2014 in review – Thanks to all your support!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pipelines to the Past

Today, I decided to get out of my bedroom and bring my reading to the living room. It was often empty now since mom decided to live away where she held her small business, save for Uncle Dave, our dog, that constantly lurked around the dark and dead space we called the living room in our modest lair. I sat down the old armchair made of wood that was withered and tarnished all these long years – it belonged to a living room set of 3 (one long sofa, 2 side armchairs) a really simply put-together piece of furniture, (not very strikingly beautiful by any standard) my mother invested from the money my father sent from overseas shortly before she gave birth to me. The seat felt small and it was not until I opened my book that it lingered on me that I was sitting on the armchair we had for more than 26 years, a sudden gush of different emotions flooded me. I did not understand many of them – were they sad or happy emotions – but they made me stop and evaluate what I was feeling for a quick instant. I’ve read somewhere that it is both a blessing and curse to feel everything so deeply and it always interested me how something as inanimate as an armchair can conjure so many distant memories.

I felt a rapid surge of energy, like electricity; things have happened on this armchair and the whole living room set played in front of me. It was a blur but a very vivid one; like I had a time travel to many points of my life, not seeing every flashback in very clear details, but feeling these pointy spikes in the insides of my chest. I touch the surface of the armchair and I saw the 6-year old me, sitting on the floor, arms laying lazily on top of a big color book when I was in the process of discovering my love for colors and art. Instantly after,  I had a glimpse of the 11-year old me sitting down on it on a stormy evening, sleeping in front of an abandoned TV after waiting all night for my mother who was coming back from the public market selling eggs to make ends meet.

Visit www.facebook.com/JanoBoscherPhotography for more
Time Travel http://www.facebook.com/JanoBoscherPhotography

Many other pictures entered my head, making me terribly nostalgic of when my high school friends and I used to watch video tapes we borrowed from a nearby video shop after school. I saw at one quick instant my grandfather in 2005, laying at the sofa, sickly and dying, and suddenly, I woke up from a sleep, one night, upon the sound of my mother’s restrained weeping as she laid on the sofa a few days after my grandfather’s burial. I was young then and knew nothing about comforting a suffering person so I went back to sleep and cried for my mother’s grief in my sleep. A sound from somewhere outside the house snapped me out of the daydream. I opened my eyes and felt my hands tightly clasping on the right arm rest. This time I closed my eyes in the hopes of seeing more memories. I saw my cousin, his wife and 2 children sharing the sofa as their solitary resting place when they got kicked out of the house they used to rent when my he got laid off his contractual job and had to live with us – they were happy in spite of their poverty and their future’s uncertainty. So many layers of short figments frenzied in my head. It overwhelmed me to some extent and I had to will myself to stop. It was powerful.

It amazes me that some magical connection seems to bind us and objects we grow up with that stirs some deep memories we thought we lost. It can oftentimes be triggered by the simple sight or touch of these objects, and sometimes, they are these the last things we expect us to have a heavy emotional attachment with – a wash basin, or a broomstick, a rusting kettle, or in my case, an armchair and a sofa set. I like to think of these objects as a pipeline to our past, or perhaps a conductor of energy that, if touched, it instantly transfers to us such queer sensation of being catapulted to the yesteryear of our lives. In my case, it always happens instantly and when it does, I savor each moment of that “time travel” and I feel thankful to somewhat experience these memories all over again. I think memories, good or bad, are fragile, precious gifts we should keep attached to these objects, like a part of us is literally embedded in them and we can always go back to find them.

What objects do you feel that magical connection with? What objects have you time-traveled through? What memories do they stir up? Please feel free to share.

Jano

New Facebook Page: Jano Boscher Photography

Dear Friends,

I am happy to announce that you can now view and follow my work on a new Facebook page named “Jano Boscher Photography” and I would like to warmly invite everyone to visit. For the past months, your support has been great inspiration for me to continue on with my passion for art and photography, and it would mean the world to me if you would continue your support by liking and sharing my new page.

Facebook Page: Jano Boscher Photography

To go to my new page, please click here.

Thanks for supporting an aspiring artist like me. Let’s keep supporting all artists around the world.

Yours,

Jano

PS: Please note that I will be taking down the page “Jano Boscher” very soon.

