One month. One month can do enough damage to your brain, if all that you do is sit around, watch t.v., perhaps read a little and sleep after lunch. It has been a month since I have been employed. I finished my three-month contract with a company that sells beverages. No need to name names here. I am homebound with my mom.
Anyways, it’s brain draining trying to figure out what to do next. To some it would not be very difficult, specially if they have their plans all laid down the table. But for me, it’s as easy as trying to figure out what to wear to the Prom. Kidding aside, I’m not used to having long-term plans. But I’ll tell you one thing—I am no slacker. All through college it’s been nothing but busting my ass-ets just to maintain my scholarship and prevent my boat from sinking into a pool of psychological disorders. It wasn’t easy—but who says it was? College is different from high school from what I had experienced. Of course, you’re already “too legit to quit” and you’re old enough for 6pm curfews. Maintaining grades not lower than 94 is such a pain. It’s even a Herculean effort trying to juggle family affairs with school chores. It makes you want to contemplate on auditioning into that star-search and perhaps make it to showbiz. But hell no, I am not quitter [yet]. Besides, I am not even star material. I am more of the chore-whore type. Watch [enter flashback sound fx]
I was sixteen then when my mom had a stroke, two months away from my high school graduation. She was on a coma for two weeks. What a way to start the year. I was oblivious that I’d be handed with a whole new set of responsibilities. Being an only child sucks big time. Private Joyce, reporting for duty. The hospital became my second home instead of the typical-chalkdust-filled classrooms. Nursing became my instant course too. Apparently, right after all the hospitalization, we eventually become broke. We could no longer afford having two nurses, so during nights I’m nurse kiki on duty.
Believe me, it was worst than motherhood. But I’ve really learned a lot. By summer of 2001, my mom’s sisters decided to have my mom checked in a medical facility in Manila for therapy session. They assured me that by the end of summer we will go back and I will finally enter college. I only applied in two of the best schools I then consider. One in my hometown and the other was in manila. Unfortunately, the latter rejected me. I must have forgotten to write Erap Estrada as one of my references, too bad. My only choice was my first choice.
Soon enough we were headed to the hospital for war veterans. I heard that therapy sessions were excellent most probably because your treating geriatrics. It was a time of political turmoil, bad hair days and gross hospital food. The hospital was our home. It would be impractical for my mom to be an outpatient considering her condition. Adaptation was limited and I became agoraphobic. It was a whole new environment of misery, homesickness and therapy sessions with hunky P.T. But o well, I was able to survive the horror of traffic jams, over-speeding taxi cabs and most importantly living independently. I was in-charge of every situation especially during mom’s moments of hypertension and tantrums. I wasn’t ready to be a full-pledge adult yet but there it was—handed to me on a silver bedpan. err. I mean silver platter. I was barely legal! Woohoo!
By May 30, sad news arrived. Apparently, the one-month therapy program was not enough to get my mom back into shape. She often missed sessions because of her hypertension episodes. She was not allowed to push through an exercise once her BP reaches 120/100. Doctors as well as my aunts suggested extending our confinement until she was better. It would have been a great idea if I weren’t already enrolled. You see, before we even went to Manila I was already enrolled in the school of my choice. So it only means on thing. I’ll miss the first semester in college. Making the ultimate sacrifice was not an easy pill to swallow. I had to gag and choke to prevent me from spitting it. I was really bummed. But I know that I made the right decision [somehow]. To prevent me from getting F’s in my transcript, my father withdrawn my enrollment. July 2001 after little improvement seen, we finally decided to go home. My mom’s homesickness as well as my stubborn attitude got in our way. Besides, I acquired this freaking acne from all of the hospital’s bacteria and it’s killing me. It made me look like a leper.
Fast forward. First year, second semester. I was like a brand new shoe in the rack. I finally enrolled. A handful of my school mates during high school also took up the course I was in so it didn’t actually feel like committing social suicide hanging with people you didn’t think existed. Although, as I’ve mentioned I was poor in adaptation, I manage to bounce back and got into the mainstream. My mom on the other hand was on her way to recovery. Or so I thought.
November 1, 2001. The worst day of my first year existence came. My mom was rushed to the hospital again. Two weeks in coma plus hospital bills pilling up, it was the perfect nightmare. How lucky can one person get? Ten days of absences, my teacher began wondering where on earth I was. But not to worry, I got an excuse letter signed by the dean herself. I was living in the hospital again. Here’s my routine. After school, I went directly to my house to get a newly pressed set of uniform, prepared my homework and by night I was on my way to the hospital for my shift. My dad would be waiting there to assist me and stayed there just in case there are medicines and supplies to be bought. I on the contrary was buried in heaps of notebooks, handouts, books and the like as I brush up and make up for the lessons I’ve missed. Like I said I was a chore-whore.
