Lunar Tears

“A Lunar Tear can make any wish come true.”

The scenery in Emil’s Memories was beautiful, but his dialogue in this scene was the one that hit hardest. In a room full of Lunar Tears, he reveals the rush of memories coming back to him triggered by the beauty of it. He recalls how he was designed to fight and kill enemies, and how he was copied over and over because of how well he did what he was designed to do. He starts to lament the fate that comes with duplication – the reality that as each iteration/generation was created, it diluted his essence – his memories. He became one of many, losing the identity, the individuality – the substance of what made him, him. It was, maybe, a general assessment of where we might be headed if we’re not careful – overusing creativity and efficiency at the cost of individuality, essence and substance, that we may end up wandering the desert but never finding the reason why we do.

Or, how we remember all the things that we don’t want to remember – what we need to do, what we need to keep going, but forget why we do them – out of love, out of sacrifice, until it all becomes just routine and do things for no reason altogether, forgetting the good that comes out of what we do.

Pandemic

One day, we were doing pretty much what we’d do in a normal day. Wake up. Go to work (in that order for me, because I work from home now mostly). Maybe have coffee or eat breakfast after the day’s first task is done. Put on some news on the TV. You hear of some new virus spreading around the world, something that feels far away. Then, suddenly, in a span of days, it’s here, spreading like a wildfire.

Suddenly, we’re advised to stay home, for our own safety.

Weekdays are pretty easy. I never really get to do anything interesting after work on weeknights anyway, maybe a bike ride once or twice a week, depending on how the weather turns out; shoot the night sky when it’s clear enough.

It’s the weekends that are tougher to deal with.

I’d normally try to hit the nearby state or national parks when able. There’s just something about the great outdoors that rejuvenates. Watching the beauty unfold outside heals what the workweek grind takes away.

That was more than a month ago. We’re at almost 60 days in, and it’s wearing on me.

It’s wearing on me not to have that healing. It’s almost like I’m carrying 60 days worth of frustrations, negativity and angst, and this shit is just heavy and wears on you. It crushes. I feel like dying a little each day.

That and sports going away – this fucking kills.

Staying in does offer alternatives – movies, shows, video games and drinking – but life indoors easily interferes with that, and drinking without interaction with others is, well, truthfully – just drinking. Anyway, more important matters of consequence take precedence, which is very easy for those who choose to live their lives worrying about those matters.

Anyway, I hope this shit ends soon.

Before it ends me.

Happenstance

I was having trouble sleeping one night, so I decided to put on my earphones and create a playlist. It’s been a while since I had a so-called ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’ playlist, filled with songs on the not-so-sunny side; songs that cuts you and makes you bleed a little, even if you are far from being on that side emotionally anymore.

Making that playlist made me realize I haven’t listened to Rachael Yamagata in a long while, around 12 or so years. I did a quick search on Apple Music and quickly added the ones that I really liked from Happenstance (Reason Why, Wore Me Down, Be Be Your Love) and found that there was an Acoustic Happenstance record in Apple’s catalog. So I listened to it, at almost 2 a.m. and I was floored. It had a raw (not in the sense of quality, but in the way the songs were reduced to core elements – voice and instrument) feel to it, in a very awesome way. The songs felt fresher out of the musician’s heart. Rachael’s voice felt a little more seasoned in the way she sang the songs, eliminating the vocal stylings that were popular when she burst into the scene, but added a new character and dimension to it – like someone returning to a familiar place, a little older, a little wiser, like some sort of retracing of steps. It was like finding a little bit of musical nostalgic trip in the dead of night, right beside my lightly snoring ladies.

That search result list lingered on my phone’s music for a while more as I checked out which songs she’s come out with since Happenstance, whether was there any growth or change to her sound or vibe and not surprisingly, she did come out with a few more records that pretty much told similar stories with much more oomph lyrically and musically, and coincidentally, something that probably did not hit me as much as Happenstance did as things quickly changed for me in life. As I listened, I realized her later material would have probably hit me much more harder than Happenstance did if the 2005-2007 me listened to them. So I kept adding.

For some reason, something in me decided to check if she was heading anywhere close to Oakland. By a stroke of luck, she was heading our way, a small, intimate venue in San Francisco. I decided to go alone, because it wasn’t like our little one can be left to other people at her current age (a clingy thirteen months), and the wife did not really listen to her material all that much.

So I went, and maybe a hundred or so people showed up. Mostly couples, some older, and a lot of Asians.

The show was opened by one of her band mates, Zach Djanikian. He was great, a voice that I would classify under country-pop, with excellent guitar work. His style of original songs remind me of Jack Johnson – laid back feel, but with a more storyteller appeal. I love that he ended his set with a finely done cover of Tom Petty’s “The Waiting”.

