Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The First Morning I Did Not Think About You

breakfast setting

It was a typical morning. I woke up, late as usual, the sun already near its zenith, its rays streaming through half-open blinds, the day as hot and as humid as it can be. I forgot to turn off the TV. A Discovery channel host was talking about whales, his voice a deep, monotonous drone.

I stood up, my head slightly aching from oversleeping, my thoughts still a blur, my knees, wobbly and unsure.  I staggered to the door of my bedroom, and headed downstairs for a bite. I was hungry. My stomach was growling in angry, desperate need. What my brain still failed to register, my limbs automatically addressed:  I needed sustenance.

I stumbled onto the kitchen and saw my younger brother in his pajamas, eating cereal, his hair unkempt and looking like it was badly in need of a bath. Much like I looked I suppose. I stared at his bowl, and hungry as I was, realized I still hated the thought of having cereal so late in the day. I asked Manang Cely what was for lunch. She didn't reply, but I heard bustling outside, and the familiar clangs of pots and pans. I settled myself at the table, and held my head in my hands. My brother ate in silence. 

"What time did you get home?" I asked him.

"Just this morning."

"Mom and Dad already awake?"

"Nope. They were still asleep." My parents never really imposed a curfew on us, especially on weekends, but they did like it when we got home before they woke up. 

"Where did you go?"

"Nowhere. Just out with friends."



"How was the crowd?"

"It was okay. Typical. Not a huge crowd, but enough to be fun. Why didn't you go?"

"I was bored. I figured I'd just watch television, play PS2 and sleep." 

My brother nodded, then finished his cereal. He left soon after to catch up on his sleep. I riffled through several newspaper sections, and settled on Lifestyle, reading an article Tim Yap wrote.  He was still writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer then. 

Manang Cely walked in with a bowl of hot tinola. I immediately tucked in.

Then I remembered you. Right at that moment when the spoon, filled with steaming clear broth, hit my lips.  Rather, or more accurately, I realized I forgot about you first, and then only remembered you.

What a shock. After weeks upon weeks of moping, of listening to sad, lonely, love songs, of waking up to the deep, precious pain a young man getting over his first love can manage to inflict on himself, I woke up to a morning where you weren't the first thing on my mind. And outside of the overpowering relief, I realized how funny it was that moving on would come at a moment so utterly, absolutely mundane. While at a table, eating tinola for breakfast and/or lunch, my hair a mess, smelling like something the dog just brought in. How unimaginative. How banal. How anticlimactic.

And still, I felt happy, and finished my meal in unanticipated felicity. Though lacking in theatrics (perhaps a lightning bolt or two in the background would have been nice), I exulted in the unadulterated joy of knowing that I have finally, completely moved on.  

Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.
~~David Mustaine~~        

Monday, October 17, 2011

People are Made Up of Stories

understanding tattoo, people are made up of stories
Image taken here.

Dear Fickle Cattle,

I'm a new fan of your blog.  I haven't even browsed through each tab and entry yet.  I just saw a link from a friend in FB to your blog and I became an instant fan after I read your open letter.  Honestly, I cried, I could relate to it so much.  I hope you don't mind my telling this story. 

I realized I was gay towards the end of college in UP Diliman.  I was supposed to have a secret wedding with my girlfriend at the time since we both thought she was pregnant.  When we found out that she actually wasn't, it was such a relief. Afterwards, we decided to take things more slowly.  During that period, I tried to find myself, and slowly realized my inclination towards the dark side of the force. (I'm not sure how I feel about comparing homosexuality with the dark side, but I'll let that slide for now -- FC).  It was a very emotional stage in my life when I realized I was gay.  I didn't know who to turn to. 

During my years of experimentation and struggle, I met this guy named T.  I instantly felt a connection with him though he had a very different view of gay relationships compared to what I had.  Basically, he thought that having a relationship which no one would acknowledge did not make any sense.

Knowing that we could only be friends, I contented myself with the friendship he had to offer.  Eventually, I met two more of his friends.  The four of us became close, and our friendships made me almost forget that I liked T as more than a friend in the first place. It helped me move on. 

Eventually, T realized that he did like me more than as a friend. By that time however, I realized I was already falling for our other friend A.  When we realized that T was falling for me, A and I decided not to tell T of our relationship to protect him from unnecessary hurt. 

This was a mistake. Our other friend B decided to put our story in his blog, thinking no one would ever read it.  T eventually did, and everything became a big mess. The relationship, the secrecy and the eventual unintentional disclosure created a rift between all of us. 

I decided to distance myself from all three of them since I felt that I started our falling-out. Consequently, we grew apart.

