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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Dare to Dream

Back in the late 90s slash early 2000s, I usually spend my weekends lying on the couch, legs up on the back rest, head dangling at the edge of the seat while watching American Top 40 upside-down. This is how I got acquainted with country music, the show would always include the top ten country music videos and play at least one in full, and not necessarily the number one song of the week. This is why when the Philippines went crazy over LeAnn Rimes’ How do I Live, I knew her mainly for Blue, and I liked Trisha Yearwood’s version better.

One of my favorite songs to catch was What’s Forever For. It’s a good song, especially coming from someone who was basically a child. I found out later it’s a cover, but didn’t stop me from visiting local music stores hoping to find his album One Voice in the very limited country section tucked in a corner, all ten CDs of the genre.

Billy Gilman is back in the news. He’s been gone for a long time, I actually forgot about him so I was fairly surprised seeing him all grown up.

Side note: those eyes are photoshopped, right?

I do not have a coming out story. I am pretty lucky not to have all these issues about having to hide in the closet – I have the best parents to ask for, who probably love me more than I really know, I have siblings who are way younger than me who worship me and not old enough yet to make any judgments, and friends who clearly like me for the shit that comes from my mouth more than finding out who’s junk I put in it.

Here’s me laughing at my own joke I just made.

It must have been hard for him to make that video, and realizing he has to come out because he was caught with his boyfriend in public. I do hope he feels better now, and relieved, that he does not have to hide anymore. There will be repercussions in his career, no doubt, but I’ve always thought it’s not your career that defines you, but it’s how you lived your life.

Here’s hoping you find out what’s forever for, Billy.

I’ve been looking at people
And how they change with the times
And lately all I’ve been seeing are people
Throwing love away and losing their minds

Or maybe it’s me that’s gone crazy
‘Cause I can’t understand why
All these people keep hurting each other
When good love is so hard to come by

So what’s the glory in living
Doesn’t anybody ever stay together anymore
And if love never lasts forever
Tell me what’s forever for

I’ve been listening to people
And they say love is the key
It’s not my way to let them lead me astray
It’s only that I want to believe

But I see love-hungry people
Trying their best to survive
While in their hands is a dying romance
And they’re not even trying to keep it alive

So what’s the glory in living
Doesn’t anybody ever stay together anymore
And if love never lasts forever
Tell me what’s forever for
And if love never lasts forever
Tell me what’s forever for

I Don’t Ask for Much

Well, maybe I do. I don’t know.

I’m 32, still unmarried with no kids while friends and family are popping babies left and right, and I keep hearing engagement announcements. It’s like when my mom told me about Longchamp handbags. Ever since she mentioned it to me, I keep seeing them. I like to think that since I do wanna get married and have kids, and it’s an itch I keep picking on, that I keep seeing it around me.

Wanting to get married one day, and slash or wanting to have kids are very personal decisions. Along the way, you wish you meet someone who has the same wants as you. The bf and I are still on a stand off on this issue. He hasn’t told me he does NOT want to get married, or he does NOT want kids. He’s pretty flippant about it, he has mentioned going the surrogate route, but there are days he would say he just can’t stand kids. And if the day comes he decides he does not want either and tells me about it, sure, it would break my heart – frankly, would probably kill my mother who’s pining for a grandchild – it would be hard, but I chose to be with this particular man, I’ll probably still stay with him. Love is being with him; Commitment on the other hand is staying with him.

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it to my boyfriend, that we are both reading the same book. Things are shaky at the moment not because we don’t love each other or because we always argue. It’s because we are just reading different chapters. Not only do I read fast, but I started reading the book ahead of him. He’s still catching up, and maybe he’s taking his time. If there’s anything I have to worry about, it’s if maybe he stops reading because he’s tired. Relationships can be tiring, I know because I am tired. I’m tired because I keep nagging him to read faster.

Maybe the reason marriage and having kids has always been important to me is because I put a lot of value on family. My family is bat shit crazy on both sides. I think all families are anyway. But the ones I have are my bat shit crazy. It’s the tribe I belong in. It’s my unit. And if anyone of them does not approve of my boyfriend, tough shit because this is what I’m bringing in to the tribe and they have to accept it inasmuch as I accept whoever they bring in. And here lies the dilemma: I am not accepted in his tribe. I look at my boyfriend and I see a man who loves me but can’t hold my hand to bring me in the drum circle. There is no lack of trying on my side. I’ve reached out to unanswered calls. I’ve watched from outside the edge of his family as they buried their dead. I’ve cried for their lost and they don’t even know it. I actually have the best relationship with my boyfriend’s dad who passed away a few months ago. I still visit him on some weekends to talk to him about his son. I like to think he listens to my inane monologues comprised of worries of failing to make his son happy and promises to take care of him. And a lot of begging for him to intervene for my sake.

There is still doubt. I still hope that my boyfriend wouldn’t know the pain of thinking of the way he should have held me closer. We have a love that neither of us had written in our plans, hence the uncertainty. And it’s ok. We will be eventually be on the same page of our book. I just have to wait.

Getting Old and Growing Up

Just saw a recent episode of New Girl. Early on the episode, Nick was talking to a homeless guy (not the first time he did this) looking for advice about making decisions as a grown up. He just lost his father and felt that everything can be taken away from you unexpectedly, and that he worries about his relationship with roommate Jess.

I thought, “Grow up, Nick.”

— — —

I’m still conflicted about my boyfriend’s dad passing away. Passing away – I hate that term. Sounds like he just happen to be in the area, walking from point A to Point B, and he just passed by me. But in this case, he did. I saw tears, grief, mourning during the wake – and I honestly felt sad. I don’t know if it’s because I felt bad for everyone there, the same way I felt sad when I saw A Walk to Remember, the same way I cry over sad movies. I don’t know if it’s because I felt bad for my boyfriend and his siblings, and being sad is the only closest I could feel to losing a parent since I’ve never lost one and I can’t find anything to compare it with. Maybe I just felt sad because I don’t know my boyfriend’s dad, and now I never will.