Mothers and Christmases

A bowl of my mother’s sweet spaghetti brings me back to my early childhood Christmases when life was much simpler and her sweet spaghetti was all I would look forward to on a Christmas Day. Today, life is much more complex, I look forward to bigger things, often (and guiltily) wanting more than what I deserve. Today, I am thankful for Christmas (and my mother’s sweet spaghetti) for reminding me that I can be a kid again and life can get simple at least once in a year.

There’s nothing very uncommon about the ingredients she uses – pork, a few bits of hotdog, banana ketchup, cheap cheddar and pasta (two packs you can buy for the price of one – every store has some kind of a promo), but mothers have this thing about their hands that everything they put together turns out to be something really special.

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Asinan (Salt Factory)

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This is how salt is produced in Anda, Pangasinan, Philippines. When the sun fully dries the sea water contained in these man-made ponds into salt, it will be scraped off, held into sacks and stored in these small huts until small trucks pick them up for delivery to towns and cities. Salt-making provides living not only to many of Anda’s folks but to rest of Pangasinan’s.

We passed by this quaint asinan (salt factory) on our way to Anda’s Tondol White Beach, one of the North’s unpopular but absolutely gorgeous beaches.

Pangasinan is a province situated at the Northern, mountainous region of the Philippines and its name translates to “The Land of Salt”.

FACEBOOKING: You Know It’s Too Much When

Warning: This writing is judgmental. Read at your own risk.

Disclaimer: This piece does not represent anyone in particular, but paradoxically speaking, if deep in your heart you felt that you do what’s being described, then there’s a strong chance that you really do (and everyone who reads this would know if you contest and leave hateful comments below – see “warning” above). You may think that I only see these things because of the kinds of friends I have on Facebook, and yes, I agree.

To me, this is a compilation of all interesting stuff I notice my friends, and myself, do on Facebook, consciously or not. To you, these may be things that make you think of cleaning up your friends list or closing your account for good.

Without further chit-chat, here are the things that go a little too much on Facebook today:

  1. Too Much Info – Are you having troubles burping? Did you just bought a bottle of Coke from 7-11? Have you discovered a new mole on your body? We would love to know!
  2. Too Much Selfies-ness – excessive posting of pictures of your favorite person in the whole, wide, world: YOU. Normally taken by no other than your favorite person in the whole, wide, world: YOU (usually disturbingly showing a portion of the extended arm taking the picture from a short distance). May include shots on the bed, in the tub, along the highway, etc. Commonly closed-up, face shots, with captions ranging from: “Finally visited Vienna!” or “Marvelous scenery!” to the explicit:  “Am I getting fat?” “I may not be pretty on the outside, but I have a genuine heart,” or “I love you, boo” (tagged: girlfriend/boyfriend living overseas). When the disturbing arm isn’t visible anywhere within the frame, you would notice a portion of someone else’s shoulders, cheeks, or any other bodily parts, carefully cropped out to look natural (common caption: “Having fun with my close friends!”)
  3. Too Much Drama – Oh we enjoy compassion. And what better way to fish for some than to broadcast your issues with a person whose name or identify you couldn’t muster the strength to mention. These posts are normally followed by equally malicious, drama-loving chums who always seem to know what’s going on, leaving comments, likewise as vague as the original post, carefully thought of to trigger interest, pulling the curious, innocent, you into the trap of finally asking “What happened?” Because these are riddles, you wouldn’t get a direct answer, no you don’t. Furthermore, this also comes in the form of I-live-in-a-cruel-world, suicidal posts, whose problems may include (but not limited to) lone lines at the mall, being dumped by a crush, or serious family issues, making us Google help hotlines or consider venturing into clinical psychology. These posts could be so stressful! A few years back, when I discovered Facebook, I remember seeing only stuff about all things fun e.g. quiz answers to which Naruto character you could possibly be in your past life, etc. Now, I seem to be developing cancer cells each time I see my newsfeed full of hateful posts.
  4. Too Much Liking – This only goes too far when you start liking your own posts.
  5. Too Much Tagging – In the past, tagging has reminded us that we need not to look too wasted at parties, has trained hundreds to sleep with a closed mouth, and had thrown parents and bosses away and out of our Facebook life. Today, we can only thank God and Mark Zuckerberg there’s Timeline Review.
  6. Too Much Game Invites – This is probably my biggest pet peeve. Apart from the fact that I don’t play games, nothing is more disappointing than seeing 82 notifications one day, discovering about half of which are freaking game invites. And no matter how you block game invites one by one, there’s always going to be a new game your friend will discover and invite you to play.
  7. Too Much Poking – Shame on you if you poke me once. Shame on me if you poke me twice.
  8. Too Much Indifference – I seriously racked up my brain thinking of a new, flattering way to smile. All you need to do is Like the selfy I recurringly share or repost or change my profile pic countless times into, you cold-hearted bastard.
  9. Too Much Ranting – Similar to Item # 3, this includes carefully structured complaints about the weather, government, politics, and other things you have absolutely no control over. These posts seem to aim to change the world based on the number of likes gained or something. Similarly, these could be rants about how people post on Facebook like it’s their damn business.

