It might not surprise you to learn that I have the radio on almost constantly, considering what I've done for the past seven years, but maybe it will surprise you to learn that I have it on when I sleep. The station varies - it can be the usual pop-rock stuff I tune in to, or maybe I'm in the mood for French pop, or classical, or talk from New Zealand - but, most of the time, I find myself drifting to sleep with something in the background that's not just the humming of the electric fan.

I'll say I do this because it keeps thoughts out. It hasn't always worked, but for the most part it keeps thoughts out, the kind of thoughts that tend to enter your head when you're at your most idle, perhaps when you're trying to fall asleep. That sounds sad, especially to all of you well-adjusted people, but it is what it is. But then the more traditional purpose of having the radio in the background - having some sort of company - kicks in during the day as well, especially when I'm working at home and the music library just doesn't cut it.

This, I learn, is a potential sticking point with Shalla.

"I like to wake up to quiet," she once told me, as she woke up on a Saturday with talking Kiwis mumbling on somewhere. I've been awake for an hour by then, and that's too long a time to be alone.

"It's like they're forcing their thoughts in my head," she'd tell me an hour later, over breakfast. The talking Kiwis are still there, but I've had to turn the volume down for her. Already the almost silence is bothering me.

When we live together, some adjustments do have to happen, and for the most part they've been going on. I'm changing my eating patterns, for one, because she's allergic to seafood. I've also become just a bit fussier when it comes to the trash. The radio, though, I think that will be a sticking point for years to come, especially when you realize it's still too quiet in the flat, and not any kind of music will do because, as you learn, there are songs that make you feel warm and songs that make you feel cool, and in this putrid city, the former must be avoided.

Maybe that adjustment would be easier, though, if you keep in mind that the radio does not always work to keep unwanted thoughts out. One day I was driving to a meeting, and, again, I had those talking Kiwis on. (Why them? I don't know, but I do have my phases. Also, I would've gone for talking Canucks but their online stream acts up more, and buffering pauses are a cause of literal distress for me.) In the middle of your typical traffic jam along EDSA it occurred to me that I might be living in the wrong country. What if I was born in a different country?

Wait - if I was born in a different country, would that entity still be me? What guarantees that these very set of eyes would be connected to this brain? I would be a different pair of sperm and egg, maybe. The spiritual is hard to prove, and the physical, well, it clearly wouldn't be me.

If "I" was born in a different country, well, would I even be born at all?

How come I wasn't aware of the fact that I wasn't even born yet?

Ah, shit, it's those thoughts again. Often I end up thinking about my mortality and I cower. I'm no philosopher. I don't get satisfaction with thinking about these things. I get scared. I get scared if I try to think about what came before I was born, about why I don't remember anything (duh) and why I'm not aware of it (duhhh) and what will happen to me once I die (nothing, of course). I still cling on to my consciousness, unfortunately, perhaps.

Like that's ever stopped me, though. It never has.

If I, say, get murdered, or die in a sudden, brutal fashion, and Shalla sees my body in the morgue for the first time, what would she yell out? What would she call me? Would she scream out "hun"? "Nyan"? "Niko"? Would she just sob in that mix of despair and confusion over what to call me?

Over dinner, I tell her that very train of thought I just outlined for you.

"Naisip ko rin 'yun!" she said, with an amazed glee in her face.

Yeah, we can make living together work.

And your responses...

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