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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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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

entry arrow8:55 PM | The Hair!

Of course, I'm back. (Hi, Francois! Did you get my letter yet?) I'm in Howyang in this picture, trying to get dinner of spicy chicken wings. Yum. Been trying to grow my hair lately...



What do you think?

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entry arrow4:58 AM | Redefining the Bamboo

The very nature of the bamboo -- which is among the most useful of all plants -- provides a fitting metaphor for understanding the mechanism of the success, and the continuing goals, of Buglas Bamboo Institute (BBI) in Dumaguete City: the bamboo is resilient, it is highly functional in so many ways, and it is always conducive to growing to its fullest potentials.

There is, all over the world, over 1,500 species of bamboo. A significant portion of them grows in Asia, with the Philippines breeding many of the species best suited for the manufacture of specialty products. According to experts, their uses can astound in the way they vary: bamboos, of course, are highly decorative plants, but their compact and highly-complex root systems also make the bamboo environmentally useful because of its magnificent capability for controlling erosion. Houses, screens, and windbreakers have been made from bamboo, and its culms have been used for an array of things, from bridges to rafts, from fishing poles to garden stakes, from water pipes to scaffolding, from carving to jewelry, from cooking utensils to woven mats and baskets, from fences to furniture. Toys and musical instruments have been made from bamboo. The bamboo organ in Las Pinas, for example, was constructed in 1818 from 950 bamboo culms -- and is still operational. There is no construction material as hard as bamboo. Its complex physical structure makes it a hardwood material perhaps comparable to steel -- but is, almost paradoxically, waterproof, light, bendable, and tough. In many Asian cuisines, edible bamboo shoots are also considered a delicacy.

The bamboo gets into the record books as the fastest growing plant in the world, and its continuous regeneration makes it an authentic "sustainable resource." What is remarkable about the plant is that, under certain beneficial conditions, new shoots become taller and thicker over the years, until that particular species of bamboo planting reaches its maximum potential in terms of height and breadth. While the mother plant produces new shoots every year that develop to their maximum height within a few months, the poles can be harvested after 4 or 5 years when they reach their maximum tensile strength. And bamboo can grow relatively anywhere. Thomas Walta, the DED specialist currently assigned to look over the manufacture and design component of the BBI, says that bamboos generally thrive on moist and rich soil, but are fairly tolerant of varying soil conditions. "That is why they grow mostly beside riverbeds," Mr. Walta says. But once they take root to any particular environment, they become reasonably resistant to drought -- hence their remarkable resiliency.

That may be the same exact story about how BBI itself came to be. Resiliency. That story is also the chronicle of a socially-minded Carmelite missionary who came to the Philippines from the Netherlands in 1964, and quickly took root among Filipinos, particularly those who lived by the skin of their teeth and the caprices of often cruel fates.

Frans Kleine Koerkamp's first assignment as a man of the cloth was in Escalante, Negros, where his social education about the plight of common Filipinos first flowered. "I would take a walk in the barrios of Escalante," Mr. Koerkamp recalls, "and already I could see so much of extreme poverty among so many people." Moved, he decided to help form a credit cooperative in town -- but soon his social activism took its first mark in the eternal skirmish of local class wars: he eventually got himself in trouble with the local hacenderos or landowners.

In 1972, he was transferred to Iligan City, but there his social activism became even more heightened. He helped setup labor organizations, with the sole purpose of starting a housing project for local workers. In those days, that brand of advocacy was already enough to cast suspicious eyes from the authorities, and when military rule became instituted under President Marcos, Mr. Koerkamp again got into trouble. In 1980, he was in Manila trying to organize church people to become more aware about the social evils of Martial Law, focusing mostly on human rights abuses, which he saw firsthand happening in the countryside.

By the end of that tumultuous decade, Mr. Koerkamp's social activism took on a different focus. "I had, by 1989, become aware that there was a need for a kind of socio-economic progress for political advocacy, but I didn't know what to do," he said. His wife suggested that perhaps he stayed, at least for a while, in a typical barrio -- where he might grow into seeing what needed to be done.