Dear Facebook Friends: Don’t let this piece stop you from doing what you want on Facebook. Please don’t stop being you! And if you have Lady Gaga, Pink, Beyonce, or Joey Mcintyre on your iPod, you probably believe that you can be whatever you want to be. As much as what you may be doing may be made fun of by sleep-deprived people who don’t have better things to do in an afternoon than write a distasteful article on Facebook faux pas, please don’t forget that the world is free and so is the internet. Just like what your company vacation leave benefits, government loan benefits, or your basic penile function teach you: Use it or lose it.

Hashtagging 101 For Non-Twitter, Strictly Facebook Peeps

OK, so instead of posting mellow-dramatic stuff, broadcasting on social media how miserable my life is (seems like posting stuff about personal issues people are remotely interested in is the new trend, in my country, at least), I decided to post something actually useful in the 21st century: How To Freaking Use Hashtags.

Now that hashtagging is going to be an official Facebook  function very soon, I feel the strong need for me to do my part in educating my fellow social media peeps on how this is done without looking funny. Consider this my first gift to mankind.

1. Hashtags cannot contain other punctuation marks other than the pound sign (#), so no smileys or spaces between hashtags please.

2. In addition to item #1, please keep the pound sign as close as possible the word you’re hashtagging and never put it at the end of the word.

3. Keep it short. Let’s not tell a novella via hashtags. Moreover, let’s try not to hashtag #each #word #you #say #like #you #want #every #word #to #trend #worldwide.

4. Just use two to three hashtags that strike interested or embody your post. Putting in a bunch of hashtags makes it heavy to the eyes as there’s just too much to read, it’s annoying.

5. As I mentioned above, Facebook’s making hashtags function the same way as on Twitter very soon, but until then, let’s not put hashtags yet on our Facebook posts (unless they’re fed directly from other social networks where hashtags function in the present), it’s just pointless.

So those are just a few, basic how-to’s on hashtagging, my dear Facebook friends. For tips on how you can use hashtags work effectively for your business, see this article.

Losing it

200px-Descartes mind and body
René Descartes’s illustration of dualism. Inputs are passed on by the sensory organs to the epiphysis in the brain and from there to the immaterial spirit. (Image via Wikipedia)

Talking to one’s self is more so listening than talking. Talking to one’s self in public, however, is creepy and potentially dangerous.

It gets more frequent everyday – I more often catch myself speaking alone and it freaks me out. I know my mind can be so active at times and that my brain could not shut up especially after an overwhelming situation. But everything to me is overwhelming and I am just a thin hair away from being out of control.

Speaking to myself, for the longest time, seems a bit normal to me. I’ve been doing it, consciously or not, since childhood. I was not the active type – I was quiet, timid, and alone-in-the-corner kind of kid. I did not have many friends. I dislike (or fear) people. Every day I made it a point that I’d made the most minimum contact to people possible. I was the only child, having no one but my mom to grow up with. My everyday routine consisted of waking up for school, going home after school, finishing my homework on my own and watching TV alone in between. It’s not that anybody forced me to be a loaner; some people thought I grew up that way because my mom never wanted me out of the house and of her sight. It’s been more so a choice since I was ignorant of the whole world and did not have to think of anything serious. And I just did not want to play tag and get all sweaty and stinky, and likewise, I did not get bullied or hurt by any stupid kid whatsoever. Reading and TV-watching were two of the activities that let me use my imagination. Since then, I loved making up stories, and have to say that it was difficult for me to draw a thin line between creatively making up stories for the purpose of making art, and actually lying. I did not have too many fellow kids to share my stories with so I tended to share to the most faithful companion that I had – myself.

