Wednesday, 31 August 2011

the samsonite (the curse and the closure)

It is my duty and responsibility to myself that had advised me and somehow forced me to never contact you anymore.

As I neatly placed and stored all my worldly belongings in the borrowed drawer in the borrowed closet, I could feel your ugliness melting away.

This borrowed carpet might not be clean since I could see dust bunnies in the corners and the edges of this borrowed room, but as I was being a lotus in the middle of this chamber, I could swear I felt my memories being vacuumed and scrubbed and pampered, all in the process of forgetting you.

Then the fact of our relationship (or whatever we called it) woke me up from my daydream, as pungent as the smelling salt, as bitter as the icy water, all to awaken the drifters; and once more, I placed you on my pedestal. Probably not as number one, or two, or ten, but you were there.

It has been a week, and you are still there; slipping down steadily, but still there.

When I perish, and if the suitcase continues to serve its purpose, let it be a reminder of the ugliness of wound that it has inflicted upon me and upon those who purposely strayed.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

the perfect pasta

I love pasta. I really do. What can I say, I love carbs! Carbs give me my curves... Okay, I'm probably delusional.

However, I had an epiphany just last night. I said to myself, "I'm going to make a garlic bread!" not unlike the way Ms. Vida Boheme (RIP Patrick Swayze) told Ms. Noxeema Jackson and Ms. Chichi Rodriguez that it was going to be a say-something-hat-day nor the way Mrs. Dalloway said that she was going to get the flowers herself.

So, I did.

There was no pestle and mortar, so I had another epiphany and decided to chop the garlic into fine, tiny pieces (thank goodness the IKEA knife was not sharp, otherwise I'd have lost two fingers), then dumped them into a little glass, threw in a lump of vegan butter, and mixed them together with spoon. I spread a bit on a slice of bread.

Next came the pasta. I put the pasta into boiling water and after about 7 minutes, I threw in the spinach (washed, obviously). After approximately one minute, I took the pasta and spinach out of the water. When I was cooking the pasta, I fired up my frying pan, put in the garlic butter until it sizzles, then I threw in the mushrooms. After the mushrooms were golden, I put in the pasta and spinach, sauteed them a bit, then put in the sauce, some tomato slices, and stirred some more. The timer in the little oven went "ding" and I saw the garlic bread, all toasty and ready.

So, yes. I just cooked, and I loved it. Who knew?

There's nothing better than a delicious and satisfying meal on a warm, lazy Saturday.

such is life

"Happy birthday, Ma," my voice trembled across the long distance line. This wasn't the first time I felt homesick on my second long trip to California. It had merely been two weeks and I was already longing for a hot tropical weather, a traffic dead-lock, and idyllic excursions with my felines. The fact that I wasn't home for my mother's birthday seemed to put even more weight on my already hunched back.

These past two weeks have been rather strange, to say the least. I was merrily walking on my weekly grocery trip to WholeFoods and when I crossed the parking lot (on a crossing that was meant as pedestrian crossing, obviously), a woman in an SUV said this to my face (she had her window down), "I had put my blinker on and I was politely waiting for someone to cross the road and somebody else stole my parking spot! So thanks a lot, Asshole!"

Needless to say, I was stunned. I still couldn't figure out if she was directing her anger to me or to another driver who took her spot. Must be someone from Los Angeles.

Another time, I was on the BART Train, on my way to dance class, and I had put on my earphones and played the music on full blast (I know, this was my mistake) and I was reading James Joyce's Dubliners. To cut the story down to the gist: don't ever do this. I learned the hard way and had a guy with a bike make everybody on the damn car look at me as if I were some kind of an inconsiderate asshole. Out of confusion, I said "thank you" instead of "sorry". English has never been my first language.

Then just last week, I witnessed seven police cars busting one sedan. The picture only shows three police cars, but I have two videos of it on my Facebook (I have edited the setting so you don't have to be my friend first). It was right under my window (I happen to live on the second floor of an apartment building). At first I thought it was just some crazy guy yelling on the streets but the shouting kept going on and as I looked out of my window, I saw police cars lining on the streets, their siren lights were on but no sounds. It started at around 2 AM and it took more than an hour to get everything cleaned up.