In 1994, he settled in Dauin, a town south of Dumaguete City. In barrio Casili, he noticed there were plenty of bamboo plantings -- an abundance that belied the stark social realities of the place. The land in Casili, just like most land in the province and elsewhere, have become privately owned and subdivided, with the local farmers left to tenant the land, producing mostly coconut and maize. "The children of the barrio farmers knew only to get out of the place as soon as possible, and go into the big city -- where they end up selling cigarettes or becoming housemaids," Mr. Koerkamp remembered. "That got me into thinking... If we could only do something with the plentiful bamboo, we could increase the income of the farmers -- and perhaps, in the process, empower them as well." He concluded that the utilization of bamboo, whatever that may be, should be in the hands of the people.

By the time Mr. Koerkamp came into that conclusion, countries around Asia already knew of the bamboo as a source of a multi-million dollar industry. In the Philippines, however, he knew he had to start from scrap. First, he had to convince local farmers about the value of the bamboo itself -- a feat in a country already used to concrete and the like. Between 1995 and 1999, he devoted his efforts to research, and was astonished to find out that in a given year, Negros Oriental alone is capable of producing between 90,000 to a million poles -- but that only 30,000 of these per year are being used.

Buglas Bamboo Institute -- which took into its identity, "Buglas," the pre-Spanish name of Negros Oriental -- finally came into being in the interim, with initial support from Dutch developmental organizations. In 1999, Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED) came into the picture, with the primary aim of extending technical expertise, and networking potentials, to the program. That year, DED's Andreas Eineg helped set up the extension component of BBI -- something which sets the Institute apart from typical business entities: it is a corporation with a social conscience, and works actively to develop it. For the most part, this is an evolution of Mr. Koerkamp's belief that corporations should develop a benevolent social dimension to help the poor.

Set up as a support base for the marginalized farmers and rural poor of the province who have little stake in the formal economy of the country, BBI urges them to make their own living through their own enterprise, by producing something in their fields, in their homes, or in small workshops -- in other words, helping communities make sustainable use of local resources for their welfare. That resource, in this case, just happens to be the bamboo, which farmers -- in localities such as Maayong Tubig, Si-it, Lunga, and Apolong -- breed, harvest, and sell to corporations like the BBI, which in turn manufacture them into profit-making products. Today, BBI's biggest products range from raw bamboo materials, to elegant furniture, to the construction of houses and gazebos.

But it is also an institution currently in the crossroads of its existence -- and the question now is how it must become more viable in the future. For that, it is in the stages of splitting the closely-linked production and extension components to become more sustainable, but still aims to retain the overriding social orientation that started it all.

For the most part, the future looks bright. Local sales of its products have gone up almost 200%, especially with the Institute's success in the 2005 Cebu Exposition, where it won a Mugna Award for Best Outdoor Design for an intricately conceived lounge chair.



The international market is also being exploited, with orders now streaming in from everywhere, particularly from the Middle East. By 2006, according to new CEO and business head Samuel Ruiz, the BBI will finally get into the black, rising above the break-even point. Within three years, the company will finally be earning for good.

The challenge, it seems, is to firm up the business side of the program, meet customers' needs, streamline the factory in Dauin, and control overhead.

But perhaps the bigger challenge BBI is facing is in promoting the bamboo as "the grass of life," restoring the original significance of this indigenous resource. Although very much a part of Filipino culture, bamboo has lost much of its importance in the lives of the common people, and has become dubbed "the poor man's timber." The ultimate aim, Mr. Koerkamp admitted, may be for "the culture to be redeveloped since it has already been damaged for 500 years."

With BBI at the helm of a bamboo renaissance, the future indeed looks green -- and pliable, just like the bamboo.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

entry arrow10:56 PM | Is It Nick?

Which Backstreet Boy is gay? Finally, the truth comes out. Listen for yourself. (This one needs speakers.)

[via bubu's blog]

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Monday, May 16, 2005

entry arrow4:30 PM | Here's Some Vitriol

I am so very tired.

You know when you're sick and nauseous, and you feel your body is about to give way and collapse -- but then you have a job to do, for a generous sum you can't say "no" to, so you pretend you are locquacious and alert and interested? That, ladies and gentlemen, defines my whole morning. All of it, under 10,000 degree heat. And the strain of having to process information from three Germans speaking English in accents so thick you can see it curdle under the sun.

I've barely gotten over my bout of the flu over the weekend. Responsibilities overwhelm me. I just finished my last class for the day, and the last semblance of strength in my bones has left me.