OK, so I have forgiven my juvenile and seemingly deranged self who grew up (or at least tried to) fairly normal. But now that I’m on my early adulthood, I felt so compelled to set standards for how myself should act. I only have one rule anyway: everything my whole body does should be something I know and approve of. I know that, naturally, the whole body and mind should work as one unit, a system of complicated components but is naturally capable of functioning harmoniously. But I find this notion hard to carry out a lot of times – it becomes more ideal to me than natural. Over time, I’m finding my mind and body so apart from each other that they both have their own sets of interests. I feel like being in between situations when I am chasing one part of me crossing a dangerous street while grabbing the other by the arm as it attempts to roll down a bushy cliff. And one clear sign of this problem is me speaking alone, not only to myself when I am alone, but also, and it’s becoming more frequent, when I am out and with the company of several people. Sleeping is also an avenue for me to speak to myself. My mom, and Joan (my wife-to-be) would make fun of me when I wake up, showing me how  I had been as I was sleep-talking, and I would laugh with them at the situation, but deep in me, I am scared. Joan calls it paranoia; I call it an honest-to-goodness fear of losing control.

When your body does something your mind does not know of, it scares you. I remember catching a documentary on the Crime Investigation channel about this woman who was violently killed by her significantly younger fiancé subconsciously while they were making love. The intercourse was a bit violent; they wanted it a bit sadomasochistic so to speak as it gave them the thrill; but at the night of the murder, the violence had gone way too far. The woman was strangulated to death. The young man, her fiancé, came to the police saying, “I might have killed my wife.” It was later found, through the medical investigation the young man went through, that he killed his fiancée while he was sleeping. This scared me a bit as I have been found doing something else too while sleeping. I only did as much as speaking while sleeping but I this had me thinking: if speaking is a physical activity and it’s something that I often do while asleep, then It’s not impossible for me to learn to do other things while asleep; and what those things could be is something I’m afraid to know.

I have a book or two that talk about psychological imbalances and psychiatric diseases, or whatever the right terms are; the topic always fascinated me, and it’s more than about learning the matter, it’s more so about wanting to know and understand myself. I never finished reading them, perhaps because I am depriving myself of the idea that would confirm my thoughts of me being potentially a basket case. I kept on considering the idea of getting professional help, from a therapist perhaps, but I am embarrassed to do so, or maybe it’s just a bit early to seek help from one when the signs are just too insignificant for other people. For now, I’m finding comfort in the thought of having a companion, who I can always rely to in times of feeling irrationally needy and the one who would always listen to me when I need to speak. Joan is my unpaid therapist and a very patient one. Many times, when I get stressed and upset, she goes to me with the desire to make me feel better in any way she can and I could not be more thankful. A hug, most of the time, suffice. A warm talk often brings me back to my senses, reminds me that I am alive. She never fails to make me find the connection between the seemingly insurmountable gaps my mind and body separate themselves with. I think a guy like me, (the not-quite-crazy-but-getting-there type) only needs somebody to talk to and help us get out of whatever kind of cage our childhood or whatever the situation we had to go through built to surround us forever. And for now, having Joan’s company, her selfless care that became a refuge at my disposal is reassurance enough for me. Losing that refuge, however, is the fear that I reserve for tomorrow.

Life’s greatest joys: seeing an ipis suffer to death by spray-torturing it with Baygon

I mean, it just beats all charity work Oprah and Brangelina had been claiming they enjoy to do – nothing’s just more fulfilling than an ipis (cockroach) looking you to the eye and begging you for mercy and you can go right ahead and be like “You should have thought better than jumping at me you filthy hairy bitch, you deserve death better than Justin Bieber.” To some pro-life activists, they may see this differently and once again, these judgmental hypocrites may call you “the bad guy”, killing what god created, or to Hindus – killing your long dead grandpa, grandma, or whoever close to you who may have passed away and would have been enjoying their reincarnation by then. I mean, seriously? So I am the bad guy, and not the ipiswho just, for some deranged

reason, jumped at an innocent guy, trying to take a crap at peace, scaring him to almost shitting along his guts? I believe in co-existence, and trust me; I have been trying so patiently to co-exist with these freaks – you know, ignoring them as they conveniently walk on a surface of your own property, say a keyboard, TV, etc. Even as they sneak at night, double dipping at your food. I didn’t do anything and for years. The helpless me screamed inside my head like a prisoner of some war. But those days were over – oh yeah, you hear me, ipis– it’s O-V-E-R. And the end began when my mom started talking to our neighbor, Kris.