Then it was time – Rachael came on-stage and I found it amusing that she started off the show by asking “so who of y’all came here for the dark stuff?”. I almost instantly raised my hand. Later on, she’d ask the audience what material should she come up with for her next record, happy stuff or sad songs.

SAD STUFF, predominantly. (non-official count – I could have been biased)

What I love most about small venue shows is how you can subtly interact with the performer on-stage. She looks at you from the stage and gauging from your reaction at how she sings the words to the song, she seems to know if this song hits you as hard as she thinks it did her when she was writing it.

She did maybe 15 or so songs in all, around 4 from Happenstance, a couple from Elephants, quite a bit from Chesapeake (which she felt was wrongly panned) and a few more from the recent ones. They came back on-stage after wrapping up with “Let Me Be Your Girl” to close with a cover of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac and “Reason Why” by herself from Happenstance.

After the show, she announced that she’ll hang out for a bit by the merchandise table and sign stuff. I immediately made a bee-line for the Acoustic Happenstance CD, and I was pleased that there were just roughly 20 or so who decided to stick around, and I was maybe 5th or 6th in line.

When my turn came, she told me “I know you!” – probably from that moment that we caught each other’s eyes during “Worn Me Down”. I told her that I purely lucked into knowing about that night’s show and was stoked to meet her after listening to her songs during those darker years, and hope that her other tour stops would go well, especially her upcoming Asia tour. She gave me a big hug and posed for a photo.

I went into a deep hangover over this night, because this was something I never thought was possible all those years back, when I was in drowning in debt, single and can’t really get anyone to like me as is where is – that I’m here in another part of the world, able to watch those who wrote music to get me through those times, raising a beautiful family, surviving in a relatively comfortable manner and to some extent, quite grown up far from the ‘loser’ I thought I was back then.

It was because of this night that I realized that if you really wanted to, you can turn your life around, and sometimes you have to do things that you’re not really comfortable with at first, before you find out that you were actually made to do these things.

And it all started when I decided to just “head out alone, and hope for the best”.

Crater Lake National Park

Most parents say that taking a vacation with your baby is merely taking care of it in another place.

Sure, it was, but it does not mean you will not enjoy what you see.

We drove from the San Francisco Bay Area to Klamath Falls in Oregon. It took three or so stops, and spent around the whole day from 8:30am to around 5-ish in the afternoon. We stopped over at Redding to see the Sundial Bridge. A few more hours up the road and we saw Lake Siskiyou by Mt. Shasta City. Also, Vienna Teng was right in her song “Shasta” – Mt. Shasta explodes into your windshield view driving up the I-5, so we tried to find a good vista point to take photos. I wanted to stop over at Weed, CA, but I was the only one who really wanted to, so we trudged ahead. I saw a little bit of Castle Crags and wanted to stop too, but there was one single vista point and exit towards the state park, so once we missed it it was tough to try and go back to add another at least half hour to the drive, which can be a big difference when you have a year-old toddler in the back seat.

We went up to Crater Lake the following day. Mostly clear, it was a beautiful sight. I liked the view from The Watchman – the cascades over to the right of the view point, Wizard Island front and center. The lake’s waters weren’t still enough (boat tours caused the ripples on the water) to create perfect mirror images of the sky, but it was enough to see the clouds and the rim ridges form silhouettes on the water.

This trip is worth taking. The many, beautiful stops and views will provide the value of driving up all the way to Oregon to see this awesome national park that houses the deepest freshwater lake in the US. If you can stay till a clear, dimly moonlit summer night to see the stars and the galaxy do so. It can change your perspective about light and darkness.

a tale of two cities

i live in neither of them; i think i live in the suburbs, because i think it feels like i’m in the suburbs.

i used to dream of living in them big cities, believing i was built for them, at least some part of me believed it. but when i got here, i guess i realized that i am older than how i feel.

then i realize, there may be two persons living within me – one made for the suburbs, while the other yearns to be in a big city, who has two more persons living within him – one who feels like he’s “The City” guy, while the other who’s work ethic and grit and hustle fits “The Town” more.

then i snap back into reality, and realize i’m happy where i am. happy to be just visiting, just driving by and soaking up the sights.

and the two cities are none the better for it, and not surprisingly, not for the worse for it.

fighting

i used to think i knew sadness, that it’d be simply crying tears or the absence of happiness.

it’s going to be a year later soon, but somehow, no matter how much i try to fight this dark cloud, the victory lap seems getting shorter and shorter.

+++

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.

