Thursday, June 25, 2009

On Again, Off Again

I've been having trouble getting onto the internet for the past 24 hours. Now I'm in Butch's office, and for whatever reason am on. But it took some doing to get here--basically, I had to deal with multiple rejections.

The life of a writer, ese.


I wrote this yesterday and today, and saved it up to paste here. I better do it, now, before I lose this connection:

It's raining--off and on--hard. I turned on the TV as soon as I got up this morning, hoping to figure out whether schools had been canceled again. A ticker tape along the bottom of the screen said something incomprehensible, except for "preschool, elementary, ng high school," signal 1," and "suspendido." So I went downstairs with my laptop to see if I could find an English language news website, or get the guard on duty to translate the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen.
As I turned on my computer, 6:30 AM, it was the changing of the guards. The guard going off said, "No school today, ma'am," answering my question before I even got a chance to ask it (they're looking out for us here). And then I found an English language news site and it was confirmed.

It seems that we were anticipating a typhoon (ignorance is bliss), Typhoon Feria, and our signal 2 alert had been downgraded overnight to signal 1, as the storm blew itself out into a mere tropical depression over Mindoro. Schools, however, are still suspended because of the heavy rains (no doubt because they cause flooding and traffic jams).

Meanwhile, the department of education is asking schools to stop panicking over the H1N1 outbreaks--so far, only one Filipina has died from the virus--and to stop suspending classes. Seems that we need to reserve the suspensions for the weather.

And the apartment complex has passed out extra garbage cans to fill with water, just in case our supply is interrupted. Oh. Yeah. It can get worse. A lot worse.


I prefer the rain, honestly, to the unrelenting moist heat. On Tuesday, I taught my two classes in a sweaty haze. After my first class, my shirt was soaked, and when I got up from my chair I looked down to see a humiliating stripe of sweat, crack-sized, on the black plastic.

It's still wet, of course, and I'll probably arrive for my 1:00 PM class spotted about the shoulders and soaked around the ankles, but I might smell a little fresher than I did yesterday. I wonder how many of the students will be prevented from attending because of the weather?

Now neither Lizzie nor I can get onto the internet down here in the breezeway of the Balay Kalinaw. Very upsetting.

It means that instead of finding my character inventory sheet on my SNC archives via the internet, and a copy of Tobias Wolff's "A Bullet to the Brain," to prepare for Butch's grad fiction workshop tomorrow, I'll have to trudge back up the 63 stairs (4 stories broken into two of flights of 9 steps each) and think about making dinner. Sheesh.

I wonder if the rain's managed to eat through some crucial server connection.

Day 2 of the internet disconnection.

The sun's shining, and the housekeepers busily wipe down the tables and chairs here in the breezeway. I've washed and hung a load of light clothing on the line. The barking dog whines his or her usual complaints behind the apartment complex and roosters share their full throated appreciation for the clear skies.

After the bus comes for Lizzie, at 9:30 today instead of 11:00, maybe I'll wander with my camera past the front gate, down Dogohoy, record a little portion of the world that I've been avoiding. Or maybe, if I'm feeling very brave, I'll see if I can walk down to Katipunan Avenue, where the jeepneys and cars and buses rush past in a mad dash.

I guess I'll have to reconstruct that character inventory from memory. Jeepers--real work.
The world goes on, but for Lizzie and me it's just a little smaller, since we can't connect--at least right now--with you.


Back into the present tense:

I tried to walk down Dagohoy, I swear I did. I managed to make it one block. And then I ran into a tight warren of streets, branching off from where I stood, or more like narrow lanes, about two tricycles or three motorcycles wide. Handbuilt shacks of all sizes crowded either side of each lane like broken teeth. People lounged in chairs, smoking, between crazy lines of drying laundry. The force field bulged out at me in wavy lines of invisible, electric heat.

I'm sorry, but I couldn't go a step further. All of my early adolescence, those years spent in Mexico behind iron gates and broken glass and barbed wire, welled up in me and before I knew it I found myself scurrying back to the Kalinaw with my metaphorical tail wrapped up between my legs.

There was no way I could force myself to get to Katipunan (though, to tell the truth, I am less afraid of traffic than of free range human beings). I'll have to leave that for another day.

I wish I could be like Sydney Bristow in Alias, and swagger on through with spy-like aplomb, all wig and leather adventure. Or like Buffy, who wears her flippant Hollywood ignorance like the latest teen fashion. Instead, I'm Adrian Monk's dumber little sister, counting the light poles, wiping my hands on moist towelettes and flapping them dry in the safety of the car.


And here's a moment of intense irony with which to end this rambling entry. I bought an old Mona Simpson novel at one of the used bookstores around here: Anywhere but Here. I started it after finishing Joaquin's The Woman with Two Navels. After half a chapter, I realized that the Bay City Simpson's main character comes from is actually Green Bay--all the names have only been slightly changed (De Pere is De Peer, Algoma is Malgoma, Pulaski is Pulanco, but Ashwaubenon remains Ashwaubenon and Lime Kiln Road is still Lime Kiln Road). So most of the novel's action takes place within walking distance of our house on Reed Street.

I travel half the world to read a novel about my backyard. Typical.


  1. Weather always brings people together. The last few days have been around 97 degrees here. Yesterday, Raine, (our delivery driver/waterer at work) came in the greenhouse, turned around and asked me "Do I have any butt sweat?"

    I laughed and realized how interesting it is to be human.

  2. Hee! And what was your answer?

    Meanwhile, the novel? Yeah. It mentioned St. Norbert's College. (The apostrophe--grrr.) St. Norbert's College fired the main character's father from his lecturer position for being too "liberal."

    So the weather brings us together. And so does literature.