Thursday, March 31, 2005

Girl, Interrupted

The last thing I remember was lying on the bathroom floor, my stomach feeling satisfyingly empty. The taste of bile in my mouth felt familiar, comforting, even as it burned my throat. My therapist had said the bile could damage my vocal cords.

Then as the light blue tile, the chipped white ceramic bathtub, the floral shower curtain all blurred together, rushing into the void, the darkness descending upon my eyes, a stray thought floated into my ebbing consciousness: I wondered if Harvey Fierstein was bulimic too. I didn’t want my voice to sound like him.

Then blackness, darker than the stroke of midnight, Pluto or a David Lynch movie.

When I woke up, I found myself lying in a dark hospital room. My mouth felt arid and scratchy. The light from doorway caught on the tube that was attached to my throat.

My throat! There’s a tube in my throat!

I panicked. I couldn’t move. My limbs were heavy, prickly, as if they fell asleep for a hundred years or from taking an extra long crap. Am I paralyzed? I didn’t know. What happened to me? Just as I thought my heart was going to burst from my chest, my mother, my father and Mike rushed into the room.

I didn’t recognize them at first. They looked older, their faces lined with worry, their bodies fleshy and full. They scared me.

Mike’s face was flushed, as if he had been in a heated argument. I know that look of my husband. It’s the same look he had the last time I suggested we go Cosmic Bowling. And he’s keeping something from me, something important, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Over the next few days, my parents told me what happened. I had been in a coma for fifteen years. My mom filled me in on all the events that happened while I was asleep. I tried to listen, but all I could think about was whether or not stirrup pants were still in fashion. I had just bought a very sassy pair a week ago.

No, that was before. This time shift is very strange and confusing. Time has passed and I was left behind. Now I know what Rip Van Winkle must’ve felt like. Or Ed McMahon.

As the story unfolded, I became distressed at who--no--what I had become, a poster girl for the Right, the Left, and everyone in between. This is not what I wanted. I just wanted to look at the mirror without despairing. I just wished that people would leave me alone. I just wished they picked a better picture than the one that showed at the evening news. God, it makes me look like such a mouth-breather.

And fat.

They say that all this commotion, this ruckus, was for me. I don’t believe that. I don’t know these people outside the hospital lawn, with their signs and singing, their politics. Who are they? No, it was all them. All for them.

If this was for me, they would have thought about how I would feel waking up like this. If it was for me, they wouldn’t parade me on TV. If it was for me, they would have chosen the low-calorie option for my feeding tube.

I feel violated. There’s a hole in my throat. I feel like such a porpoise. I am dying for a Diet Coke, but I am afraid it would dribble out.

My life was hell. My life is hell.

I feel so humiliated, I could just die.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Those Who Help Themselves

A drowning man should ask God for the strength to swim for safety, not to be plucked out of the ocean by a helicopter.


That is a direct quote from the great armchair philosopher and quiche-maker extraordinaire of our time, my brother Peter.

He also goes on to say that a housewife should not pray for her husband to be faithful, but to have the courage to cut off his balls when the bastard comes home, but I think he was being just a little melodramatic.

He said that as a response to an e-mail forward he and I received from our sister about how God had saved 400 Christians from tsunamis that wiped out the city of Meulaboh. The Christians had gathered in a nearby hill after they were forbidden by the city's Muslims from celebrating Christmas and were thus spared.

My sister, in the past few years, has become more and more religious. In her zeal to spread the word of God, she sends me e-mails that are meant to be inspirational and faith-affirming. I should have told her that she should send me a backstage pass to an Indigo Girls concert, only in the music of folky lesbians with hairy armpits do I see God. Or in a grilled cheese sandwich.

E-mail forwards are a sub-genre of spam that I believe are more dangerous than the Viagra-pushin’, pyramid scheme-solicitin’, Christian-singles-in-your-area-pimpin’ variety. At least those are filtered by your spam blockers into a ‘bulk folder’ where you can go through them leisurely while you are waiting for your boyfriend’s response to your e-mail that you’ve got gonorrhea.

Nope, e-mail forwards are insidious because they are sent by erstwhile well-meaning people like your co-workers, your friends, your lil ole grandma, who think that they are taking advantage of technology to keep in touch. Well, they are mistaken. In terms of keeping in touch, these e-mail forwards cannot take the place of real, handwritten, personal checks of $50 or more.

If you send enough of these e-mail forwards, your friends may start disregarding your e-mails or worse, mark them as spam.

