Heather and whisper in their ear. Two of them were slapped while another was laughed at. It. Was. Gold. This went on for a couple more hours until we grew tired of it, and we sped off into the night, happy in our douchebagginess, feeling like we achieved something.

Looking at it retrospectively, that was horrible. We set dudes up, made them hope, and then embarassed them publicly for following their dicks. But in a way, it gave me a wonderful insight into the male psyche: we think with our dicks. None of our victims even thought of asking for Heather’s profile. None of them (well most) had any qualms about not giving up their number. Dangle a beautiful girl who’s DTF in front of dudes, no matter how fictitious, and they will seek her out. If there’s a chance to get their dicks wet, they will not hesitate.

It says a lot about the character of men in this city, and it’s… honestly, pretty fucking disappointing.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the story.

a love letter to pochok bangusan’s bangus

Photos by Ice Hung

The first time I saw you was in a YouTube videoYou were enjoying the company of another man, foreign by the looks of him. You seemed like you were enjoying yourself. There you were, fresh off the grill, clothed in a beautiful motley of green, orange, and white, your skin kissed by the charcoal, your flesh browned by the heat. You were very, very beautiful to me.

As he picked apart every inch of you, I watched in jealousy as the man sliced you up with his spoon and put you on his plate. He grabbed your dress – a delectable relish of tomatoes, celery, and onions – and draped you with it, after which you were drizzled in a rain of bagoong na isda mixed with calamansi and labuyo. You were very, very beautiful to me. I knew I had to have you.

As he scooped you up in his spoon and chased you with some rice, the pleasure in his face was palpable. His eyes grew wide, his grin went from ear-to-ear. I imagined you, dancing on his tastebuds, flirting with his emotions, giving him the culinary equivalent of an hour-long underwater blowjob. I imagined your juices oozing from your tender meat, the taste of the charcoal deep within your skin, the relish exploding like a firework inside of him. Putangina. You were very, very beautiful to me. I would not be content with just seeing you.

And so, we set out for you, determined to find you, my beautiful, fishy holy grail. We braved treacherous paths and went through stormy seas (just kidding, you were a 60 peso uberX away) to reach your place of origin, a wonderful roadside carinderia called Pochok Bangusan. You have been here for over 30 years now. You are at the peak of your adult life, and you have never been so beautiful.

By the time we reached you, you were almost out. There was only three of you left, and you were the first thought in my head as I alighted from the car. I asked the person behind the counter if I could please, please have one of the bangus? She picked you up and warmed you up as we took our seats, eager to begin our journey into your wonderfulness.

And there you were.

bangus 2

Sitting pretty in your plastic plate, every single inch as beautiful as the one I saw from my screen. You smelled even more wonderful up close, despite the fact that you just spent 30 seconds in the microwave. The smells emanating from you did not fail to amaze me. The relish, the smell of the grill, your meat tender and browned, you were just like in the movies – except now, you are a tangible source of happiness.

I couldn’t wait. I didn’t even mind the fact that there was no labuyo or bagoong na isda to bathe you in. I didn’t mind at all. All that mattered was that you, me, we are here, present, together, and I was going to slice you down and scoop you up into my mouth… and you were very, very beautiful to me.

As I drizzled you slightly with some toyo and piled you on my spoon with rice, I took a deep breath, opened my mouth, and pulled you in. And what happened was the most wonderful, beautiful experience in my life of eating fish.

The tartness of your relish was contrasted by the wonderful bitterness of your skin, burned and made crisp by the charcoal grill. Your tender meat burst into a wonderful explosion of flavor, its juices seeping through and splashing all over my tongue, trickling down to my throat. To keep me from being overwhelmed, the rice acted as the neutral partner in our threesome and kept your wildness at bay. And wild you were, my love, and you were very, very beautiful to me.

It was a different sense of accomplishment to finally meet you in the flesh, my love. I have spent days, weeks even, dreaming about how you would feel, how you would taste. But the imagination can never do justice to reality.

After that first bite, I knew right then and there that I would take you home to mama.

And so I did. I had another one of you wrapped up and bagged, ready for the journey ahead.

Very few things in this life live up to its promises, and you were one of those things. I did not and will not ever regret having met you. If there are any regrets, it would be that I haven’t done it sooner, maybe around 10am, when you are at your prime. But rest assured, my love, we will reunite. And once more, we will dance this wonderfully flavorful tango, and you and I will consummate this love over saucers of delectably salty bagoong na isda.

