Now,There’s A Challenge . . .

Second guessing yourself may slow down progress in any endeavour. But it’s a sure way to step back and look at the big picture, look for flaws in the design, or backtrack with the methods.

Oh, if only my co-workers and friends realize what a fraud I am when it comes to my skills. At least I admit that. No it’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing, but most of the time it’s all about teaching myself with the tools. My tenure with animation nearly drained me of creativity, the redundancy turned to complacency and in my mind, if I had not decided to do something different, I would have turned sour and dormant, a warrior that stuck to swords and shields while the world armed itself with smart guns and GPS.

Now, I see myself as an outsider, but I can’t help but be attached to my colleagues at work, in whatever job I have held in the past, and at present, as a graphic specialist (motion graphic artist, but it sounds way better). And most of the time, co-workers turn out to be good friends. We interact only at the studio, but they will never know how much I value the ribbing, taunts, masked insults  and overall camaraderie.

At some point we were just shooting the bull, in a manner of speaking when freelance jobs worked its way into the conversation (pun unintended) and I asked Conde and Mike if they could throw me some, you know, given the state of economy and all that. And what could have been a simple answer became a big challenge for me : improve the skills and get some raket (what we fondly call freelance jobs nowadays)

Now, an acquaintance might say “Sure.” and forget about it, but this challenge made the proposition more interesting. I’m not a wizard with Adobe After Effects . I’m still learning to use SketchUp. I know I could create stuff with Photoshop, and so much awesomeness with a pencil and paper – but, there’s a challenge.

Remember, I was talking about reinventing one’s self on the previous post?

Well, there you go, no better time than now.

 So I went to my usual web haunts – SFFF and MBFF and immediately looked for something I can use, and hopefully give something back. Something our local industry and government fail to comprehend – it’s called sharing.

My Ae skills are rudimentary, barely basic and utterly simplistic.

Now, there’s a challenge.

And lest I forget, this whole reinvention things has been brewing for weeks now, but it was Sally, that wonderful woman who seem to hit me silly and unawares every time, who finally convinced me to do something.

So I did.

But I take caution, and extreme care not to storm into this with eyes half closed. This is nothing like improving the way I prepare and cook lugaw by adding some mushroom bits or putting the onions first instead of the garlic. Instinct is good but we need methods. Lots of it.

These are rare times when I seem to come to a deadend, and a hand just snatched me up to go over the wall and continue walking. Friends do that. Good friends will even shove you and complain that you’re too slow.

I’m not. I’m just relishing the good feeling while enjoying the sights, is all.

Soul Food Midnights

As I am still in a dark slump, the details I’ll probably write here at some point, but not just now, my thoughts turn to one of those rituals I seem to have unwittingly forsaken for convenience – preparation and cooking meals – even for just one – me.

But I was craving for something not as fancy as an entrée on a restaurant menu, nor some costly exotic dish, though the thought of hunting for some tasty morsels of  slow cooked Bulalo sends shivers to my salivary glands, I contented myself with a pack of chicken noodle soup, some onions, and garlic. Some finely ground imitation white pepper might have been great , but alas, here in Quezon city, the only establishments open at midnight are beer joints with girls hanging out just outside, a few Tapsilog ,  Internet cafes and a Balut vendor that’s always asleep every time I pass by.

There is a small Lugawan along Seminary Road, but I don’t dare ask if it was good. Also, just to be on the safe side, the place is almost always filled with gay bystanders. Not that it matters, but they I don’t feel the need to squeeze myself among the throng of loud guffaws and choking face powder smell just to see what the lugaw looks like.

Lugaw , if you must know, is not as plain nor as simple. I have come to know lugaw at Inang Luning’s . And boy, the mere mention of it brings me home: white, well cooked lugaw, with small chunks of pork, pork fat, just a hint of ginger, black pepper and maybe just a drop of patis, for good measure. The lugaw of my youth.

Of course there is Arroz caldo, yellow from the Asubha fronds, chicken meat, my Ina’s own recipe includes potatoes, but basically the same methods of cooking. But then Goto came along, which is also, lugaw with beef meat, or innards, stronger tasting and more flavorful, and the ginger seem to have increased in portions, but  also another form of delight.

So I settled for something doable.

Chicken Noodle Soup, despite what it says on the package, should be cooked with love. I have learned to add some veggies, or what’s available in my pantry, in this case it was lotsa onions and garlic. Dissolved the contents into water, stirring so that everything that needs to be dissolved get it’s way, done right, while setting the fire on low. Sliced the onions and garlic and added them to the pot, still constantly stirring so as not to leave any lumps and clumps. I love soup, specially at night, when I work on something. And I may have measured the water too much so a pinch or two of rock salt takes care of that.  I Put on Greg Howe‘s Introspection CD to further enhance this almost ceremonial like preparation.

Does it bother you to eat on styrofoam plates and bowls, plastic spoon and forks? it bothers me. A lot. I have this distaste for convenient food packaging stuff, makes food look, feel and taste less.  That’s why even if it was just sardines straight from a can, or something I bought at a canteen, I would want to eat with proper utensils and heavy ceramic plates, and bowls. makes up for the utter blandness of store-bought meals.

Frugal though it may seem, soup’s ready and I turn off the stove, letting the pot cool a bit, while cleaning up the sink, guitar music fills the room, and I can’t help but feel a bit more languid and calm. And in about 5 more minutes I have my bowl in front of my workstation, Desiderata played and the food and music warmed me up, and soothed me down.

Life’s simple pleasures.

A moment of solace from the day’s instabilities, the daily grind, the complications of interacting with people, the loneliness, frustrations, the gripes – all seem to have some vestige of getting better – as I savor the broth, chew on the noodles, listen to the music and settle down.

The night is darkest just before the dawn, and even with the rain clouds hovering, the sun is sure to come up in a little while.

Life is good.