5 Things to Expect When Dumped

Back in November last year, I wrote an article for MSN Arabia. Unfortunately they didn’t publish the piece, although I was promised it would be. But nevertheless, this piece is very close to my heart; not that I have a significant experience on the subject matter but because I received good feedback on it from another company I forwarded it to.


 

5 Things to Expect When Dumped

By: Randolph Reforma

Here are a few things for expecting dump-ees: 

NUMBER 1: It will hurt.

We’ve all heard it from people who’ve been broken up with but we probably did not anticipate that the pain could be a multi-faceted ball of mess. According to Psychology Today, it’s a mixture of a couple of things including anxiety, loss and rejection. There’s also this feeling that the just ended relationship wasn’t even real in the first place. You’re going to question yourself a lot: ‘What did I do wrong?’, ‘What did I do right?’, ‘Was I too controlling?’, ‘Was I boring?’. A second round of torrential downpour of emotional turmoil happens when you learn he/she has started dating someone else. The word ‘heart-wrenching’ is euphemistic, especially if the relationship was intimately serious.

NUMBER 2: People will feel like strangers. 

This perhaps applies to people who’ve spent most of the duration of their relationship with the boyfriend/girlfriend. Research showed that getting into a relationship caused people to lose some close friends. You’ve probably lost touch with your peers because let’s face it; you’re getting some! And now that you’re not, your schedule for the entire year just opened up, the weekend is around the corner and you try to fill it by calling up your pals who you haven’t spoken to since you were in your pink cloud. Perhaps another reason for feeling like a stranger to people is because you don’t know how to talk about the break-up or you just don’t want to bring it up. When your friends ask you how you are and you say ‘fine’ even though your emotions are repeatedly imploding and exploding inside. Even among friends your mind remains distant, trying to make sense of the break up.

NUMBER 3: Everything will be a reminder. 

Lookup ‘break-up’ songs and you will find a plethora that tells you that everything captured by your senses will whisk you back to a memory. This is especially true to those who’ve been in a relationship for a longer period. Every corner, every turn will remind you of places you’ve been to. The warmth of the afternoon sun is like his warm embrace and the wisp of cold air is like the night she spent with you watching the stars. The sound of trickling water is every silent moment with him/her and it seems that the radio knows what you’re feeling because everything that’s on is an anthem to your broken heart (Wrecking Ball anyone?). God-forbid you get a whiff of your ex’s cologne, you’re done for the day! Your entire relationship from start to end is a marathon rerun 24/7. 

NUMBER 4: You will hope to get back together.

Taylor Swift poignantly pointed out that you’re never ever getting back together. If your ex was your friend, every text, call, tweet, smile, word and gesture is hope. You may find ways to hang out with him/her in a friendly setting, but it will end up in a miserable disappointment. You may even get a makeover and flaunt it, that’s perfectly fine, but you’ll do it only because you want to make your ex realise what they’re missing. More likely, it will not go as planned and you’ll be stuck with new stuff and no reconciliation.

NUMBER 5: The grey skies will look permanent.

You’re going to think you’re never going to get over it. Some people say you do but some say you just get used to the ‘fact’ it’s over. You might even start counting days, weeks or even months waiting for a morning without that stabbing pain in your chest. You’ll be in and out of denial saying you’re over it, and then you’re not in a seemingly unending cycle of shame. You may even go for that enticing rebound: that band-aid for a major emotional laceration! You’ll even sound depressing to listen to (especially if a month down the line and you’re still grieving). You set unrealistic deadlines but end up not keeping to it. You’re using the ‘half the relationship’ theorem, but find yourself sobbing over the calculator that belonged to your ex.

How do you cope? You acknowledge that it’s over and do something about it. The trick for a few people is: Distraction. Not rebounding, but doing the things you love, things that consume 100% of your attention. It’s probably not a good idea to be alone for while because you’re still within the gravitational pull of that relationship black-hole, so you need family and friends to anchor you. Talk to people about it; if you feel it necessary get counselling. And remember, your world doesn’t revolve around your ex, he/she just let someone like you, get away.


