"Si me preguntais de donde vengo,
tengo que conversar con cosas rotas."

-No Hay Olvido, Pablo Neruda
Saturday, May 28, 2005

inter view

I am so behind on my internet life that it's not even funny. On the other hand, I'm catching up on real life. Spent Thursday night with S, getting tipsy on mango daiquiris and beer and discussing Middle Eastern politics while tipsy. There's a story behind our friendship, but it will have to wait for another time.

This evening I went out for dinner with V and Solemate. V broke her big news over dinner: she's dating a very cute older man and thinking seriously about getting married. The big drawback: he's Canadian, and marrying him will mean leaving behind her entire life here and moving to Canada, because the poor man gets sick whenever he's in the Philippines. Again, long story.

Also, I have a friend who was once committed into an insane asylum by mistake - but that's a story that I want to tell another time. My debts to the blogosphere are racking up by the second. I had better get out while the going's good and get cracking on my current debts, starting with the meme I got from Dean.

If you want to join, read all the way through to the end! I promise to be entertaining on the way there.

1. What the heck are you doing in government foreign service in the first place? Is it the prospect of future foreign assignment?

Actually, I'm here to prove a point: that Filipinos like me, who grew up elsewhere and are floundering on their native soil, do have something valuable to give back to the nation. We're not all spoiled balikbayans, yo.

Also, I find it extremely exciting that in two years, the government will throw me out of the Philippines into Lord-knows-where. Where do you want to get posted? I get asked all the time, and my standard answer is I don't care. Preferably somewhere I've never been before, but I'm not very picky. For all I care they can throw a dart into a map of the world and send me where it lands.

Incidentally, I find it extremely funny that everyone who is trying to get me to bring them with me (I can bring a few people along with me as "household members" and "staff", apparently) backs off as soon as I say "Ooh, but what if I get assigned to, say, Botswana?" Apparently everybody wants to go to Switzerland or France or New York, but no one wants to go to Botswana.

Poor Botswana.

2. You've been around a lot of places, what's your favorite place/s and why?

Hard to say - I bitch a lot, but I honestly love something about every single city I've been to. There are two places, however, that I will never forget: Kathmandu and Java.

Kathmandu is memorable because it was where I met a goddess face-to-face. It was also where I spent a few days trekking through a jungle on the back of an elephant - that was memorable because it was winter, and the camp where we stayed had no hot water. One morning I woke up and walked blearily into the bathroom, only to find that the water we'd left in the washbasin overnight had actually iced over. I remember looking at it - I'd been planning to take a bath - and thinking No. Freaking. Way.

Java is memorable because of Borobudur. When we went there, the guide walked us through endless stacks of rubble that - on closer inspection - turned out to be composed of neatly-arranged pieces of stone on which someone had written numbers with a piece of chalk. What are the numbers for? I asked our guide. He then told me the story, which I never forgot: in Borobudur's heyday, it was one of the greatest Buddhist temples in the world. Hewn from stone and decorated with glass and precious metals, its builders had obviously made it so that it would last forever.

At some time in Borobudur's history, invaders had come in and ransacked the temple, tearing it down and stealing its valuable parts. After that, Borobudur sank into oblivion, apparently ending up buried at one point. In the early 1900s, excavations uncovered the temple and reconstruction efforts began. When we went to visit, they had managed to unearth the entire structure and were rebuilding it bit by bit: picking through the rubble and slowly reconstructing it, much like you would a gigantic jigsaw. It had taken them years to get that far - to the point where they had managed to number the pieces of stone to indicate where they would go during the reconstruction. Judging by the sheer size and number of those stacks - they were everywhere - it would take them years more to complete the project.

Years later, that story still strikes me. How passionately the Indonesians treasure their land and history, to invest so much time and effort into rebuilding a part of it. Now that's love for your country.

I am told Borobudur is now complete - sixteen years after I first went there. It's a date, Java. I'm coming back soon.

3. You're condemned to use only three adjectives to describe any-and-everything for the rest of your life. Your three words, please?

Temporary. Sad. Fascinating.

I have a hunch that more often than not, "fascinating" will be my word, much as "haarrible" is Thom Filicia's.

4. What book would best personify your most recent love affair? Would you rewrite the ending? Perhaps edit choice passages?

I really need to start stepping things up, because the most recent love affair was over a year ago. As for the book that best personifies it: The Clash of Civilizations, by Samuel Huntington, which theorizes that the major source of conflict between nations will no longer be economic or political, it will be civilizational.

Substitute my name and his for the generic terms "East" and "West", and you've got the story of the last love affair. Technically we got along very well and we still hang out quite a bit, but we really have nothing in common.

In the fiction arena ... hmm. Maybe Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, only Richard Mayhew's character would have to be much less of a loser and his girlfriend a lot nicer.

The ending would definitely have to be rewritten, though. In the end Richard decides that he likes his life the way it used to be and returns to his wonderful job, his circle of friends, his lovely normal fiancée. He never quite forgets the girl who introduced him to angels, to rat-speakers and warriors and the Velvets - but he never goes back to her, either.

After all, he thinks to himself, she would never have fit into my world, and I would have never fit into hers. Then he climbs into bed with his wife, in his house in the suburbs with his two children and a dog and a car, and falls asleep, contented.

Door, on the other hand, lives on the other side of the portal, in a place where the strange is mundane and adventures happen everyday. She's never alone, and she's never bored, and she tells herself she's never lonely.

From time to time, the memory of a boy from London Above, bumbling and brave in her world, crosses her mind, and she wakes up crying. When that happens she gets out of bed, puts on her shoes, and goes looking for another door to open.

In her world, there's always another door.

5. Quick: here's a pair of brass knuckles. Go back in time and thump someone hard. So, who's black and blue?

The guy who molested me in my own kitchen when I was nineteen. The runner-up would be the guy who said to me, his tone questioning: Well, maybe you liked it.

On a less vindictive note, all the people in the world who say it's wrong to use birth control - and all the men in the world who refuse to use a condom because it "lessens the sensation". Wear the ribs on the inside then, jackass.

And a burning bonus question:

6. Why is your sister called Freakchild? And is it deserved, poor thing?

Freakchild is derived from her original nickname, Freak - a nickname that I found applied to many of my friends, and therefore was no longer unique. It was a lot shorter than Genetic Mistake and Aberration of Nature - other nicknames I considered, then discarded because they were too clunky - so it won.

Also, her real name is quite common, so when I yell it out in a crowded place, about ten people come running. When I yell FREAKCHILD! in a crowded place now, no one except my sister comes running. I mean, what are the odds?

And yes, it is entirely deserved. Who else decides to make curried potatoes at 11PM and then doesn't know if there are even potatoes available? Freakchild, that's who.

- - -

Now, for the Official Interview Game Rules:

1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person’s will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

If you don’t have a blog, I will still ask you 5 unique questions and you can post your answers here.

I don't say this often, but: I'll be gentle, I promise. :D
rei tasted red @ 01:19 //