This will be quite long, but I hope you will read it to the end.
I haven’t really told you how I started this blog. Well I have, partly, but I want to tell about it anyway so here’s the whole story. It actually started with me spying on my ex’s blog; “spying” because I was not allowed to read it. It was supposed to be his personal space, one of the very few parts of his world where I was kept out. But when I got a job and had to live away from him, it started to feel like the parts of his world that I was allowed in were slowly shrinking. So I decided to snoop around in the restricted areas.
One day, I decided that I did not only want to read what he writes, but also what he reads, so I followed the links in his blog roll. I remember coming across citybuoy and desoleboy from there. I read those blogs and, when I was done, went on to click on the links in their lists. I tend to do that a lot: follow links. I’d often read a Wikipedia article and find myself clicking on links and reading articles for the next few hours. My boss would attest to that.
My blog-hopping later led me to Darc’s place. The title was intriguing: “I Fell in Love with a Cyber-celebrity”.
It instantly reminded me of Agent Boytoy and his die-hard groupies. I read Darc’s latest entry, expecting to read stalker thoughts, but it was about an old woman selling vegetables. I was confused, so I figured I should back-read to learn how the cyber-celebrity topic led to the old woman. Before the day ended, I had read every single post. Never mind that he did not say much about the cyber-celebrity, he was a brilliant writer. I was hooked. I was a fan. I thought, “Shet, ang galing niya mag-English!”, and that became the first push for me. I had been severely out of practice at writing and my English was getting really rusty. Blogging seemed to be a good way to fix that.
Another reason behind the blog was my job. You see, I work as a programmer for the Marketing Department of a company that sells car parts through an e-commerce site. If you got lost in that last sentence, the only important keywords are “Marketing” and “e-commerce site”, which means making money through websites. For those of you who are familiar with the techniques, yes, that means SEO, web measurement, content, user experience, etc.
My job works this way: the people from marketing decide that a new feature, for instance, a new banner, could help increase sales so they make one. Then they give it to me and I put it on the site. The problem there is that I am not part of coming up with the strategies, I only implement them; therefore I have little idea on how to use the techniques. Once again, blogging seemed to be a good way to practice. I knew the techniques; I just needed a site to use them on. If I do it right, I can increase the traffic of my blog. Then I can place ads. Ka-ching.
The final push came with the breakup. This is the part that some of you may know about. When ex poured his heart out in his posts, his followers posted words of support and encouragement. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that some of those words were blows directed to me. Nobody knew about me back then. I was just a character in my ex’s story. That’s why it was so easy for people to say things like “He’s not worth it” and “You deserve someone better”. I was like, “What the hell? These people don’t even know the whole story. They don’t even know me, and they’re saying that I’m no good?” I could not really blame them though. It was not their fault that they only knew one side. That was when I finally decided to put up my own blog. I was going to tell my side. I was going to write about myself and about the story from my point of view. Then, when I saw that they already knew me enough to make a proper judgement, I was going to introduce myself as the ex.
And so I signed up for blogger. That was the easy part. Thinking of a title and a display name proved to be a lot more difficult. For the personal part, I had to think of a name and a title that will tell my story in nutshell. For marketing purposes, they should be intriguing enough to make people want to read. That’s how I came up with “Ex Jason” and “His Worthless Ex”. Not my best, I know, but they were the best I can come up with. And they were enough to serve their purpose. I hope.
I got to work once everything was set up. My first three entries were my version of the break-up. The ones after that were stuff about me interspersed with break-up emoness. Everything was in English of course. By the third entry, I had people commenting about how I had a skill for writing. Ha! If you guys only knew just how many times I revise my entries before I publish them. Heck, I even edit them after. But I really appreciate the compliments. That’s one thing I really like about the people here: everyone is generous with compliments, even the best writers.
I was telling my side and I was practicing my English, now I had to market my blog. The most basic way to do that, of course, is to build links. I walked around the blogosphere, following and commenting on every blog that caught my interest. Soon, though, marketing became just my secondary reason for doing that. In my blog-hopping, I discovered just how much talent there was in this community. Honestly, I used to think somehow that majority of bloggers were just like gamers: people who had little life beyond the PC chair. As it turned out, I was mistaken. Everyone had his or her own genuinely interesting story to tell. Bloggers, I realized, are people who live amazing lives and tell about them. The amazing life is a prerequisite; otherwise there would be nothing to tell.
