Day 192: The Man and the Spoils of Choice; ‘Marathon’

I was listening to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show on the way to work like I normally do, and Elvis mentioned an interesting article that Cosmo posted based on an eHarmony study. Now fair disclaimer, that means I am hearing a summary of a summary of a report, but I did do my research and yes, there was a Cosmo article, though I couldn’t find the actual study that eHarmony Australia did.

It basically raised two very troubling (if true) statistics about modern dating that make me worried about the kind of environment in which people are trying to find love. The first is that on average, a modern single person is now ‘dating’ up to six different people at the same time, and that because of this it is becoming increasingly more common for people to simply ‘ghost’, that is to say ‘disappear and no longer communicate with’, one another than actually face a breakup.

This bothers me for three reasons.

First, is that clearly somewhere along the line the term ‘dating’ changed, and I’m not sureImage result for dating options gif I like where it’s gone. It used to be, a date was a commitment. Not a huge one, mind you. Not something exclusively for those already in relationships. But it stood as a distinct separate entity. Now I hate myself for saying this and sounding so old, but I do NOT believe in ‘Netflix and chill’. Guy or girl, you used to get nervous asking someone out on a date. There was this giddy excitement and eagerness because you knew you were trying to say something, hint something, investigate something between you and your date. It took time and effort and people had to actually come up with ideas. With the abundance of options and choices now, people stopped trying. If you were the one asking and they didn’t like the plan? No bother, you could just find another. In a way, there’s no more risk, which means no more reward. You couldn’t, in my world at least, manage to ‘date’ six people at the same time in the same level of intention and attention. The only way I could see this happening is if the dates themselves have become passing thoughts. Exchanging flirtatious texts but seeing each other only once or twice a month is by no stretch of my mind ‘dating’.

I mean come on people. Is this the best we can do now? I get it, you’ve got plenty of options, there’s no more of that fear really, that trepidation. We’re no longer on our toes. We’ve forgotten how useful, how powerful, that motivation was though. I never wanted my date to feel bored or uninterested, and I wanted to show just how much thought and effort I put into whatever it was we did. I’m not saying it was better because I spent more or did more. I’m saying it was better because it meant more. Bowling, billiards, mini golf, they were all fun because there was a bit of competition in them and so you could rib each other, place harmless little wagers, and bond in the spirit of rivalry. Escape rooms, painting classes, any sort of collaborative activity builds companionship and compatibility. If it was a movie, it was a movie we were both really really wanting to watch, or maybe a horror because you know, she would have to move closer to me during the really scary parts. Hahah. Across the board, both men and women complain in their existing relationships that one of their biggest frustrations is lack of interest/involvement/variety in planning dates. People, let me repeat that. These are people already in relationships. Now if you’re single and looking, if you’re already starting with one of the major obstacles as the defining characteristic of your dating style, is it any wonder you’re unhappy?

Second, can we talk about the sheer number of people we are supposedly ‘dating’? Does anyone here find the idea of trying to manage and handle a mature, complex, multi-Image result for dating too much giffaceted relationship with not one, not two, but six different people particularly appealing? I don’t even hang out with six people in group settings. Again, I fear that the seeming abundance of options and possibilities has created this paradox of surrounding ourselves with people but lacking the ability (or is it the desire) to really connect with anyone. Social media everywhere but not a single friend. Relationships are beautiful, energizing, exhilarating things. You might think then ‘the more the merrier’ but that’s almost never the case. Are these other people even aware of each other? I can’t imagine the feeling of being mislead or misinformed and thinking that I might be pursuing something with this one person and not realizing that not only are there a whole bunch of others, but maybe I’m not even top of the totem pole. I get the desire to want to be able to keep your options open, and of course wanting to get to know people more to decide what might transpire, and certainly life may throw more than one really strong possibility in our face and we would be remiss not to take the opportunity, but if I’m ‘dating’ you, I’m dating you. And if there are other people, I’d like to know up front, because I don’t want to throw myself so heavily into something that could just end up crowded and complicated.

