Archive for August, 2011

11 August 2011

Let’s Dance.

by misslampa

I just got myself a pension-cum-insurance plan, one that I’d have to pay with dear money for the next five years, and one that would take another twenty to mature. It feels like the adult thing to do after joining an established cooperative and investing in stocks, but at the same time, I can’t help but laugh at myself because it was something I wouldn’t think of doing five or ten years ago. And it wasn’t just because I was strapped for cash.

Thing is, when I was between the ages of 17 and 21, part of my great, grand plan was to die at 55. I wanted to live a long and glorious life, but leave before decay and senility got the better of me. I wanted to grow old enough to be considered wise but not too old so as to be deemed irrelevant, and I hated the thought of having to weep by my husband’s coffin. Too much drama for my feeble heart to take, I told myself.

I wanted to go at the ripe old age of 55, when I can already use age as an excuse to be frank and candid and even accusatory, but way before people can dismiss any of my ideas as nothing but the ramblings of an old, cantankerous woman who can’t deal with the fact that she’s past her prime. No, I had no plans of committing suicide, and I wasn’t going to provoke someone into killing me either. It’s just that for some reason, I was convinced that the universe will conspire to have me dead at 55.

Weird, right? Utterly, unbelievably weird.

It couldn’t have possibly been because of my life then, because although it wasn’t always perfect, it was almost always dandy. I remember having good friends, being active in several clubs, acing my exams, doing well in my first job, and making good memories with friends and family. I remember being happy in real life, so it must have been all those depressing films that I watched after I graduated from high school, when I thought I knew what loss and sorrow meant just because I’ve seen way too many movies and read way too many novels with protagonists who died miserably and unexpectedly.

I’m 27 now, so it’s actually not that long ago. But for the life of me, I really can’t remember why I wanted to die relatively young, and why I thought being old meant being lonely. I know I’m not the only one who used to think like this, though, and I’m sure many others still have this mindset. After all, Gerascophobia, or the fear of growing old or aging, is a legitimate dictionary entry, and so are all the anxieties which are associated with it.

But so are life and living it joyfully, thankfully, truthfully. So are awe and wonder and travel and adventure. So are love and forgiveness and the kindness of strangers. So are faith and failure and the grace to laugh at oneself before trying again. So is the soft and soothing pitter-patter of rain on my roof on a cold evening like tonight, when I can’t help but be thankful that in the last six or seven years, something in me changed. That now I can look life in the face and say, “I think I get you now. We can keep doing the tango until I’m old and gray. I just got myself insured, you know.”

11 August 2011

A Medical Misadventure

by misslampa

Here in the Philippines, we seem overly fond of medical check-ups. I’m just a few months shy of 28, healthy as a bee, if I may say so myself, but I’ve already undergone about 10 of these medical check-ups. And that’s not counting those I had to go through when I was still too young to remember. I just remember having to undergo routine medical and dental check-ups every year from the time I became a 4th grader until I graduated from high school. Back then, I welcomed it. It’s a legit excuse to be pulled out of class, after all.

Before I entered the university, part of the requirements was to  allow one of their doctors poke her nose into my business as well (complete with a chest x-ray and a breast exam) so that she can declare to anyone who’d care to ask that I wasn’t contagious in any way. After college, I had more elaborate medical tests – once every year for every company I worked for – and by then, it had stopped being fun because I had to pay for them myself or undergo them during my free time.

I don’t get our penchant for it, really. It’s not like we have a surplus of drop-dead gorgeous doctors. The last I checked, we’re not in Grey’s Anatomy.

So imagine my excitement after finding out that, for the sake of a student visa, I have to undergo another one of these medical tests. And it was going to be the more stringent kind because I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the clinic until I was done with everything and I couldn’t bring anything with me in advance. What fun!

But alas, it had to be done. So off I went to the embassy’s accredited medical and radiology clinic in Makati to get it over and done with. Because I’m a pro at this, I had enough sense to eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and drink about a liter of water before I left my house. Anything to make sure things take their natural course and that they do so as fast as possible, if you know what I mean.^^

So there I was, feeling high and mighty because I came prepared. Upon entering the clinic, I saw a sign that said something like this:

Fire Drill scheduled at 9:30 a.m. today. Everyone must participate. Operations will be interrupted. We apologize for the inconvenience.

And as if that wasn’t clear enough, the receptionist kindly told me as she was giving me the forms that the fire alarm could go off earlier or later, so we had to be always ready to vacate the premises.

I calmly filled out the forms, knowing full well that should the alarm go off, all I had to do was get my shoulder bag and sprint out of the building.

And while the nurses took note of my height and weight, I thought, “If the fire drill starts any minute now, I won’t mind running out of here barefoot and without my things.”

But when the nurse asked me to pee in a cup, I began to panic.

And the panic never left me.

Not while I was locked up in the restroom, coaching myself to pee much (half a cup!) and pee soon.

Not while I was hurrying to secure the contents of that cup with a lid so I could submit it to the nurse right away because God knows if that fire alarm goes off before I turn in my urine sample, my bladder won’t forgive me.

And not while I was dressed in nothing but a short lab gown, waiting to have my physical exam. All the while, I was asking the universe to please, please give me enough time to finish this and change into my clothes again before the fire drill starts. I’m no exhibitionist and I’m a teacher with a reputation to keep, please look kindly upon me.

Thankfully, no alarm went off as I breezed through my physical and had my chest x-ray. I got dressed and submitted all forms to the receptionist. Ah, all is well with the world again.

Then my stomach grumbled, reminding me that there’s one more sample I have yet to submit – and that I must submit it soon or else. I told the receptionist about this as calmly as I could, but  all she did was walk me out of the clinic while saying, “Don’t worry about it, ma’am. Such a sample is not and will not required of you.”

And just like that, the world started to seem crappy again. Yikes.