Everything worked out as planned. I gained followers and the number of page views I got rose steadily, which means that the marketing side was doing good. Good for a newbie, anyway. I was still nowhere near as good as the pros, but it was enough learning experience. With regard to my goal of improving my English, I got help from a few of the good writers. I also got good feedback, a lot better than what I expected. For the telling-my-side part, people, even those who told my ex that his ex was worthless, started to understand my side, or at least that was what they said in their comments. I think this was thanks in part to the recently released song by Juris.
Needless to say, putting up this blog and writing those entries have been a great experience. However, I think it has already served its main purpose, which was to tell my side. I had already revealed myself three months ago. The breakup is now a thing of the distant past and there will be no more need to write about it. Also, I realized that I can’t use this blog as the rat for my marketing experiments because it does not sell anything. I will have to practice on some other site that has a more clearly-defined niche.
So, is this another phony farewell post? Don’t worry, it’s not. I will not stop blogging. Why should I? I still have a lot of stories to tell! But they no longer need to be told under this blog’s title. I’m going to make a new blog. This time I will have no other purpose other than to share bits of my life. No more half-assed attempts at marketing. And this time, it will no longer have the word “Ex” attached to it. I don’t yet know exactly when this is going to happen. I will be pretty busy these coming days, so it will probably be next year, which means I will be posting a few more times here before I move.
Whatever the case, I really hope you will still follow my new blog when it finally happens.
Ha! I had a lot of fun putting this list together. I’m not really much of a reader, but I was lucky that we were required to read some really good short stories (mostly written by Filipino writers) when I was in high school. Eight of the stories here were from back then and reading them again after a long time brought back a lot of memories. I remember how we discussed them in class and how intense those discussions sometimes went.
I won’t give out summaries and critiques because (1) I don’t want to spoil anyone, and (2) I’m not really a very reliable critic and I would not want to influence anyone with my inept assessments. I found links though so you can read them if you like. These short stories are actually not that short so they will consume a bit of your time, but they are worth reading.
This was used by a schoolmate for her “doble-kara” monologue. She played the part of Aling Marta and little Andres. Of course, she played Andres as a girl, so I suppose it was an Andrea. I found the story later in a textbook and I swear I felt like bitch-slapping Aling Marta after I read it. Isang giant echoserang frog!
9. Yumayapos Ang Takipsilim by Genoveva Edroza Matute
A very sad story about how people who used to love you and whom you used to take care of will eventually see you as nothing but a useless weight bag. To be more specific, about how parents get left behind. This story hit me hard because I was so close to my mother and I could not imagine this happening to her. Once again, it's the rainbow bond between gay guys and their moms. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of this online. I have a book but I don't want to be sued for IP. I expect most of you have read this, though. This is a pretty common story in HS curricula.
This story is something you would expect to see in an indie film or in a TV documentary. It bluntly showed how ugly the lives of street children can get and it really stuck with me. I still remember it whenever I see beggar kids. Also whenever I cross an overpass and watch the blur of lights from the cars below.
I read this one in a textbook for Filipino. I don’t actually remember how I got that book. Hmm.. Anyway, this one was a bit disturbing. I still don’t fully understand why the mother did that in the end. I guess she preferred that she did it herself than see someone else do it. It was still really drastic though. I mean, what if she just assumed wrong?
This story caught our interest because the description of the school where it was set was suspiciously close to ours. The school in the story had worse teachers, though. I mean, we had our issues with our faculty but as far as I knew they were nowhere near those in the story. But I still really liked it because it effectively captured the angst of high school students.
A story of how love can be a struggle. Though this story was set in colonial times, it evokes familiar emotions. Yes, the times when love and war feel the same, I suppose we are all familiar with that.
4. Autumn Mountain
This was about a man who heard stories of a beautiful painting. He later on met someone who had actually seen the painting once and who has been searching for it ever since so he can marvel at its beauty once again. The first man joined the second in his search, and all throughout, the second described the painting in detail to the first. This only fuelled the first man’s desire to see the painting himself. They finally find it one day, but both are disappointed at what they see.