Third, and I think this is very strongly related to the second, I am absolutely ashamed and embarrassed that this concept of ‘ghosting’ someone has not only become more popular, Image result for ghosting gifbut that it is becoming accepted. In case you are not aware, ‘ghosting’ someone is when, rather than telling them up front you are no longer interested, you simply avoid all their communication and effectively ‘disappear’ off the face of the earth so that they get the point. Well yeah I mean if you’re going to be dating six people at a time that’s potentially up to six different breakups you’ll need to go through so I can see the appeal of wanting to avoid the confrontation altogether but then I’d argue, if you’re not mature enough, prepared enough, capable enough to handle one breakup, don’t date someone, let alone six people. Yes, break ups are hard. They’re messy and painful for both people but they serve a very important purpose in our development and well-being and growth as adults capable of love and care and empathy. They teach us skills and vocabulary about love and loss and appreciation and pain. There is something to be said about being able to break up with someone in a mature and confident way and, on the other side, being able to handle being broken up with. Instead of creating this community of stronger, more understanding people and lovers, we create cowards. Cruel, cold people who can’t see past their own noses. Now I have to admit, before I realized this was a thing, there were a few times in high school and after college where, seeing that there was no real romantic possibility with this person, I thought I was sparing their feelings and doing them a favor by seemingly disappearing off the face of the earth. But it’s not true, and it’s never true, and please, from me to you, do not ever kid yourself into thinking it may be. You know humans need closure. That lack of knowing, that constant wondering, that could hurt more. And you never know. What you have to say to us might be the difference we need, the spark of understanding that helps us grow and improve. Don’t deprive us of that chance.
know we’re better than this. We have to be. We can’t be both the generation of countless rom-coms and epic proposals and all this other super cheesy ridiculous stuff that’s too far off that deep end and yet also be the same people who normalized ‘Netflix and chill’ and ‘ghosting’. It’s just too far off on both spectrums. Dating is Image result for dating too muchcomplicated enough as it is. But it’s an important part, a beautiful, vital part, of living and we can’t just compromise with it so much. That’s what I think I fear the most. What we’re beginning to be willing to live with, to accept, to normalize. Now, I know I’ve written before about my passion for what I call ‘marathon dates’ and I’m not by any means saying that should be the norm either. Besides, that’s my specialty. That’s what I bring to the table. Get your own. Hahah. I’m saying that let all the new benefits of modern online dating make us better. Because there are so many options, because we have so much more freedom now, we should be trying harder. Getting deeper to the heart of people. Understanding more of what we want and what we have to offer. We shouldn’t be trying less just because we know that if it doesn’t work out, there’ll always be another.

And as if I wasn’t already too much of an angry old man over this, here’s a wonderfully funny, yet still quite relevant, dating video from the 50s. This is a real one, btw. Not a parody.

Enjoy.

Day 192

Man: 161 Loneliness: 31

Day 191: The Man and the First Solo Culinary Adventure; ‘Exquisite’

Image result for no united airlinesOh my god. If you have to fly and you ever have the choice between United and literally anything else, I highly recommend you choose something else. My brother’s trip was off to quite the inauspicious start. I dropped my brother off yesterday at Newark airport with plenty of time to spare. His flight was scheduled to leave at 1pm, we were already hugging and saying goodbye by 10am. I made sure he had everything, told him he was going to be fine, to be safe, that I would miss him, and I saw my little brother walk off for his first real taste of adventure.

At least…I thought I did.

I get back to an empty, quiet home, and before I can finish contemplating how I feel about that, I get the text message from him.

Flight delayed. Won’t be leaving til 7pm.’

Okay, there’s a problem there. He has a connection in Hong Kong to get to Manila, there’s only a two hour window between the two flights. He’s definitely going to miss this.

Take your itinerary to the gate agent. Let her know what’s going on. Stress that you are traveling alone ESPECIALLY to surprise your mother in the PHILIPPINES. They’ll get you on the next best flight or take care of the connection.’

If any of you happen to follow me on Twitter, you’ll know what happened next. When this happened to me with JetBlue I took to Twitter and they not only helped me get on my next flight, they upgraded my seat, gave me extra miles and future travel credit, and when I jokingly mentioned how hungry I was and how much I love the blue Terra chips, they had an agent bring me ten. I’d never felt so special and so appreciated by an airline before. I told my brother to get a Twitter, and what followed was a complete mess of him telling his story on Twitter, me liking and retweeting, both of us trying to get United attention, and both of us trying to get him out of this situation.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, first his gate was changed last minute to Image result for travel stress gifbe across the airport. Second it was delayed further because they didn’t tell the catering crew and so their plane’s food was at the old gate. Third they were on board waiting to take off because the plane had to be ‘de-iced’. Fourth, as they are preparing for takeoff, the captain informs them they’ve reached their FAA limit and can no longer legally fly and they will need a new crew. Fifth, they can’t, so they end up CANCELING the flight altogether. Sixth, you’ve got an entire plane now of distraught travelers and only one gate agent and one customer service desk.

Ultimately they had to reschedule my brother for an early morning flight on Sunday. Which was still better than most, as a family of four wouldn’t be accommodated until Monday. They offered him only $20 food credit for the inconvenience and were going to put him up at a hotel, but I picked him up again and just had to bring him back at 4am. Fun times. United didn’t even give him extra miles or anything. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Come on guys, really?!

