Friday, July 31, 2015

Persistence of Life

Previously: The Martha Stewart In Me

From a certain perspective, a person who finds himself at my mother's veranda can glean the progress I have made: The sprawling oregano plants now need to be tied up, suspended halfway between the ground and the ceiling so their stems would extend upward as desired. The purple wandering jews have grown unchecked behind the sliding glass windows which I could no longer open because of the pots leaning against them. And without the rats digging the soil of the pots lining the ledge, the plants have their roots restored and are now verdant once more. One can only assume that I have prevailed, and that my passion for gardening has turned the house into a green sanctuary. But images can be deceiving, and the cost of my money-making venture is bigger than what a single photo can tell.

On the other side of the house, the fragrant lavenders have all disappeared - whole plants wilted for reasons I could never explain. The mint plants struggle to sprout new leaves, and weeds, whose seeds were carried over by passing birds continue to steal nutrients from herbs that are still thriving. In places of the house where the sun illuminates the corners, empty pots continue to multiply. Plants are still dying, and plans to replace them get postponed as work demands less time to go about the city. The late afternoon showers and week-long monsoon rains sometimes help in watering the polymer vessels, but at times when the winds refuse to spray the windows (where the pots droop on the iron grills) with rain water, I end up with wilted plants, with lumps of soil as dry as the Sahara.

This has been the concerns lately, and like the garden I have put up in sun-ward corners that used to offer nothing but a view of the neighbors' disarrayed rooms, there remains this feeling that I may have sprawled and spread out in places, but within remains stagnating. It may have been caused by pressing demands for material accomplishments, which as of late have already clawed deep into my personal time. Maybe I have lost myself in the cycle, and it reflects on how I attend to my herbs' needs these days. 

One is safe to say I am entrenched. 

Meanwhile, as new stem cuttings get planted on the ground, or old garden pots rearranged so it may hold more water for the soil to absorb, it is my hope that these feeble attempts to bring life into my shrinking paradise remind me of the feat that cannot be counted at the teller machine. 

The persistence of life, no matter how subtle, remains a reward in itself.  

Postscripts To A Pluto Flyby

I have always been fascinated with space. 

My earliest memory of the heavens was UFO-spotting with my father at the back of our house. Strange as it sounds, but my introduction to Astronomy came in the form of pseudo-science. And while I don't recall finding anything bizarre in the sky, except for a stationary orange object, which I insisted to be a cosmic body, nothing groundbreaking happened to us that night.

Or so it seems.

Then came the Master of Orion. That computer strategy game that lets you run an entire world and send ships to colonize other stars. Of course, there are rivals, artificial intelligence, whose goal is to prevent human players like me from dominating the game. I was in Junior high school then, whose time coincided with my growing addiction to the TV series, Babylon 5. Bring the two together, and the space geek in me finally achieved sentience.

I remember taking my strategy game very seriously - so much - that I was hard-pressed to pick names of real celestial objects already discovered by astronomers. Vega, Lalande, Fomalhaut, just to name a few. I even made sure to name my newly acquired worlds in the order of the nearest star systems to the sun. As to how I got those names and their distance from the Solar system accurate, a pocket-sized encyclopedia takes the credit. It was one of those trinkets I bought with my own school allowance, and one, whose contents still illuminate me to this day.

Among the prominent chapters of the pocket-sized encyclopedia were the illustrated pages of the planets in our Solar System. They were recent photos, taken by the Voyager probes as they glide past those worlds. There was Jupiter, and her Jovian satellites; Saturn and her majestic rings, and then there was Neptune, which, according to the little book appears to have internal sources of heat. That tidbit of knowledge thrilled me, and so I turned the pages, only to get disappointed, when I found how scant the information was about the next featured planet: Pluto.

Pluto was the final frontier, and until last summer, very little was known about the dwarf planet. In the pocket-sized encyclopedia, only a silhouetted dot, together with her blurry satellite, Charon were shown. It was taken by the recently launched Hubble Space Telescope in place of high resolution pictures of other worlds. 

At that time, nobody thought humanity would embark on a journey to study the planet up-close. Not in our lifetime. After all, it takes 6 hours for sunlight to reach its surface. The object was at the fringes of the Solar System, and while the technology is available to send a probe to Pluto, human will can't. It was only after a series of project scrapping, followed by collective outcry that NASA finally decided to fund the project and launch the New Horizon spacecraft in 2006.