I want to die. And frankly, nobody understands me.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

entry arrow5:26 PM | The Look of Utter Boredom

The face is an interesting biographer, indeed.



Yup. This is me. From last week. With Sunday stubbles. Just to remind some faraway friends about how my face looks like.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

entry arrow5:06 PM | Freewriting

[see what's in my head...]

The surest way to die is to inhale a thousand fingers of smoke and watch the fumes run over your body like a plague, and feel the clammy hand of death rip over you, and only then can you feel the vomit committing your brain to a single line of a sentence and then you don't really know what to do except to stare at the sun and the maggots suddenly covering it. All you see is the green of the body beside you, which is the smell of peptide and fish, and all you can really think about is the way the music washes over you as you swim through the promise of the shore and finally the boy you love tells you he is the whale that tells the waves to go easy on the cowboy on the beach because that is how the cojones tells the crab to fish the octopus which ate Jonah. One day, the sultan of crap went on a binge and then he told his wife of a tale of gold in the sand, which is really the truth behind the assassination of John Lennon. And so it goes that way. The frog and Cinderella part like friends watching Monday Night Football, and Tyra Banks can't really do anything except to stare at the sad night that appears before her like a plague of spaghetti, with the dentist yelling all sorts of obscenities as if his face is not obscene itself. The tooth, however, has fallen out from the crypt, and all that anyone could really think about is how the smell of the pus that came out of Moses's mouth is all the rage in Santander, that town where they burn witches for fiesta, because there is no food, only sardines ten thousand years old, and all of this is real, really, like the dream of goldfish Naya talks about in her poetry. So, there you go, the end of the longest night of the rest of your life. Hitchhiking through the muck, like it was an actor without work, only the television as salvation. And not only that: there is blessing in Freud's excuse for language, all the clocks and stopwatches in the world suddenly mute except for the tick of the mite that will destroy the mountain which is the blog of all discontent. So, he thanks the Lord for all that is sundry. And all that is fishy, even the gapless, toothy mellow young woman singing out love songs like lime and like crap; the way the light falls on her face... It is the very blessing of God, if God was a disco dancer strapped to a stiletto heel. What am I talking about? I am talking about the truth that there can be no one to stop you if all you do is wish and pray for the rays that will flood the earth, and only then can you know what it is like to taste the curry that will become any Indian's bandana. So there you go. Mentally insert all of that into your puny brain, and see if it doesn't explode.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

entry arrow7:48 PM | In Praise of Mothers

[Something for Mother's Day...]

Once each week, after I wake up from the utter, bright sunniness of most Sunday mornings, I make way for the one ritual that governs a life kept busy with the weight of bachelorhood and the demands of a semi-workaholic existence: I visit my mother who lives a few blocks up north from my apartment in Tubod.

We have lunch together -- sometimes with chicken curry, which is my favorite, and sometimes with Korean barbecue. Sometimes, she prepares salad made from fern leaves and marinated in coconut milk. We talk like giddy airheads about the celebrities we see on the television, gossip about Piolo Pascual, and such and such. Sometimes we scan through old pictures and rummage through a wealth of memories. She remembers her childhood in Bayawan well, and she remembers, too, the travails of her early adult life. Her stories have become the stuff of my very own fiction.

My visits are something I have surprisingly found myself looking forward to doing every week. Perhaps, I tell myself, it is a sign of years slowly edging off the brackets of youth. I am almost 30. In the gravity of adulthood, mothers become strange sources of comfort. We share the same birthday -- August 17 -- and this adds to this connection between us, knowing that we are yoked not just by flesh and blood, but also by the reckoning of our stars.

She lives in our house somewhere in Piapi, bordering Silliman Village, in a huge compound the parameters of which used to be lined with trees. (Now only the coconut trees are left, but devoid of their fruit, because my brother has complained to the neighbors that the falling coconuts are wrecking havoc on our property.) It's a big house, two-storeys in all, and something she shares with my 80-year old lola, mother's aunt, who had raised her and my Auntie Fannie when they were girls growing up in the backwaters of old Bayawan.

