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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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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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