Back to the Grind

January 4, 2012

Hey – good to see you back. Where’ve you been hiding yourself all this time?

Just around – I felt like taking a break – a long-ish one. I hope you still remember me…it’s me – still me – just a little bit older, a little bit tired. Hey, I’m 40 and, finally, admitted to myself that I’m an atheist.

Well, 40’s the new 30 (as Apples would have us believe) – if you can pull it off, that is.  Atheist, huh? Hmmm…good luck looking for a gift to your aunt who’s a third-order Carmelite.

It’s really an effort but then again if I can’t do this for myself, then might as well pack it in.  As for my aunt, I think a really nice shawl would be appropriate.

Again, good luck – and I hope we see more of you this time around. 

Don’t worry – wannabe scriveners never disappear, they just have longer writer’s block.


Music Du Jour

April 9, 2009

I cheered with a lot of people when “Falling Slowly” from the indie movie Once won the Oscar for Best Song in 2007 over the juggernaut that was Enchanted.  A recent acquaintance with Jon Mclaughlin introduced me to one of the losing songs from Enchanted – So Close.

Broke my heart first time I heard it.

You’re in my arms
And all the world is calm
The music playing on for only two
So close together
And when I’m with you
So close to feeling alive

A life goes by
Romantic dreams will stop
So I bid mine goodbye and never knew
So close was waiting, waiting here with you
And now forever I know
All that I wanted to hold you
So close

So close to reaching that famous happy end
Almost believing this was not pretend
And now you’re beside me and look how far we’ve come
So far we are so close How could I face the faceless days
If I should lose you now?
We’re so close
To reaching that famous happy end
And almost believing this was not pretend
Let’s go on dreaming for we know we are
So close
So close
And still so far


Music Du Jour

March 16, 2009

 

Shontelle – T-shirt

 

Feeling a little sentimental. 

For you.


Releasing My Load

February 14, 2009

 

One of my pet peeves is discourtesy.  Every encounter unsheathes my claws and the desire to julienne the perp race through my brain with the urgency of a toothache.

A few nights ago at the gym, I was doing the last of my usual circuit of chest-biceps-forearms when I was overtaken by thirst.  As per experience, whenever I leave my space, I stake it out by draping my gym towel over it to apprehend any misunderstanding as to whether it is being used or not.

As I was returning, I saw this guy beside me take the dumbbells I was using. I politely told him that I was still using it and, over the din of the gym’s thumpa-thumpa,  he mumbled what I assumed to be a request to use it alternately. Which I was only happy to oblige.  Big Mistake.

When I needed to use the dumbbells and sought to retrieve it, the bigger Dumbbell who took it had the gall to tell me to “Isoli mo pagkatapos” in a brusque manner as if he was begrudgingly alllowing me it’s use.

It took a lot of effort not to use his bald pate as weighing scale for the two-25 lbs. dumbbells we were contending for.  I opted for verbal volley and left the area after finishing my set.

If thoughts emitted energy, mine would have been hotter than the steam bath’s as I entered it. It didn’t help matters that it was a night I discerned to be Rampant Cruise Night at the Baths featuring some drearies whose hides were already prune-y from hours of exposure to steam and loud call cent’r faguettes discussing the merits of sex as tension relief. 

Well, I needed relief after that double-whammy at the gym.

As always, the girls were flawless and it took them several minutes to take my load off.  Nine minutes, to be exact – give or take a few seconds.


Public Display of Emotions

February 13, 2009

 

The appeal of reality tv lies in its ability to afford us vicarious pleasure in the roller-coaster of emotions undergone by the participants.  At the same time as  we witness the individuals wallow through depths of stress and humiliation it breeds the “better-you-than-me” attitude otherwise known as schadenfreude.

I have to admit though that I am not immune to the allure of reality shows. My personal favorites include Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model and Iron Chef America. But given the glut of reality shows these days I find myself drawing a line somewhere, specifically between American Idol and everything else that involves a deluge of human misery – an aversion nurtured by years of exposure to the soaps/teledramas/telenovelas my mom was hooked on. 

Recently, though, found that line re-drawn by Reunions – a QTV-11 show voiced-over by Jessica Soho which I usually catch on weekends while contemplating the vagaries of the coming week.

My initial reaction to the show was to grimace at its premise then scoff at its sincerity.  As I pointed out earlier, my instinctive reaction to blatherfest is one of aversion. For me, I’d rather find catharsis in laughter than in the misery of others. Needless to say, it’s a no-brainer for me when given a choice between tearjerkers or Nickelodeon.