By the time we got out of the hospital, reality sank further. We were already financially incapable to sustain different kinds of managements[ physical, speech and occupational therapy sessions] for my mom’s total disability. At that point, I was really mentally, emotionally and physically drained. However, school was still there and instantly it became a means of escape or perhaps a channel. By second year I got my scholarship. I made it to the university honor’s list. In all honesty, when I entered college, I was already given 50% discount. It’s part of the benefits my father availed for being employed in my school. This time I got 100% discount. Isn’t life sweet? Hardly. It meant a lot being in that list. It meant more time management and less fooling around. Dilemma. Dilemma. As usual I take the night shift for my mom while I burn the midnight oil. My dad’s barely makes his way to his nursing basics. After all, you can’t teach old dogs, new tricks, right? So you have to give credit for that.
Third year. I was climbing to the top of the charts. From top ten I made it to five. I never got to first place though. By graduation, I bagged a few awards and left the school with flying colors. Come to think of it, I wasn’t much of a failure as I thought I would be. I started out without a conviction on what course to take but finally I made it. Now I am left to wonder. What if those series of unfortunate events did not happen? Will I be able to make it this far? Actually, only Him can tell. I enjoyed my college life amidst those struggles. In fact, those obstacles made life clearer. Every laugh and every tear I shed made it crystal. Life is not a bed of roses. And I cannot conceive the fact that I was unbelievably resilient. I somehow felt like I was not even me—the pessimistic worry-wart. I guess I was motivated by this hope that one day I would wake up and all of this horrible things will be over. And that during my college graduation my mom will finally see me walk down the isle and receive my award. Of course that did not happen. I still find it hard to let it go, though. My life will never ever be the same again. I have to move on. We all can’t dwell in the past. Everyday there’s a bitter pill that I have to swallow. The truth does hurt. But I just hope that as the day goes by, life would make it less painful.
When asked “How do you see yourself, five or ten years from now?” What will you say? Or rather, will you be able to tell? Many a time when this question was thrown to me especially when I was about to graduate. It’s part of the career guidance thing you have in your school. It was also asked during my interview. I already thought of a pageant-like answer with the “that’s all, thank you” part omitted. But in reality, I was somehow caught off guard. I answered it anyway. My answer was pure bs. I hated myself. I could have kicked myself if I had the chance too. It was an ideal future. In fact, it was so far-fetch that it was light-years away.
Actually, I don’t know what the future holds. I could have planned my life ahead but I chose not to. After all plans are plans. I may seem fatalistic. Well, maybe I am. Judging from my character, I was the type to be bombarded with all sorts of tribulations but yet I’m still well, here. So let’s just say, the whole idea of carpe diem sunk into my system for all obvious reasons. When it comes to planning, I make them. But somehow they all turn out to be messed up by some external factor so what the heck? Might as well not do it. Okay, so let’s just say I am not a good planner but I am a better dreamer. Yeah, I used to dream. But I don’t remember them now. Life has gone a bit sour for me to dream of happy endings. I guess I’ve grown into a more morbid woman than a frolicking femme. Too much embarrassing moments and traumatic slips-of-the-tongue molded me into some pessimistic twit. I preferred looking on the darker side of things. So do I really have plans? I’d say let’s cross the bridge when we get there [if I ever do]. There has been a lot of success stories from people who lived a carpe diem disposition. So will I ever get anywhere? I have no clue yet. But I sure hope that I won’t lose what I have left which is..well, hope.
Switching to the less-morbid mode, I like to see life in Forrest Gump’s perspective: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You don’t know what you’ll gonna get. [not the exact quote]” For once let us live dangerously because you don’t know when you’ll die anyway. So let’s risk it. Risk is one of the few words I am allergic to. That’s probably the reason why I never learned poker or suck at gambling. Honestly, I am not much of a risk-taker. My intuition stinks sometimes. I have all sorts of what-ifs in my mind, which makes it hard for me to make a decision in the wink of an eye. I think it’s the anxiety that is involved which makes it hard for me to simply risk it. I’ve never lived on the edge. Goody-two-shoes may be an appropriate name for me because I live by the book. However, it didn’t make my life so monotonous. I had some cheap thrills too along with some out-of-this-world experiences. I just wish that I would find myself as I begin to soul-search.