The house has a veranda, and overlooks a garden Mother grew from the sheer effort of her hands; it is still something she waters every morning, after breakfast and prayers. On Sundays when I am there, her morning gives way to preparing something delicious for lunch for her youngest son (me); she waters the garden only when she comes home in the afternoon (while I'm in the back veranda snoozing in the bamboo divan under the late sun), after she visits and prays over the sick in the local provincial hospital -- something she has been doing every Sunday since as far back as I can remember. This should make her a saint, but then again, she is also given to her fits of passive aggression (an artform and negotiating tactic perfected by the shrewdest of Filipino mothers, I think) -- which is something that makes her more human, and indeed, more lovable, because imperfect.

And yet it is only now that I appreciate my mother more. Adulthood gives you that ability, I guess. Now that I have grown up and "flown the nest," so to speak, it is so much easier to see her as being more than just the provider for the most basic of needs. I have known her all my life as the woman who fought so many battles just to provide six growing boys three square meals every day. She has always been somebody who fought her way out of all certain obsolescence. She has lived a very rich life. If only for that, I am already grateful for having known her. That I call her "mom" is a privilege.

When she was a young woman, she felt trapped by the narrow certainties of small town life. Bayawan in the 1940s did not exactly give any local girl the chance to become so much more, except perhaps the life of a housewife, or something completely banal (not that I'm saying a housewife's life is necessarily banal.)

She wanted to become a nurse. She wanted to live in the Big City.

While everybody else around her told her how "immoral" and "evil" the big city was, and how she would probably become lost in metropolitan quagmire, she only smiled back and fought to live her dream ... by first making tira-tira, the local version of coconut candy.

And selling them tirelessly, by the skin of her teeth.

She sold enough coconut candies, and saved enough money to gain her passage to Cebu where, with higher education still impossible for a woman of humble means, she apprenticed herself to a beautician, and learned the trade so well she became a very good one, and eventually opened her own shop later on in Bayawan, when she had already married my father, and both were running our hacienda's sugar produce down South.

There is a picture I keep on my bureau, of her from those Cebu days. The studio portrait is in sepia, depicting a young, beautiful woman with an engaging smile, hair perfectly done in the style of those days, makeup mute and simple, but evenly accentuating what made her stand out: her clear eyes, almost almond-shaped, and her lips teased with rouge just right, she looked almost pouty. She has the palms of her hands pressed together, and she presses her right cheek against that, head tilted a bit upward to welcome the studio light, which makes her cheekbones prominent. "A movie star pose!" I used to tell her.

That photograph, displayed in the photographer's studio for days on end, earned her many marriage proposals -- one from a Muslim businessman who wanted to make her drink a lumay, to whisk her away to his home in Mindanao. She escaped that possibility in her life, but still found her way to Mindanao, in Butuan, where she opened her own beauty shop in a building owned by a man who would soon be her husband and my father.

It wasn't always an easy life. She had wealth, yes -- and for a time, in the heady days of the 1970s when sugar made people kings and queens of excess and affluence in Negros Oriental, she was the perfect embodiment of the local Southern socialite. She was part of a gilded age, preserved only in old photographs kept in kabans and torn photo albums. And when the price of sugar crashed, so did our fortunes -- and my mother was left to fend for a growing family: she sold baye-baye (a Bayawan delicacy -- a cake made of coconut and sticky rice), she sold homemade peanut butter, she sold Avon, she sold everything. Once, selling baye-baye door-to-door, she got sunstroke, and fell face-first on the sidewalk. "The one thought that made me get up, and made me alive," she would later admit to me, "was the fact that I needed to put food on the dinner table." We also have pictures of those hard years: the beautiful, young girl of the old sepia picture now gone, all disappeared into a sunburned, wrinkled middle-aged woman with a toothy smile.

Despite insurmountable hardship, she saw all her sons graduate from Silliman University. In turn, and perhaps even for her, we all tried to make names for ourselves, or at least seek our fortunes for her sake, to turn back the hands of fate, so to speak. And how fortunes have changed! We still speak of things turning out as they have now as if they are borne out of miracles.

"And they are indeed miracles," mother usually insists. We do not disagree with her. Her eyes gleam with the wisdom of so much experience.

In the end, I know the virtues of beautiful strength and perseverance because of Mother: she is the living example of both. These are perhaps her greatest legacy. And her influence.

In time, as I go about my life finding "older" friends for their promise of maturity and reliable sense of persevering spirit, I have found mostly older women who are, not surprisingly, the very reflections of my own mother. Most of them are also mothers -- and women whose lives have touched me, and made my own more interesting.

