Day 173: The Man and the Promise of a Period of Peaceful Plunder; ‘Pillage’

Last year as I stood on the cusp of 2016, I felt ready to take on the world. I was ready to conquer something, to raid and pillage as if the glory and treasure and beauty of the year was something to be broken into. I was preparing for a new job, Beautiful had just entered my life again, and I felt a new surge of purpose and drive. I was the hammer and I was ready to beat the year into submission.

And my god, did the year ever fight back and teach me a lesson never to try and do that again.

My relationship imploded. My job took me out of home and routine and family and friends for such a long time that I almost burned out. I mean let’s be completely honest here, I love this blog and I love this community, but this is not the writing or circumstances of a man who’s had that great of a year. Hahah. So I’ll concede to 2016. You win, year.

I tried to take on the year through brute force and sheer will. I thought I was the ferocious viking landing on the shores of 2016 with an axe and a torch ready to claim everything for my own. But, of course with a little bit of research, I find out that even the vikings weren’t as violently viking-ish as I thought.

The vikings conquered most of Europe through romantic family holidays. I mean come on, how iconically European is that. It’s true though. Turns out historians were wrong in assuming that most of the raiding parties that landed on the mainland comprised solely of men. When you actually look at the items left at the settlements and the DNA of the ancient buried, you find that a good number of the travelers were women and even children. They didn’t conquer Europe, they inhabited it. Men would bring women along, which meant they could have children, which meant establishing communities further and further along their routes, meaning trade and assimilation and expanding territories. We know that vikings didn’t just go from village to village and rape women, but that while there was definitely instances of this, because of the rigorous regimen the vikings had of cleaning themselves and caring for their appearance, many women were seduced and enticed by the clean, well-groomed vikings. We know that their great halls were not war rooms or places of violence, but were grand meeting spaces for lords and nobles to strengthen their power through feasts, parties, luxurious meats and cheeses, and barrels and barrels and barrels worth of beer and mead.

So what does this mean? It means that the vikings didn’t accomplish as much as they did on the edge of a sword. They did it through open, outstretched hands.

2016 beat and battered me to a pulp. But I learned not to thrash and wail and strike back. I wanted to conquer love, work, and happiness. Instead of going out into the world and trying to claim as much of it as I could from others, I learned to bring it along and plant it in the memories and places and experiences that meant the most to me. All these things  I wanted: love, acceptance, warmth, happiness, they weren’t resources someone else had that I had to take from them. I didn’t have to take my sense of joy, my feelings of warmth, my tender love, or my hopeful happiness from Beautiful. Maybe she had none to give in the first place, or maybe it wasn’t mine to take, but the point is I’ve learned instead to cultivate and grow these things that I want in the places I want to find them. To do as the vikings, and bring what I have along the route, and plant them as I go, so that eventually I can find it in anything and everything. In anyone, and everyone, and maybe hopefully one day as I’ve learned to grow and appreciate and nurture and cherish and recognize, in a special someone.

I used to look at someone like Beautiful and ask myself ‘what happiness can I derive from her’. Now I am trying instead to look at someone and see what love there is to grow with them, to experience with them, to share with them. I looked onto 2016 thinking I was never going to be alone again, and by mid-2016 I was afraid I would never be able to live alone. Now I am redefining my relationship with myself and forcing myself to be with something that I thought was going to scare me to my very core.

As yesterday, and today (with its lingering effects) has clearly shown, I’m not done yet. I can still be taken over the edge of what it is I’ve been skirting and trying to avoid for so long. If the world can’t rid me of the pain and reminders, I’ll need to learn to do it myself. I can’t tell you how much sleep I lost last night because of her message. Or how tempted I was to go back to that blog, fearful of finding that while I have been trying to move on, she’s built some shrine to this other man. I wish I could say that the course and journey of her life has no impact on me anymore. But the gravity of our paths still keeps me curving ever slightly inward. I am learning to increase my orbit, and one day I hope to be free of the pull.

I’ve done a lot of things this past year that I’m not proud of. I might have ruined legitimate potential possibilities for romance. I might have neglected the relationships I already had with friends and family. I’ve said some things, not said some things, and either through action or inaction, I recognize I’ve placed myself exactly where I am right now, no one else. These are my things to acknowledge and to do with what I please. I could run away from them. I could chalk them up to youth and naivete and inexperience. I could, as one very close and dear community member has pointed out today, keep opening up the wound because I like the pain. I don’t think I’m fully ready yet to close the chapter on these things. I don’t think I can as yet delude myself into thinking I’ve grown beyond these mistakes.

But I’ve also done some incredible things I never thought I’d get to do. I’ve opened myself up to new experiences and activities. Picked up new hobbies. I’ve strengthened and deepened some existing relationships, and as with some members of my family, created some new relationships that didn’t exist before. I started a blog. I wrote more this year than I probably did when I was in college, and all of it was voluntary. I found a voice and a platform for my thoughts and experiences that helped me grow. I wrote the first draft of a novel. One that I want to revisit and really dive into, to experience the pain and drive and hunger to have your story put out there for the world.