The New Horizons probe sailed the depths of the solar system, unnoticed, while the matters of the earth shifted from petty wars to climate change. While the quest to study the heavens, with Curiousity taking selfies on Mars and Dawn snapping pictures of Ceres, went on, with much fanfare, the New Horizons flyby was gearing up to become the most talked about human accomplishment so far. And on July of this year, almost a decade since the spacecraft left the Earth, humanity had its first encounter with Pluto.  

The exploration of the Solar System is at long last, complete.

The collective jubilation was apparent on both the virtual and real life conversations. Memes were created, with focus on the heart-shaped feature prominent on the surface of Pluto. There were also those who lament, that after all these years, what we can afford to send was a probe merely capable of passing a distant planet. And while the issue of the trans-Neptunian object being downgraded to a dwarf world was once more being raised, this breakthrough suddenly became yesterday's news: the terrestrial affairs (and all its domestic concerns) once more became the daily struggles of humankind.

It is as if, sightings of another world is but a stuff of dreams.


I would like to think that our flyby to Pluto, no matter how ephemeral, will stir the imagination of children, like it did, when our generation had its first glimpse of the worlds beyond Mars. At a time when talk about scaling down space exploration is being thought out of political accommodation, and when our yearning to go places wanes as we grow more at ease with our lives spent on the internet, there is a tinge of anxiety knowing we might cease searching and just stagnate here, until we all die out.

But I still believe there remains to be accomplished and our aspiration as a species since leaving our cradle in Africa to inhabit the planet still needs to be fulfilled. We may have mapped the solar system, and have begun looking at the stars for worlds similar to ours, but until we set foot on another world, and make it our new home, the dreamers among us will still look at the sky at night, and sigh with vexed yearning at how long before the heavens are within reach.

The DOST National Science and Technology Fair

In the early days, before I began reaching out to fellow humans in the four-corners of the classroom, and make friends with some of them, my cherished companions were the encyclopedias and science almanacs in the library. It was easy to form bonds with them. You say goodbye to your teacher after the last subject ends at 3 pm, drop your belongings right at the door of the school library, and for hours, you get to drift between space and time with pictures and letters, undisturbed behind shelves of tomes seldom explored by other kids inside the spacious room. And these books, don't stab you at the back when others make fun of your habits, or abandon you when other kids do things you hardly enjoy - like sports. Book reading was for me, a solitary leisure activity. What I didn't realize is that I would carry on the fascination, and still gasp at the discoveries, halfway towards the finish line of my life.

It is for this reason I found immense joy when the Weatherman invited me to see the DOST Fair at the SMX Convention Center. He, more than anyone else revere science and technology, and a visit at the exhibit hall, with all those never-before-seen innovations done by our scientists rekindled that sense of wonder in me.

In many ways, this was my formal introduction to such event.

First stop was the exhibit showcasing the hybrid buses and tricycles that would one day complement the mass transportation system already in place in the metropolis. These buses, with two interconnecting carriages, run on clean fuel, and could carry around 200 passengers at a time. They are meant to load and unload passengers at designated bus stops, and may even require their own lanes in a busy highway like Edsa. The motorbikes, meanwhile, could replace the mini gas guzzlers that pollute the suburban air. While it would take another administration to make these buses and trikes run in our major roads, what matters is that the technology exists. Maybe when the right leader take his place, and the new cabinet secretaries realize the urgency to mass produce these eco-friendly vehicles, this public demonstration is just the beginning of our shift towards a more environment-conscious society. 

Onward the Weatherman and I moved to another exhibit, this time, the simulations could save lives when disaster strikes. 

A week before the city-wide earthquake drill happened, visitors to the science fair were able to experience how it feels when the ground shakes during a tremor. At the middle of the exhibition hall was a shaking table similar to the ones used by the Japanese to educate the public about earthquakes. Stepping into the small ring, the mechanical floor begins to sway using simple hydraulic systems. I mentioned that it was simple, for the ground shaking doesn't really come close to the real thing (from what I remember) What I got from the experience was a brief dizzy spell, and that experience of riding a mechanical device better featured in amusement parks. 

