The Pants Problem

In the mid-Noughties I had a pair of corduroy pants that I wore to almost every event or gig.  I didn’t have many clothes then. Buying clothes had yet to become a regular thing, as for almost a decade the only clothes I had had come from Balikbayan boxes or the tiangge or the recently in vogue ukay-ukay. It was at the ukay-ukay, in fact, probably three years before the event, that I acquired the corduroys. Thing was that I got the corduroys sometime after freshman year, when I was still thin and exercising, but by the time of the gig in question, I had fattened up and was sporting a major beer belly. It was then that the clothing malfunction happened.

I was in the bathroom and I stepped away from the urinal and up to the sink to wash my hands. I was in a rush as our band would have to be onstage soon. I tugged the pants together trying to push the button into its hole. The first time it didn’t take and after a mighty push and exhale I stopped and had to catch my breath. I mopped sweat off my brow and then tried to button the pants again.

This time it took. Then it didn’t.

The struggle between the button and my belly had come to a conclusion. The button tried to push the belly in, mightily, but for all its might it was overrun. The belly overflowed, a mass that came up over the top of the pants and then surged forward against the button.

There was a pop and then a crack. The pop came from the belly’s expelling of the button, turning it into a projectile that zinged through the air. The crack was from the button making impact with the sink above the mirror. It left a nick on the mirror.

And it left me with quite a problem, as in minutes I would have to take the stage. Then a thought: safety pin. That would surely save the day and it might have. Had the nearby 7-11 had any.

What they did have was something near enough to the safety pin in terms of function, metal clasp and all. Except that it had a butterfly on it. I think it was meant more as a scrunchie for hair or something rather than safety pin. But it was what they had. So I fastened the clasp and took the stage with the butterfly ornament atop my bulging belly. Small movements would loosen the butterfly contraption and I would cover my belly and my opening and drooping pants with my bass. In between songs I would refasten the butterfly. Until finally we left the stage and I kept drinking to mask my embarrassment and I have no idea what happened to that butterfly after that night.

Another time I sat in a plane and heard a rip. I thought it was nothing, though I did feel that there was a cool pleasant breeze around my legs.

When we disembarked and wete brought to a cottage where we were all supposed to wait for the boat that would take us all to the resort island we were headed to, I sat on a bench. I crossed my right leg up onto my left knee and let my left and drop onto my left thigh. It was there I felt the hole in my jeans, a hole so big that the pattern of my boxers was on display as if I were flying a plaid flag.

I had always worn my pants baggy, because baggy pants were the thing when I was in high school. Then as I gained weight I grew into the baggy pants. Grew into them so much so they became smug and slim fit in relation to my belly, love handles, and thighs.

Then last week I tried to put on a pair of slacks from my closet. They looked like elephant pants, the pant legs were so loose. My sister saw me in them and said, “Kuya, what are you wearing? Are you trying to look like a gangsta or something?”

“I’m not trying to look like a gangsta. These are my pants.”

“Change! Wear different pants! You look terrible!”

And so I changed. The results were the same. I could have tried out for a revival video of M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” All my khakis and slacks had gotten too big.

Now this is a happy problem. I have to acquire new pants because I am losing weight and dropping the paunch. It is a good way to know that my recent initiatives to get healthy are paying off. While the smaller belly makes for fewer humorous situations, it still signifies something good. So I am off to address this happy pants problem.

The Messiest Break-Up

“I’m sorry, but it’s over,” I said.

Silence.

“It’s just that, well, I want different things. I feel like I’m starting a new phase of my life and it’s clear that you don’t belong there. In fact, you sort of get in the way.”

Silence.

“I’m sorry. That was a bit mean. We did have some good times, right? Fun times. Really. I mean, we did spend more than a decade together. And we did a lot of fun crazy stuff during that time. I’ll never forget any of it.”

And still the silence.

“I never thought it would turn out like this. I did feel, for a long time, that we would be together for the rest of my life. I’m sorry, but I see now that that isn’t how things are going to be.”

Then finally a reaction. A grumble. It was hungry. That’s usually how it was. And I had often followed my beer belly’s every whim since I had grown it. But really, this was the end of it. Else it would be the end of me.