I just want to live and grow for 2017. I mean I have hopes and dreams for the year of course. I hope and yearn for love. For a deep and fulfilling relationship. I dream about maybe finding a job that is financially, personally, and emotionally nurturing and fulfilling. Maybe it’s in this company still, maybe it’s not. I listened to a speaker recently talking about how workers in my generation are seeking fulfillment in their careers which is a good thing, but lack the patience and the work ethic to realize it comes not with an immediate job but maybe over time as you earn it. He likened the desire for fulfillment and impact like the summit of the mountain, so we see the peak and we know what it is and what we want, but we fail to see the mountain in front of us. So I do have some hopes and plans and intentions for the year. But I won’t dictate my year by its successes or failures. I’d still like to practice what I’ve learned from the vikings. Grow along the journey, and realize how much further you can go because of it.

I hope you all have had a satisfying, enjoyable, or at the very least memorable year. I don’t know at which point in the year’s journey you found me or I found you, but we’ll be starting a new year together and I look forward to that. Once again I will be spending some time with family and friends over the next few days so I may not get to be on here as much, but I do want to wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy new year filled with promise.

Day 173

Man: 143 Loneliness: 30


Day 172: The Man and the Confused Communication

Hey everyone.

Hope you’ve all had a great holiday. Maybe you’re still off from work, relaxing with a cup of coffee or recovering from all of the festivities.

I don’t get what it is about the holidays that makes people think it’s a good idea to dredge up the past.

If there was one thing I was dreading about the holidays, it would be that I would already be constantly batting away reminders and pangs of loss.

I love having love over the holidays. Somehow though the timing’s just never worked out. Hahah. Summer relationships grow ice cold. Winter romances somehow miss the countdown.

The last time was in college. It was the very first, and so far last, time I ever brought a girl over for the holidays. It was Beautiful, of course. We went, as we always do every Christmas, to my great-aunt’s house. Everyone was so excited to meet her, and she was so great. I prepped her before the visit, showing her pictures and names and relations. She did incredibly. Not that I had any doubts. She was always the light of the room.

I knew I was in love watching her at that party. She spoke with everyone, tried all the food, and if you’ve ever been to a Filipino party you can attest, that is always a LOT of food! I was laughing watching all of my relatives taking turns scooping more and more food onto her plate, but god bless her she ate it all. My relatives even actually got her some presents so when we were exchanging gifts she’d have something too.

We were together again on New Year’s and for once I actually had someone to kiss at the countdown. I had a reason to want to watch the ball drop, a reason to yell and shout and cheer at the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

To be honest I knew the holidays would be the hardest part of this entire year for me. There’s already enough pressure to be with someone over the holidays.So many movies, commercials, and stories are about love at Christmas and etc and etc. Someone you love to give presents to at Christmas. Someone to kiss at New Year’s. But then my birthday is a week after New Year’s and then in a month it’s Valentine’s. It’s the lonely heart’s gauntlet. Hahah.

I was doing a pretty good job, don’t you think? Funny posts, fun Christmas events at work, focusing on family and cooking. I didn’t need any extra reminders of anything else.

So why did Beautiful have to rock the boat. What about the holidays made her think it was okay, or acceptable, or warranted, or even remotely wanted, to hear from her. Why did she think I would care to know that she was in Philly, our city, with friends. Why would I have to see a picture she took of the mural garden that we had walked through so many times before, having our picture taken kissing under one of the arches, catching our reflection in the many mirrors throughout the exhibit and taking pictures.

One day, one message, one picture, and suddenly I have to inhabit this world again.

Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean we have to be greeting everyone or bringing up old memories. I’d been doing fairly god damn well handling the holidays with some appropriate cheer without dealing with the past.

The most generous and gracious thing I can say about Beautiful now is that I don’t care what she does with her life. I’ve walked away from all of this, all of that, all of her. Without sounding like too much of a jerk, I wish for my sake, she could do the same for me. I don’t care if her intentions are good.

In my perfect world, maybe she’d realize how she made me feel. Maybe we could both address and admit to our own faults. I would tell her how sorry I am for trying to pigeon hole her into my version of the life I always wanted with her. How I wish I could have had the maturity and patience and foresight to let go of how possessive I was of the past and love her and appreciate her for the woman she became. And maybe she could face me and I could hear from her how she stopped loving me way before our relationship actually ended. How she was sorry that she let me invest so much of myself in an impossible dream. How she should have freed me from the pain and insecurity of having to learn from a goddamn blog post, and how even when I confronted her, she couldn’t say a single word to me.

