Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seller's remorse

This weekend I was part of a collaborative art show where a lot of artists put a few of their pieces up to be sold with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. I have known about this show for months and I have been slowly but surely working on what I would be submitting to the foundation for just as long. I had 3 completed and ready to go, which was exactly what I promised, but at the last minute the organizer asked me if I would be comfortable with submitting a 4th one if I received a larger percentage of the profit for my work. I told him that I didn't really care about the money and I already had something in mind for my 4th piece.

There was this one piece that I was extremely proud of, and it was this collage I made with found objects from the backseat of my car after Bradley and I took a long weekend vacation up north. The finished result looked really cool and super modern; definitely something that would be featured prominently in some NY hipter's loft right where the television should be. But more than that it was extremely personal and everything about that collage dripped with sentimentality in a way that kind of made it really difficult to look at, especially with Brad gone. So I packed it up and decided to sell this little piece of my soul for a little peace of mind.

I got as far as hanging it on the wall before I started to have regrets. At first I tried to ignore them, and as the regrets intensified I decided to go for a walk to try and calm my nerves. I was about 3 blocks away from Eddie's production company so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to drop by and say hello. By the time I got there I was practically hysterical! So I ran right into the building and straight up to his office, where luckily he was in the middle of some super intense project and I proceeded to incoherently babel on and on about this huge mistake I just made.

10 minutes later I was finally calm enough to actually explain what my drama was and began brainstorming ways to get myself out of this dilemma. Obviously the most logical thing to do was go to the organizer and just explain to him that I'd made a mistake and didn't want to sell that piece anymore, but I didn't really want to let somebody outside my circle of friends know how crazy I actually am. At first I tried rationalizing that my artwork was definitely not that great, and in this market the likelihood of me selling ANYTHING was slim to none. Then I thought that what if this was the day when all of a sudden people magically appreciated what I was trying to do here and everything sold in 10 seconds!? In the end my narcissism won out, so I decided that Eddie would walk into the gallery with me the second it opened and buy the piece back for me! That way the charity gets some money, I get my collage back, and nobody figures out that I am some insane freak with serious issues.

In the end it all worked out for the best. Eddie bought my collage like we planned, and I ended up making 2 legit sales that night! I didn't actually get to take my collage home with me because it needs to stay up for the entire run of the show. So I think I am going to be a little bit on edge until it's back home with me. Luckily for me I am taking off to Vegas for my visit with Johnny first thing in the morning and I won't be back until the day the collage is supposed to be delivered, so hopefully I will find enough things to do in the devil's playground to occupy my time! ;) My god am I crazy or what!? If I had to look somebody in the face while telling this story, it would never be told. It's just sooo embarrassing. I was sooo lucky Eddie was there to bail me out of my bad situation like that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just one more day...

A couple nights ago all the cousins my age decided to go for a walk down this road out passed the rice fields and fish farms. The sun was just starting to set and the colors in the sky were ablaze with crazy purples and yellows at the horizon.

I haven't really had a lot of time to observe all the natural beauty that the Philippines has to offer because I have been to busy soaking in the humanity of it all, but watching this sunset was breathtaking. We sat on rocks around the water and we just talked about life and all the craziness that happens here and in the US. It was a fun evening bonding with my cousins and I really enjoyed it. Around 8 Enrique suggested we go out to the city and hit the clubs. Jordan HATES clubbing but I don't mind it so much, so I decided to go for it!

We got busted on the way out of the small village that night. We were pulling out of the gas station, and Enrique was still putting on his seat belt. We were flagged to pull over by a Policeman on the side of the road. Preparing for a true 3rd world experience I stashed my camera under the spare tire. I tried to look away so they didn't see I was white back there, but it didn't matter with the limo tint on all sides. Enrique and his girlfriend stood around and smoked with the officers while they were writing up the ticket, and then his girlfriend flashed her mom's business card, who works within the Philippine's equivalent of the Whitehouse. This improved our relationship with the cops, and reduced our ultimate payoff quantity. They ended up slipping him 200 pesos, or something like 4 dollars American, and we were free to go. I couldn't stop laughing at that. A couple hours later we were dancing to truly terrible pop and some very unique rap music. It was an all around fun evening out and I am really happy I was able to do something like that with my cousins whom I will very likely not see again for many years to come.

Yesterday I was starting to feel malnourished, and my threshold for exotic cuisine just got lower and lower. I'd eat some rice at each meal, but as hungry as I was, the sight, smell, or idea of more "main course" would ruin my appetite. I'd chew the garlic rice mechanically, just chewing and swallowing enough to be socially acceptable. So imagine my surprise when at the mall I saw that they had KFC... Unfortunately the chicken was disgusting, but edible. There was also a biscuit sized/shaped thing wrapped in biscuit paper but it was just too heavy to be a delicious biscuit. It was rice. In all of my travels all over the world I have noticed that if there is a KFC, they NEVER have biscuits unless that KFC happens to be in America! What the hell is up with that!?

