Casablanca

The van I like. And why not, it was not only a Mercedes; it was new too. The colour was moss green which is okay. Lots of room for tired legs to stretch, video on board, the air conditioning was working fine, the sound system perfect, but the driver was not.

I thought he was around mid-twenties (which if he was I could give him some room and stretch my patience) but no, he is two years older than me, good-looking in a roguish kind of way and very cocky. We started off on a wrong foot right from the beginning; he called me by my first name the very first time we’ve met. I don’t like it.

I am not a hoity- toity madam, never been, never will be. But if a driver picks up a guest he never meet before from an exclusive resort, I don’t expect him to call her by her first name.

A Ma’am, Miss, whatever; is the least I expect. But not this guy, he called me by my first name, just like that. I disliked him instantly.

Okay he owned the van (I learned later that he acquired it by working few years abroad and it costs him his (they say) very beautiful-wife. Granted he was the best driver around, it took him only two hours and a half to reach the airport, which in any normal circumstances takes at least six hours to drive; but that didn’t give him an excuse to be so personal towards his customers. I wondered if he was like that with everyone. According to the owner of the resort (she was the one who recommended him to me) he was not.  

There were so many things I didn’t like about him. His attitude towards me was too intimate and too familiar to be comforting. On our first journey together, he bought me pills for travel sickness just like that. He insisted I rode with him on the front saying it was better that way. He brought me to his favourite restaurant when I complained hunger and ordered me his favourite dish to try (because it was their specialty he said) without consulting me first. He fussed over me and so critical about everything I said at the same time. He annoyed me endlessly.

When I did not need him, I avoided him like a pest. But nothing could keep him away. He offered to take me to a flower festival in some city free of charge since he got customers going there anyway so I can come along if I want he said. I declined.

He knocked on my door if he didn’t see me around the resort. He sent text messages wishing me goodnight or good morning, or asking me to watch him play basketball. I remember the night I was walking on the bridge and he jumped on me, face covered saying: “Give me all your money!” He found it amusing while I was boiling mad inside trying not to let him know that he got into my nerves. I had the feeling that was what he was up to.

“You’re too uptight. You have to loosen up a bit.” He said.

“Why? So, you can get me in bed?”

“It’s a good idea, but are you not a little bit paranoid?” He teased.

“There is a thing called friendship, in case you did not hear about it yet.” He added.

“I heard about it alright, but with you it’s impossible to happen.”

“Why are you so scared?” He asked.

Scared? Me? I never see it that way. Am I?

He drove me to our class reunion and insisted he stayed, free of charge because according to him I needed a bodyguard. He flirted with one of my classmate the whole night and asked me if it was okay with me. What a nerve! They thought he was cute and he knew it. The guy was so sleek.

On the way back I asked him why he cannot be more like the resort’s caretaker, professional and minding his own business. He was scandalized:

“Who? That loser,”

They hated each other (but that’s for another post) I told him that loser didn’t mind me no matter what I do or wear, he didn’t even glance. I said:

“Bullshit! Looking like you do, I bet he looks but pretends not to. He’s a fake!”

So, I asked him directly:

“What do you want from me, money?”  He didn’t even flinch.

 “I can earn it.” He said solemnly.

Fair enough. After all, between the two of us, he was the one who got a brand-new mercs. Then he looks straight into my eyes and said:  

“You have to give yourself more credit.”

The day before I left he asked me to stay. I said for what? He said let’s see and find out later. I said not for a moment longer.

The night of my departure he stayed till around midnight singing “Casablanca” and another song that was called: “One last song.” He dedicated them all to me. I looked up the lyrics afterwards. Interesting choices that could mean something or nothing. I chose not to dwell on it. I don’t want complication. Life is hard enough.

We agreed he will show up at 2:00 a.m. sharp because I have to be at the airport at 6:00. By 3:00 he was not there yet. Phoned off the hook, his mobile turned off, and no one at his house; we had no idea where he was.  I was so agitated I could strangle him there and then. My classmates urged me to calm down for there was no use fighting with someone who was going to drive they said.

I vowed never to do business with him in the future.

