My version of 40

Today I planned on simply sleeping through my 40th birthday. Anyway, I thought, what’s the big deal? It’s been four decades, yes, but so what?

Image

My most favorite birthday picture ever… my brother Tong-Tong’s birthday… yup, am the one drooling next to him holding a hotdog-on-a-stick

Honestly, my birthdays have never been a huge deal to me… except that Mommy always prepared for them. Like I said in my previous entries (in FaerieQueeneBuknoy), even when I was a kid, I enjoyed being a birthday party guest more than being the celebrant. Then of course when I worked as a party assistant at McDonald’s, being a puppeteer and character… I enjoyed entertaining children too. But I would always see the big mess afterwards… the spilled drinks, dirty floor, wasted food and children who needed a good scrubbing.

Image

My cousins Alma, Dulce, Din-din and myself

But what have I learned about growing older after all these years?

A few simple things, really.

For women, I have learned that since most societies do associate female aging with a depreciation in physical value, I realized through practice that it is always best to address all women I do not know – whether it’s a saleslady at a Duty Free shop, Woolworth’s, Paris Gallery, Shoemart  or Robinson’s Galleria (both are big mall chains in the Philippines), or a vendor in our local wet market in Arayat, Pampanga or in Baguio City, it didn’t matter if I considered her young or old, pretty in the traditional sense or not, English speaking or not, conceived her to be well-educated or not – I learned to always address each one as “miss” and usually got better, friendly service.

And… don’t ask a woman her age. Stop being an ass and tell her she looks younger by five years. Okay, not all women are like that, still, if you can make anyone’s day let them feel young without being insincere. Better yet, just keep your mouth shut if you’ve nothing pleasant to say🙂

It seems superficial, but true. I realized that each person, including men, grows old in a relative manner. Physically we are all aging by the nanosecond, but not everyone is growing up. Around our kids we may be the parent, but back home with our kin and our peers, we’re just us. The “me” they saw growing up… to a certain point.

For most women, society’s judgment of us and our own self-appreciating or self-deprecating perspective have made us more aware of how much we are aging, unpleasantly so most times. I am not saying that men have an easier time growing old; it’s just that the physical side of it catches up with us women a lot earlier.

If men lose hair, they can easily opt for a bald, shaven look and not be any less attractive. Let’s count how many women have made that an option after they realize at 35 that they have lost about 10% of their hair through the years… without it having grown back, thanks to hormonal problems and stress.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Multiply, Reddit, etc., haven’t made it any easier, not even LinkedIn which is supposed to be a professional networking site. We post pictures of ourselves taken five or six years back thinking, ah… I look cute here or my smile looks really nice there.

Image

With my baby brother Anthony

Sometimes, by some magical force (usually great lighting, some makeup and maybe plenty of sleep), we look great even in recent pictures. Whatever the photo we choose to post as our profile picture, it has to be a cute or, at the very least, an attractive photo. If it’s funny, it will be really funny, out of this world or wacky so we don’t have to care about how we look. If we post something new and people “like” it, we feel an inner sense of joy whether we admit it or not. But there are also those who post what they like, whether or not it proves popular. After all, it’s your wall, your space.

Still, the “social exhibitionist” in us wants recognition or some form of gratification along the way. That’s why it’s sometimes scary when people pointedly remind you that you are older than them, or that, simply, you are growing old. It’s akin to being told you’ve grown fat, or how come you have so many wrinkles?

Yes, there are nasty people who get a kick out of reminding others that they are getting older, fatter, bonier or uglier so they feel a little better about themselves. But there are also those who just say what’s on their minds without much thought. Let them be. It’s not important… or at least, not THAT important. At your age, you should know that by now🙂

Age my foot! The zaniest examples of staying youthful to the extreme would be our very own Madam Auring (if you don’t know her, Google her), Cher and Madonna. Most of those who have money resort to Botox and later on, plastic surgery to maintain a youthful, though forced, appearance. And of course, having a much younger boyfriend… the way some men have girlfriends or wives younger than their own daughters🙂 No judgment. Just love🙂 It can be deliberate you see, or it can simply be.

I know, in our 30s, 40s, 50s and even the early 60s, exercise helps a lot in keeping a trim physique and even a younger appearance, especially if we avoid smoking, drinking and too many late nights. But is that all there is to it?

