Wednesday, June 07, 2006

things I can live without

Cockroaches – These creatures are filthy and when they take wing, I am reduced to a quivering pile of evaporated testosterone. The cockroach flies in an erratic circular pattern that suddenly changes at whim. When I was young and still wore pajamas, I was victimized by one that decided to invade my top. The resulting frenzy of it zipping all over my skin while I frantically tore off my pjs is the reason I sleep almost naked. It isn’t logical (because a cockroach can still decide to crawl on my exposed skin) but it feels right. If I see one on the floor I will immediately step on it. However, I am more cautious if I notice one clinging to a wall – because it could fly.

Time-consuming elevators – I cannot stand slow elevators. I live on the top floor of a condo building and quietly gnash my teeth when it stops at every floor. Often it is because people need to get off or on. But sometimes it is because someone presses a button in error. That person will inadvertently turn to someone else in the lift, sometimes to me, and smile sheepishly. During those times, I want to strike them with my laptop bag repeatedly but decide not to act since the contents of my laptop are more important than annihilating that person. There are times when one of the elevators is being repaired, which forces everyone to fight for space in the available lift. Those times are truly hellish, to the point where I consider taking Nikki and Sage away and checking in a hotel until the repairs are completed.

Overland travel – Extended land travel in whatever vehicle is painful. I’m okay for around 30 minutes then get antsy, bored, tired, irritable then murderous. I don’t care about “the journey”. I don’t care about the sights or the majestic vistas or whatever – if I truly cared, I’d read a travel guide or watch Discovery. I just want to be there. When I was a teenager, my mother forced me to take a bus ride from Manila to Ilocos province. It took me 80 years to get there, stuck with vomit-prone children and their heavily perfumed mothers. I’d rather pay through the nose and get a plane ride.

Slow service providers – It never fails. I always get the slowest possible waiter or order taker or cashier or salesperson that most likely has most terrible neurological condition that I should be sympathetic about but am not. In addition to moving like snails, these people invariably get something wrong. I try to be patient (I can sense my wife laughing) but I'm cursed, I think.

Hurry up and wait – As can be gleaned from other entries, I’m big on time, so one of the things I cannot stand is being on time for a meeting only to have to wait for a tardy client, supplier or friend. In the recent years though, I’ve begun to accept the situation (keyword: begun) and try to do something useful. I once completed a short story in the hour or so I had to wait for a hotel client (at least I was in a hotel). Scratch that. I’m lying. Having to wait for tardy people still really pisses me off. I’m getting an apoplexy just thinking about it. Ack,

Wretched fiction – I read a lot, particularly short fiction, for pleasure or when I’m wearing my editor/anthologist hat. The sheer amount of poorly written prose is depressing. Terrible grammar, mangled subject-verb agreement, stories that aren’t stories, the list goes on. I don’t expect everyone to write superbly (hell, I cringe at my own stuff), but I wish people would take more time to polish and edit their work. In the case of published prose, I blame the editor more than the author (and I know this because I’ve had my share of oversights). On the other hand, no spit-and-polish or editorial prowess can save a truly horrible story. Dr. Tiempo likes to say “Never abandon a story”. To a certain extent I agree. But once in a while, a story is written whose very existence is a blight to the fundamental order of the universe. Those stories must be hurled into oblivion.

Love handles – Because I hardly exercise, I’ve developed a paunch and love handles. While it can be argued that these things are status symbols (Oh look! Dean is so well-fed, he must be successful!) or a reaction against the entire starving-writer thing, I’d prefer my lean look – but not the walking-stick look I affected during most of my high school years, when an errant breeze could threaten to blow me away to China. Part of me has given up on hoping to be slim – because hope without action is truly pathetic (and believe me, I’m not acting). And yet the escalating waist line is appalling. Therefore the only possible action point for this lazy writer is liposuction, courtesy of one of Vicky Bello’s clinics (I saw one at the Podium the other day) – if only I had the money and could stand the pain. Since I fail both conditions, I will have to diet and climb 36 flights of stairs on some schedule without killing myself in the process. Sigh.

Cinnamon – The most offensive smell known to man (well, this man, at least). I cannot stand the stench of cinnamon. It makes me want to faint or hurl or run away screaming. And naturally, I find cinnamon rolls an abomination, a work of the devil, one of the signs of the upcoming apocalypse (it is 6/6/6 today, right?). My wife and friends have to consume this terrible substance in secrecy, or when we’re separated by time zones. But even then, I can tell, and I always feel…betrayed.

Work-related stress – Oh my, there are too many examples to list, and I could lose accounts. Therefore I will vent obliquely: the world would be a better place if certain people simply vanished. There. Elegant and presented in vague yet effective language.

The Amoeba Overlords – These guys have been residents in my system for years. We exist in a delicate détente reminiscent of the Cold War years. For as long as I do not touch milk or raw seafood, they are content to play Sid Meier’s Civilization in my intestines. When I do choose to defy them (and it had better be a deliberate choice rather than accidental unwary consumption) I need to be near a bathroom. Or I die. Simple as that.

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