A dead Ipis , with its back turned to the camera, ashamed that he was killed in less than 10 seconds. That's right jackass, you should be ashamed of your self - you're a disgrace to your battalion of fellow freaks. This should serve as a warning to those who'd try to jump at me naked in the bathroom. You're just about near extinction.

My mom seldom makes friends. Whenever she does and if it does not work out in two days, she keeps this never-ending grudge towards that person who may have wanted to make friends with her but did not just passed her standards – may the reason be that you talk too much and she thinks you back-stabs her or that you always ask what the ulam (dish served with rice) is comparing it to yours, making them too nosy, etc. etc. (thinking of it, there’s just a whole new article dedicated for that subject). OK, so one day, as mom tells me, Kris loudly knocked on our door early morning. My mom was like, I haven’t even contemplated on how bad my morning breath was and there she was, waking everybody up at break of dawn. She was carrying these catalogs and smiled as she them over to my mom. “I don’t have my glasses to read them, what the hell are these?” “Oh I am your Avon lady now. Go on, choose your color.” Kris said as she opened the catalog and pointing at cosmetics and the clowns who were wearing them. My mom’s eyes grew wide, “No, I’m good with my 11-peso Magic Lipstick.” Seven more pages and an annoyed smirk after, my mom seemed to have won the battle of who-walks-out-of-the-house-first-or-so-god-help-her. Kris disappointingly got out the house with her catalogs, but when mom glanced at the table for her coffee, she saw one of her catalogs left. It wasn’t anything similar to those having those sticky cosmetics, and mom found it rather odd that it was of household products such as all-purpose toilet cleaner, air freshener, glossing furniture spray, insect sprays, and all that – those products are being cataloged now, aren’t they? My mom’s eyes, blurry for not having her glasses on, stopped at one product: Insect Sprays. Bottles containing a chemical that kills insects; ones that lets you kill in a few seconds; ones that give you freedom to exist without feeling insecure; ones that we badly need to arm ourselves from those insidious flying freaks.

It was an absolute nirvana for me seeing the bottle sitting at the table one afternoon. I could not help it but run to my mom, who’s all sweating from washing my unmentionables, kiss her, and with an emotional stint, I whispered to her ears: “Thank you.” It was the glorious moment of my life’s history. Finally, a weapon of destruction; a bomb that will bring Armageddon to that cave-like hole on the bathroom door where all the freaks of all freaks hide and plan their daily viciousness. I just could not wait to use it. So at a split second, I run to the god-forsaken bathroom bravely swung the door closed, and pointed right at the growing hole where you would see the ipis would get out of. With my game face on, determined to kill, I sprayed right through the freaking door whole, with a loud battle cry. No, they unfortunately did not come out as I expected, but if they did, I was ready with one absolute mission: to kill them all. These guys made me curl in fear in toilets, bathrooms, or places where you have to be half or fully naked, and you could not exactly get out as quickly should they attack you. They’re stealthy; they would attack you at your weakest. But I would not go anywhere those places unarmed. I could only be thankful to Kris for that day she obnoxiously knocked at our door that cranky morning. Some people just fulfill their life’s purposes before their 40’s and I’m glad for Kris for being able to do so. We’ve never have bought any of these chemicals before due to mom’s profound hate of their smell, second to mine during sweaty summer days, so we never got the chance to appreciate such wondrous product. I was like “Where have you been all along?”

The day following, after my grand attack to the ipis territory, I saw a pile of ipis cadavers on the bathroom floor. And I almost cried as I tasted the Baygon-smelling air of success. From then, I knew that I would never have to be scared again. And no one would ever have to be. To those who share my traumatic story about how I was abused by those stealthy freaks, here’s what I can say to you: your neighborhood may seem unfriendly and quiet, but there would always be someone like Kris who would one day alarmingly wake you up before dawn, extending their money-making help.