Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Failure and Success

Here’s how I ended up in law school: I lost a bet with my dad. I told him that if he helped me finance a small business and it doesn’t work out, I’ll study law as a back-up. He agreed. The business failed, so I found myself taking an exam. Obviously, I got in.

Please don’t read too much into what I’m about to say, but I’m really not accustomed to failing. I’m one of those people who never had to try hard to excel. And in those few instances where I really did my best, I usually came out on top. The fact that the business failed wasn’t that big of a deal for me because, at least this was what I thought; first, I didn’t really try, and second, I felt that if I really tried, it would have been successful. I figured, whatever, it doesn’t count.

Besides, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and lawyering seemed as good a job as any.

When I started, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. I’m sure that the other 249 students felt the same way too. Which was why we were all so shocked. At the end of the first year, almost 50% quit, or got kicked out.

Here’s the thing. The first lesson law school teaches you is how to handle pain. Mind-numbing excruciating pain. Physical pain, in the form of headaches and ulcers because of sleepless nights and skipped meals due to non-stop studying. Psychological pain, because the professor will make you feel like an idiot for every mistake you make, and you’re bound to make a mistake each and every day. Emotional pain, because each day is a battle between your sense of worth, and the constant pressure to do better. In law school, there is a tendency for you to be defined by your grades. The school will not look at you as a person who is artistic, or interesting, or charming. It can only see you as that guy who failed Obligations and Contracts, or that girl who got a perfect score in Negotiable Instruments. It’s very difficult for a normal person not to question his significance when every day they give you a number as a yardstick for your value. “Here, you’re 74, the guy who almost passed."

There’s a reason why half of the first batch of law students leave or get kicked out; not everyone can handle it.

“Sleep is for the weak,” one professor said, and we believed him, at least when we were freshmen. We never slept. We had no choice, there was too much that needed to be read, or written, or understood. Each morning I woke up wanting to quit.

But I didn’t. Which surprised me to my core. How can the perennial quitter, that guy who never failed because he never truly attempted anything, stay the course for something this difficult? It was mind-boggling.

But this is where it gets weird: the more difficult the course got, the more I wanted to finish it. It became an obsession. Every morning I woke up thinking “fuck I want to quit,” and then I’d change my mind right after. Against all odds, it became a dream. I plodded on, with 3-4 hours of sleep, a couple of Red Bulls, and a Venti Caramel Macchiato everyday. I was miserable, but I wanted it so badly the idea of failing was unimaginable.

It came with a lot of sacrifices. My then-boyfriend broke up with me. I fought with my friends. I barely saw my family. My social life was practically nonexistent. And my already short temper was made even shorter. Every day, I blew up for no reason at all. I almost lost my best friend.

And why sacrifice so much? Why would I put myself in a situation where I could fail in the truest sense of the word? Why would I put my heart and soul into something so badly that I sacrificed so many other things that were also important? Why would I do that?

The answer was simple: Because I wanted to, and it was my dream.

The idea that one can achieve something significant or important in one’s life, grabbed me. So I took a chance. I’m still taking that chance. It’s very possible I will fail, but I will make sure, at least to the extent of my capacity, that it will not be because I did not give it my all.

There are successful people, and then there are successful people. I want my success, if I would be given the opportunity to reach it, to be defined by the idea that I took a risk, and won. That I poured my heart into something I really, truly thought was important, and I managed to come out on top. I don't want my success to be an accident. Success, without the real risk of failure, is not success at all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Writing Philosophy

One of the first lessons I learned when I studied Creative Writing (and something which my professors never taught me, at least not in the traditional sense) was honesty. Or the ability to write unflinchingly about what I observed. One of the biggest disappointments of my life was almost failing a writing class because I refused to be honest, and wrote what I thought the professor wanted to hear.

It took a while, but I learned, and the lesson stayed with me longer than my knowledge of grammar and technical writing.

