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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

entry arrow6:59 PM | A Week Verging on Collapse

Ordinarily, you should find me now in the worst of mood -- angry, despondent, depressed -- with the kind of demeanor that would suggest the end of the world as we knew it. For a while there, I was even tempted to title this entry "How to Be Stupid." Just because.

That I still smile and go about my days in a perfectly civil -- one might even say "cheerful" -- mood is testament to how my mother raised me: to be able to live through instances of panic in the very vestiges of grace. "Grace under pressure," some might call it: the ability to be coherent and calm when everything else around you collapses like Jell-O. And not just one bad thing happening, but many things -- a cascade of bad luck that will have you wondering what in the world did you do to deserve this kind of karma.

"Don't worry too much about it," Kim, a friend, texted me a few days back. "It's, like, the universe having LBM."

"What?" I texted back.

"Like, you know, it's painful and all, but really it's just your body doing its duty to repel the toxins inside. So you get LBM."

"What has the universe got to do with it?"

"It's rearranging itself to give you a smoother cosmic ride later. Yin, yang. You're feeling its pangs of change. It's a good thing actually. Your karma is being cleansed."

You have seen that notion -- grace under pressure -- manifested in the very worst of beauty pageants. Some die in the harsh glare of the spotlight; some glow in it. "Like Miriam Quiambao when she tripped during Miss Universe," Mark helpfully put his two cents in. Right. He went on: "Remember what she did? When she tripped, she immediately swooped up in a kind of graceful embrace of the situation, put her arms to the air in a queenly wave, and then relished in everybody's applause." Right again. But that's Miriam Quiambao. I am not in a beauty pageant.

But life recently has been a kind of an LBM trip.

And yet, here I am. Breathing freely, completely in control.

Last Saturday, readying a lecture I was to give on how to make killer resumes for a bunch of graduating Engineering students, my computer suddenly died on me. Just like that. One minute I was typing, the next minute the monitor just zipped out and turned into a lifeless blackness. I played with the power supply, turning the computer on and off, thinking I could jumpstart the thing and hopefully have it up and running again. It didn't.

Then the sickening thought came: my computer crashed. All my life's work gone in a second -- my short stories, my essays, my school files, my pictures, my music, my thesis--

"My thesis!" I yelped.

There was a mad scramble for my Thesis File, papers flying everywhere. But there it was inside the envelope, a good hard-copy of my M.A. thesis -- all two hundred and sixty-five pages of it -- ready for perusal and graduation within the current schoolyear. I heaved a giant sigh of relief.

Off to the shop my computer went, while I berated myself on always postponing getting a backup system. Sometimes when your instinct tells you something is on fire, it is best to get off your bed and run.

Wednesday night, going home after a long day of teaching, and looking forward to watching Spider-man 2 later that night, I arrived home and fished for my keys in my bookbag -- only to bring out a broken keychain, with all my keys spilling everywhere. After a brief panic, I had all keys accounted for. Except for one. The key for my pad's front door lock. I could not enter my pad, and already the afternoon was fast drawing to a close. There was a drone of traffic everywhere, and the daylight was dimming.

"'Nong Den, help!" I screeched on my cellphone. "Where can I find a locksmith at this time of day?" My brother Dennis is my eternal savior. He has always been the smart one in the family. Finally, he suggested the one near Aldea. "But he seems to have disappeared from the area, if I remember correctly," he said. "If you can't find him anywhere there, you might try this one other guy near Orchids in Daro."

Orchids in Daro? I crossed my fingers instead for the downtown guy. But the Aldea Key Guy was gone when I came screeching to a stop, alighting from a pedicab which was as slow as a dying turtle (slowed down some more by the crawl of Dumaguete late-afternoon traffic). Later, I found out he had transferred his little booth across the street, beside Veterans Bank.

Stop. The idea here is how to avoid being stupid.

Do bring the locksmith home to click open your stubborn lock. Do thank him profusely, and even give in to his outrageous charge of P150 for the effort. Later, do come inside your pad with a sigh of relief and plan to get a new padlock fast before Lee Super Plaza closes. It's 6:30 in the evening, and time is running out. Go out, and just try "locking" your door with the old padlock by hooking it through the eye, and never really clicking it shut. Run to the hardware section of the department store. Pay the pedicab P10 to get there as fast as you can. Tubod, after all, is never safe. (Once you witnessed a brazen individual race off with your neighbor's Dalmatian in broad daylight.) Think twice about the lock you want to buy: do not give in too easily to the sturdiest looking one. Not even when it costs something like P119.75. Why? Because when you come home, you will find out that the padlock is much too big to fit in the eye. So curse yourself, and plan to race to the department store again, this time to buy a smaller lock. When you get out of your pad, do not get too frazzled. Because if you do, you will notice you have locked yourself out with the old padlock again. Scream. You cannot figure out why you are so stupid in the first place. You run to the locksmith again -- by paying another pedicab another P10 -- and confess your stupidity. Let him smile at you, and tell him you'll meet him in your place while you run to the department store to buy another lock. Make sure this padlock is small enough, and cheap enough. A P35 lock is okay. Then run back to your place, meet up with the locksmith, and replace your old lock with relish bordering on craziness. Pay him another P50. Get inside. Do not look at yourself in the mirror.

The moral lesson for the week may involve these: (1) always burn your importnat files on CDs; and (2) always make sure you have an extra key for your apartment door.

Have a back-up for everything.

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich