All the Reasons to be Distracted by Gianne Rabena


All the Reasons to Be Distracted

I can definitely feel the weight of the eye bags forming beneath my eyes. After doing, probably, the 10th yawn I’ve made in the past 30 minutes, I squint at the screen and fumble with the mouse pad on my laptop. The glare of the stupid brightness doesn’t do any mercies for my already deteriorating vision and I’m wearing thick framed glasses as it is. Damn. Whoever said doing an all-nighter for a project was easy really didn’t know what they were talking about.

I sigh and feel my forehead. Did my face ever feel this numb before? I need a break. What was that about 20/20/20 a professor told us about once? You look at something 20 feet away for 20 minutes…wait, that wasn’t it.

Ugh. My brain.

I walk over to the window and yank at the handles. I push it open. Air!

The cool night air slaps my face instantly. Instead of making me feel like I’m on a break, opening the window is only reminding me how late it is. I can see a lamp post somewhere below flickering and absolutely no one is outside the convenient store across my dorm, drinking and smoking like there would usually be earlier in the night. It must be past 2 am. Again, damn.

I walk back over to my desk and glare at my paragraph. Gotta’ go back and reference on that article I was just reading. I open the page I was at in Google Chrome and furrow my eyebrows at the text. Remind me again who chose this topic?

Oh right. Me.

I was the one who said I liked Mysteries and I just had to be the queen of let-me-do-the-difficult-shit and told my group I would write the Introduction for that annoying Advocacy paper for Philippine Lit. If only I’d known that it would take a lot of effort to write something like this I wouldn’t have volunteered. I’d forgotten the Introduction is where most of the explaining and thinking starts. Then again my other group mate did all the field work, interviewing and getting documents from City Hall and that’s why I said I’d rather do the writing. So why am I complaining?

I don’t really know. I guess the 2 am is getting to me and there really are a bunch of other stuff I still have to worry about. You find reasons to complain when you’re the only one sleep deprived, while remembering what you’re doing is for a group project. Maybe it’s the writing and these days it’s killing me to write anything. In order to write this introduction I have to really read some articles about this mysterious disappearance and, to be honest, I’m starting to get really creeped out. I chose the topic too, thinking it would be cool to discuss real life disappearances in the mountains and compare it to myths and legends. Didn’t think it would spook me a little, reading about possible murderers or mythical beings that suck you into trees in the middle of the night.

I hear the air conditioning suddenly come to life and feel myself jump.

Really. Really creeped out. Maybe I should listen to some music while I work so it won’t seem that scary. My roommate just had to pick tonight to go work on a shooting for their own project for some other class. I’m alone. This is necessary. But which song do I choose? I think I have a study mode playlist here somewhere.

There I go again. Easily distracted. I waste ten minutes picking out a song.

Katie, don’t be doing this! Get to work! You’ve only just started and none of what you wrote so far makes any sense!

I take in a lungful of air through my nose and do this intense face as I click my knuckles.

Fine. Where was I? Right.

So anyway, the report my group and I ended up with was something about a disappearance of a mountaineer in a local Mountain. Plus myths and legends about that sort of thing and how we could relate the two. There are stories like that, right? Of the mythical kind? I need to find a way to convince our teacher we knew what we’ll be going on about in that report. I didn’t even have to go anywhere near the mountain because, like I said, group mate had that covered. My teacher expected us all to do the actual interviews, but it’s not like I’d have the time to trek a mountain to ask a local if they’ve ever been abducted in the forest—by an encanto or a murderer—or heard about anyone who has. These teachers all assume theirs is the only class we have with the way they give us these projects and deadlines. I just have to figure out how to write about it like we all had chipped in on some real in-depth research and it wasn’t just me.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to add. Since the research bit is just after the Introduction, I sort of volunteered for that too. If I had the time, I’d said. Of course I have the time.

“Okay!” I say in a low whisper “Here we go. Seriously this time.”

My stomach grumbles. I may still have potato chips stocked here somewhere in my cabinet. Something tells me I’m not getting anything done.

I jump again at the sound of my phone vibrating on my dresser. That’s enough coffee for you. I’m desperate for distractions. I reach over for my phone. It’s only 79% so I keep it charging. I type in my pin number, seeing as there’s a little envelope that practically shouted “Easy Distraction”.

It’s Tim. A.K.A. Number-One-Reason-Why-Katie-Won’t-Finish-Writing-Anything.

I think I forgot how smiling for normal people feels like.

          I hope you’re asleep, Katie. I see your Facebook is still on.

I’d chalk him up to be my number 11 on a 1-10 distraction scale. Does this boy have like some weird super sense or does he just automatically always know when to pop up when I needed to concentrate? The Deus Ex Machina of the night, come to save me from finishing the assignment I’d signed up for. Forget whatever I still have to focus and work on.