I don’t know what my boyfriend is going through. I feel helpless because there’s nothing I can offer to help. I do not have the tools for this. But in a very selfish way, he does not know what I’m going through either. He’s mourning because he lost something he had. I’m mourning for something I’ll never know.

— — —

I had cousins come over from Toronto and had a good time taking them around the city. Granted that it’s the most tourist-y areas in the city, I know by the abundance of pictures they took that they enjoyed the lights of Times Square and the view in Battery Park. Also introduced them to halal street meat, also known as heaven in a styro plate. Pictures were uploaded on Facebook, and I gleefully viewed every single one of them.

My favorite one was of my mom when she was visiting them the week before. She was surrounded by her “grandkids” – my cousins’ children, none of them older than ten. She looked very happy.

— — —

My body is killing me. I must have slept in an awkward angle because the muscles over my right shoulder blade are together in deciding I should be in physical pain for the length of whatever time frame they agree on. I had a massage to loosen them up, and I did get some relief that lasted the duration of the massage. It’s been a few days and the pain is slowly going away, but it is still uncomfortable to sit up straight.

Nothing is sexier than the red bear prints tattooed on my back next to Salonpas heating patches and smelling like a hospice.

— — —

I’m worried I’m getting old too fast. I’m worried my dad will be taken away from me unexpectedly. I’m worried my mom would be too old to play with my non-existent child. I’m worried my shoulder and back would be too frail for me to hold up a child.

And I thought, “Grow up, Ken.”

Day 1: Seven Days Until Thirty-Two

Will be turning 32 soon and for the next seven days leading up to my birthday, I’m going to try to write down any lessons I may have learned from the past year when I was 31.

Years ago, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann released @#%&*! Smilers which included the track “31 Today”. I remember thinking I can’t wait to turn thirty-one just so I can sing the song. And turn thirty-one I did. And boy, did the song hit me hard.

It’s a song about turning thirty-one and realizing that things could be better. I don’t own my house. Aside from a retirement account, I don’t really have much assets. I’m in a relationship that is stagnant at best. No wedding ring, no kids.

Things weren’t BAD. In fact, things were not horrible. But things were basically substandard. And frankly, this is happening because I lack the will to do something about it. I do not own a house because I feel comfortable renting a place with the same roommate I’ve had since I moved to New York. I do not have any assets because I don’t clamor to own things. And my relationship is stagnant because I resigned to hold on to my boyfriend’s hand and just slow down to his stride. I am not settling, worse – I am just plain lazy. And I have given up on dreaming big – because whatever I want, I actually have already. And maybe that’s what I just need to wake up, my ambition. Ambition that knows how to appreciate what is already is on hand, and strive to make things better – and not a blind greed of just wanting more.

Yes, it’s a song about turning thirty-one and realizing that things could be better. And let this console your seemingly old soul: things would be better.

This Girl Gets It.

Penny Gets Lucky

Dad:

I’ve had some time to think about the things you said to me, the day I told you I was bisexual. I’ve thought about what it means, and what you believe, and where I fit into that picture. I’ve come to a decision.

I assume by now you’ve shared the news with Mom, if not my sisters. (One already knows, I talked to her privately.) I don’t mind if you have, or if you choose to in the future. It’s not something I particularly need kept secret. In fact, that’s kind of the point.

I’m not writing this to disprove your religious beliefs, nor to tell you you’re wrong for believing them. My intent is not to break your faith in any way. However, in order to state my message clearly, there is something I need you to understand: I do not believe in your God. I do not…

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A Better Man

Over the weekend, I went to a live taping of Professor Blastoff – a podcast hosted by Tig Notaro, with David Huntsberger, Kyle Dunnigan and Aaron Burrell. It was fun, it was Tig’s first show since she moved here in New York, and after a series of very very unfortunate events. Their special guest was Ira Glass of This American Life. I actually have never seen him live, and it’s a shame I don’t listen to the weekly podcast considering it’s free. Side note: subscribing now.

Glass told a story about this lady who is very liberal politically who happens to have a Republican friend. She told Ira that she really like this person but she was having a hard time reconciling his beliefs with hers especially on social issues. She was considering cutting him off from her life because of their differences.
When Ira presented this to us, he said we can easily dismiss her as a nutjob, that she was somebody who is basically an extremist. But he also presented the opposite – which is he’s just a pussy. That he is okay knowing somebody he likes has a very different view than him, and he has no urge to “convert” them.
It’s all relative. It really is. If I tell a friend I have doubts about my relationship, I am usually greeted by horror. I never really thought of doubt as a bad thing. I just never believed in blind faith. It seems reckless to do that. I prefer having doubts and questioning the validity of something like my relationship. Because questioning it makes me look for answers, and there is comfort in answers.
That being said, like any relationship, it is never smooth sailing. I really wish I have more people to talk to about it, but most of the times I find myself staring at an empty space and talking to myself. The best arguments and discussions I ever had are usually with myself. A break up, as viable as an option as it is, is not something I consider because I think finding a better man is a quick fix. Being a better one is a more substantial course, despite how much harder it is.
I do worry that people think this is me settling. I think there’s a line between that, and finding a compromise. But every now and then – you list down the things you have compromised for and wonder if you should be getting more than what you have now.

But you can see it my eyes, you can read on my lips
I’m trying to get a hold on this
And I really mean it this time
And you know it’s such a trip
Don’t get me started
I’m trying to get a hold on this.