 

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He looked beyond my fault…

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to sing Dottie Rambo’s, ‘He Looked Beyond My Fault’: a song written to the tune of ‘Londonerry Air’. It’s a vocally demanding piece as it covers a full octave and a half; the arrangement I got my hands on contained a key change which made it more challenging. Much more, the powerful message of Calvary’s cross spun through touching metaphors and personifications felt sweet escaping my lips. Singing that piece was just pure joy. I think most musicians will agree that nothing compares to having the ability to perform a piece of music you’ve known so well; that the very instance of the opportunity is profound and inexplicable. I’m a sucker for lyric-heavy songs because they speak volumes, but more so, when it’s accompanied by melodies, so familiar and resonant.

I’ve been singing in front of church congregation since I was 10 years old; I’ve grown up with the applause which made me believe that I have talent. That’s probably not the best example of self-assurance. Over the years my performances did not always go smoothly, personally speaking. There were times when my voice would break, or when I hummed an entire verse because I couldn’t recall the lyrics. Worse, when I go off-key and proceeded to butcher the song further with adlib to cover it up.

But there was something about yesterday’s performance that made me realise there is humility to be found in the expression of our talents. Years ago my choir directress pointed me to Philippians 2:3, ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves’. This verse has guided my perspective in displaying my musical abilities: it is not to show that I have a wide vocal and dynamic range, but I have a message to communicate. It became clear to me that the God’s gift of music is to be enjoyed not in the praise and applause we receive, but in our effectivity as a communicator. Ultimately, singing for a congregation means we have a message to impart, not a chance to entertain. And keeping this in mind, the musical choices we make before and while performing should be guided by how well these choices will reveal the song’s meaning; if the congregation is too distracted by melismas then we’re probably not doing a very good job. 

It may seem like a contradiction but I am humbled by people’s positive feedback. Humbled because out of the many God could’ve used, he chose me; that He would give me the opportunity to sing and inspire others. And I am very grateful that despite my faults and flaws, I’ve been His instrument. It would be to my detriment to think that I was better than everyone else; God has been actively reminding me that I’m not.

Sometimes there’s not enough sad emoticons to go around.

Today I had the unfortunate privilege of experiencing the rigid security measures of cashing a cheque.

The money was in my arms reach, literally; all I had to do was get up and take it from the cash counting machine. Then the Teller politely informs me, ‘Sir I have to refer to our Head Teller, there’s a problem with the signature’.

The Head Teller feels exactly the same way, ‘The signature does not match. You have to get a new one’.

Crap.

And in an instant my well-planned happy day gets fogged up by an unrecognisable scribble; my long, steadfast waiting turns to me and mocks me, ‘Looks like you’ll have to wait to get a new signature’. I’m not a big fan of waiting, waiting lounges or any sort of setback. I like my plans executed with as little interference and deviation as possible. In the perfect world that would’ve been the case; but in the reality of my life, it’s always bound to turn to a horrible tangled piece of cow dung at the slightest opportunity.

So I pouted and imagined how to express my intense disappointment through emoticons on my phone. I failed. I have a Nokia phone and there’s not much creativity right there.

I was supposed to be full of life today, now I feel I’m desiccating miserably. My only comfort right now is the hope that God will look at my circumstance and give me a miracle.

Honestly I’m just shattered; my OCD ensures that my emotions are exaggerated. A rejected cheque to me feels like the end of world.

Philippians 4: 6 – 7 reminds me to pray for peace and acceptance of this predicament. The worse case scenario, I wait another month to get another cheque (hopefully properly signed). The most ideal, one that I am constantly running through my mind is the office giving me cash instead ASAP.

I don’t really know or understand why of all days, of all people, of all cheques, this has to happen to me. But I am confident that I’m to learn something; although how unclear and seemingly irrelevant the lesson is, it’s probably of utmost importance.

They should really come up with a sadder emoticon.

Expressing Opinions

What’s the difference between these two sentences:

1. Long hair does not suit you.

2. I like your hair shorter.

Both sentences address someone’s hair, however the first sentence implies that the person speaking the sentence has an authority with regards to the subjective aesthetics of hairstyling: it is not an opinion. The second sentence on the other hand is an opinion because personal taste or liking is implied by ‘I like’. One may argue that if the first sentence started with ‘I think’ it would diminish the authoritative connotation of the sentence, however it then raises the question, ‘Why do you think his long hair doesn’t suit him?’: a question that requires an answer to validate the speaker’s opinion against professional hairstyling experience.

