Today’s Dispatch: Bruised, but Not Scarred

This post was brought to you by Coldplay’s tribute to the Beastie Boys. 

(Admit it: You’ve been waiting for a long time to hear Chris Martin sing the words “porno mag” in that voice.)

A lot of things happened since I went on radio silence these last few weeks. May is my birthday month, for starters, so I did a lot of celebrating and bonding with friends in the city. For school, I went on my field assignments, worked on my papers, procrastinated a whole lot. And yes, I went to see Avengers – alone, in Trinoma, with a huge bag of cheese popcorn to hurl at my lovely Hawkeye (mostly for distracting me from everyone else) – and loved it so much that I almost went out for a cigarette after ten years of not smoking. Almost.

Then the last two weekends happened, and I was thrown for a loop.

It was sad enough for me to hear about Adam Yauch and Maurice Sendak dying within a week of each other. Sadder still to listen to all those Beastie Boys mashups and read quotes from Where the Wild Things Are (“Oh, please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”) and realize that they were, unconsciously, part of my life, whether I wanted them to be there or not.

I don’t mourn easily for people I don’t know in real life. I don’t have the sensitivity that my nephew has, who became so emotionally attached to Michael Jackson after his death that now, in his estimation, nobody else would ever compare to The King of Pop. When a tragic death does happen – think: Whitney Houston, Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger – it takes too long for me to register.

Cancer, on the other hand, is a different story.

A lot of people whom I know personally are fighting the good fight. Some have lost their lives and found their peace; a few – mostly breast cancer patients – came out, literally, alive and kicking, after all the torment from both the pain and the cure. I’ve been lucky (so far) to not have any hereditary cancer genes in my family, but sometimes I hear the horror stories about cancer being likened to a slow death and it makes me wonder if, when, how I’m going to get past that. Then I take a look at my face, or any part of my skin that’s exposed to the sun, and suddenly I’m checking it for symmetry and discoloration.

It’s weird. I know that living in this city is going to kill me, with every cell in my body at risk of being strangled by the heat and pollution. Add to that the late nights, fatal caffeine cravings, and the lack of exercise from procrastination, and it makes me wonder what kind of a life I’m living. Sometimes I’ll hear a comment or a rumor about how I’m killing myself this way – a single girl, bleary-eyed and buried in 34-page drafts – and I start asking myself if they’re right.  Or I’ll remember some stupid thing I did as a teenager, and end up staying up all night to think about how I’m going to make up for it before I make my home in heaven.

Then I remember that it’s not about me anymore. In fact, it stopped being about me a long time ago.

Someday, all that comfort that I’ve sacrificed will pay off – in words and numbers, in hard-bound archives and the hard-to-erase timelines of the Internet. Until then, I have these questions to ponder from the Scriptures:

O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? 

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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