She could never say the most important words to me. So I’m sorry if I feel like she doesn’t have the right to say anything else either. I don’t want to hold onto anger. I don’t want to have to keep caring about this. She made the decision to walk away and not communicate the most important things. She shouldn’t feel like she can just keep messaging me like this. I don’t care that you’re in Philly with friends. I don’t care that you were at the Magic Gardens again and it reminded you of me. I don’t care that you wish my family a merry Christmas and hope we have a happy New Year.

Sorry to bring everyone down. I don’t have any right to be upset over the holidays. I’m just surprised and a bit disappointed that I still can’t handle this as well as I’d like. To be fair I never even really created any sort of plan for this. I had hoped that maybe we could be decent enough to each other to just never cross paths again. I thought the world, and she, could at least give me the least bit of tiny mercy and spare me the interaction.

I don’t even know what to do. Maybe I won’t even respond. Maybe my silence can get the message across that all I want from her is hers. Maybe I walk away, and after a year she’ll find this blog too and she can learn it all secondhand. That the day she messaged me and I ignored her was not because I didn’t care, but because I couldn’t convince myself not to care. Maybe I’ll say nothing to her, but my thoughts have already been taken over.

Day 172

Man: 143 Loneliness: 29

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Image may contain: 1 person, fruit and foodHad some free time this morning so decided to whip up a strawberry pavlova for tonight!


We had a slip and slide at work and guess who went down a 100 ft slip and slide outside in 30°F in a Santa suit! Barefoot too mind you. This is before we started. I thought my toes would fall out from how cold it was. Video upload later this week!

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Day 166: The Man and the Hopeful New Year; ‘ Enthusiasm’

This will probably be my last post until after Christmas, though I may put some pictures up or a little update. For those of you who may also follow me on Twitter I’ll also try to post some things on there as well. In any case, I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas. I hope you find yourself surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones, if not physically then at the very least surrounded with their love and wishes. This is a time to celebrate the very best of who we are and to appreciate the many blessings that have come our way in just one year. Thank you all for creating such an incredible environment and atmosphere here and I will see you all again on the other side of Christmas, hopefully happier, merrier, and warmer!

A few early resolutions I plan on making when it comes to maintaining levels of enthusiasm:

  1. Keeping up Postaday 2017!
  2. Revisiting Not All Happy Endings and begin seriously revising and rewriting the first draft.
  3. Gotta hit those damn fitness goals.
  4. Pursuing love once more. Remembering that this wasn’t about running away from love and relationships but retaking inventory and strengthening resolve to search.
  5. Doing something I love. Whatever it may be and wherever it may take me. Must sit with myself and seriously consider future professional plans.

Day 166

Man: 138 Loneliness: 28

Day 165: The Man and the Fallacious Farce of Funny Fortune Cookies; ‘Fortune’

We all know what’s coming in five days now. Presents, family, friends, good will towards man, and the 24-hour ceaseless replay of the 1983 Christmas classic, A Christmas Story. Now I used to love this movie, honestly. I thought it had some of the greatest depictions of classic Americana of the time period (1950s). Who can forget the countless cultural images that stemmed from that movie. ‘I double dog dare you’, ‘You’ll poke your eye out’, the leg lamp. One of my favorite scenes is at the end where (spoiler alert) after a disastrous run in with neighborhood dogs and their turkey, they go to a local Chinese restaurant for their Christmas party. ‘It was the year we were introduced to Chinese turkey.’

You know what comes at the end of every American Chinese meal, don’t you?


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And I want to stress this with utmost importance, that this is strictly a western tradition. You would be hard pressed to find a fortune cookie in China. They originated in California, though its origins are, like many things that have permeated our culture, foggy and disputed. Supposedly they were started in 1918 by Chinese immigrant David Jung at the Hong Kong Noodle Company. The original cookies simply had thank you notes for patrons. The ‘lucky numbers’, ‘learn Chinese’, and more humorous notes were products of time and popularity.

And in case you’re tired of your one friend always making the same old ‘help I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory’ joke, Wonton Food in Queens set out to make more serious, value-added, and fortune-related sayings.

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I’ve even seen some videos on YouTube of people using fortune cookies to propose. I can’t recall the movie, but I do remember there was a comedy where the main guy was planning to propose to his girlfriend at a Chinese restaurant, but the restaurant accidentally gave the proposal cookie to the wrong table!

In case you were ever wondering about what those blue boxes on the corners are for, they are markers for the paper-cutters as to where one fortune ends and another begins. Sometimes though mistakes are made, to great effect.

I hope I am not the only one who likes to play the ‘in bed’ game with fortune cookies too. This is when you try to see who gets the funniest/most inappropriate fortune by adding the phrase ‘in bed’ to the very end. Any winners?

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It’s not the catchiest or funniest out there, but my wish for you all is to have a very happy Christmas and a wonderful new year. May the holiday season bring you fortune, laughter, and love.