I dropped him off and there’s been no trouble at least since. He’s on his way to Hong Kong and by the time I wake up tomorrow he should be in the Philippines to surprise our mother. Meanwhile I’ve been living it up all domestic style. I did some grocery shopping, cleaned the house, cleaned the bathrooms, did the laundry, and prepped my meals for the week. I even hooked up some Bluetooth speakers around the house so I could play music from my phone while moving around the house. And some of you will be very happy to know, I kept all my clothes on, despite a past post to the contrary. Hahah.
Wanted to share with you all the first of the next couple weeks’ culinary adventures. Japanese umaki (eel omelet), shrimp tom yum noodle soup, and Thai iced tea. The eel was particularly tasty, marinating it first in eel sauce and grilling it before wrapping it in a sweet Japanese style egg omelet. The soup had a spicy richness that was cut with lemongrass and lime and the sweet shrimp. I made a whole pitcher of Thai tea and opened up a can of sweetened condensed milk so anytime this week I can make myself a cool tall glass of that uniquely dark, sweet flavor. My dinner was tasty, filling, and not to pat myself on the back too much but, dare I say, exquisite.

Good start to the month, looking forward to more!

 

 

 

Day 191

Man: 160 Loneliness: 31

Day 189: The Man and the Able-Bodied Boy; ‘Capable’

Well, tomorrow’s the day. I drop my brother off early in the morning for his flight and then I begin my solo time. I already have the next two weeks’ worth of meals planned. Hahah. It’s going to be fun.

Since there was no way we’d have any time to go out for a meal before his flight, I wanted to take him out tonight for a ‘last meal in the US’ sending off kind of deal. I asked him what he might miss the most while he’s in the Philippines so we could eat our unreasonable fill of whatever he chose.

Now keep in mind, last I checked the conversion of USD to PHP was $1:$49.70. The biggest, and arguably best buffet in the Philippines is in my opinion Vikings, which has locations all over the country. I went there last time I visited and I tell you, they’ve got carving stations and sushi stations for miles. Handmade desserts, fresh seafood, food from all different countries and cuisines, this place could very easily rival some of the best in Vegas. And it costs $18 USD. My brother will eat well and plenty while he’s there. But if there’s one thing we can both agree on, the quality of beef in the Philippines isn’t quite the best. Blame it on lack of good pasture or too much labor, but the beef in the Philippines is always much tougher than here. So he decided he wanted to get as many cuts of steak as he could before he left.

I took him to a rodizio in our town that I used to love going to. I was more than happy to be going back not just because the grilled meats have always been perfectly juicy, flavorful, and medium cooked, but because two years ago it burned down. The rodizio was recently resurrected this year (at a new location right across the street aptly named Choripan Too) to stellar reviews and I was so happy to be back and see that nothing had changed. It was still this homey, intimate, wood-and-brick styled restaurant with incredibly friendly staff who were more than happy to make sure our favorites kept finding its way back to our table. Juicy skirt steak, sirloin, beef rib, sausages, chicken thighs, we were in carnivore heaven. I ate so much meat I think I could have killed a vegetarian with just my thoughts. I brought a bottle of wine and my normally teetotaler brother drank with me as we toasted to his upcoming adventure. I invited my aunt (mother’s sister) along as well because once my brother leaves, it will really only be us two left in the family here in the states. Hahah.

After dropping my aunt off back at her place my brother and I spent the rest of the night playing video games together and then around 2am, as if we hadn’t eaten enough, we went out for our customary late night snacks one more time. We watched some of the DVR’d shows he’d have to be caught up on before leaving and now we’re just relaxing. I might have to go to bed because well, I still have a life to continue on with here but my brother might stay up all night to just sleep on the plane. Though he spent yesterday downloading all extended versions of The Hobbit onto his tablet so…who knows.

brothers runninI’m glad we were able to spend the night like this. The truth is, I was hoping we could also celebrate my brother having a job when he got back from vacation. He’s been sending his resume out to companies in the area, and there was even an opening in the IT department here at my company and he had an interview with them two days ago. Unfortunately the manager of the department, a good buddy of mine, came up to tell me that while he’s a smart and capable young man, he simply didn’t have the experience required. Which, come on, is one of the biggest contradictions of the modern job search. You need a job to get experience but you need experience now to get a job. I know we’ve tried to continually encourage him and all but after some months now I am sure it is beginning to wear on him.

The trip should be good for him. It’s his first time travelling by himself. He’s had to make sure he’s packed for the next six weeks, organize all his documents, and he’ll be handling check-in procedures and customs all on his own. I think it will be a good taste of independence and freedom for him. After handling this, maybe he will come back not only refreshed but reinvigorated for his job hunt. I’m also so glad that we (my father, brother, and I) decided to keep this a secret from my mother, who has expressed how much she wishes we could travel more as a family. Unfortunately I don’t have the days to spare, and the ones I do have I’d rather spend exploring new territory, but I know my brother is excited to be able to surprise our mother, and I hope he takes a video. Hahah. He arrives at midnight the next day, and the plan is he’ll go to sleep and then the next day just walk into having breakfast with everyone as if we were back home.