My friend Rooster was a well-known abuser of e-mail forwards. He used to send jokes everyday until one day, he accidentally sent his naked chatroom pic to his entire mailing list. Now, we call him Chicken Little. I wondered if I should also send him a note of congratulation, since I spied two eggs nestled underneath his hairy nest.

You could learn a lesson from this too. Your gonorrheal e-mail could be sitting in your boyfriend’s bulk mail folder, along with the other e-mails for CHEAP$$$ CaNaDiAn pen1cillin!!! How ironic.

I guess a lot of people misunderstand the purpose of prayer. People think that every time they need something, they can put their palms together and ask, you know, like it’s a 1-800 number to the heavenly Sears catalog. That's just stupid. God would never have anything else but a Barney’s catalog. He's not that cheap.

Look, I am not saying that in times of extreme desperation, I have not prayed to God that he send me that pair of Gucci suede loafers, overnight delivery please. But for me, it was more like a way to express my frustrations, my fears of not having the right shoes for my outfit. I don’t really expect that God would give me something that I didn’t work hard for.

And to be honest, I was really offended that people are out there attributing these things to God, putting words into God’s mouth. I don’t believe that God would kill thousands of people just to prove a point, that would just be plain evil.

I think there should be a rule that miracles can only be attributed to God after they have been researched and verified, the facts beyond a shadow of a doubt. There should be a governing body, sort of a Good Housekeeping “Seal of Approval” on it, but by Calvin Klein or something--but please not the Pope, he's done enough damage this century. Otherwise, I feel that we have cheapened the True Miracles.

Peter wrote back to our sister:

I think that people put a lot of meaning into things that are just random or natural. My problem with these forwarded religious emails is that people read them and think they are true without any critical thinking whatsoever. I believe that faith should not be bolstered by untruths, and that faith should not take the place of rational thought or personal action. A drowning person should pray to God for the strength to swim for safety, not to be plucked out of the water by helicopters. God helps those who help themselves.


Amen, brother. Amen.


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Put your own holy face on a grilled cheese sandwich

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Assassin, Part 2

Continued from The Assassin, Part 1

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Comedian Margaret Cho, whose show, “The Assassin Tour” I went to see last week at the Chicago Theatre, has become a gay cultural icon in recent years. This means that she has either transcended stand-up comedy or she wears way too much make-up.

Also, I think that if you have followed Margaret’s career, you would have seen her comedy incorporate more and more gay cultural references and trivia, which run to things like off-off-Broadway shows, highly specialized cookware and slang for unusual sex acts. Tea-bagging, comes to mind.

Trivia, particularly useless trivia, is essential. It supplies all the dialogue you need until closing time at the gay bars with your friends whom you only know by their first names. Useless trivia is the glue that hardens every gay friendship, just like Colin Farrell is what hardens every gay penis.

Ultra-right wing conservatives think sex with the same gender is what makes someone gay. But they’re wrong. That’s what makes someone homosexual. What makes someone gay is knowing Madonna’s entire discography, including obscure imports and extended remixes. If you’re the local Trivial Pursuit champion or can guess the title of a song from a one-second charades clue, guess what? You’re GAY.

Sometimes, I get really paranoid when going to an event that’s so obviously gay, like college Rush Week. They don’t call it “greek week” for nothing.

(Ok, if you didn’t get that one, you’re probably not gay. Go look it up; the Greeks basically invented anal sex)

I get paranoid that crazy terrorists like the Al-Qaeda, the Unabomber or Carrot Top will barge into the Chicago Theatre and start gunning down everybody. They would shoot at those in FCUK t-shirts first because they think those are the gay dyslexics and should be put out of their misery. I can't say I blame them, they've suffered enough from their fashion faux pas. FCUK, please. That's just so fucking DMUB.

Of course, at the first sign of violence, all the gays would scream and grab the nearest person with a fanny pack and use them as human shields.

I thought about how little respect terrorists have for human life and haute couture. Gay terrorists would use less destructive methods, like maybe Sarin gas or lethal-grade botox, so that they can pick out the best shoes from the casualties.

The show was probably one of the best of Margaret's career. Quite possibly, better than “I’m The One That I Want.” “Assassin” finds her confused about living in an America, post-Bush reelection, post-Condoleeza Secretary of State appointment, post-prison Martha Stewart. She ruminated about ways we can all get together and beat the shit out of gay Republicans. She rallied the 'troupes' with her comedy and sent us all out into the night, exhilarated and energized, ready to kick some ass with our tap shoes.