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Day 165

Man: 137 Loneliness: 28

Day 164: The Man and the Holiday Survival Guide; ‘Relax’

Holiday Stress.gifFirst and foremost, we have to remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun. Don’t you remember what it was like waiting for Christmas as a kid? I can recall excitedly watching the houses all put up Christmas decorations and counting reindeer lights whenever we drove anywhere. I never worried about the crowds at shopping malls or the long list of people to buy presents for because the mall at Christmas meant photos with Santa and incredible Christmas displays in the stores and so many toys in the aisles! At parties I would get to eat all my favorite foods and as much of it as I wanted. I played games, got presents from relatives, and whenever I didn’t feel like partying anymore I could just go somewhere in a corner and sleep, knowing I’d wake up eventually in my own bed again, waiting for Santa to come.

I know what Christmas might seem like to very many of you nowadays. I know that as you grow up you start to take on more responsibilities, and sometimes the buildup to Christmas can lose its magic and appeal when it becomes more of a chore. Did I get presents for everybody, what foods do I need to make, do I really need to go to x, y, and z’s Christmas parties, where are the relatives going to stay when they come over, what fight/sensitive topic is going to come up over dinner this time. It’s rough. There’s so much pressure around the holidays for everything to be just perfect. It seems that around the holidays our work, personal, family, and social lives begin to intertwine and the healthy boundary we often maintain around each wanes.

If you’re anything at all like me, you already know you’ll probably spend a good portion of the holidays taking a significant chunk out of your physical well-being. January is going to be a diet and detox just because it simply has to or I won’t live til next Christmas anyways. But our emotional well-being can take a real pummeling this time of year as well. The holidays can be a time where increased feelings of loneliness or over-exposure can become a real problem. You may miss your family and loved ones or become annoyed with them and lose patience with their seemingly endless meddling. I feel bad for women over the holidays especially, as studies have shown that women experience the worst of these emotional stresses and fluctuations as, not to be sexist or anything, it is women who normally take over the responsibilities of holiday decorating, planning, gift-buying, wrapping, cooking, and baking.

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So for those of you who are tempted to turn to venting, drinking, or gorging yourselves this holiday season to deal with stress, I’ve listed below some healthier, more effective, and less destructive, ways of dealing with holiday stress. I hope this list helps and that I see all of you on the other side of New Year’s.

ManVsLoneliness’s Holiday Survival Guide: 2016 Edition

  1. SET A BUDGET – While it is true that the holiday season and spending go hand-in-hand, so too does spending and stress. Last year, Americans added an average of $986 to their debt over the holidays. That’s almost a thousand dollars in the span of two weeks. Even just thinking about it has raised my blood pressure a bit. Obviously we know that we are going to have to spend over the holidays, and this isn’t necessarily the bad part. After all, we want to give our friends and family and loved ones thoughtful presents to thank them for the past year. And you might have some former Christmas party foibles to repent for. Set a budget for yourself before you go shopping and stick to it. Don’t let the pressure of the season and the ‘perfect’ gift force you into a debt that is just going to mess with the rest of your holiday enjoyment. There is nothing wrong with setting a budget with family and friends, or even setting up a Secret Santa instead to alleviate some of the stresses of keeping a long Christmas list.
  2. EXERCISE – Most of us will want to wait until after Christmas and New Year’s to get started on some physical well-being. But exercise can be a great way to relieve some stress and take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Research shows that physical activity can boost energy levels, elevate mood, and reduce feelings of anger, tension, fatigue, and depression. For those who don’t normally exercise, this could be a great incentive to get even a light amount of slight activity in, and for those who normally do, the stresses and temptations of the holiday season to set aside exercise time for other activities can actually contribute to feelings of depression and fatigue. Aim for at least 30 minutes of light activity at least three times a week. That can be a simple thing like getting outside to walk around your neighborhood and admire the Christmas decorations for half an hour or doing some holiday yoga by the tree.
  3. BE GENEROUS. This doesn’t necessarily mean to be generous with your finances. You could also be generous of your time, affection, and/or service. You could reach out to your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen and volunteer your time one weekend to give to those in need. If you were fortunate enough to receive an overabundance of wonderful presents, perhaps you can think of some people who might benefit more with some of them and donate them. Remember that ultimately the holidays are about spending time with those who matter most, so be generous of your time. Spend some special moments with the people you care about and remind them, and yourself, what the holidays are about. Bake some cookies together or decorate the house together.
  4. BE SELFISH. Have you ever heard the expression ‘giving to the grave’? Though Christmas may be ‘tis the season to give’, it is important to know your own limit and not overextend yourself. Be confident and aware enough to know when to stop and say no. Set aside time for yourself to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. Even just ten minutes away from everything can be beneficial. Use the time to meditate or just pay attention to your breathing. Shut out all the noise and chaos and remember to always take a mental inventory of your own personal resources and replenish it when necessary.
  5. EAT WELL. I mean, who am I kidding? We all know I am going to go absolutely bonkers when Christmas comes along and I’m at family parties. But I will be eating mainly vegetables, meats, and seafood, avoiding unnecessary carbs and sugars. Over the holidays you may come across a glut of sugary treats that will feel great in the moment but will make you feel guilty afterwards. I know when my office party comes along, when we are going to relatives for their party, and what we’ll be serving at home on Christmas Day. I know exactly what I will eat and how much, and plan accordingly. I avoid the Christmas cookies and cakes and other such tempting but ultimate empty treats because I know I want to appreciate more fully all the savory treats. I’ll have to post later on what foods I most look forward to over the holidays!
  6. MANAGE YOUR TIME. Honestly the key to holiday stress-free success is a good sense of organization. Set a budget, stick to it. Have fitness goals, maintain them. Watch what you eat. Schedule yourself and commit. Best way to avoid the stress of last-minute holiday shopping and dealing with the crowds and lines? Don’t shop last-minute. Seven Christmas party invites? Feel free to decline them in a polite and timely Don’t be that person who never commits to saying yes or no. There is only so much you can do in two weeks, and I imagine you already have a pretty strong feeling what it is you would want to do. Find a schedule that works for you and work in just as much as you would like to handle.