I think it’s important to have those reminders that, while the world may not be calling for Choripan.jpgus right this moment, we have the skills and the abilities and the capabilities to succeed and contribute. My brother is beginning what will no doubt be a very long and arduous but hopefully also fulfilling process of finding his calling, a place to belong and to use his talent. My brother will definitely benefit from this trip. He’ll taste some freedom and independence travelling on his own, facing a fear that I know he has but is too proud to admit. I’ve told him to use this as a chance to explore on his own as well. He’s old enough now, he doesn’t have to attach his entire trip to the hips of our parents. Explore something he wants to do there, plan something for himself and spend some time with family there. He’s going to make my mother very happy as well. All in all, it’s a good thing. And not the least because starting tomorrow I am king of all that I survey!

Day 187

Man: 158 Loneliness: 31

Day 188: The Man and the Burden of Expectations; ‘Someday’

PaintingSo yesterday I posted about the past weekend and in that post I mentioned bartending at work and put a picture of me behind the bar, but of course sans face reveal. I thought it was kind of funny how some people reacted to that. Some people wondered if that was me and others joked I must have lost it at the casino. Hahah. When I first started ManVsLoneliness it was almost entirely and purely just personal writings, you know ‘how my day was’ and ‘what am I doing/where’ kind of stuff and because of that there were actually a lot more pictures of myself or of my friends and they were all blurred. I didn’t really have much of an audience back then so either a) there was no one to wonder about it or b) no one cared but either way, as MvL began to evolve and I began to explore different topics and write outside of the scope of my self, I gathered more readers but was also departing a bit more from writing about myself and therefore posting pictures of myself. I guess this is the first time in a long while a picture has gone up, so newer readers must have been surprised. Hahah.

My decision to withhold any sort of personal information (name, face, identity really) was not a decision based on the people I would maybe be able to connect with here. It was actually based on the people I already knew. I decided when I started MvL that I would keep it a secret from friends and family so I had to maintain my anonymity on here. You see I was starting with two very big endeavors. I was planning on dedicating myself to a FriendsVegaswhole year of not desperately trying to be in a relationship and I was planning on writing about it. Two things I had never really done before in the past. The last thing I needed was to make it known to everyone who knew me what I was planning and having them constantly checking in on me or holding me to some expectation/standard. I wanted to this be completely and wholly my own thing. Whether it succeeded or failed it was up to me to decide and to see it through or not to see it through to the bitter end. I also felt that with no familiar eyes prying just yet, I could get much more open and frank and really dig into wounds with more depth with less self-consciousness. There were no egos here to stroke, no reputations to protect, no one else to consider. Not that I’ve gone and written some crazy scathing attacks on the people in my life.

reactions yay cheering cheer cheerleaderI’ve always approached many of the projects and obstacles in my life the same as I have with MvL. I don’t want anyone to know or tell anyone what I’m planning on doing or currently doing or trying to do. I will ride the wave, overcome if I can overcome, succumb if I must succumb, achieve if I may achieve, and then let others know. It’s the same with like, New Year’s resolutions or career ambitions or dreams or goals. I’ve always believed in you know, ‘don’t say, do‘. Do I want my friends and family to know if I am unhappy with my job? Do I want to burden them with the knowledge of my search and dead ends? No. I would rather proudly announce when I’ve found myself a new opportunity and when I plan on moving on. Yes, there is definitely an air of pride in that. I’d much rather give people reasons to celebrate with me than to commiserate. I’d like people to look at me and go ‘oh wow look at how much he’s done or look at what he’s accomplished’ without thinking about how many times I might have fallen before. I’m actually a very private person in the sense of my ambitions or hopes or plans when it comes to the Man personally, but Man in MvL has to be much more open and expressive because well, that’s how this platform works best. I hate to say it, but I also don’t really like to tell people I know my goals or plans because I feel like most times, people expect you to fail. And that’s one expectation I do not desire to fill.

So far, I’ve been completely happy with my decision, and I really don’t plan on changing the course. I enjoy the air of anonymity, living in mystery. It’s been fun on here because of how I get to see people view me as a writer, what voice I seem to have. Older, from a different country, I enjoy when people either try to guess my information or, when some isfunny smile memes mask reveal revealed, are surprised by it. As I write and continue to grow and improve, I am encouraged by the words of people who have no real personal connection or attachment to me to precede their opinions. I am a member of an equal community of talented and incredible writers and creators. I’ve also enjoyed what it has done for my real-world side as well. My friends and family have begun to notice the length of time now that I have been single and are beginning to wonder. They look at me differently. My friends are starting to ask ‘so how’s the love life’ or ‘so have you been looking around yet or…’ as if they have no idea what other option there possible could be. My family has humorously begun the stereotypical ‘who can we set him up with’ quest, and when they ask my cousins if they have friends or ask their adult friends if they have kids who they can introduce me to, I just laugh and can say with full honesty and intention that I have no need, no desire, that I am actually happy where I am.