Among the innovations we have seen at the fair, there were two which stood out at the exhibit hall. One was the improvements made to Project Noah, the foremost flood control and weather forecasting tool of the government, and the other, which is the Diwata, our nation's ambitious program to send the first home-grown satellite to earth orbit. For Project Noah, new improvements include more accurate data that shows the flood-prone areas of Manila. Also featured at the exhibit are the early-warning devices, from state-of-the-art air raid sirens to digital rain gauges that measure the amount of rain falling at any given time. The Diwata program, meanwhile, was a technological grant from Japan. Using one of their satellite designs, the aim is to build one to serve as our communication beacon in space. A full-size mock-up was on display at the fair, and while it hardly made the spotlight at the exhibit, realizing how this compact machine could start our own space program made me look forward to see it being launched in 2017.

There were many other exhibits worth looking at the fair, like the Lego robot almost the height of a toddler, or the heirloom Abaca and Pina fabric making technique preserved by the science agency for future generations. There were also various advancements in agriculture including native livestock bred and returned to their places of origin, and more cost-effective ways to do shellfish farming. There was also an exhibit about nano-wires already being replicated in the country, as well as a contraption that creates miniature tsunami waves to show how it destroys everything in its path. After making rounds at the exhibit hall, and seeing with my own eyes how vibrant our science and technology innovations are, there is no doubt, we are making progress.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Metro Manila Shake Drill

It all began with a showing of a topographic map, distributed to the media with blue lines bisecting the metropolis' eastern fringes. These broken dashes represent the fracture in earth's crust. It runs through swathes of Quezon City, Marikina, up to Muntinlupa, and was the result of a survey of the West Valley Fault System. It was commissioned by the government in the interest of public safety, and also for risk reduction in the event of an actual temblor. Overnight, the news became a sensation, something that puts fear and panic to those living near and beneath the tectonic system. While immediate relocation of families living in the danger zone is out of the question, authorities knew that something has to be done. Before this hype was replaced by another buzz, it was decided by the MMDA to set about a metro-wide earthquake drill. The aim is not just actual coordination of government agencies, but also a chance to educate the public of what needs to be done during such disaster.  

The initiative was the first of its kind. Nothing of this magnitude has been done in recent memory, and while it is understandable that the MMDA is also unsure about the drill's execution, what matters is that the foundation for such readiness has already been in place. The original idea was to include power and water interruption, as well as telecommunication disruption. They wanted to remain faithful to a total infrastructure breakdown scenario and let the public experience it. But realizing how inconvenient this is to everyone, the revised plan focused on four sectors set up across the metropolis to simulate civil evacuation, medical relief, and disaster response. 

While public support was tepid, at best, given the lack of news build-up after the drill was announced, I have already resolved not to leave the fate of my loved ones to chance. Heavy duty plastic containers were procured to store water in case the water pipes get busted. The acquisition of transistor radios also became a priority. Finally, with the medicine cabinet replenished with new bandages and antiseptic fluids, somehow my fears were put to rest. What is missing are the go-bags should we need to stay outdoors, and instructions to everyone about what to do during an earthquake.

The metro-wide drill was the perfect excuse to educate everyone.

I would not deny being tempted to go all the way to Intramuros to watch how the fire suppression drill is being performed. There is also the command center at the LRT Santolan station for disaster relief and rescue affecting residents closest to the fault line. I could have gone to these places and write my experiences. But then, I realized, much of the preparation at home would be for naught if my family members have no idea about "drop," "cover," and "hold" which are the basics of earthquake survival.

"Ang pinakamahalaga mama, eh maprotektahan yung ulo mo." Handing over a pillow to the matriarch, I told her to use it to cover her head. A disabled person like her would have no time to hide under a table or run out of the house in case of a temblor.

This is the same instruction I told the maids, and also pointed at the objects at home that have the highest risk of falling and hitting someone in the head.

That includes my dad's man-sized sketch portrait.

Looking back, giving up the chance to be out there and joining the actual drills was nothing compared to what I can contribute at home. They say, disaster preparedness begins with loved ones, and what better way to do this by teaching the littlest ones - my nephews - who need to be protected more than anyone else.

"Lenin, tayo ka." I had ask him to take a break from his child's play to impart the lessons I've been telling everyone since that morning.

"Try mo nga magtago dito sa ilalim ng kama." Following my orders, the elder nephew tried to fit himself into the small space under my mom's hardwood bed.

"Alam mo kung ano yung lindol?"

