The Boy Who Cried “Let’s Hang Out!”

My Symphony: Something Here / Day Wave

Growing up is strange in that the people you used to hang out with everyday begin to gradually but steadily diminish into faces without names, and names without faces. Hours of deep, meaningful conversations at the football field have turned into minuscule scroll-down glimpses on Facebook. Countless heart-to-hearts have deteriorated into the most casual of “what’s up’s” and “hello’s”.

Who are we? Or, I guess, the more appropriate and less ambitious question is, who were we?

We were once kids, who (without doubts or hesitation) would knock on each other’s doors at two in the morning just because. We were once kids, who unconsciously spent more time with each other than with anyone else, on a daily basis. We were kids who drank their first beers together, smoked their first cigarettes together, and lived through their first heartaches and heartbreaks together.

Perhaps friendships are just naturally more challenging as we age. Back in high school, everything was just easy. We were in the same school, in the same classes, liking the same things, sharing the same goals (mostly consisted of passing Physics and submitting our Research papers on time). Some were even living on the same street, talking about the same trends, listening to the same music. ‘Follow’ meant literally following each other around school during lunch, recess and dismissal, ‘Like’ literally meant liking each other for and despite all his/her flaws and imperfection. ‘Friends’ literally meant people you cry with one second and laugh with the next. Life was a series of sleepovers, unplanned Saturday afternoons at the mall, secrets involving crushes and mortal enemies, and the usual horsing around over fishballs and ice crumbles.

But growing up has changed all of that. Hanging out is now a super-conscious decision you have to make. You don’t just happen to be in the same vicinity with your friends all the time. A mere meet-up for coffee takes a lot of scheduling, rescheduling and compromising. Nothing is as easy as it was. Now, you actually have to really want to see someone in order for you to afford the time and energy (and sometimes money) that it takes to meet with someone.

And this is exactly why friendships in this stage of our lives are the most important: these are now the friendships we choose to have, the friendships we choose to keep; the relationships we decide are gonna progress and develop into something larger and realer as the years go by. We no longer share our deepest darkest secrets to just everyone in our circle, and in the rare event that we have a sleepover, it isn’t just high school buddies passing time anymore; it’s like-minded souls mutually sharing in each other’s worlds, exchanging thoughts and ideas, basking in the light and warmth of a presence which, although rarely present, will always be genuine. We stopped being kids hanging out, and started becoming human beings connecting.

I love you, dear friends.

P.S. Let’s not be strangers…

This is a Hate Rant

My Symphony: The Way Home by Sleep Dealer

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Taken from my personal journal, dated Sept. 11th, 2012

I walk along the road right in front of my house every morning, and I see little kids playing, sledding, running and laughing, and they all look like they have life all figured out. They all look like they don’t have any problems or any greater wants and needs other than fun, love and friendship. And so everyday, I would take a moment to observe these kids and I would think to myself, “These kids will grow up someday. And someday, these kids will have the same problems that I have now. They will get hurt, and they will change, and they will go their separate ways, and they will have their hearts broken.”

I always thought life was so much simpler and easier when I was little. Probably the biggest problem I had as a kid was the fact that I didn’t really have a lot of playmates. But that wasn’t really that big of a problem. I would just sit alone in my room and talk to my toys, or lie in my bed and pretend that I was floating through great numbers of clouds. But growing up? Growing up has made things a whole lot convoluted – growing up has fucked me over. It has scared the living daylights out of me.

The last time I remember I was genuinely happy was when I was ten and playing with sand and stones at a construction site. I was just this pure, genuine, blissful entity. I didn’t know much about politics, the government, society and all that comes with it. But I was always smiling.

I don’t know what happened. Oh, I remember! Life happened.

I look at myself in the mirror and each time, I am just disgusted of who I’ve become. But no, not really. I actually think that I am a way better person now than I was for the past 18 years.

