Friday, July 29, 2016

Anybody for the Environment?

I AM usually silent in regards what most of my enlightened friends and colleagues are fighting for. Maybe they've already unfriended me and boxed me in a crate they reserve for “rightwinged moomoos.” That's the way life is these days, I guess. You disagree with the enlightened you are a Conservative. You diss the Conservative you are stoned-cold homeless. Either way, you are unfriended. LOL! For the first time in my life though after four decades of being labelled a hardcore Leftist, I am called rightwing skynyrd! Ah! Freebird. Seriously though, I don't expect to be labelled left or right when I talk about the environment. I hope.

          Has anybody taken to heart and soul the danger of sea-level rise after Katrina and Sandy, more than we spend huge energy debating and discoursing stuff? Stuff like The D and The H over the B? When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, it flooded more than 88,000 buildings in the city and killed 44 people. That figure may not shake the skeptic, I'm sure? Yet that was a transformative event. By 2030 or so, the water in New York Harbor could be a foot higher than it is today, according to mostly Dutch experts that the city government hired following the disaster. That may not sound like much, yet even with a foot or two of sea-level rise, streets will become impassable at high tide, snarling traffic. The cost of flood insurance will skyrocket, causing home prices in risky neighborhoods to decline. So says a Rolling Stone article by Jeff Goodell.
          But that is not the real fear. There will always be a big storm coming. A year from now, 7 years, maybe 20 years. It might be smaller than Sandy, it might be a lot stronger that the strongest that hit the Philippines or China. Of course, governments are working things out. But if you add a foot or two of sea-level rise to a 14-foot storm tide, you have serious trouble. And if it hits before we actually constructed or implemented mechanisms to lessen damage of such a calamity, then we got serious problem.

          Sea-level rise is no joke. And news from the Arctic is not good. Of course we know that the big guys have been melting ice there for more oil diggings so we can gas up more and watch “Game of Thrones” more. This summer, temperatures in Greenland spiked to the highest levels on record. If just one-tenth of the Greenland ice were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by two feet. The breakup of West Antarctica, which has showed signs of increasing fragility, could raise the seas 12 feet.
           Hugely contributing to environmental ruin of course is the greenhouse effect, a process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere. Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical to supporting life. Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.
          Approximately two-thirds of all industrial methane and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since 1854 can be traced to burning fossil fuels and producing cement. Over the decades, scientists have succeeded in confidently tracing how much of climate change can be directly tied to human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels. Sadly, the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are now higher than at any point in human history, further worsening the ‘greenhouse effect’ contributing to global warming and the consequences of climate change. In fact, recent data shows that global carbon dioxide emissions were 150 times higher in 2011 than they were in 1850.

          The main contributors to global warming via our lifestyle? Or carbon footprint, the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Top 4: China, the US, India and Russia. Cement? Top 3: China, India, the US. Steel: China, Japan, India, the US.
          Do we think that we are doing enough for the environment? No. Instead of fighting for bike lanes and bus transport, we fight for (I don't wanna say it). We listen to political humor more than we listen to, for example, the Dutch who know how to prevent floods (well their country is under water protected by dams, dikes and levees) and they are also number 1 in use of bikes not for recreation but for basic transport. How many of us will boycott Walmart but are you willing to boycott your gas station? No. You get my drift. We love that car. Anyway, it's past 2 AM now. I gotta digress. And sleep. Uh huh.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Words and Stuff and Love

IT seems so effortless. I say words or write poems to try to comfort worried hearts and ease clouded minds. As though I had it all figured out—that healing wounds or making someone feel better is something that I am “good at.” Like what that silly song, “Handy Man” is saying: “I fix broken hearts, I know I truly can.” But do I know what love really is? I don't know. It's an individual truth. I am confident I know somehow how to project love yet do I know how it really works? Depends on the person receiving and giving, right? Interplay of negotiations. Interface of compromises. What I share on the area of love, relationships and all these sweet shenanigans don't necessarily work for me. How I wish that I am the dude who receives advice than the one giving it. Yet it doesn't lessen my joy when someone—either here on Facebook or in my little shows—tell me, “You made me feel better.” That's cool. That's all the hero I need be.