A lot of things have happened since.  But, even with all that has changed, I still long for the kind of friendship I had with them which I have never experienced, and probably would never experience, again.  When I saw your post, An Open Letter to an Old Friend, it reminded me of my friendship with T.  I feel like those are the exact same words I would've told him, given the chance.  He was my best friend and I regret crossing the line that caused our friendship to end.

Since coming out in college, I never had any gay friends other than T, A and B. But I already feel like the possibility of our friendship being rekindled died out years ago.  I'm not even sure if I'll ever meet friends like them.  At some point, we tried, all four of us, to rekindle the friendship we had, but we only found out that we've become strangers to one another.

I've always been proud of my sexual orientation since I came out almost a decade ago.  My workmates know of it, I joined a frat in my attempt at law school and even told my batchmates that I was gay.  I guess I don't allow myself to be defined by my sexuality.  But, you know what, sometimes I wish I had allowed myself to be so defined.  I wish I had given myself the chance to embrace my sexuality.  Had our friendship not met such an early demise, I'm sure my life would've been much more colorful.

Thanks for taking the time to listen.  Sometimes, talking to a complete stranger makes it easier to open up.  Your blog brought to the surface a lot of emotions that I've been bottling-up through the years. 

Following your entries, 


Friday, October 14, 2011

I Don't Think I'll Die Today At Least. Hopefully.

evil doctor
Image taken here.

I don’t go to the doctor.  At least, not voluntarily.  In fact, the only time you can make me go to a physician is when I’m in enough pain that I start dreaming about death.  And even then I’ll probably need to be unconscious so you can carry my limp carcass to his clinic.   

Taking into consideration the fact that I live in a cramped, smoggy and dirty city probably teeming with a gajillion viruses (in spite of which I still love), this probably means that I’m now a carrier of a number of undiagnosed diseases.  Undiagnosed diseases that would most likely commingle and produce new baby mutant viruses that will spread throughout humankind and turn us all into brain-eating zombies. And still, I won’t go to the doctor unless I’m in enough pain I might as well be actively mauled by a jungle cat.

Consider this scenario. This week I had a bout of gout. Or at least I think it’s gout since I only self-diagnosed (Google is wonderful for latrophobics). My foot swelled to almost twice its size, and I had to go to the office wearing dark socks and slippers half a size smaller than my foot. I’m not really sure what I ate which triggered the disease, but it was torture.

Gout is the essence of pain, distilled agony. It’s like God hates feet and decided to make people pay for having them.  For those who don’t have gout, this is how it feels like:  Imagine you are kneeling on a pile of salt.  Except the salt is in your feet, in the joints, and in whatever awkward cranny malicious evil salt can sneak its way into. Then imagine those sharp edges grinding inside those tender nooks, daring you to cry like a big baby.

You know what, forget salt, imagine needles instead.  A bajillion needles poking inside your foot every time you lay it on the ground. That’s what gout feels like.

J thought I should go to the doctor.  Since I didn’t want to argue, I told him it didn’t hurt that much and smiled. Or at least tried to smile, the pain was killing me.

And still, I refused to go to the doctor and just decided to wait it out. The pain subsided eventually.

I also don’t go to the dentist.  The last time I went to the dentist was years ago. As a consequence, I have horrible teeth. Or at least one horrible tooth.  It started to crack a couple of years ago and slowly disintegrated until it became a tenth of its original size. Sometimes I stare at it in the mirror and poke it with a finger. There’s a slight twinge of pain there, though it’s nothing serious.

Until I had an apple a couple of days ago, and what small amount of tooth left broke and splintered, and  a sharp cruel tooth sliver decided to painfully position itself in my gums. I tried removing it with a barbecue stick, and it didn’t help. I stopped subsequently because my gums started to bleed and I didn’t want to die because I was stabbing my mouth with what was practically a giant toothpick. Also, I’m afraid of blood.

I still poke it with a finger every now and then.  I know, gross.  But really, if you had a tooth splinter stuck in your gums, you know you would do that too.

I tried googling ways to remove tooth splinters from gums, and the results led me to a site about mouth cancer.  With pictures.  Seeing mouth cancer pictures did not help assuage my fear that the tooth splinter would worm its way through my mouth, eventually leading to my death by killing me from the inside.  It certainly didn’t help that one man looked like his jaw was about to fall off. 

So I set an appointment with a dentist this weekend. I’ll probably need to explain to her that the last time I went to the dentist was years ago, just so she’d know what to expect. That way, if she starts talking about how horribly I treat my teeth, I can say that I did warn her.

Anyway, here are the lessons you should learn from my story: 

1. Gout is painful. 

2. If you leave a cracked tooth untreated long enough, it will splinter and a piece of your own tooth would attack your gums in cruel revenge.  

