A few times last sem the bell would ring to signal the beginning of the period and I’d wait for class to begin only to realize to my horror that I was the teacher. Once, in the middle of an activity in which I was allowed to dissociate, I came to the conclusion, no less horrific, that I’d need to write a bestseller. It was the only way out. An insane 1 percent-type book or books. Universal, like water. Which of course is impossible. Five minutes, I semi-yelled to the small groups (hopefully) talking about a Gamalinda poem and diasporic cosmopolitanism. In La Union last month I joked to J and E about the possibility of the receptionists and other ates in the many gentrified corners of the place being secretly huge novelists (‘What if siya pala si Martha Cecilia’). We had been talking about resuscitated fantasies of living near the sea, working odd jobs or running the white person wet dream of a quaint bookshop-cum-cafe where oat milk is always available. On our last day we heard that someone had selfishly won the 500-million-peso lotto jackpot. Cue more outrageous fantasies. All funny banter, esp about the ates, but also most likely rooted in deeply classist ideas about art. (Did I ever talk about a recurring vision of mine that involves breaking my laptop in half? Sometimes by accident; mostly not.) I recently became the proud owner of a refrigerator (thank you NBA prize money), and I’ve been thinking of hosting something for the upcoming 40th. Maybe five or at most six people at a time; anything more and I’ll run out of room, and also patience, and also chairs (plates and utensils supposedly, too, but R just donated a bunch). Speaking of people that orbit our lives, the transition to the new year has been calmer, but I remember a saving thought through the mess that was 2023–that the only durable proof that I am not a completely garbage person is that I continue to maintain some semblance of intimate friendship with people who are objectively good, as brilliant as they are kind and forgiving, who also, on occasion, gift you with old furniture. (On that note, the buy-one-take-one stand fan from O has stopped working.) Is the idea of ambition inescapably neoliberal? Been of late thinking as usual about what I’ve been doing (and not doing) w/ my life, a question upon w/c intruded a couple of OK professional news in December. My lifelong commitment to indolence, the pandemic-born bare-minimum pledge, Katya’s edifying out-of-office aura–all these fortunately meld well w/ my disdain for any sign or symptom of neoliberalism, including the idea of being cutthroat. That this world of course tended to reward the latter, and that my material conditions had undergone the most severe of tests last year, occasionally leaves me sad and listless, idly wondering about the kind of place a more ambitious me would’ve found himself in. Bigger savings for sure. A well-appointed home. Writing that doesn’t always teeter on the brink of irrelevance. But the fact that I’m even allowing myself to take such unkind excursions into paths not taken, an exercise really in poking my chosen reality for any hole, for any fragile spot, tells me things are probably, despite the congenital hedging, not so bad. Now please knock on any wood in the vicinity.

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