Ren? Magritte, The Son of Man, 1964, Restored by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009  øðä îàâøéè, áðå ùì àãí, 1964, øñèåøöéä ò"é ùîòåï éðåáéõ, 2009

Hey if you want to let everyone know your plans or goals, DCSuitby all means let them. Forbes even write an article right after the New Year that one of the best ways to help ensure you achieve your 2017 resolutions is to make sure everyone you know, knows what they are. I completely understand the benefits and purposes of having that support circle who can help keep you accountable, inspired, and encouraged. It just doesn’t work for me. I actually become way too pressured. I like surprising people. ‘Hey look what I did!’

That’s why I still have every intention of at the end of the year, just letting everyone know what I’ve been working on. Let them see, come into this world that I’ve been creating day by day, post by post, word by word. And yes, I’ll even stop blocking out pictures. Hahah. Oh yes, the post-year MvL still has a lot of plans and projects and surprises in store for everyone. Now of course I can’t say anything right now, but someday.

Day 188

Man: 157 Loneliness: 31

Day 187: The Man and the Good Fortune; ‘Cling’

Hello again everyone! I am back from my stay in Atlantic City and had a great time!

Image may contain: dessert and foodOn Friday before heading to AC I did have work. That was when my coworkers all surprised me with the card and cupcakes! I was so taken aback that I didn’t know what to do so I hid underneath the table. The cupcakes were delicious, but super super sweet. I think I’m getting like, old-person sensitive to sweets now. I used to be able to eat super sweet things with no problem, but now they are starting to hurt my teeth and my head. I used to love 3 Musketeers bars but every since maybe two years ago I fear they changed their recipe and it lost the chewy marshmallowy goodness and replaced it with sugary air that immediately deflates the moment you bite into it.

The other great part about Friday is that it wasbuzz-bartender the first Friday of the month, and as is company tradition on the first Friday of every month the work stops at 4 and we start drinking! We open up the office ‘Buzz Bar’ and we have a few company announcements and after that it is straight to drinks and light snacks. Now every month the office ‘Fun Squad’ as they’re called have to canvas the building for volunteers to run the bar. I’ve never been able to sign up for this but finally FINALLY I get my chance to be one of the three person team who runs the bar during the party. One of the other guys happened to be a fellow slip ‘n slider so we knew each other from then and the other guy was just in general really fun and easy to get along with. There were some leftover Christmas decorations which is why I decided to wear the reindeer horns, the other guy wore a Santa hat, and the other wore a big red nose like Rudolph. I loved the adrenaline of pouring drinks and serving and checking inventory, supplies, lifting up huge heavy buckets full of beer and ice and soda and popping champagne bottles and twisting off wine corks. In fact the three of us had so much fun we decided to become bartenders ad infinitum! So looking forward to the first Friday in February.

On Saturday my family and I ate at my favorite local sushi restaurant. My friends and I go here a lot and like to bring a bottle (or two) of sake and spend hours there just ordering piece after piece. The owner is a friendly man (and to be honest I kinda have a crush on his daughter, though she’s away for three years right now) and it’s fun to just be somewhere where you know them and they know you. In fact when he and his wife found out it was my birthday, they brought over a whole plate full of sushi with birthday candles and I got to blow them out and eat even more! I was already pretty full though because before I decided to grab a round with my friend at a local brewery that I’ve been going to since they opened last year. I’m pretty friendly with the owner and I chat a lot with the bartender and when she found out it was my birthday also, I got two free rounds! Which was great because that meant I could pocket those free birthday drinks from my friend and cash in sometime later. Hahah. In the Philippines we are a fiercely loyal people when it comes to our favorite places and brands. Ask any Filipino for a recommendation in their town and they will convince you that they know the best place to get x, y, or z because they’ve been going there since forever. It is much the same with me and my family. But this is the upside of having your favorite go-to spots versus say maybe choosing to try a different place each time. You get to know the people, the product, you get to create relationships and connections, and you get to enjoy the benefits of becoming a real regular. We have a term for being a regular, we call it ‘tsuki’.

Atlantic City was a lot of fun as well. Great food: late night delivery of an authentic Chinese restaurant (we got salt and pepper squid, Peking ribs, crispy duck, crab and corn soup, broccoli with white sauce, and Singapore chow mei fun because you need noodles on your birthday for good luck and long life), shrimp and squid Hong Kong style over noodles with XO sauce at Noodle Village inside the Bally’s Casino, and happy hour oysters and drinks and sliders at Phillips Seafood. I lost $300 the first night on roulette and the table version of Hold ‘Em, but the second night out of fun I decided to play the Willy Wonka machine. I don’t really like slots but I LOVE Willy Wonka and this was the original movie with Gene Wilder. They played movie clips when you hit anything and while you were spinning you could sing along to songs and they had a hilarious Oompa Loompa bonus and Golden Eggs and you could pop bubbles from the Fizzy Lifting Drink and I had so much fun singing along and dancing and popping bubbles I didn’t even realize I had won $100 already! So I walked away while I was up and decided to do something else. I tried roulette one more time, hit my number three times in a row, was up another $100! Finally went back to Hold ‘Em and got some good hands and was up $150! So overall, ended up winning $350 in a night but being up just $50 for the weekend. Still it was a great time. And it was fun because I got to enjoy the weekend with my parents before they left for the Philippines (they have since landed safely and are enjoying their time). My brother leaves in a day and I will be dropping him off at the airport, and then it’s just me! I’m in no rush yet to invite friends over, I think I’ll enjoy this first weekend just being on my own and I’ll start planning what recipes I’d like to try. Hahah.

