He argues there has to be a point. She smiles, placating, that’s what they want you to think. A cat walks in their midst, having jumped onto the table, long tail towering over their heads and swaying gently side to side. Meow, the cat says, silencing them both.
Kitty swipes at his King and sends it toppling to the floor; Kitty swipes at her Bishop, which hits her Knight and her Queen, and sends all three pieces falling to her lap. Kitty walks in circles and settles on their chess board for another nap. Together they reach for the cat’s fur and scratch until they hear the purr of contentment; quietly he marvels at his triumph and she marvels at the wonder of his words ever being true.
We need to iron our clothes though. You will iron our clothes, right?
No, why should we iron our clothes, we both burn through them.
Well I burned my uniforms twice. So.
This morning is a quiet one; barring the occasional sounds of vehicles, I hear nothing more than my own laboured breathing and the shuffle of feet in the kitchen while the elders of the house prepare for their busy day. The building has not opened its gates for business and the carpenters haven’t arrived. The neighbours are quiet. The dogs and roosters are quiet. The cat next door mewls for a while, but the sound is tiny and irrelevant, and soon gone.
Mornings are colder now. I sleep under four layers of blankets and still shiver, although that may be because the electric fan is on despite the cold; I can’t sleep without its gentle drone and the familiar sweep of air on my face. In a way it is like assisted breathing. Even during nights when I sleep like the dead, power outages wake me: I suffocate when the air is still and the world is quiet and dark; I remain restless until the neighbours’ generators come to life and break the silence with the loud rumble of its engines. I hate the sounds they make — grating, hoarse, sometimes tired — but I fall asleep not long after, so I can’t truly complain.
I often try not to think about how lonely this sounds.
Noon is slow, lethargic. Banks generally are, I suppose, and to ask for thrill in this environment would be to court danger.
Paperwork is tedious and pointless. Writings are emotionless, stern, concise to a fault, blunt and impartial like all else in the world that have little regard for the liberal arts. Business letter is a terrible redundancy; all letters have business. Business letters is a terrible misnomer; “business letters” aren’t written for people, they’re written for institutions, and are not letters so much as they are memorandums or circulars or notices or transactional correspondences. I realise I am being a romantic by insisting on the personal nature of letters, and I am not an expert on semantics and therefore am ill-qualified to argue the use of the word letter, but I shall remain stubborn on the matter: letters are for people to other people, and are filled with more meaning than submission of requirements and compliance to circulars and requests or invitations to so and so.
Nights are noisy. There is a bar right across the house now, always full of noisy patrons. This city has no zoning policies; where one day you have a quiet neighbourhood, the other you will find yourself in the middle of a budding night life capital. The bar has open-mic sessions during Fridays and Saturdays. Music is nice. Loud conversations are not. Shrieking laughter and drunken screaming are not. Large, open windows facing source of noise are not. Some nights the neighbours’ dogs like to join in the cacophony–one dog barks and triggers a canine round song. One neighbour owns a dozen roosters that take offence and consequently crow in the middle of the night to assert their territories, or cause a headache, who knows. One neighbour owns a chihuahua that just yips, a tiny sound compared to that of its other bigger fellows, but more annoying for its higher pitch.
I could kiss the cats of the subdivision: they’re quiet when the rest of the avenue is loud, and sometimes, when all noises die down and the silence becomes just a little bit suffocating, they mewl gently in the streets until dawn, or at least until the hum of the electric fan lulls me to sleep again.
At best cadence demands elegance
from gunshots hitting improbabilities
just kill; leave
mementos now or prepare questions
relations suffer through until vengeance
waxes wanes withers weeps
Bingeing on Friends is probably one of my better decisions this year. I like Ross’s charming pronunciations and Joey’s obliviousness; I find Monica’s compulsions a little sad (because I’m that kind of person) and Rachel is Rachel is Rachel, the most unaware character of the show (I’m only on Season 1, please don’t judge); I am, however, much too infatuated with Chandler and Phoebe.
Episode 4 has this scene where the girls have a sleepover and Rachel gripes about not having a plan since breaking up with her orthodontist fiancé and Monica and Phoebe proceed to comfort her with words of sympathy. Phoebe, because she’s Phoebe, brings up a seemingly off-tangent Jack and the Beanstalk comparison, and the stories work for a while — at least until Rachel articulates on screen my greatest, deepest fear in life: what if it’s not gonna be fine.
Alone, I laughed the most awkward laugh I have ever heard from myself in all of my self-conscious life.