Anyone can become a good writer, I believe. Just take a course in English and study hard, study patterns of speech and styles of writing and you'll do more than fine. But a clear, sincere and honest rendering of your beliefs and feelings is stronger than the most powerful metaphor in the world. It is better than faith at moving mountains.

Honesty gets to people, and they empathize with it. It strikes directly to the heart, and you'll get a reaction, whether good or bad, creating a connection between you and your reader. I've always believed that good, imaginative writing establishes style, but honesty creates substance.

Maybe that is why I like reading blogs so much. There's a lot of bad writing out there, sure, but there is always a wealth of honesty. I enjoy reading honest posts. It never fails to teach me something.

So I guess my point is this. Fundamentally, writing, for me, is about making a connection. It's about finding a common ground between my reality and yours; that, notwithstanding our superficial differences, we are the same, at least in the important things. Everything else is a footnote.

Photo taken here.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I was with a friend a few years ago, eating white cheddar fries in Chimara, when, all of a sudden, I had an out-of-body experience. Nothing supernatural, mind you, only a vague but still weirdly acute sense of perspective I have never felt before. Everything just seemed so...arbitrary...and absurd. Does that make sense?

The closest analogy I can think of that approximates the feeling is when you stare at a word long enough that it stops making any sense. Except it has not changed one bit; the thing that changed is your perspective.

Only this time, it was not one word, but the whole world, and in a freaky, fleeting instant. Everything just seemed really, really absurd. I suddenly realized I was eating a root crop fried in a vat of oil squeezed from vegetables, and then sprinkled with a liquid squirted from a fat animal that is left to basically rot before it was turned to powder form. But with no words, and not just with my fries, but with everything else. It was as if all intellectual barriers had been destroyed, and I was left with nothing but a clear perspective of how absurd everything really is.

Then I started to laugh. My friend asked what I was laughing about and I tried explaining it to him but I couldn't so I let it go at that. He understood, he said, but I don't think he really absolutely did, because, well, I didn't.

It was strange. If it wasn't as fleeting as it was, I probably would have difficulty finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

I wonder if there are people who live like this everyday. I wonder how they cope with it.

Photo taken here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I met Gino in first year high school. He was a transferee from another school, so it was the first time we met each other. We became seatmates, shared a couple of jokes, but were never really friends. I remember him as smart and articulate. He wasn't the best in class, but he was definitely above average.

After that year, we never became classmates again. I saw him once in a while, and worked with him in a school play during senior year, but our relationship never went beyond casual acquaintances. We interacted around the same circles, but our conversations rarely moved above polite small talk.

I was in college when I heard the news. Gino died in a plane crash. The news was shocking to say the least. He was young, definitely, but more than that, it came completely out of nowhere. I made plans to go to the wake with my friends to pay our respects.

The plane crash and its relation to Gino's death is notably depressing in one more aspect. You see, Gino was traveling with his family. And when I say family, I mean the whole clan. They just came back from a family reunion. The plane crash virtually wiped them all out.

When we came to the wake, there were 6 coffins, of varying sizes. I asked my friend Ron where the other dead were being kept. Ron said he didn't know. I saw Ioanis crying in a corner. Another acquaintance, Anthony, bought several garlands of sampaguita. He was carefully, artfully, arranging them on Gino's casket.

The news of the plane crash was certainly huge, and appeared on a lot of local news shows. The fact that one family came from a reunion made it even more tragic, so particular attention was brought to Gino's family even more. His best friend, Louis, told me that there was at least one survivor that he knew: Gino's mom. She wasn't able to attend the reunion because she was sick. She stayed at home while her family flew to Davao.

There was a short mass, and prayers were said over each of the closed caskets. Ioanis was still sobbing, and it was getting louder by the minute, but he was trying to compose himself. Ron's eyes were red, as were mine. There was a lump in my throat. Beyond grieving for a lost friend, we were, or at least I was, grappling with the absurdity of the situation. How could this happen? What does this mean? Why this complete unfair arbitrariness?

