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I did not look forward to Christmas, and I’m not even too giddy for the new year. Like a true Filipino, I used to look forward to the ber months—the cooler breeze in Manila, lounging in coffee shops with a book or a buddy, shopping for a few presents (and receiving some), and nonstop playing of Christmas songs. Well, not this year. It was warm all throughout December, and I only felt the season on the eve itself. What a bummer. Recapping the year I can see and dissect exactly why I am a Grinch this season. I finally understand what it feels like to be on the side of the anti-holiday.

I strolled around Greenhills for a few hours yesterday, stopped by for a drink and indulged in a moment I have been fond of since I started driving after twilight—parking the car. And no, it’s not because I’m about to make out with someone; it’s turning the engine off and letting the music roll that turns me on. It’s perfectly still as I let the radio station play their soundtrack to the weekend, and I can only focus on nothing more than the instruments and vocals that lightly reverberate within the space that wraps me. I am breathing pure sound in a concert for one. I have my feet up on the seat, curled up with shins resting against the steering wheel, and it’s just a moment when I feel so safe; everything else is suspended. Beyond the dashboard are some Christmas lights adding color to my thoughts.

I am also reading Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. It’s about four troubled Londoners who encounter each other at the top of a fictional tower block called Topper’s House during New Year’s Eve for one reason: to throw themselves off the rooftop. This book is very timely on my part for a trifecta of reasons: I bought this novel months ago and now I am reading it on the same holiday when the whole story starts off; it shares with four perspectives on what ticks people off and decide to cross the line; and I see myself in two of the younger characters—reading their struggles, resolutions and youthful idiosyncrasies is like reading advice tailored to my own life. It’s not sappy, does hit home on some counts, but this writer can lightly talk about heavy hearts with humor and not turning it into a joke.

These are just a few things I want to share with less thought on organization. Earphones will be blasting Generator by the Foo Fighters when the clock strikes twelve. Happy new year.

Not all the time, but enough times to say this is true.

It sucks. It really does. Don’t listen to good music when you are depressed—ever. When I feel like nothing, not even ice cream or a kiss or a half-pound burger can make me feel better, I listen to good music. There are enough rock songs that tell me to stop thinking and just sing along. I try to read a good book too. And then I listen and listen to the same album until I feel better, and then I can’t listen to these songs anymore. I’ve tainted them with history I’d rather not remember, and off with those are some songs that could’ve made my day, some day in the future.

Music, at the lowest points in life, can temporarily distract me from insistent thoughts and fill my head with loud steady beats. I can’t give you a playlist, because I always pick the ones that don’t speak of anything I feel anyway. And what’s worse is I have to postpone listening to some music for better appreciation, appreciation in a moment when I can let sound pass through my ears and think only what a great song that is. So sometimes I don’t listen at all; I just deal with my thoughts along with the sound of the droning electric fan in my room. It’s just better than mixing a beautiful song with a mind in riot.

I’m not the first person to put this into words, because I’m sure you’ve felt this: you feel that your life is like a movie—you are the character to whom all attention must be given, the soundtrack of your life plays on your iPod, songs perfectly fitting into place. Yes, that’s right, sun’s shining bright, I feel good! Wow, some happy catchy beat is on air! how did they know? And then there’s the other side: I have no direction in life, I just had a break up, everyone hates me. And yeah, radio plays your favourite misery tune.

Radio always has a way of making pop songs to be the soundtrack of the moment. I would have loved these songs that will one day be classics and much cooler to listen to when we’re all older, but I just hate how they have to be the perfect accompaniment to make things awkward as they already are, only because they manifest what I’d rather not say, or even think of at all. And I wish one thing: that it’s the same way for you, that it’s an experience you feel no one can understand completely and knowing you have the same sentiment will make me feel less lonely.

But time is always a slow painkiller. One day good music will be good music to me again, and I can finally listen to them thinking only, “Dang, this is good.”