It occurred to me today, as it has occurred to me many times in the past, that much of my stress is self-inflicted. Give me the tiniest germ of a thought and I will overthink it to smithereens. And while I am overthinking, I will think of myself overthinking and overthink my overthinking. It is a mental condition, I think. One may argue that I overthink for a living, but it does make life unnecessarily difficult.
Take today. I am going to Korea for the A5N tournament that starts late May but I am going to London next week and will be away for a couple of weeks. When I get back I’d have to rush my Korean visa application. What if I don’t get it on time? Okay, I’ll get it before I go to London. But what if I don’t get it by next week, I can’t fly without a passport aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa overthink overthink.
The Korean visa takes 3 days (If you have US/UK/Aus/NZ visas and have been to Korea before. Otherwise it takes 5 days). (more…)
My druid trained me to regard the vernal equinox as the beginning of a new cycle. I spent the last day of the old cycle doing something my druid would approve of: housecleaning.
Begin longish intro. I had the same cleaner for more than a decade. He would come in every Sunday afternoon to dust, scrub, and try to keep the cat fur to oxygen ratio down to a manageable (“breathing still possible”) level. The cleaner was a trustworthy little old guy, he knew where everything was, and the cats liked him. (Other people they ignore pointedly, still others they run away from screaming, “The Uruks have come! Muster the Rohirrim!”) Unfortunately he’s had a run of bad luck and had to move to Cavite with his family. It didn’t make sense for him to commute for hours just to clean my house on Sundays. So he quit and it was sad as hell because he probably regards me as an inept child with no domestic skills.
My sister, who if the word existed would be called ept, said their laundrywoman could be the new cleaner. She is also trustworthy, and the cats seemed to approve of her. She’d done some jail time, but it was because she pulled a knife on an abusive boyfriend. You can’t blame her for that. (Reminds me of a conversation I had with Bernard-Henri yesterday about a common friend—Martin Amis says this is the correct term, not “mutual friend”–who’d tried to rip him off on a project. We agreed that we could not hate common friend because he can’t help ripping people off, it’s his nature.) She came by the other Sunday to clean, but last Sunday she said she couldn’t make it, and then yesterday she didn’t appear. Clearly she doesn’t want the job. So I ended up doing spring cleaning.
It so happened that I was in my semi-annual cleaning frenzy mode. The other day I organized my closet and put away a bunch of clothes I haven’t worn in years and am not likely to wear again. I even found 4 or 5 outfits I’d forgotten I’d bought. Memo: If you have clothes you’ve never worn, you probably have enough clothes. The day before that I was at National Bookstore in Rockwell when I was reminded of all the prizes for the Weekly LitWit Challenges that have not been claimed by the winners. Customer Service’s shelves were about to burst from the stuff so I took back all the prizes that have not been claimed since December. (The very next day someone tried to claim his books. Sorry about that.)
And two days earlier I defrosted my refrigerator. Why I don’t defrost more often I have no idea–you only have to push a button. Instead I wait until the freezer is sealed shut by a thick coat of solid ice to push the blasted button. True, I don’t eat at home so my fridge contains coffee for the machine, cheese, a huge bottle of Chinese “champagne” that no one wants to try, and leftover restaurant meals that have sprouted new life forms. Getting the freezer open took 2 days.
Before yesterday’s housecleaning I surveyed the castle keep and decided that the problem is not dirt but clutter. As in stuff. Did I really need to keep the boxes of cameras, phones, gadgets I’ve had for years? Why do they still make phonebooks? Why did I save these empty gift packages? Sure they’re pretty, but I’m never going to recycle them, am I. They all went into two big trash bags. Memo: Don’t keep anything just because it’s cute. It won’t look so cute when it’s grimy. Throw it away. What project, you’re never going to make that assemblage. Throw! Now!
Then came the tedious part: sifting through boxes and bags of paper. Receipts from trips I took ten years ago–why do I still have these? Outdated city guides, fliers, museum floor plans, press kits for film festival entries, free magazines–Take One, the sign always says; from hereon say No!–stuff that has cluttered my house for years for no reason.
However I did find drafts of stories I’d forgotten I’d written, and clippings of articles I don’t remember writing. I’m like a factory of disposable prose. It’s a good thing I’ve never had a printer or I would’ve vanished under a sea of paper years ago (See the scene from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil).