WHEN I look at some relationships, I wonder what really works? Yet I have been a witness to many relationships that work and those that didn't. There seems to be a pattern (at least with people that I know). Most of those that end in divorce appear to stand by the dictum, “I do my thing, you do yours” and “I keep my own money, you spend yours.” In other words, they try to sustain their singlehood freedom while under one roof. They tend to idealize family and explore new dimensions yet they fight a lot or they don't talk a lot. The other one is what the first one calls as “uptight” and conservative. This kind of couple shares all as per conjugal belongings—bank account, decisions, church, problems, even friendships. They even share one email address. They “lose” their individual-ness (as opposed to individuality) in a synergetic whole and functions as per an agreed plan and direction. They have more laughter than arguments. They don't put so much ado on how to correctly raise children—they worry more about education and trust fund. Most of these unions carry on to 30 year anniversary or longer. Of course, a relationship isn't black and white or polar extremes. Just saying.

DATING HER, KNOWING HIM. I am probably the weird one here. Or has life changed? How easy it is to gather (or “friend”) people on Facebook yet it equals the difficulty of “friending” someone out there. When we ask another (opposite sex) to meet over coffee or beer or to hang out and play pool or walk dogs on Carrier Park, would that qualify as a “date”? Or are you sending signals that says, “I'd like to date you”? How'd you “date” someone whose personality/character are mostly typed in/posted online? It doesn't make sense to me. Yet you may find someone in here who could vibe with your aura or probably share common threads on things—the “Matrix” trilogy, seafood paella, glass sculpture, vinyl records, Murakami, democratic socialism, Goodwill shopping, familial wisdom etcetera. Wouldn't you wanna meet that person beyond the internet? Just meet. You don't need to get a new haircut or gear up your Beckham abs.
We grow and evolve into better individuals via interaction with humanity and the world, out there. What we get in the internet are second/third hand data. It's like knowing David Bowie and Prince through their music only. Do you know that they could be as odd as the next-door dude who winks at you every other Thursday as you gas up on Merrimon Av? Or maybe they're not that odd. It would be awesome to align wavelengths with someone that you actually interacted with beyond “likes” and emojis. Maybe someone that you shared a sweet concert at The Orange Peel or walked with along Beaver Lake talking about your respective kids or went with to Caleb Beissert's open mic? Something deeper might ensue or develop, why not?

          But how do we know people before we begin imagining under starry, starry nights or scaring ourselves in the dark confines our room fearing that this dude could be Jason Voorhees-incarnate? Post the negative stuff that converge in your dark cloud of paranoid imaginings, expect 55 likes in one minute! You see, we may post and share all the wonderful confections of our life and rant how brilliant we see society and governance on social media—but until we see eye to eye, spend real time together (other than nervous candlelit Bonefish Grill dinners or Thirsty Monk beers) beyond the constraints of “Ten Dating Rules,” we will never know. Sadly, all those red flag fears and preconceptions will gather while we ruminate in front of our laptop what should be and what shouldn't be. Meet and hang. If you spend moments on weekly basis, or even several times a week, better. Plan it out, talk. That's how we know people—future friends or possible sweethearts.

LOVE in TIME. As you get older and look back at all those broken valentines, shattered relationships, mistakes and mishaps—you tend to ponder deeper and learn to accept in humility that you also did commit faults and let your flaws dictate your decisions. Wrongdoings aren't confined to one person. So you tell yourself, when you meet someone who let love blossom in you again, this is going to be better because you have learned from the past. You know what you should change in you, modify and learn more to help a relationship finally find a degree of realizable success. You know the current-you is the best from all that you were. Now you are committed, you have time, you have a love that is present and alive. You are not perfect but you know you are more than alright.

          Yet the relationship still fails. As you reel from the splinters of your bleeding heart, you take in all the words that all point at how awful and evil you are. But are you really that bad? Maybe it is not her/him and it is not you, per se. It is the “wrongness” of a relationship attempt that wasn't working. You feel the love but it found a room or space that finds it hard to evolve into positive light. A relationship that couldn't pursue beauty and wisdom. It's all anger. You are dragged out to thorny brush in the woods or the cold darkess of your shell. The demons in you that you believed have left are threatening to come alive again. You start beating yourself up.
           So leave and let go. You don't need to punish yourself just because you are told you are the worst human being there is. You are not. You just haven't found the apt relationship that you deserve. And that holds true with your ex. Mere fact that you first fell in love together meant you both saw the goodness in each other's hearts—until some harsh realities and uncompromising truths got in the way. Just move on and always open your heart no matter how broken it could be. There will always be a warm hand and a loving heart that will meld and mend and sail with yours. Your chance at joy is not yet over. You haven't failed.
          Meantime, don't forget to live good, love good, eat only good food. And dance. It's summer, you know. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