He shook his head and smiled at me. Apparently, it wasn't properly communicated at school what the drill that morning happened. At 4 years old and with no actual experience of ground shaking, it was difficult to explain what an earthquake is.

"Ah eh ganito yun." I started shaking my mother's bookcase.

"Kapag gumalaw ito ng walang tao, kailangan mo magtago sa ilalim ng bed ha?" To make it more realistic, I shook the bookcase violently, until the books stacked on top of the shelves started falling.

"Kailangan mo magtago kasi mababagsakan ka nitong mga books."

Getting my idea, my nephew hid once more under the bed as the book shaking continued. I didn't stop, and instead, made sure everything on the shelf lay bare on top of the bed.

"Tandaan mo ito palagi ha?"


It has been 25 years since the last big quake shook the city. Another 22 and news of the Ruby Towers collapsing, and killing more than 200 souls put fear in the hearts of high-rise dwellers. The great big one is long overdue. Should a time come the ground shakes once more, I hope that all these efforts in family preparation will not be for nothing.

Like the Metro Manila Shake Drill, knowing and actual practice are the keys to saving lives.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

As We Return The Relics

Out of this desire to write something - anything, just to catch up with my 10 blog entries published every month, I tried recycling works I have penned long before online writing became a calling. I've spent the rest of the night rummaging articles, stored on my computer's magnetic vault, hoping they could be used for my self-preservation. They were written in college, back when I knew nothing about Creative Writing, and all we ever did was to write using journalistic principles learned from our discipline. They were a source of pride, I tell you. Given my scarce vocabulary and infantile style, some of them could stand against the self-scrutiny I often apply in my works today. The problem is, the narratives could be published in connection with the present. Something I'd have to unearth and refurbish to gain some credence. But it's almost daybreak and nothing I could spin would make them relevant. So I thought, maybe, I'd let them linger in oblivion. They have more value than being reduced as a stand-alone throw back post. There too were the cheesy poems inspired by real-time events. Cringe-worthy as they may sound, nothing I could do would make them get past their juvenile musings. Finally, there was this one piece scribbled in my attempt to immortalize a trip down south. Replete with descriptions about the sights and tastes of Davao City, what I find lacking is the sense of journey. Forgivable offense, I thought. After all, the journal existed long before I learned this gift of writing.  

Eventually, I was left with nothing but this hurried post that will appear on my blog before sunrise. If there was something I have picked in that little time travel to my own pre-history, it is the affirmation that I've told stories long ago. One day, I would have to weave a tapestry warping the past and the future, so they may find permanence in cyberspace using the weft I have always carried along.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Previously on: Rinavia Prime


I will always remember those three blood-colored, heart emoticons he would once, or twice drop between Facebook chats, or the hesitant whispers of those three magic words I can never recall reciprocating during our partings. After all these years, I carry on the regret, and so is the burden of hardly making him feel assured when he was the one trying to get close.

However, things have started to change after our exclusivity pact a month ago. We would see each other once a week. Watch events or movies that appeal to our common interest. Lay side by side at night, with my arms wrapped around his chest, and my lips, planted on his shoulders. This has become us after three years, and despite my occasional and delusional fear that this might be all just a dream; that we would one day get tired of being dating partners, we go on, hanging out as friends and sleeping as lovers.

I pray the best is yet to come. And we would realize how this bond brought us closer than we ever been since the first time we reached this point in our lives. And if these sweet nothings, conveyed, just before he leaves for his religious duties last weekend hint not of what we really are, I don't know anymore how to put into words the depth of this special ties.

"Daddy Bear mo ako?" He smiled and nodded as an affirmation.

Kissing him in response, I replied, 

"Patotie kita."

Monday, July 20, 2015


Previously: Unpretty

It was the succession of ulcer and flu that caused me to stop my workout routine. Sacred as it was, I even went to the gym at 2 in the morning just so my physical activity would not come in the way of work. That was before the malady struck. Last week, I had to stay away from doing any fitness activity while recovering from sickness. There was an undeniable strength loss after my return. Meanwhile, the mind felt uneasy without the pattern I have grown used to follow.

The gym has become the pillar from which my repetitive existence gets a break. It was a preoccupation that breath life unto me, especially after the weekend shifts forced me to become a social hermit. The colleague who I used to assign on Saturdays and Sundays resigned from work last summer. No longer I could call for a binge. Friends of the Casa went their separate ways. 