I’ll see you again. Wait for me. Because you are very, very beautiful to me.

Pochok Bangusan is along Don Roces Avenue in Quezon City, katapat lang ng KFC. Masarap dun tangina. 200 pesos yung bangus. Get there before lunchtime so you can have the whole experience.

moba in the pinoy context

If you’ve ever played a MOBA before (and I’m sure you have, you played Mobile Legends or LoL or DotA at some point) you have an idea of the roles played in a classic MOBA. These are:

  • The Tank
  • The Carry
  • The Mid-Laner
  • The Jungler
  • The Support

Quick background on what they all do:

  • Tank
    • character with high HP and defense, takes damage like a boss, rushes into the fray to start off the fight
  • Carry
    • High raw damage output, insane attack speed. Working mantra: “KILL KILL KILL”
  • Mid-Laner
    • Crowd-control, technical player, high magic damage, usually fucks tanks up real bad
  • Jungler
    • Sneaky bastard who sneaks up on unsuspecting characters for an ambush, usually missing during teamfights because he gotta get dem last hits
  • Support
    • Wait, we had another player this whole time?

I’ve played my fair share of MOBAs. To be honest, never really been that good at it. I usually play support in these types of games, because I’m more of a “stay in the rear, keep em alive and kicking” kind of player. Support is fun, but it’s a thankless job, especially where Pinoy gamers are concerned.

See, I’ve only ever played in servers with lots of Filipinos. What I’ve seen in how my countrymen play is going to be my guide in writing this short little post. To give you a background: have you ever been inside a computer shop? No, not Mineski (although it has its fair share of Pinoy gamers as well iykwim) but a real-life kanto computer shop, where your only source of ventilation in a cramped studio-type space with around 20 computers and an irate cashier is a single ceiling fan, and you are surrounded by overheating PCs, 12-year-olds who throw around cusswords like they were candies from the palayok, and everyone complains whenever some hapless kid wants to watch something on YouTube. Ma-lag kasi.

From my experience playing MOBAs with fellow Pinoys, I’ve found the following to be true:

  • What is teamwork?
    • In most matches (solo queue, usually, but ranked games and stuff are REALLY salty as well) with Pinoy gamers, you have to realize that everyone thinks that this is a numbers game. Strategy is reduced to playing the same old tactics (farm, stay away from the tower, poke, hide in the jungle, wait for the jungler, push, repeat) and you don’t see much coordination. Team clashes rarely happen 5v5, you usually see clashes happening 5v1, 3v5, things like that. Coordination is not in our blood, as it seems. And situational awareness – no one looks at the fucking minimap, so you could be pinging danger in your corner because you just saw the whole fucking enemy team pop from the fog of war, and no one would care. I mean. It’s your funeral.
  • Everyone wants to play the carry
    • In team selection, the first guy to pick usually picks carry. I mean, everyone wants to be the killer, right? Malaki titi mo pag mataas kills mo eh. And everyone would choose the same fucking carry character everytime (fucking Teemo fucking Teemo FUCKING TEEMO) and someone ELSE would play another carry and in the end, you’ll have a team with one tank, one support, and three carry characters… ugh. You can all guess how that worked out.
  • The jungler is too busy farming, save your own ass
    • The jungler’s main role is to scout, establish map vision, support the laners in any way possible, distract the enemy jungler, steal enemy jungle monsters… basically, the jungler is the spec-ops team. But not with Pinoys, no. Junglers steal your carry’s / mid-laner’s creeps, the reason being “wala akong creeps na mapatay, penge naman” or “sorry nagiipon ako pang itemz lol.” Pinoy junglers are also very, very situationally unaware (at least from my experience.) Most junglers I play with main carry (big surprise) and are usually caught by surprise whenever they get ganked by the enemy team, because they overreach and end up way too deep in the enemy base, with none of their towers down. Good job, jungler!
  • S A L T Y
    • I don’t even have to explain this. I’m part of a PTSD group for people who played MOBAs with Pinoys, hit me up for the next session.
  • NO ONE WARDS
    • As I recall, it is now part of the meta game for everybody to pitch in with vision. But no. It’s the support’s job. (Looking at you, jungler.) The support barely gets any gold to begin with because they can’t steal creeps from their carry, but they also have to budget their money to buy wards to keep vision on the map. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH GOLD THAT TAKES?! In the end, all the support could afford is a speed-boosting item, and a +mana item (if they’re lucky.) Everything else went to vision. Fuck this.

