Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Don't Go to Starbucks for the Coffee

Nina will hate me for this, but I really don't like Starbucks coffee - the flavor's too acidic. As a matter of fact, the reason I take drip or pressed coffee black without cream or sugar is the fact that I don't get to taste the flavour otherwise. It's just sharp, bitter water.

This excludes, of course, the Christmas blend. That selection is so strong, it feels like a horse punched you in the head. The way I like my coffee.

(Starbucks pales in comparison to Nina's own coffee - which is strong and bitter, the way coffee, decaf or not, is supposed to be).

But the reason I go for Starbucks coffee is the fact that it's so easy to get lost in the chaos. There's the anonymity of being in a place that retains a territorial boundary of sorts despite the fact that it's always full of people. Jericho said something about kids who go to Starbucks because it's cool, something like a fad, but I think this is necessary for the formative teen. You need to waste a few bucks on trying to find your niche, poor or not. And no matter how destitute you might be, there's something calming about knowing that with this eighty-pesos cup of coffee, you are buying something more than just cafe. You're buying the chance to be alone and be left alone, for the most part.

Like this afternoon. I was feeling horrible, and I couldn't focus on work, much less go to a gig, because of a lot of atmospheric elements. There was, to be precise, a party ongoing at my house, and since most celebrations are held at the balcony right behind my room, the speakers of my brother booming my humps, my humps, my lovely little lumps, I'd very much rather check out of the house. So instead, I slept. For several hours. By ten pm, I was feeling strong enough to take a shower and head out to Robinsons Otis and the Starbucks there, which was open til midnight. Thank the heavens Otis was ten minutes away from my place, at best.

Lo and behold. I was able to secure a good spot, and spit out four decent articles in the span of two hours. All I had was a chair, a small table, and breathing space of around a couple of centimeters away from my body. As compared to my room, which was roomier than four sedans put together.

Sounds amazing? It is.

If you need to do a lot of thinking, whether for work or for school - or even for yourself - you need the comfort of faux company offered by the kitsch surroundings of a cafe trying too hard to be elegant. The drone of people talking about a variety of topics - in Otis it's mostly cars and the odd medical group, while in Missouri it's mostly about gimmicks, relationships, and other teenage or yuppie matter - and the knowledge that no matter how tense things became, they wouldn't bother you more than a couple of minutes is very relaxing. You have the world in your oyster. You can observe and be observed, and not care and not be bothered. It's like living and watching your own petri dish in motion, with full mutual respect for the eccentricities of each person.

Because you know that you won't be bothered by these people.

So yeah. I don't go to Starbucks for the coffee. The coffee's just the cherry on the cake, the bagel sandwiches an added bonus. I go to Starbucks because in the chaos of that pedestrian fakery, I can be happily alone.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Jigsaw Puzzle

Mufflednoise posted something really nice and thought-provoking earlier, and that got me thinking a bit.

Today was a pretty decent day, despite the fact that the upstairs bathrooms were clogged beyond belief yet again. A nice, if short, morning conversation with Nina; then there was Amari's first birthday party; mass with Jon at St. Andrew's Church in Kalayaan; then a couple of beers with Abbey, Obi and Jon afterwards at WG Diner.

Throughout the day, there were subtle hints thrown at each of us that many, many things were changing. First was that odd conversation I had with Abbey and Obi during the birthday party at Bubba Gump: that in ten years' time, this was going to be us holding birthdays for our own kids. Obi rolled his eyes on this one (something of a private joke between us friends), but if things keep on going the way they are for all of us, that's probably how it's going to be. Probably being the operative word, but possibilities are powerful things.

Then of course, there was the rather pedestrian yet somewhat (to me) mature thing like hearing mass the way you're supposed to hear mass. In the past, whenever my friends and I end up hearing mass together, we'd stay outside so that we can still muck about with each other, share a good laugh and giggle like a gaggle of geese without disturbing the rest of the parishioners with our noise. Today, I strolled to the church ahead of Jon, waited for the previous service to finish, and queued for a seat just so that we could hear the mass from within the church. The bizarre thing is that it sounds like something my parents would do, not me (although I never missed Sunday mass while I was living alone down south, so that may count for something).

And finally, during beers and a late dinner (for some) at WG Diner afterwards, we discussed business opportunities, work, and relationships (we're past calling them love lives, I'd imagine). I had problems with getting my finances straight enough so I could start really researching on the business(es) that I might want to put up. Abbey's just moved places, is still living independently, and slowly trying to make her life more organized. Obi's focus on work hasn't wavered even one bit - he's even learned several new skills in order to maximize the opportunities he has on his plate. And Jon's finally starting to face his own demons - albeit in a rather roundabout way, but hey. Baby steps.

And the most amazing thing about the entire night was that I had no more than two beers.

Two beers. Me. Mr. drink more than your mind could possibly fathom. Me, the guy who's been trying to put some distance between him and his alcohol-laden past but has only recently been succeeding. Me, the guy who, during his first drunken night, slept in a park at twelve midnight because he finished half a bottle of Emperador brandy in one swig. Two bloody beers.

While we were walking after the beers, the irony of all these things hit me, and I told Jon that damn, we weren't even close to the woods yet, but man were we getting old. And it made me reexamine where I am right now, for a few moments during the ride home, and consider everything that's gone right, and everything that's gone wrong.

Any moron could probably tell you that more things went wrong than right. So it goes, Kurt Vonnegut says.

But you know, while everything hasn't exactly been peachy in how things are going, I'm pretty happy where I am now. Out-of-post-puberty but not really in that zone of self-independence yet. It's like you've got a jigsaw puzzle and a jigsaw knife that lets you fix how the pieces fit, and you don't know just how fugly that picture'll be after all of your incisions, but for some reason, the way the pieces have fit together recently just fit nicely. And it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, not unlike heartburn or indigestion, only less unpleasant.

I have this nervous habit of not pointing out the good things that happen lest I end up wrecking the karmic balance of things that ensure bad shit don't happen again (dream on kiddo), so I'll leave you guys with the statement that yes, I had a pretty decent weekend, and I hope you had a pretty decent weekend as well.

Monday, February 02, 2009

On a Bad Day

The simplest things can make you smile. Nins already took care of making sure I grinned for most of the day. The following photo made sure that I will be going to bed laughing:


A kid after my own heart

Hell yeah!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Little Guy

Independent contractors are an endangered species. No matter what creative endeavor you enter - writing, music or even writing code - you run the risk of being left behind without so much as a thank you by your client. Intellectual theft made easy, especially when you live in a country which offers very little protection against similar acts of stealing.

But when a big corporation decides to go and cut costs by pulling a fast one on the little man, what does that say about how our own industry bigwigs and leaders view the wealth of skill and expertise our solo entrepreneurs have to offer?

Gary Granada spells it out rather well in this short audio clip. Please do take the time to listen to it and see just how blatantly the manggagawa can be exploited in the Philippines.

Gary Granada vs GMA Kapuso - Gary Granada

It's rather sad when an act of good faith gets corrupted by executives who are always looking for ways to cut costs. It's always the little guy who gets the short end of the stick.