Nothing/Everything

At around 8 o’clock on Monday morning, a family friend jumped over a bridge and was struck by a train. The police ruled it as a suicide at 1PM later that day.

I’ve never met him before, but my parents knew him.

At 6pm my mom told me what had happened. Her voice trembled but she explained to me what she knew as she showed me a Washington Post article. I wish she didn’t tell me why he jumped.

The article had several updates. The first one, located at the bottom of the article, only had 3 sentences about the what, when, and where. They said that the trains will be delayed because a “trespasser” got on the tracks. My stomach did a back flip. A bone-chilling shiver went down my spine. Everything changed in the life of this man and they call him a trespasser.

There were pictures of tweets from the MTA about the incident, one with 11 retweets and 5 favorites on it.

There were also 11 comments in the article, but I knew better than to read them. I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know that it’s only going to make me feel terrible.

My mom told me that the family would most likely choose cremation for the body. My brain immediately thought that it was the best choice because an open-casket funeral viewing would probably be an awful idea. I wish that thought never went through my head.

At 10AM that morning, I stopped at the light on the intersection of 564 and Cipriano road as I head towards my friend’s place in Bowie. There were a ton of police cars right below the underpass. Yellow police tape ran along the side of the road. There were bystanders on the overpass above the train tracks, looking down through the chain-linked fence. Further down 564, traffic slowed down to a crawl once I got close to the train station. There were about 100 people just standing on the train platform, and even more people crossing the street to the 7-Eleven for food. I remember smiling a little bit as I saw some cute guy who looked angry as he stood under a tree. He was gonna be late for something and he was not happy. Now it makes me sick.

Yesterday afternoon I had to visit that same spot. I had to prove to myself that this didn’t affect me. I didn’t know him. I never saw his face. But I knew why he jumped. And with that knowledge, I wanted to know that nothing about me had changed. I drove by the section of the road where I saw the parked police cars. It was empty except for the long yellow police tape still blocking the side of the road. I wish I didn’t know why he jumped.

A train rushed by in the opposite direction.

Nothing and everything changed.

Star Gazer

Sometimes I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning. It’s a terrible habit. No matter how tired I am, I occasionally open my eyes at this time. Usually it’s followed by a sudden sense of panic and cursing at my phone for not activating the alarms I’ve set the night before. Then I look at the time and realize that it’s just my body thinking I have crew practice today. I tend to just go back to bed and sleep.

This time I didn’t. I checked the weather it looked incredibly clear. And I remembered last night that I saw the moon high up in the sky, so at this time of the night it should have already set on the horizon. These were optimal conditions to look at stars in the early morning skies. I would know; rowing teaches you to be an incredibly knowledgeable meteorologist.

When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an astronomer. The provincial life in the Philippines allowed me to see the night sky in its full glory. During some nights on the dry season, I would lay down on the dried up rice fields and stare up in the night sky, and try my best to spot the constellations I had seen in star maps and books my dad sent from the US. It wasn’t until I reached college when I realized that you needed to be incredibly gifted with math and physics to be an astronomer. I guess I only liked looking at the stars and planets. I liked the idea of gazing up at the sky and knowing what I’m looking at, and adding numbers and physics to that equation ruined that image in my head.

I sat on the front steps and looked up. The night sky was lit up by more stars than usual. The streetlight a few houses down was out, and my neighbor across the street forgot to turn on their porch light tonight, so it’s quite dark along my street. It seems like the world itself wanted me to watch the sky as best as I possibly could.

I looked for any of the familiar constellations that I can remember. Orion, the easiest to spot for me, wasn’t up in the sky. More than likely it has already set in the west at this hour. I did spot the Big Dipper, and so I immediately knew that the stars around it (though I wasn’t sure specifically which ones) made up Ursa Major.

Even though I didn’t want to be an astronomer, I’m still incredibly interested in astronomy. I watched a series of astronomy videos from the YouTube channel “Crash Course” and other astronomy-related ones whenever I can, so I like to think that I know a lot more about astronomy than the regular person. My enthusiasm for it only wanes if I know I’m the person who will be doing calculations and measurements, but if it’s already available and done by other people I’m ecstatic about the entire thing.

There were a spot in the sky that had 3 bright lights with a few dimmer stars around it. I wasn’t too familiar them, but I realized that one or two of the lights didn’t twinkle: planets.

I downloaded a free star gazing app on my iPhone (yes, looking at my phone as I stare in the dark sky seems counter-intuitive) and checked out the spot in the sky that I was looking at. This is what it showed me.

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It was Saturn and Mars, along with the bright red supergiant star of Antares. I spent about half an hour looking around some more before my neck started to hurt and I began to shiver from the cold morning. In all, I found 9 constellations and spotted 5 bright stars and 2 planets. It’s quite a haul for my first night.