As mountain rain falls, memories of monsoon waft by

I ALWAYS say I am a very courageous guy. I am not scared to interface my truths or my little me in any given situation, circumstances, diversity. But that doesn't mean I am a very confident dude or a person beaming with grandiose self-esteem. I write because I am not very trustful of my spoken word. I mumble. I ruminate as I talk. I ramble. So I project myself in so many ways in relative quiet—art, literature, cooking, organizing events. I am not as proud as others in terms of my physical attributes. I am short and skinny etc. I also believe in so many ways that I am just weird and oblique that I get scary and dark. You know, the fear of not knowing an individual who seems to be so different.
          So before I could even “fully introduce” myself, I already frightened people away, uh huh. I wrestle with my acute inferiority complex yet no one who knows me wouldn't believe that at all. “Pasckie, you rock out there! You are all over the place!” I always crack silly jokes that elicit unfeigned laughter. Yet the only moments that I feel really belonged and attached is when I read poetry in front of an intimate crowd. I relish the moment up front on the mic. Yet still, after each show—I gravitate back to The Batcave and wish that warmth stays. But you wouldn't know that, ain't you? Until I share this drama. In fact, right now I am painting with radiant colors as the Bee Gees (again!) provides the dancing vibe. 

ALONENESS is an understatement. My immediate family are oceans away. Yet I never really felt loneliness the way I hear it from some friends, including those who are with loved ones. But I do feel sadness sometimes. Of course, I do. But living in this mountain idyll for almost eight years now blessed me with sublime quiet and warm intimacy—and familial love from my friend Cindyrella—that negate whatever that may be defined as "loneliness." Life evolves. I enjoy my blessings. I write stuff that I know make people feel better somehow. My sappy poems could still win a smile or two, albeit online. Well, that's all the little hero that I could ever be. I am happy being that kind of pasckie. Meantime, Georgia The Babedawg and Cyd The Koolcat are such transcendent gifts of presence.

ALL THOSE YEARS AGO. I feel that at age 55, a relentless five decades of life that not many of my current friends have witnessed in me, I already experienced most of what life has to offer. I am a totally different person when I was in my 20s to early 40s. But although I experienced at lot more than an average 80 year old has, I didn't do the "wild" stuff. I mean, I've never experimented on drugs or engaged in any form of casual sex or never violated the law--apart from my rabid activism when I was in my 20s to late 30s which I call, civil disobedience. I've never been (legally/lawfully) charged of anything or ticketed for whatever--despite a very active life out there in communities in so many big cities and small towns in two continents. 

          Among many other adventures and misadventures--I have been to places that a few will dare tread, covered events that journalists refer to as "hot spots," raised kids at a very harsh time, been into life and death situation twice, "ran between the rain and bullets" as a traveler, backpacked like the road was my home, traveled my worst road trip ever beyond physical danger (which happened recently), and been to a most difficult relationship. 
          My emotional wear and tear supercedes my physical exhaustion--yet the spiritual growth that I derive from all these negates all the mental tiredness. But although you and me might say, we also experienced a most ideal relationship sometime years ago, till we wasted it so foolishly--that doesn't meant we can't experience another one. A lot better. There are a few thousand more miles left to negotiate. After all these crazy years, I haven't been healthier since my surgery in New York City in 2000. No vitamins, no food paranoia, no viagra--yet I can still sweat it playing basketball or doing yardwork. No regular trips to the doctor for checkups, no pills, no let up with steamed white rice. I drink yet I know when to quit (gone down to two beers or two shots of tequila or vodka), no debts, no court dates--but sigh (!) still no wife and no girlfriend.

         Meantime, in life, we should accept in humility and surrender where we faltered and failed in those attempts and so we should know how to succeed the next time. They say save the best for last. Absolutely! As for me, for sure, next year will be closer to what I was. Just older and wiser. But a different life. I still got time to engage some entrepreneurs to a business hook-up in an Asia/US route, write more books and read them in cafes and universities, brainstorm a movie or two with my son, write more songs with my former band, fundtraise for typhoon victims, deliberate political upheavals and economic trends locally and globally with a think tank, play pickup basketball with my four brothers and nephews, visit France and Italy and Greece and the rest of the 7,641 islands in the Philippines that I haven't set foot on, and make love from dusk till dawn (if there's another chance, that is).
         Therefore, the journey isn't over yet though. It just took a different route leading to the ultimate destination. On layovers, there will be chilled raw oysters and mango mojitos on a seaside and lots of laughter by a roadside cantina.