Love, Ken

Over the weekend, I saw Love, Simon. Just like Call Me By Your Name, I was not planning on seeing this movie at all, but here we are. I just happen to stumble upon its trailer while seeing another movie (I swear to God, I think it was Pitch Perfect 3), thought it was an adorable premise, and a good friend of mine asked if I would see it with him – so I went to Barnes and Noble and grabbed me a copy of the novel it was based on. I wanted to make sure I read the book first before seeing the movie because I am not going the same mistake with Natalie Portman’s Annihilation.

Love, Simon is about a closeted high school kid named Simon who was crushing on someone he met online codenamed Blue. A fellow student found out about it and blackmailed him – things go sideways, he got outed on a blog (which the movie refuses to acknowledge as Tumblr). He came out to everyone, got his guy, and lived a rather normal high school life.

I know I am oversimplifying the premise but I am not far off. But there were scenes here and there that really hit home for this aging homosexual. I totally understand why my Twitter feed was filled with “this is a movie I did not know I needed to see, and that every gay teen should see.”

 

SCENE ONE:

Right of the bat, I’m already lying. It’s not ONE particular scene, but a few – and they were all about coming out.

Simon was driving home with his buddy Abby and he came out to her. He has known her for only a few months, but he chose to come out to her first – even before coming out to a childhood best friend, or his family. Personally, I did the same. I am not a big fan of making an event out of it. I do not think it should be anything special but rather be treated as a fact. And I totally understood where Simon was coming from – it is harder to come out to someone you have known your whole life because you do not want them to think that you were putting on a mask the whole time. And it’s embarrassing because you do not want to make it seem like you have been living a lie, but on some level, you were.

When word got out that Simon was gay via a blog that everyone in town seem to peruse, his younger sister talked to him and said she saw the post, and that she reported it so it can be taken down. She offered to keep his secret if he was ashamed of it, to which he replied he was not. I still do not why I never came out earlier, because I have said that: I am not ashamed of being gay. And yet I held back as long as I can from having this conversation with my mom and dad. I had nothing holding me back – maybe just the unexplainable raging hormones of being a teenager, that made way to the angst of my early twenties. If you know my mother in any form or manner, then you should know I had no cards playing against me. As for my dad, he was not around. When I moved to the US to live with my dad, I was already in my twenties – almost everything in my personality was already set in stone (another lie, not completely true). But it took a potential break up for me to reach out to both and say “hey, what do I do now?”

Probably one of the most intense scenes in the movie was when Simon’s blackmailer and out-er Martin asked to talk and Simon basically lost it, screaming at Martin that coming out should have been in his terms, in his own way, in his own time – but Martin took that away from him. After coming out, I see two paths: you either feel the need to make others come out, or you would totally understand why someone stays in the closet. It is easy to say it is not a big deal, “I’ve done it” but things are just different with everybody. At the end of the day, you got to do things your way. My body, my choice.

 

SCENE TWO:

Simon coming home and saw his mom in the living room, and he asked “did you know?” Simon’s mom, played by Jennifer Garner, gave an awesome speech. A speech so well-delivered, it was almost as if Garner had her eyes on an Oscar which she will not get for this movie because this is the wrong vehicle and because the award giving body did not give one to Michael Stuhlbarg after his similar but exponentially more stellar scene from Call Me By Your Name.

“These last few years I could almost hear you holding your breath … You are still you, Simon. You’re the same son I love to tease … the same brother who compliments his sister’s food even when it sucks. And now you get to be you more than you’ve ever been. You get to exhale.”

It was beautiful. And more importantly, it was true. You grow up putting up a wall brick by brick, building a fortress around your heart – not learning what happiness truly feels like. And then you come out, walls crashing down and you walk like an open nerve feeling everything there is to feel. And you become so happy you cry.

 

SCENE THREE:

Like most movies, Love, Simon ended how it started: Simon heading out to school, driving around town, picking up his friends, grabbing iced coffees. One difference was in the ending, they also pick up his boyfriend, kissed, then drove to school. There was a banality to it. It was “ordinary.” Normal. And that has always been something I strive for. And this is why the movie is important today for young gay kids. It is no Oscar film, don’t get me wrong – but I don’t think an Oscar is what the creators and actors were looking in having this movie made. I would have benefitted a lot from it growing up, but only a time machine can change things now. I hope the younger generation would appreciate why a movie like this is in theaters nationwide. Because “everyone deserves their own love story.”

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Thirty Songs

I honestly am a sucker for lists like this. I rarely actually do them but I enjoy spending a few minutes trying to think of what fits in each line.

