Filipino guy in Los Angeles, talking about his daily blah, reality tv, world events... a little bit of everything

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HYPOCHONDRIA (hahy-puh-kon-dree-uh) noun

The persistent conviction that one is or is likely to become ill, often involving symptoms when illness is neither present nor likely, and persisting despite reassurance and medical assurance to the contrary
------ American Heritage Dictionary

The first time I've ever heard of this word was from the movie My Girl. Anna Chlumsky's character (Vada) kept visiting her doctor where she complained about various ailments all of which exist only in her head. Maybe its because her mom had just died or that she lives in a house that also serves as a funeral parlor but going to the doctor was a source of comfort for her. (SPOILER ALERT) Eventually, we see her loose her bestfriend (played by Macaulay Caulkin in his prime pre-puberty, pre-crack, pre-divorce, pre-rehab). Anyway I digress. Like Vada, I too suffer from hypochondria. I'm not really clinically diagnosed but the fact that I think I have it is a strong suggestion that maybe... just maybe I really am.

Growing up I was somewhat an active kid. I was busy with school and constantly played street games with my friends. I barely got sick. The few times that I really ended up in bed for days to recover were due to infectious diseases brought about by getting exposed from other kids (chicken pox) or from those pesky mosquitoes (typhoid fever- which by the way eliminates me from being even considered as a possible blood donor).

I started feeling more sickly in high school. I would feel a slight head-ache and I would automatically assume that I had a tumor growing in my brain. I had pulled some muscle in my legs this leads me to imagine a life in a wheelchair. It got worse in college when I was at UCLA. Maybe its the stress but I kept having really bad nosebleeds that sometimes lasts for over an hour. Seriously... seriously (I love me some Grey's Anatomy) my room almost always looks like a bloody crime scene from the t.v. show CSI. Loosing so much blood really freaked me out so I ended up thinking that I had some sort of genetic disease that prevents my blood from coagulating or even worse that I could be hemophiliac.

It was also in college when I started to become sexually active (note for The Boyfriend...this is the paragraph that I suggest you skip). I was especially "active" in my 1st and 2nd year of college, after being dateless in high school I took advantage of my new found freedom ( I was like a monkey that had just escaped a cage in search of bananas...any kind of them). It was clearly my slutty phase (Hey! dont judge...many gay guys go through the same thing). Although I always practiced safe-sex, I was constantly in the health clinic demanding the doctors to check me out regardless of the fact I had no symptoms. I can't even begin to tell you how crazy I get while waiting for the results for these tests (especially the HIV test) that I always prepare for the worst case scenario. Thank Buddha that I've never been diagnosed with anything.

Graduate school is when I fully realized how paranoid I am. I was well aware of how much I go to the doctor for even the smallest head-ache but I just can't let it be. The Boyfriend has a different approach to getting sick-- let your body deal with it. On the other hand theres me, constantly insisting on having someone reassure me that my suspicious tumor is nothing more than a large pimple and that my constant nosebleeds are attributed to the dry Southern California air and not hemophilia. It doesn't help that I'm located in the USC Health Sciences Campus (where we have several hospitals and hundreds of doctors within a 4-block radius). I go so often I've spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars with my frequent doctor visitations. Almost all the time, I would be told that everything was just fine... mostly I'm happy to hear this but theres an odd part of me that is slightly dissapointed because my self-diagnosis is nothing but a figment of my own imagination.

So where does this story go and what could possibly explain my pessimistic approach on my own health? Well like Vada (again from the movie), she was constantly worried about her health because she knew that in an instant, she could be gone. Loosing someone so close to you without warning can definitely lead to paranoia about one's own mortality. In my case, it seemed like I started acting like a paranoid hypochondriac after my mom died. Maybe its my coping mechanism.

Another possible explanation is that I'm afraid of loosing control. I know I could be somewhat of a control-freak, my friends and family are well aware of this side of me. I like things planned out and any deviation from this can lead to a near nervous breakdown (imagine Martha Stewart when she was told that she's going to jail). Ok I exaggerate, I don't completely go crazy, just a little bit. I'm still working on this slight imperfection of mine. I know, I just need to relax and let things be. What does this trait of mine have to do with me being a hypochondriac... well its simple; getting sick is loosing control of your body and in order to get back that control, you need it to be diagnosed early enough so it can be treated accordingly. I know this sounds ridiculous but I really think that this explanation together with the coping mechanism I mentioned above, can explain why I think I'm a hypochondriac. I'm working on it... its a process. Like alcoholics, the first step is to acknowledge it.

"Hi! My name is Ernesto and I'm a hypochondriac"


I noticed the unusual number of new readers. To all of you, welcome to my blog. Hope you find some enjoyment somewhere in my ramblings. Maybe I might even inspire you... who am I kidding, I'm not exactly a great source of inspiration. Anyway, enjoy and feel free to comment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blog Shout Out! Pinoy Gay Blogs

Since I'm not very succesful in whoring my blog... I decided to be part of this group (Pinoy Gay Blogs). Check it out. Now I can be a common blog prostitute.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Birthday Story Update

Like what I promised in my last post, here's a quick summary of my 26th birthday (weekend).