All throughout that star gazing session, I felt at ease. I was a kid once again on that rice field. I stared up at the endless sky, looking at twinkling lights from giant balls of hydrogen trillions of miles away from us. I felt insignificant, like a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. But it didn’t make me feel helpless. I may be insignificant compared to a star, but with that perspective, my problems were just as insignificant as I was. I felt at ease because I remember my place in this universe, and I’m okay with not being in the center.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing this though. Living in the suburbs of DC means the it’s difficult to see the night sky due to light pollution. The unusually clear skies helped tonight. Maybe if conditions are optimal once again.

I should also see what I can do with my interest in astronomy. It’s not like I can be picky about what I want to do at this point in my life.

 

Balance In All Things

Yes, the title is a League of Legends reference.

It took me a week to feel great again. I can sing again. In fact, I can sing a half step higher than before.

Today marks the day that my ex and I have been apart for 9 months.We were together for 8 months. My ex and his new bf have been together for 8+ months now.

 

For every happy streak, there’s always a downside. Life finds a way to balance everything.

Wisdom Tooth

I looked at the X-Ray of my left jaw on the monitor above my head. On the right edge was a white tooth-shaped blob tipping over to the next white-tooth shaped blob that stood upright. It looks like the first blob is pushing the others as they waited on a long line in the DMV. Well, it doesn’t have to be the DMV; it could have been Disneyland, or the line for a cruise, or a line to board a flight to Paris. I’ve only experienced standing in a line at the DMV so I think that’s more appropriate.

It’s also just as painful as waiting in line in the DMV.

“You need to make an appointment with an oral surgeon to have that tooth extracted.” Ms. Maria said through her face mask. “That wisdom tooth is coming in at an awful angle… are you sure you’re not in pain? Are you sure you’re okay?”

People have been asking me how I’ve been feeling lately. Through phone calls. Through text messages. Through emails. Through here. At some point, I’ll probably get a letter from a friend of mine; she likes making hand-made cards. Then she’ll ask the same thing. And now that I finally got out of the house for the first time in 4 days, it’s the same goddamn question.

But I don’t have any energy in me to lash out. Actually, even if I did have the energy, I would have just used it to profusely apologize for making them worry.

This is my pain to feel. This is my shame to carry. This is my burden to bear.

“I’m okay.” I mumble. My jaw twinged with pain, and I was afraid Ms. Maria saw me wince.

She did.

Ms. Maria glared at me with her dark brown eyes. “No, you’re not.”

Before I could disagree, she opened my mouth and probed it with metallic prongs and spears, then tapped my bottom left molar. I jump in pain as my entire jaw seized up for a moment. A tear (that fucking traitor) escaped from my left eye and dripped down my cheek.

“You’re in terrible pain.” Ms. Maria declared, retreating from my mouth and placing her weapons back on the table. “You’re taking these painkillers until you meet with that surgeon.” She walked out through the door as she threw her latex gloves in the nearby trash can. “I know you think you’re tough,” She shouted in the other room. “but everybody needs some help once in a while.”

I never expected random wisdom to be thrown at me at a dentist’s office. That’s a first.

I’m excited about how this new painkiller would feel.

Sing

It’s been 3 days since the night that I’ll call the “Great Tragedy.” I have yet to sing a note since it happened. At first I thought it was just because I was tired, but it’s now Monday night, and I’m wasting my chance to annoy the neighbor’s dog with my voice at this hour.

I’ve always thought that singing cheered me up. I mean, it did. How can you not have a smile on your face when you start singing “September” by Earth Wind and Fire? Even if it’s a terribly sad song, I always seem to smile at the end.

Now I’m starting to realize that singing is a byproduct of being happy. I sing because I’m happy or content with my current situation. I sing to show to the world that I would love to share that happiness with others. Sure, I don’t sound like an angel, but that’s not the point. If you enjoy doing something, it shouldn’t matter how well you can do it.

I’ve been playing music since Saturday just to make myself feel better about Friday night. I played songs that I loved to sing along to, but nothing happened. I want to sing, and when I open my mouth to do it, no sound would come out. My body is having none of it.

So this is what total defeat feels like.

The Walk of Shame

I instinctively shouted “COMING OUT” as I walked through the kitchen door for the very last time. Christian stood in the middle of the dining area, his black coat absorbing all the light coming from his brilliantly blond short hair and incredibly pale skin.

“Dude, we’re the only ones left here!” Christian remarked, flashing his beautiful white teeth. “You don’t need to say that anymore!”

I forced myself to smile. “I think at this point, I’m gonna be saying that every time I go through a door.”

We both laugh until I was a few feet from where Christian stood. He was half a foot taller than I was, so I already know that my neck will be sore in the morning just from looking up at him all night. His body was also half as wide as I was, but hidden underneath his jacket was an incredibly tone body that I had the pleasure to work next to for one evening.