I’m turning 37 in a few hours as I’m writing this. I’m in bed, Seinfeld blasting in the background while my boyfriend is playing with the Switch he got me last year for my birthday. Currently ignoring messages coming in – every year, this wave of notifications is expected and I always want to reply to every single one of them.

Anyway, was browsing through my Twitter and I saw Christian Finnegan doing this, and he deleted the “day” part of this quote challenge unquote.

Let’s dive in.

Day 01: Your favorite song
Jewel, You Were Meant for me. It came out in 1996 and is the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I’m still very much in love with this song.

Day 02: Your least favorite song
Stupid question. Next.

Day 03: A song that makes you happy
I’m almost ashamed to admit this but Cut to the Feeling, Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s impossible not to smile listening to it.

Day 04: A song that makes you sad
Oh crap, where do I begin? I Can’t Make you Love me, Bonnie Raitt is a real tear-jerker. Little Things by Lily Allen. Paramore’s The Only Exception. I have a Spotify playlist called “Break Down” filled with songs to cry to.

Day 05: A song that reminds you of someone
Someone what? I mean, Candle in the Wind reminds me of Princess Di. This item is too broad.

Day 06: A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Same with this one. Too broad. Though any song by Metric reminds me of Paris. I saw them there, in Bataclan, a month before it was in international news because of a terrorist attack. Bananas, no?

Day 07: A song that reminds you of a certain event
Garbage’s first album, Kings Theater in Brooklyn. I saw them live for the album’s twentieth anniversary and I still revel in it.

Day 08: A song that you know all the words to
Obviously, You Were Meant for Me. But honestly, most Madonna songs.

Day 09: A song that you can dance to
Crazy in Love, Beyonce. Who doesn’t dance to that?

Day 10: A song that makes you fall asleep
Sara Bareilles, Manhattan.

Day 11: A song from your favorite band
Linger, The Cranberries. Because I’m in too deep…

Day 12: A song from a band you hate
I don’t hate Train, I’m just not fond of them. But I do like Drops of Jupiter.

Day 13: A song that is a guilty pleasure
Kanye, and a bunch of folks – Monster. I REALLY like the Minaj part. And I’m almost sure my boyfriend hates it when I start singing along.
“First thing’s first – I eat your brain, then imma start rocking gold teeth and fangs, ‘coz that’s what a motherfucking monster do…”

Day 14: A song that no one would expect you to love
Rack City, Tyga. That song is just good.

Day 15: A song that describes you
I’m kinda proud of introducing this song to my dad: Unwell, Matchbox 20.
It really is a song that describes Ken Maes.

Day 16: A song that you used to love but now hate
P!nk, Just Like a Pill. Used to listen to it a lot, and looking back, I don’t know why I listened to it at all.

Day 17: A song that you hear often on the radio
Thats a head scratcher because I don’t listen much to the radio anymore. BUT, I do hear these artists that I guess are popular (?) and I wonder why: Shawn Mendez, Charlie Puth, Cameron Dallas. Those kinds of folks weird me out.

Day 18: A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Any song by Metric. I saw them in The Bowery and I remember Emily Haines talking about how they’re in a weird spot to be on radio. Like they’re too small for radio, but too big to be ignored.

Day 19: A song from your favorite album
Melodrama, Lorde – Hard Feelings/Loveless.

Day 20: A song that you listen to when you’re angry
Paula Cole – Throwing Stones.

Day 21: A song that you listen to when you’re happy
Bang Bang – Jessie J and company.

Day 22: A song that you listen to when you’re sad
Anything by Damien Rice.

Day 23: A song that you want to play at your wedding
Paramore, Still Into You.
“I should be over all the butterflies but I’m into you, I’m into you. And even baby our worst nights, I’m into you, I’m into you.”

Day 24: A song that you want to play at your funeral
Ooooh… good one. I have to think about this one. Hmmm…
If I Die Young by Band Perry? But that sailed, I’m old haha!
Maybe Landslide, Fleetwood Mac?

Day 25: A song that makes you laugh
Currently, Dancing by Kylie Minogue.

Day 26: A song that you can play on an instrument
I used to play In the Mood in the piano. Feels very boogie woogie.

Day 27: A song that you wish you could play
Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell.

Day 28: A song that makes you feel guilty
Guilty of what? I guess I kinda feel guilty about liking Taylor Swift songs.

Day 29: A song from your childhood
I don’t have a copy anymore, but I recall my mom recorded my little ass singing The Bangles’ Eternal Flame.

Day 30: Your favorite song at this time last year
Thirty-One Today, Aimee Man. I was turning 36.

Peach Cobbler Disaster

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure your feed is inundated with these short videos of food being prepared. I don’t know who started this, but I already started following the Tasty Food page.