Today the family had a medium come over to channel the spirits of family members past. My lola didn't want anything to do with it, so she stayed up in the bedroom while everyone was downstairs for the circus. It was crap, of course, but with so many suggestible Catholics around and pained sentiments of loss, the emotional effect of the spectacle was strong. The medium spoke in funny voices, imitated their great grandfather, but couldn't come up with the voice of my grandmother's brother. The medium just cried and cried, and said that in the night between 11 and 1 he would appear and do X number of creepy ghost things, like stroke their hair and so on.

Tonight the neighborhood was dark from a rolling brownout. So we lit a bunch of candles and heated some food. The big treat for me was that one of my aunts had made completely normal spaghetti with meat sauce! A few bites into it I looked closely, and there were tiny mosquitoes stuck all over the noodles! I realized that since they were just flying around at random instead of collecting near light fixtures it was only logical that they would end up in my spaghetti. I thought abstractly about how that would be off-putting to someone back in California, but I wasn't put off in the least. It was delicious. So sooooo delicious!

I am soo completely ready to go home and could not be happy that tomorrow is the day when my dreams will come true! I am sorry that I didn't like being here more I know that I am a terrible Filipino, but I am only 1/4 Filipino so I mean I should at least get points for speaking the language even though I am not so much a fan of the island itself... I am very glad that I came though because family is important to my grandmother and this gave her a chance to see all the people she'd left behind all those years ago. They were all just so open and giving! Even though nobody had much to give, they kept on sharing anyway, and it was a very humbling experience to be around people like this and be able to call them my family. Through all my complaining and misery I definitely got a sense of love and family through these strangers that I seldom experience with people I am related to and have known my entire life. BUT like I said, I am SOOOOOO ready to go home! I think I am getting a rash from all the bug spray I have been applying and I really need my tempur-pedic mattress and to never again have to share a bed with my cousin Jordan (he snores SO FUCKING LOUD!). Less that 24 hours to go!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shopping for groceries

To clarify, less than a week has passed since my arrival to the PI, but for me, it's felt like it's been about a month. By some combination of the heat, waking up at the crack of dawn, and the ordeal of trying to get through each meal, the days seemed to stretch FOREVER. I have been reverted to elementary school time, where everything is new and engrossing, and you say things like "I'm 6 and a quarter years old." It's very satisfying compared to daily working life, where a month can go by and you almost don't notice it. Back to the daily grind though, Jordan and I get woken up every morning morning at sunrise to a chorus of roosters and two-stroke engines so loud and comical that you're imagining it too conservatively right now. I'm going to keep the written descriptions short to save time, as they're useless without intense gesticulations and sound effects anyway. So everything that I have done since I have arrived has been done with very little sleep, a slight tinge of crankiness and severe hunger.

I guess the custom in these funeral procedures is to feed the whole countryside for a few days with these massive feasts that never seem to end. So on the first morning, after eating a hearty breakfast of some kind of fish with a nice warm glass of caribou milk, freshly squeezed... unpasteurized (just take a moment to let that sink in)...


The first order of business was to pick up some fresh meat product, so Jordan and I joined a few aunts and a housekeeper on a trip to the "dirty market" (their phrasing). Jordan and I aren't completely culturally ignorant, we both speak Tagolog (though we both do have very heavy and easily heard american accents), and we've both clocked many hours of watching TFC with our grandmother so we felt prepared for this endeavor. The drive to the market, as with most experiences here on the island, defies description... you're breathing a combination of diesel, two stroke oil, general poultry smell, and the occasional trash fire blowing across roads choked with scooters, buggies, jeeps, bicycles, market stalls, and people just walking around. Lanes are created and dissolved dynamically, and intersections are a four-way game of chicken. The shock wore off by the second or third mile, but never the sense of impending doom.

The aunts were adamant about me keeping my camera out of view... I guess the general consensus of someone stabbing me to take it was about 50%. It was overcast that morning anyway, so none of the point-and-shoot pics were any good.

Like the picture above, which is just for reference-- it doesn't tell you ANYTHING about the place. You don't get the pungent smell, the water dripping on you from the awnings, black mud all over your sandaled feet and legs, or the weird things they were selling on either side.

YUM! Fertile mothers!

The butcher was in a warehouse off to the side, within a thousand square feet of butcher's stalls packed together. Sausage, entrails, and livers were hung on hooks above the working tables, and the hooks that weren't in use were caked with blood. There was an inch of water and whatever else on the floor, adding much to an atmosphere of which the picture betrays little.

