Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Abandon Island! Abandon Island!

Okay, classes have been done for more than a week now, but here I am still on Pohnpei. The college campus seems deserted, so many people have left island. I have friends who are now in India, the United Arab Emirates, Arkansas, the Philippines and Japan, but I'm not leaving for my Singapore vacation until Christmas Eve.

Why? Because graduation isn't until December 23!!! Since I play the piano for graduation, people would notice if I'm not there. So, while other teachers can escape, I'm stuck.

But it's probably for the best. Rohaizad has been sick, so this gives him time to get better. Plus, there have been some pretty wonderful dinner parties at Jen and Janhabi's houses.

We are flying into Manila's International Airport late on December 24. We plan to spend the night in Manila, then find a bus on Christmas Day to go to Clark Airport, where we'll fly the discount Tiger Airways to Singapore. We'll see if everything goes as planned.

But for now, I'll just continue feeling like the only teacher on island. Poor me, what a victim!!! Just kidding.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Periodical Magazines

Beside music journals, the only periodical I get is The Advocate, the gay and lesbian news magazine. Once in a while the magazine OutTraveler is also sent to me with the Advocate. The magazines arrive in strange clusters of two or three issues. For example, yesterday three magazines arrived, ranging in dates from June 2005 to November 2005.

I was browsing through the OutTraveler and they had lists of the best gay places to visit and stay and eat and cruise and blah blah blah. It read like a list of places to STAY AWAY FROM!!! Without even reading the magazine, I probably could have guessed half of the items on the list. Gays are so predicable and cliche.

It made me very glad to be here on Pohnpei. There are NO gay hang-outs, no "hip" hang-outs at all. Nothing to make you want to put on airs. So when I exercise, it isn't so that people can check me out at the clubs; when I dress up, it isn't to get noticed ... it's not about appearances.

The lure of New York, for example, has always mystified me. Sure, when I've performed there it has been an adrenaline rush. But I've always looked forward to leaving when I the show was done. Perhaps I'm too insecure to deal with the pressure of the city. Or perhaps my problem is that New York just has everything (food, entertainment, fashion), so I never need to make the effort to create anything for myself.

The rest of the world is filled with real adventure. Sure, no one knows where Pohnpei is. There is no theater, nice restaurants or gay community; all those things that are valued by the stereotypical gays. But there is a totally new and mysterious culture for me to discover.

I've done my time as a professional homo when I was assistant director for the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC. It was a lot of fun and was important to my self-confidence at that stage in my life. But to stay in that little world excludes too many wonderful adventures that have nothing to do with being gay. It's like growing up and leaving home - difficult, but vital.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Flaming O's

It was quite a weekend on Pohnpei, with the International Tuna Commission on island and the arrival of a French Navy ship, there were a lot of new faces on the island. Janhabi, Jen, Rohaizad and I decided to use them as an excuse to go out clubbing on Saturday night.

It isn't easy to go clubbing on Pohnpei. For one thing, there is only one club: Club Flamingo, which we refer to as the Flaming O. The next challenge is finding something to until midnight when the place starts hopping.

We decided to start out at the movie theater because they just started showing the film "Walk the Line." That kept us occupied until about 10:00 pm.

Our next stop was the Rusty Anchor, a bar which most people call the Crusty Anchor. It is located in an abandoned hotel, which makes it spooky. To get to the bar, you have to walk through an abandoned lobby and restaurant. But the bar is a nice outdoor one with a breathtaking view of Sokehs Bay, although at night the view is limited to a lot of darkness. The walls are covered with graffiti from floor to ceiling, so there is always reading material available.

A few strange men were playing pool and sitting at the bar, but I didn't see what was going on, because Rohaizad and I sat with our backs to them, so Jen and Janhabi could scope them out! Just kidding. But everyone seemed to be comfortably settled into their groups, so we left after an hour or so.