Apparently, my boyfriend enjoys these videos as well and saw a recipe for a peach cobbler. It was really simple: peach at the bottom of a slow cooker, cake mix, butter, nuts. We had a hard time finding a can of peach filling – KeyFood and Fair Trade both failed me – so we opted for sliced peaches in heavy syrup. Two and a half hours later, it was ready.

It wasn’t bad. I picked one of those super moist vanilla cake mix which made the cobbler too sweet. We also had the cobbler with vanilla ice cream, and it says a lot when you have to have ice cream to cut the sweetness of the cobbler. It’s still good but you can’t eat this by spoonfuls.

I decided to bring some with me to work. I always want something sweet at the end of the meal and a small serving of peach cobbler with ice cream would be great. So the night before my work week begins, I got a small container, filled the bottom with peach cobbler and topped it with ice cream. I put the container with my lunch in a bag and put it away in the fridge. The following morning, I grabbed my lunch bag and head out to work.

When I got to work and I was about to put away my lunch is when I realized my huge mistake. You see, according to science, ice cream melts. And because our peach cobbler was really sweet, to cut the sweetness, I added a big serving of ice cream. I left my cobbler with ice cream in the fridge overnight. And my container is now basically soup with cake soaked in ice cream, and with floating chunks of peaches. It looked like it was thrown up. It was sludge.

The idiot in me said this can be salvage so I put the whole thing in our freezer at work. I have three hours until lunch time, this would be fine. After eating lunch, I grabbed my dessert and now I had frozen sludge. Which I had to put in the microwave so I could dig in.

I finished the damn thing.

 

A Case of You

I heard Alan Rickman passed away at 69. He was Severus Snape to most. Maybe Hans Gruber to the nostalgic. Rasputin to the snobs.

But for me, he was Harry. He worked in a design agency. Married to Karen and had a bunch of kids. Flirted with coworker Mia and even got her a necklace for Christmas. It still breaks my heart seeing that scene in Love Actually when Karen opens her gift from her husband, thinking it’s the necklace she recently saw in her husband’s coat, and unwrapping a Joni Mitchell album of Both Sides Now.

Harry said he was a fool when he realized his wife was able to figure out the possible affair he is having.

Today, I listen to Joni Mitchell at work. I wait for the end of the day, go home, and watch Love Actually again.

2015/16

I got up at seven in the morning, an hour after my intended wake up time, grabbed my phone and went to the bathroom. I turned on the shower to jump start the hot water, sat on the shitter and checked my Facebook feed. When the water was hot enough to fog up my bathroom mirrors, I turned on Spotify on my phone, searched for the Spring Awakening soundtrack and hit Play. I did a quick look at my PayPal account to confirm I did transfer funds to my friend Harry who got us Spring Awakening tickets for the day before. I was obviously still riding a musical high from the Sunday matinee.

I woke up Andy as I was choosing which shirt to wear and picking up socks and underwear from the bedroom. I turned on the kitchen lights and dimmed the bedroom lights using my phone and then checked what the weather is going to be like for the day. An alert on my phone showed some train issues on the 7, so I begrudgingly decided to switch to a bus when I reach Queensboro.

The commute to work was uneventful. Listened to a few YouTube clips, continued on with Spotify. My iPad’s podcast app has been shitty lately, on my out of the door as I was refreshing my podcasts, it froze and rebooted – so I switched to my phone in the mean as it loaded, and it usually takes a while.

I got off on Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenues, visited a 7-Eleven. I showed my app that tracks how often I buy coffee – on the seventh visit, you get a free cup and I’m three stars away.

Despite the cold, I stepped out for lunch and went to my usual Thai spot. On my way back to the office, passed by KeyFood and tried using my phone to pay for my purchases. Worked like a charm.

I’m hours away from six o’clock, but I already know I’m going to need hot coffee on my way home. Starbucks has this app that has a way of ordering ahead of time, that way you show up at a Starbucks, skip the line and pick up your coffee. I’ll check my phone and check waiting times for a bus to Queensboro Plaza, or a train to Court Square – and depending on how long the wait it, I may also consider to use Uber and have a car pick me up and take me home without having to pull out my wallet to pay for my ride.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably continue to surprise myself every now and then – but technology is amazing. I feel like we are living in the future. If I wasn’t so chicken shit, I can probably leave all my bank and credit cards, and cash home and go head out just armed with my phone and my Metrocard.

—***—

I had my share of concerts the past year. I have a rather simple mind – if I like the artist, I’d go.