The flash was fairly bold at that point because Jordan and I were already pretty much the center of attention by that point. Everything from our crazy american clothes to Jordan's super angloid features got more attention than that time I went streaking down Water St. in NYC. The people at the market were mostly old and weathered, and they stared at us with completely inscrutable looks. We were pretty far out from Manila, and I doubt a place even as cosmopolitan as the “dirty market” gets many westerners so I guess I could at least understand where they were coming from.

Butchers casually swatted these with their cutting knives.

Saying I am a bit culture shocked would be a huge understatement. In America we've become extremely good at creating this disassociation between that slice of bacon we fry up and the actual pig it comes from. In places like here it's really in your face and impossible to play those abstract mind games that make it possible to enjoy those slices of bacon. Everything is only one degree away from it's source and it's all way too overwhelming to try and absorb and be okay with all at once. I know that I am sounding like a whiny bitch, but I am doing this here so that nobody has to hear me complain in real life, which oddly enough is just cathartic enough to do the trick! I have gotten pretty chummy with Enrique these last few days so we are going to go out and have some young people's fun tonight, so hopefully things will get better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A funeral across the ocean

I am currently in the Philippines. I am here escorting my grandmother and my younger cousin Jordan to her oldest brother's funeral, a man whom I've never met. I am not really big on coming back to the motherland, and usually I do my best to avoid conversations even remotely related to visiting the P.I. but my grandmother asked me to come and there's no way in hell I could ever say no to her, SO HERE I AM...

I don't even know where to start with this whole experience! Sigh... Let's go from the plane. The flight was very long, but otherwise uneventful. We were made to sit through three bafflingly stupid movies, who's names escape me at the moment. One was about platonic teenage vampire/werewolf love in the northwest, or so it appeared without sound. Another was exploiting civil-rights struggles to a sentimental effect with more Dakota Fanning. And the other was about a roller derby and Juno.

We landed in Manila crazy late at night and we were met by my cousin Enrique (it was the first time I was meeting him) and he helped us gather our luggage and pack it into his crazy looking diesel minivan. The last time I was here I hadn't really hit puberty just to give you guys a reference point... I tried to get pictures of Manila as we were driving out but it was too dark and dusty so nothing really came out very clear. Manila was... I don't even have the time or words to describe it right.

My dead great uncle's house is WAY THE FUCK out in the countryside, so we had a 2 hour drive to contemplate the universe and such, as we all sat in awkward silence. At first we tried to make small talk, but it's really hard to not be awkward when a man that you've never met is dead and everybody but you is grieving about it. So I pulled out my ipod and I covertly slipt an earbud into my ear while I blasted some tuneage.

When we got to the house, Jordan and I were to be sharing a mat at the top of the stairs. It is extremely hot and humid here, so we each took "showers" before sleeping. The bathroom is completely tiled with a a central drain, and to shower you ladle water over yourself out of a 5 gallon bucket. It would have been off-putting, if it weren't so hot. It's actually very conservative, and since showering 3 times a day in the heat I've grown fond of it.

Mosquitoes above our mat

We have to leave now and meet the aunties in the mall. To be continued...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making plans

I am not going to spend an entire post talking about how I came out to my friend so I will make this short. I think I made the decision to tell Ted I like cock when he started referring to Brad using "they" and "person" whenever the subject was brought up and I realized that it just sounded ridiculous! I also felt like Bradley deserved a lot more than to be referred to as some androgynous nobody and that was just unacceptable to me. Why the fuck was I trying to dance around this like it was a huge deal when clearly it's not!? The more I heard the "they's and person's" the more I realized how stupid I was being so I just let him know that my "person" was a dude named Brad and that was that.

We hired somebody at the end of last week who will be trained to take over my position with the company. I really like him and I really enjoy transitioning out of this hell hole because I now will only spend about 20 hours a week in the office! Right now it's all about figuring out what I am going to do once I am free of the corporate strings that are tying me down. My first adventure is going to be a 3 week trip to Vegas to spend some quality time with Johnny. He's been living there full time since his MMA career started taking off, and we haven't been able to do anything substantial together in a really long time. I am pretty excited to get in the ring with him and show him some of the Muay Thai bad-assness I have picked up, so in the meantime I have been training (and will continue to train) extra hard until my trip to Vegas in about a month.

I was actually talking to Johnny earlier today and he told me that I should move to Vegas with him until I start my summer plans. But honestly, could you give up a view like this to live in a desert? I live in perfection and I don't think I will ever give that up for anywhere else in the world.

By the time I do get back from my Vegas trip with Johnny it will already be the end of March and it will already be time for me to think about summer camp again. I know I said that last year was going to be my last year, but I think I have one more summer in me, and I honestly don't have anything better to do, so why the fuck not? Right? I am planning a mid-April trip to Brad and I am trying to decide if this is a good idea or not. I don't want to come off like I am being clingy or anything, even though all I want to do is cling. Brad and I have never been about playing games or anything, but I would be lying if I didn't say that things are a little different the second time around in our relationship... I have already made up my mind to go, I just haven't decided how I am going to play it once I get there. Lucky for me I still have a few months to agonize over the finer details of that trip!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I made a friend.