There's my mentor Ceres Pioquinto who believed in me when even I didn't believe in myself. She is wit and ferocious will personified. Under her tutelage, I flowered. Now, she is Germany, and I miss her tight, but always reassuring guidance. Sometimes I feel my life as an academic is all a mess just because she is not there to tell me what to do.

There's Susan Vista-Suarez, music's magic friend, who inspires because she makes a talent from rising to greatness even after every fall.

There's Marjorie Evasco, Susan Lara, and Mom Edith Tiempo, whose selfless regard for young writers have made them "literary mothers." I, and so many others following their paths, hold their mentorship dearly, for all time.

There's Margie Udarbe-Alvarez, who possesses such an uncanny sense of self -- and with all of that packaged in with so much formidable intelligence. And she knows how to make killer pot roast. Perfection!

There's Ma'am Betty Abregana, whose sheer iron will and example still inspires so many, even after she left Silliman after helping steer the university down the superior path for a good number of years.

There's Laurie Hutchison-Raymundo who inspires me with her unflagging energy. She is the Energizer Bunny, really. She shares my love for Monty Python, and makes the most technical marine biology anecdote sound like a humor-laden episode from The Twilight Zone. She taught me a lot about the theater, and a lot more about reading people.

And then there are the best sisters-in-law in the world, Daisy Relatado-Casocot and Efeb Bustamante-Casocot, both amazing women, my brothers Dennis and Rocky are luckier to have them in their lives. There're also Lily Caballes (my best friend Gideon's mother, and one of my mom's closest friends), my best lady friends Jacqueline Pinero-Torres and Kristyn Maslog-Levis, Jocelyn de la Cruz, Myrish Cadapan-Antonio, Glenda Ramira-Fabillar, Juliet Padernal, Danah Fortunato, Irma Faith Pal, Rosario Maxino-Baseleres, Jackie Veloso-Antonio, Arlene Delloso-Uypitching, Batchiba Lacdo-o, Dessa Quesada-Palm, Cecilia Hoffman, Esther Windler, Andrea Soluta, Kitty Taniguchi, Sherro Lee Lagrimas, among so many other women I've known all my life, all of them strong, and each a testament of formidable spirit.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers in the world.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

entry arrow4:33 PM | Workaholic

Frankly, I have no idea why my life is suddenly so busy. Now that I wake up quite early in the day (a former insomniac, I used to be The Ten O'clock Guy), I expected to have greater maneuvering space with my schedule -- but no. I'm actually busier. Every second seems to count, and every hour seems never enough to do everything I have to do. I also do all my errand on foot since I'm still sadly a hopeless pedestrian. I've never been this busy in my memory of the past two or three years. I go home from work roughly around 7:30 or 8:00 in the evening, and still I find myself having tons of things to do. Maybe it's because my home computer's finally bitten the dust, and I can't do much of extra office work and personal writing assignments on my own time. But I like it. I am deadtired by day's end, pero okay lang. There's that sense of accomplishment around me that's quite addictive. Gotta go. I have to research pa in the library about terra cotta art in Dumaguete.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

entry arrow2:54 PM | Sign of the Times



What the--! Do you see it? I hope you do. Do you suppose...? Oh, well.

[via nerve's scanner]

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entry arrow2:23 PM | Big

I have a strange feeling that it is only this summer that I have finally become what I should have been a few short years ago: an adult. It's a combination of things: there is about me an ease with life and its questions, a sense of stability that keeps you afloat for most parts of the day, and a defnite knowing of what you want and what you can accomplish. I am so much more connected to my body, and my spirit can soar at the slightest invitation. And yet at the same time, there is that little voice from the back of my head that keeps my balance. It introduces itself as Experience. I give it its due welcome, and then I move on with the rest of the days. If this is the very symptom of nearing 30, I am loving my third decade already. Advanced happy birthday to me!

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

entry arrow8:19 PM | Indulgence

I planned this for a very long time. To keep a certain Sunday meant only for the most hedonist of intentions. A celebration of indulgence, you could say. Something to reward an overstressed existence -- a kiss, really, for the self. That it happened to fall on a May 1 -- everyone's good ol' Labor Day -- is a fascinating coincidence; it perhaps underlined the fact that I needed the break from too much work which, I have been told, verges on slavery.