Friday--- I wanted to continue doing something special for my birthday so I applied to volunteer as a mentor for kids. I will talk more about this later, it deserves a post of its own. It might seem like volunteering is not as special compared to what I did for my two previous birthdays but its something I really wanted to do and I will be helping some very special kids. I think this mentorship program will play a much larger influence in my life. We will see...

---The Boyfriend and I had dinner at a restaurant in the Thai town portion of Hollywood. We then went on a grocery shopping spree for the next day's dinner preparations.

Saturday---I really wanted to have a full day so we woke up early (well I guess early for a Saturday morning). Stopped by the local farmer's market just off Sunset Blvd. Had an excellent cheap Mexican food. I then suggested to go hiking. Initially I wanted to go to the popular Runyon Canyon which has excellent views of the city but I decided to take him to a more secluded hiking path (I know what you're thinking... no nothing happened!)

---This hiking path is part of Griffith Park. We started in a residential area of Los Feliz, and hiked up to a serene garden midway up the mountain. This garden is very unusual since it has pine trees which is not typical of the Los Angeles area mountain vegetation. At this garden we kept taking goofy pictures... using continuous shot on my Canon we kept doing this action shots (and no, I'm not talking about action shots in porn). It was very peaceful, just what I needed. When I got home a got a package from my younger sister and mail from my older sister. How sweet!

---Most of the afternoon was devoted to me cooking. I prepared way too much food. I overestimated how much each of my bitchy friends would eat. I spent over 3 hours, cooking, marinating, baking, filleting and every other -ing. I baked some spanakopita (sp?) from Trader Joe's. I made some Fettucine primavera(olive oil, brocolli, sundried tomatoes, grilled peppers, and fresh basil from my garden) and garlic bread. I also baked chicken marinated in lemon. Since I'm Filipino I had to include rice but I opted for the healthier brown rice. For dessert, I bought strawberry and chocolate slow churned Dryers ice cream and The Boyfriend bought a carrot cake (my favorite). We had Australian white wine and played Scrabble and Cranium till I had to kick out my friends past midnight. It was a great birthday!

Such a beautiful path.

Look I can fly!

More goofing around!

Here's why I should have brought that mini-tripod. Below is a slightly better angle of us.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Birthday Story

Most of my childhood birthdays were often big events, almost extravagant (as compared to my recent birthdays). Of course I dont remember most of them since my brain can pretty much only recall major events post-1986. The birthdays before '86 were also very cool...well according to my mom's stories and what I've seen in some old pictures of mine. In one picture, you see me in an awful looking swim trunks, with a big old smile...probably my 2nd birthday at the beach. Another picture you see me about to blow my first birthday candle ( surrounded by a bunch of kids who probably were not my friends but just showed up for the cake. Perhaps the birthday party that really stood out (both in pictures and in my memory) is that of my 7th birthday.

The only time in my life where you'll see me wear that outfit.

Somehow, a child's 7th birthday is a big deal in the Philippines...or at least a big deal in my family. It could've been because it's on the very same day as my last day in 1st grade (a.k.a. recognition day). Its 2 for 1 celebration. Lots of food, games for the kids, tons of balloons. Since I was also getting an award that day (a gold medal that is most likely made from some cheap metal gilded or even better spray painted) I was all dressed up, complete with a bow tie ( although a clip-on I still looked like I was going to an opera). Who knew that at such a young age I had a flare for fashion (quite possibly the earliest evidence of my fabulous gay self).

First evidence of gayness on my 7th birthday.

All the rest of my childhood birthdays were great but they all kind of blend together in my memory. I remember that one time I had all of my friends take part in a scavenger hunt around our backyard (early signs of why I'm addicted to The Amazing Race) which I set up. I guess they didn't really get the concept or maybe the cryptic clues that I gave them were too complicated for them. I had to do the whole thing while they follow me along. One this is the same with all of these birthdays; my mother was always in charge, planning and making sure everything is perfect. She was like Martha Stewart except on a much lower budget.

She was the best host, always making sure that the food tasted great and that everyone is having fun. It's not just party planning but she's like that on a daily basis. She was always busy, helping out everyone. Not only did she have to take care of three kids, she also managed all of our rental apartments. On top of that she somehow managed to be always involved in any of our school programs and community volunteer work. When the school needed someone to run the PTA she does it. When the local health clinic needed someone to help feed poor kids living in the shanty towns, she was there. When the local community center needed someone to teach unemployed women (at that time in my city theres lots of prostitutes) to sew or cook, she's right there (and I tag along most of the time). Come to think of it, she's better than Martha Stewart. She's more like Mother Theresa. I was such a big fan of my mom, I aspired to be like her.

