Battery Low

February 28, 2009

I have to say, I was this close not being able to put up a daily post since, frankly, I’m dead tired.  I could barely keep my eyes up, and there’s this nagging headache that’s been bothering me since classes ended this afternoon.  So, no detailed posts for today, at least not until I get SOME rest.


Pay Daze

February 27, 2009

Given my line of work, you would have expected that I’d usually get up early to prepare for my workday, but I don’t.  Normally, I set my cellphone’s alarm to 6:00 AM, but even then whenever the inevitable off-tune chirping of Air starts I either press the Doze function, or just press the Cancel button altogether, then pull the pillows over my head to steal fifteen to twenty minutes more sleep time.  Talk about redundant.

However, there are times when, for some reason or another, I wake up early.

Today was one of those days.  Half-awake, rolled over to my left, and glanced up at the old wall clock that hung on the south wall of my room, eyes half-open, and noted that according to the positions of its arms, it was about five-thirty in the morning.  It was far, far too early, and I quickly reclined back against my pillows, trying to salvage what was left of my slumber.  As you might imagine, I wasn’t too successful, and since Morpheus apparently wasn’t cooperative, I blearily stumbled out of my bed, and sat up, planting my feet on the room’s hardwood floor.

Instead of going outside of the door, to tend to my bladder’s morning complaints, I instead ambled over to my large office-type computer chair, and leaned to it, while my right hand moved over the smooth surface of my computer’s optical mouse.  Out of habit, I gave the mouse a slight tap; that movement was enough to cancel my monitor’s auto-sleep function, and soon its black surface flickered to life.  Almost automatically, I glanced over the programs that were still running, and nodded subconsciously when I brought up my torrent manager, and saw that most of the downloads–recent anime episodes, not surprisingly, though these were new stuff that might never air here in the Philippines– I had started during the evening were finished, and were seeding their to other users located God-knows where in the world.

After a brief glance at the titles I’d downloaded–Minami-Ke Okaeri 7 and Tytania 18 were of interest–I pushed myself off from my comfy computer chair, as well as from the table where my PC and monitor sat, and opened the door to my room, dragging my feet a bit as I searched for the urinal I had placed last night, as a precaution against more nocturnal emissions.  Colored yellow and made out of plastic, it sat where I had left it, in the little hall that was in between my sister’s room and my own, and adjacent to the stairs, in front of the stainless steel ladder that we placed there because of the lack of storage space in the house.  I picked it up, pulled down the front of my shorts, and opened the floodgates to the dam that was my bladder.  It was not cathartic, but the release was most welcomed and, this time, surprisingly free of that ache that befell my nether regions every so often.

By this time the spider webs in my mind had cleared somewhat, so I was cognizant of what day it was.  It was Friday, the 27th of February, a day I had specifically set aside for my leave, so I could work on the assignments I had for my classes tomorrow.  After my experience last week, where the lack of sleep and idiocy connected to cramming, it was no surprise that I did NOT want to have a repeat of it.  Since I had set aside a whole day to my schoolwork, it was my hope that I would come up with something that was actually coherent for a change.

It was also my payday, apparently.

I normally looked forward to my payday as much as any other single and working yuppie, as it was the reward for the drudgery we had to do for the twenty days or so that preceded it, but this time I more or less welcomed it, as my savings had really taken a beating over the last month and a half.  I haven’t been able to save, since the last payday, and it’s been expense after bills after expense since then.  And that’s not even counting the floating cost I normally assign to the merienda or lunch I take while at work.

I blame Valentines day, really, since I shelved out what amounted to 5000 pesos on bouquets alone for my teammates at SART, who were currently composed of 7 ladies–I’m counting the other guy in the team, Jay-Ar, as he’s 90% girl anyway–nevermind the chocolates, but I think it was worth it.  To see the looks of the rest of the floor when I came in with that huge bag filled with flowers though, ah, that was priceless.

With the retrieval of my salary in mind, I set about getting ready for a bank withdrawal.  I grabbed my towel from its place on the laundry wire in my room, and headed downstairs, making sure to grab the urinal on the way down.  I wasn’t too surprised to find my cousin Tata up and about as well, preparing breakfast it seems–inadobong pusit, yum.  Not wanting to bother her, I went into the bathroom, and deposited the urinal beside the toilet bowl, and my towel on the towel rack, before heading out again.  I felt a little peckish, so I poked my head into the refrigerator, and noticed that the bowl of pork and beans that was opened last night was left mostly untouched.  Although I was pretty sure it was going to give me gas at the end of the day, it was a waste if someone didn’t eat it; I quickly scarfed down the bowl’s contents, before sauntering back to the bathroom, feeling pleasantly filled, and closed the door behind me.