It’s been a great past few days and I’m feeling really good. Glad to have had that time off.

Oh and as an extra bonus, here is the long-awaited footage of my company’s slip and slide! Now a few notices first: there are TWO Santas. One much larger than me, and then my Santa wearing the oversized sunglasses. The bigger one, every time he slide, maybe made it three feet if any. I was a bit more aerodynamic so when you see one going further, that’s me. Hahah. You’ll also notice because of the sunglasses and that on one slide I decided to ‘Vogue’ it up and strike a pose at the end. Hahah. Also, as a bit of advice for future if you plan on doing this, wear something sleek and non-slip, not a thick cotton jacket, or else the fabric will cling and you won’t get any distance!

Day 187

Man: 156 Loneliness: 31

Day 182: The Man and the Struggle; ‘Float’

Muhammad Ali first said ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ when he was being interviewed for his fight against the then-champion of the world, Sonny Liston. Sonny was a large, muscular, intimidating champion and Ali (then still Cassius Clay) was an arrogant, brash, unrepentant rookie known as the ‘Louisville Lip’. He was fast but he was small and compared to Sonny, almost no one held any hope that he would be able to win. In fact, one reporter before the match was quoted as saying ‘about the only thing Clay can beat Sonny in is reading the dictionary’.

They would meet two times in their career, and Ali said this before their first match. He went on to win in the opening of the seventh after clearly dominating and brutally punishing Sonny in the sixth. Their second match was a phenomenal-sized debacle, embroiled in racial tensions, allegations of fixing and ties to organized crime, and poor interpretations of rules and protocols.

There is a lot to say about a smaller, faster, but still strong fighter being able to take down a much larger opponent. Politically, personally, militarily, metaphorically, we all love an underdog story. We want to see the small guy win but we also want to know why and how it’s possible.

Take for example, the (in comparison) much smaller native Indonesian who for more than three hundred years, had to ward off the much larger and more domineering Dutch colonialists. How could they, not in spite of but because of, their size find a system of defense and attack that would help them equal the odds and effectively protect themselves. The same situation would be true of Filipinos against the Spanish, Vietnamese against the French, etc etc. The system of martial arts developed in Southeast Asia that addressed these size and strength discrepancies and were rooted in very savage, very brutal, and very practical matters of survival, became known as kuntao.

Last night I had the immense, incredible pleasure and honor to attend a private seminar/workshop with one of the last great living masters of this primal way of martial arts, Willem de Thouars (or Uncle Bill as many of his students have come to affectionately know him). He grew up on the tiny island of Java and experienced firsthand the tensions between the Indonesian natives and Dutch. He was a street fighter, merchant marine, but most of all, always a martial artist. Uncle Bill is in his 80s now, and of course we all don’t know how much time we might still have left with him, and this was all part of what will most likely be his last tour of the country teaching and demonstrating. I was fortunate enough to be invited by a friend who happened to be hosting Uncle Bill and holding the workshop in his private studio.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have been doing martial arts since I was a child. Close now to almost 20 years. I’ve studied ba gua, tai chi, judo, weapons, but I’ve never experienced anything like the kuntao silat of Willem de Thouars (of which the school, and style, are named after his teachings). It’s fast and it’s fierce and rooted in practicality and lethality. Compared to the now centuries-old polished traditional Chinese martial arts, kuntao has not lost its basic roots. It looks sloppy and almost dirty, but it’s freeing and characterized by this ‘dangerous playfulness’. Over the course of just one night I was learning some pretty cool but definitely crazy things. I was on the floor, rolling to the side, doing leg locks, ankle breaks, practicing with knife and stick with both open hand and armed defenses, I was getting closer to real fighting and yet feeling more at ease and more relaxed, comfortable. He had us act and fight like monkeys, letting instinct and the sheer mechanics of it take over.

