Friday, December 20, 2013

On the first day of vacation...

I actually slept past ten in the morning, and it was glorious, I tell you, absolutely gorgeous. I spent a few seconds (minutes, hours, possibly the entire Cretaceous period) rolling around the bed, just luxuriating in the feeling that my alarms (I have three now: the phone, the iPad, the iPod, all staggered in 15-minute increments) were turned off, and I didn't have to jostle for my turn at the breakfast table or in the bathroom. I didn't have to stuff all of my books and papers in my Happy Totes bag (think happy thoughts!) and cart it all the way to the university, unpack them, stand in front of students who seemed to alternate between being sugar-high or sleepy, and try to talk to them about the importance of finding meaning in the stories we read or figuring out how to craft an effective research proposal. No, I didn't have to do all of those things because today is the first day of vacation and trust me when I tell you about the absolute glee that I felt when I realized that I didn't have to go to school today.

I could actually sit in front of the computer and not have to go through pages and pages of research material just to bang out a decent lesson plan so that I wasn't pulling stuff out of my ass whenever I stood in front of my kids. I didn't have to stack piles of checking around me like a small fortress and power through paragraphs of writing and writing and more writing, all the while desperately trying to find a sliver of hope in the morass of improperly used words and butchered sentences. (And there's a mixed metaphor if you ever wanted one.) In fact, for the most part, today I just slept.

Well, I slept and ate. If I wasn't doing one, I was doing the other.

I just realized that this is probably the first decent break that I have for the entire year - I taught summer classes and DOST college-prep classes during the summer break, and in between semesters, I was checking papers and running after deadlines. I think between the first and second semester, I barely had three days to myself. And then when the second sem started, I was pretty much thrown in head-first into work: not just dealing with four classes, but also with preparing, participating, and helping to organize the Philippine International Literary Festival in UP as well as the first International Shakespeare Conference, the annual UP Writers' Night and the English department's semi-annual charity book sale, Profernalia.

I don't think I've ever been this stressed in my entire life - jumping from one event to the next, dealing with little fires and big fires as they come, and just trying to troubleshoot things as they come. For some events, like PILF and UPNW, I was really just there as an extra pair of hands for Francis, who is the deputy director of the UP Institute of Creative Writing and therefore really needed all the help he could get. For the Shakespeare Conference, I was really just a small cog in the giant machinery that is the English department, and for the most part - at least when I could get together with my friends - it seemed that it went smoothly, especially for an event that only took a month and a half in terms of organizing the entire thing.

And of course, on top of these things, I was still handling other professional and personal things: I am still working freelance jobs as they come, of course (one has to keep other skills sharp as well, and maintain cordial contact with other non-academic members of the community) and there were some personal losses along the way, most notably the passing of a friend and colleague, Butch Guerrero.

And yet I also think I was given so many opportunities at good things this year. I visited my second-best city, Singapore, and saw old friends. And then I also went and explored a new city, Bangkok, with Francis. (And man, I really need to write about that.) I was able to attend the National Book Awards in my capacity as the judge's daughter, hung out with friends and colleagues at the elegant Edsa Shangrila and ate very well, and I was published in a couple of anthologies. I was accepted into and attended the National Writers Workshop for mid-career writers in Baguio, and remembered why I loved writing in the first place. I found love (naks!) and it's been a great ride so far.

The next couple of weeks, I think, will be focusing on thinking and reflecting about what has happened in the past and where I want to go in the future. And next year, 2014, will be a pretty big year for me as well: I'm turning 30 and that's a milestone in terms of age and experience and figuring out a roadmap for the next ten, twenty, thirty years. I've been very lucky in my first thirty years of existence. I'd like the next thirty to be as sweet, if not sweeter, than before.

But for now - time to eat, drink, and be merry.



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