A couple weeks ago I decided I only needed to work a half day because I wanted to pick up a couple of parts for my vintage motor vehicle. I went down to San Pedro to this place that carries specialized parts that I needed, and on my way I passed by this martial arts gym with THE HOTTEST GUY I HAVE EVER SEEN hitting the heavy bag with some pretty impressive moves. Seriously, I almost crashed my car drooling over this guy! It was FREEZING outside, but in this gym it must have been hot because he was only wearing shorts and the sweat was just glistening all over his perfectly sculpted body. I immediately pulled my car over, cutting through 2 lanes of traffic in the process, just so I could walk into the gym and perve over this guy while taking my time.

Up close he was even hotter! I think I have said it a million times, I have no respect for "gym bodies", I like it when a man's body is a reflection of what he's passionate about; running, surfing, martial arts, cycling, etc. Gym bodies are all about vanity and that really just rubs me the wrong way! ANYWAY, back to this guy, and his muscles, and his glistening sweaty body, GOD DAMN I WANTED TO JUST LICK HIM HEAD TO TOE! After about 5 minutes of staring he stopped, smiled at me, and asked me if there was anything he could help me with. Of course asking him to keep doing what he was doing while I masturbated was out of the question, so I casually explained to him that I have always been fascinated with Muay Thay and I was really impressed with his form (which wasn't exactly a lie). An hour later (with his shirt off the entire time) I learned that his name was Ted, and he had the full history of my martial arts background and invited me to a couple of the classes at his gym.

As work has been winding down I have been spending more and more time at the gym to fill those lonely hours, so Ted and I have become fast friends. We've gone surfing, done some downhill mountain biking in OC, and we even had this awesome night of bar trivia over the weekend. It's not sexual or anything, because even though he's hot, he's not Bradley; besides I am pretty sure he's all about the kitty if his girlfriend of 10 years is any indication. What I am trying to work my way up to in this post is that I have finally come to the point that every gay man happens to find himself at when he's getting acquainted with new people, and that's the when and how to come out problem. On the few occasions we have found ourselves on the topic of significant others I have always found a way to strategically remain genderless and vague yet still express how I am in a deeply committed relationship with somebody that I love very much.

At this point I kind of feel like I am the one with the problem here. It's like even though I am okay with being gay, I am not okay with people looking at me differently because of this fact. Ted's a cool guy and I am probably doing him a huge disservice by not being honest and giving him the chance to be okay with it, but I feel like I have been burned too many times to really want to put myself out there like that. But in the end I think it's just all an excuse because I am really not all that comfortable with my sexuality yet. I sometimes wonder if this feeling of dread and despair ever goes away or if this is just a huge insecurity I am going to live with the rest of my life because I am weak. I shouldn't feel like telling somebody that I am gay is the equivalent to walking the plank, but the fact that I do makes me feel deeply ashamed. Am I being too hard on myself, or is this normal? I am kind of going crazy over this because each time when confronted with these situations I always have to deal with this crazy anxiety! I NEED TO KNOW! Does this ever go away?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

It's almost over!

Before I started my current job, my team of programmers had been working on this project for 6 months. In that time they didn't really get a whole lot done because they lacked leadership. They had a leader, but he didn't really have what it took to get things done. So the company decided to bring in a badass who knew how to make shit happen. Today at work I TOTALLY FINISHED THE PROJECT I HAVE BEEN SLAVING OVER FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS!! And not to brag or anything, but I finished it 2 months ahead of schedule.

They've asked me to stay on with the company permanently, but I politely yet emphatically declined. It really blows being good at everything I try because every time I do a good job with it people assume its my calling! They didn't want me to go, but I didn't want to stay, so we worked out a compromise where I stay and help search for the guy who'll replace me. I'll be honest, the only reason why I didn't just quit immediately was because I didn't trust myself to NOT jump on a plane right that second and fly to Bradley. I need to make it at least 2 months before I jump on a plane or this is just going to be all kinds of unhealthy.

Today I left work while the sun was still out and I went for a run then I took a shower, AND THE SUN WAS STILL OUT! I know I am still chained to this craptastic job that I hate more than life itself, but now that I basically just have to sit around and watch youtube vids all day things are really starting to look up for me. I am completely wired thinking about what I am going to do after this programming shtick is over and done with. I have been getting a buttload of offers from art jobs, to production jobs and a bunch of offers somewhere along that spectrum. No sleep will be had in the house of RGB tonight because my brain is about to explode thinking about all the possibilities.