Although my long journalism so-called career – that stretches several decades, from age 14, onto three huge cities (Manila, New York City, Los Angeles) and the internet universe – was punctuated by “do it or die” deadline kick, I find myself struggling to keep a certain semblance of routine these days. My deadline mindset is shot. I am in so dire need of nagging… The superhomey koolcat, Cyd, has been watching me 24 hours on rotation, staring at me like a wolf, seemingly saying: “Dude, quit fiddling on your laptop, quit the freakin’ Food Network crap, quit the procrastinations, quit shuttlin’ from a dozen or so writing projects to a dozen more unfinished masterpieces. JUST WRITE and GET IT DONE!”
Three days ago, I nailed down 4,327 words in two days, then—I am stuck again…
Anyhow, why the hell would I be obsessed with “routines,” anyway? Everybody hates routines. All my life, I have been kept playing hide-and-seek with spontaneity versus system, radicalism against conformity?
I was born and grew up Roman Catholic—you know, Sunday church and rosary rituals and grace-before/after-meals, twelve years of rigid pre-college “boot camp-styled” tour of duty, and “appropriate” behaviors in the house and neighborhood and stuff. Then, I was trained by a fiery editor who literally spewed flames like a paranoid dragon on newsroom crunch time, from 5:15pm to 7:45pm day in and day out—on my birthing years as newspaper reporter. I needed to conform with SOPs and workman’s dogma because that’s what things were supposed to be like.
Indeed, I had a blast protesting such a rigid, uptight regimen, but then—come to think of it, did I really? Did I ever, actually, fully explore or navigate my elongated romance with this thing called, “spontaneity”? Or it was all a struggle between “random” and “method,” and still is? Or, well—what am I ranting about here, really? Isn’t life a silent war of attrition between system and disarray, convention and chaos? And since, I am such contradiction—I am doomed to wrestle with the bleeding truths of my unpredictable existence.
EVERYBODY adheres to a sort of routine, I guess. The working class, like perpetually-exhausted urban urchins tugging along concrete jungle’s rotating valves… they just have to do it. We don’t really have a choice. We all need to conform with the machine’s machinations like toil weary spare parts of fluid production lines.
But what about the ascetics, those who seem to follow vibes and wavelengths and universal ebbtides? How do Buddhist monks keep a certain spiritual flow, for example—amidst a haze of meditative bliss? I mean, I observed (when I backpacked in Southeast Asia and elsewhere) that most “monks” wake up at the crack of dawn, meditate at a given moment on a day… I mean, they got some routine going on somehow.
I call my little existence a spontaneous flow of reflex and regimen, a sort of carefree adherence to a daily work checklist, yet I still fit in my writing schedule in and around my obligatory house chores and personal responsibilities on a methodical pace. Do I believe that suddenly, life has become so crowded—so tedious and pressured? No.
Thing is, I prefer such a daily pattern… I knew it’ll help me get back to my focused, one-story each day reporter’s routine. I need that discipline back and if I don’t, it’s only me to blame. I am basically the only lump of mind and body here, wrestling with my focus and consistency. There’s no one or nothing to blame anymore (like in the past): Not my parental obligations, ideological commitments, societal pressures, whatsoever…
Years ago, it was a lot different—in fact, there’s not much physical room to operate with, yet I was churning out work at an astoundingly consistent way. To think that, at that time, I was raising and feeding little kids—juggling 3 or 4 jobs at a time. But I was right up the flaming cauldron of youthful zeal: activism, romanticism, curiosity, adventure. Those days—I produced quite a body of work: hundreds of songs and poetry, street plays, movie scripts, paintings and murals, stuff. I was all over: a social/political life that tiptoed between subversive frolic and ferocious idealism.
A couple more decades hence, I am here—beaten and battered like driftwood lounging by a riverbank. There’s so much to remember, reflect, redeem—and write. But it’s not that easy… I so want to put system to those memories as they seep through computer pages. I know that the past’s eccentric production of bodies of creative work came at a time when my gung-ho, “hit it anywhere you want it” zeal was a milky way of exploding chakras. But age (or something cosmic maybe?) has overtaken me, I couldn’t be what I was anymore.
I USUALLY begin my day at around 10:30 in the morning—since I normally hit the sack around 3 or 15 past 3 before dawn. That’s already about 7 hours sleep time… Not bad. I may prolong that “rest” into indolence, an hour or so more in bed—if not for Georgia and Chloe (the batcave’s babedawgs) diligently waking me up at 10:30am each day, no fail. Thanks to these lovely animals…
Let the dogs out, bathroom ritual, fix some coffee, switch on the laptop, turn on some 70s music—check emails and Facebook for an hour… My day officially starts.
In between fiddling with my insane list of “works/writings-in-progress”—I attend to about one and half hours obligatory housework. Sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, dishwasher, washer-laundry, beddings… This is not a tiny house and I always prefer to write after a housework (and/or yardwork) and shower, my kind of OCD fix. More or less, I’d be able to devote a good 4 hours daytime on writing each day—that’s excluding more time at night, usually from 10:30pm to 3am.
So mathematically, I can actually work or write and finish something at a given deadline…
At this age, I feel I have “researched” enough of life and living. There are so much in me that I need to reflect on, ponder, process—and then methodically put on paper, like a neatly-arranged stack of emptied wine glasses on a shelf at the cellar. A collection of bad wine and good wine, each bottle tells a different story. These vessels of divergent shapes are empty anyhow—but I’d like to remember how it was when the bottles were full and beaming and sweet and sour.