Masturdate: A Chronology of Events

Masturdate/ˈmæs·tədeɪt/

When a man dresses up, treats himself to a nice dinner on the town, then goes home and watches a movie, and if he plays his cards right gets a little jerk action at the end of the night.

May 13, 2016

Manila, Philippines

6:30 PM
My mind speaks. “Should I go? I feel like not going because, damn. The traffic.” That conversation with my inner self persisted until I was done in the shower and finally got off the slippery floor of my bathroom. “Okay, perhaps I’ll go after the news. I’ll start studying thoroughly tomorrow.” I know. Tengo el hábito mañana.

7:45 PM
Okay. I’m done with the news and it’s time to leave my apartment. Hung on my shoulder is a red bag which houses my trusty ol’ camera because I was expecting to arrive in Global City around 9:00 PM, about an hour and a half early before the movie starts. I thought about grabbing some sushi first a few meters near Uptown Place before I go to the cinemas. You know, I find pleasure in taking photos of Japanese food before mercilessly devouring them, specially sushi. 

9:20 PM
Manila traffic is morbid. I arrived 20 mins past my approximated time of arrival. In this city’s “payday Friday” traffic brawl, even traffic helper apps like Waze is no match. It’s a good decision that I chose to just get Uptown’s last full show at 10:30 so I would bypass the metro rush hour. By the time the movie ends, the drive home will just be a hush.

9:30 PM
Since I arrived later than expected (thanks, Manila traffic), I just decided to proceed directly to the mall thinking optimistically that there might be sushi bars near or around the area. Good thing that I was able to park right away. I wasted no time and went directly to the lift that would bring me to the cinemas on the third floor. I approached the ticket booth and bought a ticket for one. I wondered what the booth lady thinks about me. “Maybe he’s a loner. Maybe he doesn’t have any friends. Maybe he’s a creep. Maybe he has attitude problems.” I even asked for the price of the tickets to their VIP cinema, where seats are intimately configured for couples to snuggle up while watching a movie. Who am I with? The air beside me. Why would you ask for the VIP tickets, you stupid?

After dropping by the ticket booth, I went to the rooftop to check out a branch of a Japanese restaurant that Berna and I ate at ages ago at the Mall of Asia. “Table for…one please.” Damn. I felt exactly how Marshall Eriksen must have felt when he asked for a table for one for a brunch. The waiter immediately handed me their menu and a glass of ice cold water. My diet requires at least four pieces of sushi per week…and I just made that up. So I ordered two pieces each of uni (sea urchin) and ebi (shrimp) nigiri sushis to accompany my bowl of gyudon (beef rice toppings). I have never gotten some sea urchin in my palate for years. In fact, I already forgot how it tastes like. I was lucky that uni, one of their seasonal sushis, was available that night. As I continued to raid my way to the bottom of my bowl, a thought suddenly popped out of my mind. Am I carrying enough cash to pay for my dinner? I requested to see the menu again so I could check. Fortunately, I had just enough to pay for it. Crazy.

10:30 PM
I got out of the sushi bar at exactly 10:30 PM since the ticket booth lady told me that trailers will just start playing at 10:30. On my way to the floor below, I asked a security guard that I met along the way, “Manong Guard, do you know if this mall’s parking facility has an overnight parking fee? A few months ago, I was charged Php 300 (approx. US$ 6.50) for parking my car overnight. They said that parking up to past 12 midnight is already considered ‘overnight parking’ in their facility.” I asked him in Filipino. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure. Of course, stupid. He isn’t assigned to watch and secure the parking area. He’s inside the mall as you see. Why would you ask him? Still clueless, I just thanked the manong and he gladly replied “you’re welcome po, sir!”.

Around two minutes past 10:30, I proceeded to Cinema 1. An usher prompted me to a small black table where several bags of flavored popcorn sit. I grabbed one and went straight to my seat. Seated immediately beside me, both on my left and on my right, is air.

May 14, 2016

1:40 AM
It was awesome! I immediately texted Berna and we had a quick post-movie discussion as I walk my way down to the basement parking area. But as I descend, an earlier complication struck me back. Damn it. I still don’t know how much I have to pay for the parking. In my wallet were two twenty-peso bills and one fifty-peso bill (approx. US$ 2.00). To be sure, I had to go to the machine that gives out money. I was fortunate to find one a floor just above where I was parked.

26936986821_08701f0af1_c
The movie ticket on the night that I masterdated.

While driving my way out, I pulled over the parking booth and immediately handed the booth lady my parking access card. From my window, I can see her computer monitor projecting an amount. My heart jumped when I saw Php 50 (approx. US$ 1.00) on her screen. Who wouldn’t be happy to see just a sixth of the price that you were expecting?

2:10 AM
See? The traffic is all gone. What’s left on the streets are cars of the party-goers, drunk idiots, and some cabs. I arrived home safely within less than 30 minutes. But folks, I tell you, it’s been fun masterdating. While driving home, I made a decision to do this again whenever a big film comes up. Promise.

3:20 AM
Beep. Shut down.

May 14, 2016

8:00 PM.
I still haven’t studied yet.

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Year-End Musings

The academic year is about to close and internship is just a few weeks ahead. Sometimes, I just turn into an unstoppable thinking machine and think about the decisions that I made years ago.

In my first few days in medical school, included in my procrastination time is reading thoughts and comments of doctors and senpais about their chosen field and the topsy-turvy experiences they had in med school. I’ve read blogs, entered forums, and even infiltrated a few “hospital lounge” groups on Facebook in search for stories that would further ignite my interest in my chosen path. But of all the things that I read during those days, one particular thought made a permanent etch on my mind:

during your stay in medical school, you’ll repeatedly think that medicine is not for you.

Becoming a doctor is hard. But being a doctor is surely harder. For a person like me who invests a lot of time in procrastination and other hideous delaying tactics, my stay in medical school has been the toughest chapter in my life so far. It’s tougher than my days in college where I used to detest almost every day because I never really liked the course that I’m taking up until later. It’s definitely harder than my emo days back then when I experienced consecutive heartbreaks. At some point, I have thought that maybe God gave me this because life has been so easy for me ever since. I mean, come on. The college drama and the dark days of consecutive heartbreaks that I had are absolutely nothing compared to what some of our unfortunate brethren in the streets have to face every single day. I finished college without giving my parents a single headache. I’m blessed to have them who supports me and were able to send me to a good school. Without hardships and sacrifices, I won’t be successful. Without failures, I won’t endure the challenges of life.

I failed a lot of times. If in your life you have never ever felt dumb and stupid, try going to medical school. It’s a place of enlightenment and transcendence. There, you’ll realize that you’re not as bright and intelligent as you think. Sometimes, no matter how hard you study for an exam and how much time you put into it, you still don’t get reciprocated. You still end up with an average score. Worse, a failure.

I’m tired. B always reminds me that tougher days are ahead of me when I reach residency and fellowship. “Ginusto mo ‘yan eh.” (“You wanted that.”), she tells me. A lot of times I thought if medicine really was for me. A lot of times, I thought about quitting. What if I just used my license to practice nursing? Maybe I’m with her right now in Canada. Life would definitely be a lot less complicated. “What ifs.” Life’s toughest questions.

No matter how close I think I am to giving up, I just think further and realize that I am also that close to getting there. Whenever it becomes even tougher, I pray and I just remember why I started.