December 28, 2007

Musing III: Closet

Am I still in the closet...???

This I have come to ask myself when confronted by the fact that I have been going out with PLU for quiet sometime now; specifically that I have been regularly playing badminton with a gay group, some of them are actually loud, in a good fun of way. One of the usual closet case mind-set is the fear, the cringe on the mere thought of being seen, caught would actually be the better word, in the company of gay people, especially the out and loud ones. I'm no different in this aspect, but somehow I have also been comfortable in the company that being seen with them is no longer a big issue, though I would like to admit it is still somehow an issue. So what does that make me? Halfway out of the closet?

There's still fear in me of being found. The only difference is that this time, I'm prepared to be found. I have even made it a point that I play my part in the act of being found, for I know, surprises comes not only with the one who is found but more so to other end of one who found. As I mentioned in previous post, I don't feel the need to proclaim to the whole world my being different, for I do not owe anyone an explanation of who I am. But I have also come to realize that I don't need to perpetuate a life of lie when confronted by the reality of being found. Does this make me still hidden and thus halfway out of the closet?

Have I really come to accept my being different? Is there still fear in me of being different?
Yes, I would say that definitely, I have accepted my being different; the realization that I would never ever come to subscribe to the usual norms and that really makes me different. Certainly, the fear is still in me, that it would never go away, that fear is no longer in the realm of being different but in the thought of being boxed in a label, which would never go away as well for as long as bigotry remains a word in the dictionary.

What constitute a closet for a gay man, anyway?
Certainly it does not confine anyone to a single known and defined imaginary four-walls but rather it is a cacophony of endless fears of unknown possibilities, foremost of which could be fear of rejection and being labelled as different from the usual norms. I know that acceptance and rejection is an integral part of one's existence and this I have come to resolve when I accepted that I am different; but certainly I still cringe at the thought of being labelled as one. Endless possibilities of fear would continue to come my way; I just have to deal with them one at a time, or in some cases I really don't have to deal with them for reason that there's actually no reason for me to fear them.

I don't think being out of the closet means parading in town wearing one's badge of gayness. Being Out of the closet means freeing one's self of the shackles of one's own prejudice and fear of being gay more than the superficiality of freedom to shout to the world of one's gayness. In that definition, yes, I think I'm still halfway out of the closet.

Ulan Story No. 3: A Walk in the Rain

This one's been long in coming. Finally the urge to write this came when I woke up on a rainy morning a day after Christmas, a day after I hosted for the first time our family's Christmas lunch.

This story happened in the not too recent past, Christmas 2004.
Christmas 2004 is just one of the highlights in the long overdrawn drama in the family. But this one I think would be the overly dramatic highlight, picture this: Christmas eve of 2004, few hours before the stroke of midnight, amidst the festive cool air of Christmas, I was walking stretches of desolate road , soaking wet in thunderous rain, searching vainly for my lost sister who has gone astray of home and this world, literally and figuratively. I can no longer imagine and I do not want to recall anymore the thoughts, morbid and other gruesome scenarios, running through my head during that time as I continued walking that desolate road.

Backtrack more than a year before that. I got a frantic call from my elder sister telling me to come quickly for something bad has happened to my other sister, a suicide attempt: wrist slashing and drinking poisonous concoction nobody knows what. An attempt, as I came to know and realized only at that time, a result of a long battered-wife existence. As I get caught of her sorry state in that small clinic/hospital where she was brought; the doctor in me tells me that she will definitely survive the physical problem of slashed wrist and poisoning; but definitely not the emotional/psychological scar that I know and I'm afraid to admit is just starting to unfold.

And it was, as I have predicted just the start of our long battle with her major clinical depression; not to mention the various legal, financial and emotional toil it has exacted to the rest of us, family members. I have to go through with her with several confinement in the hospital, including the dreaded ECT treatments and weeks of isolation and heavy sedations. It was already taxing for me to deal with her medical condition and it was made doubly hard for I have to deal as well with the rest of the family who cannot seemed to comprehend the ongoing turmoil or as I have surmised probably refuse to accept that fact. I have become a referee, mediating on my sister's needs and the need to satisfy as well the rest of the family who in their stage of denial have also felt the need to be assuaged of the situation. Most of the time I'm caught in the middle, made more difficult by the fact that the family have relegated to me the responsibility of making all sorts of decisions; I am the youngest in the family and this I cannot really fathom. One part of me shouts with pride for the trust and responsibility my family has given to me being a son, a brother, a doctor and to the wisdom of my being; but another part of me was crying out foul for the burden put upon me. I dutifully did my part, despite all the pain and difficulties.

