Wishes on Paper


I took this picture at a Chinese temple in Cebu. It’s a snapshot of a pile of wishing papers on a bench. The way it works: you take a piece of paper, make a wish, and then roll the paper into a tube, tucking in the ends while leaving the gold paint visible on the outside. Then you take your rolled wishes (make as many wishes as you want, why not), and burn them on the altar along with some incense, petitioning the docile buddhas to grant your heart’s desires. It sounds so easy.

No wonder I didn’t trust it. No paper wishes for me, I remembered thinking. Better to talk directly to the powers that be. I just knelt on the red satin cushions and bowed three times, waving the smoke of the incense around my head.  When I finished, I felt light, even calm, as though my worldly cares were lifted. Even when I turned and walked away, I could still see the benign smile of the buddhas.  The rotund little gods kept smiling the entire time, smiling with the careless abandon of those that promise nothing, but accept all.

I should have known, then. I should have.

Green Means Go

palm leaves crop

Green means go, right? Just yesterday, I finished fiddling with the photos that I uploaded to my Flickr account, and I noticed that I have a lot of greens in the batch. Leaves, palm trees, shrubbery, lawns, rolling hills, whatnot—the color predominates—shades that are saturated, filling the frame with lushness all around.

The longer I stay in the city, the more I long for green, the hue of nature. Last weekend I was down on my hands and knees tending to my little garden at home. I pruned three pots of shrubs, re-potted some purple bromeliad-like plants, weeded out my foxtails, trimmed chinese bamboo, and applied fertilizer (organic, of course) like it was going out of style. Ironically, it seems cleansing to me to muck about in the dirt, to pull out weeds and dead leaves, breathe in the smell of fresh-turned earth.

It’s been raining for what feels like weeks now, and the patches of green have become more vibrant, as though photoshopped by a manic tree hugger. After a rain, I like to go out and look at the underside of leaves on the trees, their veins seem to pulse and throb with life. Even the air smells different, as though it was swirling scents around, a secret concoction you take in, trusting that it has miraculous properties.

Just when everyone was looking elsewhere, summer was snatched away by moonsoon rains. In the taxi ride going home, my gaze speeds through streams of black water puked up from the sewers, vomit from the very bowels of the city. Here, rain falls down as a gray, dank sheet—clouds flushing the great toilet in the sky. The air is visible, riddled with smoke and particulates like the air inside a cheap, rundown girlie bar.

I wish green will take over the city one day, creep up from the edges of the highways, underneath buildings and bridges, up from cracks in the cement lots and asphalt roads. Imagine it, shrubs mushrooming everywhere, vines looping through wires, grass spilling into malls. A hothouse of flora blooming overhead, soft grass underfoot, colors cutting through the grayness.  Green going on, and on, and on.

Accounting, But Not Adding Up


And so even with my dread of numbers, I find that the ruminations of the day need to be addressed numerically, if only to shore up with logic that which does not abide by it. Today I am finished with work duties, and my mind meanders to thoughts that I have been avoiding all the long weekend. Numbered for convenience but never sequentially, here’s the state of my being.

3 – glances from strangers last week, as though they know me, and then 3 glances away.

1 – whom I wish were dead remains all too near, and by all appearances, not dying anytime soon.

787 – the number of times I think friends have taken advantage of my kindness/graciousness.

2 – my kid’s teeth that have come out ahead of time while baby teeth are still hanging steady.

2 – cellphones lost and two new ones bought as replacements. One given to me by the universe.

4 – unread books on the shelf, mocking me and my pretense of not having time to read.

2 – men I love/have loved are now oceans away from me, and I do not know if any of this at all matters.

3 – redesigns made on this blog, before I arrived at this one. All excuses to avoid actual posting.

12 – episodes watched of Bones, season 4, all in one sitting.

22 – mini meatballs I made over the weekend and forgot to photograph for the food blog that I do not update.

What does all this add up to, I wonder? Randomness that boings back and forth into the universe?  I maintain that I couldn’t care less whether or not I make an audible ping out there.  It’s just that lately, the universe seems to be applying a vastly different equation to me.