Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Back when I was a freshman in college, in between classes I often hung out at this place called AS 101 with a bunch of my blockmates, including a girl named Charisma. I initially thought of her as stuck-up and self-centered, but later on, I found her to be really cool and fun. Up to now, I still can't forget something she said during one of our tambay sessions. In life, she offered, one of the toughest things one has to do is to decide when to give up and when to keep trying.

Sounds simple enough, when you take it as it is. After all, how hard can it be to choose between quitting and persevering at something? The cursory answer would be: you never quit. You soldier on at whatever it is you set your mind to, cross your fingers and hope for the best. "Winners never quit and quitters never win," "Try and try until you succeed" and half a dozen other cheesy aphorisms tell us that under no circumstances are we ever supposed to give up and throw in the towel.

The argument there is, how pathetic do we really want to be? How much of a loser are we if we kept reaching for the stars even though we already know there is a zero percent chance of that ever happening? Some people romanticize the idea of persistence and determination too much that they lose all sense of pragmatism. Throughout my life, I have learned that sometimes, it is ok to let go; to admit defeat, accept loss and rejection and to just move on.

This whole "giving up" or "keep on trying" thing can be applied to most any situation of conflict, and those that need an outcome or a resolution. I'm not trying to debunk one thought in favor of the other. I guess it would all really depend on a specific situation, and one's own character and attitude. The bottom line is: we're not expected to make sweeping generalizations; we can't keep hoping that something would end up exactly as we planned or imagined it to be. At the same time, we shouldn't let one minor setback prevent us from further pursuing our goals. Knowing when to quit and when to keep trying is really all about finding that balance between wanting something so bad you're willing to do anything to get it and not wanting it enough to sacrifice (or waste) our time, energy and sanity for it.

Why am I writing about this stuff? Well...maybe because I've finally decided to give up on something and I'm just telling myself that it's ok. Psyching myself up. Giving myself a pep talk. I don't really see it as quitting...more like moving on. God knows it's way overdue.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

At Least I Got a Mocha Frap Out Of It

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So you're Neil Gaiman...

Of course I know who Neil Gaiman is. My friends Kiel, John Ray and Ayen compare notes about his works every chance they get. But a big fan of him I am not. Never have been, and most likely, never will be. I haven't even read any of his books or graphic novels, much less own one. Not that I don't think he's a brilliant writer and all; from everything I've heard about him, he's probably as talented and as imaginative a storyteller as they say he is. I don't know, I just think that if by now, I don't know anything about the "Sandman" series or "Coraline" or whatever, maybe I shouldn't push it. His is a genre that really isn't for me, maybe.

It was therefore a puzzle even to me that I found myself lining up for more than 3 hours just to see him and get his autograph. Did I mention I don't even own any of his books?!

Ayen had been insisting I come with her and Kiel to the book signing at Gateway since the first time they found out about his visit to the country. With all the Gaiman material she and Kiel owns, she anticipated (and rightfully so) that she'd need all the help she can get having it all signed. And so after much pleading and arm-twisting, she got me to say yes (that pretty much tells you how much of a pushover I can be with my friends). I met up with them at Fully Booked after work that day. At first, it seemed like a hopeless cause: the line of people clutching their beloved books and graphic novels to their chests snaked through three floors, past the exit, all the way outside the mall near the jeepney stand along Aurora Boulevard! (I found out later some of them Gaiman geeks were there as early as 10am! Talk about devoted. And patient!)

Thinking there was no way we'd ever see so much as a shadow of NG, we left the packed bookstore (whaddya know, those places really do get packedā€¦sometimes), and decided to get some dinner instead. Over pizza and pasta, we discussed our chances of getting his precious signature from pen to page. All throughout, I was indifferent; we could've dined with Gaiman while my friends picked his brains, or we could've totally missed him and never even gotten the chance to lay our eyes on him, I really didn't care. In the end, though, we all went back to Fully Booked to once more try our luck. I figured that if it really meant that much to them, I might as well just be a friend and support them. (Besides, I didn't let them forget that they would most certainly be doing the same thing for me if a certain singer-songwriter ever made his way to our shores).

And so we took our place at the very end of the line, outside the mall and right next to the busy commuters, who probably had no idea who or what was it we were lining up for. (I swear we even overheard one guy exclaim to his friend "Ano raw? Anjan daw si JK Rowling?!") Turns out we were in the very last group of people allowed to line up. About 20 people down the line from us, the Fully Booked guy (Jaime Daez, I think) said that was it; he asked the guard not to let other people on. A girl who had something tattooed near her right eye even tried arguing with him to let them on the queue. No such luck.

Three hours we stood in line, patiently twiddling our fingers (or more accurately, Ayen's iPod and XDA). Eventually, we were let in the book store, and I caught my first glimpse of the man. He was wearing a black shirt and had long, unruly hair that fell down to his eyes, which were looking a bit tired, but alert nonetheless. He looked like he was taking it all in, like he was still excited about all the attention. He must have signed a countless number of books, comics, shirts, even action figures (yeah, apparently, they do have Sandman action figures) over the past three days; you would think that after all that, he'd have been exhausted and/or bored. But as I inched my way towards him, I noticed he took the time to give special attention to each and everyone there, even if it was a simple kiss on the cheek for the ladies or a firm handshake and a pat on the back for the guys. He had a steady glint in his eye when I was finally face to face with him. He signed my book (well, it was really Kiel's book), I said my thanks, we shook hands and that was it. I don't think the actual close encounter with Neil Gaiman even lasted a full minute.

Needless to say, Ayen and Kiel were in euphoria as we made our way to Starbucks to get some coffee. (Ayen said she was buying). I, on the other hand, was just glad it was over. They got to meet a literary icon and managed to get his autograph. And me? Well, after three hours in lineā€¦(check out the subject title).