A few weeks after the funeral, I met up with Louis, and asked him how he was. He told me he's okay, and that he was making it a point to visit Gino's mom every week to see how she was. He told me that the first time he saw her, she was almost catatonic, but that she's getting better by the week. He was also worried for her. He didn't know, rather, didn't want to think about, what she would do if left to her own devices for too long. He wanted to share in her pain.

He said he missed Gino. But there was nothing he could do. He's moving on, he said.

I have one lasting memory of Gino, which is forever etched in my head. It was Christmas season, and one of his friends handed me a gift. We were seniors then. I opened the package, and found a large statue of an angel, as well as a love letter. I thought it was sweet. It was one of those instances that made me feel, during those difficult years, that I meant something to someone. Even someone I didn't really know. It made me feel glad to be alive.

Photo taken here.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I have traveled along the Vito Cruz Area for a while now, and have become acquainted with many of its old houses. I have a particular affinity for structures that have been ignored by the passage of time, and with these houses, even more so. They carry a connection to the past that, for me, is too important to be forgotten. They offer a powerful sense of history which gives hope.

When a friend of mine asked me to write an article about these old houses, I wasn’t enamored of the idea. Though I think of them as small historical treasures, I find I have too little knowledge of history to give an accurate account and perspective; one I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have other people read. But I realized that knowledge can be overrated, and that a sincere and honest rendering of the quality these structures can stir on a person can sometimes be more important than an accurate retelling of history, so I decided to at least give it a shot.

What is it about these old houses that make them so extraordinary? At first glance, you merely see the dirt, the crumbling walls and their insect-infested pillars. Their age is clearly evident. Aside from the obvious historical value these houses provide, why give them a second thought? In fact, why even write about them? There has to be something more; these structures must have something essential to give us, something we could learn or need.

Quite frankly, it is difficult to get past the dirt and decay, but I realize when I look closer, there is a beauty that can only come with age, and these houses have it in spades. Age offers for a common person the opportunity for nostalgic musings; and in this case, a more than hopeful rendering of a severely wished-for past. The Vito Cruz area is, for some people, a window to a past that is more beautiful, polite and cultured than the present. An age where adults take time to look and dress better; where Filipinos, at the very least, offer a semblance of graciousness when in the company of other people. The Vito Cruz area then becomes less of a historical site, and more of a door to a positivism that, at this moment, Filipinos severely need.

Change can be a dangerous thing, and the passage of time has been particularly difficult on these old houses. They have been largely forgotten, and people would rather escape to the more modern establishments than reminisce about a past too difficult to imagine. But, though I acknowledge that progress would eventually push on these houses their eventual death, we need not forget them. In them lie a connection we should not let go of; to remember them is to have light.

I do not know if this idealization is the real past; it is probably merely a dream brought about by a hyperactive mind. Still, for me, the Vito Cruz area offers a connection to a place that gives hope a permanent residence; and living in a country seemingly ruled by chaos, that is more than we can wish for.

*An old article published in a now defunct travel magazine.

Photo taken here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Objectively Beautiful

My boyfriend Jt and I were lounging around his hotel room. I was flipping through channels so fast I could barely understand anything. He was reading a book. At some point we came across this toothpaste commercial which featured an Asian actor with dark skin brushing his teeth, going about his day, then dancing with a girl in the end.

In the middle of the commercial, Jt said, "He's very hot."

I looked at the guy. I thought that, objectively, he wasn't really that hot at all. Cute maybe. "No, he's not. He probably slept with someone to get the part."

"He's so hot. Look carefully."

"I am. He's not. He's cute at the most. Maybe semi handsome. That's it."

"Dude, he is hot. Objectively."

"No, he's not. I mean, look at that nose. That is not a hot nose."

"Well, he's hot for me."

"Well, you've got weird taste in men."


"Well, duh."