If I could tell my young self one thing, it is to “go fuck yourself!” Every time I remember the awful things I’ve done to my friends, my family and my lovers, I just can’t help but regret how evil and shallow I was. I regret being a disloyal, self-absorbed friend. I regret breaking so many people’s trust and friendship. I regret the fact that I’ve never really been genuinely in love with anyone in my past, but acted like I was. I regret not being appreciative of the love and the care that my friends and family gave me. I just do. I regret all of it. Because now? Now I know what it’s like to be taken for granted. I know what it’s like to hurt so much that I can’t even sleep at night without having thoughts of how I’m so worthless and of how I deserve every bit of heartache that I’m feeling right now. Shit!

So… hate. What is it that I hate?

I hate people who come and go just like that! I hate how you can talk to someone for hours and the next thing you know he’s just ignoring you like you’re an insignificant piece of shit. I hate people who are so caught up in their past that the people in their present suffer because of it. I hate people who don’t think they deserve to be loved. Like, seriously, what is that?! I think that’s bullshit! It’s bullshit because there are actually people, like me, who believe in you! People who actually care about you. And you just shrug us all off your shoulders because you think no one can be trusted? Because you think we’re all the same? Because you think people are temporary? Well let me tell you one thing – you’re the one who’s temporary! Gawd, I just hate this. I hate people who are selfish about their feelings – people who just can’t seem to let anyone love them, and just love them back. I hate it because it sucks! It sucks that you feel so connected to someone but then all of a sudden fear, and ego, and society, and whatever crap it is, come into the picture and destroy what could’ve been a genuine human-to-human relationship.

I think that the way the majority view life is simply disgusting. People always say “Oh! That’s life. It’s normal. People leave, new ones come. And you move on!” Well I think that’s just ridiculous. Because I know that I am someone who actually learned to value people – friends and family, especially. I have learned that true love and true friendship don’t happen everyday. They’re rare. And I learned all this the hard way.

Now I know why people are so sad and lonely. People are sad and lonely because they are a bunch of cowards! They are alone because they are so focused on money, career, success, fame, or that feeling of being “cool and awesome and accomplished”. But fuck that! Even if I die young and unaccomplished, I will die happy because I at least managed to actually be honest to myself and to people about my feelings and of who I am.

I am convinced that this is me – this is who I am. I write a lot, I read a lot, I think a lot. I am moody, I am emotional, I am melodramatic. I have a messy, un-styled wavy black hair, I don’t do sports, I don’t have ripped muscles, I don’t like action movies, I indulge in a lot of over-feeling and over-analyzing, I drink too much coffee in the morning, I don’t own a mansion by the ocean, I tend to come across as weird and quirky but in a creepy way, I despise the taste of beer, I am erratic, restless and yes, maybe I care about things and people a little too much and too often. And I can be many other different things, but I do know what I’m not: I am not numb, and I am not insensitive. And I may not be everything, but at least when I tell someone I’m a friend I actually mean it. And if you think that that’s not enough – that I’m not enough – then that’s just too damn bad for you.

I was that person before, and I hated him. As a matter of fact I still do.

So to all the people whom I’ve considered friends but decided that I’m just another speck of dust on the floor, I don’t know where you are, or what’s going through your minds right now, but I think that you should be ashamed of yourselves. You really should.

Life’s too short for me to waste my time with selfish little self-absorbed assholes.

High School High

My Tune: The Bitch of Living (from the musical Spring Awakening)
audio link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=reqSQy_69m0

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Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that I’m drastically becoming one of those people who are desperately holding on to their youth. I know that the flower-crowned optimists of this world say that age is just a number and that one can stay forever young if he pleases to, and all those other metaphors and euphemisms they use these days to cover up ugly truths, but I feel like a realist today. And today, what’s real tells me that I am an unemployed twenty-year old artist with a lackluster social life somewhere in the jungle-like Western civilization. And I just can’t help but think to myself, “Dang, boi! Where did all the years go?”