3. Mouth cancer pictures are gross.  They are also very great tools at reminding people they don’t want to die with their jaws falling off. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thoughts on Fashion Photography and Real Life (A Reaction to Yolanda Dominguez's "Poses")

woman lying of dirt yolanda dominguez poses

haute couture pose on flowers by model
Images found here.

Yolanda Dominguez is a visual artist and performer from Madrid.  I ran across her work, Poses, from an interview of Yolanda Dominguez by a blogger here, and I thought it was one of the most interesting performance art pieces I have seen in a while.

Now, like I have already detailed in a blog post before, I am not a big fan of performance art, or at least the type which feels hokey or fake, or which intellectualize a concept too much, but upon execution showcases too little talent (*cough stupid abortion project cough*). However, I feel that Dominguez's work in Poses is an inspired exception to the rule, since it effectively managed to both shock and entertain people, while forcing them to think.

Basically, Poses is a series of performance art pieces set in several places in Madrid, where "ordinary" folk strike haute couture poses in the middle of an otherwise perfectly ordinary scene.  Some people consider it a depiction of the "indestructible superciliousness that is haute pose".  Initially, I just thought it was intelligent and hilarious.

I suggest you watch this video so you have a better idea of what I'm talking about.

My two cents:  Fashion photography has its place in the art world, notwithstanding the fact that a lot of "serious" artists tend to place it on a lower level of importance compared to other art forms.  This, however, is fashion photography's point: people shouldn't take it seriously.  It's made-up and imaginary.

Except people do take it seriously. Empirical evidence shows us that a lot of people (especially teenage girls) actually use these depictions, among others, to create a standard of beauty for women that, as has been shown time and time again, is neither realistic nor healthy. What Poses does, and does so effectively and brilliantly by pushing the idea to its extreme, is to show us how absurd this notion or perspective is. Fashion photography is essentially rooted in fantasy, and rarely has any point in real life situations. This art project shows us that it would be best to remember that.    

From Yolanda Domiguez's website:

“Poses” is a direct criticism of the absurd and artificial world of glamour and of fashion that magazines present. Specifically, the highly-distorted image of women that they transmit through models that do not represent real women and that avoid all those who are not within their restricted parameters.

These images are virtually the only feminine reference in the mass media and they have a great influence in both men and women when building our roles in terms of behavior and ways of thinking. 

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To the 13 Year Old Boy Who Shot His 17 Year Old Lover at the Mall (Notes on a Murder-Suicide)

bullet gun murder suicide
Image taken here.

It was with a peculiar, and perhaps less than noble, fixation that I read about your crime.  A crime which was extraordinarily morbid, and sensational.  And I gathered the following details: You were thirteen years old. You stole a .22 caliber pistol.  You wrote a suicide letter; short, but it got the message across.  You went to SM City Mall, Pampanga.  You met your seventeen year old lover in front of the Astrovision store in the mall's Building 3.  You shot him in the head.  The bullet lodged in his brain and left him brain dead.  You then turned the gun on yourself and pulled the trigger.

And then there are the things I imagine:  How you walked up to him, angry and hurt; how you made a speech, hoping that he would understand; how he rejected you; how you pulled a gun, and felt some small bit of satisfaction at the fear that suddenly came into your lover's eyes; how you shot him in the head; how he bled, and bled, and kept on bleeding; how you realized that he was going to die for real; how you kept on repeating that you didn't mean for any of this to happen; how you realized what a lie those words were; how, in your heart, you knew you meant it; how you didn't want to die; how you felt you had you no choice; how cold, metallic and uncaring the gun felt in your hand; how thoughts of dying felt better than the idea that you would go through life without him; how you pointed the gun at yourself and pulled the trigger; how you didn't realize that there would be so much blood. That you would have so much blood. As if the flow of blood would never end. A river of blood.  

How you lay on the floor gasping, waiting for the darkness to consume you. Hoping that in death you could be together. Frightened of the possibility that you won't.

Then a moment of silence. Perhaps stubborn righteousness. Perhaps regret.

How you died.

And then a call to two sets of parents unmindful of the strange, compelling drama that has just claimed the lives of their two sons.  How they did not understand.  How they wailed and cried and mourned.  How they railed against anyone they could blame: the mall security, God, the world.  How they wanted to have their sons back, questioning how the world can continue going on. How the world remains unchanged and unconcerned. 

How they blamed themselves. How they blamed themselves. How they blamed themselves.  

How their lives are never the same again.  How they died, in their own way. How there are more victims to this story than those dead.

News about the shooting can be found here.


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