Main reason why I quit MOBAs is because Filipinos are such hard gamers to play with. They take a lot of the fun out of the games I play. Not being racist here against my own race – I just fucking hate playing with most of my countrymen. And with the reasons stated above, who could blame me?

why we can’t tune out

Or rather, why I can’t tune out.

I, like many people in my generation, have a severe addiction to being plugged in. The proliferation of smartphones has made it so that our screens are with us wherever we go. Many people have reported and written about this kind of lifestyle. This one talks about our smartphone dependence as if it were the adult equivalent of our teddy bears, keeping us safe and connected to something, acting as our security blanket throughout the day. A quick Google search yielded me this much:

Capture

People all over have written about why you can’t put it down, and what you can do to tune out. But for me, it’s just something I can’t do just yet.

You all know I work long hours, and every day, I wake up anywhere between 5:30 am to 8:30am. Usually, I’m late if I woke up at around the latter. I take at least an hour and a half just to wake up and take a shower, then another hour, or hour and a half, to get to work. The whole time, I am on my phone. I’m barely doing anything – just passive reading, looking at stupid shit like memes, foreign news, local news that just gets me angry, and snippets from the lives of people I barely know on social media. Sometimes, I read DnD campaigns, but most times the former usually happens. And I know this. None of the information I look at during the morning is going to stick and none of those add value to my life. But it’s a better alternative than being left alone with your thoughts, right?

I get to the office and turn on another screen, this time for work. But don’t worry, I have two more screens: a phablet and my company phone. The company phone is for communication, it has my Telegram, my Messenger, my social media apps. The phablet is for Viber for my family, and a game I’m playing. These three screens are all on at the same time, and I pay attention to each one of them, passively or otherwise. It slows work down, but it happens anyway.

Same thing when I go home, I have my two screens on. The phablet is streaming videos, and my company phone responds to texts while I watch gameplay videos on YouTube. The trip takes another 1:30h, and when I get home, I take a shower, with the phablet still streaming and propped up while I lather myself up. I go to bed, still watching stupid shit, right until I fall asleep.

Reading that again kind of scared me. I realized that I’m facing a screen 90% of the time while awake. The only reason I’m not connected is because I’m sleeping, or I’m in a meeting, which happens rarely. What the fuck?

I’m addicted, I guess, to the stimulation. It’s really bad for me to have too much stimuli at any given point in the day because it aggravates my already shitty attention deficiency. I get very little work done. There’s also the problem of multiple notifications on social media that I just have  to check out. The problem with that is, even though most times the notifications don’t involve me, I end up scrolling my news feed for stupid content that won’t even stick, and then suddenly it’s been 30 minutes later and I didn’t get to do anything productive.

Here’s my gameplan though:

  1. Turn off all notifactions from mobile, except for messenger apps.
  2. Set a time in the day where I’ll use Facebook (and Twitter) during the weekdays, unless I need to schedule something for my accounts.
  3. Reward myself for every successful closing of social media tabs with… idk a snack maybe and then I’ll get fat and ugly and stay off social media entirely

Not a very concrete or comprehensive plan, but that’s all I have right now. Who knows, it might end up working.

Here’s to hoping.

a sense8 season 2 review for the rest of us

This shitty review contains a lot of spoilers so fuck off if you don’t want none of that shit.

I binged Sense8 season 2, like I do with much of my favorite shows. The Netflix gods are gracious for not letting the show fall into the one-episode-per-week trap that most of the new originals seem to be doing. Damn you, Designated Survivor.

Anyway, yes, Sense8 season 2. Coming from the huge, dragging, glorious clusterfuck of season 1, the second time around was a little bit of everything in every episode. It feels more like a TV series now than a long-ass film, which was what the entire first season felt like. You have to remember that the Wachowskis (bless these women) worked in films, notably the Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, and Cloud Atlas. TV is a very new medium for these two. But in Season 2, they stepped up their game (well, one of them did. Lana sat this one out I think?) and completely changed the whole feel of the series.

For example, they have actual goals per episode now! Break into the lab, confuse the BPO agents, things things things need to be done per episode and it gives every single one a nice wrap-up, compared to last season’s cliffhanger-per-episode. Each season 2 episode feels a lot more compressed, but gives you a good sense of closure and a nice little cliffhanger at the end, just to keep you bingewatching. I love this season so much. It is simply

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Season 2 also lets the audience into the wider world of Sense8. Suddenly, there are other sensates, and that they are spread all around the world. There is a sensate conspiracy called The Archipelago, a huge network of sensates spread out all over the globe. There are now drugs that work against sensate visits called psi-blockers. BPO apparently isn’t as all-powerful and unified as it seems, and it looks like BPO’s original aims weren’t exactly about exterminating the homo sensoriums at all.

