Thursday, March 30, 2006

Gross.

I've spent the past two lab sections in my Bio class cutting open various worms and other sorts of insects and shellfish.

Let's just say that I probably won't be eating anything resembling pasta or shellfish for a few days.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Don't you hate it when...

you think you have a great topic to blog about, but when you actually write, it just looks like crap?

I'm having one of those moments.

Blah.

Friday, March 24, 2006

More random shit to blog about...

o Saw Chinese Restaurants: Latin Passions, a series about a Chinese Canadian guy who uncovers the stories behind the Chinese who run Chinese restaurants all over the world. It was all right, considering that I've gotten used to this guy's style of filmmaking, but the storytelling isn't as good as the first couple episodes I saw about 2-3 years ago. Saw the movie with my friend, Indigo, whose most recent 15 minutes of fame was traveling all over the country--looking for Chinese restaurants. Also ran into some good friends who I haven't seen in a long time and who look about as happy as ever and they're celebrating their 5th anniversary. Made me feel really happy.

o I've been mentally exhausted the past week because of all the movies I saw last week. Too bad it took me till now to figure out why.

o Was talking with Indigo about how fags seem to be about 10-15 years behind lesbians in terms of community organizing, especially since there are groups out there that are trying to do what the dykes tried years ago and failed. I'm trying to keep my fingers crossed that it might work for us fags, but not really optimistic, though I'm taking part in trying to promote the group now. You can read about this group here.

o Realized that I'm more crotchety than I care to admit because of said conversation.

o Another part of our conversation was about ambition and how that seems to change--and realized for me, the past 10 years was about figuring out my own way, and realizing that what's working for me is something that I already knew back then, but gave it the old college try to see what would happen. Noticed that my ambition is now more healthy and more realistic--instead of trying to appease a so-called community, I'm just making myself happy--and everyone else seems happy around me because of it.

o Realizing that I have to put up with my dad's "I told you so" for the rest of my life because of this. Oh well.

o Realizing that I've reached a new level of geekiness when I scored a curved A+ on my bio midterm (that makes 2 in a row)...and I was unhappy because I could've done better. Also surprised that with all the rain we've been having it's been helping me remember all my damn chemistry for my chem class. Sheesh!

o Germinating seeds and having to buy ladybugs for my bio class to conduct "experiments." At least ladybugs are cheap and healthier for the house than buying crickets and annoying the hell out of everyone.

o Falling in love with living in San Francisco again. Don't know why.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Asian American Film Festival report (and reviews)

Watching 6 series of movies in 3 days. I went to the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and saw a bunch of different movies (features and shorts), all with varying themes.

One of the undercurrent themes going on this year is Asian American straight male identity in relationship to film, which frankly I'm really tired of. I'm sick of hearing straight (and some gay) Asian male assholes whining how they can't find Asian paratners just because they're Asian, and how they're not represented in mainstream American media, but I'll save that for another time.

First saw Memories of a Sudoku Superstar, a series of films that really didn't have an overlying theme, but many had to do with sex. The most surprising was the mockumentary, Dick Ho: Asian Male Porn Star, about a fictional 70s Asian male porn star. In the course of this film, it skewers the complaints that straight Asian men are never seen in straight porn by pointing the finger right back at those who are accusing them; that Asian men don't try out for these parts and so Asian men don't show up. It's a Catch-22 in this situation. Considering that there seem to be quite a number of gay Asian male porn stars (Brandon Lee, looking really haggard and no one seems to notice that he's actually hapa Filipino and Mexican and pretty hairy; and Van Darkholme, a Vietnamese porn star who I had the pleasure of being spanked by at Folsom Street Fair '04), it's interesting to see how we're (not surprisingly) completely ignored by the straight men.

Next were the queer shorts, which except for the excellent Balikbayan Confessions, a discussion of the reaction of progressive queer Pinay activists returning to the Philippines, sucked hard. The one that was really irritating was Porcelain, a whiny piece about how a potato queen can't get respect from the white men he dates. At the end of the movie, I wanted to scream, "Date a fucking guy of color!" and "Grow a backbone!" But that's another rant.

Then I saw The Crimson Kimono, a deliciously overacted detective B-movie about a Nisei detective and his white partner who fall in love with the primary witness, a white artist as part of the tribute to James Shigeta, a prominent JA actor in the 50s and 60s. Given the context of when it was released (1959), the themes of race not mattering when people fall in love, and the relatively accurate portrayal of the JA community in the 1950s (plus looking at how different LA's Little Tokyo was back then) was really ahead of its time. James Shigeta was pretty hot then too.

The Life Quixotic, a series of shorts on love, was surprisingly consistent and satisfying. Nothing queer here, but considering that shorts tend to have only one or two great films with a bunch of mediocre ones, this was a nice surprise. My favorite was Slip of the Tongue, a video interpretation of an actually good (!!!) spoken word piece about Asian women.

