Monday, June 9, 2008

The Sunshine Post #26: Retroviral Reflections and the Wonders of 'Wawa'

Hello dears!

My unspoken vow of silence and isolation was broken this Saturday, when I had to speak the whole day for work. I know, right? For a “Director of Communications,” I’ve been pretty silent and anti-social, yo! But after years of listening to drivel, trust me, I’ve learned to pick the more efficient and lasting ways to communicate with people. I remember one class in grad school where everyone had to critique a paper. Everyone was just dissing the data for hours, while I had nothing to say because they all hated each other. I did, however, come up with a really long poem entitled “Vocabulary of a Poser.” Talk about a sign.

I slept at two in the morning the night before and awoke five hours later to give a workshop on HIV/AIDS. The gist was I had to give them a Powerpoint on how HIV works, how it is transmitted, why we’re interested in it, etc., and to get them to give an HIV speech. Ah, I had no idea how on earth this was going to go. I’ve never given a science talk to people who weren’t going to critique the work, ask me about experiments, and inquire which brand of Petri dish I used. The feeling was strangely pleasant – since transmission of information was the whole point, I was a lot more concerned with making sure they understood what I was saying, instead of trying to smoothly steer them away from the questionable numbers in my data. When competition and getting published are not an issue, the ability to educate and to inform is magnified a hundredfold.

I had hope after last May’s Blast-O-Cysted Summer Camp. (The word of the day, if you must know, was retrovirus.) A couple hours later, I was floored when Desiree used the words “retrovirus, “integrates” and “genome” in one sentence. I was shrieking with glee, bouncing up and down and clapping my hands. I nearly had tears in my eyes, yo. Whee! I can explain stuff without making people fall asleep! See, science isn’t that boring and hard!

Later that afternoon, I had to speak again, this time on how I came to do what I am doing now. (This is pretty much “the story” I say to everyone, so I didn’t have to prepare much.) From decapitating rodents to making vegan cupcakes and being among people who want to join the Cirque de Soleil -- I guess it does make for a rather unusual story for some people (although it makes perfect sense to me!). I’d like to think my audience recruitment and motivational skills weren’t too bad. I mean, how on earth can you go wrong with the theme “I-hated-humanity-before-coming-to-WYA-and-now-that-I’m-here-I-am-allergic-to-people-less-and-less,” right? I was under orders by the Directors here to tone down my personality (which was the hard part, but hell, I was a very proper Catholic schoolgirl with pigtails once upon a time).

As I was speaking, I noticed that many of the veteran members and former interns, Donna and Emily in particular, had these doe-eyed constipated “awwww” looks on their faces, which confounded me and almost made me lose my place, until I went out to dinner with the former at Cyma. Mein Gott, this is officially my Philippine-Greek equivalent of Gobo, although it’s not all vegetarian. I can eat their roka (arugula) salad every day forever. Finally! Something I can eat! Yum yum.

By some attack of misfortune, all of my friends cancelled their plans with me that day, which was annoying at first but I’m fine since it was a time for me to get to know these people more. Dinner with Donna that evening was … hmm, there is no word for this – let’s just say that imagining myself in her stories made me digest my dinner faster. Ah, the love these people have for this organization! Amazing. I am so happy to be here! But yow, you guys, I am glad for the more stoic, non-Filipino bloodline/s coursing through my veins – I don’t think I am built to be that emotional and weepy; I will likely have an aneurysm. I mean, I was exhausted just listening to her New York internship stories – so many sentimental tears! How… heh, I can’t believe I’m saying this word, but how wawa*.

* wawa (adj.) – Pronounced wáwâ. Say it with me now! Wawa. Wa. Wa. Wawa! Whee! A word that World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific members say a lot; I think we can trace it to Tams. It’s short for kawawa – Filipino for “pitiful.” Wawa is used in a loving way, especially when said with puppy-dog eyes in a voice that’s a few notes higher than normal. Example: Aww, a cockroach ran up your face? You’re so wawa. (Insert pout here.)

Whee! I am slowly building friendships here – a big relief to a lot of people, I know. As I write this, Peejay, a national committee member, just SMS-ed me to tell me that he loved the Bikram yoga class we just had. Yahoo! I will turn all of them into healthy focused yogis, one lechon**-eating person at a time. Trina, a former intern and my Gold Standard for Hyperactivity and Enthusiasm, sent me a message late one evening to tell me that Moleskines are still available in Manila in this particular bookstore. Thank God and aww, that was sweet. And Frank will teach me all about the stock market in exchange for web design instruction tomorrow. Yay!

** lechon – roasted suckling pig. Oh dear God. Donna told me about riding in a truck with her arm around one, with the oil dripping on her. I just blanched. Bleh.

All this sounds pathetic, I know. But I’ve been so alienated and alone for so long and only had mice and Chloe, my purple Carebear Cub, to keep me company at night for three years, that I think wanting to be with the people around me as opposed to feeling forced to socialize in meetings and parties, listening to drivel and engaging in inconsequential small talk all the time is actually big and bloggable. I may want to take on more challenges in the future, but please God, don’t let me go through the a repeat performance of feeling so agonized and sad, thinking that a minute more with the wrong people will make me slit my wrists, and not having anyone’s name to place on my Emergency Contact Person box. How unbelievably depressing. How perfectly dull. How incredibly dismal.

How very wawa.

Lots of love,


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