This kind of world-building is a true Wachowski quality, as they did with the huge fucking world of The Matrix. I love it: the sense of hugeness really draws you in, making you feel that you are with the sensates, fighting a bigger evil than you actually realized.

And then you have the sensates’ stories as well. Will and Riley are still hell-bent on getting Whispers (which they do, eventually.) Capheus runs for office (I know, right?) Lito is trying to figure out what to do with his career after coming out. Wolfgang struggles with Berlin, a new whore called Lila (SHE’S A WHORE OK) while still trying to maintain his and Kala’s “illicit” relationship. Oh, and by the way, Kala is still annoyingly troubled by her feelings for Wolfgang and her marriage. But watch on, because she gets sent to Paris because her husband is involved in some shady shit, which… you know. Next season, Kala and Wolfie are fucking. Nomi, awesome hacktivist as ever, provides background on BPO’s past, and all-around support for whatever shenanigans the sensates are up to, together with her uber-cute girlfriend (SOON TO BE WIFE OMG THAT ENGAGEMENT SCENE DOE) Amanita, and the ever-creepy Bug. I love Bug so much.

And now, for my bae. Sun finally manages to get the closure she needed against her brother, and I have to say, her arc is the best one in all of the stories. Mostly because I’m so in love with her character, but also because she has the best fucking action sequences, something that the Wachowskis have never faltered in. I’d post more gifs about it but I can’t figure out wordpress right now, so this will have to wait. WATCH THE FUCKING SHOW, GUYS, BECAUSE IT IS SO GOOD.

Another thing: they really bumped up the action sequences there, with a few homages to The Matrix. Particularly the shootout scene between Wolfgang and Lila, the clever use of columns as cover reminds me of the office building shootout in the first Matrix film. There are no bullet-time sequences, though, so the Wachowskis have done away with that. There is a 24-minute chase scene in the finale, where Sun goes all fucking Terminator in an attempt to finally rid the world of her shitty little brother. Fuck that guy so much. Anyway, those glorious 24 minutes, a car v bike chase scene set in Seoul, is one of the most intense moments of TV in history. Please watch the show if you haven’t yet because it is THE BEST SHOW.

Throughout the season, you see how much the cast’s dynamics have changed. Everyone is much more candid with each other. The cast have mentioned in a few interviews that the Wachowskis gave them a lot more creative freedom in how to portray their characters. Everything about their dynamic is much more natural, less scripted, and makes everything even more genuine. This season also had me laughing a lot more than the last one. There’s a scene where Nomi and Sun are making a battle plan on how to catch Sun’s brother, and they needed a bartender. Lito shows up and flairs, and then succumbs once more to sobs (he just lost his job at this point.) The way the camera pans out and completely cuts off Lito’s crying is comedic gold. The clever use of the cast’s dynamics, witty dialogue, stupid reactions, and perfectly timed camera pans really gets me.

All in all, Sense8 doesn’t make a whole lot of… well, sense. I still don’t get the rules of visiting (do they control someone’s body? are they like invisible poltergeist? how do psi-blockers work?) There’s so much happening that sometimes you forget what happened in the last episode. Conspiracies and deceptions are everywhere, and it gets kind of exhausting to remember everything. But what Sense8 does really well is fuse sci-fi, action, comedy, drama, suspense, social commentary, and porn in one beautifully crafted season, and that’s why I’ve come to love it. It wants to be many things. So many things. It pulls it off in a lot of respects, but fails in a few more — and that, my friend, is endearing. Its message: love. If everyone were as nice and empathic as our favorite gang of sensates, the world would be a much better place. And the message is received.

Tl;dr Sense8 season 2 is awesome and you should watch it if you’re not a horrible, baby-punching, puppy-kicking, cat-siopaoing psychopath.

a reflection on stars

Hello! I haven’t written in a while. Been a weird few days. Sorry about that, here’s some more non-groundbreaking content that adds no value to your life, whatsoever! Thank you for reading this far.