Our priorities may or may not change through the years.

Some people in their fifties still think and act like adolescents, while some younger people act more responsibly.

Our achievements may be worthwhile or they may also be disappointing (at which point I would simply refer to them as “life events”) – it all depends on who is looking. Am pretty sure some have gotten to a point in their lives where they want to just give up on their dreams. A fortunate few would have arrived at the peak of their lives, never imagining things could get so great. Others are just glad to get by; some are hoping to get by. Some hope to go abroad or travel. Others, like me, just want to go home.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30, 40 or 50; or if you’re single, married, divorced, straight or gay. I think you’re still lucky… am still lucky to be concerned about where I am and what I have or haven’t achieved. It means I need to go on, perhaps keep on dreaming and not say “stop” like in some versions of Faust, and surrender to damnation… or in this case, death – not physical death, but the dissolution of dreams.

Image

My son Zachary with his lolo, our dad

By this time, you may have realized what I am trying to say: age doesn’t make us, it doesn’t define us. We simply do. We simply are.

Ah 40, what a day – just another day to mark the end and the beginning of another year of my life.

I may not celebrate it like others do, but overall, it is just as I want it to be… a day when am still hopeful that things will get better, be better. Yup… the eternal optimist in me believes the best is yet to come.

Plus, I feel pretty lucky to be blessed with family and friends who know me, really know me, and love me no matter what.

Image

With Mommy and baby brother Anthony

I sometimes wonder what my parents thought when our mom gave birth to a noisy cry baby like me. They must have been full of hopes and dreams.

I’d like to maintain that sentiment throughout my life… and I hope you would, too.

Image

Zach with baby sister Guene

Image

My son Zach and daughter Guene

D I S Q U I E T U D E – verses of darkness, sweetness & light

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–
broken sunsets. dismal  rain.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-
(sent this to Emerging Visions #22 – hope they include it😀 )
Note: Yup, this poem has been picked up for Emerging Visions #22: Gifting Gaea – out on April 22🙂
Image
skyscrapers pierce the heavens
on high. i sigh. sigh.
gargantuan structures obscure the vast landscape
that used to be a forest,
that used to be a glade,
that used to be a desert,
that used to be a mountain; a hill. all seems still.
the acid rain pours ferociously
as engines weep, picking up velocity, screaming & screeching
and people run like zombies; in haste, we scramble
to partake of our serving of the daily grind. bitter. acrid. rancid. unpleasant.
you don’t see me. nor they,  you.
Image
drops of rain obscure our reflections in the glass. we pass. judgement.
in the darkness, we grope
make way. make way.
?
where does this path lead to?
we end life so we can create
we destroy in order to flourish
we have laughed at what we should have wept for. ought to have wept for.
we are blind and we know it
we blind ourselves some more
the path leads back to you. me. us.
the life we obliterate is our own.
we chase dreams
fantasies where each one is king or queen
of the world…
… the earth we have ruined.
lifeless. barren. empty.
the path leads back to you. me. us.
the life we obliterate is our own.
yet we hope. i hope. must hope.
let your eyes hover… see what is left
for us to build on. now.
i must learn to love myself
it is the only way
i can love you. all of you.
love yourself. so you can love me.
i am on a journey; reflecting on
the path that leads back to you. me. us.
the life we create is our own.
there is still life to celebrate after all
beyond
the broken sunsets. dismal rain.