It was absolutely amazing and an incredible opportunity. I was mentioning before wanting to be able to share more of my passions in the company of people who would reciprocate? Well I was surrounded by some unbelievably talented and gifted martial artists last night. Some came as far as Arizona just to see Uncle Bill in what may be the very last time. I was able to spar and push with every one of them and each had such a different style, different perspective, and I got to learn so much by being able to put what I had against them. As Uncle Bill would always tell his students ‘if you don’t train physically…it’s not going to work’. Most of all though, I think I learned two incredible things that I could carry over into my everyday life and not just in martial arts.

  1. Sometimes in life, to tackle a problem, redirect it and then get low. I am a tall person. I’m 6′. Kuntao was designed to fight against people like me. The average Filipino is 5’3″ and the average Indonesian is 5’2″. So most of kuntao is designed around when a punch is coming in to first redirect it (as overpowering it with a straight block would be too difficult because of the difference in body type) and then attack the person’s root (by either going for the knee, the ankle, the thigh, or the groin). Being on the receiving end of this can be scary and jarring. One minute you’re punching straight at a person, the next they’re suddenly below you either breaking your ankle or striking your groin. Now imagine if someone my height did that. It’d be just that much more shocking. To lose sight of a 6′ tall man might be enough deterrent against any future attack. But I can see this working in any sort of obstacle. Because of my height I am used to physically going against people. Because of our positions or attitudes or good fortune in life, we might have always enjoyed the ability to face problems head on. We might take a few good hits but we always know we can handle it and bounce back. But sometimes we are in positions where we have nothing left. Where we cannot afford to lose anything else. We can’t keep running into the wall and hope it falls down. But we can dig underneath it and get below its foundation and topple it that way. In one exchange, my partner was around 5’5″. We had practiced together before and I would usually stay my ground and sort of bat him away with sheer physicality. I wanted to embrace this kuntao way, so when he punched I ducked under, rolled, and ended up behind him. I could kick his knees, roll his ankle, or sweep his leg from under him. He had no idea how I ended up there and told me that it was absolutely disconcerting to have lost me that way. When presented with a problem, remember there is more than one way to face it. Be smart. Know how to assess a situation or problem. If you can’t stay on top of it, get below it, change your perspective, attack it from a different angle, go where no one expects you to go.
  2. Struggle can be playful. Uncle Bill’s teaching style is very old-school. He would show us a few techniques, discuss the principle behind it, and then leave us to, as he says ‘struggle with it’. Unlike modern schools and teaching, Uncle Bill believes the best teacher is the self. The second best is a willing and receptive partner. What he really wanted for us was not to struggle in the sense of obstacle and pain. He wanted us to have a problem to solve. Something to wrestle with. ‘Here I have someone coming at me with this particular problem. How do I use the tools I have to fix it.’ Every punch was a new opportunity to play, every attack and counter-attack was meant to be a different puzzle. Because of this, I never felt stressed or upset when something didn’t work. I went right back to it, tried to understand it, and tried again. He doesn’t get too bogged down or concerned with the mechanics or the ‘technique’ but rather wants us to focus on the feel and the moment. Uncle Bill would say ‘techniques get you killed’. Uncle Bill talks of pain and struggle with a smile and a slight giggle. He understands something that many of us don’t because of the good fortune of our lives. Living in the jungle, facing harsh environments and even harsher peoples, Uncle Bill has struggled his entire life to enjoy and be happy. He has come out of it successful and healthy and therefore has come to understand that struggle can be a positive thing. The ‘sting of pain’ can be happy. Here I am, seemingly recovering from a bad breakup, and I once thought I had nothing to do but lick my wounds. Even in reflection before the workshop, I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that there are some incredibly positive and uplifting and encouraging things that have come from my pain.

I am so glad I signed up for this seminar and I’ve learned so much. I feel inspired, encouraged, but yes also if you ever happen to try and run at me with a punch or a stick or a knife, I will whoop. yo. ass. Hahah. Terima kasih, Uncle Bill. Thank you.

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Day 182

Man: 151 Loneliness: 31

 

 

 

 

Day 182 Supplemental: The Man and the Birthday Card

My department surprised me with a birthday card signed by everyone and a platter of cupcakes! I had a red velvet. So good. I honestly wasn’t expecting it. They brought me to the meeting room for a supposed conference with marketing and then they all came in and started singing. I got so surprised and so embarrassed I started ducking underneath the table. Hahah.

Day 180: The Man and the Latin Lesson; ‘Crossing’

It was around January 10th in 49BC that Julius Caesar, then just a general in the Roman army, led his legion of Roman soldiers across the Rubicon River and into Italy from then-Cisalpine Gaul. Caesar was on a mission: to centralize government and authority away from the Roman Senate and establish an empire under his rule. He knew that entering Italy without disbanding his army was an immediate and irreversible act of war, and that he and all those under his command would be declared enemies of the state. There would be no turning back. It was this sense of firm resolution and unwavering purpose that turned him into a hero in the eyes of Roman citizens even as he marched towards their capital intent on taking over by any means possible. He had no sooner appeared on the banks of the river before he issued the order to cross. With little hesitation and swift action he caught the Roman Senate off-guard and many of them fled Rome in fear.