And so on that stormy Christmas Eve, I got a frantic call from my parents who were extremely anxious when my sister was nowhere to be found shortly after she had an altercation with her son. It was almost close to midnight when I got a call to proceed to her house. I found her already towelled dried and warming in bed, sobbing still and would only allow me to be near her. Somehow, she must have found her way back home on her own. I spent the rest of the night beside her in bed as she sobbed and waited in vain for sleep to find her, amidst all her fears and my reassurance to her every pleas. I woke up on that morning feeling more exhausted and oblivious that it was Christmas Day. I can't recall anymore how the rest of that Christmas day went.

Thankfully, she was able to pick up her shattered life, it was a slow and exasperating recovery for her and the rest of the family. She was put off her medications the following year. It was a hard climb out of the pit. I felt sorry for my parents for having been put into the ordeal despite their advancing age. At the same time I felt relief that my parents are still around to help us see this thing through. They have shown an overwhelming resilience and I feel remorseful at the same time for I know they have been robbed of the chance to enjoy their retirement and that I could have done more to lighten up their burden, I just have been selfish at times.

She left for the prospect of a renewed life in another country in 2006. This Christmas of 2007, her son finally joined her and hopefully the pit of nightmare will just be but part of dustbin of memory.

December 10, 2007

My First Christmas Dinner at Home

This year I hosted for the first time our annual Christmas dinner with my doctor-friends. It has been a tadition that started way back when we were still residents-in-training, that was 10 years ago. We started out with just the 12 of us having dinner and exchanging gifts and through the years, we have seen the evolution of including whoever one's dating at the time, then one's girlfriend or boyfriend, then as they got married the husbands and wives and then the kids and hopefully not too soon the would-be daughters or sons-in-law as we jokingly relished the thought when one related the travails that they (as parents) have to go through when they got to discover that one of their daughters already has a boyfriend. There's still room for wives and/or boyfriends for the 4 of us still single in the group.

Dinner's have always been potluck, my usual assignment have always been either dessert or drinks or some other stuff needing no preparation, I, being the consistently single in the group. This year I, aside from hosting the venue, have promised to cook and prepare the whole dinner that most of them were unbelieving that I can cook; I even got calls at the last minute checking if indeed there's no need to bring food.

For a week I have been preparing the menu in my mind. I started the actual preparation with a trip to the supermarket right after work on Friday night. First item done on friday night: Chicken Macaroni salad which is already cooling perfectly in the refrigerator as I made a trip to the Baclaran Seaside market on early Saturday morning. Item on the list: Whole chicken, Galunggong, Lapu-Lapu, Pork Pata, Swahe, veggies and the ever elusive kamias for my galunggong dish, which I is still failed to procure; I picked up some fresh flowers as well on my way out of the market

I spent almost the whole of that Saturday morning preparing the food to be cooked: simmering the pork, marinating the chicken, making pinangat na galunggong in palayok; chopping, slicing, grating, cleaning.... I went out for a couple of hours just to make my hospital rounds and as soon as I get back home started the actual cooking.

(Dinner Menu)

Chicken Macaroni Salad
Roasted Chicken in Lemon and Herbs
Crispy Galunggong in Garlic- Olive Oil
Crispy Pata ala Lechon Kawali
Vegetables (Okra and Kangkong) in Butter garlic sauce
Lapu-Lapu in Oyster- Ginger Sauce
Freshly steamed Sugpo ( though I forgot to make the lemon-butter sauce)
Pancit Canton (a soggy disaster; first time I used that kind of egg noodle)

My first guests arrived just as I was finishing my last dish; and as one by one they arrived I was still tidying up the kitchen and myself as I was a complete mess of smell as well. It was a good cacophony of endless chatter of compliments as they admire and scrutinized every corners of my new home. First on the table were all the kids who went mostly for the salad, chicken and the bilao of pansit malabon brought by Ray and pork barbeque brought by edwin. Dessert was ice cream and chocolate cake courtesy of joel and dondo. I herded all the kids into my room after they have eaten and let them frolic in my bed as they watch disney movie in the big TV screen. That freed the table for the rest of us to enjoy the dinner: almost every dish was a hit, completely consumed as a gauge, except for the pancit which was a disaster, blame it on the noodles that I used. They are incredulous that I can whip out those dishes. The rest of the evening was spent on endless chatter on goings on with each one of us. It was way past midnight when we exchanged gifts, the usual finale for the night's end. I did not have anything to exchanged, they have all eaten it, a delectable dinner I lovingly and single-handedly prepared, and it was well appreciated.


My First Christmas Decor...

my first attempt at christmas decor.... :)
Merry Christmas