Given the fact that I didn’t have to go to work, I would have enjoyed a long scrub during my bath, the thought of previous paydays with lines of other people waiting at the bank ATMs, and the even LONGER queues at Metrobank for depositing, I had to do with a quick soapdown and wash instead.  My usual kettle of hot water had to be dispensed with as well, but the water wasn’t that cold these past few days.  Summer was pretty close, I suppose.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a stylish dresser, but I am a practical one.  Since I really was only going out to withdraw money, I picked out a red collared shirt, light burgundy sweat socks, and black shorts over my tidy whities.  I put them on, taking extra care with the sock on my right foot–a disastrous try at taking out my big toe’s ingrown toenail with a nail cutter caused profuse bleeding the night before, and while it had mostly healed, it was still tender–then pulled on the black pair of jeans I had hanging behind my door.  I slipped on my black leather cleats (at least, they were designed like football cleats, down to having rubber spikes in the soles), checked the PC one more time (I had the raw to CLANNAD after story episode 20 on queue in uTorrent),  brushed my teeth, and headed out, but not before telling Tata I was leaving of course.

It was just a short walk to the MRT station from our house, and indulged in a short jog as I alighted its steps, my casual cadence a little out of place when compared to the controlled rush of the people that shared the stairs with me.  Not like I could blame them though, as for many people it was still a normal workday…  Which meant that the trains were going to be packed, or at the very least ambiguously crowded.

I flipped out my railway card as I entered the station at the left gate where people  with pre-paid tickets, as well as seniors and pregnant women, were served, but I was surprised when the scanner spat out my card, and gave a flashing red error signal.  With an embarrassed look at the lady behind me, I trotted back towards the ticket booth to have the card checked.  After a short wait in line behind a pair of elderly ladies and an old gentlemen, I gave the ticketing officer my ticket.  She ran it through her machine, then gave me this half-frown.  “It’s expired,” she said flatly.  I waved off her reply, and produced another rail ticket from my belt pouch.

“No problem, I have an extra one,” I replied, and excused myself from the line of people.  It’s funny how an accidental purchase from a month ago worked out.  Feh.

As I expected, the train that was waiting on the rails was already filled with people, but I suppose the fact that it wasn’t packed like one of those old-styled sardines was a minor consolation.  Out of habit, I entered the last of the traincar trio (or was it a quartet?), as my stop was Ayala station anyway,  whose escalator to the exit turnstiles was nearer to the last three doors of the train.  There was the usual mix of people, from professionals to casual employees, from the sharply-dressed to the positively simple in shorts, basketball shirts and flip-flops.

A group of teenaged girls dressed casually in tees and denims caught my attention, as they conversed near one of the train car’s doors.  One was a little taller and a little cuter than her fellows, with manicured nails and an easy smile…  Uhm, not implying anything at all, nope.

Following that line of thought, I wonder if it was true for all female groupings, where each member fit a particular stereotype?  The cute one, the smart one, the wise one, tropes you’d expect in TV shows…  How much are they really grounded in reality, I wonder?

Once filled with enough people, the MRT train started on its way.  Less than five minutes later, I was in Ayala station in Makati, and as soon as the sliding doors opened, I sprinted out towards the steps of the escalator, and jogged up its incline.  If there’s anything I’ve learned during my month’s stay in Washington DC, its that escalators can accelerate movement upwards, rather than just being a convenient means of carrying a lazy person up a slope.  Up I went, until I crested over the final step to where the exit turnstile was.

And waiting there, of course, was a long line of people.

Avoiding the press of bodies that seemed to congregate on the side closest to the escalator, I skirted over to the far side, where the line was shortest, the railcard already in my hand.  A few moments later, I was out, and joined the tide of people heading down Ayala station’s steps.  I didn’t head straight for an ATM though, but I did a little detour to one of the stands located beside the stairs, adjacent to Goldilocks bakeshop, and indulged my sweet toough by purchasing a small triangle of sticky sapin-sapin and a small glass of red gulaman.

