Culture

I was in the Office Working the Entire Time Neil Gaiman was in the Philippines

As much as it pains me to admit, I think I may owe a lot of people some form of apology for my unbearable grumpiness these last few days. And it was more than just because of the political climate, I think. Not even the temperature, literally, inside the office (it was sweltering, don’t ask me why) that brought not a few other heads to a boil, and CPUs to a grinding halt. Nor reports of Gloria’s “ampaw” rally reaching to over a hundred thousand strong (according to the police, anyway).

Surprisingly, it was not any of that. Any other day, I would surely be pissed by those factors, but not to the point of sneering at other people.

As I scanned my recent memory for anything that might have caused this recent “balaj” (that’s short for “balahura”, to those uninitiated in gayspeak) episode, I came upon one single event. One single “non-event”, rather, that caused me a week’s worth of sanity and momentarily made me forget my manners. It happened Monday two weeks ago, when two of my colleagues arrived from a certain booksigning of a certain author in a certain bookstore in Cubao…

It was not anybody’s fault but mine, though. Ever since I heard the news Neil Gaiman was coming to Manila (as early as April), I made a mental note that I would not miss such event come war, pestilence or a People Power uprising.

To make the long story short, I totally forgot about the Gaiman booksigning. It was all over my email; I even tacked a flyer of the event in our office corkboard. But somehow, I missed it entirely while I was busy over the weekend poring-crazy over editorial work. Only upon the arrival of two sheepishly grinning colleagues clutching authographed copies of Gaiman’s books did I realize my mortal lapse of memory. I had to restrain myself from literally kicking myself in the head. I could not even bear hearing my good-humored, sheepishly grinning colleagues gush about their memorable encounters with the man behind Sandman. I began asking myself if I had totally lost all self-love that I forgot to do one grand act of selfishness (that is, ditching presswork for the booksigning) for just this one time.

Grumpiness subsequently took over.

To clarify, though, I am not really that big of a Gaiman fan (I thought his mythology was cool, but that’s about it. I didn’t worship him like I did Harlan Ellison, but I did own two Sandman graphic novels — Season of Mists and Preludes and Nocturnes — borrowed but never returned by a college friend who thereafter denied having borrowed it from me). it’s just that those very two novels that I owned represented for me a ‘blissful” (meaning ignorant, haha) period in my life. A period when I naively thought I wanted to be a writer and left it at that (no complicating qualifiers, like “political-” or “propaganda-” or “journalist-cum-“).

Yes, I had such wonderful, leisurely time, reading Sandman and Beatnik poetry, haunting UP Main Libe’s stacks for clues to the meaning of existence (ugh), backmasking “Huling El Bimbo” with friends (thereupon being convinced that Ely Buendia made a pact with the devil to sell his soul for five bestselling albums). Classes were a distraction that I would rather do away with, as I made every effort to splurge myself in the decadent world of “becoming a writer.”

Those Sandman books represented a time in my life that I often prefered to forget (like the , uhm, “Opus Dei” stage), but sometimes end up missing, if only because I was as frivolous in pursuits then as I am unyielding now. The Gaiman non-episode made me realize how I have changed during the last decade. Mostly for the better (more mature, for sure; more political and conscientious, obviously), but maybe to the point that I have lost that sense of wonder and excitement in experiencing new things. Now, I want things to be done, I want things to be right. I hate and dread making mistakes in my work (I often do, nevertheless). I dread the time when that consuming passion to be better at my craft and work will be overcome by the mere desire to please others and not to screw up.

(The fact, though, that I still dread these things mean that unlike my Bikolano kababayan, I have not yet sold myself to the Devil. Lucifer in Gaiman’s imagination, after all, eventually gave up the keys of Hell to Dream and ended up becoming a beach bum in Australia. There’s hope for the romantic in me yet. =)

Having written this nonsensical piece of blog entry, then, I hope to purge myself of such grumpiness. Gaiman may have long left the country, and I may have lost those Sandman books and memories forever, but the passion for adventure and creation remains (at this point, Pete Daroy’s words are pertinent and inspiring: “Revolution, after all, is the ultimate creative act”).

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