Sunday, July 31, 2005


Good grief, the first day of August is just half a day away. August. I can't believe it. From August it's just four months until the year ends. With all the things I'm doing, have set out to do, and need to do, I'm thinking that I'm not busy enough (which is kind of odd, even for me, given the ton of things on my plate).

When deadlines are far off and when the "ber" months (you know, September, October, etc.) are still several flips from my desk calendar, it seems that I've got all the time in world. But August crouches in the wings, ready to strike, and its brethen are right behind it.

Often, the political situation in the country lends a sense of timeless futility. I feel like I'm trapped in amber, given the endless variations of the political intrigues and resurrected by-words (Cha-cha or Charter Change, for example, has been around ever since I became cognizant of my politics). People wanting change, people getting something that looks like change but isn't, people convincing themselves that things are getting better or worse. It's like running in place. The rest of the people, like me, just attempt to get on with their lives, raising a family, doing business, going out and patronizing entertainment venues, determinedly oblivious or uncaring to what changes or doesn't change. Really, hope is cruel in a country that crushes hope as a matter of routine. The old joke "The rich get richer and the poor get children" has tragic power here.

Once in a while, something big happens, enough to attract the attention of even the most jaded Filipinos. For a while, the buzz becomes all-consuming, and, in an example of the combination of the Filipino trait of laughing things off and our capacity to use appropriate technology for our own means, we joke about the matter and send text jokes. Everyone knows about the "Hello Garci" ring tones, but here's a belated contribution from my brother's cell phone:

"Kung nag-sward speak lang sana sila di walang gulo ngayon:

Female voice: Halloo Gracia! Halloo! Halloo!

Male voice: Mother! Natsuktsak ko na po yung mga chuva!

Female voice: Bongga! Yung mga tienes tienes, carry na ba?

Male voice: Winnie Santos, Mother! Wa na worry sa Mindanoitch!

Female voice: Ganda ever!"

(Aside: I marvel at gayspeak's ability to weaponize language through humor.)

But time does pass, and despite its natural regulated progression, sometimes it seems faster or slower. It's slower when you're closer to the thing you're observing in terms of change (my daughter, for example - her daily changes and growth are not immediately obvious to me, but when I step back and really look in the context of the past month or so, I'm stunned); and especially slow when repetitive non-challenging work is involved. But time slows to an utterly abyssmal rate when you're waiting for something important, like a phone call or a telegram or an email whose providence you cannot affect whatsoever.

Time is faster when something incredible happens - a special date with the beloved, a rare night out with the complete barkada, a birthday celebration, a non-working holiday spent catching up on reading or watching hoarded films. Time whirls and skips like music from an old well-worn vinyl record you've listened to a thousand times.

And so it's August in a little while. Apart from my stuff at work (my agency and my pet store), there's the spec fic anthology to put together, the superhero anthology the gang is creating, plus all the assorted creative writing that demands to be completed - a new novel, a fistful of short stories, a couple of plays (one of them a musical), all before the year ends. And there are my favorite roles and the work involved with doing them to the best of my ability: being a husband to my wife and a father to my daughter.

There are so many balls juggling in the last moments of July, but I have faith that August will be kind and manageable.

Sometimes I wonder how I'm doing all this, but then I tell myself that in the manner of the best stage illusions, it's better not to know - and just enjoy the show. The backstage will take care of itself when I have some scheduled time to fret.


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