"Obviously except for me. I'm objectively cute."

Photo taken here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Masks That We Wear

I was in a club in Makati with my friend Toph, looking down from a ledge at a large group of people dancing. Toph wasn't in a good mood, and when he's not in a good mood, he has a tendency to rant.

"Just look at them. It's so disgusting."

Eyebrow raised, I looked at him sideways, curiously. "What do you mean?"

"Everything is just so fake."


"Fake. I mean look at that guy." He pointed at a guy dancing on a small stage to our left. "I'm sure that when he's at home, he's a minimum wage worker who probably had to save money all week just to be able to get in here. But here he acts like he's the coolest guy ever created in the history of the world. It's so annoying."

"I'm sure that he's just here to have fun."

"Of course not. Look at him. That swagger, that annoying posture. He acts like he's God's gift to mankind."

I didn't really know what to say. So I kept quiet.

"See, I have a theory," Toph elaborated. "A lot of these people who act so cool, and so composed, and so goddamn perfect are really losers out in the real world."

He now had my attention. I looked at him directly. I wanted to see if he was sincere.

"See, look at that guy." He pointed to another guy dancing in a dark corner of the bar. "I know him. He's jobless, and practically homeless, and he sells soap to random people as a means to get by. I even know one person he slept with whom, right after they did the deed, he tried to sell soap to. It's just all so sad. But here, look at him. He acts like he owns the place."

"Well, he doesn't really act like he owns the place, but I get what you mean. He does seem a bit conceited."

"That's because he is. And I don't get it. These masks."

"We all wear masks Toph. You know that better than everyone else. Hell, it's your job to make something or someone look better than he really is. I think you call that marketing or advertising. In the real world, we call that lying."

"Hahaha. What can I say? I'm a corporate prostitute. And I get what you mean. But it's one thing to wear a mask and know it's a mask, and another to believe it is the real thing."

"I agree. But we all need to wear masks sometimes."

Photo taken here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Missed Opportunities

My first foray towards gay dating was through the Internet, in this chatroom known as #bi-manila. To give you an idea of how it worked, well, basically it was a chatroom. Random users put random personal ads on the main page, and if you liked someone based on his description of himself, you can send him a personal message. Then you chat privately. If you two mutually agree that you like each other, you usually trade pictures, and then meet in real life.

I met a lot of boys this way. Well, at least electronically. I wasn't ready for the real thing yet. But chatting with people semi-anonymously kind of eased the process.

I remember chatting with this guy named Leo. He was interesting. He liked the same things I liked, and we chatted for hours. At some point, he asked if I wanted to talk on the phone. I hesitated at first, then agreed later on. I typed in my phone number.

He was just as interesting a person on the phone as he was on the computer. I found him very likable. We bonded over a mutual appreciation for fantasy novels and the television show "Charmed". As a pseudo-date, it was pretty good I thought.

Then he asked me if I wanted to meet in person. I knew I should have expected this, but it still felt like it came out of nowhere. I remained silent for a while. I heard the worry in his voice when he asked if I was still there. I said that I was. And then told him I'll think about it.

We ended the conversation on that note. It was getting late, and we were both tired.

The next day I texted him that yes, I wanted to meet up. He said great. He told me we could meet in Powerbooks in Megamall.

The whole day was spent worrying over the upcoming meet up. Several things were running through my mind. What if he hates me? What if he thinks I'm ugly? What if I think he's ugly? What if I meet someone I know in the bookstore while I'm with him? What if the date goes horribly, freakishly wrong? What if he really is a mass murdering serial killer in disguise?

I tried to take a nap, but I couldn't sleep. I decided to watch television.

Fifteen minutes before the appointed time for the date, I decided I wasn't going to go anymore. It was too nerve-wracking. I tried to take a nap again. I still couldn't sleep.

I heard my phone beep once. Then twice. Then several rings. I never answered it. I deleted the messages before reading them as well. I knew what they would say. I was embarrassed, but more than that, I was angry. I was a jerk. I hated myself.

