Much Ado About The Loo (A Reflection On and About Public Restrooms, Among Other Things)

I remember Spider-man whining about how having superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.

You know what I think is both a blessing and a curse? PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

Public restrooms provide the momentary, but immediate and much-needed comfort and relief. It’s not meant to, but it often serves as a witness and venue for when certain matters/issues need to be dealt with privately. Most of the time, at least in my case, it is where I get the most meaningful reflections and the best creative ideas for writing. Am I the only one who reflects, meditates, or composes essays while peeing?

Public restrooms are a blessing.

All these are quickly disregarded though when you chance upon a public restroom smelling foul. While I know it’s not supposed to smell like your own bathroom, I feel the smell should at least be neutral or clean. Or like a bathroom cleanser, maybe? The foul smell assures you the place has not been properly maintained, and that the stench will more or less stick to your clothes better than magnet on steel. The smell is an assault to the senses. Scratch that. The smell and appearance are an assault to the senses.

One restroom I frequent was recently renovated, and with that came a few new facilities. It now has a huge mirror. The tiles have been changed, too. Gone are the yellowish-used-to-be-white ones it once had. The cubicle doors are likewise brand new, with fully-functioning locks. Gone are the days when I had to hold onto the door while semi-squatting on the toilet. That, by the way, is every woman’s hidden talent. Take a bow, ladies.

Blessings, right?

Not quite. Not with the additional provision of bidets in every cubicle. This one’s a menace. A menace, I tell you.

But first, a brief vocabulary lesson. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word ‘bidet’ as “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the anal region.” It’s clear which part of one’s body bidets are meant to clean. And although I understand why this particular fixture was provided, I can’t help but also think how bad of an idea it is, particularly in a public restroom. I, for one, feel it’s very unhygienic to have or use bidets in public restrooms, but that’s just me. And this is even assuming, bidets are used properly – correctly. Here’s a thought: what if it is not?

Since the renovation and the installation of bidets, I have never seen this particular restroom this filthy. The cubicle floors are always flooded with puddles of water, and the seats are always doused with a mixture of water and urine. With all the amount of water, err –liquid, you see, you’d think at least the inside of the toilet is clean, right? I give people way too much credit and benefit of the doubt, I know, because it seems with the newly-installed bidets, people have forgotten how to use the toilet flush. Of course, the sink counter is not spared. It would take a whole of effort to leave the restroom with a dry shirt after brushing your teeth.

Unrest and discomfort.  Curses!

From public restrooms and other office or school facilities, to social media, free speech and expression, suffrage – these are all reasons to be thankful. Blessings. If only we do not abuse them. Curses.

But borrowing the words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just like with everything you own, have, and enjoy, you have to value it, take care of it, and respect everyone else who uses or has it. You lose that, then everything just plainly becomes a curse, for you and for everyone else.

I still use this particular restroom, mainly because more often I don’t have a choice but to. I still wish for a day when I get to see it in pristine condition, meaning no stench, no unrecognizable liquid in sight — a place that can actually live up to its name — a comfort room.

 

But until then, as with everything else (other public facilities, social media, free speech and expression, suffrage), I will continue to proceed with care and caution, I continue to arm myself with enough toilet paper, (p)wet wipes, and alcohol with every visit.

I AM BEAUTIFUL

Dear Doreen:


Yesterday, just as you were about to conclude what was supposed to be a great day, someone ruined it for you, with words that you feel (you believe) although meant to be funny as a joke, were unnecessary, offensive, and hurtful. That person might not have realized it, but her words stabbed you in the gut, quite badly. Her words left you embarrassed, angry, hurt, and worst of all, ashamed of the way you look.

Go ahead. I am allowing you some time to feel the pain. Cry if you must. Let it out, and let it go.

How very timely and apt that you chanced upon an article about someone else’s own struggles and how she lifted herself from such. It gave you some relief and assurance that you are not alone, didn’t it?  You are not the only one who gets undermined for the way you look. You are not the only one who has body issues. Everybody has it. But these so-called body imperfections are what makes you who you are. These imperfections are what makes you, YOU. These imperfections make you beautiful.

Yes, Doreen, you are beautiful. Say it again. You are beautiful. One more time, and this time, mean it. You are beautiful.

Look, I know you’re tired of the hurt, the pain caused by people’s words, expectations, and opinions of you. Stop listening to those that pull you down, and start appreciating yourself for who and what you are. I know it isn’t easy. It never really is, but it is possible — attainable, and you can do it.

Realize and acknowledge that as you go through life, you will still meet more people who will size you up and judge you. Let them. Keep in mind that you can never really please everyone, and you don’t really, actually have to.

Cast away negativity, and keep yourself open to positivity, always.

