Thursday, December 30, 2004

Finalist



...and our next finalist...No Milk Please!

For a second, I couldn't move. My hand flew to my trembling mouth, my ears filled with the roaring applause. I felt the gentle nudge of a fellow contestant, her mouth forming the words "go, go," urging me to join my fellow finalists already lined up in front of the stage.

In slow motion, I walked forward, carefully navigating the steps in my high heels. I hoped the duct tape holding my penis down inside my one-piece swimsuit will hold up a little longer.

Hot Toddy, another finalist, pressed his cheek against mine. Fellow Chicagoan NoFo smiled and waved from the end of the line. I waved back and thought to myself, I hope you bitches break a heel and fall.

Tears formed prettily at the edge of my eyes, but not enough to smudge my make-up. I smiled, my teeth shining with the vaseline I smeared on them. I made a mental note to buy another jar in case any of the panelists need 'persuading'...

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No Milk Please is a finalist for Best LGBT Blog at The BoB Awards. I am truly honored that people have nominated this site without my coersion or paid endorsement. I didn't even know that this existed!

Thanks to Catt at Does This Mean I'm a Grown-Up? who is also nominated for Most Humorous Blog. Also, thanks to Gurustu, H79 (again!) at Object-Oriented and others for their nominations.

Congrats to Hot Toddy and NoFo for their nominations in the same category. Also, Daniel at ...was I there? for Biggest Blogwhore (I thought I was the biggest one?).

Voting starts January 1st, 2005. Vote Now!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Drowned World


(c) 2004 Reuters

I have been following the news of the devastation that was brought on by tsunamis caused by an undersea earthquake to the magnitude of 9.0 off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. In the Aceh province in northern Indonesia, 25% of the population is said to be dead.

The news media is predicting that the death toll could top 100,000.

In Thailand, many vacation spots were enjoying peak season visitors when the giant waves collapsed on them, turning the resorts into watery graves. Reports that at least 1,600 foreigners were dead and 3,500 were unaccounted for.

The pictures of unidentified/unfound rotting and decomposing bodies littering the shorelines and streets are horrible. The number of people dead could rise because of the lack of food, water, medical supplies and the spread of the disease.

I was just telling Brian a few days before the tsunamis struck that South Asian people were used to turbulent weather like tropical storms, cyclones and typhoons. It was just a way of life. We are a resilient people.

But the magnitude of this has surpassed anything I could have imagined. I am in shock. If the earthquakes had happened on the eastern shore of Sumatra, then the islands of the Philippines, where my family and friends live, might have fallen victim as well. I feel a pang of guilt for being relieved where others are grieving for their lost kin.

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Very graphic photo (large) of this tragedy via Overworked & Underf*cked
Earthquake/Tsunami simulation
Before & after photo
The Drowned World - A Time Magazine photo essay
Celebrities caught in the tsunamis
Satellite photo moments before the tsunami impact in Sri Lanka
Countries hit by the tsunamis
American Red Cross donation page
Aid groups accepting donations for tsunami victims, please do what you can to help!
Survivor e-mails at CNN.com
Tsunami facts

Monday, December 27, 2004

Baby's First Christmas

When a baby gets born into a family, it’s a wondrous event. It brings a sense of hope that maybe somehow, this generation will be the one to first to go to college, become a professional, learn to put the toilet seat down.

I spent this past Christmas at my friend Jordan's home, who recently became an uncle. It was the first Christmas for his nephew, the 5-month old Justin, the first grandchild in the household. Everyone was ga-ga over this baby, of course, as is expected since this family has a history of mental illness.

Everyone went overboard with the gifts, stuff that the baby wouldn’t use for years to come: books, toys, a crack pipe. People laughed when they opened the box of condoms I ‘gave’ the baby, jovially slapping me on the back, winking and elbowing me. I realized then that I switched the gift tags by mistake; the condoms were for the parents.

Deanna, one of little baby Justin’s aunts, was quite taken with the him. She couldn’t keep her hands off the little tyke. She was cooing at it and making noises. But then, she started having one-way conversations with it.

At first, she was just talking nonsense, repeating the same phrases over and over, in a girlish, high-pitched voice designed to irritate the baby into responding.

Aren’t you cuuute? Yoou’re sooo cuuute! Koochy-koochy-koo! Does that tickle? Oooh, that tickles, doesn’t it? That’s so adorable and cuuuuuute!