With the indulgence dealt with, I strode casually towards SM and Glorietta, but since the malls weren’t completely opened to the customers yet, I had to make a circuit of the sidewalks that surrounded the malls.  Although I was planning on using the ATM at the Citibank branch located close to RCBC plaza, I decided instead to use one of the ATMs found at the side of Landmark, just underneath the overpass that crosses over Makati avenue towards Greenbelt.  Though there wasn’t any Citibank ATM to be found, all of the other tellers there were part of Megalink and Bancnet anyway, so I selected the RCBC bank ATM, which didn’t seem to have a line, and did my withdrawal there.  Before I actually took out the money, I did a quick balance check.  It wasn’t like I didn’t know how much I was going to be paid for the cutoff, but odder things have happened.

Nope, it was till eight thousand five hundred forty-odd pesos, plus some change.  Ah well.  I finished the transaction, and collected my salary, which consisted of eight green bills and a single yellow one.  Somehow, it didn’t feel like a lot of money.  It wasn’t a lot of money, in the greater scheme of things.  But it was my money, something to remind me that, no matter how harsh and unfair the world is, by God, at least my work was rewarded somehow.  I gave the bills a quick count to make sure everything was there, then placed the roll in my other belt pouch, all the while supressing the urge to give suspicious glances at the people around me.  Can’t help but be sure, after all…

I turned back around and followed the path I took back to the MRT station, all the while thinking of what to do with my salary.  The priority, of course, was to place as much of it into the bank as quickly as possible, before something extraenous caught my attention and chipped away at it.  With my credit card bill done and dealt with during the previous pay cycle, all I had to worry about now was the bills that nominally come in during my half of the month–meaning PLDT and probably Maynilad water.  That amounts to, oh, around two thousand or so pesos.  It’s a significant deduction, to be sure, but hey, at least there’s going to be a deposit this time around, instead of what happened earlier in the month.

Then I remembered that my Ragnarok Online account was running out of load time, then groaned.  So much for non-essential purchases, it hasn’t even reached the Metrobank account I shared with Nanay, and already it’s been diminished.  I really picked a lousy time to start gaming again.  Then there’s the fact that it’s about time for the monthly adjustment of my braces…  Yet another expense that seems to undermine my goal of depositing most of my salary safely.  Fate must be out to get me.

With the wind blown out of my sails a bit, I trudged towards the MRT station, my feet feeling like they were dragging lead weights.  I really wasn’t looking forward to the early expense I was going to make, but I had to take comfort in the fact that most of my money was going into the bank.  When you think about it, I shouldn’t even be complaining much, as in the currently bleak economy, I was blessed to even have work, or have a bank account that had actual money it (and accruing small interest to boot); a lot of people didn’t.  The thought was sobering.

The ride home on the MRT was punctuated by a short detour to the Cards on Tracks stand, where I shelved out eight hundred pesos for 8 My Level-Up cards, to still the sultry whispers of my only vice–some people had cigarettes, I had video games–as well as some false starts as the train jolted to a stop several times, as the train that preceded hit hadn’t moved that far ahead yet.    Eventually though, I was back at where I was earlier in the day, at the Taft Avenue MRT station, and it was just as well, as the press of people I was familiar with seemed to be building up.  I hurried out of the place, down the steps, dodging the people coming up the stairs, before I turned right, and followed the sidewalk by EDSA towards the Metrobank outlet I usually deposited my money in, which was just off Tramo towards the side heading to Vergel street, and Libertad beyond that.

I was lucky to find that there were few people at the place, even as I filled out the bank’s deposit slip and took my number in the queue.  I was the 83rd, and apparently the tellers were already serving number 80, so unlike before, it wouldn’t really be that long of a wait.  Indeed, time seemed to pass a little too quickly, and it was my turn at the counter.  I turned in my deposit slip, and gave the seven thousand-peso bills to her.  I felt like twiddling my thumbs a bit as she brought up my account information, but was a little surprised when the teller turned to me and asked how I spelled my name.  Apparently, she couldn’t read the hen’s scrawl that my handwriting passed for.

“Dirk Lowell,” I answered her, before spelling it out.  The teller was a morena, I noticed, and not one of the regulars I had gotten used to at the branch.

“Ah,” she said, and smiled as she continued typing in whatever information she needed to complete the transaction.  “May lahi.”