For a long time, the plateau was the reason I never lose weight. I would still remember someone from last year, a lover from a deleted timeline, telling me repeatedly that I am getting fat; while he became more frequent at the gym. To this day I keep in mind that it was the reason for our breakup. No longer was I fit like when we first met, he decided to make a run without ever saying a proper goodbye.  

The thought still makes my heart break.

From 180 lbs last Christmas, my weight has dropped to 166, the best accomplishment so far since I ended the Bunny Interludes last 2008. It was a combination of less rice intake and more jogging activity around the Malacanan that broke the hold of fat on my body. I would not deny the ease of moving around after my pants became looser. There is liberty in knowing a small-sized shirt could snugly fit on my frame.

I am publishing this piece as a throwback to once was a goal that seem impossible to keep. Even after the two-week absence at the gym, I only gained a pound or two when I last stepped foot on a metal scale. I checked my weight at the same time I resumed jogging and strength conditioning and little fat do I have to burn, unless the metabolism slows once again. 

When I look back, now that I have accomplished this kind of freedom, I realize that it was no longer the ex and the pain he caused that drove me to do this transformation. But instead, what started it all was a careless remark from someone, during our cuddle moment, telling what he felt as his arms wrapped around my shoulders.

"Para akong may kayakap na bear." He said affectionately. 

"Teddy bear..." I would keep in mind his description, so that if ever he finds me on top of him again, he'll have a leaner bear to cuddle.

And he did.

Bear or buff, it no longer matter. After all these modifications I did to myself, maybe it's time to say I already have the last laugh.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Encounters With A Fundie

Careless musing, an observer will say. I should have exercised caution when I let my thoughts out in the open, lest I may court opinions completely opposing mine. It all started with a shared image, of a conversation among teenagers asking about the relevance of science. They contend that science disproves the existence of God, thus, should be given a choice, it should be removed from the curriculum. The fetid smell of ignorance in their exchanges didn't escape my senses. I could not help but post it on my Facebook wall to express, not only my indignation but alarm. In all my years in the academe, we were taught to embrace science more than any other subject, and reading posts from these pre-teens invoking God's wisdom over mankind's quest for knowledge defeats the purpose of our existence.

While many friends agree with my observation, a lone dissenter nearly caused me to go ballistic and start a nasty exchange on my own wall. He was a classmate in high school. Someone who was given privilege to study in Diliman, and eventually, migrate abroad to lead a better life. Had he been someone whose accomplishments were less stellar, I would simply brush off his opinion given his intellectual limitation. But this is a UP graduate disagreeing with me, and his defense would have disappointed all those progressive thinkers who continue to draw the line between religion and reason.

"Those young people might have not presented and discussed this matter in an intellectual way but actually they are right. Evolution is wrong and very wrong but the problem is the educational system is still feeding them to our children, and for that reason I'm seriously considering not sending my kids to a public school. All evidences points directly against evolution but many scientists deny it. Why you ask?! Because evolution is the only way some scientists prove that God doesnt exist."

Nganga. That was my initial reaction. I would have said there and then that the Bible doesn't logically narrate how creation started. "God creates heaven and earth in six days." Who would believe such crap? Figuratively, it would hold ground, but if my Creationist acquaintance will assert the literal interpretation of the Holy Book, I might as well unfriend him as I don't want to associate myself with Christian Fundamentalists. I've had enough of their trash talk back when they used to bully people like us in high school.

"I've always questioned the theory of evolution and how we all got here. Hard evidences clearly point to a young Earth (10,000 years) and not billions of years. Plus the Creationism clearly explained how the first people reached the Philippines."

I decided to avoid direct confrontation, and instead, let others talk on my Facebook wall to share their thoughts. But this guy's conviction would never let him stop. He would continue insisting his Intelligent Design view when doing so would make him look silly to those reading his post.

"Actually evolution debunks the existence of God so evolution and creation cannot coexist. It is either one is true and the other is bogus. Evolution states that we became human due to random events while creation states that God created us in His own image."

I'd like to disprove his statement: how could they not coexist when creation precedes evolution? Evolution states that all creation begins from atoms and single-celled organisms, and through natural selection and adaption, only the fittest survives. It might sound like there's an uncaring universe out there, a world view where God apparently doesn't show grace. But the fact that the miracle of creation happened, and life multiplied in ways no scientist still could not explain already debunks his claim that evolution proves a creator doesn't exist.

