Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Sunday, December 18, 2005

Merry Christmas!

The Alfar family will be out of the country and incommunicado (At least I will be!) till after New Year's. Happy Holidays, and see you when we get back!
Nikki bit in at 1:00 PM :: ::
Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Brain is Limited

Of course y’all are instantly protesting the title, because the majority of my readers are nice and trigger-happy with the compliments. (Not that I’m complaining, mind you.) But really, over the past 22 years of cognizance (I don’t count the first ten because I was basically in a vegetative state at the time. Let’s face it; we all were), I have learned that my brain rather inarguably has certain limitations. To wit:

1. It prefers to proceed in a linear fashion. Which is why I have the devil’s own time writing copy for websites. In which people can just jump! To any page! At any time! Thereby accessing information which has not previously been led up to by other information! What about foreshadowing?! What about repetitive resonance?! Obviously, a college education in Creative Writing does nothing to prepare one for such an endeavor.

2. I tend to think in words rather than pictures. Seriously, if you tell me that this guy you’re crushing on is cute, the first thing that will pop into my mind is literally the word “cute”. It will take me several mental steps before I can actually progress to visualizing the physical cuteness of said guy. This is why it has taken me a period of years to be able to write comics scripts with a modicum of assurance. My colleagues over at the Jam comics anthology think I’m some kind of whiz at it, but it has not come without effort, believe me.

3. My brain is static by nature. Since I started writing scripts by doing comics, I tend to think in snapshot scenes. Which is why I have trouble writing for TV or AVPs, because it’s hard for me to visualize motion in my head. It’s like cartoon animation instead: a series of stills that, if you run them together quickly enough, seem to move. Nowadays, I can just about write for Flash animation if I grit my teeth and hunker down to do it; but I’ll only do a video script if I really, really like you or you’re willing to pay the really ridiculous rates I charge for it.

4. I have the mathematical ability of a sixth-grader. And don’t think I’m exaggerating, because that’s exactly what my guidance counselor told me when we were reviewing my college entrance test results. I no longer remember what the exact category names were, but in the cases of both NCEE and SAT, it was something like: Language Ability = 100%, Science and Logic = 100%, Mathematical Aptitude = 69%. This implies that while I know the word for what I am is “innumerate”, there’s not all that much I can effectively do about it.

Luckily, though my brain may have its limits, my sheer bloody-mindedness is very nearly without boundary. Which means, if I have to wring every last tortured brain cell dry to get the job done, I can and will do it.

If I like you enough. Or you pay me enough. You see, there are some numbers which I do understand.
Nikki bit in at 4:01 AM :: ::
Monday, December 12, 2005

Let's Do Launch

Hell of a day last Saturday! I had to get up at the crack of six a.m. (at which time, I have often reiterated, I am barely human, let alone sentient). But it was for dear friends' Kate and Alex's wedding, so I was willing to make the heroic sacrifice to see them get hitched at last (and make sure neither of them went screaming off into the hills due to stress-induced insanity!). And it was in the hills, too--the wilds of Tandang Sora. (My husband maintains that any environs beyond Makati and Quezon Circle are considered out of town, in Alfar perception.)

Dean and I were candle sponsors, which meant I got treated to an absolutely gorgeous champagne-gold gown (I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast) and had to slather on full makeup for the first time in years. Evidently, I still know how to do it, as several people asked where I "had my face done," ha! But everything--the early-morning call, the fussy gussying-up, and the looong taxi trip--was completely worth it, as the wedding was absolutely beautiful (You should see this Fernwood place--it's a civilized rendition of tropical paradise); the food was absolutely, absolutely scrumptious; and Alex and Kate absolutely, absolutely, absolutely deserve each other and all the happiness in the world. (And not just because they thoughtfully picked a venue where I could smoke at will.)

