what happened this weekend
- me: relenaaaaaaaarrddeeee!!!!!
- relenarde: Hey. What's up?
- me: I was out dancing last night and I accidentally spat on my date. I'm still cringing from humiliation. You think a guy would ever forget?
- relenarde: Yeah he would. After 2nd base. Haha
- me: no 2nd base on the horizon. im not romantically interested in him. but he's my classmate so you can imagine the embarrassment i would feel when i see him in class today. and tomorrow. and the day after. i should've spat on a stranger :|
- relenarde: Nah, all is forgotten na I'm sure. Baka mas marami pa siyang problema sa buhay other than being spat at. Hehe (Nah, I'm sure all is forgotten. Maybe he has more problems in life than being spat at.)
- me: you're too kind to say that. i hope i forget it too. he was equally mortified. my spit dangled there for about 10 seconds while i looked for some tissue. there was nothing around. so we used his hanky. kill.me.now.
4 MONTHS TO GO
The past week has been a heavy reminder that I have 4 months to go before this whole MBA experience is over. It’s funny that I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about it when just a couple of months ago I couldn’t wait for things to be over. There were many nights of crying inside (at the library, of course) and wishing I could just steal my diploma and get it done and over with.
It felt like time was running ever so slowly and each day was a struggle to conquer. Nowadays, it feels the same—with the endless stream of papers, presentations, and tests to prepare for. But I’m facing each with a braver attitude and a deeper sense of appreciation for each moment I spend with the people in class.
They warned us: ”Everything will go by very fast, enjoy it now.” Although it was not exactly easy to “enjoy” the moments when you’re throw in in the middle of the amphitheater to explain your thoughts on sustainability, or worse, to present your proposals to an aching company in an industry you previously had no idea about (SUVs), it’s in those little pockets of camaraderie in the team and the sense of accomplishment that swooshes in when the job is done, that one feels like a winner. I have experienced it several times in this program and I can say that those sleepless nights and those early morning march-in-the-snow have been worth it.
Doing this MBA is not only an intellectual challenge. A lot of it tests one’s social skills and understanding too. I’ve never experienced working in groups before and I had my doubts about joining such a small and intimate program. My experience in small communities is one which can easily spin off to gossips, catfights, and relationships turned sour. But I’ve experienced the opposite, so far. The early part of the program was shaky, but I now hold accidental friendships and unexpected fondness for most of the people in class. The guy I wanted to hang on a mango tree during the first module is now a very very dear friend of mine. The other guy who scares everyone with his loud ways, I’ve found, is a very sensitive and genuine soul. It reminds me of what my coach once said: ”It is difficult to dislike a person once you get to know them”. And I find it to be true. Everyone just needs a little bit of surface scratching to bring out the gem in them.
This MBA is probably the last communal experience we would ever go through before we go our own ways and do supposedly bigger and more serious things in life. Two to three years from now, all the group fights and sleepless nights would be forgotten. Maybe even the WACC formula would be consigned to oblivion. But each person that makes up this tiny group will always be dear to me.
END OF SUMMER
So summer ended just like that.
As uneventful as it came.
My last stop was Norway and I was there for 3 nights and 4 days. It felt so short. There were surprisingly many things one can do in Oslo. I’ve totally underestimated it by reading all those stupid travel forums. Aside from the main tourist spots (museums, shopping areas, etc.), that city has a lot of greenery. And we all know my love for parks and greenery. I wish I could have stayed for another day or two.. just wandering around the parks…slowing down my thoughts and my breaths.
I had extremely low days during those traveling days. There were evenings I would be back at my hotel at 7pm, and be thankful that ANTM is on the telly. Thinking about it now, I think it’s a record low that I held on to Tyra Banks during my darkest hours. I didn’t even have any energy to eat out. I would take home whatever resemblance there is of food I could find in a styrofoam and eat while I watch Tyra Banks act like she’s really going to make those hapless girls’ dreams come true.
I wondered why. And being close to my 30s now, I did not want to give the shallow reasoning that it was because I was alone. I’ve been alone anyway for the past trips for so many years now. So why now suddenly? I have no definite answer. Maybe it’s because I’ve been alone for too long. Maybe it’s because I still have some serious issues from the past that I have never really resolved. Or maybe it’s just really chemical imbalance in the head. After all, melancholy runs in the family.