Here’s the thing about me: I am lethargic. I am lazy. Bed-ridden. I mean generally speaking, I barely even walk for more than a total of 90 seconds per day, and I don’t really consider sweating a prerequisite to my well-being. The most active thing I do is take a shower twice a day, but that’s about it. I might as well dub myself “The World’s Youngest Retiree Ever”. But here’s the catch: I wasn’t like this before. Not at all. I was one of the most energetic, most party-fueled, adventure-filled, life-loving people I know. Now I’m sitting here just wondering what happened to the livelier version of myself; the one who always found excitement in the littlest things, the one who would not allow a day to pass without trying something new. You know, the one back in high school.

High school. Here we go again. I’ve written several things about this already, but if I actually wrote each time I start to miss high school, even if it’s just always momentary, then at least half of this blogsite would be about nothing else other than high school. But here I am right now. And besides the fact that I haven’t set foot on the grounds of my high school for three years now, what brought me here?

An hour ago, I was re-watching an episode of 90210, and it’s the one where the West Beverly Hills High produces a performance of one of the most notable plays in history, “Spring Awakening”. It is the work of German dramatist Frank Wedekind written sometime between autumn 1890 and spring 1891. And it is one of my favorite plays of all time. It definitely is the real High School Musical.

One of the songs in Spring Awakening has always stood out to me, and that is the song “The Bitch of Living”. If you also love this song, or if you are not familiar with the play and are curious, then go click the audio link I so kindly provided for you at the very top of this write-up. There’s just something about this song that makes me vividly remember how it felt like to be in high school. All of those events and stage plays held in our university gymnasium, amphitheater and football field always top my memory list. I mean, jesus, I’m having goosebumps just thinking about the moments I had there, with my friends, with their hearts, and with all our innocence.

When I think of the past, I think of high school. This is a choice I make because high school, despite the bumps and grinds, was the best time of my life so far. Hold on, I know what you could be thinking right now. “My gosh, what a shallow little stuck-up human being you are, Kenn! High school was the best time of your life? Ugh, that’s just sad and pathetic. You were probably popular, had lots of friends, had a cinematic lovelife and didn’t have social anxiety that’s why you love high school! Fuck y–” But I’m stopping you right there. “The best” is something relative. And right now, I am at that point in my life where I appreciate the past because it’s the only thing I am sure about. And I am so sure about high school…

High2

I am sure that none of those sleepless nights trying to figure out Algebra was a waste, because we weren’t really dealing with those x’s and y’s and binomials anyway. We were up, yes, but we were dreaming. I’m sure we were. We were dreaming of ways to eat our lunch the next day and the ways to get our crush’s number without looking like a retard. And I’m sure that sometimes we all did look like retards, but none of that entirely mattered. Because we had so much energy in us that humiliation and consequences were but fractions of motivation that only kept us going.

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I am sure that those hallways weren’t just hallways; they were our very own world stage. Those hallways had seen so much of us – from the casual chit chats and last-minute note-scanning to the cutest holding-hands sessions and the overwhelming battles of forbidden love. Secrets were blurted out, love was confessed, friendship was made, friendship was broken, all in those hallways.

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I am sure our dusty classrooms during our last year in high school weren’t just classrooms, either. Underneath the drama and some inevitable social discord, those rooms had been an echo chamber of a complex yet blissful familial dysfunction. Those rooms were our homes away from home. And I’m sure we all learned at least a thing or two about teenage hormones in there.

I am sure that those first times were going to be worthwhile. That first drop of beer and vodka was merely the beginning of a journey. That night we decided we wanted to try smoking, that night we got drunk for the first time, that same night we saw ourselves not just as students but as people. All those mini fights, mini flirting, mini kisses, mini heartbreaks and mini nights-out made room for memories that were gonna be larger than life.

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I am sure that puberty, sexuality, poverty, love, rape, abortion, religion, gender, suicide and child abuse were all subjects very fresh to us. Most of us were just getting to know life through a peephole, and we were stoked! We were nervous, yes, but we were ready for anything life was gonna throw at us. We knew at the back of our minds that that was the time to learn, bit by bit, and then all at once.