Unfortunately, I could not find this one online, hence the half-assed summary. I think it was a Japanese story. Anyway, it led to the term “na-autumn mountain” which we used within our circle when talk about something (usually a movie or a supposedly cute peerson) that fails our expectations.
This is another story about love’s complexities. This time, it’s about how unfair the world can be to lovers, like “you and me against the world” and the world won. We sometimes let the world win, for whatever reason we may have. But it makes you ask afterwards if things would have been better had you kept on fighting. Okay, those last two sentences have nothing to do with the story.
This is actually a play we did in high school for our English class. I was supposed to play Mario, the good guy, but I suffered a week-long asthma attack and had to be recast as Pablo, the bad guy, who doesn’t appear until halfway into the play. This play only had three characters so we were the group with the least actors, but we came out as the best group in our class. Our teacher said we were all effective in our roles. I must admit, it felt really good to play the bad guy.
My favorite line was, “Living? You call this living? This, Gloria, is what you call dying. Dying slowly, minute by minute.” There was supposed to be a laugh after that but I dropped it. I couldn't pull off an evil laugh.
Ah, yes, my absolute favorite. Like “na-autumn mountain”, “na-dead stars” also became a term that we used. Okay, I’ll stop there. I can’t think of a way to say more without spoiling it for those who might be interested. Just go ahead and read it; it’s a beautiful story.
Company Christmas party. Ang theme ay Hollywood movies. Pipili ng isang movie ang bawat team at yun ang gagayahin nila. Ang pinili ng teammates ko eh Pirates of the Caribbean. Kahit daw hindi na magaya yung characters basta dapat naka pirata kami.
Bilang tamad akong maghanap ng costume at bilang wala akong kahit konting creativity sa katawan, nagpatulong ako sa mga tao para makabuo ng get-up. May mga mabubuting loob naman na tumulong sa akin at nagpahiram ng mga gamit. I-improvise na lang daw namin.
Una, sabi ng housemate ko, pwede na daw ang leather shoes. So hinanap ko tong sapatos ko na huli kong nakita nung graduation nung April.
Binilhan ako ni Honey, ang best friend ko sa team ng corduroy na jacket nung nag ukay ukay siya. Nagjajacket daw ang mga pirata, tapos eto binili niya para pwede ko din daw gamiting pang-opisina.
Kelangan daw ng maluwag na pants. Eh ang kaso, puro sakto lang sakin lahat ng pants ko. So pinahiram ako ng housemate ko ng slacks na maluwag.
Dinalhan ako ng team lead namin ng scarf. Hindi ko to alam, pero sabi niya nagsscarf daw ang mga pirata.
Camisa de chino ng boyfriend ni Honey, pinahiram niya sakin. Naka white na top daw ang mga pirata.
Hindi ko alam kung ano ang inimagine nilang magiging itsura ko dapat. Nag attempt din naman akong magpatulong kina Honey at sa team lead namin nung nagbibihis ako. Kaso, eto ang kinalabasan ko:
Kami yan ni Honey. Nung nakita nila ako, sabi nila nakakatuwa daw ako tingnan kaya wag ko na lang daw baguhin. Kunwari daw ako yung Koreanong kinidnap nila.
I only wanted to remember how they felt like. I did not know that they would not be the same. Or perhaps I did, but just gave it a try anyway.
I wanted to remember what it felt like to be kissed, so I kissed my friend. It was at the back of a bar, while everyone else was inside, dancing. It had been a long time since I kissed someone and I wanted to experience it again before I completely forgot how it felt like. I held his chin, leaned over slowly and kissed him. His lips were soft. His tongue tasted of beer and his breath had the scent of cigarette. His fingers ran through my hair while my hand held his face.
The kiss was sweet. It happened the way I wanted it to happen. But it was empty.
I wanted to remember what if felt like to be hugged, so I asked for a hug from my teammate. She found me slumped at my station. She asked me if I was alright. I told her that I was not feeling well. I had been working long hours for the past few days but I was still unable to cope with the load. To add the icing to that bitter cake, I caught a cold that morning and was all lethargic from the medicine. I held out my arms and asked for a hug, longing desperately for comfort. She hugged me, held me tight for several minutes.
The hug was every bit as warm as I hoped it would be. I felt my friend’s love as she tried to comfort me. But it did not feel the way I hoped it would.