The highlight of my trip was taking a cab from the woods of Latvia to Riga with these 2 musicians I just met on the road. People always told me when I was a kid never to talk to strangers. But I did, at 3:00 in the morning, in the deepest woods of Latvia. I didn’t sense any danger. I happily hailed a cab with them and we got to know each other in the 2-hour ride going to the city. How does one balance doing his/her own art while sustaining one’s self? When does one become a sell-out? What’s important in life? When should one walk away? I missed kindred spirits like this and I realized that wherever I go, whatever I do, it’s the people that matter the most. I remember staying at a 5-star hotel in Prague, strawberries and champagne for breakfast and I felt dead like a post. This time it was different. That night, under a very starry sky, in a strange country called Latvia, I had 30euros in my pocket, my shoes were covered with dirt, and I was zooming through the night with 2 beautiful souls. I felt alive.
I’m now back in school. With all the people I hate and all the people I am on the course of loving. Everyone asks me about my trip. I tell them, “oh, it was an adventure!” It really was. But I’m happy to be back. The beach is far away, and everyday I line up at the cafeteria dreading to see that pork escalope they religiously serve every week. But my heart is calm. I share my meals with these equally human beings and we worry about the same things one day we will all laugh about.
The Baltics and Scandinavia were nice, but it’s better to be home.
Berlin, that is you now, my dear.
HOME IN PROGRESS
It’s now May and I’m in Berlin. And I’m not merely passing this time. I now live here. With a proper address, and a few plants to tend.
I knew I should have written down things earlier but it’s only lately that I caught my breath since getting here in January. I must now rely on pure memory to remember and retell the stories of the past months.
After trudging along with my silver suitcase for more than a year, it’s quite overwhelming to finally stick up a flag somewhere in this world and finally unpack. In the past year and half, I’ve stayed at more than 30 rooms. Not all of them welcoming.
Here, I come home with my name on the door and my own keys to turn. It’s a small room with a separate tiny kitchen but it’s mine and here I can be me.
The neighborhood is perfect. On Saturdays, I walk to the local market and buy fresh and organic produce. Sometimes, I buy some snacks too and sit by the park, downing everything with orange-ginger juice. I walk by some tiny shops, tended by owners I can talk to. The streets are lined up with trees and there’s a cheese shop 8 steps away from my main door. I buy fresh flowers and I put them in vases when I get home. Sometimes, I take a photo. A vase of flowers by the window— a reminder that I have my own place to keep.
On Sundays, I go to Mauerpark. It’s within 8 minutes walk from here and it’s the King of flea markets here in Berlin. I know of people who hate it. It can be crowded, muddy if it’s rainy, and junky. But I’ve found some interesting pieces I’ve brought home. Like with life, you’d have to weed through things. My apartment now boasts of a globe that lights up at night (my own night light), a German typewriter from the 70s, and an LP player in fine condition. I’ve also bought some records—Ella Fitzgerald, Cat Stevens, Juliette Greco, and Dire Straits among other things.
I wish I could endlessly explore this city. I haven’t met anyone who hates Berlin. Most people who have lived here profess their love for the city. And although I’m not there yet, I sense the immense potential of this place. It’s rough, it’s raw, but it’s also charming.
After my market ritual, I usually go to a coffeeshop to tend to my school readings. Funny that I didn’t start talking about school when it occupies 90% of my waking time. It’s too much. Exhausting, excruciating, frustrating, and just plain painful.
But that would have to wait to be retold. Sometimes, in a story, the start is shaky and not like what you expect. But most of the times, there’s a turnaround when you see the light and everything starts running well. I’m still waiting for that point in my studies now.
But everything is appreciated. The highs and the lows. One day everything would make sense.
WEEKEND IN VIENNA
The whole weekend was spent nursing a very bad hangover. I went to this small bar around the corner and the bar tender is a good man who’s terrible at his job (what kind of bartender gets drunk with a customer?) But it was okay. He’s a happy man who buys roses everyday for his love and works at the bar with his best friend. He’s a lucky chap and he knows it. he smiles at everyone, kisses his girl in between orders, and runs to the store for a cigarette for his friend. I’m always happy when I see genuine happiness. Where I come from, so many people are together for the wrong reasons and living for the wrong intentions. This bar man is one of the happiest people I’ve met. His life is simple but he got the important things right. He found love and he takes care of it like a treasure. I told him I was impressed with all the dried roses hanging at the bar, he seriously said, “I must do this. I must. I love her. I am just in love with her.” How I wished someone would declare a love for me that sure. I looked at the girl, and she took it like an everyday thing. He told me they have 2 kids, 13 and 6. The first one is from a different man, but it doesn’t matter. He’s his own. We toasted to that and to the many other things to celebrate in life.
In the morning, I felt like puking my guts out.