© Lovely Claire Dangalan, 2012

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-
an imaginary life
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-
 i see the ghost of a princess
          a shadow
          a face in the snow
framed in silken waves of molten gold
sometimes dark crimson, at times velvet black
a pale face devoid of hope
waiting to be rescued from the dragon
the dragon
          strange, imposing
          awful to behold
          smoldering eyes
with an infernal breath
of mortal fire
guarding his mistress – the witch
the witch
          cruel and taunting
          the enemy
of whose?
perhaps misunderstood?
a recluse with strange creatures
conjured to do her bidding
has met her match
          in the wizard
the wise wizard of old
master of histories & potions
          keeper of secrets
          of incantations
on a quest to fulfill a promise
an oath from long ago
bid the unicorn
the magical unicorn
          pure, graceful, a healer of the sick
 “go forth and find the prince”
the handsome prince
the valiant
the rescuer of maidens
          saving those clouded in despair
          bearer of the beacon of hope
          bringer of light in darkness
a fort in the face of a hurricane
calm before a storm
steadfast, firm, unperturbed
with the face of an angel
a heart of gold
both meek & mighty
          as was foretold
no promise is to be broken
no quest is impossible
no obstacle unconquerable
no task too small
no person insignificant
now the damsel in distress
          is an innocent princess
          taken as a babe in her swaddling clothes
by the witch
           as revenge
           for a wrong no longer known
“go forth brave prince and rescue your princess”
the princess of your dreams
          a child, a woman
          a bewitching beauty
          so perfect, oh it seems!
and the princess dreams her dreams
of a frog prince
the frog prince of yore
stoop down, she will, to pick him up
          and kiss with a perfect kiss
alas! the kiss
          the perfect kiss!
has left the frog prince unchanged!
and the princess dreaming
realizes, yawning, oh but she was sleeping!
she awakens from her fantastical scheming
a broken reverie
she has longed to linger in
          there is no dragon
                           no witch or wizard
                           no unicorn, no prince
just a void
          of forlorn desolation
the emptiness of space
          in the life unfulfilled
          of an ordinary face
the princess who is not a princess
is alone once more.
© Lovely Claire Dangalan, 2012
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-
IF THE WORLD ENDS TOMORROW
(For Brian)
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-
If the world ends tomorrow
And life as we know it
ceases to exist…The trees in the forest
The trees in the streets & the boulevards
The lonely palm in the middle of the desert
The tiny plants crawling across the tundra
The wildflowers in the fields and the mountains
The flowers in gardens
The fish, the deer and the maya
All animals at sea, on land and in the air…
All insects – crawling, flying and digging deep into the ground…
All disappear. When the brooks, the springs, the streams, the rivers no longer flow into the glorious blue sea…
and the sky has become one dark frightening hue,
When everything has been buried in water that has run high…
Or has been scorched into nothingness by the flames of judgment…

Every thing gone, everything done.

When the end that has been foretold many times over
When the end we have feared has come
When the world ends,
if it ends tomorrow…
My only regret would be
That I have not told you enough,
That I have not shown you enough:
I love you.

© Lovely Claire Dangalan, 2012

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

tHe sILENt RooM

…………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………..

………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………

………………………..

…………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………..

……………………

…………………………….

…………………….

…………….

………..

………………………………………….

…………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………

………………………………

…………………………………

…………………………..

………………………………

…………..

.

………

…………………

……….

……………………………………………….

……………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………….

……….

………………..

….

.

..

……

………

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

iT kILLS

© Lovely Claire Dangalan, 2012

Prosaic Aphorisms – A Cautionary Tale :)

April 6, 2012: Hello there stranger!

Hola! Welcome to my teeny tiny world… I am a wrinkled grape, a reject, fallen onto the ground – waiting to turn into a “raisin in the sun” before the vineyard is put to “better” use, converted into a greenfield🙂

Running on empty, with miles to go… running through extremely humid &  scorching summers, with a few balmy days in between in this odd little place in the Middle East; my shoes are ruined.

Held them together with 3M Super Glue🙂

I miss the pleasantly sunny summers & the rain-drenched wet seasons back home. Typhoons have come & gone. Earthquakes have plagued my life. But the greatest cause of my private sorrows & pain are my own bad decisions and iniquities.

My life is a cautionary tale… for whom?

It’s anybody’s guess. All I want to do is write and hope that a stranger like you would drop by and take a peek into a microcosm called “my life”.

Once in a while I’ll be posting something here… sort of like journal entries.🙂

Am terribly unhappy. At times, ecstatic… optimistic & hopeful. And then sad, apathetic… withdrawing from the world.

But who hasn’t felt this way? Haven’t we all got a story to tell? If anyone would care to listen.

And I agree, I am a pain in the ass. I am.

Like you, I am determined to make it to the finish line.😀

 

May 8, 2014: Two years have gone by…

How do I start narrating what happened to me here – in this great city called Dubai? I mean, great for some, maybe. Not really for me. But I am here, trapped and unhappy. I must cope. I have coped. And I will continue coping. Work starts in an hour… tomorrow, I guess I can write some more. Perhaps even everything.