And so begins the difficult process of removing this substantial part of myself that I have grown and cared for. The leg raises are the worst. And this thing is so resilient. It stays silent and its presence is its defiance.

Yes, yes, this is an overly-dramatic rendering of the attempts to lose weight. But, eh, you got to make light of this seemingly Sisyphean task.

The Head and the Heart (Physiologically Speaking)

Sometime when I was an undergraduate, I thought that I had made a major intellectual breakthrough. I managed to justify, on intellectual-philosophical terms, that I should not exercise. Ever. Read more of this post

Starting #SuperBetter

The past semester, as I’ve written before, has been taxing in so many ways. And my body giving out, with the culmination of it being my sister rushing me to the ER, have forced me to slow things down, take a step back, and think things over. In making such an assessment, it’s pretty clear that I haven’t been handling things very well, and among the wrong things I did was to go off my original diet and just go back to boozing and smoking and generally not taking care of myself as a not-very-smart way to handle all the stress.

So sitting in bed all day, recovering from yesterday’s breakdown (for those who really want the details, it’s not asthma or other lung complications, it was just the phlegm building up in my lungs and hardening so that they stayed there, a nice combination of stress, pollution, smoking, psychosomatic factors all leading to it) I found myself reading Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken (which is a fantastic, insightful book that has gotten my heart racing and has been a risky proposition as I should be keeping that in check, but it has been worth it) and reading about her project, Super Better. Super Better takes real world goals and applies game-based ways of thinking to make them more fun and productive. We feel fulfilled and excited with those goals. And so I’ve started a weight loss program with Super Better, which hopefully leads to generally better health.

What I like about Super Better is that it also addresses one’s worldview, reshaping it and making things a little more optimistic. Its developer, McGonigal, is also an introvert, so I’m happy that it incorporates those kinds of considerations. Anyways, here we go on this fun adventure.

Hey universe, I’m not giving up, I’m just making a tactical retreat.

I am sick now. The body has given out and I’m down with nasty green things up in my throat and lungs, the throat scratchy and dry, and the nose alternating between runny and clogged. Everything seems sore and my back only feels right when I’m lying on it in bed. I believe this is my body telling me, enough, it’s time to rest.

This semester has been, without a doubt, one of the most challenging times. And I can only hope that with its end, those hard times too pass. And this sickness, which serves as proper justification to stop and catch my breath, serves too as a quick hibernation period after which I can climb out into a metaphorical Spring.

Topping the troubles is the major financial issue. In the whole semester of teaching, starting in November, I have not gotten paid. It’s paperwork and red tape, the need for suddenly needing a paper which wasn’t originally stated which shoots us back to the start of the process, and the fact that sometimes papers just sit on people’s desks for days without movement even when all that’s needed is a mere signature. And sorry friends and colleagues, but to say that, “Eh everyone’s pay gets delayed,” is no comfort, and “It’ll come in as a lump sum,” also cold comfort when your savings are gone and you’re forced to start borrowing money. When you come from a background of having no money, and you’ve worked your way out of that kind of life, and suddenly you don’t have money, it’s like you’ve taken a backslide, it’s like you’ve lost your sense of self and any sense of accomplishment that you might have attained. And so, with this whole predicament, I find myself constantly questioning myself, and as a result, my own self-esteem and self-image have taken a hit. I have been assured, as ever, that I will get paid eventually, and it has been “next week” since January.

The semester has been book-ended by romantic disappointments which have taxed a very weary heart.

In attempting to write a book about being 30, I also opened up a can of emotional worms. My issues in dealing with trauma, my family, and my life so far unleashed something I can’t quite describe. A lot of things made it to the page and I’m still trying to deal with them, recover from them. My estrangement with my family is obvious cause for concern. And always weighing heavily on me is the demand to raise my sister right; she’s a good kid, but I can’t shake the feeling that I have to be better for her.

And as I’ve faced down these major things, it seems that there are many small snags. And these small things keep coming up. There’s always something that doesn’t go right.

I’ve managed to get by with a little help from my friends. I am lucky that there are people around who lift my spirits.

Now I’m going to recover and marshall my resources. Hey universe, I’m not giving up, I’m just making a tactical retreat.