It would have been a waste of time to argue my beliefs and counter his claims of Science being anti-god, but if Hollywood has a better explanation of why the Bible version of creation and Science's evolution theory complement each other, this short clip tells all.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Previously: Eid

The hypnotic chant of the Muezzin, carried by the wind calls the faithful for the early morning prayer. The lyrical recitation of Adhan bounces off from the loud speakers perched high above the electric posts, leaving those who seldom hear it spellbound at how ancient this way of summoning is. It is 4:17 in the morning, the exact time the Fajr is offered on that special day. And as Allah's children rushes towards the Golden Mosque, I sat across the street, with my eyes closed to listen to the unabridged Quoranic verses, while my mind soars to distant lands in the south, where at that very moment, Muslims from Tawi-Tawi to Cotabato were heading towards the house of prayer to celebrate the breaking of the fast.  

It was the Eid, the end of the Ramadan. To this day, I remain uninstructed of the tradition, and I haven't really internalized its religious significance. Despite the ignorance, I decided to mark the occasion by going all the way to Quiapo to see the sights and sounds around Globo del Oro. The last time I was there was half-a-decade ago, when I headed straight to the Muslim community after getting a haircut from my barber. I arrived late in the afternoon, when most of the worshipers have already gone home. There was little to see then; most of the shops were closed, the restaurants have yet to serve Halal dishes, and except for being mistaken as an applicant for the Balik-Islam program, the attempt to fit in wasn't really a success. At a hindsight, I find it silly greeting people "Eid Mubarak," when locals likely don't greet strangers they come across.

Now five years later, I decided to make a comeback. To somehow indulge that little Dora in me. I arrived in Quiapo a little past 4 am, to a sleeping neighborhood still about to set shop for the day-long festivities. Except for the unusually bright lights illuminating the side streets, little could be gleaned from this expedition: the shops were still closed; glass racks displaying curry dishes were still empty, and while I saw the TV networks' trucks parked beside the mosque, (as they always do every year since the government declared Eid a national holiday) news would only get beamed to households at sunrise, when the imam ends the Fajr.

Still, without understanding a single word, I choose to remain on the sidewalk and waited for the dawn prayer to finish. Between live-tweeting what I see, and contemplating my presence in a world I would never be part of, I tried to understand my curiosity when nobody outside the religion seems to care. Perhaps, it is the thought of squeezing a pre-dawn adventure that made this whole trip worth doing. In my hour's linger at the Muslim community, not a single soul had asked if I'm interested to join the conversion program; an elder in his early sixties had mistaken me for a store attendant. He spoke in the vernacular, which I didn't understand. When I pointed him to the real shopkeepers, I learned that he was asking how much was the cheapest prayer mat. Arabic verses may have spoken by the worship leaders, but their melodic recital kept me glued to the pavement. When the men wearing Taquiyah and the women wearing Hijab started showing up at the exit to return home and partake at the feast, I decided to leave as well. One last stroll and in one of the canteens dotting the neighborhood, bowls and bowls of chicken and fish curries were now displayed on the glass racks. I would have ended the trip by having a hearty halal breakfast, but the thought of doing it with the Weatherman would have made the experience more special.

*Fajr is the first of the five daily prayers offered by practicing Muslims.

*Muezzin is the person appointed at a mosque to lead, and recite, the call to prayer for every event of prayer and worship in the mosque.

*Adhan is the Islamic call to prayer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bad Shot

And so the first blog entry for July was written and published 15 days since the first morning of the month, and whose author had his world shrink because of a busted sim card that needs a quick replacement, and whose raketship needs to be attended double-time, while his clients from the day job howls at his incompetence.

Pending job tasks pile on his imaginary desks, wilting herbs, half of them dead because of neglect, and a workout program that has to be delayed to recuperate from a malady afflicting the body.

He's been down with a flu since Monday night, with a mind thinking nothing but sleep, with a throat choking, and muscles aching, like it was being punched by a million tiny fists. The sad part is, he's been stuck in his own black hole and nobody seems to care. And he would have to devote his day-offs for complete bed rests just so he can get back on his feet and catch up on the things he has been forced to abandon this week.