I found a latex glove lying around the next morning. Do police officers get tickets for littering? I guess not.

Then finally, I received my 12-inch frying pan from Amazon. It is just the right size and I went straight to making sauteed tofu, mushroom, and broccoli and much to my dismay, I realized that the kitchen in my apartment does not have an exhaust fan... Or a door. So, everytime I cook, the rest of the apartment smells like the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant. I had to spray deodorizer afterwards and just open the window.

I've found a perfect solution to this issue (as well as to my diet issue): I will only cook heavy meals for lunch and eat sandwich for dinner. Therefore, I don't have to worry about sleeping with a heavy scent of sauteed tempeh with soy sauce around me.

It has, indeed, been a rough week. However, I'm sure others have had worse. Like the Irene for example.

Well, such is life.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

the samsonite

I just sat there, among the boxes and the Samsonite. The big suitcase was lying on the floor, opened wide like a big wound, with all the ugliness coming out of its opening. The ugliness, as it turned out, was comprised of my belongings - the precious and private property that I had dragged along halfway across the world. Now they just lied there, in a puddle of mess. I kept postponing putting them properly inside the drawers: one for the socks and the briefs, one for the shirts and the jeans, and so on.

You'd have thought I'd been busy. I might need to use that excuse if someone entered my apartment and witnessed the condition I was living in. Probably saying that would give me some sort of leverage from being accused of being a slob.

Yet I was not busy. In fact, I had too much spare time on my hands that I didn't know what to do with it. So I opened my laptop, connected to the internet, and activated my Messenger. Then a familiar "beep" greeted me.

"You've been away for a long time. I missed our chats," he typed.

I stared at the Messenger window for a long time. Not knowing how to respond. We were never meant for each other - he had a partner and I... well, things were complicated. All I could type was a "Hey". Had it been an audio conversation, he would've noticed how meek it was. The meekness didn't stay too long, and as he sent me a cyber kiss (with that stupid little puckering emoticon), I blushed and swooned.

Then the conversation went flowing, as smooth as the bubbling chilled Perrier that went through my lips, soaked my teeth, my gums, my tongue and the ceiling of my mouth, and as it reached my throat, it let gravity took care of it and fell into the abyss where my intestines were waiting, ready to be showered by the liquid.

The moment he said he needed to go have some lunch marked the beginning of the longest, coldest, most awful one hour in my life. I huffed, puffed, and paced around the room, all the while checking my computer, waiting for him. As I was about to give up, I heard a soft "beep": he was back.

"Hi. Sorry for taking too long, I had lunch with my parents," he said.

"Wow, that's sweet! What did you guys talk about?" I asked with genuine curiosity.

"Oh, not much. Just ordinary things," he answered. I cringed at the thought of eating with my own parents and how the members of my family had drifted far apart from each other. A tinge of jealousy sparked in my heart.

"My boss is gone, and I have tons of things that I really need to work on before the day ends, but I'd rather be chatting with you," he confided.

I looked away from the monitor and my eye caught the sight of the open suitcase. Perhaps the sight was not less ugly than my own wound that this person had opened when he said he already had a partner. "Well, let's chat for a while," I suggested, lying to him and to myself. I wanted to chat with you forever.

The topics we chose ranged from the dying American Empire to thieving scumbags, but I wasn't prepared when he asked me what I wanted in a relationship. In a well-thought-of answer that was a strategy to make him feel sorry with his current status, I said, "I wish to settle down and have a long-term monogamous relationship."

He took the blow and I sensed his budding melancholy.

"I'm sorry I hadn't met you way before this," was his reply. I smiled, a triumphant smile, perhaps, but it felt more like losing than winning.

"It's late here. I need to sleep and you have to finish your work," I said, trying to put an end to this little moonlighting that would no doubt spark endless fantasies influenced by Disney and Lucas Entertainment movies.

"I know... Well, sleep tight, Princess..." he said.

"I can't believe you just called me that," I replied.

