Posted by: nastypen | February 11, 2007

All that Glitters…

To commemorate my departure from the cubicle, I am going to change my header image. Haven’t done so since November. Change can be good, right? I have four days left in the office and I remember this image:


I took this photo with my mobile phone. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Las Vegas with two younger men last October. Take your minds out of the gutter, these guys were family friends. More accurately, the son of a family friend and his buddy. I was forced to go to Vegas by his parents and that I should enjoy the high stakes livin’ there.

I didn’t enjoy it one minute.

The shot came from about 2am in a seedy and smoke-filled New Orleans Casino. This was the picture. I was walking in a massive room filled with noisy gambling machines, the clinks of chips, the arbitrary dealing more money and higher stakes with shortened breaths of anticipation. I may be the only one in that place who went there and did not see the joy in losing more money to make more.

bling bling

The ceiling was festooned with New Orleans with giant decapitated heads of festival figures like the king for the Mardi Gras parade. Colorful lights and kilometers of beads circle the heads. Yet nobody seems to look up. All of the people were busy looking at their cards, or doing lucky rituals to win in a gamble with the roulette.

I walked around the halls while the two younger men were busy calculating their stakes. they ask me if I was good in math. They said math geniuses could determine a pattern and break it and rake in millions. I just said I took Fine Arts for a reason. I lied. I was more than ok with math.

But my mind is not sharp from the stress of trying to enjoy Vegas in the wee hours of the morning when all I was thinking is my bedroom in the unglamorous building in Makati sandwiched between a squatter colony and even sadder buildings for government workers. My bed never looked so inviting. I was told I should enjoy this.

To enjoy something, there should not be the word “should” preceeding it. Either I enjoy it or not.

What I did enjoy was the fact that I was mesmerized by the lights. It snaked around the ceilings, blinking like stars from the billows of cigarette smoke rising with the hope and visions of millions of dollars and a fettered reality of trying to pay the bills. The gamblers were too busy with their stakes. They don’t even pause to look at one detail I thought was the funniest in my Las Vegas trip.

It was not just the decorated heads dangling from the ceiling. It was the decoration using a balcony that crowned the walls holding up the ceiling. This balcony traced the entire complex. On that balcony are mannequins of New Orleans harlots frozen in their shrieking laughter pointing at an absent parade.

Or perhaps they are laughing at a different more palpalbe parade of incoming gamblers thinking this is the big hit and another parade of slinking dishevelled and hallowed people with their even more hallowed wallets.

I am not part of this parade. I don’t yearn such limiting and debilitating reality of stakes, gambling and greed. In fact the mannequins have more life than the gamblers whose eyes are like glass fixated on what the dealer is about to turn this card or when the little ball will stop rolling.

Other people are blinded by the bling, the amassing of wealth. I prefer to be blinded by these small moments of realizations that things will just fall into their place in due time. Ah, those Las Vegas lights… we drove down the Vegas strip, it was the light show that seem to mesmerize people. the light show metaphorically screaming “This could be your lucky day” entice the mass with money to spare.

My revelrie was broken by one of the young men I was with. they just turned 21. They are drinking from the explosion of adulthood, that they are able to gamble, drink and drive around vegas imagining they have crowns in their heads. I’m pushing 30, but sometimes, I know I’m none the wiser. Youth sometimes annoy me. They equate hubris with bravery. But I know i need more risks in my life. that is why I’m finally doing this affair…to leave the cubicle.
Yet, it was that moment when they were explaining to me how the Math savants of Massachusetts Institute of Technology devised a way to search for a pattern. He beamed when he said that the internet showed him the way. At the end of the night, he lost 20 dollars. I was bored. I looked up again perhaps expecting a harlot to laugh at me.

Instead, I saw the head of the woman in the photo. She looked fabulous. She was staring up unsmiling like she has some cautionary wisdom to bestow but nobody wants to listen because everyone wants to hear the jackpot fall on their laps. Her steely glance away from the heaps of arcade machine is somewhat anticlimactic to the place of anticipations and expectations. Like her cold stare did not belong.

And I thought “the only way to break a pattern for me is not to be part of one.”



  1. You go girl! Leaving the cubicle will do wonders for your soul! Don’t forget to take an dive into the crevices of your being and find that inner strength, the lost being that I’ve known in college — someone who was courageous, expectant and also witty enough to standout and continue to be the a diva of a dahling!

  2. Err, sorry for the minor errors in spelling. I was writing that at two in the morning.

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