08 January 2007

Adding a Digit

It’s the eighth day of the new year. No casualties so far, personally speaking.

Yesterday I watched two movies that I was supposed to watch for a long time ago, well, they have been in my hard drive for the longest time, I just haven’t had the time to actually click on it and watch it. Well, so yesterday I brought my laptop to my flat and sat down on both, while sipping on my orange tea (or vanilla caramel tea, depending on the movie).

The first movie I watched was Memoirs of a Geisha. I have watched the first 20 minutes a few weeks ago, but haven’t had the time to continue it. Well, I was pleased with the movie. I read the book, but maybe it was too long ago to remember the book, that I couldn’t think of anything that I saw in the movie that I think is not according to the book. I liked the performance of Ziyi Zhang especially in the dance in front of the many men bidding for her mizuage.

The second movie I watched yesterday was The New World. Now this movie I cannot understand. It moves too slow, and it seems to be lacking something, something I cannot name since I am not a creative writing major, thus, I do not know the technical thing that seems to be lacking in that movie.


I cannot believe that this year would be the year when I turn 25. Wow. I am getting old.

I seem to be getting dreams that are so rooted in my past recently. I also seem to be digging up memories of the recent and not-so-recent past. I don’t know why. It’s not that I consciously dig them up, it’s just that my long-term memory seems to be shifting its contents to my short-term memory (or whatever the correct psychological term for it) that sometimes mundane things I do everyday seem to remind me of them.

Like when I brew my tea. It reminded me of the teapot that my mother used to use in Japan. How it was white with a pink ceramic paint on it, and a round net inside to catch the tea leaves.

That in turn brought up the small teapot collection that we had, displayed in the walnut plate drawer, or whatever you call it. My mom used to buy teacups and teapots from all over, I think I can remember at least three or four different sets that are now accumulating dust in Manila. Now, she stopped collecting teacups, she collects mugs instead. I wonder why she made the shift.

Still about teas, I remember the short barley tea phase that my parents had. In Manila, they used to buy a bag of roasted corn, or barley, or whatever that grain was, I think it was Korean, and they would boil a cup of those every night and drink the horrendous stuff. The smell was good, but the taste wasn’t desirable. I tried it once, or at least remember taking a sip, and it tasted like driftwood.

Sometimes I would wake up at night after a dream, a dream that looked so real, I felt that I was timewarped and that things I experienced before would be played again, only to realize upon opening your eyes that it was just a dream.

Boy I need a distraction. I need the classes to start next week. This lack of pressure is killing me. I need my brain to work, or else it is doing weird things to my memories.

In seven months, I would add another digit to my age. Divine sources say that humans live up to 70 or 80 years, in that case, I am one-third of the way.

Sometimes I wake up after an attempt to cross the trainlines, waiting for that barrier to rise, before I would cross Route 43, and then turning left at the first corner, in time for the morning bell.

Sometimes I wake up after cringing because my attempt in hitting the volleyball forced the white round object to fly not across the net but across the yard and over the building, in the total opposite direction.

Sometimes I wake up after eating a chunk of barbecued chicken bought in a chicken joint before heading to the beach, watching the sunset, as the ball of fire would disappear at the other side of the ocean.

Sometimes I wake up after getting off the bullet train, then diving into the subway, getting off at Aoyama Station, then finding my hotel, as I prepare for the speech contest to be held the next day in the university at the next block. Funny I was the school’s representative, but I came alone, travelling from Osaka to Tokyo alone, spending a night in Tokyo alone, eating in a restaurant alone, and wasting the afternoon in the biggest bookstore in town.

Sometimes I wake up after driving into the driveway of the house, only to find the doors open, because someone who needed money so bad was high on drugs that he needed to break into our house. I saw myself checking my room for any missing items, but my novel, The Phantom of the Opera was still there on top of my bed, untouched. Displaying an air of vanity, I checked my cologne collection, thankfully, they’re all there. The only thing I lost was my white and black bookbag, apparently that’s what the guy used as a container to haul my parents’ jewelry.

Sometimes I wake up sitting on the dining table watching my dad arrange the mussel shells according to size. So that it would look better in the trash.