“So, I guess you’re not coming back tomorrow, huh?” Christian asked, a small frown forming on his face. I didn’t think it was possible for him to show any emotion other than happiness. I shook my head slowly. He lets out a long sigh and placed his hand on my shoulder. “Well… I guess you’re gonna go through the ‘walk of shame’ tonight. Come on, I’ll walk you to your car. You parked in the garage, didn’t you?” He chuckled as he must have seen my face contort in confusion. “Every new guy parks in that garage. Besides, you had a rough night, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the company.”

“COMING OUT!” Christian and I shouted as we exit through the front doors of the restaurant. I immediately stop laughing as the biting cold touched my face.

“You ready for this?” Christian asked, nudging my left shoulder with his elbow. “My ex-girlfriend called this the ‘Walk of Shame.’ See, people have been destroying us from behind all night, and like every good one-night stand, we gotta walk back to our cars past judgmental assholes.”

“Oh.” I said, hiding my disappointment. “I didn’t know you had a girlfriend who worked here.”

“You met her tonight!” Christian replied enthusiastically. “Ashley. Dark brown hair. Wearing a purple dress suit. You met her, right?” I nodded. Ashley was one of the assistant managers. That would have made her Christian’s superior, and dating each other wouldn’t have gone well with the General Manager. “It’s all good now. We can’t win everything in life, right?” We walked down the dimly-lit Baltimore street towards the Caroline Street garage, which was located two blocks away. “I normally don’t do this for people who only lasts for one night, but you’re actually a really cool guy.” I felt my face warm up a little bit. “Even after you cleaned up all of that gin on the floor, I didn’t hear you complain about anything at all. Your feet hurt at least, don’t they?”

“They do!” I reassured him. I wanted to complain. My feet hurt. My ankles are on fire. My body smells like soy sauce and gin. With all the broken shards of glass that I had to help clean up tonight, I’m sure I’m bleeding somewhere on my body. The embarrassment from everything that happened tonight burned inside me. I wanted to complain. “But I try not to complain in front of people I had just met. I learned that it’s one of the fastest ways to make people dislike you.”

I heard Christian chuckle. “I never really thought of it like that. Well, it’s still amazing that you stayed through the night. You were a trooper!” I looked over at Christian, who was already looking at me. His teeth glowed in the dim light. His blue eyes sparkled like stars from the ambient light of the city. “And everyone did like you. I hope you leave here knowing that.”

We passed by a crowd of drunk people walking in the opposite direction. A couple of them saw us and started teasing us. “Ooooh, looks like someone’s gonna get laid! Don’t forget to use a condom, boys!” My face felt warm once more as the crowd cackled away.

Christian nudged my shoulder again. “I think they figured out that you’re gay, bro.”

“What?” I turned to Christian once more, disbelief plastered on my face. As we passed underneath the first streetlight, Christian’s golden hair made it look like he sported a halo on his head. “How did you—”

“Bro, you were checking me out the entire night.” Christian grinned widely. “And you giggle every time you say ‘COMING OUT’ through the kitchen door.” I didn’t know he was that perceptive. Maybe I was just having trouble hiding my attraction to him because I was exhausted. “And also,” Christian added. “One of the servers is gay. He said he saw you on a dating app a long time ago.

“Ah.” I said. “That makes sense. I guess word travels fast in this job.”

We cross the street and reach the first floor of the Caroline Street Garage. I took the parking ticket out from my wallet and scanned it on the lock to open the door to the stairwell, which felt colder than the outside air. The parking pay station stood right next to the stairs leading up. “Which floor did you park in?” I asked as I slide the ticket into the machine.

“Oh, I live down the street.” Christian replied. “I’m just here to make sure everything is fine.” As soon as he said “fine,” my heart sank. On the machine’s screen, it said I needed to pay $15. I only had $5 on me.

“I… I thought it was only $5 for the entire day…” I muttered to myself. “I can’t even go home now—”

Suddenly a $10 bill appeared right in front of me. Christian held it out with his hand, then proceeded to insert the bill in the bill slot. Before I could say “Stop!” at him, the machine slurped the bill. The screen flashed and changed. “Remaining Balance: $5.”

“I knew you wouldn’t get tips tonight since you’re still in training.” Christian beamed. “I also know that this happens all the time for new guys who park here. You’ve had a rough night; you deserve a break.”

I smiled. Not because I wanted to. I wanted to hug Christian. I wanted to cry right there in that cold garage stairwell. I smiled because it was the easiest response that my body could afford. I pull out my last $5 bill from my wallet and inserted it in the machine. It spat out a receipt and my parking ticket with an apathetic mechanical grunt.