I wanted to remember what it felt like to have someone sing for me. That’s why I was thrilled when a guy dedicated his song in the videoke to me. We had been dating for a few weeks already and I knew that he had an amazing voice. Our friends were teasing us and I could not keep from smiling. He sang a love song, a ballad that suited his voice perfectly. He hit all the right notes and the dynamics were heartfelt. Everyone clapped when the song ended.
It should have been better than that other song that another guy sang for me, but it was not. It did not even come close. Because it did not mean anything.
I wanted to remember what it felt like to take a long walk with someone and just talk about anything, so when a guy told me that he wanted us to talk before we went home, I said yes. It was the morning after a night of partying and everyone else had left. He told me earlier that he liked me and I was impressed by his courage and by his rather unexpected approach. We walked and talked for an hour. There were jokes and laughter, and then there were more serious moments.
I enjoyed every minute of our walk, but as I went home, I remembered that it was supposed to feel a lot better.
Futile. Of course it was. They were no more than synthetic moments, failed imitations of those that I hold in my memories. Good memories cannot be designed, after all. They just happen, and I will have to wait until they start happening to me again.
I woke up to the sound of something hitting the door. It was a soft sound, but it was enough to break the dawn’s silence. I groped for my phone to check the time; it was still four –thirty in the morning. Deciding that I just imagined the sound, I went back to sleep.
But I was woken up once again, this time by the sound of the door opening. Still groggy, I glanced at my roommates and saw through their silhouettes that they were still asleep on their beds. That was enough to have me fully awake in a split second. Our landlady had warned us a few days before that there had been a series of thefts in our neighbourhood and that her son had seen a suspicious-looking guy lurking outside the house for the past few nights.
I tried to stay calm. I fixed my gaze at my laptop, which was beside me. My head was turned away from the door, so there was no way for me to check without being noticed if someone had already broken in. If a thief had indeed broken into our room, he would go for my laptop first. Its small twinkling light was easy to spot in the dark. What I would do though if I did see it getting stolen was something I did not think about.
I started to hear footsteps. I heard the sound of our slippers being pushed aside and my empty cigarette packs on the floor being stepped on. Each step sounded closer than the one before it.
I tried to ready myself. I still had no idea what I would do if I felt someone reach over me to grab my laptop, or if I felt heard the footsteps stop beside me. I realized I should have gotten up after I heard the sound at the door, but it was too late. I wanted to wake my roommates up, I wanted to get up and stop whoever had broken into our room, but I could not move. I was paralyzed by cold fear.
The footsteps stopped. I listened for any other sound but there was nothing. I stayed still, almost praying that I won’t feel a knife stabbing at the back or a belt choking my neck from behind. I strained my ears trying to catch any sound, but minutes passed and there was only silence. It was just my imagination, I told myself. I took deep breaths, cursing the horror movies I watched that had left me paranoid. I rolled over until I was lying on my back; slowly, just in case there was indeed a madman in our room. After staying still for a few more seconds, I started to slowly reach for my phone.
Then someone was pinning me down, weighing down on my chest. I could not breathe. I panicked. I tried to struggle but I could not move at all. I tried to feel my arms. They were not restrained but I can’t move them. I tried to see who he was but it was pitch-black. My eyes had been shut and I could not open them. Desperate, I tried to scream but no voice came out. Still, I kept trying to call out to my roommates.
It was then that I heard his voice, the voice of the one who was on top of me. He was mocking me, calling out my roommates’ names as I was struggling to scream them.
Exhaustion slowly took over me. I struggled for a few more moments until, eventually, I stopped trying to scream. I stopped trying to open my eyes. I stopped struggling altogether. Then, finally, I stopped trying to breathe. I had given up. But as I was lying there, blinded, unable to move, unable to scream, and running out of air, I realized that I was no longer afraid. The fear that had drenched me earlier was gone.
I was turned on.
His chest was on mine and I felt it move as he breathed. His strong hands were on my shoulders, holding me down. I reached up and touched them. I let my fingers trail up his arms, all the way to his shoulders, lingering for a moment before I slowly reached up to his face.
But it was over before I could touch him. My eyes were open. I can breathe. I can move. Outside, the sky was already starting to get light. I sat up, confused at what just happened.
Putangina, tigang na ata talaga ako. Pati bangungot muntik pang maging wet dream.