He showed up quarter passed three and acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary and told me to relax. I said if I am not at the airport at six, I will not only sue him to high heaven but will personally kill him with my bare hands. He just looked at me with a mixture of understanding and tenderness. I choked

We arrived at my destination just over 5:30. He brought my luggage to the gate and refused the money for the trip. He said consider it as a gift. Not everything is for sale he said. Certainly not his heart, only his service, he added.

I forget to mention he almost become an engineer. Dropped out the last remaining year and went abroad. Bought a bakery when he came back, met his wife and gone away again. I remember meeting his 20 something year old son on the night of the basketball match. I asked him: “Where is your father?” the boy looked at me in disbelief. Then he disappeared and after a moment, his father was there. The boy left us alone. The father acted as if he just won a lottery. What a complex guy he was I thought.

I still remember what he said to me the day I left:” It’s up to you.”  I don’t understand.

I still got his number. He doesn’t have mine…

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feature image: fickr/mikebaird

Fountain of Youth

If there were a real Fountain of Youth, would you drink the water?

Are you kidding? I’ll swim in it! 

Just joking. The truth is (and my pictures can testify to my claim and no they are not photoshopped because anyone half blind and have good sense can spot the difference right away and you can only go so far with that thing. Besides, I don’t believe in altering pictures. It isn’t natural anymore) I look far more younger than my real age. I’m two years short of fifty and from the outside I look barely thirty. My height, race and good genes (?) take care of that. Eric The Phantom once said: “Time ravages beauty and preserves plainness.”  Maybe that’s why…

Or maybe because I don’t abuse my body. I don’t drink alcohol and never smoke. But then again, maybe it has nothing to do with anything because as you probably know (if you are following my blog at least) I have major problems with my health. Perhaps I just got lucky and though I am thankful for that, appearance is not that important to me which area character is. But the idea of being forever young is very tempting. That’s why cosmetic surgery and beauty products are very huge business. Everyone wants to look young, so simple is that.

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From Every Angle

This week, photograph a stationary subject from three different angles.

I was coming out from the doctor’s office the other day when I saw this interesting sculpture from across the square and I thought: I want to see it up-close. Good that I always have my pocket camera with me. I didn’t have the time to check if the building this statue belongs to is a public or private property but by the look of it, I think it is the latter. Anyway, I find this insect mega cute. Don’t you?

Mmmmm… Donuts!

There are some strange things happening to me lately. Perhaps strange for me but normal for others. My seasons are always been in reverse I know but even then…

One of those is craving donuts. Not just donuts because I cannot stand the other varieties. Only plain ones will do with a little sprinkle of sugar on top.  I eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and any time in between. Lately, they are the only food I can consume without sending me straight to the loo puking my heart and soul out. I even drive to cinemas, late open fast food chains and night shops at ungodly hours in search of donuts.  I often coupled them with steaming black coffee (real men drink their coffee black) or real green tea. Where I live, finding (plain) donuts is an arduous task. You will have more chance scoring a date on a Saturday night than finding plain donuts.

I don’t have a sweet tooth. I used to hate anything sweet. My stomach (which is a pro when it comes to knowing what it wants and has an amazing capability of puking only things it can’t stand and keep the ones that suit its taste even when I mix my food, deliberately going against doctor advice to separate food groups for better digestion ) has an aversion for processed food especially those that contain sugar, dairy and chocolates. That’s why I find it strange that I’m craving for sugar (in this case donuts) or pizza, which is another strange addiction of mine. I don’t even like pizza, but these days I drive to shopping malls so I can have my favorite variety. No real Italian restaurants for me (like we used to do once in a while on special occasions) for two reasons: I can only eat one slice. More than that and it will be another trip to the loo for me. Second reason is: no restaurants will make the flavor I like, which is called supreme with thin crust. I normally partner it with diet coke. What a fucking cliché.

I’ve read somewhere that problems in brain stem area can affect one’s eating habit.  Maybe that’s why.

I always have temporary addiction before (but not sugar) let it be food, clothes, beverages or places to go and things to do. But they lasted only for a couple of days never to be repeated again. Like the time I was buying shawls, bags, and consuming kilos of artisan hummus and bread and drinking liters of Tao pure infusion drink, that’s nothing but a distant memory now.