Our next stop was Players, a club located in the corner of a huge warehouse. It has all the charm of the lounge at an Interstate Motor Lodge, but it was clean and nicely decorated, so we got some drinks and had a seat. A keyboard player was in the corner trying his best to deafen us all. Jen got a come-on from one of those ancient expat men who you only see at the bars (PLEASE don't let me end up like that!!!).

Since we couldn't talk and it was around midnight, we headed out to Flaming O's. But we were the first people there. Jen and Rohaizad took over the DJ booth and gave us a half-hour of 80's music before the professional took over and gave us the same music I hear every time I'm there: "A Thousand Miles," "Playing with the Queen of Hearts," etc.

By the time we left at 2:00 am the place was crowded. Janhabi got invited to dance by a local guy, and we had a good time dancing and watching folks. Between every song there is always a long pause, like 30 seconds or so. We used to try to get people to stay on the dance floor to maintain momentum, but that's a losing battle, so now we return to our table with everyone else.

It was a pretty mellow clubbing night. We didn't see any fights and only one person passed out at Players. But it's fun to do every once in a while, since I'm not a big clubber anyways, its enough for me.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Strangers in their Own Land

Last night I finished reading the book "Strangers in their Own Land" by Francis X. Hezel. I cannot believe that this book was written by someone I know. How could one person possibly gather and organize the information about so many islands and present it in such a clear way? I'm amazed. His other book "The First Taint of Civilization" is also a knock-out.

The history of Micronesia is as much reflection on the world as it is the story of Micronesia. A place as small as these islands seems defenseless, and yet they survived disease, wars, colonizers and much more and still have hold of their land, language and many traditions.

But it is sad how the huge powers of the world try to take advantage of "weaker" places like these islands, forcing disease, religion, language and government on them.

This book made me more than a little humiliated to be an American, and there are plenty of reasons to be embarrased these days! We had an opportunity and the responsability to do something great out here, but chose not to.

I am so glad this book, and it's companion, exist.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Skipjack Carnage

Just returned from eating in the cafeteria where they served skipjack today. Yummy. I sure wish I could eat skipjack like the students, who leave a neat little pile of bones on their trays. My tray looks like sheer carnage. Not enough practice I guess.

The cafeteria food sure has improved this week since the International Tuna Commission is holding it's meetings on the College of Micronesia's campus.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ups and Downs

I am so lucky to have such great friends out here. Especially since we have to see each other so often, it's good to have people you like and trust!

For some reason I have fallen in with the lawyers from the national capital. My two best friends are Jen, an Australian who is legal council for the Legislature, and Janhabi, a Canadian who works in the Attorney General's office. And, of course, there is Rohaizad.

Unfortunately, the lawyer's contracts are only for two years, and we at the College sign three year contracts.

I was trying my best to convince Jen and Janhabi to stay for one more year, so Rohaizad and I wouldn't have to spend our final year without them, and I thought I had convinced them. But then they both had break-ins at their houses. It was depressing and scary.

It was frightening enough already that they often had men loitering around their houses at night trying to get some "action" from them, but to have them actually enter the house and take stuff from them ... yikes!

So that was a depressing time. Rohaizad and I slept over at Janhabi's to make her feel safer until she could change her locks. We also gave her one of our puppies (we had nine for her to choose from) to protect her.

When something like that happens, it is so easy to feel crappy about the whole place. But I have to keep in mind that it is just a few people who broke in; most of the people here are wonderful.

Fortunately, there have been some positive things that have happened since that event.

Last Friday I led the first annual College of Micronesia Holiday Concert. We had 70 performers from all over the country. I thought it was very exciting. The audience filled up the practice gym and many people had positive comments.

To celebrate that the concert was over, Janhabi, Jen, Rohaizad and I spent last Sunday at Nahlap Island Resort, the most relaxing place in the state of Pohnpei.

Now the semester is wrapping up. Lots of grades to compute and preparations for next semester. Although I feel good about being here, I feel sad that Janhabi and Jen will probally be leaving during 2006. Oh well.