Ultimately, let’s not forget what the holidays are really about. I know all of the hype and pressure around the holidays can make it seem more like a responsibility than a treat. But if you let yourself start viewing the holidays as an obligation, then really, what’s the point? As cliché as it may sound, it really honestly and truly is not about what is under the tree or what’s on the table. It’s about who’s around the table and who’s gathered around the tree. I look forward to seeing relatives we don’t normally see and catching up, seeing how much has changed over the year. I use the holidays as a time to thank my family and friends and the gifts are just expressions and extensions of my gratitude. There may be (okay fine, more like there definitely ARE) times when I feel a bit lonely over the holidays, wishing I had someone special to spend it with, or to kiss on New Year’s, but I look to the people who are around me rather than aren’t, and I am still grateful and appreciate that there are more people than aren’t. Maybe I don’t get to have that wide-eyed experience anymore like I did when I was a child, but I know the holidays are always going to be special for me, and I hope they are for you as well.

Don’t forget. Frankie says relax.

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Day 164

Man: 136 Loneliness: 28

Day 160: The Man and the Christmas Carol of Chaos; ‘Folly’

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Fa la la la la, la la la la

Heed my call or you’ll be sorry

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Light the yule with the right apparel

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Nothing flames as fast as flannel

Fa la la la la, oh my god it’s hot!

Careful borrowing money for us

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Gift us now but pay back Borisbanner

Fa la la la la, I promise I’ll be good for it!

String the house lights in good measure

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Or you’ll be taken off in a stretcher


Clean your chimney as the year passes

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Or you and Santa will get carbon monoxide gasses

Fa la la la la, I’m getting sleepy….

Survive for now with no limbs dismembered

Fa la la la la, la la la lastuck-pole

But don’t forget about next December!


Day 160

Man: 132 Loneliness: 28

Day 159: The Man and the Questionable Purchases; ‘Conundrum’

So my company had its big holiday party last week but my department isn’t having ours until Tuesday. It was actually supposed to be this week but our company president is visiting from Australia which means no food at our desks and definitely no drunken debauchery at noon on a workday. So it’s been postponed. I didn’t know that two days ago when I went grocery shopping for ingredients for my cheesecakes, so there I am Monday at ShopRite buying some cream cheese, some graham crackers, condensed milk, evaporated milk, oh and I forgot, the cold weather is bringing some unwanted guests into the house so I need to get some rat traps and poison. No problem. I’m already here anyways. I get up to the counter and I’m placing my items down and the picture perfect what you’d imagine as like, your stereotypical super happy holiday cashier is ringing me up.

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Graham crackers….*beep*

Cream cheese…*beep*

‘Ooh, looks like someone’s making some cheesecake tonight!’

‘Huh? Oh uh, yeah. Hahah. Office party.’

Condensed milk…*beep*

‘Well isn’t that lovely?!’

Evaporated milk…*beep*

RAT POISON…long pause…*beeeeeeeeeeeep*

She’s staring at me.

‘I uh…I don’t like them very much.’

Was that a bit much? Hahah. I got a great kick out of it. You see the secret is in the eye contact. You must maintain unbroken eye contact the entire time. Just stare deep into their sockets and watch them process the story in their mind.

I used to be so self-conscious at checkout counters. Maybe that’s just an unfortunate side Awkward Lube.pngeffect of being young and insecure. You feel like the eyes of the world are upon you. When it was time for me to start buying condoms (safety first, kids) I used to have to go to stores outside of my town for fear of running into someone I knew. God forbid something went wrong with the price scan and they’d have to announce over the speakers for a price check for the sexual deviant in aisle 5. I say you’re not really a grown up until you can find yourself standing in a CVS line at midnight in your sweatpants with condoms, a can of Cheez Whiz, and a single roll of toilet paper and approach the cashier without batting an eye. Nowadays I want someone to run into me and see me buying these things because hell, hey at least it says I’m having a good time tonight! You sometimes wonder if they even notice or if they would say anything even if they did.