The year started well when my best friend Ryan took me to a Lea Salonga concert for my birthday. We saw her many times before in Cafe Carlyle, and during her return in Les Miserables as Fantine. Lea never lets me down – and there’s not much frills in her shows, just her singing and talking. No dance productions, no light shows. I ended the year seeing Lea again in Allegiance. It was my gift for mom for her birthday, and she just wanted to see Lea live. True to form, mom’s first words when Lea came out on stage was “Tumaba si Lea (Lea has gone fat)”. Lea did a few dances too, which I myself was surprised. After a dance about playing baseball, Lea and the company did a fake baseball throw, and then my mom told me “Tamo, hingal na si Lea eh (Look at that, Lea is breathing heavily)”.

My friend Colter introduced me to The Mowgli’s months before he and his now husband decided to go back to Arizona. He made me search them in Spotify and I was surprised when I enjoyed the positive vibes they give off. For the most part, I enjoy listening to singer-songwriters who sing about broken hearts. I got us tickets to see them in The Bowery and fell in love with band. There are some bands and artists that you just have to see live and The Mowgli’s is one of them.

 

I saw Pentatonix twice this year, and also once late 2014. I saw Imagine Dragons in Barcaly’s. Saw Jay Brannan again in Joe’s Pub. I was also invited to join by the same folk I go with to see Pentatonix to see Ellie Goulding.

But my big three, plus one bonus, didn’t happen until towards the end of the year. And I know they are my “big” ones because I hardly have any pictures of these concerts – I paid way too much attention to singing along, dancing along, or just plain staring at the stage while occasionally grabbing my boyfriend’s hand and crushing it.

I saw Metric twice in 2015. Once when they opened for Imagine Dragons. But the second time was more special because I distinctly remember receiving their e-mail about starting a European tour for the new album, checking the dates, and giving off a quiet yelp when I saw that they will perform in Paris exactly on the same day I fly to France. I basically lost my shit and just bought the tickets without asking for my boyfriend’s approval. To make it more exciting, when we got to the venue, we were told that we have to pick up our tickets from some music store chain, and the closest one was half an hour away via subway. I had no problem playing the I’m-a-stupid-American card and practically begged to see a venue manager, clutching on to my e-mail, the credit card I used to make my ticket purchase and my passport. Some guy on a walkie talkie let us in and I saw relief in my boyfriend’s eyes. I really think he thought I was going to go postal.

On a sad note, less than a month after, the very same venue we saw Metric, Le Bataclan, was one of the sites terrorists attacked in November 2015.

Every year, Aimee Mann and a bunch of her friends host a Christmas show and every since I found out about it, I either forget and miss it, or hear about it too late and the event sells out. But 2015 was different, I lucked out and got tickets. And as an added bonus, Mann brought along Liz fucking Phair. I never felt so lucky.

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Fun night 🙂

A post shared by F Ken P Maes (@fkenpmaes) on

But the biggest event for me for 2015 was the twentieth anniversary of Garbage’s first album. And Garbage decided to do a tour. I put on my imaginary pink feather boa, hopped on a train to Brooklyn, and just sung and danced for the next hour or so. Bow down to me.

—***—

I didn’t do much travelling for 2015, but when I did, I went all out.

Celebrated my birthday in Boston. My boyfriend Andy was there for a convention, with our friend Matt. I actually spent most of the day by myself, discovering Boston’s horrendous subway systems and great art museums. It was not the worse birthday.

I cashed in on a holiday party gift and went to the company cottage in Nantucket. Nantucket was never in the radar, but I was glad I got to spend a weekend in this former whaling island. It was gorgeous despite the bad weather.

A week after, my boyfriend and I went to Europe. First was to Paris, followed by a quick trip to London. It’s a lot to write about Paris. I find it hard to believe sometimes that I’ve been there. It was beautiful. The food was great. The people was lovely. And that tower. And that museum. It was just too much for one me. And I definitely want to go back. Same with London. We visited and stayed with family while we were in the UK. We saw the Stonehenge. I saw one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. I realized how much i really do love old cities. It’s a sentiment I feel about cities like Boston or Philadelphia. But these cities are babies compared to the centuries old cities of Paris and London.

I ended the year with a trip with my best friend for her birthday. We love going away together, and it doesn’t happen as often as I want to. This time, we went to Orlando and had silly unbridled fun in Universal Studios. I fucking rode the train to Hogwarts.

—***—

2015 was good year. 2015 was a shitty year. Every January, I look back at the previous year and pretty much always come up to the same conclusion: It was a good year riddled with shitty moments. And my hopes is it always stays that way, instead of having a shitty year with good moments.

fkenpmaes

 

Tell Me the Truth – is it Love or just Paris?