"It's because you're very precious to me, one in a billion."

I sensed my heart skipping a beat, and as he sent another kissy-face emoticon, I typed, "I'll see you, my Knight," and closed the lid of my laptop, putting it into hibernation mode. I shut my eyes and smiled, feeling way, way up in the sky. The first thing that I saw when I opened my eyes again was the Samsonite, lying there with my clothes and things inside it like a big puddle of mess.

Then I remembered the wound he had inflicted upon me and I came crashing down to the ground into a million of pieces.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

el cheapo

Apparently, this apartment did not come with a steel contraption that is used to hold plates and pans and forks and whatnots to dry; and after a few days of being cheap creative, I finally decided to just purchase one and live free from fear of breaking the free IKEA plates and bowls by putting them on this:

Ingenious, I tells ya! That's not all, though. Usually there is a plate and a bowl on the empty space on the right. I can use the space between the metal bars to hold the plate up.

Now it's like this:

Not too shabby, eh?

Yesterday I went to SMC for the whole registration thing and I finally received my little schedule, and yes, it's... little. For this semester, I only have classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Classes begin on 1 September and end on 15 December. After that, it's Christmas and New Year break. There is a January term, but I had prior commitments so I'll just return to the US in February... 2012. Yes, we're inching ever closer to the end of days.

Also, I was told that the SMC student card was good for a free bus ride... Except for graduate students. Upon hearing the sad news, El Cheapo in me died instantly.

Friday, 12 August 2011

big guns

I'm a big fan of Xenomorphs (Aliens) and Yautjas (Predators). What can I say, I'm a big geek. Still, I don't watch Star Wars.

During the flight from Changi to SFO, one of the movie selections was Predators. I love the first Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger (I'm actually a big fan of Schwarzenegger's, and probably I'm being a douchebag by saying that I still like his movies despite of his affair; I can't say the same thing about Mel Gibson, though) and Predator 2 is also one of my favorites in my limited repertoire of extraterrestrial gore movies.

However, as I'm watching Predators, I can't help but wonder why some people think it's a good sequel, like Aliens to Alien. Some people even went as far as saying that Predator 2 was shitty.

This entry won't be a review; it's going to be a rant (AND IT CONTAINS SPOILERS!).

Rant #1: The score. It doesn't mix with the scenes. I hear the influence of not only Predator and Predator 2 music scores, but also from the Alien Saga. Predators' score is grand and is meant for grandiose long and wide, impressive, dramatic shots - shots that aren't found in Predators.

Rant #2: Adrien Brody. He is boring, monotonous, and completely lacks the personality that Schwarzenegger or Danny Glover showed in Predator and Predator 2 respectively. I thought I almost killed myself from boredom whenever Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne steps onto the screen on Dark Knight, but Royce (Brody's character in Predators) made me an inch closer to actually committing suicide.

Rant #3: The cast. Oh geez. One of them is actually an SMC graduate. The dark, handsome one, with the unpronounceable name.

Rant #4: The pace of the movie. I know the need to build up the suspense by showing absolutely nothing on screen, but at the movie's rate, it was mind-numbing.

Rant #5: The f-word and the tough talk. They just aren't believable enough, just like the cast.

Rant #6: The writing. (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) One alpha-male and the only female came out as the survivors. Where's the twist in that? In Predator, everyone was equally strong and equally smart.

I found Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem completely unbearable (with all due respect to Milla Jovovich, I don't think Paul WS Anderson can either write or direct movies) and Alien vs. Predator was mildly tolerable.

Okay. Rant over. Now I can't believe that the nearest Boost Mobile shop is closed permanently. I think that means I have to go back to using MetroPCS. I hope I can get my number again.

jetlagged much?

I promised myself that I would go straight to FatChanceBellyDance for a class. I took a little nap after lunch (I had Chinese). The nap was much needed because I just carried tons of WholeFoods stuff for five blocks. After setting the alarm on my cellphone, I dozed off. I woke up to a strummed guitar sounds from my neighbor and realized that it was 7 PM already - I had missed my class.