Now, I’m a pretty big fan of stars, and the cosmos in general. There’s not much that can make me happier than lying down on a banig in the middle of dark night out of the city, staring up at the stars. My girlfriend, Aly, likes to do that too. She brings along her phone and opens up her star map to point at the skies. We have fun figuring out which star is which, which twinkles are planets, what the constellations look like to the naked eye.

In its own way, it’s very therapeutic. You realize how small you are in comparison to the wide cosmos. Whenever I look up at the stars, I see not just white twinkles in the sky. I see unlimited potential. Each one of those stars, burning hotter than the planet’s core, millions of miles away, have their own planets revolving around them. I wonder the same as the first men did: is there anyone out there? Will we ever know? Will we ever see? Will we ever make contact?

There’s a few theories floating around about whether or not we’re alone. There’s a saying by Arthur C. Clarke that I really like:

“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

And it’s true. It would be terrifying to realize that we are the only sentient beings in the universe, perhaps the only planet to ever hold life. What if we are? Are we, small and insignificant as motes of dust suspended in the light, truly alone in the universe? Is this whole expanse ours to explore, ours to die in?

Another possibility is that we are not alone, and this carries more weight with me. What human isn’t hopeful that there are others out there? Stephen Hawking, he of the computer-voice fame, said that intelligent alien beings will come and wipe us all out, Mass Effect style. Just imagine, someday a huge race of spacefaring aliens will come to Earth and kill every last one of us as we do an anthill, to steal our resources. We might end up as slaves and shit. Which would be very, very terrifying.

But enough about how inferior we could potentially be to an ancient alien civilization. There’s another theory I like believing in: if (you know what, let’s be positive) when we finally get to meet an alien civilization, we would be able to set up a discourse and talk to each other, and work towards the betterment of both of our civilizations. The problem here though is that humans are natural xenophobes. There will be a lot of friction. But I hope that in the future, we’d have evolved past that.

Anyway, that’s too far off tangent. I was talking about stars, yes. Now, all of these thoughts run through my head whenever I’m staring up at the stars. It’s scary, but in a lot of ways, beautiful and calming. It puts everything in perspective. Your problems, all of your worries and cares, all of our conflicts, disagreements, shady deals, environmental polluting… all of them are so, so insignificant to the universe. We are nothing but a fluke. Carl Sagan said this about this photo of Earth, taken by the Voyager 1 capsule about 6 billion miles from where it came from:

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“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

 

See how small we are, and how big and empty space is? This quote is what keeps me going through this life filled with uncertainty and chaos. If, for some incredible reason, all humans realize how little we really have, we would achieve peace. Countries and borders would fall down. Walls would collapse, political wills will mean next to nothing. All we would have is our accountability to our world, and to each other. Isn’t that a lovely thought?

We are all riding on a space ship, hurtling towards whatever at an amazing speed. This is all we have. And as I look up at the stars, I feel comfort in the fact that maybe, just maybe… we aren’t alone.

BONUS: SOMEDAY THE MILKY WAY WILL FUSE WITH THE ANDROMEDA GALAXY AND IT WOULD BE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING EVER

one time, i pooped in a plastic bag

I’ve told this story to a few people already, and I was thinking you fuckers would enjoy it, too. The title is exactly what it sounds like.

It was summer vacation, and I was maybe 20 at the time. Our house was undergoing renovations, and we had two live-in workers doing the job full-time. Our house was small – it had two bedrooms (now three), a cozy living room, a hallway that doubled as a dining area, “clean” and “dirty” kitchens, and one bathroom. For a family of seven plus two workers, it was pretty small. You can see where this is going.

I was enjoying my day, minding my own business, my eyes glued to a computer screen as always. I was having a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the middle of the morning, the breakfast of champions. Again, you can see where this is going. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, I felt the rustling of my intestines, as if the Jabberwock itself came whiffling through the tulgey wood.

I walked calmly towards the bathroom, feeling the poop building up right behind my sphincter, ready to be released like eager dogs of war. They were primed, apparently with the power to launch further than any of North Korea’s ballistic missiles. My poop was shaping up to be my toilet’s worst nightmare. It would be akin to the gassing of the troops of Verdun, but more poop than chlorine gas. There would be no escape for my porcelain friend, and it would be glorious. I picked up the Lysol, ready to offset the smell of death and destruction that would inevitably follow the wake of the poop of the century.

And then the bathroom door was locked. I banged at the door, hoping to coax anyone in there to “tangina bilisan mo, taeng tae na ko!” Apparently, one of our workers were in the bathroom. We were in very good terms with these guys so it’s okay to cuss ’em out.