I did a little search online on my favorite source of internet shenanigans if anyone had ever experienced something like this, either on purpose or by accident. I wanted to share with you some of the stories I found. These are all from users on an internet sharing website, reddit.

‘Condoms, then realised he didn’t want them and went to put them back. Came back with rubber bands and cling film.’


‘Doughnuts, doughnut holes and white glue. I would stare at the cashier with a crazy smile.’


‘Go in with a beard. Buy shaving cream, a shaving brush, razor, aftershave, and then a fake beard.’


‘While I worked in a 24hr pharmacy a customer came in at 2:30am and purchased a mop, bleach, ammonia, gloves, garbage bags, zip ties, duct tape and condoms.’


Obviously the point here is that every single day, grown men and women are walking up to checkout lines with tragically misunderstood assortments of items but every single one of them has been able to ring up and go on with their lives. Now I would hate to imagine what a young, teenaged version of me would have thought of having to even attempt queuing up with so much as a cucumber and a jar of mayo.

Maybe we could turn this into a game, you know? Try and come up with the strangest, Kielbasa Penis.jpgmost misleading, possibly illegal combination of items one can purchase at a grocery store and see what happens when you try to get a cashier to ring you up. Every New Year’s my family and friends do a gag gift grab bag and one year I went to the grocery store to buy two oranges, a kielbasa, and some cottage cheese. It was exactly as it looked like. Get creative. Try to tell a story. Leave enough clues for the cashier to get through this conundrum.

Life’s too short and we are thankfully too unimportant to worry or fear that any of our actions will have some crazy significant lasting impact. A little bit of silliness and embarrassment, whether on purpose or not, at the register is nothing to break a sweat about. I think one of the greatest lessons we can learn as we get older is that no one is looking at us. There’s a great moment when the burdens of the world are lifted off of your shoulders and you realize that you are in control of your actions and that everyone you worried was watching you and judging you is too busy living their own lives to worry about yours. So go out there and you do you, but if the eyes of the world do ever happen to fall upon you, make sure you give them a good show.

Day 159

Man: 131 Loneliness: 28

Day 158: The Man and the Boogey Suit; ‘Bespoke’

I want to tell you about what was perhaps one of the best shopping experiences of my life.

We were in Toronto for my friend’s wedding. We were all pumped for this because she was the first in our group to get married and three of us guys went up from Jersey to attend. It was a small wedding with less than a hundred attendees, and we were the only high school friends she invited, so we were pretty honored to be going.

Suit Supply.jpg

Honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to treat myself to a nice new suit. I happen to think few things look better on a man then a well-fitted suit and, being single for some time now and with a brand new job, I wanted to look extra good for this wedding and in general. In searching online for some of the best-made and most affordable options, I came across Suit Supply, a Dutch company that sold fantastic high-quality suits at great prices. It just so happened that they had a location in Toronto and I figured with the USD to CAD conversion, I could score myself a great addition to my wardrobe at a spectacular price.

We were in Toronto for five days so one day I decided to visit the Suit Supply store. Despite my constant attempts to better educate my friends, they still refuse to understand the value and yes in fact inherent ‘manliness’ in paying attention and caring about what you wear. So they went their own way souvenir shopping or whatever it is they did.

suit-suppluNow a couple things about Suit Supply. The first is that the quality of their fabrics is just incredible. Though it is a Dutch company they source their fabrics from these historic Italian mills, the oldest having been established in 1663. This is the exact same mill that also provides the fabric to luxury line Ermenegildo Zegna. (Is it weird for me to be this excited about where my fabric comes from? I hope not.) The other cool thing about them is that their retail locations are always in these interesting and offbeat locations, as evidenced by the fact that I was walking up what was probably once a residence house’s steps to shop for a brand new suit. So already I’m realizing this is going to be a very different experience.

I walk in and there is just…so many incredible pieces to look through. All different kinds of button-ups and accessories and along the walls just so many suits. There’s soft European techno-ish music playing on the speakers and this salesman comes up to me and asks if he can help me find something. So I explain I’m in town for a wedding and I’m looking for a new suit but that I’d like it to be multi-functional, something I can bring out for personal or professional occasions, and that I can wear regardless of season (Really, I wanted a cotton suit because I sweat really easily and if you know me at parties with open bars, I burn a lot ripping up the dance floors. Hahah.)