And in my head there was this small voice saying I will never find anyone. I'm too scared of opportunities, too broken. Perhaps it would be better to accept I would be alone for the rest of my life.

I told my friend about the incident, and he told me not to worry about it. "There are plenty of fish in the sea," he reminded me. I nodded, appeased. Then I remembered the real problem. I couldn't verbalize it. Saying it aloud would make it come true I knew. But the small voice was insistent. "What if they don't want me?"

Photo taken here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nature and Healing

“Diretso lang po. (Just go straight ahead.)”

Slightly disoriented by the heat, I stared at the half-naked young man, one finger pointing at a gently sloping rocky trail that wound around the majestic stone mountains of Montalban. Perhaps it was his cool indifference to my apparent confusion, or maybe he was just mocking me, that it was not without some trepidation, I picked up my bags and made my way upwards, not fully knowing what awaited me at the end of the trail.

I realize it says something about me, that, having lived all my life in Montalban, I have not visited the Wawa Dam except for that long lost time in my childhood when, as my mother recounts for me, we spent the day there in the company of family and friends. I have always been an urban rat, preferring the security and relative safety of huge metropolitan centers like Makati or Ortigas, in comparison to the disorder of fierce Mother Nature. So when my editors informed me of the planned shoot in Montalban, I was apprehensive. There was a slight interest, yes, but there was also fear. Nature and I just don’t mix, or at least I didn’t think so. Days later, the childhood memory again slightly taking form in the recesses of my mind, I guess it is not without some irony that I find myself climbing up the dirt road towards the great white wall residents call the Montalban Falls of Wawa Dam.

It was hot, and the summer sun was beating down hard on my skin. I was contemplating the merits of that wonderful invention known as sunscreen when I took a short turn, and came face to face with what was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.

The waterfalls cascading down the rough walls of the dam created a beautiful backdrop to the scenery before me. Above it was the clear blue summer sky, cloudless and infinite. Beside it were two stone mountains, gray with spots of green, immutable and strong. The dam itself was punctuated at the side by an ancient tower that offered a frame to the beauty before me. I was speechless. How could something so beautiful escape from my memories so easily?

I walked on, my eyes trying to capture as much as it possibly could. Huge chalky white boulders, which were marble as someone informed me later, dotted the landscape. Quaint small huts, placed strategically at different points in the place, offered some shelter for the common tourist. The water, flowing downwards from the dam, covered most of the spaces until it stopped short of several meters from the small village at the foot of the mountain.

A few minutes later, I came across an interesting card which simply stated “Paa ni Bernardo Carpio” with a small arrow pointing left underneath. Staring at the direction of the arrow, and boosted by a very fertile imagination, I guess the small body of water below the trail could maybe pass off as a print of a footstep of the mythological giant.

By the time I got to the shoot, the models were already aboard a small bamboo raft, gamely posing with the horn and trombone. Gianna was particularly luminous, her small frame clad in the pure white fabric studded with Swarovski crystals. The interplay of the modern sensibility in the clothes contrasted quite nicely with the raw imagery provided by the water and the mountains. It was breathtaking.

By lunchtime, the models found themselves on top of the old 40ft tower by the waterfalls. The four guys were teasing each other, trying to trick the other into jumping towards the green crystalline waters below. Then a white flash that seemed to come from nowhere and a loud splash. I quickly ran to see who jumped. It was Gianna, quite brave, wet and laughing, glad to show the guys a thing or two about fearlessness. Needless to say, the guys soon felt the need to jump and followed soon after.

When all the proper elements are in place, there is something about nature that allows us to connect to some stronger energy, some higher power that can give us strength and allow us to see more of who we are. Perhaps it is the rawness, the potency, the primordial power it represents, or perhaps it is something else entirely. Considering the amount of work each person had to put into that photo shoot, the fact that we never bit each other’s head off was nothing short of a miracle. Nature is a healer, definitely, and gifts us with a powerful connection, both to ourselves and to each other.