As the rowdy crowd loaded into the CTA buses, gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered folk, all giddy and chattering, I spied a woman who was looking at the crowd in contempt, skittering away as if we were diseased.

I felt an urge to yell at her:

"Our marriages won’t make yours less valid!"

"Our families won’t make yours less loving!"

"You can’t catch gay from breathing the air!"


I wish I did yell at her. I wish I did.

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The Reader Appreciation Award is hereby awarded to Ro's Musings!

Mini-Blog

Have you been checking out the Mini-Blog (see top right of this site)? I decided I wanted a place to post my short notes, announcements and brain farts. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks y'all for your visits! You are the reason I am up late at night and obsessively checking my site counters. Give me some sugar!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Assassin, Part 1

I had a feeling of déjà vu when I was waiting in line to get into the Chicago Theatre to see Margaret Cho’s “The Assassin Tour” last Friday. Maybe it was because I bumped into four ex-boyfriends, the most I’d ever run into at the same place outside of a gay bathhouse.

You can always count on running into a few exes in a gay bathhouse. Anonymity in there is like Beyonce and good taste, two things that never go together.

Going to a bathhouse is like going to church, you spend a lot of time on your knees and calling out to God, "oh God...oh God...oh my Goddddd!!!" But unlike in church, you don’t call the stalls “confessionals,” unless you're really kinky, a priest or both.

That’s not even counting the tricks and one night stands I ran into at the show. There were so many of my tricks that if I pulled a bunch of fake flowers out of my ass, I could charge a cover and a two-drink minimum.

Of course, it’s awkward. These people can expose your deep, dark secrets in the bedroom, like when you sewed on that Ralph Lauren label to that comforter from Target. I can imagine the viciousness of the queens at the local gay bar:

Gurl, didja hear about hur and hur comforter? I knew it! I. Just. Knew. It! I knew that bitch could not possibly afford all that shit working retail. And I just knew those curtains were not from Restoration Hardware! Mm-mm-mm. Nobody can pass off that shit on this queen!

But the worst was when I ran into “The One.” The one who broke my tender, young heart.

Everyone has one of those, you know, when you were young and full of trust, and you didn’t know how another person could break your heart or hurt your dick with their teeth.

It was at the merch counter. I was second in line when I saw Fabrice walking towards me. Yeah, I know, how can a guy named “Fabrice” break my heart, right? It’s ridiculous. A “Fabrice” would likely be someone who would freshen up your clothes after a night at a smoky bar, not wreak havoc on your emotions.

I looked around frantically for some big and tall guy to hide behind or, pretend to be my boyfriend in case Fabrice saw me.

No such luck.

How I wished Brian wasn’t already at our seats. The last thing you want an ex-boyfriend to do is to find you standing by yourself, like that one time he found you in the middle of his bedroom with the spare key that you never returned and the “present” you left in the middle of his bed. Doing number two had never been so gratifying.

Just as I approached the counter, Fabrice caught up with me and introduced his Asian-of-the-month. When meeting a fellow gay Asian, I followed the traditional Asian custom of greeting where we check out each others’ outfits, give a combination smile/sneer, and turn away.

I didn’t know what he wanted, but I wanted to get away as fast as I can. So I paid for the first thing I saw. That’s how I ended up with a t-shirt in XXL, three letters that never appear together in my closet’s plane of existence. I thought the only letter that went along with “XX” was another “X”. I don’t know what “L” could possibly mean. “Lesbian,” perhaps?

I made my excuses and hurried away. The crowds were a blur; their bulk, a tide slowing my progress. I prayed my ex-boyfriend’s seats were not anywhere near my line of sight.

I found Brian just a couple of minutes before the light dimmed. I slumped into my seat and held on to his hand just as the applause rose, roaring like waves in my ears.


Next: More Assassin

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Guest Blogger

Hi, I'm Eric. I am guest blogging today. Paul a.k.a. "No Milk" isn't feeling very sociable this past week. I have been a cramp to his style or more accurately, a pimple on his nose.

Paul really isn't into the habit of naming his pimples, he would rather pretend that I do not exist. But I am named because my presence cannot be ignored. I am acne vulgaris, stubborn and hard, an angry red. I am the one that causes him grief, makes him change his plans, go on hiatus.

I also have a cat, who I brought along with me. Her name is "Pus."

