Yesterday evening, while waiting for Hiyas to fetch me at Seattle's Best in Megamall (Ever notice how I've gone back to haunting my old coffeeshop? Not that they noticed, I suppose. But the Client is expensive, and somehow, SBC just feels like home), I was fiddling with Leandro and taking advantage of the super-fast WiFi when this extremely cute and extremely muscular and (I'm hoping) extremely straight American guy leans over from the other table and looks pointedly at my toy. "That's a Mac you're using right?"
"Yeah. It's a Powerbook G4," I replied, rather smugly, proud that I remembered the brand of my laptop.
"Are you getting a good WiFi signal here?"
I pointed to the little icon that clearly showed that I was receiving the full blast of the WiFi signal. "Yeah. It's pretty strong here."
"I wasn't getting it outside earlier. I suppose you have to be inside to be connected." (OMG, he had the nicest eyes imaginable - light gray, with a lock of hair ever-so-subtly curling across his forehead.)
I nod. (In my head, we were already married on a cruise ship in the Carribean, sailing towards an Hollywood-esque sunset, complete with a dramatic flock of seagulls arcing across the fiery sky.)
And then he asks me, "Are you American as well?"
I have no idea why foreigners think that I'm not from this country. I mean, isn't it obvious? I'm small and round and my skin pretends to be light during evenings but browns nicely during mornings. More than once, I have pretended to bounce against elevator walls and car doors. Isn't it obvious that I'm too weird to be anything but Filipino?
I mean, just because I speak good English doesn't mean that I'm not from this country. It just so happens I speak good English - thanks to an educational system that is both expensive and disciplined, as well as a natural affinity to literature. I've never even BEEN out of this country, so I highly doubt that I've been influenced in any way. And even if we count mass media, I hardly doubt that going through several seasons of The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the sad 13-episode run of Firefly, would be enough for me to acquire the accent.
Ah well. This isn't the first time, anyway. I just find it strange that good English is always associated with American English - somehow I wish I could speak it with a strong British accent, just to see where it would get me. The weirdest experience I've had with a mix-up in nationality, though, was once, while sitting at the back of the taxi - looking all schoolgirl-like in a white tank top and my short plaid skirt - the taxi driver suddenly commenting, "Miss, Hapon ka ba?"
I raised one eyebrow. "Pinoy po, Manong."
One of my bosses, Marc, is about to go on paternity leave - his wife is getting ready to give birth either today or tomorrow. So while it doesn't surprise me that I am, once again, tasked to hold the fort while he disappears off into daddy duty, it sort of scares me to know that I'm juggling all of these little things that make up one hell of a big picture.
Just looking at my whiteboard at the office is enough to drive me insane.
And the thing is, I feel like I'm starting to become a piece of well-oiled machinery: what I am doing is beginning to feel slightly rote. Not that I'm complaining about the pace - I think we've all yanked ourselves up a notch in that department, functioning of a few hours of sleep before devoting more than half our day simply catering to the needs of various clients. And while I find myself settling more comfortably into a role that I was quite hesitant to accept a few months ago, and realizing that I am more than capable of standing my own ground, I also find that I am perhaps about to burn out soon.
I've been checking the official NUS website every day for news of those who passed for the graduate studies programs. I am praying everyday that the results come already - whether I get accepted or not is already beside the point. It's the anticipation I can't handle, the knowledge that I can't move this way or that because everything hinges on this. I'm already considering preparing the documents in time for next year's application - my TOEFL score will still hold water, anyway. I've been checking out graduate students' housing options and the banking and postal delivery system in Singapore, just wondering if it's all worth it, building myself up with the chance that I might fall.
But I'm here, at a standstill. And there's not much time left.