Then it was back home for a quick change so we could help set things up for our triple book launch at Fully Booked Greenhills. As I loftily informed my husband, it's not every woman who can go from piss-elegant to hoisting massive cartons of books in a matter of minutes, but hey, check out the blog title, y'know? So I womanfully helped get the books where they needed to be; lent a hand setting up the tables and displays; and pretended to be laying out the food while actually wolfing down about a quarter of the amazingly delish Oreo polvorons graciously prepared by Camy's mom. (Mrs. Francisco, I still want to order some for Christmas!)

The point of the launch was to release Dean's prose anthology--Philippine Speculative Fiction--and the comic book anthologies Siglo: Passion and Project: Hero to the reading public for adulation or crucifixion, as the case may be. The guys decided that the overall theme for the event was "sense of wonder", though of course the grammarian in me thinks that we really should have labeled it "Comics have colons in the title while prose does not."

Anyway. I contributed to all three projects, so by the end of the night, my fountain pen and I were worn out from signing multiple copies of book, graphic novel, and pamphlet. My favorite part of these events is meeting people I only knew before through my blog (I'm always surprised to learn it's them, too, 'cause I suck at recognizing people from photos), so a big "hi again" to everyone who kindly dropped by and a zillion thanks to everyone who bought some of our paper children. Special thanks go out to Jeremy, Tom, and Rona, who came all the way from the States; and Kate and Alex, who had the overwhelming generosity to actually attend on their wedding day. ("Not that I mind, but what are you doing here?!" I demanded of them. "You should be having sex!")

I don't know what time the launch actually ended, but it was late enough that we were all brain-dead and starving, despite Mrs. Francisco's munchies. We decided to eat dinner at Tender Bob's, and my friend Dino asked me what kind of restaurant this Tender Bob's is.

"It's like--" I tried. "They have-- It's known for-- " I gave up on trying to make my rotisseried neurons fire. "Uh, meat." Like I said when someone actually suggested we wear our wedding attire to the launch, the spirit was willing, but by eleven, the dress was weak.
Nikki bit in at 11:42 AM :: ::
Friday, December 09, 2005

Good for Goodness's Sake

I’ll readily admit that the yearly Starbucks giveaway planner is a thing of beauty; but when you’re blessed with a good cell phone and a memory like mine, really, the whole point of a planner is pretty much redundant. And unlike my friend Zarah, I just don’t drink that much coffee. So I never participate in the annual scramble to accumulate enough Starbucks stickers to earn A Planner of Mine Own.

The other day, I was standing in line at Starbucks (I told you I don’t drink that much coffee, but I appreciate a good Frappucino Fix as much as the next person) when I heard the fella paying for his drink in front of me lamenting, “Hay naku, one more sticker pa!” Without thinking twice about it, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, would you like the sticker I’m about to get for my drink? ‘Cause I really don’t care, so you can have your planner today if you want it.”

You should have seen the look on his face—it was like I’d offered him a new car or something. “Really?!” he exclaimed, and proceeded to follow me around thanking me profusely for the next ten minutes, while I attempted to explain that it was really no big for me to give him a sticker I would have tossed anyway, which I was getting for a drink I would have ordered anyway.

It was a neat reminder for me that sometimes we can shine a little light in people’s lives through things that we ourselves consider inconsequential or irrelevant. My husband has set the example for me in this in lots of little ways—like greeting taxi drivers first before simply rapping out his destination—and I think I manage to do this every now and then: by smiling at strangers as I walk down the street, treating salespeople like people instead of service ‘bots, and so on. I’ve been experimenting lately with greeting Vin with a big hug and excited enthusiasm instead of my usual merely-pleasant hello, and I think it’s made the day just that little bit brighter for both of us.

It’s nice, being nice. Though honestly I think it’ll take more than incremental kindnesses for Santa to decide that my “nice” column measures up to the “naughty” one. Oh, well.
By the way, my friend K8 is striving for the Starbucks planner herself, so if, like me, you don’t care, pass her your sticker if you run into her over coffee, okay? Remember, Santa may be watching!