Then it seemed that Deanna was using the baby to send messages to anybody within earshot, like his parents.

I hope you liked that car seat we got you for Christmas. It must be very comfortable and safe for little babies like youuu! I spent lot of time looking for just the right one! And I didn’t even think of the priiiice! I wanted your mom and dad to know I got you juuuust the right one!

Then it really got weird.

I hope you grow up biiiig and stroooong and smaaaart, unlike my boyfriend Carl who can’t hold down a job or pay me back that $300 he owes me. You have such as cuuute smile, just like your dad, who would’ve married me if my little sister, your mother, didn’t screw him and gotten pregnant with you...

Even though I was just a guest, I decided to intervene by relieving Deanna of the loveable little load. As I rocked the baby to sleep in my arms, I felt something overcome me, a maternal instinct maybe, which felt like my balls shrinking and rising and trying to stuff themselves back into my body cavity, trying to fold themselves into a vagina.

As I gave little Justin a kiss on the forehead, I saw Deanna playing with the chihuahua Twinkie, his little face in her hands, their noses almost touching...

You’re such a pretty dog aren’t you, Twinkeeee, arentchooo? You wouldn’t pass off a cheap-ass ugly plastic salad bowl as a real gift when everybody knows you got it from your Secret Santa at work...sooo cuuute!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Red Envelopes

Don't be shocked by this revelation: until I was twenty-three years old, I have never, ever received a Christmas present from my parents or my siblings. The closest I got to a Christmas present was when I was fourteen, my dad gave me a girlie calendar he got from the auto parts company he did business with that year, still gift-wrapped. I think he was trying to teach his queer boy something, you know, like maybe how to straddle a five foot long spark plug in a bikini and red, stiletto heels.

No, my parents are not horrible or stingy. Quite the opposite: they would help you up if you slip and fall; politely laugh at your lame jokes; sue your ass when you rear-end them. They're real salt-of-the-earth kinda people. They don't put on false airs--they own up to their farts, even the real stinky burrito ones.

I grew up in a Third World country. To my traditional Asian parents, Christmas gift-giving is much a western concept, like "tipping," "driving in your own lane" or even "getting an allowance." For a little pocket money, we kids had to get straight A's, do household chores and assemble a few hundred garments for export to the USA.

Still, we had it good. On a good day, I made 70 cents. And at least we worked for a major designer label like Kathie Lee Gifford, sold exclusively at Walmart. The Cruz girls from down the street always looked enviously as we walked past them on our way to the sweatshop; they had to glue on plastic "Proda" labels on ersatz leather goods (tacky!). Oh, how I felt sorry for them.

My parents, born to Chinese immigrants, subscribed more to the tradition of giving "red envelopes" or ang pao during special occasions like birthdays, graduation, your first prostitute. Christmas, though not a Chinese tradition, fell into this category. My grandparents, aunts and uncles would visit our house and present us with red envelopes containing small bills.

My mother, who wanted to teach us the value of money, would tell us that we could go spend it on toys now or save it for our education. She would tell us, "if you go to college, you make enough to have nice crib, have Cris in the fridge, maybe some nice bling."

I guess when she put that way, it made sense. I handed over my ang pao to her and she put it in my Hello Kitty savings account. Years later, I used my Hello Kitty savings to move away to Chicago.

I know that many people think that money or gift cards are a such a thoughtless gift to give, but I really think otherwise. What could be better than giving somebody the power to buy whatever they want?

But you know, sometimes I get really excited when I open a carefully wrapped gift and find a gift receipt taped inside the box. The bulky reindeer sweater inside was a really thoughtful gift--for someone else.

Also, people always think that they know you better than they actually do. I mean, I mention one day that I thought that pez dispensers are cute, next thing I know, I have a shelf full of pez collectibles. I don't even like pez candy! Maybe one day I will casually mention that I think giant buttplugs are cute and see what happens.

After I moved to Chicago, I have gotten more into the holiday spirit of maxing out my credit cards. I spent last weekend driving around looking for a parking space and standing in lines, just to get that very special gift that says "I hope you enjoy this thoughtful gift because I will be filing for bankruptcy next year."

But even though my family and I never exchanged gifts on Christmas, I never felt that was missing anything. The money filled the emptiness in my heart. And I never thought about it before, but I really think that I enjoyed the holiday season more.