Decluttering added at least three cubic meters of space to my house. After this Herculean labor cleaning the litter box was almost amusing (disgusting, but amusing). Happy New Year to you all.
Chus my friend and genius hairstylist spent New Year’s Eve on a plane to Los Angeles.
Me: Sana pagbalik mo makatabi mo sa business class si Neil Etheridge. Happy New Year! (I hope that when you fly back you sit in business class next to the goalie of the Azkals national football team.)
Chus: Yes! Sana! May cute na guy sa tapat ko as I text u! Hotness! Oooh! (I hope! As I text there is a cute guy right in front of me.)
Me: Sabihin mo, Excuse me, are you an Azkal? (Ask him if he’s an Azkal.)
Chus: Hahaha! Nagta-Tagalog and his boots are a dead giveaway—is a gay!
Me: Ay Azkla!
On my birthday Chus gave me several pairs of Happy Socks. I love them, they make excellent presents. They would make great boyfriend presents but for something my druid told me years ago. She said, Don’t give shoes, socks, or watches to persons you are romantically-involved with. (Note that she used the plural form, my druid is wise.) If you give them footwear or socks they will walk away from you, and if you give them a watch the relationship will end. (Screw the superstition, it’s the symmetry that gets me, like an ironic foreshadowing.)
So take this Patek Philippe watch away from me! Now! For the last time, I do not want a tourbillon. Haha.
Last week in rings: Cat and mouse ring from Ramon who found it in a bazaar, a ring that changes color but is not a mood ring from Noel who found it in Trilogy.
My first apartment was at Blanco Center on Leviste Street in Salcedo Village, Makati. Apartment 914. I shared the place with two guys who toiled in the corporate universe. How we (and our respective egos) managed to cram into a railroad flat, I have no idea. For one thing our tastes in music diverged wildly. One liked music from before 1800, one liked showtunes and Madonna, I liked grunge. Yet we managed to coexist in relative peace.
A friend noted that our apartment looked like the one in David Lynch’s Eraserhead. (This is called foreshadowing.) There was even the occasional crackling lightbulb on the fritz in the hallway. I thought the architecture was very Soviet asylum. I imagined axe murderers lying in wait behind the heavy wooden doors. Of course I felt right at home.
Years after moved out, I started hanging out with people who had also lived in Blanco Center. We were next-door neighbors, except that we were there at different times. Literally Everyone has had a Blanco period. The other day Noel and I ran into his friend who had lived in my old apartment, 914. Blanco was truly the Vortex of the Universe.
Blanco Center is now the Picasso Suites serviced apartments. It has been thoroughly redone and is much, much grander than my old building; art exhibits are held on the ground floor and there is a good restaurant. When Patrice of the Volcanoes was in Manila he stayed at the Picasso and I had a peek. The rooms still have the railroad flat shape, but they don’t look like my old apartment at all.
In my last year at Blanco I was hit with a staggering rent increase. At first I thought all the tenants had gotten the same increase, then I found out that only I was paying more. Turns out that the landlord had read a magazine article I’d written in which I described the building’s Eraserhead ambience and Soviet asylum architecture.
I tried to explain that the description was meant fondly, and that I never mentioned the name of the building. He gave me the “Oh you young people when you get older you will learn that you can’t go around saying whatever you think” speech.
“But I like this building,” I pointed out. “I don’t think it’s ugly. You want ugly, look at that building across the street.”
For too long I have bored you with the continuing saga of my quest for a hat that fits my head, specifically a bowler (see A Clockwork Orange). I have an extraordinarily large head. It is so big that when I was born, the doctor thought my mother had given birth to a head.
It is so large that it requires its own constitution and armed forces. I should be cast as the Navigator in Dune (or Shai Hulud). It’s not the hair, though that is massive, too. According to the tape measure, the circumference of my head (at the eyebrows) is 24 inches. Two feet. No wonder I had trouble finding a hat, my head needs pants.
This year a friend gave me a wide-brimmed hat that proved extremely useful in the summer, and in June I found a sun hat that kept me from combusting at Wimbledon. But my search for a bowler had turned up nothing. I tried on around 200 hats in Melbourne and another 200 in London, but as a shop manager solemnly informed me, I am an XX in men’s sizes and they would have to order one for me.
Then this turned up.
What is this obsession with men’s hats? I don’t know, I just want one. This hat is a fedora not a bowler, which means my quest continues. But with a new hope, since something actually fit.