My friends call me pedantic when it comes to language. Considering my OCD and my neurotic behaviour, one more excessive habit under my belt wouldn’t hurt.

But back to the point at hand, a little background: I’m trying something new with my hair where it’s no longer shaved off. It’s been that way for the past 4 years and I’ve grown sick of it. Most people in my community especially my family however are insistent I remain with it.

What is most interesting is I get two different reactions: some don’t like it, some do. Most of those who like my hair longer, are not Filipino. Most that don’t like it, well, are Filipinos.

When I think about it, it boils down to culture. Men with longer hair in the Philippines are rare and the ‘neatness’ of shorter hair has been naturalised in our aesthetics. Meanwhile, in other countries, men with longer hair receive little to no criticism at all.

Nevertheless, if our aim is to express an opinion, then telling someone ‘this doesn’t suit you’ does not correspond to a friendly advice but an authoritative claim. Perhaps this sentiment is personal for me, I’m known to dislike criticism especially if they are worded poorly.

I do acknowledge that people have my best interest at heart. My only concern is, if someone is going to tell me my hair doesn’t suit me, he or she better be an international, award winning stylist. Actually you know what, it’s my hair and the idea that ‘some’ hairstyles suit me limits my self-expression. It also restricts the way people can perceive me: I’m Randolph the forever short-haired guy. I appreciate the concern over my looks and whether or not this hairstyle suits me, but I have no intention of conforming to norms that have no bearing on my capacity to be a better person.

In the case of opinions, discourse can mean the difference between offending someone and encouraging someone. My father always says do not be too ‘absolute’, just because we think something doesn’t suit a person, it doesn’t mean we can say it with an authority to impose our judgement.

I’ve refrained from giving my opinion on many occasions only because I’m no better than anyone. I’m constantly learning and at this juncture of my life, my opinion on someone elses’ looks or whatever aspect of their being is not a valid point to raise. I do not think I will ever be at all. It’s their decision and I am a mere spectator and I do not wish to afford myself with an opinion unless otherwise it is asked for.

So unless my current hairstyle is contributing to the melting polar ice caps, depreciating human values, the decadence of musical artistry and Miley Cyrus’ artistic stunts…I’m going to keep it as long as I can.

 

Brown Rice, Cauli-Rice, No Rice: The abandonment of culture and stratification of cuisines.

Google search diet tips and you will have more search results than you’ll know what to do with.

And it is not enough we read these ‘diet tips’ or ‘health tips’, we share them to other people. On the extreme, some uninformed citizen causes a ruckus about certain types of food by spreading rumours about its alleged health risks. On the other noble end, health enthusiasts dish up some ‘healthified’ version of traditional cuisines (which I hate).

Why do I hate ‘healthified’ versions? Because they are an abomination!

Okay not an abomination, but the people behind these ‘low-calorie’ knock-offs undermine the culture behind these cuisines.

In my Media Discourse class, we were tasked to make an advertisement using a picture of the top perspective of a soda can. One student used the picture to spell a sentence (I can’t remember it now). But the rest of the letters were made of other ‘unhealthy’ food items. Two of these items were the Mexican taco and the Italian pizza. I raised my hand to offer a point that if this advertisement was proposed in front clients including a Mexican and Italian, it probably might be rejected.

Mexican tacos and Italian pizzas have been met with criticism among health enthusiasts. High calorie, fattening, high in sodium etc. But similar to the student who made that advertisement, some health enthusiasts forget that food is part of a country’s culture. And by calling certain food items ‘unhealthy’, they extend this idea to the entire populace who consume these food items. It is insensitive and for the lack of a better term, imperialistic.

I was interviewed once for a magazine who said Filipinos have the worst diet. The editor called my country’s cuisine that way because of the rice we consume. Quoting from the editor, ‘You see them eating that canned corned beef on top of a huge plate of rice’. For my first assignment, I was to find the ‘unhealthiest’ Filipino and take a picture of their refrigerator; an expose for some ill-considered, insensitive feature article. I did not return to write that horrible article.

On television, chefs from the Philippines have come across the idea of ‘Cauli-rice’ or Cauliflower Rice, as substitute to our staple, white rice. First of all, linguistically it is absurd. Cauliflower is a vegetable and rice is a type of grain; it is a poor way to describe a head of cauliflower ran through a grater posing to be a ‘nutritious’ substitute. Secondly, promoting a ‘healthy’ alternative for rice implies that the Filipino culture needs to find an alternative to its culinary traditions. The idea behind the substitution is that ‘we all should live healthy lives and eat nutritiously’. That is perfectly true. But I think healthy lives and nutritious eating starts with balanced diet and lifestyle, not alternatives that undermine culture.