Lord knows how many times and how hard I've been kicking myself on my arse.

By the way, the Chinese restaurant located right in front of my apartment doesn't sell the Chinese pancake like the restaurant near the hostel. However, the Kung Pao Tofu was quite delicious and satisfying and I was also given a treat: a fortune cookie! So after the nap, I opened the cookie and guess what's inside the content:

Yes, me and hundreds of other people who received that cookie. Creative? Perhaps. Original? Who is anymore. Alert? BAHAHAHAHAHA... I wouldn't have missed my class had I been alert.

Anyway, for dinner, I made myself some toast, cut a half of a tomato and microwaved (!!) several pieces of broccoli nuggets, all served with a decent serving of vegannaise... That 4-month old vegannaise. Thank goodness it was the last serving. I had to go back to WholeFoods to buy more.

Oh, well. I forgot to purchase some few items. Plus, I have plans to clean the whole apartment tomorrow... If my mind decides to be alert.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

the b*tch is back & the joys of flying economy

Yes, people, I'm back.

Some notable things:

One search officer at Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta attempted to speak English with me. I could only assume that he thought I was Singaporean or Malaysian or whatever. When I showed him my wrist weights (I had to put the bloody things in my backpack since my suitcase was overweight... AGAIN), he asked if I was a boxer.

On the airplane from Soekarno-Hatta to Changi Singapore, I found myself sitting with one father and his son. I sat next to the son (around 15 years old) who dozed off and I realized he looked like a skinnier, Chinese version of Taylor Lautner. No, I don't have pictures to prove it, so you might as well accuse me of lying.

I got wedged up in the front row seat of the economy class for the whole trip from Singapore to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to SFO. Next to me was an Indian family with a baby who cried all the way. Thank goodness for SQ's in-flight movie selections: I watched Kung Fu Panda 2, The Princess & The Frog, Battle: LA, and Rio (FINALLY! I love that movie) and also the British comedies The Vicar of Dibley and Come Fly with Me (with David Walliams & Matthew Lucas of Little Britain). The vegetarian meals were so-so but they did give Magnum Classic (not too shabby) and my favorite Haagen-Dazs Cookies & Cream.

I was reading the delightfully morbid Notes of A Native Son by James Baldwin (a book-reading assignment from SMC) when a Chinese man with garish ensemble (red jacket, yellow t-shirt, pink sweat pants, yellow shoes, topped off with colorful LeSportSac fanny pack and one pink small suitcase with Hello Kitties and another red small suitcase with My Melodies) set himself down next to me.

He said, "Indonesian?" and I replied, "How did you know?" (mind you, he was boarding the plane from Singapore to Hong Kong). He answered, "You have Garuda (a bird - the Indonesian national symbol) all over you." (This is figuratively speaking - I didn't wear anything with the Garuda emblem on it.) Then we chatted for a bit about his son who went to USF and transferred to UW. Right.

I was also being quite the eavesdropper observant and realized that unlike the characters in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and my own private experience, there are children of Chinese immigrants who actually speak with utmost respect to their immigrant parents. All of the parents were mothers during my observation at Hong Kong Airport. I happened to sit next to a pair of mother and son on the flight to SFO - the mother, obviously a Hong Kong resident, spoke accented yet quite good English, while the son spoke English with American accent, but they went along well.

Finally, I managed to observe that those in First and Business Classes are pampered twats (I saw a five year old girl having her own Business Class seat and drinking Evian). If I could get straight As, I promise, I'll talk my parents into getting me a Business Class seat.

Then again, for a person who decided to take the BART from SFO to Ashby and then walk for 1 km to his apartment while carrying a backpack weighing 7 kg and dragging a suitcase weighing 24.3 kg just to save money (I managed to shell only USD 8.6 for the trip), I don't think I will fly anything other than Economy.

And it is also fortunate that tonight's weather in Berkeley is sufficiently friendly. Not too cold, not too windy. Just right. Now all I need is to eat just a little and sleep in my bed. A friend posted on her Facebook wall, asking about the details of tomorrow's BART protest and the delay that it would cause. I shall worry about that later.