Most perplexing was My Prince, My Angel, a short about two people who fall in love by chance. What was most curious was the use of language, since the language used was pretty much gibberish and unintelligible, with sets and costumes that could be described best as Asia-lite, but the fact the entire cast and crew is Asian really made me think that this was ahead of its time. It pretty much turns the entire notion of exoticing Asia and Asian Americans on its head since it's the Asians who are doing it, and I spent most of the time scratching my head, and also thinking about authenticity and what does it mean for us as Asians to do something this blatantly unauthentic and have the balls to actually pull it off really well.

Sunday, I saw two programs. The first, Kieu, was done by my girl, Vu T. Thu-Ha, and taking the classic Vietnamese folk tale, Truyen Kieu, and placing Kieu as a massage worker. Somewhat slow in parts, but the cinematography was gorgeous and stunning, given what they had to work with. Since I've never read the story, I can't vouch for its relative accuracy, but the plot itself switches seamlessely back and forth between past and present as the main character tries to make sense of what life's given her and to make peace with a troubled past and an unknown future. Highly recommended. The other, Punchcards and Preoccupations, a series of movies about work. Consistently good, though my favorite was Stationery, an animation about an Asian woman who, in her attempt to play by the rules, realizes that life doesn't always follow them.

Last one I'll be seeing is Chinese Restaurants: Latin Passions, part of a series of stories of Chinese who run Chinese restaurants all over the world, this time focusing on South America. Review of that later.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Another sign time is moving on...

I started taking hip-hop dance classes again after a few months' hiatus at UCSF's new gym, and I ran into my old hip hop teacher, Sarah, who used to be one of the original dancers for Culture Shock-SF, and who is now working on the kids' programs for UCSF's Recreation Department.

We were talking about how we're doing and how we don't dance as much as we used to, and then we saw her son, Kamau. Last time I saw him, he was still in a little baby seat while she would teach her classes. Now, he's about 6 or 7, and running about like a little kid should. As if that didn't make me feel old enough, she then said that she's going to have go into surgery over the next couple years--to get her hips replaced.

I stood there in shock until Howard reminded me that she was close to her 50s already.

Wow, where's the time gone?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Why is it snowing in SF?

In March?

and it's not going to be over 50?!

AND the high in SF doesn't even hit the low in NYC?!

Wtf?!

Into the abyss...

I lost the stylus to my tablet PC last night and can't find it. Dammit.

I ended up ordering some new ones and a tether to go along with it so it doesn't happen again.

Guess I've gotten spoiled with using the stylus as opposed to a mouse or touchpad (prevents me from getting carpal tunnel faster I guess!).

Dammit.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Asians, stigma and being gay (blah, blah, blah)

So I got an e-mail from this one social group that I belong to, GAMX, that someone in the group had passed away unexpectedly. I didn't really know him all that well, except I do remember chatting with him briefly at a couple of functions, but it was a shock because I think he was quite a bit younger than me. The one thing that raised my eyebrows was the way that the family described his death: he had moved to be with his family a while ago, but had been sick for two weeks. He then went to bed one night, and never woke up. Other details of his death weren't divulged.

It's been the 4th time that someone I've known who was gay and Asian has passed and the circumstances of his death weren't discussed, or if anything, the family tries to hide the circumstances as much as possible and does all the rituals as fast as possible so that no one will ask too many questions. Twice, it was because of suicide due to mental illness; one because of an accident and the family didn't want other people to know that he had died with his partner in a car accident; and one because of "illness," presumably HIV-related.

If anything, it really makes me upset that so many of our families (API or otherwise) still have such strong stigmas attached to being queer, and it particularly doesn't help that these people died because of noncompliance in regards to management of their mental illnesses, or that a family refuses to discuss what exactly would kill a healthy 20-something guy who had no known history of health problems. It also makes me grateful that my family, for the most part, acknowledges my queerness and respects my issues and privacy (if also because I keep them at arm's length and tell them things on a need-to-know basis) and that I don't have problems discussing most personal and social issues with my family if the subject ever comes up.

How much do we hide away and keep from our families just to maintain some sort of tortured normality? Why can't we talk about our being queer? Why can't we talk about our mental health or other health issues? What are we trying to gain by pretending?

It's something that I've been thinking about a lot, especially since the people I've met who've left us are often buried with a blanket of lies and deception over them, and those of us who are living are left wondering what the point of maintaining it is and how (hopefully) we can live our lives freeing ourselves from those restrictions.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A sign I'm getting older...

(Not that turning 32 yesterday isn't enough!)

I got an e-mail from my best friend from college who told me she was getting married next year. Given that this is a girl who's been fairly committment-phobic but had gotten into meeting guys online and that she was single when I just saw her back in July, it was a bit of a shock.