We move to this lounge-ish area of the store with some seats and sit down and he brings me an espresso and he asks me about what I do for fun and where I work and all these questions that I guess will help him make some suggestions. See this is how I want to shop. This is for me, the best way to go about getting new things. I think women like hopping from store to store and like, their version of ‘the hunt’ but for me there is Suit.jpgsomething so dignified and enjoyable about this personal consultation, relaxing in one store, and having recommendations and pieces brought to me. So I tell him about my job and what I do and what kind of suit I usually wear/style and he goes off and starts coming back with pieces for me to try on. I go into the changing room and it’s just…I am clearly in a guy’s store. The changing room doesn’t have mirrors. It just has floor to wall mural pictures of very sexually charged situations between a guy and a girl. In almost every picture the girl is half-naked and the guy is just towering over her in of course, a perfect-fitting suit. It’s terrible, sexist, but it just screams unapologetic European masculinity and confidence. Like ‘we don’t care what you look like, this is what you’ll look like in our suit’. And my friends thought there was nothing manly about going clothes shopping. (As a side note, Suit Supply has gotten in trouble in the past for their marketing campaign photos.) I’m liking the changing with no mirror thing and then walking out into the lounge again to actually check out what I look like and I love this suit. There are of course some alterations that need to be made before it’s really ‘for me’ but the store also offers tailoring included with the purchase. So we take measurements, I tell him how long I want the sleeves to be, tell him to take it in a bit around the waist (I was optimistic back then that I would only be getting smaller. HAH.), show him how long I want the pants to be because I usually wear boots.

Suit Wide.jpgI’m digging all the shop talk, telling him about my preferences, and after he writes it all down he attaches it to the suit and hands it to the in-house tailor while we walk around for some accessories. I’m browsing button-ups with all different kinds of collars and cuffs, vests, pocket squares, ties, cufflinks, belts, I’m like a kid in a candy shop only I’m a man it’s a suit store and the walls are decorated with pictures of very tasteful nude models. I end up getting, aside from the suit, a new belt, pocket square, and button-up. All in all the entire experience took up half a day. Best shopping experience ever.

The wedding was an absolute riot. It was in Mississauga right by the water and my friends Suit Group.jpgtook pics there and then we took pics with my friend and her husband at the wedding. I ended up doing shots with the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, and even my friend’s parents. When they played Shawty Got Low I got looow. I did the cha cha slide, the mambo number 5, and the electric boogaloo. Apparently in my drunken confident stupor I even hit on not one but both of my friend’s sisters. I cannot guarantee that I even realized they were two separate different people when I did.

Would I have had the same amount of fun had I come and worn a suit I already owned? Oh yeah, sure, of course. But I wouldn’t have looked nearly as good doing it. And I’ve since worn that suit to company parties, business conferences, and I even wore it when I interviewed for this position. It is one of the best, most expensive, but most versatile purchases I’ve ever made for myself. I will always contend that a man should have at least one multi-purpose, preferably gray, suit that fits them perfectly.

It may not have been, by definition, an entirely bespoke suit, but the experience of buying it was very much mine and the alterations made it characteristically for me. I’m planning on going to Canada to visit my friend again in the spring or summer and I have two goals. Make sure I still fit into my old suit, and buy myself a new one.

Day 158

Man: 130 Loneliness: 28

Day 157: The Man and the Playing Possum; ‘Flee’

Fight or Flight.jpgI started martial arts when I was only 7 years old. I had grown up watching Jackie Chan films with my father and wanted to be able to move and fight like my hero on TV. This was back when Tiger Schulmann’s used to be on TV with commercials of little kids in black belts and even then I kinda figured…if a 9 year old can ‘black belt’ your school…maybe you’re not giving the most in-depth experience.

Aside from a few on and off years due to school, I’ve continued to maintain consistent practice up till now. I’ve since changed schools from my younger days but I’m still practicing and still as into it.

Which is good, because I always believe when it comes to preparedness and self-defense, it is always a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ you’ll need it. When it comes to fight or flight, I will always choose fight. (I have two bad knees and terrible cardio so if I end up running I’ll be dead from exhaustion before threat anyways.)

I have to think though, that in terms of all conflict resolution in general, my path is not always so clear cut, and I may even tend to go the other direction, choosing to flee more than fight. Which made me think which, if any, is even more beneficial to begin with.

Cave Fight.gifSo I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with the ‘fight or flight’ response, AKA acute stress response. This was a phrase first coined by Walter Bradford Cannon, an American physiologist. He discovered, and described, it as a physical reaction which later on we understood to affect how we mentally assess and react to stresses and threats. The brain recognizes some threat to our well-being or survival and reacts in a number of ways. Heart rate increases, our pupils dilate, the body redirects much of the blood flow from non-essential muscles to more essential ones, such as our limbs. The body produces an excess of hormones like adrenaline, testosterone, and even estrogen. All of this physical response is to better prepare ourselves to enact whatever our Animated Fight.gifmental response is, which is of course either ‘fight’ or ‘flight’. When our mind decides it is best to ‘fight’ our bodies are already prepared by increasing heart rate and therefore blood flow, slowing our digestion, dilating our pupils, and tensing our muscles. If our decision is to ‘flight’ or to flee, our ‘tunnel vision’ can hone in on an escape route and the increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar means we can convert more fats into energy and access a reserve much quicker for greater endurance.