I text him back.

         Are you stalking me or something? It’s on because I still have stuff I need to finish and there’s no rest for the wicked!

I set my phone back in place and try to keep my cool. No big deal. I mean he could or could not reply. I really do still have stuff I need to do anyway and even if he is the highlight of my evening I still don’t—

The phone lights up and I make a grab for it. Okay. Still very dignified.

         Or procrastinators.

I read. I literally giggle. It’s a good thing no one can hear me. Although he could’ve been more generous with his reply. I don’t care. He started the conversation and he could text “K” and I’d still have my heart racing.

But then another message comes in and my heart floored it.

          You know you could always put that off till tomorrow. We don’t exactly have classes in the morning…unless you have plans.

I love how he’s always so mature when he speaks. Not a single shortcut to his text messaging and his replies sound like dialogues a guy from a young adult book would say. I fumble through my phone’s screen keypad; stupid thing keeps disappearing every couple of times I type. Sometimes I think phones with actual keypads are better than these screen stuff. I swear under my breath. Don’t make me make him wait, you stupid phone!

          I could… I type. But you know me. I’d rather get this over with as soon as possible. I hate having to cram and the sooner I get this stuff done the more free time I’d get. I know we don’t have classes in the morning so I plan on sleeping in…

I bite my lip. Unless you’re planning on finally taking me up on that Milktea date I offered the other day.

And the plot twist. Don’t push your luck, Katie.

No. He’ll probably be okay with it. He knows how you feel. And you really have to go back to that Introduction you started with, so this really isn’t the most important thing tonight. Just send it and be done with it.


No. it’s stupid and straight forward. Downright full of it. He’ll turn you down again flat! Then where would you be? Not somewhere near finishing that Introduction, for starters.

No. He totally gets it. Girls can make the first move and it’s not like he doesn’t already know you have feelings for him.

But he’d probably hate it if you were full of yourself and—


I seriously hate my phone.

He replies!

          Okay 🙂

Okay?! I blink at the phone screen. What is that supposed to mean? I reply fast. I sit on my bed and plop down into the comforter. I roll over and lie on my belly, so I’m close to the socket. I realize I might be tugging on the phone’s charger too much.

          Okay? What do you mean okay?

I have been nonchalantly trying to get Tim to go on a date with me for weeks now. I mean, I started out with pretty smooth conversations and segued into:

“So, you maybe want to hang out sometime?”

I avoided saying “Just us. Without your friends. A date.” because even I still have my limits.

He said “Yeah that would be great”, but then just left me hanging, wondering if he got the message. We’ve been hanging out a lot in the library consequently after that and I’m pretty sure he thinks that that’s what I’ve meant by it.

So eventually I got the nerve to decide to drop the nonchalance and just go with it since one of my best friends suggested it. Or maybe one too many motivational quotes on Tumblr which I took as signs. It was debatable, since Tim was smart, whether he was really just dense or he was testing me or something. Or he doesn’t like me. Which part of me thinks, but I try so hard to avoid.

My friend managed to convince me by asking me “Just how much do you like this boy?”

“So, so much. You think I should just tell him?”

Said friend shrugged. “You guys are in a good place and you are friends. Just keep talking to him until you get closer.”

“So, you’re saying I should just ask him out?”

“Well, not exactly. I meant just talk to him. Also, shouldn’t you be starting on your paper on that myth mountain or something?”

“Talk to him and tell him. Right. Got it.”

Eventually I started opening up the subject of me possibly liking him so much it’s starting to become a shameless habit and a joke. Part of me, honestly, felt he doesn’t think I’m serious about it and so I kept getting the horrible feeling that I was somewhere in the clichéd Friendzone.

I hated clichés.

So I asked him out straight and in simple obvious words in the Library while he checked out a couple of books on Philippine Mythology for their project. I told him I was looking for books for mine, too, so I could accompany him. His hair was over his eyes but I could tell they’d gone wide and darted from left to right as if to see if this was a prank, smiling sheepishly.

“Do you want to go out, on a date with me? Like you and me, on date?” I said, because my motivation had developed. My voice sounded different and almost robotic but a tiny version of me was doing Munich’s The Scream in my head. He looked stunned. I mean, literally his eyes stayed that way, wide and blinking, and his lips pursed, speechless. I was trying to see whether he would start blushing but I ended up feeling like I was the one blushing, furiously.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Let’s go out on a date.” I nodded at my own words, but after a few more seconds of silence the tone sounded off to me. Like it was the lamest thing ever. His whole expression was demanding an explanation like some kind of final game show thing and my mouth just suddenly felt it had no other choice but to start saying things in panic.

