A Moratorium on Bad News


I would like to declare a moratorium on bad news. Just for a little while, I hope the world does not hear of plane crashes, suicide bombings, tsunami waves, and earthquake aftershocks. I get affected by what I read on Twitter, and yet I can’t help myself. I still log in every hour or so!

In my personal life, I wish the list of disasters would stop. I would like to have a year, a quarter, a month, or even a day without some bad news requiring my attention. My friends may be getting tired now of my regular updates about morning migraines, leaking pipes, disconnected cables, dying plants, mounting bills, endless chores, unfinished projects, and the list goes on. And don’t get me started on my two current jobs, which are driving me to exhaustion.

There must be a way to live a better life. I would like to request for a moratorium on panic, stress, anxiety, and sadness.

Last night, I was in a minor car accident. My office mates and I were on a record-breaking quest to reach home while the sun was still up when all of a sudden, a rushing giant of a vehicle rammed onto the driver’s side of our car. My office mate was driving and so my eyes were temporarily closed while it happened. In my daze I was not sure who was at fault so I asked my companions, and they both assured me that we were changing lanes slowly and signaling properly, and the black Toyota Fortuner came out of nowhere. Just the thought of being my own lawyer made me draw a deep breath. I was in denial.

Still half-wishing it was not happening to me, I dialed my sister-in-law’s number and requested for the MMDA hotline,which she quickly found on the Internet. I later learned that she was in a meeting, and was infinitely grateful that she took my call. Then I texted my brother and a few friends while I was trying to collect my thoughts. While I was on the phone, the other driver and my office mate started arguing, and then the Fortuner moved. I was stunned. I still had not taken the photo of the collision, which I should have done had I the presence of mind. I forgot the phones for a while and concentrated on not hitting the other driver with a baseball bat I didn’t have anyway. He was denying liability and insisting that it was just a scratch I could easily get rid of. Assuming I found joy in applying rubbing compound on a scratched car door which came about not of my own doing, I still hated the thought that the offending driver had the gall to tell me what to do. I ordered him to make his employer come so we could talk, because I refused to negotiate with him. I could probably have let go at some point, but something in me did not want to find out the next day that I’d been had. I was no car paint expert. He could have been lying. Plus, I was terribly pissed at this monumental inconvenience so I did not want the offender to be off the hook that easily. So the MMDA officer came and he got the drivers’ respective licenses and made a sketch. He asked if I agreed with his sketch, I said yes but emphasized that although we were changing lanes, we were doing it properly. The other driver even admitted that he was speeding. Oh, he should not have done that in front of a lawyer. Thankfully the owner seemed like a reasonable man who apologized immediately for his driver’s behavior, gave me his contact numbers, and offered to have the scratch repaired. That was all I wanted. We settled amicably and signed some document. My driving office mate was upset and I tried to cheer him up. It was an accident.

I may be disaster prone but I have a million great friends, one of whom wanted to hang out with me. When he came over, I told him about the incident, while he was enjoying the chicken cacciatore I had cooked the night before. I was calm and not a drama queen. Then I told him about my being locked out last week by my house mate. She got in before I did, absent-mindedly bolted the gate and all the doors, and then fell asleep. It was a deep sleep because I rang the bell loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. She ignored me. I dialed her two cell phone numbers and made them ring at the same time. I called up our landline and grew tired of my own voice on the answering machine. I asked the help of some friends and they alternated with me in trying to contact Sleeping Beauty. Finally, after almost an hour, I got in the car, rolled down one window, and prepared to sleep in it. I felt hot tears forming and let myself cry a bit in frustration. I had worked for 12 hours that day. I was in the middle of an age-old argument with an erstwhile friend. I had 20 bluebooks to check, two cases to review, and my students’ grades to compute. My friends from the West Wing were waiting for me.

Then Alex, one of my friends whom I texted, finally peeled his eyes from watching “First Knight” long enough to check his cellphone. He came as quickly as he could, climbed over our spiked fence, scaled a wall, and unhinged the back door. Still, Sleeping Beauty did not move. My neighbors must have been awakened by my loud voice, the incessant ringing of the phones, and the unusual activity on our little street. I was able to enter my house at around 1 a.m., tired and angry. I cooled off the next day. Over the weekend, I made my famous roast chicken with rosemary for Alex and his brothers. I heard they consumed it in a few minutes, which made me wonder why I thought one chicken would be enough for six men.

The cooking did not go uneventful either. I prepared potatoes and carrots to go with the chicken, but having placed them on the roasting pan, they absorbed the oil and thus needed to dry off a bit so I returned them to the oven while I packed the chicken. Then I dressed up for mass as I was serving. I told Alex to meet me at the parking lot before mass so he could get the chicken hot off the oven. Then I learned I was to be the Commentator. I threw aside panic and read up on what I had to read for mass. Sometime after the entrance song, I realized that I had forgotten to turn off the oven.

The vegetables were still roasting in the pan! I left the oven on. I was going to be at mass for an hour. That was when I learned panic. I looked around for a familiar place to give my car and house keys to, but I also had to be attentive, for the responses of the entire congregation would start with me. Oh, what an exercise in faith. I had one of those moments when I promised God I would never ask for anything else again, if He could just protect my  parents’ house from fire. My heart beat so fast I was so sure the choir behind me could hear it. When the choir forgot to immediately launch into the song for “Holy, Holy…” I said the prayer out loud. I was grateful I saved some time off that. But that wasn’t deliberate. Then I looked at the list of announcements. The senior citizens’ association had a big announcement and with each word I mouthed, I silently said a prayer of trust and surrender. I had to count on God, and I knew I could count on  Him.

I rushed home after mass, looking for any signs of fire or any smell of smoke. It was a slow and painful entrance through the gate and the doors, then I got to the kitchen. It was still intact. I thanked the veggies for the sacrifice of their color and crispness to save the house. They got burned, but the house did not. Oh, what relief. Oh, what joy.

So life has become a series of disasters and rescues. I am blessed, I know, for friends and family. It may be that they are all happening because I can handle it. But after talking to my friend last night, I figured I was near breaking point already, and I could not take any more challenges. I was surviving but I wanted to live. I was being rescued but it was too risky.

I would like to reiterate my prayer for some rest. If it is possible. If it is allowable. I will forever remember if this prayer is granted. I promise.

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