Also by the way, I’ve updated the sideblog after, like, forever. Check it out over on the right.
Nikki bit in at 2:41 PM :: ::
Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Look, Look!

My friend Vianney's revamped blog is up, and of course I did the revamping (which is mainly why I'm telling you about it, but it's also well worth checking out because she's a very informative and intelligent writer). Modesty aside, I think it looks positively yummy. You'll see what I mean if you click here.
Nikki bit in at 4:47 PM :: ::

Malice in Makati

I lived in Makati for more than half my life, so perhaps the city herself took my relocation to the Ortigas area as a sort of betrayal. This would certainly explain why bad things seem to happen to me lately whenever I set foot in the area. Last time, I got into a car accident (not my fault; and obviously I survived it, so don’t y’all fret).

Today I arrived at my client’s office building on Makati Avenue (and cities have more power than usual on streets that happen to be named after them. You know this, don’t you?) early enough for my usual pre-meeting cigarette and Frappucino fix at the ground-level Starbucks. To my chagrin, the place was unusually packed with people, because apparently some malfunction had occurred and most of the elevators were out of service.

I realized that I would be late for the meet if I had to stand in line to use the elevator, so I heroically postponed my scheduled caffeine and nicotine infusion (and regular readers of this blog will know that already, this bodes ill…) in order to queue up for the lifts. To my surprise and (short-lived) delight, I was able to get into the first elevator car that opened!

I was just not able to get out for the next thirty-five minutes.

The elevator stalled between floors and the doors jammed open, revealing only a wall of concrete blocks. This, I can now tell you from experience, tends to fill one with a sense of existential (or potentially non-existential, as it were) dread, as if the building, the city, and the universe in general have conspired to remind you, in the most cinematic way possible, that there’s no way out.

Except conceivably for the little door on the roof of the elevator, which suspense movies have taught us presents a viable escape route if you happen to be capable of scaling sheer walls or climbing cables hand-over-hand, neither of which are among my repertoire of talents. Still, I found myself considering it while at the same time trying to remember the procedure from my copy of The Ultimate Survival Handbook for delivering a baby, just in case the pregnant woman in the car with me suddenly went into labor. (Admittedly, I was also contemplating using said pregnant woman as a springboard to reach said door on the ceiling in the event of undeniable emergency. Hey, she’s all cushioned, right?)

Still, Filipinos are nothing if not resilient, and very soon we elevator denizens had gone from concern to comedy. Even after the elevator performed a terrifyingly violent up-and-down shimmy (and no, I did leap upon the hapless pregnant woman, despite my worst intentions), we wound up pretending to order Big Mac meals and whatnot from the ineffectual guards who kept assuring us, via intercom, that the elevator would be up and running within minutes.

Well, technically, half an hour is “within minutes”. Just, you know, many minutes.
Nikki bit in at 4:35 PM :: ::
Thursday, December 01, 2005

To my Husband on our Tenth

Do you remember when we moved back into my family's old house, and they cut off the electricity because it turned out my father hadn't paid the damn bill in ten frickin' years? We also had no phone because he hadn't paid those bills either, and we had to pay people to deliver us water because there simply was no running water.

For part of a month, we had no shower, no phone, no TV, no computer, no airconditioning, no electric fan, not even a light to read by at night... so we explored new ways of making love in the heat and the dark and the silence.

I know I hated it then, but now, around eight years later, I know I can endure heat and dark and silence. I can endure just about anything, anywhere, anywhen, as long as you're with me.
Whither thou goest, there will I go. Whither thou lodgest, there will I lodge. Thy people shall be my people.
Happy Anniversary, my one, my only, my own.
Nikki bit in at 2:15 PM :: ::
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Nikki Alfar is really not as sexy as El's illustration would have you believe... but she doesn't mind if you think of her that way.
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Location: Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

class act/guttersnipe. tomboy/girly-girl. serious writer/comics hack. wife & mom/tart & tease. obssessive-compulsive/laid-back. sweetheart/bitch. all that.

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