I gave her a slight shrug in response, as she handed over my personal copy of the deposit slip.  With a word of thanks to her, and to the guard that opened the door, I sauntered out into the already warm sun, and turned home.  It looked like my salary was able to mostly survive and turn into savings, for now.

Et tu?

February 27, 2009

Well, I’m finally on leave, so I’m going get started on my school work, particularly the reams of paper that passes for my readings in Dr. Baytan’s class.  I’m a little worried about what he might ask me to submit to make up for the academic fracas that beset me and my ‘teammate’ last week…  Though really, I should focus on the paper I need to submit first.  Ditto on the assignment for Dr. Cruz’s class.

Pride and Pain

February 26, 2009

I don’t know what happened, but I seem to have dodged the QC bullet, at least for today.  No idea if our senior agent come-QC specialist Mark Groch is just saving them up to drop them all on me in one go still remains to be seen.  Ah well, might as well enjoy the light feeling while it lasts…  Good QC scores at least on my part seem to be as ephemeral as the spring cloud cover these days, it seems.

Oh a less serious note, I’m going to have a day off tomorrow.  No, it’s not going to be my usual goofing off, as I’m going to devote most of it to writing the Action Report to Dr. Cruz’s class, as well as the paper in Dr. Baytan’s class as well.  Hopefully it won’t take ALL of it, since I do want to relax a bit after the hectic week, but we’ll see if my concentration and comprehension cooperates for a change.

Eternal Ash

February 25, 2009

It would be important to note that today is Ash Wednesday, and as such not only a Holy Day of Obligation according to the Church Calendar, but the official start of the Lenten Season.  At its core it’s a reminder that our lives, when compared to the pulse of the universe, is fleeting, and that eventually we will all have to return to where we came, giving back what remains of our bodies to the land.

Mortality, it’s not something many of us would like to dwell on if we could help it.  The thought of being forgotten, remaining a name or vague memory in the minds of the few people we’ve encountered through our lives, before they too pass on…  It can be depressing.  I think it’s caused more than one bout of existential crisis in a person, to question just why they were placed on the world, when in the end they will just leave behind nothing, and become what amounts to nothing.

Illicit Activities

February 24, 2009

Although I know fully well that it’s prohibited to access the Internet while at the office, I feel that I have to break the rules this time, since it’s probably the only way (outside of renting a unit at a shop of course) for me to get NET access.  Why am I doing this?  Well, this morning, my DSL has been acting up again, and kept on giving me Error 718 messages, despite repeated restarts and other basic troubleshooting.  It still remains to be seen if a call to PLDT MyDSL’s CS (later when I get home from work) fixes things, though I don’t hold out much hope for it.  It’s particularly annoying, as it looks like the error just came out of nowhere — I was happily checking my torrent downloads one minute, and boom, no connection the next.

White Noise

February 23, 2009

Dr. Cruz mentions that, while it is the mark of a good writer to know that their work is not the best, it is the mark of a great writer when they are not satisfied until they are able to express their thoughts through whatever medium it is they chose, whether it be prose, poetry, drama, or composition… And even then, when they find perfection in that medium, they still find themselves unsatisfied, and instead seek expression through other means.  This happens over and over again throughout a writer’s lifetime, apparently, the subconscious pursuit of the Ur-Text, or ideal means of expression.

Some authors never really make the transition.  It brings to mind my father, who’s pretty much been a closet poet for most of his life.  Will it ever happen to me, I wonder, skipping from one literary medium to another, chasing a vain ideal of perfection?  Me, who, as of current, can barely write a coherent essay, essentially the easiest of the literary forms, who words used to come so easily to.

I suck these days.  I admit it.  Nowhere was this more apparent when I was trying to compose my reaction to the readings Dr. Baytan gave to our class about Feminist Literature in the Philippines…  The essay, if you could even call it that, was haphazard and amateurish, its ideas half-formed and lacking in coherence.  The problem was there, but the thesis of the work was barely realized, and the resolution was extremely lacking.  And that was just a one-page (technically) submission!  Have I become so destitute mentally, that I quiver in apprehension at the thought of submitting something longer, like I will have to do eventually for Dr. Cruz’s class?

I am ill at ease, to say the least.  Whether it be due to the fact that I have an impending yearly work performance evaluation tomorrow (where it’s pretty clear that I’m at a disadvantage, especially after a string of goofs at work these past few weeks), or the fact that we’re supposed to give an action-report at class, it’s sure going to be an unpleasant week.