“the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

twenty years later, i still suck at wearing sunscreen.

my sister was a humongous fan of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, and loved it from the time it came out, but it was a couple of years later that i ran into “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” – not aware that it had been in the soundtrack all along. i had been through what i felt was rock bottom not too long before i heard it, and when i did, i thought it had a pretty good bead on life till that point.

here i am, twenty years later, re-acquainting myself with the ‘speech‘, all because i spent a few minutes on the tube (YT) looking for that “Spectacular, Spectacular” scene in Moulin Rouge! to tape as part of my IG story, and later on that bit by Harold Zidler on investing.

reading that ‘speech’ made me sort of evaluate where i am now. it looks like i’ve lived the last twenty years mostly the way the writer advised in her essay, with a few exceptions. this is pretty much a point by point evaluation i’ve put into my own life, based on the advice she left on her speech.

  • there was no beauty in my youth. maybe when i was three, up until the age when i lost my two front teeth in an unfortunate bicycle spill. i never looked fabulous, and how i long for that age where eating did not seem to have any consequence.
  • i worry about the future only because i want to stay here. once that is settled, i probably would not worry about it as much, once all the pieces are set. which i worry about. who am i kidding? this won’t work. ok. i do worry about the future. but it doesn’t keep me awake at night.
  • it’s been a while since i did something that scares me. it’ll be harder now that i have a family to think of. maybe the small, low-risk things i’m scared of. but the ones where you put your life on the line. maybe when Hannah’s all grown up.
  • i sing like crazy. in the car, while in traffic, mostly. sometimes, when i feel like to. sometimes, to simply entertain Hannah, while she still can’t tell me that i’m out of tune.
  • i’ve tried to treat other people’s hearts as kindly as i can, at times, to the detriment of my own. i think my heart’s worst enemy is myself. when we are reckless with our own hearts, we can’t be trusted with anyone else’s.
  • while i’ve grown to appreciate what benefits flossing gives, i just can’t do it with floss. i like water flossing better. DenTek floss picks when i feel like it.
  • jealousy – been there, done that. the pain makes it easier to write stuff, or find a profoundness you never thought you have. it’s a dangerous place – envy, pain, jealousy. i understand now why being brilliant can leave one in such a vulnerable and fragile place.
  • i don’t remember everything, compliments or insults. i guess, sometimes that is the stuff consistency is made of. you remember enough compliments to keep doing the right things, and enough insults to drive you to become better.
  • love letters are mostly gone. some digital backups left over somewhere, i should probably re-read them, though i’ve lost a lot of cheesiness in me over the years to do that.
  • i still forget to stretch.
  • at 20, i had no idea what i really wanted, except to get my diploma. i never figured i’d be here where i am. at almost 40, i know i wanna do what i’m doing now, until it is relevant. when i retire, i just want to live in a van and discover the rest of the world that i can. with the wife, of course. Hannah can come, but that depends if she’s figured out what she wants to do in life.
  • i’m bad at drinking milk. except when they’re in lattes that i make at home. i think i’m gonna regret it down the road. i hope not.
  • i’m lucky that the half-chance choices i made got me out winning. but then again, i’ve lost a lot, maybe it was just the universe making things even. but yes, we’ve been blessed, and we are thankful for it and do not take it for granted.
  • i enjoyed my body when it was younger. or at least i tried. slowly, i think i lost my way taking care of it. i hope it doesn’t bite back when it really counts.
  • i still can’t dance. 20 years of trying isn’t going to probably make it better.
  • i read directions. i follow them. mostly. the ones i didn’t, well, i hope the stuff holds up.
  • never had to read beauty/men’s magazines. i’ve learned that sometimes if you can’t look good, being actually good can make a significant difference, as long as you don’t overdo it and end up in the friend zone, and quoting Guinan in Star Trek: Generations, “it is a place that i have tried very, very hard to forget.”
  • i’ve put a lot of friendships on pause. it’s still a wonder how human relationships can subsist on being on pause for a long time, and the author was spot on in saying that as we go through life, we need the people who knew us when we were young more.
  • it was a long shot dream of mine to be able to actually live in Northern California. some days, i still can’t believe it. it’s darn expensive, but i know i haven’t softened up yet because i can still rough it a bit when i went home to Manila early last year. i may never know about living in NYC, but who knows? now i’m living here, pretty much anything’s possible. it’s gonna be expensive as hell, but yeah, possible.
  • there are days where i wonder whether i’ll remember just how much i straddled the line between standing up for me and disrespecting my elders. i hope i do remember, because at some point, Hannah will come to that line and i hope i can recognize her actions with the line based on what i remember what i did with it.
  • i’ve always treated advice as things you put in your back pocket. i’ll always want to make my mistakes and learn from them. we’ll always want control. sometimes, the best way we’ll ever learn is to ask what not to do and do it anyway if your gut tells you. there’ll always be a time and place for remembering which ones we should’ve taken and which ones we shouldn’t have bothered with.
  • i can never consistently wear sunscreen. i thought it’d be much better here in America, but sunscreen feels like sunscreen, whether you’re in the third world or the first world.