These days, I am not sure how much time I am going to have to feel any peace-on-earth and goodwill-towards-men; I still have a lot of shopping to do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Time Traveler's Wife

buy hereIn Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler's Wife, Henry DeTamble has a disease called Chrono-Displacement Syndrome. It makes him time-travel. Henry can't control it; it mostly happens when he's feeling stress or going through some emotional turmoil. He has utterly no control over where or when he's coming or going. He doesn't know anybody else who has this disease.

Sometimes, he'll appear in a time and place where he already exists; he can interact with a younger or older version of himself. Many times his travels take him to the same event in time, like a treasured moment with Clare, the titular wife. Clare has known Henry since she was 6 and because Henry has time-traveled numerous times to visit after he first "met" Clare when he was 28 and she was 20.

The book opens with the scene where Henry, working at the Newberry Library in Chicago "meets" Clare for the first time. Henry of the present has no clue who Clare is. Future Henry has been careful not to tell anybody in the past, including his past "selves," about the future because Henry is afraid to contemplate the nature of fate. This creates a tension for a the reader who knows in bits and pieces of things that occur in the time continuum for Henry. We are time-traveling not just with one Henry, but many Henrys, because each Henry at any point in time can be displaced.

Henry's fear has to do with determinism: the past, present and future has already happened and there is no way to alter the course. What you do now has changed your future and if you travel from your future to your past, it has changed the present. There is no paradox. By not telling his past selves what happens in the future, they can live in the knowledge and/or illusion that they have some "control" over their destinies.

Of course, my only experience with determinism was when a guy I was going out with had foreplay, sex and climax all at the same time before I had taken my shirt off. Then, I was determined not to go out him anymore.

At thirteen, Clare asks a 35 year-old Henry, "What about free will? What about God?" Henry doesn't answer her, but he knows that at that age, "Clare believes in Jesus and Mary. In ten years, she will believe in determinism. And ten years after that, she believes that the universe is arbitrary, that if God exists, he does not hear our prayers, that cause and effect are inescapable and brutal, but meaningless."

Chicagoans particularly will enjoy this novel as it is set in our city and Clare and Henry spend a lot of time at many familiar neighborhoods. The Newberry Library where Henry works; Beau Thai, the restaurant where the couple had their first date; the Get Me High Lounge, the bar where Henry gets pissed-ass drunk--these are all real places that I have been to and are part of the local Chicago neighborhood color.

In its heart, The Time Traveler's Wife is a love story. The Chicago Tribune calls it "a soaring celebration of the victory of love over time." It is not a romance or science fiction novel, which I think broadens its appeal. I think that Niffenegger had a real challenge of writing a novel that would not get bogged down by the literary device and the "science." I think for the most part she does it successfully.

My friend Annie, book pimp extraordinaire, who lent me her copy, said that as long as she didn't think too much about the logistics of the book, she liked it a lot. Personally, I was engaged throughout the novel and at the end, I was happy that I was along for the ride.



Do you believe we have "Free Will," "Determinism" or that God is micro-managing us? Personally, I can't see the latter. Even a compassionate God would grow tired of listening to the prayers of people hoping to win the lotto. Plus, when would he have time to watch Desperate Housewives or Arrested Development on TV...?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Thank you!

vote for me here!A big "thanks" to all you people who voted for me at the 2004 Weblog Awards. It was my first ever nomination for anything. Even though I didn't win, for a few days I was contemplating what my acceptance speech would've been and at which word I would cue my tears to well up beautifully on my face. Here are the results of the voting.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

If I Could Turn Back Time

There are many things in my life that I wish I could take back: those hurtful, angry words I threw at my father when I was seventeen; kicking my seven year-old sister in the stomach (when I was eleven); that pink flowered shirt from Dolce & Gabbana. Those were things done in the heat of passion, when my emotions and good taste were out of control.

Often, I would look back and tell myself, if I had only kept my cool, that retail queen would have refunded my money, especially since I had worn that D&G shirt only twice. I even made sure I didn’t get it dirty, which is a feat considering there weren't really any clean places to lie on in the backroom at the Manhandler.

There are e-mails I wished I hadn't sent. One of the drawbacks of having instant communication is that we could 'say' things that aren't what we really meant. E-mails, instant messaging, even blogging puts things out before we've considered their effects. Things we would never say to somebody’s face while they are sober and with a knife in their hand.