Imagine, then, my surprise that I found Reunions to be riveting.

reunions

Following a straight-forward format, Reunions documents the efforts of individuals searching for loved ones they have lost touch with. Their tales of misery are varied and legion – parents looking for wayward or lost children, siblings searching for closure with estranged parents, siblings reaching out to each other after being separated for a multitude of reasons.  Some searches have been going on for decades, some for a few months but no matter the length of their search, it is the gut-wrenching emotions at the end of their searches that tie each and every story featured in the show.  Welkin-tearing cries precede tales of woe, recrimination and forgiveness.  Reality tv could not be more visceral than this.

Which leads me to the reason for the the show’s appeal to me.  Though less dramatic than the stories featured in the show, to me, Reunions reflect the story of my own relationship with my family and my need to re-connect with them.

Growing up in a typical Filipino family from a different generation, we were never encouraged to be overtly affectionate beyond the obligatory hand-kissing.  We, like millions of other children from our era, grew up without the trappings of affection emphasized as necessary in today’s family.  To my thinking, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the way we were raised – it was just a reflection of the times we grew up in.  But it wasn’t enough – the manner of behavior taught us didn’t damage us in any obvious way but it did leave us unable to fully articulate our need for stronger ties or to seek out more common bonds with our family as our focus shifted outward into our own lives.

Even before my dad’s death, gathering all of us under one roof was becoming an effort.  We’d have perfectly good reasons but, still, absences were noted and felt. As I and my siblings grew into our individual lives so did our pre-occupation with our careers and relationships.  This was perfectly fine except that, I felt, little by little we lost our connections as siblings threadbare as they already were.

This state became more apparent over the last three years as the quintessential family holiday – Christmas – was celebrated separately: my mother, my brother and my sister celebrating in Subic,  me staying put in Cavite or spending it with my in-laws and my other brother’s family keeping the holidays with his in-laws as he was working abroad.  To my siblings’ credit, some effort was made to effect a reunion of sorts but it was obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.  I have to own up to my share of the blame because I was not ready to reconcile with them after we had a falling-out.  On hindsight, I could have dealt with my issues with them decisively and moved on but I could not because of the emotional baggage attached to these issues.

Such was the state of my family when my mother was hospitalized last year.  It wasn’t serious enough to warrant treatment other rest and medication but it became a catalyst in thawing my family’s version of the Cold War.  Wrapped in our collective concern, I discovered that I still needed my siblings to be there even if I could handle the situation on my own.  I understood that one’s mere presence can count even if just to reassure each other of one’s willingness to support the other.  

Last December, my family went on our first family trip.  It felt different as I usually travelled alone or with friends and I guess the feeling was shared to some degree by everybody else.  The trip was not without the usual tensions relative to an undertaking but overall it felt good to do something together with my family.  It took us more than 30 years to get there but we were where we wanted to be: with each other.

A Family Portrait

A Family Portrait

During that trip, the term “family” meant something to me again.  I learned its value once more. I also learned that while it is true that no wound is more painful or scars as deeply than the ones inflicted on us by the people we love, it is likewise true that we cannot find better healing than from the hands of those who wound us.


Grim and Bear It

January 30, 2009

It is curious how the term BITCH when hurled in conniption  can inflict a swath of ego/reputation-wounding injuries.  On the other hand, when BITCH is bandied willingly it can inspire awe in some and erectile dysfunction in others.

Supposedly, us fags possess the innate ability to play tag-team with “difficult” women as bitches are otherwise known by the civilized/PC world.   The affinity stemming hypothetically from our power to grow claws and revert to our femme bestial selves when duly provoked.

[Note:  Catnip to my claws are ignorance, discourtesy and pushy fat asses on narrow bus seats.]

Another link we have, I guess, with the scarlet women and the femme fatales of real and reel life is our admiration of the traits that distinguish them from the wall-flowers: confidence, self-sufficiency, ingenuity, abhorrence of the stupid and the mediocre and a flair for style and dramatics.   Traits that may not win anyone a Ms. Congeniality sash but will certainly see one through any Survivor edition or maybe even a Terminator attack.

On-screen,  anti-heroines have more appeal to me because their characters are less trapped as caricatures [and less insipid] than the actual heroines. These frequently maligned women display dimensions and emotions closer to humanity than any two-bit cartoon heroine that ever graced Saturday mornings.  Admittedly, some of the methods employed by the anti-heroines need work. [Sure, murder and maiming and mayhem may be appealing fantasies  to  employ in the disposal of one’s obstacles but fantasies they must remain.]  However, in their defense, I submit that their less-than-ideal  responses to their issues reflect our own collective responses when faced with similar moments of pique, frustration, desperation or choice.  Knowing this, our regard to their actions may not change but, at least, they do not remain incomprehensible.