I wrote this at two in the afternoon, and I probably should be working but I rushed through my usual 15-day workload down to ten days so I can have a long vacation, something that I missed this summer.

Just last week, I redeemed a trip I won from my company holiday raffle – a trip to Nantucket for two. It was a short weekend trip, it was raining and cold but it was a good break from my job. I haven’t had a break from work for pretty much the past ten months, and our payroll coordinator never fails to remind me of my eighteen vacation days unclaimed.

You can see more pictures here: https://goo.gl/photos/QaDFukXqmRzmyXmh9

A long overdue trip is in place. There were talks of maybe going to Japan, but plans with a friend fell through which left my boyfriend and I with ten days of vacations set aside but nowhere to go. He was the one who actually suggested Paris, and I said yes without any hesitation.

So here I am, at work, could not focus on anything, anticipating the plane ride to Europe 🙂

Je suis perdu tu n’es plus dans ma rue
Cette nuit tu as disparu de ma vue

It Finally Happened – We Parted Ways

My boyfriend Andy and I have been together for over seven years now. We’ve been living together for almost a year and we are in heavy talks about getting a puppy. We have gone through a bunch of arguments like most people in long term relationships. I often joke about him hitting me one of these days, and I probably deserve it if that ever happens (it won’t). And we are still together and I’m sure there will be bumps and obstacles in the future but I’d like to think both of us are committed enough to know to never let go.

That being said, be it known that it would have been easier to break up with my love than what I recently did – I let go of my BlackBerry.

It was August of 2006 when I first got a BlackBerry. It was Pearl. It was stupid. I never believed in cases to protect my phone, so I’d slip my Pearl in my pockets where it would collect lint that would get stuck in the Pearl’s button.

BlackBerry Pearl

BlackBerry Pearl

The QWERTY keyboard was also horrible. There was a very steep learning curve from your typical phone back then, when you have to press the number two three times to get to the letter C.

But it was my introduction to smart phones, and it was a good introduction. I heavily relied on e-mails then – I just moved to New York from Colorado, and from the Philippines before that, most of my contacts are easily in touch with me via e-mail.

I moved from the Pearl around the same time I met my boyfriend in 2008. We were both utilizing the BlackBerry Curve. He was probably my only BlackBerry Messenger contact I regularly talk to.

BlackBerry Curve

BlackBerry Curve

It was a great phone. Full keyboard was great! But it still had a pesky trackball but was a novel idea at first, but I had the same issue with lint getting into the trackball and getting it stuck. Fortunately, the company moved away from the trackball and moved to a trackpad. I did not use this device much for e-mail anymore though it’s e-mail push technology was still great. Facebook was existent by then and it was and still what I use to get in touch with friends who are not in the same time zone as I am.

I never left the brand. The Curve was replaced by the full touchscreen with a keyboard Bold, and even after the complete operating system overhaul, I stayed with BlackBerry and got myself a Z10 which is basically BlackBerry’s iPhone. I did miss the keyboard which is why when Passport came out, I was one of the tens if not hundreds who bought it. It was silly, huge, bulky, but I totally loved it. I even got a leather case for it that was ridiculously expensive and was handmade.

BlackBerry Bold

BlackBerry Bold

BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Passport

After the Passport, there were rumors that BlackBerry will be designing an Android phone. And that was the final straw for me. I stayed with these line of devices mainly for the physical keyboard and its operating system. Yes, the OS did not get much love from app developers. But I had Facebook, Twitter and a few apps here and there and I was fine with that. One of my favorite adage was BlackBerry is not a toy, it’s a tool. I did not care if I can’t play Angry Birds on my BlackBerry. I purchased an iPod specifically for the “fun” part of technology and kept my BlackBerry for more serious matters like work e-mails and a decent LinkedIn account. With BlackBerry making devices powered by Android, then might as well switch to an Android phone.

And I did. And it was rough. I remember purchasing it on a Wednesday. I remember it was a Wednesday because I have a standing Wednesday night drinks with two of my close friends. We met at Lillie’s in Union Square and had nachos and three bottles of wine. I was laughing, drinking, munching on greasy nachos but my mind was pre-occupied by the fact that on the table, was a Samsung S6 Edge phone, and not my Passport that also acts as a coaster occasionally, if not most of the times.

It’s been roughly two weeks since I made the switch. My boyfriend got the exact same model I got but he got it in black. Mine was white because between us, I;m the fucking angel. Call me silly but I mourn over this. I feel like I lost something and it is so stupid to feel this sad about it. I have said before that I know how to hold a grudge, and I guess it’s also true with regards to things I hold dear. I maybe just a sentimental fool who does not know how to let go.