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I am sure that everybody had a blast during that on-campus camping when we were in junior year. I’m sure that the air that night was rather intimate, but not necessarily in a sexual way. It was intimate in that it brought people who were already close even closer, and that it smelled something like a quarterback’s sweaty bedroom. I’m sure that that bonfire lit up something inside each of us, even though we weren’t conscious of it right when it happened. But it was there, happening. I’m sure that every single one of us who looked straight into that tall fleeting fire felt this underlying gratitude for being alive. We were just so full of life and hope. I’m sure that the tents we slept in, the grass we walked on and the friends we laughed with were gonna be there for the long run. We knew nothing was permanent, but we also knew that that night was gonna last for a long time. In fact, so long of a time it still lives in us today.

I am sure that one afternoon in the gymnasium was a fateful one. I was rehearsing with my co-emcee for the Sportsfest Opening, and you were standing by the gate carrying your sports gear. And you weren’t exactly looking at me the whole time, but I would stare at you every chance I got, and I saw the 4-PM sun light the left part of your body and the wind blow your perfectly straight hair just enough so that a small portion of your right eye was covered, and then revealed, and then covered again, and then revealed again, and I thought you were just beautiful – just you standing there from a close distance, looking like someone I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And of course, neither of us intensely believed that. We both knew it was all on the surface, but we didn’t care. It just felt nice. And that’s all that we could hope for that day; to feel something nice.

High4

In a world where everything seems so ephemeral, it is a gift to be able to keep great memories close to your heart. We are almost at that point already, my dear high school batchmates. We’re in this for the long haul. We were gossiping about crushes back then, but soon enough life slaps us in the face with jobs we don’t enjoy, bosses we hate, financial crisis we can’t escape, menacing strangers and some pretty devastating bad hair days. I mean, it is the bitch of living. We will eventually lose that youthful energy we always used to own, and we will someday feel like sleeping for a decade. But I think that if we just hold on to those moments from yesterday – those minutes and hours when all we cared about was feeling something simple and nice, those nights when we were living just for the hell of it, times when we were counting clouds and not assets, months when we didn’t have to worry about rent, or how much we had in our bank, days when it didn’t matter how badly we sucked at something because we would always just laugh at it – then we can absolutely feel nice forever.

I was losing all of my energy. But I just suddenly remembered, “I was a fucking teenager with all those fucking bad-ass moves and trips”. And I still am. I will forever be.

Broken Microphone

Growing up, I’ve gradually learned to walk away from nonsense and to stay away from debates as much as possible. I remember how I used to always speak up and even shout for what I believed in. I would not stop until I got my point across and until I made the other person give up and admit he’s wrong. But it got tiring. All of the arguments have started to seem trivial. I mean it is good to fight for what you perceive is right, but sometimes it’s just not necessary. There will always be people on your team and other ones who aren’t. All those quests for kindred souls just had to stop. Because no matter what, there are people in your life who understand you; who get you. People you don’t need to work so hard to connect to– you just click. These are the people you would want to keep for a lifetime. They are right there in your world. Just look closer. And when you finally rediscover who they are and where they’ve been sitting all along, sit with them… and never ever let them go.

Confessions of a Metamorphosing Earthling

My Tune: Lost in Space by Lighthouse Family

I always thought it’s never healthy to just stay in a little delicate bubble of a certain distinction all the time. I came to realize that sometimes, failing to discover the “out there” may leave a man fast becoming a dying species.

For the past week, I gave myself enough time to further analyze the goings-on in my life as a mere 16 year-old boy. As I was critically observing things and people, it suddenly sank in to me that looking back, I was deliberately living in an abstract quarantine or some sort of an isolation zone. I’m pretty sure you find this fact weird or even something which is badly unbelievable because foremost, everyone knows how I am such a social being. I mean, I am in fact a monophobic person— the one who fears being alone or being lonely. So how, then, can an ultimately socialite earthling like myself ever say that he lives in an “isolation zone”? I’ll tell you…