I love you. ❤️

What It Means To Be Present 

I’m sitting at a Korean chicken place waiting for my takeout. I am surrounded by tables of young students, some women dining alone, and families having their Saturday lunch. I am reminded of those Sundays mom and dad took my siblings and I out for lunch after hearing mass. I used to look forward to weekends because it meant not just a break from school, but more importantly, it’s time spent with family. It’s a time everyone listened to each one’s story, shared on food, and cared for nothing else but having fun. 
My trip down nostalgia is interrupted as I glance around me again. I see other people dining, talking momentarily, but quickly bowing their heads to tinker with their phones. I think maybe if the lights are switched off, and there’s no sunlight coming in from outside, the light from everyone’s phones would be enough to see in the dark. The faint laughter coming from a few tables is overpowered by the deafening music from stereo speakers. The picture I see now is the complete opposite of how it was before. 
Truly, being present is not just being physically there at that moment. To be present is to engage.
*photo borrowed from the internet*

Jitters

Every year since I finished high school, around March and April, I get constantly bothered by an uneasy feeling. I usually get fast and hard thumps on my chest and a troubled tummy. I get anxious, nervous, and fearful that something bad is about to happen even when there’s none. It has become so much of a normalcy that I already have a name for it — “End of the School Year or Graduation Season Woes.”

I finished high school in 1995, but I did not graduate. I studied at a non-graded school, from Kindergarten to Senior High, where students learn and master lessons at their own pace, and unlike other schools, students do not receive numerical grades (during our time, at least), but rather checks (if passed) and squares (if failed).

Unfortunately for me and to make a long sad story short, I was not able to finish all my (graduating) requirements on time and graduate with the rest of the batch because of poor choices and priorities. To make things worse, I kept everything from my parents.

I fooled around instead of prioritizing my studies. I lied to my parents even up to the point when I already knew things had gotten worse, and I already needed (their) help. 

I lied to my parents, humiliated them, and broke their hearts and trust in me.

In order not to repeat my graduating year though and still be able to enrol for freshman college on time, my mom had to practically beg teachers to allow me some time to finish all my requirements. I was given only a week and a half to finish a year’s worth of Physics, Trigonometry, and Geometry. A year’s worth in a week and a half. 

I was dang lucky enough to even be given another chance, so finish, I did. And I was able to enrol for college the same time as everyone else.

Every time I’d share this story, people are left in awe at how I was able to accomplish all those in less than two weeks. What they fail to see though is how and why it had come to that. I fooled around and lied. I chose to have fun and defy my parents. Plain and simple — there’s absolutely nothing amazing about that, at all. And if given the chance, I wouldn’t want to go through it again; I would do things differently. I may have learned lessons from it later on, but the difficulties and hurt I had put my parents in, are totally not worth it.

That’s why, after all these years, I still get these bothersome feelings around graduation season. It reminds me of a time when I was at my most foolish self. It reminds me of a time I hurt the two people, who despite the betrayal and lies, still chose not to leave me alone to deal with the mess I have made for myself, and forgive me for it.

And I guess that’s also why, after all these years, I continue to share this story, not just so that others may somehow learn from it, but also, in the hopes that with every re-telling and sharing of the story, I learn to forgive myself as well.

*Photo borrowed from the internet.

Detach

I stand in the middle of a field

Endless tall greens surround me

I feel the cool chill of the wind brush on my face

I close my eyes and hear the leaves whisper

I have no clue where to go, or what to do, and how to start

Do I walk, do I run

I just stand there, in the middle of nowhere, with all the chaos just passing me by

The sun rises, and then it sets

Beginning and endings — all happening right before my eyes

Within my reach, and mine for the taking

Yet I do nothing

Except stand there

And experience the world in still.

Darcy

You came at a most unexpected time, in a most unconventional manner.

And yet, there you are — making me feel things I cannot even recall last feeling.

Hope. —- You have restored my hope.

The sunrise brings new joy again. A day is extra brighter; there’s an elated spring in my walk.

A smile that just won’t fade away.

Sunsets are more meaningful — more romantic.

You are here — holding my hand.

Dreaming. Hoping.

I don’t gaze upon the stars alone anymore. I don’t have to.

You have come.

You are now here, with me.

You have found me.

You have chosen to stay with me.

I know it was not an easy choice — being with me is never easy. I am moody — shifting, left and right.

I am sometimes unreasonable, and force arguments even when there is none.

There are times when I demand for time to be alone — no contact, not even a hello.

And yet, like you are already part of me, you know exactly when I need you.

You give me the space and time alone that I need.

And you wait with open loving arms to take me back when I am done.

You are patient. You are kind.

You have the most caring heart, and you give it all to be mine.

I sometimes don’t see this, but you stay with me nonetheless.

You found me.

You chose to be stay with me.

And I promise to love you until my last breath.

Darling

 

Through the darkest and murkiest of paths

Even and especially through powerful wind and rain

And the highest hikes up a sharp-edged mountain

No matter how impossible to cross and bear

Darling, we held onto each other’s hand tightly

We made each other strong – – – stronger than before

We gave each other courage – – – looking forward to each day and all its challenges

Darling, it’s never easy, but all are worthwhile with you beside me

I promise you now the same promise I gave before

To continue to be stronger when you are weak and tired

To continue to protect when you are faced with danger

To vow to always love and never let you go

To never leave your side and face every day together – – – forever and ever.