Another television spot is by a female model/actress/whatever who advocates healthy lifestyle by juxtaposing her already slim body to a bowl of brown rice. It is an intelligent way of selling the idea that brown rice is a healthier option. It is in terms of nutrition, but it is no better in calories or carbohydrates than white rice. According to Calorielab a cup of cooked long grain, brown rice has 44.8 grams of carbohydrates and 216.5 calories, while a cup of cooked long grain, white rice has slightly lower carbohydrates at 44.5 grams and calories at 205.4. And honestly I grow tired of ‘brown rice’ advocacy. I have tasted it at PF Changs – it is delicious but it is really no different than what Filipinos, in my generation, are used to.

The last of these culture-killers is the ‘No Rice’ movement implemented by fitness-bingers who can’t stick to their routines. The abandonment of rice altogether in hopes of a beach-ready body is astounding and annoying. For diabetics and others, the concern about rice is understandable, but for the average dieter, I say, get a grip and snap out of the delusion that getting rid of rice is the ultimate answer to a slimmer body. It really isn’t that simple. You will lose weight, as illustrated by the unfortunate people who consume little to no rice due to their economic state. But I doubt the experience of food will be similarly enjoyable. As a proud Filipino I can say there’s no meal like rice topped with Caldereta.

I do not believe in brown rice, caul-rice and ‘no rice’: they imply that healthy living is restricted to what popular diets promote. I still maintain that a balanced lifestyle – between exercise and leisure, and a balanced diet – the right proportion of Go, Grow and Glow food items (I love elementary Health subject), is the answer for a healthier living.

The health and fitness movement proliferating in society is not necessarily an absolute good. It is flawed. Not because the paradigm does not work, but because the nutrition part of its framework is insensitive to the various gastronomic cultures existing in society. I mentioned that the notion certain food items are unhealthy is imperialistic; this is because the health and fitness ideology held by the proponents of the establishments aimed at ‘healthy living’ have stratified culinary traditions and classified them according to their nutritional values. Cuisines are no longer just part of a country’s culture, they are now a part of a hierarchy of cuisines segregated not for their taste and flavour but for their characteristics that support or oppose the ‘healthy’ ideology.

Say no to ‘Cauli-Rice’! Brown rice is the technically the same as white rice! Eat a balanced meal instead; exercise and you will be fine.

Does It Matter?: Christians react to the new ‘Noah’ movie

I have not seen the movie – only because it has been banned in this region.

The curse of social media like Facebook these days is that it gives a chance for people to weigh on issues, however uninformed or prejudiced they are. And it is slightly irritating when opinions are thrown around about movies. The new ‘Noah’ movie is no exception.

There are people on my FB Timeline who have declared they are not going to see Noah because it is Biblically inaccurate. And they link to external sites by Christian commentators who originate this general opinion about the film. The question in my mind is how do you measure accuracy? A thousands of years old story represented in a few pages and limited word count … it is perhaps up to an extensive research and in-depth knowledge of Near-East traditions. We are not history scholars, we just want to see a movie about a world-wide flood and an incredible piece of transportation.

Cole NeSmith, pastor of the City Beautiful Church wrote in an article that the story of Noah is about 2,000 words long. He notes that this is significantly shorter than a novel at about 50,000 words. Novels have been turned to movies before, few more successful than others. This is true with Biblical stories. What NeSmith wanted to illustrate here is for a story to be translated into film medium, 2,000 words is not going to provide a lot of detail. What the account of Noah’s experience in the Bible however does provide is a narrative that tells what happens from point A to point B and so on. Whatever is in between those points is lost in time.

Reading the synopsis, director Aronofsky has taken liberties. The golems, reflective of Judaic tradition, conversations with several characters that were not mentioned in the Biblical account and the events taking place inside the ark over the course of the deluge have sparked debate over the ‘accuracy’ of the film.

But what people, especially Christian commentators have not asked is whether the intention of Aronofsky’s ‘filling-in’ is to skew Biblical accounts or simply to provide an audio-visual narrative to the classical tale.

