Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Think I Might Secretly Be Fifty Years Old

I've noticed that I've become uncharacteristically open recently. For most of my life, I was that guy who people confided in, but never really knew anything about; the kind that was always there to lend an ear or a hand, but never a mouth. Sure, I'd talk, but I'd never really share that much about myself. I was there more to listen.

I've never really been fond of talking about myself. This blog might tell you otherwise, but you’d see what I mean if you met me in real life. I always thought that one socialized to get to know people, and you only really get to know people if you shut up and listen. How else are you going to know your girlfriend’s dream city (San Francisco), your brother’s occupational frustrations (he hates his job and wants to write for a living), or your buddy’s religious views (a personal mix of his own beliefs, including some Eastern philosophies that my college classes failed to bring up; PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY PHILOSOPHY FAIL) if you don’t shut your yap and listen up? And what kind of selfish jackass would you have to be to not get to know the people you choose to surround yourself with?

And yet, here I am, suddenly pouring my heart out to those people I just mentioned. I'm no longer just the guy who was there to listen to you, but the guy who needs you to listen from time to time. I have no idea what brought this change about me. Could it be that I'm happier these days? That I'm enjoying life so much that I just have to share it? Maybe it’s because for the first time in God knows how many years, I feel like myself, and that finally gives me license to talk about myself. I've opened up about life, love, and the joys and tragedies that come along with them, and I have to say, it feels pretty damn good to get things off your chest.

It also made me realize just how selfish I was in being just a listener. Here I was, keeping my mouth shut because I wanted get to know my loved ones, but I was denying them the chance to get to know me in return. Socializing is about getting to know other people, but I failed to acknowledge that it works both ways. People want to get to know me, no matter how mundane I think I am. Heck, it’s what they learn about me that makes me a lot more interesting as a person.

Case in point – the incident that occurred shortly after last Sunday morning’s Basketballapalooza. After a very satisfying series of games (read: 6), my brother and I found ourselves stranded in the Valle Verde II covered court. We were supposed to walk our way out of the village and find a cab, but the schizophrenic weather we’ve been having stopped us from doing so. We decided to wait it out by cooling down and shooting a few casual hoops.

(Aside – I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I played shirtless while waiting for the rain to subside. Lauren, if you’re reading this, it’s not as alluring as you might think. Imagine my tiny little man-boobies jiggling along as I ran. Yeah. Grampa was balling.)

Somewhere along the line, I decide to talk to my brother about one goal I've had in my head ever since I can remember it’s that before I die, I want to make a positive imprint in at least one person’s life. I've always figured that if I could do just that, I could die feeling fulfilled.

See, I was a weird little kid. While other boys my age were either formulating grand schemes to save the world or wondering what was for dessert that night, I was thinking about how one person could possibly make the world a better place. Sure, there are those who start movements that enrich the lives of others, and revolutionaries who initiate campaigns to improve the world as we know it, but for every person who does so in a benevolent manner, there is a Hitler. If we hold sway over masses and convince them that our way is right, we gain the power to control them. With that power, we have the potential to oppress. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of merit to uniting people under a good cause, but mob mentality can cloud your perceptions. You might not be able to see that though your intentions are noble, your methods aren’t. It’s happened way too often in history for people to ignore that.

And so, at an age way too early to do so, I decided that I wanted to remain one of the little people. Instead of putting all my efforts into one of mankind’s greatest movements, I wanted to focus on the people around me. I knew that it was unrealistic to think that someone like me could change the world without majorly fucking it up (I know this might be my lack of self-esteem talking, but bear with me), but I did know that it was possible to improve the experience of life for one person. I can at least change that person’s world for the better.

So what does this have to do with my death? As I told my brother that afternoon, I've always thought that there wouldn’t be a lot of people crying at my funeral. There wouldn’t be so many souls distraught enough to break down in tears. I... just don’t see myself as that significant of a person. Let’s face it – most people I know (at least in my childhood to teenage years) think that I'm some selfish prick who’s way too deep inside his head to be worth shedding tears over. I've never been the charming one, or the funny one (not too many people share my sense of humor), or the one fawned over by legions of classmates and co-workers (that would be my brother). What I'm not is the guy you’re just plain happy to see. I'm not the one people call out to the moment he walks into the room (again, that would be my brother).

Which is why I suspect that if I ever become a disembodied spirit and have a chance to eavesdrop on my own funeral, I'll be hearing a bunch of things I wouldn’t like. For one thing, I'm pretty sure my mother will utter the word “sayang” when talking about me. “Marco was such a smart boy. It’s too bad he never went to med school.” I also know that my mother isn’t the only one who would think so. Others would just mourn the fact that I was gone, and nothing else. I'm not going to be terribly missed by those people because A) They never really got to know the real me; and B) I just wasn’t that likeable. If that’s the case, then I'd have lived a sad experience and probably deserved to die. Maybe that’s why I've always envisioned myself getting run over – at least the tragedy would magnify the impact of my passing and give people something to talk about.