Oftentimes, the act of writing a letter by hand, of putting point of pen to paper diffuses our emotions that by the time we get from salutation to closing, we have already resolved our feelings or at least cooled down to a point where there is no need to actually send the letter. In the past, I have stood at a mailbox ready to drop a letter but pulled back at the last minute, throwing it in the trash instead.

Now, we type unmitigated rants on our keyboards, like high-speed machine-guns, attach nude photos of our ex-boyfriends taken in more trusting times and send it to everyone in our address books, all in a click of a button. Our volatile emotions now has an outlet that is just as unfettered.

I had written a string of e-mails like that to my friend Patrick once, a back-and-forth of recriminations, emotions running high. Afterwards, I looked into my sent mail folder and read some of these e-mails. I was aghast. Even if the emotions were true, it was not 'the truth.' And though I thought I tempered my tone, the only thing the e-mails reflected was my anger, not my good intentions. How do I take these words back? Should I write another e-mail? I decided to leave it alone. Our friendship would either survive this blow or fall by the wayside.

A year has passed and now I am battling Sean Hayes*, star of Will & Grace**, for custody of Patrick as a friend. I kid you not. It's been very ugly, like the bickering of the girls on MTV's Battle of the Sexes 2. One takes a friend for granted until a TV star comes by and swoops away with them, plying them with top shelf liquor, weekend getaways and celebrity games of Monopoly where the only property on the board is Park Place and everybody stays in hotels.

Patrick reported the morning after one of Sean's parties that he had a faaabulous hangover. He’s never had a faaabulous hangover at my parties. He just couldn't stop talking about how good the cocktails were. Is he subtly telling me he knew I had been filling up empty Grey Goose vodka bottles with Skol?

If I could turn back time, could I make things right? Or could a different Cher song express my feelings? It's a very hard question to answer, one I would have to dig deep into my underwear drawer for. Even if I could change the things that I have done, I cannot change who I am: a regular guy, with a regular job and a cabinet full of cheap liquor.


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* not his real name
** not his real show

Friday, December 03, 2004

Super Powers

What child didn't grow up wishing they had super powers: to disappear, to fly, to grow hair in their armpits? A child's life is fraught with disappointments, loneliness and fear. It is only natural to dream of having power when one has very little.

When I was a youth, I wished that I had telepathy, the power to read minds or make people do my bidding. I wish I could say that I had altruistic motives for wanting to have super powers, but alas, I only wanted them because I wanted to have a toy very badly, or I was being teased at school or because little Billy wouldn't play "Co-dependence" with me. I mean, Billy was already beating me up in the playground. All I wanted him to do was to hold me afterwards and beg for my forgiveness, which I would tearfully and happily supply.

I was also convinced that I could develop telekenesis through mental exercises. When I was about ten, while I was in the bathroom, I remember seeing one of those little thingamajigs that holds an earring to the back of your ear on the floor. I concentrated on it, focusing all my brain power, willing it to move towards where I was sitting. I pushed and pushed and pushed, but the only thing that moved were my bowels. Finally I gave up because my leg was falling asleep and my little sister was pounding on the bathroom door. I will never know whether I could have moved that thing if I only had a bigger piece of shit to pass.

I don't know how many times I wished I could read people's minds to know if they were gay or not. I had not yet learned that one could tell if a guy was gay by the way they crossed their legs or by which side they wore their dangly chandelier earring. Those were the days when one had to learn the subtle cues that people used to indicate that they were gay. I mean, it must have been so hard to tell who was gay while hanging out in the men's room at the truckstop.

I would have used my mental telepathy not for the good of all Mankind, but for giving good head for all kinds of men. I would have used it to find out if the Dubya and Condy are having a secret affair or if Laura is in on it too. I would have used it to compel Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to masturbate under their robes while court was in session to get them disbarred.

It's a good thing I do not have super powers.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Vote this site for Best LGBT Blog!

vote for me here!Hey all, please vote for me for best LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered) blog at the 2004 Weblog Awards. If you can spend a few moments, please click here and vote! You can vote a maximum of once a day per IP address. I would appreciate it if you could vote every time you visit! Voting ends Sunday, Dec. 12th. Thanks to Cristina at Escape Key and H79 at Object-Oriented for nominating me!