I so wanted to sound cooler than that, but either I sounded like a creep or like I had no idea what I was saying. Why can’t this just be normal?

But then he smiled, like really, with all his teeth out and everything. It was enough to make me want to ram my head at the shelf I was leaning on. I felt a wave like a charge of electricity going through me with just the assumption of what that smile could mean.

“Wait, you’re asking me out?” He kept tracing his fingers on the spines of the books he’d been looking through, suddenly avoiding my gaze. Feeling self-conscious. I think we both were. My cheeks started swelling like I had the strange case of the cavities from staring at that smile, thinking that thought was lame too.

“Yes.” I started sounding like me again. Whatever confidence I had vanished and left me there— like, “See ya’ pal!” I blame Adrenaline rush from the pep talk I had with my friend and probably too much Nutella in that crepe I tried in the cafeteria. My voice faltered and I laughed nervously adding, “Kind of”, as if that changed or revised anything.

It sounded embarrassing. Somebody should’ve gotten out duct tape and sealed my trap. Internal tears.

He was still smiling though. I can’t tell whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, the whole thing made me want to throw up. Not literally of course, I mean, he’s, like, still there.

“When?” he said.

Sweet angels in library confession heaven! Did he just…? No? I mean, did he really just?!

If you could imagine what I’d look like while thinking those things it would really help a lot, because I don’t think I could describe my reaction when he said that one word.

“I—” My throat went desert dry and, despite hating the cliché, I stumbled through the words then. I cleared it. “A-anytime. I mean, whenever. I guess.” Stupid of me not to have thought this through. I thought about asking him out without thinking of when? Seriously, Katie, Ctrl + Alt + Delete!

“Okay.” he smiled, staring at his feet. “Er, so like, what?”


“What do we do? I mean, what time? Where do we go?” He laughed. “I’m sorry, I’ve never exactly been asked out before. Isn’t it usually the guy who asks the girl out?”

Are you kidding me? Who? What? Why? And that last gender-role specific question? I started laughing too. Partly because he was laughing and it makes up for the awkwardness and partly because I was seriously going to kill myself for not thinking this through. “Wherever you want.” That sounded lame. “I mean, we could do whatever.”

“We could always just hang out in the library and read like usual.” He stuck his tongue out and chuckled. I think my reaction must’ve looked funny because he added, “Kidding. Really I don’t know, Katie. This is really, really awkward. I wasn’t expecting this. But you asked, so you decide.”

“Yeah,” I said, and then I thought. Woman up! Say something to fix this! “Good awkward though, right?” Forget what I said. Do not speak. Don’t.

He laughed again. “That just made it awkward-er.”

“Dude, I can’t help it!”

“Okay. So then what?” he said.

“How bout’ we just agree that we need to get out of the library more and maybe, I dunno’, how about we go get Milktea together? Or a movie?”

He thought about it. “When?”

“Today?” Stop. Just stop.

He shook his head. “I have class in 30 minutes.”

“Tomorrow then?”

“I have to go meet up with Ben and Ricky for our Project.”

“Damn. I forgot about that. I have to work on that too with my group—I mean, with these books I just found for the research, here in the library. Then the next day after tomorrow we have that seminar and the next day is recollection.” It must have been evident in my face that I was starting to feel down.

“How bout’ after all the projects and deadlines? I’ll just tell you. Or after Finals are over.”



“This is so going to distract me during the Finals.”

The thing is after that we barely got to talk about it again. The week went pretty hectic and he kept disappearing into his group of friends, worrying about projects, Finals and deadlines. I would message him every now and then. We would chat on Facebook but then I’d get guilty because I know I’m keeping him from working. Part of me thought it seemed insensitive to try to bring the date back up. He kept saying he was sorry and that he was busy. I said, I understand and that I’d wait for him. I got seenzoned when I said that and I tried my best not to overthink it. It was too crowded in the library these days anyway, so I didn’t bother going there to study. I admit every now and then I wonder if he’d been taking me seriously then or maybe he was just leading me on. Maybe he just didn’t know how to say no. Maybe he didn’t think the girl should do the asking.

          I mean, YES…I’m available. Let’s go on a date. If you still want to.      

          OMG ASDGHJKLL!!!

Despite the fact that I can literally feel the eye bags forming beneath my eyes and just stopped myself from yawning when the message popped up, I smile at the screen and fumble with the key pad on my phone. The beautiful light of the phone washed over my tired face. Of course it means I’ll end up cramming, since I would eventually want to keep the conversation going. I’d forget all about that thing I was supposed to write the Introduction about and would have to reread and review more related literature. The night would suddenly not be about the thing even further. Then I’d fall asleep after telling myself ‘only for an hour’ and sleep through the alarm. Damn.
















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