It was with some heaviness that I waited for the day to end. It ended well, the sky bursting into a multitude of brilliant colors, still cloudless, still infinite. We packed our bags and made our way downwards. There was a strong wind, and then a soft whistling. I looked around for the source of the sound and realized it was coming from the mountains, as the wind blew through its caves. I heard a tinge of sadness, weak but definitely there, and it was beautiful.

*An old article published in a now defunct travel magazine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rules are Like Super Important (Rule-breaking too)

When I first started dating as an openly gay man, I turned to television shows for rules. Because I felt that rules were important. And because I had no clue what I was doing.

So, you start out with the "no kissing on the first date" rule, which really just works on the heterosexuals (I'm not sure about the lesbians). Gay guys are like bunnies. Kissing is important.

That rule transformed into the "no sex on the first date" rule. Which I managed to follow for a time. Until I realized that gay guys are like bunnies. Sex is important. (And I'm a gay guy, just to remind you).

Which metamorphosed into a third rule: "I will only have sex with you if I like you" rule. Which I've broken so many times it became crazy-stupid. Gay guys are like bunnies. And it gets worse when you're drunk and in the mercy of beer goggles.

Then I stopped having rules altogether. Which is a disaster. Not having rules is an invitation to heartbreak. You fall in love and emotionally connect to soulless automatons that vaguely resemble humans, and break the hearts of good people just looking for someone to connect with. So, we're back to square one. Rules are important.

When I met Jt, I had made up another rule. It was the "I will not get into a relationship with someone while I'm in law school because I will break down and cry from the pressure of both school and the relationship and I don't want to have a nervous breakdown and I promise to the universe this will only be about sex" rule. I broke that one. And I've never been happier.

So what's my point? My point is that dating rules are important. But make sure they never get in the way of your happiness.

Here's another one. I really can't make up your rules for you. No one can.

Photo taken here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Open Letter

Someone wrote what probably may amount to a suicide letter in my Formspring account. I didn't know how to answer it, so I decided to ask you guys for help. I'm not posting her whole letter here or in Formspring. I don't want it to become public. What I will do is post some of my thoughts.

Please feel free to comment and show support. Nothing inappropriate please. I will delete those immediately. Also, if you want to contact her directly, you can check my Formspring profile. Thank you.


To you who wrote to me about your life:

I'm definitely not qualified to answer this, but I will, because you wrote to me, and you made your situation somewhat my responsibility. My first instinct is to tell you to talk to your family or a professional, or to a very close friend. You need help, and it will be easier if you are not alone.

Here are my thoughts. I'm not sure if you are asking for my advice, or why you would, but I will give it anyway.

First, do not, under any circumstances, attempt to kill yourself. Life is too important and wonderful. It may not seem like that way now, but it's true. Grow up a little. Experience life more. Fall in love. Real love. Not just with people. Fall in love with things, experiences, ideas, places, yourself. There is too much to live for. Why would you want to end it?

Second, forget the small stuff. Forgive my lack of sensitivity, but when you grow up, these things you've just written to me, you'll forget about them. They will be unimportant. Right now, they may feel like the most important things, but they are not. They are a footnote to what hopefully will be a happy and fulfilling life.

Third, you talk of courage, but killing yourself is the coward's way out. Living life, choosing to be happy? That takes real courage.

Fourth, don't let your happiness be dependent on the approval of someone else. You choose your own destiny. Be yourself, and be happy for it. Everyone else in unimportant.

Fifth, you are loved, even if you don't feel that is true. Don't break the hearts of the people who love you.

I guess that's it. I don't really know what else to say. I just wish you the best in life, and that for your own sake, you find contentment and happiness.