Another thing happening to me these days is the fact that I’m not sleeping. Okay, I am insomniac, always been. I am also a night person but at least I was able to sleep in the daytime and on occasions, nighttime; especially when I was travelling. What can someone do on a long non-stop flight but sleep. Besides, airplanes (or any public places like train/bus stations and airports) are excellent substitute for bedrooms. You’re surrounded with people (therefore”safe”) that you have nothing to do with. It’s like hiding in the open. Fantastic! 

But lately, sleeping is becoming a really serious affair. I can’t sleep. Unless of course it’s a drug-induced sleep and even then I can only managed 3- maximum 4 hours before I’m fully awake again. That is on a good day for I have these reverse reaction to tranquilizers; it energized me instead of guiding me to la- la land. And please, don’t let me start with therapy, yoga, herbal teas, physical activities, saunas and massages; they simply don’t work. Not for me.

I just woke up (at 20:00 hours) and wrote this before I forget because aside from the things I’ve mentioned above, I seem to be suffering from apraxia and agnosia I’m terrified it will develop into something worse like ataxia/abulia or allochiria. God, I’m becoming hypochondriac. I better stop right here before I bore you people if I’m not busy doing that already…

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Tunnel Vision

I went to the hospital for MRI scan the other day. I arrived there around 6:30 in the morning. My appointment was at 7:00 o’clock. My GP said I had to be there 30 minutes before. That means I didn’t sleep that night, no breakfast either. Appointments terrify me. Especially medical appointments. I hate hospitals (fancy that considering my work background) and anything that includes spending time in a waiting room. Patience is not one of my virtues. That’s why I rarely take a bath. Waiting for the tub to be filled bore me to death.

The lobby was practically deserted when I arrived, except for the cleaning lady who told me I had to wait for someone to sign me up before I can proceed and no, I really cannot go straight to the radiology department even though I had an appointment so, I contented myself watching her driving this noisy machine over the floor. I noticed that she missed several spots. To think that these people often earn more than caregivers and they don’t have to work in ungodly shifts and not liable for anything. Unfair. I quickly shifted my forced interest to a cake cabinet standing haphazardly in one corner next to the entrance to the cafeteria close to the window of the gift shop next door. It housed some unappetizing bunch that looked like some forgotten morsels from a distant  birthday party that have gone wrong. I shuddered with the thought. yuck!

More people arrived. I tried to distinguish patients from hospitals workers. Not easy when everyone wear casuals. Anyone could be anybody. I gave up. When my numbered flashed on the monitor overhead I went to the window and was shocked to find a girl behind the computer screen. How old was she? fourteen? fifteen? She was wearing some gothic fashion rings which in any other circumstances I will find beautiful and probably wear myself, but in that setting… I half-expecting her to open a bottle of neon colored nail polish and start painting her nails. No, I am not being judgmental. Just saying how I felt at that moment.

I made it to the waiting room without any accident. They gave me some form to sign. Pretty basic information like pacemaker, pregnancy, operation, claustrophobia, that sort of things. I was glad I was the first to arrive. It means I can get out of there soon and go to work as if nothing happened. When they called the first patient, it wasn’t my name; I was puzzled. My appointment was at 7:00, it was almost 30 minutest past, I begun to wonder about under what kind of file system these people are operating. I walked myself to the information and asked. They didn’t answer my question but promised me I will be the next. That was good enough for me.

True to their words, after quarter of an hour they sent me into a cubicle with two doors at both ends. A woman told me to lock the door closer to me, strip naked and put on  the hospital gown which was folded neatly on a chair.  There were 3 hooks on one corner of the wall and a mirror next to it. As usual, they were too high for me, but they provided a chair for me to stand on, no?

It took another quarter of an hour before the door to my right opened and the same woman called me in. By that time I was so nervous I could jumped out of my skin. You see, I can (and I did numerous times) jump from the top of a train bridge knowing there were submerged pillars under the water to tie boats and trains can pass by any moment, or somersault from the top of waterfalls while from up there I can see there were rocks underneath and if I don’t hit the right spot it could cost my life. I roamed around in cemeteries in the night playing spirit of the glass. I broke in empty dilapidated/abandoned houses just for fun, climbed on roofs to watch the moon and rowed boats in the middle of a storm but I am terrified of MRI scan I was practically shitting in my pants.

