Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sinot Single

I've come to realize over the past few weeks that I will probably either be single forever or for at least a very very long time. For those who read this blog regularly you'll know some of the other reasons for this (kaduku yu') yet recently yet another reason appeared.

For me, time appears to be radically out of joint. While in some ways this is charming, interesting and good for conversing with people you don't really want to talk to, it makes my dating life ideal for laughing about at 2 am at Kings in Tamuning.

I used to have a thing about writing numbers on myself. On Guam you tend to sweat alot, so writing on your skin isn't advisable or possible, so I started writing on my t-shirts. Often times when I would meet my friends at Kings late at night I would be covered with new phone numbers. Maybe if you don't know me you'd assume, lana! menha hao siempre, kapas hao ume'palao'an! You know, that I'm some sort of adept when it comes to securing women's telephone numbers.

But my friends of course knew better and that's what was always hysterical. At present I am 25, yet the median age of the owners to the numbers on my shirts is often twice that. The median age of the owners of these numbers is usually eligible for GovGuam retirement, and most of the owners usually are GovGuam reitrees. What makes it so hilariously worse is that most of these numbers do actually belong to Chamorro women. The reason I have so many numbers is because of the research that I'm always doing, interviewing people, or working with people on different academic, community or art projects.

So in a good way, I am what you would call an old soul. Socialized as a Chamorro primarily by my grandmother, through taking her to parties, weddings, funerals, etc. Picking up gossip, hanging around with her and her group of friends. Because of this, I learned Chamorro very quickly and I also became proficient in the geneaology of my family and Guam history as well. If I had been socialized by Chamorro men, my language learning would have probably stalled at the cuss words and female anatomy.

The drawback to this is that within my own age group, I am an "old soul," and rarely in a good way when you're trying to find a partner in life. The most recent horrifying thing that clued me into this. An epidemic of Chamorro girls, who are either my age or a little older who refer to me as "Sinot."

For those of you who don't know, sinot, means "sir" and is what you call people older then you who aren't old enough to be Tun or Tan or bihu or biha. I'm sure that its done out of respect, but nonetheless it becomes something impossible to talk or act around. It sticks up/out like this huge restraining order that taints everything I do as if I'm hitting on my student or something.

Last year when I broke up with my last girlfriend I knew that if I ever wanted to find a Chamorro girl, my knowledge of Chamorro history, culture and language would unfortunately probably work against me. I actually wrote a poem titled "How to Pick Up Girls Using a Dead Language," if I can find a copy of it then I'll be sure to post it on my blog. The point of it was that when a language is dying, meaning not spoken by the youth but only by elders, a young person who uses the language will always unconsciously be associated with the manamko', making hanging out with me or dating me, like dating your uncle or something.

Of course it doesn't have to be like this and what we should be pushing for is the releasing of Chamorro language (amongst other things) from particular spheres or life and understanding. The idea that Chamorro language is a "social" language is just as troublesome as the idea that it is an "old people language." Both of them, while pretending to merely describe the language, actually inhibit its usage and prevent it from circulating throughout life. Making it something only certain people are supposed to use and only certain topics are to be discussed using it. What I hope for everday is that we can push these assumptions until they break and crack open, and Chamorro language spills across Guam. Because as I am becoming more and more fond of saying, survival means spilling across the things that make life possible. So long as Chamorro language is something only to be spoken by some and to be used from only particular things, then we might as well prepare it for some linguistic museum.

But here again we encounter something which prevents me from having "normal" relationships with people my age. A normal Chamorro my age wouldn't have linked his dating problems to American colonialism and issues of indigenous survival.

Yes, yes, I know. So I need to find an "abnormal" Chamorro girl, one who doesn't mind romantic candle dinners over backissues of the Pacific Daily News and discussions about decolonization. Any leads would be much appreciated. Maila magi i chule'guagua siha!

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