Sometimes I wake up finding all the dishes packed in the trashcan, just because neither my sister nor me would be willing to wash it. So my Dad’s solution was to just throw them all in the trash. Eventually my sister would yield.

Come to think of it, 25 is rather old. In some countries, the average lifetime is 48. So that is half of it.

What are my peers doing at 25? A couple have families. A child, maybe two. Working their butts off to feed their young. One is a single parent. Another is estranged.

There is a Tagalog saying that one must look where they came from or else they’ll never reach anywhere. I don’t know if digging up the past is the right one to approach that adage.

Looking at my past, it seems that I am not rooted in one place, my acquaintances, my friends, are all contained within the current phase of my life. I don’t like that. I don’t talk to any of my friends from Osaka anymore. I don’t think I have made any lasting friends in Guam, except for one, perhaps. My close friends in Manila are there, but I don’t know what is up with them now. And I am afraid that my friends here in Buffalo would vanish the moment I board the plane for a new destination after I am done with my time here.

There is a saying that the world is your oyster. In a way, it has been for me. But I cannot play Janus and have two faces turning both sides. I wish I could.

I remember the last week of classes in my senior year in high school in Guam. A few days before graduation. A few days before I would don the purple and gold toga. A classmate of mine gave out a comment, how she remembered another classmate of ours running in gym class and how he would lose his pants in second grade, ten years ago. I never had that with my current friends.

My earliest memory perhaps was in Denver. We were cooling off corn on the open window, in the middle of winter. I also remember making a big snowman in the apartment yard, with three soda cans as eyes and a mouth.

There was also a woman named Connie McKay, who according to my parents, adored me.

At 24, I have travelled to 11 countries. This summer, it will be 12, since I will be taking a solo backpacking trip to Quito, Ecuador.

I have seen plenty of things around the world. I’ve visited ancient temples in Nikko, brushed with reptiles in the snake alleys of Taipei, visited ancient stone ruins in Athens, walked the ancient road that Paul walked in Rome, and countless other things and experiences that I should be thankful of.

And this summer I’ll be climbing a volcano, eating guinea pig, and trekking the Andes.

A lot of 24-yr olds haven’t done this yet.

Looking back can sometimes open your mind to important realizations.

Like realizing how small you are compared to the world. Like realizing how many blessings you’ve received so far. Like realizing that instead of bitching why life is like this, one should be thankful of why life is like this.


  1. LIW - It's amazing that you still remember your fondest memories, most of them nice memories about your childhood, family life, childhood acquaintances. We tend to recall nice memories far longer into the past than sad or traumatic memories which we tend to bury deep into our memories. That memory recall about making a snowman out in the yard was when you were only 3 years old! Yes, you can remember that because you have had a loving family circle!

    Yes, at 24 years old, or almost 1/3 of a man's average life span of 70 or 80, you have gone so far out by now. Indeed, we need to be thankful to the One true God, Jah, who gave us life, breath and all things and even putting eternity into our hearts.

    This reminds me how important to always remember what the Great Congregator wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 -"Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say:'I have no delight in them'. . . before the silver cord is removed, and the golden bowl gets crushed . . . then the dust returns to the earth just as it happened to be and the spirit itself returns to the true God who gave it."

    When youth is at its prime, life is a joy to ponder, the world so vibrant, waiting to be conquered. But come now when you reaches 35 or 40, life slowly, then rapidly ages to dullness, decays, then pain comes in, frailty and death!

    So, remember how life can be so fleeting for but a moment, then it is gone!

  2. Turning 24 and having done all the things that you've been able to do so far isn't bad at all. And even if you're still single, at least you're enjoying it immensely.(read: I would give anything for a backpacking trip too. lol)

    Nice blog, btw. I hope you don't mind me looking around. :)

  3. prab,

    No worries. You're welcome to look around.


  4. hey LIW, happy new year! definitely, there's no better way to start the year than to count the blessings that youve been enjoying! talking about turning 25 this year??? i just turned 30! there, hope that makes you feel better!

    have a great 2007 dude!