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The white flag is up

It's the month of water, and somehow my creative spirits have dampened, fire spirit that I am. I'm waving the white flag to Nanowrimo, halting at 1,300 words. I think it was doomed at the start anyway, as I commenced writing in another comfort zone. I took it as an opportunity, to gather as much elements as possible from the place of my birth, the roads that lead to it and the people who walk away from it. Then there was the tsunami of ideas that I want to put into, the techniques that I wanted to use, the oomph, the Chekhov shotgun. But the kids can't fend for themselves, and the dent on my side of the bed became palpable to the wife. Somebody had to fill that space. And perfectly.

There was also talk of overseas employment, only to be botched at the eleventh hour because she can still up her wifely tolerance and the conjugal take-home pay. Good thing that she wasn't jealous of Eleanor yet, bargaining her for a few rounds of solitaire while I am seeking the last ace to make way for the king. How unproductive for both of us, yet found that we can have a second shot at romance long blurred by childbirth, travel and in-laws. Everything could have been added to make the story true, and fabricated at the same time. Everything was laid down I just need to arrange the cards, busy my hands in more meaningful tasks but eventually, those hands will raise in surrender, saying "next year."

I have a bright idea, except that it is three weeks too late. I should have employed a writing buddy, much like a gym buddy who works out with you, gives you the spots and showers with you if the two of you can. There should have been likely candidates, like banzai cat or jsc, who had shaky starts but endeavoring themselves. I envision two laptops side by side, me and my writing buddy starting at the same time; taking a break, swearing, chilling, shouting profanities and praises at the same time. The silence would be punctuated by pep talks, numbers indicating word count as of the moment, and "what's another word for 'said'?"

I have qualms of producing a novel in a month. A year of smoking, a regular work-home route in suburbia and wallowing in bed like a first-class swine didn't afford me the stamina to produce a 50,000-word tome. Typical writer, except for the starvation and alcoholism part. I'm a follower of Murakami Haruki, and perhaps I'd take regular swims to boost me up. Angst and Hemingway, like social realism, is so yesterday.

The white flag is up.

Excerpt from the unexpurgated Amplified, my supposed to be Nanowrimo novel (Copyright thingy here. Don't mess with me.):

I always believed that the clouds which looked like plates stacked on top of one another crowning the peak of Mount Arayat meant that an alien spaceship is stopping over for celestial fuel, like a galactic gasoline filling station as the lifeforms hopped from one planet to the next, benevolent in sharing their advanced technologies to primitive species like the homo sapiens.

I once recalled a certain professor from the university assert this fact over national television, up to the point of proclaiming the Philippines as the new Jerusalem. With the death of my father from colon cancer at that time, there was nothing left to believe, but the stack of plates of water vapor and a natural pyramid that grew out of the central plains ambitiously scraping the northern sky.

I drove southwards along the Cagayan Valley Road, always looking to my right as the mountain spent much of my views up until the interchange hours later, like a nagging boil way past its bursting stage. It stared at me, a dormant volcano, like the portrait of Christ as The Eye. I was always within its line of sight, and I regarded it not with threat or menace, but as a beacon and a sign of permanence. Seven changes of mailing address, blank spaces on the telephone number field in filing forms, shame instead of pride of place, right after the death of my father, Agustin Castro Sr. Nothing seemed to be permanent except my mother's depression, and Mount Arayat was always there to remind me that once, the elder Castro carried me in his lap on the way to Baler on board a battered Pantranco bus. The words aircondition, video on board, and deluxe were still twenty years away as we made the trip back to hometown, my first since I became aware of distance and travel and roads and night and day. Maria, my mother seated herself in the aisle seat. Boxes bearing the names of Romana and Gaudencio Guerrero were huddled underneath, bearing plantains, charcoal, old clothes, paper, curling irons, ammonia, hair dye, blank hardbound diaries, magazines and magazine clippings of Rosemarie Sonora and Helen Gamboa, salted eggs, tuyo, daing, malagkit rice tied in plastic bags, a soldering gun, spare transistors, batteries and several types of screwdrivers.

I always complained of my mother's packrat habit, since the volume we traveled from Manila to Baler and vise versa were always the same, only the contents changed. We were never merchants who traded manufactured goods from the big city to the small coastal town whose only claim to fame was a Commonwealth president, but my mother's compulsion proved useful during those times when landslides lay siege to most vehicles in the Baler-Bongabon Road especially during November, off the typhoon season for the whole country but entirely different to Baler, a coastal town in the eastern rim of Luzon. The Sierra Madre mountain range shields the rest of the island from Pacific typhoons and takes much of the storm's iron fists heroically so that the central plain, the rice granary can continue with its work.

"There was a legend that Mount Arayat, once part of the Caraballo mountain range, drifted away overnight. Greedy people took much of its forest cover, which made the god of the mountain angry, so he moved it away to a part of Pampanga where he can have some space." I looked time and again to my right while driving and talking to Val, my lone companion for this trip long after most of the friends in my circle backed out due to the rigors of a two-hundred thirty-two drive through the intestine roads of Sierra Madre.

"Perhaps he doesn't like to have somebody pierce his personal bubble." Val interjected with his corporate core competency development jargon.

"Most likely. Would you like to pierce a once-active volcano? I'm sure it's a different level of bubble burst." I continued turning my head to the right.

"A legend is a legend. You should know. Plate tectonics. Seams on the eastern and western sides of the island of Luzon push to make the mountain ranges we have today and the anomaly that is Mount Arayat is a hotspot, a via of hot volcanic material spouting out in the middle like a navel." Val was animated as he recalled his geology days.

"Val Regente, geology board topnotcher two thousand and two. As the earth's navel Mount Arayat held a mystical charm, the geological match to the energy of Kundalini."

"You and your stacked plate UFO's again."

Just then a monitor lizard was about to cross the highway.

"Jesus Christ!" I pressed on the brake.

"Soplaaaa, soplaaaaa!" I muttered as I regained my composure and gained speed.

"That's just an effing lizard, crossing the street, Augus. Like the proverbial chicken. And I've heard it tastes like one." Val tensed, and attempted a resumption to our previous conversation.

The lizard continued with its gait, a serpent with four feet. Except for fish, I had an unexplainable fear of anything with scales, cold and moving. The superstition was phobia's bonus.

"Val, maybe you haven't known. Monitor lizards crossing the street are a sign of bad luck."

"And you muttered something. Sopla?" He was cool.

"I'm not sure what it meant. Related to suplado I guess. To uncatch attention, probably. God, I hope we can make it back to Quezon City by six tonight." I was getting worried. One of the rear tires exploded while we were cruising the north Luzon expressway and we had to buy a new tire in Plaridel. I suspect that this will give in if...

“The white flag is up”

  1. Anonymous CF Says:

    Ay, too bad. Was hoping you'd actually finish it. :D I guess there's always next year. :D

  2. Anonymous banzai cat Says:

    Hehe pare! We almost quit the same time! ;-)

  3. Anonymous sky Says:

    CF: Too bad and probably good. I'll get over it and move on. There's always next year, and it doesn't need to be November. By the way, who are you?

    BC: Yep, but I'm at 1.3k words. I've accepted the reality. :D

  4. Anonymous noreen Says:

    manong, ako din, give up na. oh well, at least we tried. =)