On my 14th birthday, the yearly tradition of my mom planning out the day did not happen. Less than a month before that day, my mom passed away. A celebration was the last thing in my mind. It was too early, in fact so early that I was in denial that she was gone. I told myself that she was on vacation. Somehow a small gathering was planned by my aunt. My friends came, my favorite food was prepared and I pretended that I was having a great time. Deep inside, I knew I didnt want to be there. I just wanted to be left alone.

The next few years I tried to ignore my birthday, especially when we moved to California. Maybe its the whole teenage angst thing but I just didn't want to celebrate it. I hated all the kids in high school who walked around the hallways holding their balloons and flowers given to them for their special day. I would always say "Why do they have to announce it to everyone?" College was more of the same. One thing that helped me in avoiding my birthday was because of school. UCLA is on the quarter system so my birthday would always fall on winter finals week. Instead of having fun I was always cramming for my exams. Except this one time when my friends surprised me when I was still living in the dorms. We celebrated in the hallway, we had small cake and some ice cream. It was a nice surprise but it only lasted for a few minutes since we all had to go back and study.

After my 21st birthday, I mostly just celebrated with the typical dinner and driking ( often at home in our apartment getting pissed drunk on cheap vodka and tequila). It wasn't till my 24th birthday two years ago when I started changing my attitude about my own birthday. I'm not really sure what triggered this shift. Maybe its because I've reached that point in my life where I can step back and really examine myself. Maybe because I'm such a horrible graduate student so instead of studying and working on my research I ended up writing a journal and thinking about touchy-feely stuff that in my younger years, didn't care about.

What ever the reason for this epiphany I'm glad I had it. I forgot the very reason why people celebrate their day. I forgot that that day is "my time". My time to look back at everything that had happened to me that previous year. Its my time to appreciate what I have and where I am in life and my time to hope that next year is even better. I'm sure my mother wants me to continue celebrating my life. I'm here because of her, and to celebrate the day would be like honoring her.

Hiking in Cinque Terra for my 24th.

So on my 24th birthday, I wanted to do something for me, something I'd wanted to do. I also wanted to have some time to really think about myself (I know it sounds selfish but once in a while its necessary). Impulsively, I decided to go to Italy and spend my birthday by myself. I know it sounds like I was sorry looking fellow having dinner by myself on my very birthday but really, it was great. I went hiking in the beautiful Cinque Terra, and had dinner in a restaurant on a cliff while the sun set. I know its a bit dramatic but I had fun. Its then that I told myself that I will do something special every year. That I will celebrate and have fun. Thats what my mother would want me to do. Its a promise that I kept last year. Some might say I'm crazy but I decided to go bungee jumping off a bridge last year. No my life did not flash before me... it just made me feel alive. What I'm going to do this year? Still not sure but I'll update next week.

On my way down the bridge, 25th birthday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dear Ernesto

Dear Ernesto,
Where the hell have you been? You better have a fucking good excuse!

Hi Reader,

How should I say this....uhmm, I'm sorry. I've been busy.......OK thats a complete lie. The truth is I've been very lazy. Unfortunately, I've decided to just summarize the past half year by going through it month after month, writing only events that stands out in my memory. I know its a poor excuse for not updating and I'm not going to promise that I will be writing as frequently as before. I will, however, change up what I will be posting.

The next few posts will be short stories, both from my present life and my past. They will have varying topics, some will have a point but most will probably just be random ramblings. I'll try (and the word TRY is the key here) to post pictures but most likely I will set up another place for my pictures. Here's my poor attempt of a short recap of my life these past few months.

My sister had a medical emergency which led to me travelling to New York to take care of her for a few days after her surgery. Bought a bike (a used--Research is moving slow. My younger sister came to visit. Older sister had a medical Trek 2000)...weirdly enough it's meant for women riders but just the right size for me. Visited baby Tres.

--Most of October was the preparation for the Philippines trip. Finally got to go home after a decade. Had a great time with the Best Friend, my Younger Sister, and the Boyfriend. Got to relax in Boracay, shop in Manila and tour Ilocos and Baguio. It was great to see my extended family and old friends but most important of all, I got to light some candles and bring flowers for my mom.

--Work is still slow. A quick visit to the bay area after Christmas. Went to a UCLA football game, visited family and friends. Spent Christmas and New Years Eve with my family in Oceanside.

--Took a weekend trip with friends and the Boyfriend. Did a lot of hiking and played in the snow. Took baby Tres to Legoland with older sister. Some asshole hit my car while its parked on our driveway and he had the guts to scream at me...sometimes I feel like choking people. In addition, had a lot of problems with my school funding. I ended up having to return a lump some of money and now living on a much tighter budget.

--Baby sat Tres. Went camping with the guys Catalina. The Boyfriend and I celebrated our 2nd year anniversary on Valentines Day. Visited the Long Beach aquarium. Work still sucks.

*Now you're all caught up!