“Seems like you don’t need me anymore.” Christian laughed. “It’s been a great evening working with you, Paulo.” I nodded. I couldn’t speak because I know I’ll start crying. I hated complaining in front of people, but I hated crying in front of people even more. “And remember,” Christian added quickly before I could move. “You’re always welcome back to eat with us. Really, as long as you’re not carrying anything heavy and expensive, we don’t mind having you around!”

He jabbed my shoulder for the last time. We both said goodbye, then he yelled “COMING OUT” as he left through the stairwell door and back on to Caroline Street. His hair continued to shine like a beacon as he walked into the night. I went into the elevator and pressed “5” before leaning with my entire body weight on the glass wall of the elevator.

I feel like this entire ordeal would have been easier if I wasn’t so good at making friends.

Parkour

I’m going to die next week after 2 hours of parkour on a college campus.

Like this, but sadder.

A really really really fit guy started talking to me on OkCupid, and suggested we go and join the parkour club at a nearby campus. We exchanged numbers, and we planned to find each other wherever the club will be meeting. I, in my typical fashion of saying “Yes” to everything without thinking it through especially when I’m talking to people of authority or really attractive men, agreed and promised him that I’ll be there. He said I am now part of his “Parkour Friends” list in his phone, which I feel like is a step up from just being on a regular “Online Friends” list. It is now my destiny.

On my way to be legen— wait for it…

Physically-fit and attractive men rarely talk to me. This case is a very uncommon event, and it stuns me when it happens. Vegans and vegetarians actively avoid me, and fitness buffs and athletes generally won’t even look in my direction.

My first problem is that they’re all very attractive to me. That’s the kind of guys that I like.

Sexy. Athletic. Toned. Tall. Beards are a plus, but not required. Long hair is fun but not necessary. Red hair, the rarest of them all, is a giant plus. At that point, they might as well be a shiny Pokemon.

Aren’t we all just hunting for our shiny Pokemon?

And when you mix in a little bit of geekiness to that sexy solution, it creates an incredibly attractive human being that I would do anything in my power (within legal limits and without being creepy, of course) just so I can wake up with that person every morning for the rest of my life. Okay, I gotta tone down the creepiness.

My second problem is that I am not the type of guy that my dream guy would be dating. I’m 230 pounds right now. My closet is full of clothes that I can no longer fit into. While I am making strides, my dating market value (as I have explained in this post right here) does not match the requirements of the guys that I’m trying to date.

And yeah, I know what you’re gonna say. “There’s someone out there for everyone.” “The guy you’ll end up with will love you just the way you are.” “Being big is beautiful.” I get it. That’s fine. It’s a great way to make myself feel better when I’m dealing with my weight. I even made a post (which you can check out right here) about how I’d hate it if my main goal to lose weight was to flaunt my hot body in front of everyone who rejected me.

HOWEVER.

None of that will help me lose that weight.

I get that it’s not nice to make fun of people’s weight, especially since some people do have health problems that cause it, and that psychological problems plague people suffering from obesity, preventing them from losing weight. But I’m not one of those people. Really, the only thing that’s probably stopping me mentally from continuing to lose weight is this non-stop repetition of “You’re to thin. Eat more. Keep eating.” that keeps playing in my head, said with the voices of my mom, my grandmother, and doctors I have seen in the Philippines (which deserves a completely different blog post).

I’ve said this to Five Guys before.

So in a way, barely anything is stopping me from reaching that goal. I want to be with a geeky, sexy, tall guy. In my current state of fitness, it’s way too much to ask for, but I can make positive changes in my life through exercise and a proper diet. I technically need to do this anyway since both my mom and dad’s families are prone to diabetes.

One of these days, if I continue this path that I’m walking on to reach a stable healthy lifestyle, I’ll be able to jump over that fence where all the attractive, in-shape, fit geeks are hiding as they play Pokemon on their 3DS. Parkour might just end up being the most important skill that I need to get over that hurdle.

—DARY! Ironically, I am lactose intolerant..

Of course, this is assuming I don’t break my bones and die next week. If I stop writing for 2 months, please call the cops and have them search for my body.

Anyway…

I tried to draw him based on the pictures he has.

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It’s a quick sketch, none of this is to scale. Just wanted to emphasize the orange hair!

He’s not that much taller than me (even though I’ve been emphasizing the importance of height).

But, as Ke$ha has so elegantly stated…

But right now I enjoy the friendship. He’s a nice guy, and has enough geekiness for me to geek out. Maybe eventually, when I drop even more of this weight, I’ll become more than just a “Parkour Friend.”

 

———

EDIT:

While chatting some more, he made references to the workout in ONE PUNCH MAN.

Of course I’d choose a red-haired comedian.

He’s tugging hard on my heart string, man. This guy is unreal.

———