Me: “Hoy baluga tangina lalabas na!”
Baluga: “Sandali kakapasok ko lang!”

This exchange went on for five more minutes. The big one cannot wait any longer. In desperation, I picked up a plastic bag and went outside. At home, we have a little outdoor hallway, kind of a receiving area but outdoors. It had a small, human-height metal gate, with half of it completely solid and the other half made up of grates with spear points (to defend against invaders and/or akyat bahay people). I put my hand inside the plastic bag and put it right above my asshole, because I was gonna do it. This was a better alternative to pooping your shorts. I had no shame. I was gonna do it. I was gonna poop into this plastic bag.

Now, given that I am a man and men are simply not that smart, I put my hand in a plastic bag because I was thinking that I was gonna poop one solid, long, and thick poop. The kind of poop that you could use as a bludgeon. The kind of poop that looks like a baguette, one that you could put in a hotdog bun. But no, that wasn’t the case. I was not to be that lucky. I squatted on the cold, pebbled floor, took a deep breath, and prepared myself for the best poop of my life, albeit done in a plastic bag.

In a disgusting, sludgy torrent, the poop flowed as if a dam just broke. It was a steaming hot pile of semi-liquid poop. Imagine the hot fudge drizzling over a yummy sundae, only instead of a drizzle, it was a drenching. The smell was appalling. I remembered the Holocaust. To my right, the other worker and my little brother stood, watching, not even hiding their laughter and disgust. “Tangina, tumae siya sa plastik!” my little brother screamed. Remember, this was outside, and there were probably people who heard about my plight.

My hand in the plastic bag was barely able to contain the sheer amount of shit that just flowed out from my body. It spilled over from my cupped hand, sending globs of yellow shit hurtling towards the ground. It was messy business, for sure, and the smell didn’t help either. The dog recoiled in disgust and ran away from me. My brother and the other worker were still laughing, probably having asthma attacks in retrospect. And just when I finished, the worker in the bathroom stepped out and looked at the scene in front of him. I was tempted to throw the plastic bag at him. But I didn’t, because I was euphoric. There was relief.

I tied up the plastic bag and threw it in the trash, proud of what I’ve done. And as I was walking back, I forgot about the shit still on the ground and stepped barefoot in it. Beautiful, just beautiful.

Now, what lesson have we learned here today? When pooping in a plastic bag, just hold it open. It’s less messy.

on staying mindful

mind·ful
(ˈmīn(d)fəl) adj.
Being conscious or aware of something.

Mindfulness is a very flighty thing to me. One of the symptoms of bipolar disorder (when will I ever stop talking about this, no?) is flight of ideas. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, right? You get ideas left and right without even having to think about it! But nah, that’s not it; it’s more of having constant racing thoughts in your head, making you jump from one topic or another, or sometimes going off-tangent during conversations, forgetting what you were talking about just a few minutes ago, or even just distracting you by your lonesome, taking you away from what you need to do.

It’s a daily problem for people like me, who need to really concentrate on what they’re doing. If I post the wrong post in any of the accounts I handled (which has happened — I posted a cheese brand in an unrelated juice brand account once) I would be shat on by the highest powers in the land (my clients). There’s also the problem of being mindful enough to foresee what your clients do and don’t want in their content because that would cut back revisions a lot.

The problem with the flight of ideas is the constant assault of thoughts you don’t even want in your head right now. It takes you away from what you need to do. I could be writing down content one second, incredibly concentrated, and then my brain decides, “nope, we’re bored of this, move on.” I then jump into a sea of thoughts populated by various puppies and cats, or I open another tab in my browser and look through reddit threads that add no value to my life whatsoever. This flight of ideas makes me procrastinate a lot and it’s actually pretty damn depressing.

I’ve been doing something about it, though. Instead of playing music, I’ve taken to listening to nature sounds while working. I usually have my headphones on when I work, anyway. It’s actually very relaxing and allows me to concentrate more on what I’m doing, like right now while writing this blog. Aly also recommended Calm, a meditation app. We’ve been using it for a few days and have started meditating at the end of each day. You’d be surprised at how much good a 30-minute body scan session would do for your sanity.

So there, that’s what I do to practice mindfulness. It’s hard, really, harder than people might think. I mean, why not just concentrate, right? But for some people, just focusing on something is a huge challenge enough. But it’s the 21st century, and there’s no excuses for not helping yourself out.