Before Nina, a Category 4 hurricane, decided she absolutely had to ruin my lasagna, my friends and I celebrated Advent in a small-ish Knishmas party held at Kaffeka. The whole thing was my idea, born of the need to experience the annual Christmas party I’ve missed (college is boo!). I planned it to be complete with opening remarks and prayers and party games; it didn’t go as perfectly as I wanted (nothing I plan ever does, so I shouldn’t have sulked about it, but I did anyway). I left the office early but got stuck in Christmas rush, I came home to an empty house in need of cleaning, and my mother was in a hospital attending to something so decidedly not her business anymore. I was supposed to cook my mother’s pasta parmigiana and boy was I ready to brag about it to my friends but between washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen and silently fuming over my mother’s inability to lay off things that aren’t ever hers to worry about, I had too little time to get to really cooking anything. Instead I ended up buying a chocolate cake, decorated with Welp (my favourite word after Fuck).
I was ready to cry in frustration — I was an hour late to the party I planned, I missed The Music Snob’s listening party (theme: guilty pleasures) much to my dismay, and although I bought prizes and cake and soda and printed out a programme, I didn’t bring food which was (is) arguably the most important part of any party — but my friends, magnificent creatures that they are, didn’t even mind. (Okay, they did mind, but they were very gracious about it. Which is to say they made it a point to remind me of the huge blunder of not bringing a supposedly-delicious meal to the party.)
We had chicken for dinner, a far cry from the saucy-sounding menu I would’ve made, but amidst the sound of their voices and the way they picked up after me messing up, I couldn’t care less. The chicken was delicious.
(And as if they hadn’t made me happy enough already, one of them decided to bring adobo too, like the potluck of days past!)
(I still cried that night, to nobody’s surprise but mine.)
In the wake of grief and mourning, one friend laughs a little too loudly and the other suddenly falls a little too quiet. It pains me to watch them keeping up with life and fumbling in the smallest of ways when they look to a corner and find that the moment misses a pounce, or a nuzzle, or a tail. The least I could be is there, here, wherever it counts.
You’d think with the new year I’d have fared better in the art of figuring out what a normal day for me entails but alas, even with a fresh start (it’s as fresh as it’s ever gonna get) I still find it impossible to properly schedule my days. I suppose it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to spontaneity and I may have become too attached to the practice of split-second decision making, and now I pay the unreasonably annoying price: I find myself without a life plan.
(Goes without saying that of course I never had a life plan in the first place; if I had I wouldn’t have landed myself in so messy a predicament as figuring out which way is forward and which way leads to further recession of character. It’s actually more of an about damn time kind of realisation and I know it’s something I’ve known all along but adamantly buried in the back of my mind for… err… safekeeping.)
My “tenacity” notwithstanding, I managed to scoop up a little bit of motivation to try and pull my shit together. So far it hasn’t been the most productive, and that’s a really great way to start a new year, I know, but I’ve worked enough to be able to at least offer myself a bit of congratulatory brandy as recompense for the many months I have neglected my health in order to brood over life’s many-splendoured bullshit. It’s a small mercy, a poor consolation, since I still have a very long way to go and am faced with a series of difficult, life-changing decisions the repercussions of which I will have to live with for the rest of my time on Earth: stay or leave, go back or leave, commit or leave… All of these choices require the abandonment of safety and comfort and familiarity. I am not a bountiful person; I do not have a lot of friends and property, and as such am prone to investing way too much time, effort, and emotion in the people and things I hold close. I’m giving myself a month to make up my mind about what I’m about to do, although I admit I’ve given myself too much time to think about it already that I’m starting to feel the rather crippling sense of worthlessness I’ve come to associate with any thoughts relating to myself.
It’s wearying to keep fighting this fight, honestly, since I’ve been going at it alone for so many years now (it’s really not something anyone else can help me with). If it weren’t for the friends who hold me up (knowingly or otherwise) I wouldn’t have lasted very long. The urge to commit suicide has always been an ebb-and-flow kind of feeling for me, but opening up to them and getting over how stupid and emotional I sound like when I tell them these things has made me feel a bit better about the world as a whole. In a way, despite being one of the least-aware characters of Season 1, Rachel was right: I’ll be fine, I’ve got magic beans.
This must all be a dream. I would demand it of the deities humans worship. I would sell everything of mine worth taking for the chance to undo all the horrors this year has brought. If it is true that this universe is just a great simulation, well, fuck you, Player.
I was never a good writer to begin with, thoughts scattering across paper this way and that, but lately I’ve been feeling a strange hum of rage in the back of my mind. I’ve been suppressing it because I was never smartest when emotionally overwhelmed, but if this keeps up I’m afraid it’ll blow its lid off. And when it does, how would I write it all down?
Where does one begin writing all the anger?