It cannot be helped. I like a life on the go. What I fear most, like I have told my closest friends, is boredom. "A truly intelligent person will never get bored," I once told Eric J. when we were newly-graduated from college, "he always finds something to amuse himself, or to keep his mind occupied." I'm not exactly sure if I meant that as gospel truth. Perhaps it was only collegiate blather. We are often driven to such "insights" when you're young and real life has not yet begun. But I have observed I do try to keep every single second occupied with something to do. That I have mellowed in later years is also something I have observed about my life. There are nights now that I would just wake up suddenly from a dream: I am the Energizer Bunny, and I have ran out of batteries.

M. has, of course, been griping about this tendency to break my back from sheer overwork. I know M. means well, and is actually quite sweet about it. "You work so damn hard for so little," he tells me all the time. He doesn't like it that he goes to bed with the last image of me as being that of a figure hunched over piles of what-not, over the kitchen table, with only lamplight to keep me company -- only to wake up to a brand new morning with me still going at it, the nth cup of coffee beside all those papers, a look of panic in my eyes. Sometimes he finds me with head down, sleeping away like there's no tomorrow, the stack of papers serving as my pillow. He tells me he can understand how this can be so, if it is only a once-a-month occurrence. But to be regular about it? M. tells me I am nuts. I do not disagree with him.

Maybe, I tell myself, the compulsion to work springs from the fact that my childhood still comes ringing back to me as some uncomfortable memory, the voices of old grade school classmates taunting me as "Tapulan!" (Lazy!) I tell you, these phantom voices are still distinctly clear to me; they don't ever fade.

That I was a "lazy" kid is true, I think. I just didn't like punctuating every school day being forced to clean the classroom, my assignment being to scrub the dusty wooden floor with half a coconut husk. For any public school kid, this was how life ran every day. Mandatory janitorial services, packaged as training. (Does anyone still remember how your public school teachers treated you as their own indentured servants? "'Dong, buy us Coke." "'Day, sell this candies for me." "'Dong, 'Day, some Department of Education people are coming over tomorrow for an inspection. Tell your mothers to bring in some potted plants." But we never complained.) When I grew much older, I resolved to do something about why I was taunted as being "tapulan": the workaholic, thus, was an intentional creation. It has also taken over my life.

"You work so damn hard for so little." I know this to be the truth. So while I understand M.'s commiseration to be a fact, I've also long since believed that to work only just as much as I get paid will leave me terribly unfulfilled. Sad rumination aside, the balance of things seems to come from the fact that I know I have given good work, at least most of the time. Sometimes, I wonder how much any student knows how hard teachers must work to feel true to the vocation. Sleepless nights for studying and paper-checking, of course, but also a sleeplessness coupled with that overwhelming sense of responsibility. Teaching -- especially the serious, advocating kind -- is not for the fainthearted, or the lazy.

So the day of indulgence began.

Quite late, and intentionally so. I've been used, for the past weeks now, to the alarm clock that has become my body, always ready for the rousing at seven o'clock sharp. I did wake up at that time, but only to glance at the gathering light outside, to greet myself "Good morning," and to promptly go back to sleep. I woke up around ten o'clock, watched a bit of television, read a few pages of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy before the film version arrives in theaters to color my own imagination of the book, had lunch of tuna and wheat bread, and then took a slow shower to prepare for coffee at CocoAmigos, where I spend most Sundays drinking their (bad) brew. (They have all the major newspapers I can read for free, a worthy exchange for inexplicably vomituous coffee.)

Afterwards, I walked half a block to Body and Sole where I allowed myself to be body-scrubbed all over, the rubbing of the salt all over my skin like a gentle unpeeling of a life on the verge of a workaholic collapse. The oil made my skin feel like the softest of velvet, and that was enough to send me to a kind of heaven.

Later, another masseuse gave me a full-body massage, each effleurage and kneading of the hand unfolding the spots of stress that have camped all over, they've made my body their country.

The whole thing lasted most of the afternoon. Afterwards, I happily floated out of the place, my wallet a little lighter, but oh, so much worth it.

Everybody deserves a day of self-loving.

Tomorrow, after all, is another Monday. I can now say of the coming week promising of more work, "Bring it on, baby."

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