In Paul's teenage years, I used to visit more frequently. Those were the times when he preferred to stay at home with only me for company. To liven things up, I would have some friends over for Pizza Nite, which is when my friends and I get together and make pizza out of his face.

We play games like "Acne Twister", where we are a mess of pimples all over each other with heated, sexual undertones; "Pimple Jenga", where we pile up on each other to see how high we can go before bursting in glory, launching Pus on to Paul's bathroom mirror, mingled with blood. It's quite a blast. We get real rowdy and shit.

To hear him say it, I am the cause of his misery, his misanthropy. I don't think I was all that bad. Because of me, he was able to cultivate interests and hobbies. Because of me, he read widely and voraciously. Because of me, he met his best friend: his right hand--the one he could rely on when he was bored or lonely or watching wrestling on TV.

These days however, I visit less and less--it seems less hospitable here. Maybe the skin is less oily or the testosterone levels have gone down or he is using better medication, I don't know. It was more fun in the old days anyway, when I meant so much more, when my mere presence could send him into a tailspin of depression.

These days he tends to ignore my presence, not even bothering to use a blemish cover-up unless I am unusually engorged, like I am right now. I don't know if he is starting to believe when his boyfriend Brian tells him that I am hardly noticeable, although I know I am. How can I not be? I think what Brian means is that he doesn't care to notice.

I can tell that I still nick at his confidence, but this is nothing compared to before. I am a guest blogger because I suspect it is his way of dealing with me, cutting me down to size.

Even now, as he heaps a suffocating amount of zit cream on me, I can feel myself start to dry up. Maybe I should consider moving to Joan Rivers' face or Laura Bush's crotch? I hear it's pretty dry there too. Anyway, in a few days, I will already be fading.

Maybe one day I will get tired of these visits.

Or maybe one day he will truly no longer care. Then it wouldn't really matter, would it?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dry

Alcohol is known as a social lubricant. I’ve been known to use it in very stressful situations like, fifth grade.

And when it comes to alcohol, I’m a lightweight. And I am one of those Asians who turns red after one sip. One night, I drank so much that afterwards I went to a reservation and built a casino.

Being a lightweight makes me a cheap date. One glass of wine and I’ll go to bed with you, make you breakfast in the morning and then nag you the rest of the week for not taking the garbage out. Two glasses and I’ll start bitching about your mother and how nobody’s ever good enough for her son.

In “Dry,” author Augusten Burroughs, narrates the story of his descent into alcohol, drugs and poor hygiene: he was so coked out of his mind he had started using Irish Spring.

Ok, maybe that wasn’t in the book, but in one scene where Augusten wakes up in an alley after a coke binge, clothes dirty and hair matted down, I could only think about how horrible it must be to have to face his hairdresser.

Augusten Burroughs is most famously compared to another gay author David Sedaris which probably really ticks Burroughs off. The toughest thing Sedaris ever had to deal with was having a domineering mother. Who hasn’t had that? My own mother was domineering and I grew up ok--all my ex-boyfriends would tell you that through their lawyers, since they all have restraining orders against me.

While there are similarities to the two authors’ style--they both use personal experience and have a certain gay sensibility, like how they talk about sports and girls all the time instead of their feelings--I think of Sedaris as a humorist, like Nora Ephron or Erma Bombeck. Burroughs is more of a storyteller, I think, and more satisfying. He never descends into self-pity with his addiction. In a way, I think he is most honest, most matter-of-fact in the darkest moments in the book.

In one such moment, Augusten walks into his apartment for the first time after spending thirty days in rehab and is greeted by a something he’s never seen before in the cold light of sobriety. There were empty Dewar’s bottles, hundreds of them, on all flat surfaces and in dark corners, as if they multiplied while he was gone, although nobody’s been in there.

Another character, with terminal breast cancer, muses about how she didn’t realize the insidiousness of alcoholism:

“Back when I was drinking, when I thought nothing [bad] had ever happened to me, something did. A lot of time passed. In bars, at parties with people I didn’t care for. It wasn’t about love or reading the Sunday paper in bed or anything that people call ‘life.’ It was always about drinking. So actually, something bad, very bad, did happen to me. I wasted my life.”

But before you think that this book is a downer, it’s not. It’s a book with a real message: that life is about living, not to drink and withdraw from.

Burroughs writing style is very engaging and there is never a dull moment in the book. The book was at times graphic in the descriptions of the horrors of working retail. And I think the book is quite aptly titled: it is quite witty and very, very dry.



Thank you, Jimi. I really enjoyed this book.

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