Nightmares, Dark Creatures and Elementals

I used to love horror movies when I was young. I loved the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest, and my imagination whirling, looking for monsters within the dark corners of our home. I loved apocalyptic and dark, creepy movies that involved dreams; my favorites then were the “Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Omen” series.

I was such a scaredy cat, so I had no idea why I kept watching films like these. I even made sure I had the proper atmosphere: lights are turned off, the airconditioner set at full, a bag of chips on my lap, and a thick cotton blanket around my shoulders.

Then when I got really scared, and I couldn’t sleep because I felt that someone was staring at me the second I closed my eyes, I’d creep into my younger brother’s bedroom and sleep at his feet. He’d try to kick me out (literally), but he never could; I’d be too stubborn and afraid. At some point, he’d let it go. He’d be too sleepy to care.

There was something about the warmth of another person’s body, even a foot, that made one less afraid. A certain comfort with numbers, I think. That if some thing ever came, at least we had a better chance of fighting it. Or someone could have a better chance of escaping. Or we could both die, but at least you’ll have someone with you.

My head reeled at the possible ways I could outthink my imaginary enemy. I’d walk into a room and scan possible weapons. A tennis racket? I could use that as a club. A couple of Mongol pencils? I could stab it in the eyes with that. A soft plush toy? Perhaps if I throw it really hard, it’ll be distracted, and I could run. Or maybe I could bribe the thing with it. Or I could trick the thing into believing the plush toy was alive. Dark creatures, according to a lot of movies, are stupid.

I once told my sister I saw a ghost in my bedroom. It was 3am, and I opened my eyes suddenly, inexplicably. And there it was. A faceless, old, pure white monstrosity floating at the feet of my bed. I closed my eyes and hoped I was hallucinating. When I opened my eyes again, it was gone. I wanted to run the hell out of there, but I decided not to. I turned on the TV and watched Nickelodeon instead.

That’s another tool I used to turn away monsters. Cartoons. I don’t know, I’ve always thought of them as a talisman that turned away evil creatures.

My sister told me I was probably hallucinating. I told her she’d be perfectly welcome to sleep in my room while I slept in hers. She never took up the offer.

When I told my parents about the white lady thing, they said that, in the place where my bedroom is now, there used to be a very old tree where, they said, lived an elemental. I thought that was cool. I didn’t see a ghost, I saw an elemental. It was like I had powers or something.

I never did see the white lady thing again. Sometimes I imagined her, at the corner of my sight, while reading or studying. But I’d always assumed it was just my imagination.

Then I moved out of the house, and the childish need I used to have to be scared out of my wits disappeared. Perhaps it was because I lived alone, and the idea that I could always sleep at another person’s feet when things got bad was simply not there anymore.

Featured photo taken here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dark Sky

When I was a sophomore in high school, the all girls' school next to our school decided to hold a dance. My tutor then had a niece named Samantha who was my age, so she asked me if I would want to go with her niece as a date. Except she didn't say date, she just asked me if I could go.

I thought about it, and concluded that if I wanted to stop being "confused" about my sexuality, I had to start going out with girls. So I said yes.

It started out simple enough. I had a driver, so I picked Samantha up at around 8pm. We didn't really know each other, so the ride to the school-covered-court-turned-dance floor was long and awkward. I tried initiating conversation, but we both knew I was just forcing it.

When we came to the dance hall, we just sat in a corner. And sat some more. And remained silent. It was one of the longest nights in my young life.

At some point, her friends decided to rescue her from me, who was quite possibly the worst date created in the history of mankind. And I completely understood. She made a few apologies, obviously insincere, and ran with her friends. She never looked back.

I went out to a small grassy field, and stared at the few couples who were cuddling in corners. I didn't really feel envious; just sad. I tried to go back and sit with Samantha, but it was no use, and with her friends there, the date just grew more and more awkward.

So I went back out, and laid on the grass. My driver had already left. He said he'll come back before midnight. I still had a couple of hours.