Since then they’ve added a third response as well, which is to ‘freeze’. Thus it is now the ‘fight, flight, or freeze response’. You will see this plenty of times with certain smaller, weaker animals, like the possum and the rabbit. This can best be described as, when faced with an extreme threat (such as a predator or attacker), the system goes into a state of shock, tensing up so completely and reducing all functions to the bare minimum necessary in order to ‘trick’ an attacker that the target is already dead or perhaps, by not moving and drawing attention, has disappeared.

In relationships, I feel we often fall back on one of these three responses whenever times get tough or there are arguments or anything potentially tense or serious.

To ‘fight’ doesn’t always have to mean yelling and screaming or throwing perfectly good silverware across the kitchen. It can mean that some of us may react to stress with conflict, but it mostly means that we treat arguments as threats to our ‘rightness’. We can’t resolve or move beyond the argument because we feel some need to hold onto our convictions or seek validation of our points. It keeps us stuck in this perpetual feeling of anger because we don’t know how to ‘let it go’. I want to be understood, I want to be validated, I want to be ‘right’, and so at the expense of the greater relationship, I will not back down and continue to confront the issue.

I think ‘flight’ is perhaps one of the most common and prevalent responses, especially in present times. To be honest, when faced with a difficult or tense situation, it is just so much easier to simply run away. And I don’t necessarily mean physically. Though god only knows how many times I’ve thought about just not showing up for a date or ditching halfway through. If you’ve ever been seriously hurt in the past, then you also know how temptingly easy it is to fall into a defensive pattern of withdrawing (fleeing) emotionally from a situation or person to protect yourself from being hurt or feeling hurt. It’s when we turn on the TV to drown out the empty space between us or run off to a friend’s or to a bar to create space away from someone. Of course the problem is, no matter how far you run physically or emotionally, the issue is still there when you return. That is, if you return.

Dead Ferret.gifFreezing can mean one of two things. The first is like that deer in headlights look you sometimes see people have. Some big unexpected stressor comes up and, not being accustomed or perhaps strengthened to deal with such situations, you tense up and just…lie there, still, emotionless, not knowing what to do. Freezing can mean lacking the knowledge, the confidence, or the belief that we can be better, do better, or have better. The other possibility is that we might know there are potentially better options for us out there, but we feel at an impasse, lacking the motivation or the ability to move forward. Not freezing but literally frozen in place. You might feel that the devil you know is still better than the devil you don’t know, so you stay where you are, in something unhappy but at least a level of unhappiness that you are accustomed to.

Now I don’t doubt that in terms of actual survival, these responses have probably saved our species more times than we can ever possibly count. It is the result of thousands of years of evolution and conditioning in response to very real and present dangers. But because it is such a natural and biological response, we tend to do the same thing when faced with physically dangerous situations as we do emotionally dangerous situations. But when it comes to matters of the heart and love and things as complicated as relationships, we cannot simply resort to our baser instincts.

Relationships are opportunities for us to grow as people. When it thrives, we grow and our worlds grow because we learn to live as one with another person, adding their experiences and perspectives to our own and enriching our worldview in the process. Even when relationships die, they should not be seen as failures. They can still yield some valuable lessons about what we are looking for, what we have to offer, and what we are willing and unwilling to work for or change. Unfortunately, not all relationships are perfect, and difficult times are bound to spring up every now and then. Being able to effectively deal with them is important because we should try to save the things that are important to us yet still have the awareness and self-worth to know what is not.

Sometimes it is important to know when and how to fight. Some relationships are worth Anatomy of a Hug.giffighting for, just maybe not fighting in. We need to develop a strong fighting spirit to know how to protect something when it comes our way. Much the same way that we should know when it is time to throw in the towel and save yourself time, stress, and most importantly, dignity. No one wants to be the last person off a sinking ship. It’s important to be able to recognize what is happening at the first sign of water. I think even freezing can, at appropriate times, work for a relationship. Someone needs to be steadfast and settle the wild waters. Do you have the resolve and the patience to see enough of a situation before making a decision?

I think in the past I have been too hasty in deciding how to deal with situations. As soon as something doesn’t match my expectations or fit into my plans, I immediately try to either steamroll over the edges and smooth them out into my mold or I cut all ties and move on. People come and go, relationships grow and thrive and sometimes die. We may have people in our lives for days, or months, or we would hope for many many years. But there is no design or way of predicting if someone will be with us forever or only for a time. No matter what though, every person and every relationship has something to offer, something to value and learn. We cannot throw things away at the first sign of conflict and we can’t do ourselves and our hearts a disservice by falling into the same patterns over and over. There is no fight or flee or freeze. There is just continued opportunities to learn to live and to love and to face that which tries to harm either.

Day 157

Man: 129 Loneliness: 28