The radiologist instructed me to lie down and told me not to move an inch in any circumstances for whatever reason. She locked my head in one place by placing some sort of frame over me after giving me earplugs and placing a huge headphone over my head. She also informed me that the process will take 15-to 90 minutes and handed me a sort of rubber ball attached to a hose which strongly reminds me of a giant perfume sprayer. It’s a bell she said. In case something will happen.  I wanted to shout: Something could happen??? But I keep quiet. The sooner I get out of there, the better. I was happy enough she didn’t need to inject me with contrast dye like the last time. I closed my eyes and started counting. I can never managed to open them during the procedure. I have this feeling that if I do that, some radiation (I know it’s magnetic)  will rendered me blind for the rest of my life. Also, I am scared to see the inside of the cylinder and how tight it is. I am not claustrophobic but during every MRI scan I underwent, temporarily I am. So much so that I have a very strong urge to bolt upright and run away from there as fast as I could.

Counting didn’t work so, I started breathing slowly and deliberately. When that failed as well I tried singing Two Less Lonely People In The World by Air Supply, my favorite band. Though I can recall the lyrics perfectly well, it failed to do the trick. I noticed I begun singing them higher and higher in my head till it reached a hysterical pitch. How long I still have to wait? How long is 15 minutes (or more) in this torture chamber? My knees started twitching and I  was in danger of opening my eyes and sitting upright. It took all the courage I could muster to lie there perfectly still.

Just when I  thought I could not handle it anymore, the motorized bed slid down and I was told it was over. I never been more relieved to be dismiss in my life than in that moment. I dressed in record time, jumped in the car and drove in search of a bakery. I desperately needed some donuts, my current addiction.  I glanced at the paper next to me in the passenger seat. It contains some information I need to check to find out the result of my scan online. I decided it could wait. I know that I will find there nothing new, only worse…

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Green-Eyed Monster

Tell us about the last time you were really, truly jealous of someone. Did you act on it? Did it hurt your relationship? 

My father said: you can put someone inside a chest under lock and key but if that person wants to escape, s/he will find some Houdini maneuver to be free. I believe it. If a person is not that into you, you can cry, beg, stand on your head; if s/he’s going to leave you, s/he’s going to leave you.

Keeping that in mind, I don’t get jealous. But don’t make a fool out of me because that will be the end. I don’t care to be insulted. If my partner (or a friend) wants to be with someone else, go by all means. I will not be the one who will stand between him and his happiness. I just want to be informed face-to-face. No fooling around, no beating around the bushes, no lying no cheating. Just tell it how it is and I will not even ask why. I believe that everyone has a right to be where they want to be. Just go. 

I don’t get jealous about looks, achievements, possessions, wealth or status of another person either. Each of us has qualities unique to us, no need to feel jealous. If you want something bad, work harder to get it. And if you’re good enough, you will achieve your goals. About looks… well, we can’t have everything we want and beauty is subjective and only skin deep. It fades overtime. What’s left is our core, our personality, our true asset.

But if you going to twist my arm I will admit that I envy (I know jealousy and envy is not the same) the youth their youth. How I wish I have more time and know then what I know now… 

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A Little Me Time

I was walking in the country side one afternoon when I saw this woman and her dog at the side of the track… I was amused and touched at the same time. I was intrigued by her. By her carefree attitude and clearly lack of inhibition. She just lied there with her companion, oblivious to the people passing by, as if she’s all alone in the world. Amazing… How I wish I could do that. I took these shots of her from a distance as not to disturb her little me-time.

Weekly Photo Challenge

Having (But) A Good Time

Imagine that tomorrow, all of your duties and obligations evaporate for the day. You get the day all to yourself, to do anything you please. What types of fun activities would make your day?

This is one of those things that is easier said than done. Being my own boss, no real financial responsibilities and having someone to back me up no matter what (I always been lucky to have that since I ran away- the only positive outcome of- someone backing up my so called personal freedom) and my days are no one’s but my own if I choose to, no duties, no obligations; on paper, I could do what I would like to do. On paper that is.