I remember the sky, like a deep purple marble stone, infinite and ominous. And at some point, the sensation of falling. I sat back up, heart beating fast. There was a sense of loss I think, though I did not understand what it was. There was definitely loneliness.

Samantha never spoke to me again. The few times I saw her, she acted like she didn't know me. I really couldn't blame her.

At a point later in my life, a distinguished writer criticized a story I wrote. She said she didn't understand the image I was trying to evoke. "How can one fall towards the sky?" she asked. She was being rhetorical of course. She meant to show me that my metaphor didn't work.

I didn't bother explaining. I knew she wouldn't understand. "How do you fall towards the sky?" she asked. If she wasn't trying to be snarky, I would have answered, sincerely, "I am talking about the same thing, only they are not the same thing. There is fear, instead of freedom. The same way that you fly."

Photo found here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This is going to be a quick rant so skip this if you don't like people dumping negativity all over your face. Thanks.

Still there? Great.

Ok, so I get a few emails now and then from people who say they really like my blog. Which I absolutely love and treasure. (I keep them in a separate folder so I can read them every now and then, especially if I've had a particularly bad day). But I also get messages which are a little annoying.

The general point of those annoying messages seem to hew closely to the idea that I am pushing a gay agenda, and that because I take a certain position on some aspects of gay culture, I am judging others for theirs.

Which is generally untrue. Look at my tagline. These are stories. Specifically, MY stories. Unless you want me to lie, I really can't help having an opinion on things. That's life. You can't sit on the fence all the time.

So this is my point. My stories are my own, which I like sharing with the world. It is not a personal attack on you or how you live your life. I am not making parinig (sorry other readers, this is a very difficult word to translate). If my life makes you uncomfortable with your own, that's your problem, not mine. I'm just telling a story.

Okay, now I feel better.

End rant.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Coming Out (A Tribute)

When we were children, my younger brother and I never got along. “Like cats and dogs,” everyone said, and it was true. It was mostly my fault, although I blame evolution. Older brothers, it seems, just like tormenting their younger siblings, and I was particularly talented at it.

One summer, our parents enrolled us at tennis lessons. Before going to the courts I told him that he’s not allowed to speak with me, or be within two meters of my immediate vicinity. When he walked up to me sometime later, I told him to go away. He didn’t talk to me for a week.

There are times when I can be particularly nasty. We were having dinner, and he said something I didn’t like. I retorted, “at least I’m not gay,” looked at him, then snickered. His face grew red. He stood up and walked out.

Even as a child everyone knew my younger brother was gay. What talent I had in hiding the little things that betray my desire for the same sex, he seems to have missed out on. Our tutor was particularly cruel, telling me one time that I needed to look out for my brother, because he shouldn’t be allowed to grow up like that. She stressed the last word in the same pinched tone she reserved for rats or cockroaches. You didn’t need to be brilliant to know what she meant.

One night, I was perhaps 15, and my brother was 13, when he walked up to me, eyes teary and red. He told me he wanted to tell me something.

Even then, I knew what it was. And I waited for the expected confession.

“I am gay,” he said. And just like that, he was out. He told me he wanted to tell our parents, and I answered, in that nonchalant way I find so necessary (because I assumed indifference meant strength), that I didn’t care what he decided. It was all up to him.

But that was a lie. Because I did care, in that fundamental way people can care. “I wish I was him,” I thought, but I shot the idea down as soon as it came. “I’m not gay, I’m just confused,” I remind myself.

But I knew in my heart that I was envious of him. Because he was brave in that particular way I couldn’t be at the time. He asked himself the hard questions, and found himself strong enough to answer with the truth. I admired him in a way he has never known.

I love my little brother, though I have never told him that. It is just not said in our family. We love, but we do not speak of it.

So these words I write are a tribute, and a gift. To you, whom I admire, I wish you the best in life.

This is not my story, but sometimes I wish it was.

Initially written for theorg-y. Featured photo taken here.


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