Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dear VC: "The Boss Tells Me" Made Me Sick

Tonight,  after  arriving home at midnight from a house party, I felt happy yet  morose.   It was as fun  as  any house party can be.  Hours spent with good friends including a  dip at the pool,  some tennis,  a potluck dinner,  and lots of laughter.   We were a small group of thirteen,  five of them  were my co-engineers´ kids, It was nice to be among my male pinoy co-engineers' families,  great to chat with their Pinay wives and watch their kids´ antics and uncompromised glee.  Still,  a part of me felt more strongly how different my life is from them. It highlighted  how on one hand,  I was most of the time, on my own, alone.  I felt, damn, life is passing me by.  I need to resolve things  now.  I need to take care of myself now because  nobody else would.  And that I am worth it.    So on the train home,  I made a mental list of to-do´s:

1.  Eat Well
2. Read Well
3. Learn to Write Well
4. Open a  Business That Earns Well
5.  Love Well
6. Go Home

But then, just as fast, a darkness hovered.  A blood-sucking, dream-killing dementor howled, scaring me witless.  Who do you think you are.  You will fail, like your numerous attempts at pivoting.  You will die broken, not having achieved your dreams because you are witless.  You are lazy, unfocused.  And because you are not half as good as you delude yourself to be.

Maybe it is fate´s way of helping me out,  but tonight,  as the doubts crept in,  I thought of poetry.  I wanted to read a poem.  Because poems were once the antidote to my inner demons,  back when I was so into words and imagery.  Maybe,  I  thought, since I want to go back to writing and this time do it well, maybe I should start with finding a poem that talks to me.

And that is how I ended up reading you,  VC.


The boss tells me of the billionaire who likes me 
            who likes my work again this year 
      this year I am safe for another year I can stand by 
                  for another year I can align 

myself with the bystanders who have different 
            standards for another year I can mortgage my heart 
      in monthly installments for another year I can fill
                  my garage with scooters and things

My current project is ending in  October.  And my current contract is until early 2015.  I don´t know what comes after that.   Maybe, if we get a new project,  the boss might tell me I will have my contract renewed again for another year. Or maybe not.  And I´ve been  hiding behind this improbability/probability to not do anything just yet.   The truth is I am a coward.   I  have mortgaged my heart into a job that I am quite good at  year after year because it allows me  to pay for my responsibilities:  mom´s  considerable living allowance, those insurance premiums and small investments, etc. The pay from the job gives me enough leeway to indulge on my whims from time to time.

And so year after year I have done a job that I sometimes like enough for the mental stimulation, for the ego boost it brings, and for being a reliable source of funds.  And yet, most days I feel I should be doing something else.  I should be waking up all agog with energy and ideas .  Instead,  sometimes I wake up scrambling, scared that I may be tripped into stupidity and carelessness with my tasks.  I have been doing this job for more than ten years.  That´s long enough time to develop a love affair with my profession.  But alas, until now,  it is still just a matter of convenience.  And as I push myself to stick with this arrangement,  my despair of watching the years go, of losing the hours and days that I could use to do what I love best, it grows like tumor , eating me up inside.


 when asked about Mary or Tom or Larry I too 
      can say I never saw anything never saw the boss
                  wind them up and point them towards the

edge of the roof before Mary went over the 
            edge I threw down a pillow in the shape of a
      pet and hoped it landed under her I didn’t stay long 
                  enough to see what happened.

I don´t want to wait until I am at the point of no return :  tied to more responsibilities,  too old to start anew,  too stiff to  start from scratch, too bitter for the passions I was not brave enough to pursue.  I want to be brave, just this time.  My one shot to think of myself first, not about other people´s welfare.  It has taken years.  But this need has been there all along.   So each day I am gathering courage bit by bit.  And by next year  I pray that I would be  brave enough to turn my back from the  security of fat pay checks, away from the the  well-drawn path of success  that is expected of someone in my profession,  and give myself a chance to pursue the things I love most, not in small bits, not with splinters of my time, but wholly, in a free fall. The coin may flip either way: success or failure.   But just once   I want to let my inner self reign.  Because this is what I want,  what most of us secretly  want.   To go out of this world knowing that I have lived on the very edge of my dreams and had the courage to jump right through , even though I was uncertain, even though I was still with fear, not knowing where I would land.

P.S.  Forgive my crazy monologue  but this  was inspired by my reading of Victoria Chang´s beautiful poetry, " The Boss Tells Me".  Reading this poem made me gasp, literally.  It was like a sharp  cut, drawing blood from my inner self.   I though, I could have written this poem myself,  that is, if I had talent like hers.  The poem  captures what I feel on  most days:  frustration, the fact that I am doing something I am somewhat good at but secretly pining for another kind of  life.

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