Saturday, March 10, 2012

Visions from the Future - Part 2

I am in Manila for a month on an adventure. What follows are the idle thoughts and brief chronicles of my time abroad.

My first impression of the cast of characters on my adventure is a swirl of early thirties partiers from across the globe. My host is American, vibrant, competitive, and everyone's friend. The Irishman is in the doghouse with his girlfriend for something ridiculous he did last weekend. The Frenchman is one minute convinced his relationship will last and the next predicting his doom. But within his crazy mind is a long term plan to be a good having a daughter first, and a son two years later. The Frenchman says this way will let his son hit on his daughter's friends for practice. My mind boggles at the concept. The Brit is a good guy, the German is only visiting for the weekend, and the other guy keeps trying to convince us to go to a party where the only person he knows is the rich girl throwing it. There is another person in this group I have yet to meet, the one with the odd nickname and a penchant for weed. Overall they are loud, alive, and on each other's cases given the slightest opening.

Friday night follows from bar to club to bar to bed, although there may well have been another club or bar mixed in there somewhere. The celebutante chaser never shows, although he texts about a party the next night. The Irishman passes to spend the evening with the Nickname and their hobby. I meet my Host and the German in the back of a smokey little sports bar in the middle of an active mall of restaurants, wanderers, and alehouses. Introductions go around and we pass the time establishing a baseline of familiarity before the Frenchman and the Brit show. Once the team assembles and cutting remarks are made against absent fellows, we drift into the warm Manila night. There is a bar between the sports place and the club after all, established on the roof of one of the rising towers within the heart of Manila, open to the sky and the full moon. Some sections are roped off for private groups, but there are ex-pats and swirls upon swirls of local color all of whom know either my Host or one of our crew. After a few hours of socializing we once more take to the night and make our way to a very fancy club.

By this point we have acquired most of the accompanying girlfriends of the crew, each of them dressed for the evening, bright and shiny and friendly. As we approach the club my Host realizes I am not wearing a collared shirt, but his girlfriend smooths things over and I promise the doorman next time I will conform to their ideals. The club is that loud ubiquitous melee I have seen in every other half-lit scene trying hard to prove how great it must be that you have been allowed within its walls. Islands of excited club-goers break up the pockets of those who want you to see them here. The music is an odd mix of years and years ago and I laugh inside to see the club kiddies bounce and sway to Journey. The drinks are not strong and eventually we have to leave when someone jostles the Frenchman and wants to make an issue of it. Rule number one in Manila, don't mess with the rich guys. The rich guys have guys with guns and you will never win an argument with any of them. We take our leave before anyone tries to prove anything. All this is revealed to me the next day. At the time, I thought we had come to our senses and decided to close down shop for the night. It was late.

We wind our way back through Manila to our base of operations and the chain of a bar tucked neatly downstairs and around the corner. Halfway around the world and I can still get the worst kind of bar food at the perfect time. The German is disgusted and says the little things of chicken are mostly deep fried skin coated in a sweet sticky sauce. They are indeed, and I lick my fingers after finishing my small plate of them. It doesn't matter where you are, when 3 A.M. rolls around after a night of beers, rum, loud music, and shouting to be heard, awesomely bad bar food is the perfect send off to sleep.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Visions from the Future - Part 1

I am in Manila for a month on an adventure. What follows are the idle thoughts and brief chronicles of my time abroad.

Morning in Manila, only a handful of days into my adventure and the novelty of communicating with my friends from thirteen hours into the future has not worn off. I arrived at the start of a long night which transitioned from the harsh fluorescent lights of the airport to my small yet welcoming apartment to once more into the night on a journey to rid my body of the evil humours of air travel. Manila is a city of multiple faces, so far each one smiling and open. The night is filled with soft lights and mystery. The day is filled with industrious meandering.

That first night, the soft lights leads to a respectable spa and the myriad of chambers within. A bathhouse with several pools, each at a set temperature, thirty degrees, forty-two, and forty-four. The forty-two degree pool is infused with green tea. According to my host the small pool is brewed and steeped with giant bags of tea each day. Beyond the bathroom, past the changing room with its wooden floor, is a dark hall. The aroma collides gently with me as soon as I step through the doorway. It is delicious, herbal, oaky, and pleasant. Small darkened archways half the height of a man line one side of the hall. Within several are the dim outlines of prone customers enjoying the oxygen enriched atmosphere.

On the left side of the hall are a series of three chambers. Each chamber is a compact sweat lodge, each more aggressive than the last. Hot rocks line the walls of the first, the floor is made of small heated stones. The air has a misty herbal flavor to it. I dig my toes into the rocks and let the heat begin to wash away the strain of travel. My host turns an hourglass filled with red sand to mark our time. After one turn we move on to the next chamber. It has a classic sweat lodge look and feel. Logs of wood are set into the walls and the floor is covered in overlapping mats. The ceiling is a dome of stucco. The air is infused with the scent of oak. We turn the hourglass twice in the second chamber because the third chamber will be too warm to spend an entire turn within it.

When I reach the third chamber I immediately see why. One wall has a glowing mock fireplace of rocks set within it. Over the arch of the fireplace is a thermometer which reads seventy degrees centigrade. The air is heavy and rich with the scent of herbs and heat. Sweat pops out over my skin instantly and we remain within until we feel we have to move on. My host insists we stay a minute longer than we feel comfortable. He has an idea on where to go next.

At the back of the main hall is a door to a small chamber lit with blue and white light. The walls are coated with the kind of ice found in a deep freezer, a stucco of frozen compact snow pebbles three of the walls within. We sit on small stools and breath in the chilled air, instantly refreshed. The ceiling is patterned after winter and a string of Christmas lights running the length of the room blinks an alternating white then blue.

After a while we move on to our massages. My masseuse spends nearly an hour working out all of the trouble secretly installed into my back, neck, and limbs after an economy cabin flight across the world. Even though I have been up for a day, the oils and massage restore my energy and it will be hours before I fall into sleep. My host returns me to my apartment by way of taxi because we are both too relaxed to walk the twisty return route.

When sleep comes the warm air of my room keeps me under until nearly noon. I have lost Wednesday to the oddities of the international date line. My mind drifts to thoughts of the child sitting near me on the final leg of my journey. His birthday fell away between stops, lost somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, a cruel fate for a youngster where each birthday should hold promise and party. The day before me, however, holds equal promise and I rise to meet it.



Monday, February 27, 2012

So...2011 Had Its Ups and Downs

I have just returned from JoCoCruiseCrazy 2. This morning I spent some time fiddling with pictures, updating Flickr (upgrading Flickr), and making some adjustments to various digital entities here and there. A thought occurred to me: "When is the last time you even looked at your own blog?"...



Not that anyone ever reads it, and especially because I fell off the writing wagon, but I am a little sad to see I let it fade for so very long. Of course, it is in the premise of the entire thing. My will to create content comes and goes, although I would like it to go away less and less. In the past year, many many things have changed for me. Several relationships have imploded, others have deepened, I moved, started a new job, left that job when it became obvious to everyone that I was miserable, and fiddled here and there with projects.

This year is already off to an interesting start. I joined a writing group, I am working with an editor on the current draft of my first novel, and I went on a cruise. I am still seeking balance and rhythm, and maybe, just maybe, this platform will take me in that direction again.

We are two months through 2012 already (how?? how is that possible?), goes...


About Me

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.