Personally I would go for the second. I would not charge Aronofsky of ‘skewing’ Biblical truths. Based on the synopsis, Aronofsky takes the viewer through the original narrative – God is going to destroy the earth, Noah builds an ark and houses his family and living creatures, a flood wipes out the entire planet, after the flood settles God sends a rainbow as a promise not to ever do that again. Whatever Aronofsky put in to fill the gaps in the original Biblical account is his creative right as much as it is our creative right to continually re-enact the manger scene during Christmas. It is unlikely that my opinion will change once I see the movie, but as far as the synopsis is concerned, this is just a re-imagining of an iconic piece of Biblical history.

Most Christians suffer from this type of double-standard with regards to the arts. Years before they condemned rock music for being of the ‘devil’ and then comes the 21st century where Christian bands make use of the similar instruments, employing ‘rock’ like sounds and rhythms and repetitive and sometimes empty lyrics. Extreme Christians condemn listening extensively to secular music because of its worldly and materialistic themes. Yet they pay their way in to see a Christian concert and pass it off as ‘worshipping with Mr. Christian Artist’. Where’s the difference?

Does the Noah film deserve Christian criticism for Aronofsky’s creative re-imagining? No because underneath all the Hollywood glitter and lustre, the story remains intact. Granted, some added elements may change the story and the outlook on God, but personally, that remains to be seen.

Should you go see it? Yes. Because it is an opportunity to see what a global flood, and an ark-full of animals could look like. Not because Emma Watson or Logan Lerman or Russel Crowe are on the starring list, but because it is Noah’s story through the lens of a film director. Not because Darren Aronofsky has created a masterpiece and you are big fan of his work, but because this is a chance to see how one man offers a visual narrative of what once was only a Sunday School Bible story.

I’m so blessed: Christian Concerts and Unnecessary Pretences

Back in 2010 I was part of a choir who backed up a prominent Christian artist.  It was an enlightening experience for me, for two things: One. Christian or secular, music concerts operate within a similar business framework. Two. Christian fandom is no different from non-Christian fandom. And the most common word employed to hide fandom is the phrase, ‘I want to be blessed’. If we think about it, we paid for our ticket in and our seats to watch a two hour performance. It is very much the same as saying, ‘I paid for a blessing’.

Should we then call the musical experience a blessing when the realisation of that experience went through some form of financial exchange? Is it possible that we may be confusing the word ‘blessed’ with ‘star-strucked’ or any other term that describes the result of being in the presence of an influential person? The real dilemma for me at least is the word we use. I am unsure whether saying, ‘I was blessed’ is meant to express our excitement in a ‘Christian’ way or we are genuinely blessed.

But what does it mean to be blessed? What sensation is distinct that separates it from others? And does it make sense to say we’ve been blessed with the concert when we paid money to watch it?

Now to argue the business of Christian music is a far more intricate and extensive task; there are opposing sides that can’t agree at all. However my main concern is the honesty of our speech.

In my really short stint as choir member for this Christian artist, they called the production, ‘Worship with *Mr. Artist*’ My problem with that title is the word ‘worship’ which is intimately tied with our faith and arguably should not be used carelessly in context with the material world. In the context of the music business, when artists perform publicly, there’s almost always some form of cash-flow. To say that, I’m going to buy a ticket to go see Mr. Artist and ‘worship’ is something I cannot resolve.

Similarly, I cannot resolve the way we want to attend Christian concerts and describe it as, ‘Worshipping with Mr. Artist tonight at The Place’. Why can’t we just say, ‘Excited to see Mr. Artist perform tonight’ – honest and straightforward, without the subtle pretence. Isn’t that why we bought the ticket? To see Mr. Artist on stage, live?

Maybe we are just cautious against ‘idolising’ the artist. But idolising a person goes beyond plain discourse; idolatry is rooted deep within our natural tendencies and requires a misguided extreme devotion. Admitting we’re going to a concert to see Mr. Artist because we’re fans of his music is not idolatry. If that is the case then it will imply that having a favourite preacher is also committing idolatry.

Perhaps our intentions and our expressions need to agree. I positively think that we are simply genuine fans of Mr. Artist, and I do not see a reason why using the same discourse we employ with secular artist has any indication of idolatry or any non-Christian-like behaviour.