Pizza slices and Coke slushies

13 September 2010

So guys, here's the plaintext.

I hate Mondays. And Wednesdays, to that matter. It's because I only have one class, and it's from 12:30 to 1:50. How refreshing. Add to the fact that I take a 30-minute bus ride just to get to school, and it would justify every urge I have to just stay at home. But no. I'll go to school. For academic integrity! For the progress of the human race!

I sat through a gruelling hour-and-a-half's worth of Archaeology lecture (which was entirely in the book save for some specialized notes on archaeological developments in North America and some random historical figures here and there) and I was not participative. Maybe because it's the true first week of classes, but mostly because I'm too shy to express my thoughts in a classroom full of people who regard me as the tourist.

1:50 came and bundled with the joy of finally seeing the lecture come to an end is the disappointment of not meeting a classmate. I suck at introductions. I fear that I may not be understood. Not that I don't want to speak, I just hate it when people ask me to repeat myself. Makes me think that I'm so stupid to not actually make myself clear (I'm a grammar Nazi myself, so I despise linguistic failure of all forms).

So there. I was on the bus stop when I saw a person who happened to be in my class a while ago. I imagined a conversation striking up between us, which is the thing I always end up doing, rehearsing a conversation before I actually make it happen.

"Hey, aren't you my classmate in ARCH112?"
"Oh yea."
"I'm Leonard."
"Hi! Nice to meet you."
But problem is, I suck. I just ended up sitting on the other side of the bus row, looking at this classmate of mine, watching where she would get off.

Apparently we both get off at the same stop. If I get to know this bitch, that would be 45 minutes' worth of conversation. So here I was on the main university campus (the building where I take my classes is far away from here) and resisting the temptation to spend money. I don't have a decent job yet (my job as a waiter pays less than my first job at a coffee shop), and I fear that I may not have enough to buy what I want for my upcoming birthday (A Nikon D3000 DSLR, and hopefully, plane tickets back to the Philippines). I ended up taking "lunch" at 3:00 with two slices of pizza and a large Coke slushie. Enraged at the gluttony and impulsiveness I just did, I went home.

My face when I saw the pizza slices.

The bus was jam-packed with university students. I had the luxury of sitting in one of the... well, seats, and as I watched the standing passengers respond simultaneously to each turn of the bus, I sipped my slushie in reverence.
More than 8,000 students at the College of Arts and Science alone (compared to UPM-CAS's 1,700). 8,000 stories to listen to. And all I need is a simple handshake and the words, "Hi, I'm Leonard."
I eventually end up hating myself. Hate myself for having impeccable written English skills but fail to mingle with an English-speaking folk. Hate myself for doing a direct translation from Filipino of what I want to speak. I want to speak in English not as a translation but as a direct outlet of what I think, the kind of speaking I do in Filipino.

I hate myself for not daring to fail, of being afraid to be criticized for what I do, or am about to do. Hate myself for being a perfectionist, clamming up because I want every word I say to be clearly understood. I end up being a real tourist in this giant subzero freezer they call North America. When language is a barrier, it's hard to blend in, most especially to stand out.

Do not try to blend in. Try to stand out.
That's Jeric's message to me (a college friend) before I left the Philippines for Canada. And I find it difficult to even do any of the two when I don't speak well. This is about the time when I hope the Holy Spirit will manifest as a tongue of fire and, besides potentially burning my scalp, give me the ability to speak their language. This is about the time when I hope every person I meet has Douglas Adam's Babel fish in their ears so I can be understood perfectly.

But on the other hand, I still think, that it's just me.


  1. Hi Leonard, nice to meet you. :))

    Leonard ba talaga ginagamit mong pangalan jan? :)) Wag maging socially awkward. Kaya mo yan. :D

  2. Oo wag kang magulo. May dahilan kung bakit ganyan yan.

  3. Arts. :)) Kapangalan mo na yung best friend ko. :))