In reality, it is totally something else. First of all, I have all sorts of physical limitations so, bungee jumping is out of the question. So is skydiving. Eating what I want is also not possible. I remember eating  moelleux with fresh raspberry, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream the other day. Boy, it was heaven! I know I don’t have to eat chocolate, or combined different food groups, and whipped cream is a big no, no but I for once want to taste real food instead of those unsavory joke they call super food which is healthy and oh-so-good-for me. The result of my mischief? Puking in the restaurant’s toilet for half an hour, even before I finish my plate of sin, worrying the whole time if they can hear me out there and if they can see (of course they can) on my bloated, red face what I was busy doing back there in the little room. Embarrassing! They would probably think I have bulimia.

I would like to travel around too. Preferably where the sun is always shining and where they invented joie de vivre but although we are working towards that goal, we are not there yet. Others things I would like to do, I did already. All of its available variations in all the colors of the rainbow and one day is not enough to do anything that would please me. Not when you have lived a thousand lives already and those you can imagine are either so far-fetched or ridiculous you know it can never happen in real life.  At least not in this one.

So, what are the options left? Retracing previous steps. In other words: ( I know that I have to remain positive, be optimistic, be nice, write sunny thoughts, be an inspiration to others, etc. etc. But I don’t feel that way and I can’t and will not lie to myself) repetitive, monotonous, boring . 

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Anonymously Yours

Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

I’m already doing it. In fact, my mother-in-law is one of my followers and my blog is coupled with the LinkedIn account of my partner in crime and his colleagues are having a blast reading my posts. My son drops by once in a while and we talk about some of my articles that tickle his fancy.

Although I don’t use my full name here my nickname in real life is truly Bebong and my nearest and dearest call me exactly that. I have no secrets. I don’t care who read my writings. They can take it or leave it and that includes me.

A Mr. Bernard Baruch once said: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. I try to live by that rule. It suits me just fine. 

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The Habit

Tell us about a habit you’d like to break. Is there any way it can play a positive role in your life?

There are few things in my life I would like to do differently, like for example going to bed early. But I was born insomniac and nothing helps (herbal teas, physical activities, massage, sex, sauna, pills, therapy, combination of all) I don’t know where to begin. The direct result of my nocturnal habit is another thing I would like to change: eating pattern; I have none. My (Circadian) rhythm is  so severely disturb that I can’t function normally anymore. Make me wanting to study chronobiology even just  for the sake of (it) curiosity.

I’m weird, different (it’s always irritates my son when I say that. He doesn’t want me thinking I’m special or something. He said the reason why D. or other people who have the same “condition” are able to function normally is the fact that his parents concealed to him the naked truth that he has Asperger syndrome therefore by believing he is normal he can function normally) unusual from birth. And my life experience and upbringing only strengthen that conviction. There are lots of behavior I possess that I never seen from others and others widely consider abnormal but it doesn’t bother me. My other habits in general I mean.

Like checking under the bed, behind doors, inside the closets, when I come home and before I go to sleep. I cannot sleep without locking doors either or putting on a night lamp. Among so many other things I also have scotophobia. What a fun life I have. But that’s for another blog post…

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Creepy

Saw this while walking in the city one night. I thought it was real. On close inspection I realized that it is a bronze statue. I don’t know the purpose of the artist or the town committee or whoever responsible for putting it where it is but I find that the sculpture is out of place.  And it’s creepy. 

Weekly Photo Challenge

Mental Hygiene

What’s messier right now — your bedroom or you computer’s desktop (or your favorite device’s home screen)? Tell us how and why it got to that state

…my head. Always been. Combination of background, upbringing, wrong genes and life experience make it that way. My head is a dark labyrinth inhabited by ghosts and other night creatures fighting for attention. Each of them has their own complex story to tell. The walls are adorned with fresh and old wounds still bleeding. Some of them have healed on the surface but soft to the touch and bleeds when push harder. Cold and dark, slippery and confusing; an unwelcoming place littered with skeletons, a prison without windows, or doors. A personal version of a city that never sleeps. My very own Hotel California. That’s the state of my head. Is it messy? Tell me…

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