It got me thinking about relationships in general and how straight people vs. queer folk view relationships, and I guess the one thing that I've noticed (among my queer friends which I know is nowhere near the norm) is that my queer friends seem to go out a lot longer before they declare any sort of committment, while my straight friends (particularly as I get older) seem to feel the biological clock ticking and are more in a hurry to get married. Again, this is probably because I have friends who tend to think a lot more about relationships before they jump into them, but I have noticed that my very close queer friends seem a lot more deliberative in deciding that they're in a relationship, and my straight friends seem to claim they're seeing someone pretty often. Not to say that random fucking doesn't happen among my queer friends (which it does a lot), but they seem more comfortable in naming it as just random fucking and not attach any sort of extra meaning that doesn't really exist.

My own relationship is going through a bit of an evolution as well, as we've gone from a sexually open relationship (which it's always been from the get-go and something that we've never really had problems with) to more polyamorous (with the husband also seeing another guy--funny thing is that I was aware of it before the husband was and that I was okay with it), and I've been thinking about my own emotional wiring and whether I'd have the capability to be able to be romantically involved with more than one person. Sexually, it's never been a problem, but attaching something deeper than that, well, I've never really considered it. I have found myself really falling for other guys a couple of times while I've been with the husband, but I've never really had anything happen, simply because for one reason or another these guys would be unattainable (one b/c of distance, the other b/c he was moving back to Thailand) and so I never really thought about it. At least the husband and I have always been very open and honest about this with each other, and so it's never been that much of an issue. But it does get me thinking if I could have the capability that the husband has. I'm pretty sure I could if the situation presented itself, but for the time being, nothing's come up where I seriously had to think about. Guess I always like playing "what if's?" with myself.

I think that queer folk have always been more comfortable with "nontraditional" relationships since many people have claimed a queer identity because they don't have to subscribe to so-called traditional monogamy. My queer friends seem to get it, the straight friends I tend to not reveal it to because the relationship is already too complicated for them to begin with.

I'll probably have to think about it more...

Monday, March 06, 2006

(sings very quietly...)

happy birthday to me...
happy birthday to me...
happy birthday dear efren...
happy birthday to me...

Turning 32 tomorrow morning at 9:23 AM.

Birthdays haven't been as important to me as they used to be, primarily because I don't get the phone calls from my mom that I used to get. It was always a tradition ever since I moved out for my mom to call me really early in the morning to wish me a happy birthday and there was also the requisite jokes every time she called which never changed every single year she called me. When she passed 3 years ago, it was exactly a month before I turned 29, so it was pretty painful when my birthday did come around.

What I remember the most was that it was really the first time I had gone to her grave by myself, and that I had spent that night at my dad's since my sister and I were taking turns sleeping over there while we were still grieving. He was so much in grief that he had forgotten that it was my birthday, but I told him not to worry about it. I remember buying flowers, going over to her gravesite, laid them on her tombstone and started reflecting and praying. It was really the first time that I truly grieved my mom's passing. I played in my head the conversation that my mom and I would have on my birthday, over and over again, and the tears started coming. They didn't stop for almost an hour. I was able to finally start letting go of all the anger and grief that I had kept bottled up because of family obligations. I didn't care who saw me. I needed to do this, and that was the first time I really could.

Now, three years later, the pain isn't as sharp as it used to be, but it's still there. I've moved on, realizing that the beginning of my mom's passing was the beginning of the time that I really started to grow up. I've changed quite a bit since then, and I think it's for the better.

I'm sure my mom's proud.

Not sure if I'll be able to do anything tomorrow since I'm busy with school, but I'm ditching lab to be with my dad, since I haven't been able to see him in a long time because of work and school. The husband took me out to dinner last Friday and some friends are planning on taking me out this coming Friday.

It'd be nice to get some birthday wishes. :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What the hell is happening in the Philippines?

I've been pretty horrified the past few days about what's been happening in the Philippines, especially since the current president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (aka GMA), has declared a "state of emergency" on the entire country after rumors of coups were going around about a week ago. Considering that in the past 20 years, the Philippines has gone through a pretty tumultous time since Marcos, with most prime ministers being forced out, usually through mass demonstrations since the first one that kicked out Marcos back in '86.

For someone who's always had a very tentative and distanced relationship with the country of my ancestors, it's also given me a chance to really think about how I feel about the Philippines, a country that's had the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world colonized by the US, and how the country still can't shake off its blinders and see how that mindset has thrown it from the "Pearl of the Orient" to a place that's off-limits to investors and other people who could bring in potential capital because of the constant instability and corruption, and yet doesn't have a strong enough opposition that's able to completely overturn the government and establish something completely different. It amazes me that Filipinos who are of the upper classes are completely blind to the corruption that happens around them on a daily basis. I see the work that's being done on so many different levels to try to do something to change the Philippines, but it's just so sad that so many Filipinos feel that there's nothing left to give to the country and so many want to get out and come to the US. I'm not sure what it would take to bring the Philippines up from where it is right now, since it seems that all these crises are going to eventually tear the country apart unless they can do something to fix what's wrong at its core, which I'm still trying to figure out, though I know a lot of it has to do with a colonial mindset.

Here are some posts from some fellow Filipino bloggers: Gura, Tatang Retong, and Rona.