Having said more than a mouthful on the subject, my inner bitch rejoiced with the discovery of another formidale female in Cartoon Network of all places.

In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, the anti-heroine is also the heroine as all the other female character are either helpless or hapless or half-wits.  Plus, she plays with Death everyday.

Billy, the eponymous hero, for lack of a better description, is an idiot with a big nose.

Mandy hates everybody.  She was the one who fixed the limbo game that made the Grim Reaper their slave for life. Typical she is not – her eyebrows are perpetually furrowed, her mouth a constant arc of disdain or fury.and her favored hairstyle resembles horns.  Her personality is summed up in her statement (Wiki-culled) “I’m all for the abuse and exploitation of the stupid.”

A few nights ago, in the episode Pandora’s Lunch Box, Mandy utters another classic after being manipulated by a Dora the Explorer look-a-alike into setting free a host of plagues from a weird-looking lunch box – “Nobody tricks me into unleashing the plagues on humanity.  When the time come, I’ll do it on my own.”

As character, Mandy is totally subversive as she flouts every rule and every notion of what nice little girls should be – she’ll never have a kiddy product tie-up, unless it’s for Junior Chainsaws or Machetes.  In fact, she is an adult Bitch model is there was ever one – totally disinterested, quick to act,  quicker with the barbed repartee,  merciless in punishment and anonymous in altruism.  She represents Parents’ Worst Nightmare, not the least of whom are her own who cower before her.

I wouldn’t recommend The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy to your kids unless you plan on running a play-by-play commentary on Mandy and the idiots who inhabit Mandy’s world. But, hey, if you’re up to the challenge, it should be an interesting conversation.

At least it’s not another vapid reality show.

 


To Do or Not To Do

September 26, 2008

 

(I was planning to write something along the lines of “What Not to Say in the Middle of Fucking” but my partner dissuaded me from doing so and I was thrown in a loop as to what to write about next.  So for all the readers who are sick of the following topic, the following post is as much Eric’s fault as mine.)

Sometime a few weeks week, I crossed over.

Previously I could refer to myself (with integrity) as being in my “mid-thirties”.  Actually, I still could but not without transgressing the IX th Commandment.

These days, I’ll share the same age as my partner – so, for a month at least, I have to refrain from referring to him as the “older” one between us. 

Around this time, my sense of preservation compels me to turn from the fact that I’ve aged another year. However, neither threats nor pleas dissuade the people who know me from taking it upon themselves to constantly remind me of it and, inevitably, I end up with thoughts that about the future twined like worry beads around my mind.

Like marriage, for instance.

Not that marriage is something I dread like the proverbial ball and chain or an STD.  In fact, getting married is something I have seriously considered after more than four years of being together with someone as wonderful as my partner.

It is ironic then that, personally, I don’t believe in marriage.

I don’t believe that ceremonies or a piece of paper can bind two people together forever.

I don’t believe that it is the solution to a dysfunctional relationship.

I don’t believe that, as an institution, it is just reserved for certain genders.

I don’t believe in it as a rite of passage that I have to go through to perpetuate traditions that have no relevance to me.

Notwithstanding my disbelief (and sorry lack of funds) – let me just, for the record, say – I am going through it.  Why?  Because I love my partner and I’d do anything to make him happy.

He wants bling, flowers and the whole shebang.  I get to event-organize the program as only an anal-retentive personality can.  We’re still negotiating custody of the DJ’s booth: Eric’s afraid that I’ll churn out an exclusively (and eminently cheesy) OPM playlist while I’m concerned that if were to hand over the turntable to Eric, he’s going to make it a Mariah-fest (na-uh, not gonna happen). 

I know somebody will wonder how on earth two guys can get married in a country where a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill can’t even get passed for fear of being anathemized by the clergy. Well, as I remember it right in the catechism I memorized (yes, I was a geek in Catholic school – even passing Religion was a big deal for me) there is only one instance when the clergy is not the minister of the sacraments.  According to the catholic catechism, in the sacrament of matrimony, the minister is not the clergy officiating the ceremony but the couple exchanging their vows. The attending clergy merely as a witness.  And that’s how I plan to get around the loop – ironic, given their “love the sinner, hate the sin” schtick – but hey, if you can’t join them, beat them.


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