Honestly, I am not really the type who is generally flexible. I admit I don’t know how to do some things which other people expect any other people to know. Vague, ei? I say, I don’t know how to fry a fish, to handle extreme construction or destruction tools such as a saw, T-square, axe, welders, rivet guns, jigs or trowels, to sew, wash and iron my clothes, and to fix broken material things such as a cracked wooden table or a withering arm chair. These are the things or the activities in which my skills don’t really work that well. Furthermore, there are also a lot of things which I don’t really indulge myself into. For example, I’m not one of those people who dip their fried chicken in random mixes such as ketchup or tomato sauce, Mang Tomas or Mozzarella cheese. I mean, when it comes to dips, I only fancy the gentle gravy, and nothing else except for those whose names I didn’t quite get. Although I am a “vegetable person”, there are still a few of those green leafy stuff which my tongue had never fallen in love with. Some of these are the bitter amargoso, ampalaya and fried talong (eggplant). I also don’t fancy eating famous Filipino recipes like Inasal na manok, Lechon manok, Pancit canton (especially the instant ones), Bihon, Dinuguan, Valenciana and even the well-advertised Breaded Prok Chop. Even when it comes to clothing, I tend to limit myself deliberately. I noticed that I never wear hats or caps. I also don’t wear baggy shorts and pants unlike the other teenagers. I can see that I am a fan of flashy colors such as silver, gold and metallic primary shades, but a hater of orange, turquoise and most especially, pink. I don’t know, but I really really hate pink. Haha. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

Digging in deeper, I am not a fan of Chuck Taylor nor am I a fan of Chuck Taylor shoes themselves. Unlike the usual teenage group, I despise Converse shoes especially the high-cut ones. I also hate Havaianas slippers and flip-flops although I own a couple of pairs of ’em. It’s because of the fact that its pricey cost is getting shallow and severely commercialized. I have a long list, but this will be the last one: I do not like wearing t-shirts or jackets which say “Parental Guidance”, “F*ck You”, or some tees splattered with bloody canvas and a vast design that gives the impression of being an emo.

Academically, I hate Math and Science (and there’s no question about that). In school, subjects that require a huge amount of patience such as Drafting and Bookkeeping, don’t really top my Nice List this Christmas, and in all the other holidays to come.

See? I told you I’m cynically limited. Sigh. I’m going to explode herein again. Here I go…

Despite the fact that I’m naturally living in my own little bubble of safety and convenience, I have been gradually adjusting myself to many things lately. I can in fact say that I am now undergoing the first stage of a metamorphosis. I can say that what I really want to do right now is to finally put into practice what I myself have preached for so many years already— that there’s the whole world out there; that there’s no reason for us to stay stuck in the same place, the same ways, for there is more to life than what our eyes usually meet. It is indeed true that life is half spent before you get to know what it really is. The same thing is true with the statement that clearly, life is a long run— a runway with a limelight— where we are deemed to serenade with all our wits and assets. What’s the point of sticking to the status quo? I mean, come on! No one wants to get left behind idolizing Nora Aunor or Vilma Santos forever when in fact, here we have today the glamorous Megan Fox and Anne Hathaway. The point here is, it’s never healthy to embrace the same things over and over and over again. Having had said this, I would also like to stress that letting oneself be hunted by his past is something which may actually murder him and his heart at one.

Have you ever realized how uncool it is to always be in the usual or in the norm?

I vowed to myself that one of these days, I’ll be the versatile one, the flexible one, the universal one. About seven days from now, I can see myself as someone who has gone out of his cocoon after a remarkable metamorphosis. I can see myself as someone who handles hammer and nails, someone who fries fish, eats amargoso and Inasal na Manok without hesitations, learns to wear hats whenever needed and as someone who has finally sought the greater grounds of life by discovering the so-called The Out There.

A new place. A new hope. A new wardrobe. A new love. A new life…

I will become the better version of me.

Post Script…

Embracing new things is like embracing a long-lost friend or loved one. Although you’ve been with this person for a long time previously, it will always become hard to remember how a hug feels like until the time you meet again. Like embracing a long-lost loved one, appreciating new things gives one’s heart a priceless joy and contentment, for in that particular moment that he finds something or someone new, he would naturally feel that this thing or person is the one he has been looking for all along.

… Let us all become agents of transformation. =)