All that, though, would be fine with me if there was someone out there I'd be sure was thankful that they met me; that I made a positive enough imprint on them that their life was actually better for having known me. I want to at least know that there will be at least one person out there who will both shed tears and smile at my funeral. At least then, there’d be substantial evidence that I was loved.

Of course, I know now that there will be a few people like that at my funeral. I know that several people will mourn the loss of someone they truly loved. I know I should be satisfied, but I'm not. I'm young. I can still make a positive imprint on other people’s lives, so why stop now? Why not keep spreading the love, little by little, person by person, until the day you just can’t? I may never become significant for my achievements, but I can make myself significant to other people by loving them.

And so we have the current meaning of my life – to make a positive imprint on the lives of the people I love. No need for grandiose movements, nor for the adulation of masses; I just want to live my life the best I can, by making the lives of those I care about better.

I think that’s worth being open about.

Oh, and about the title – my brother’s reaction to the Sunday talk: “Why are you having a midlife crisis now?”

Read on >

Friday, August 7, 2009

Oh, the Outcast

Everyone’s allowed to be emo every once in a while. While some decide to go about it every single day of their lives, with lashes drenched in eyeliner and hair to match...

He needs hugs. And a makeover.

...I prefer to go about these times of emotional vulnerability on a cookie-induced sugar high. And since I’ve apparently hit another wall in work-writing, I may as well use this semi-invisible blog of mine to air out my tiny-in-the-scope-of-the-universe personal issues. Thank you, Internets. Thank you, Fibisco.

I’ve recently been to the Nine Inch Nails concert. Before you think that their sullen lyrics were what got me down, let me assure you that the awesomeness that is Trent Reznor and the rest of the band didn’t have anything to do with my mood. The ultimate power of rock they wielded that evening actually did quite the opposite.

I was infused with the awesomeness streaming forth from a very sweaty Trent Reznor. Glory!

What got me down was the presence of my cousins at the concert. Yeah, they’re my cousins and all, and they’re family and whatnot, but something about being with them gets me down. They kinda make me feel… lonely at times. One of those times came directly after the concert.

I was actually pretty thrilled at first when they called out to me at the concert. Lauren and I had just successfully weaseled our way into the fifth row when I heard a familiar voice calling out my name. Apparently, two of my cousins were watching the concert together. We said our quick hello’s and what-are-you-doing-here’s, and proceeded to watch the show.

After the concert, I wanted to see if I could still catch my cousins outside the Coliseum. While Lauren was catching up with a few of her friends that watched the band display a testament to the power of rock, I went to check if Lauren’s umbrella was still behind the trashcan she chucked it at (lame security at the concert wouldn’t allow it inside. DUDE, people were standing still with their arms crossed at the concert. Not exactly riot material). On the way there, sure enough, I ran into my cousins. I quickly signaled to Lauren that the umbrella was gone (at least it’s keeping some hobo out there dry in this schizophrenic weather we’ve been experiencing), I decide to mingle for a bit with my cousins.

Gah, it was awkward. You know those dreaded moments where the dorky kid with glasses and a pocket protector is just standing there by the cool kids? The moments where it looks like he’s trying to be cool by association, even though he’s clearly not wanted there? I was that kid (sans pocket protector, thank god). I was that kid with my own freaking cousins.

Wait, cookie time.

Anyway, I’ve always had that issue with my cousins. They’ve never really warmed up to me, despite having known me all my life. In fact, a common occurrence at family functions goes as follows:

I sit down at a table with my cousins.

Me: Hello hello!
Cousins: Hi.


Cousins: Where’s your brother?
Me: I dunno.


Me: So… how are we doing?
Cousins: Fine.


My brother arrives at the table.

Cousins: MART!!! (Conversation follows, usually about things I don’t know about because unlike my brother, I'm not asked out by my cousins to go drinking or something)

After a while, my brother leaves the table, either to hunt for more food, or to go to the bathroom. My cousins stare into space. I’ve suddenly gained powers of invisibility, and wait out the awkward silence until my brother returns. When he does return, I rush to the bathroom. I think I may have grown a beard in the unbearably long time he was gone, and want to check.

And it’s always been that way. They’re incredibly warm and loving to my brother and constantly look for his company, so much so that it feels like I don’t even exist by comparison. Hell, I still haven’t really forgotten that New Year’s Eve they decided to ditch my lola’s party and go someplace more fun. They didn’t tell me a thing that night, and it didn’t take me long to notice that I was the only one left in my age group at my lola’s place. It was more of the same after the NIN concert.

Now I couldn’t care less if people didn’t want me around. I’ve got my own friends, I can manage. It’s pretty much been the way I prefer my relationships anyway – I want to surround myself with people who want to be with me. But this is my fucking FAMILY. I can’t just ignore them like the rest of the douches who fail to notice me. They’re going to be around ‘till I die. And so I’m left with two choices – either conform and act like my brother (which usually entails drinking two buckets of beer); or stay how I am, suck it up, and deal with feeling like this for majority of my life. While I do love beer, I can’t shake the other parts of me that aren’t like my brother.

Sigh. I need to meet more people.

And perhaps more cookies.

Read on >