It was here that Caesar supposedly uttered the now-famous phrase ‘alea iacta est’ or in English ‘the die has been cast’. To this day both phrases, Latin and English, and even the act itself, ‘crossing the Rubicon’ have held the connotation of ‘passing the point of no return’.

Look, I get it, and I’m not exactly proud of myself for biting the bait, but WordPress has been pretty damn ‘hit you over the head’ with its deliberate word choices for the New Year. Gone, crossing, clearly they want us in some reflective mood. Well fine, you win. I’ll bite, it’s just too damn juicy to pass up.

We all have our Rubicons to cross. Some decisions are too important, too significant, to Tom-ford-the-Riverchip away at little by little. There are times when we must gather the courage and the resoluteness of will to ‘cross the point of no return’ and force ourselves to face the results of our actions. We all now stand at the shores of these rivers. They lead to many places and their currents and depths are all different. Some we will ford with little to no trouble, others will batter us to the ground and wear at our legs and soak us to the bones. At the end of the year we look back and reflect, appreciate our accomplishments, lament our defeats, lick our wounds and move on. We reflect and think of what we’ve done, what we could’ve done, and what we haven’t done. But now it is the new year so we look forward. We think of all the obstacles we anticipate meeting along the way. I don’t know what it will be for you.

I know for me, as I’ve mentioned, I will be facing a lot of relationships with new light. I will be closing a chapter of a past relationship and moving on. I will be working on redefining the relationship I have with my friends. My family. As I also approach my second year in this company (first in this current position) I will be faced with the decision of what I want to do professionally. I want to look and feel and think at my very best.

I think when it comes to me, my biggest problem is resolve. I’ve become hyper-acutely aware of all these areas of my life that I could be working on. It was easier in the past to distract myself with friends and with new relationships, but because I’ve been giving myself this time and opportunity every day to just sit down with my thoughts and see them written out, I’ve come to realize how much I get to very excitedly work on over this year. So great, I’ve been granted this new level of self-awareness. I see all the paths of life I’ve maybe not seen or not really considered before. I’m at the shore but I don’t have that push, that wall closing in behind me, to get me to cross.

Some things will need a bit of a softer, more subtle hand. I can’t just present myself to my friends like ‘be deep or get left behind!’ I can gradually shift more responsibility and accountability on them, while letting myself gradually explore new interests and passions with other people and giving myself more time to either myself or to new groups.

But I wonder what, if any, and where, and when, I’ll find myself at that moment of ‘now or never’. Crossing the Rubicon isn’t about waiting for the right time or the right moment. It’s about having the resolution and force of will to put yourself in a position where there is no choice but to move forward and pursue. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was declared a traitor and an enemy. Had he stumbled or wavered, his enemies would have seen weakness, organized, attacked, and overwhelmed him. But because he never stopped once he crossed, his enemies fled.

I got a lot of hopes and plans for this year. I don’t know how many of them I’ll be able to achieve but I know it’ll be none if I can’t work on the resolution to not only see things to the end but to commit to beginning. Less thought, more action seems like a death sentence for a writer. But I’d rather write to you with a story of a great experience than with predictions and plans. Hey I you know, did things in 2016. I got my feet wet. I went out and did me. But now…I want to know what it feels like to have water up to your chest.

Day 180

Man: 149 Loneliness: 31

Day 179: The Man and the Departure; ‘Gone’

So to start, wanted to say that I will once again be incommunicado from this Friday, January 6th to Wednesday, January 11th. I know, it seems like I’ve been in and out. These past few weeks get pretty crazy busy with me because Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday are all exactly a week apart each. Yep, that’s right, Man will be turning….*drumroll*…are you ready?…27 on January 8th. That’s my birthday, that’s my age. (We will of course be celebrating with the late-great Elvis Presley, David Bowie, and Stephen Hawking.) I’ll be headed to Atlantic City with my family, but very soon after they will all three of them (my mother, father, and brother) be leaving me alone to spend two months in the Philippines. Ah, the luxuries of owning your own business and/or being a young, unemployed, recent college graduate.

Me, I will be back at home, living alone, normally ecstatic to the idea of having the house all to myself, with all of its normal inhabitants gone.

But circumstances are a bit different this year.

Last year my parents took my brother and his friends to Vegas for two weeks and I had the No automatic alt text available.house to myself for then. I loved it because Beautiful and I had just started our relationship and now here we were with an opportunity to basically live together uninterrupted for two weeks. We slept together, showered together, and cooked together (I made pasta from SCRATCH and ricotta cheese from MILK and we made ravioli like goddamn MARTHA STEWART). I also used the opportunity to have my annual winter hot-pot dinner/sleepover with my friends. That’s No automatic alt text available.always fun and it’s a great time to relax and let loose. Since everyone stays over we get to drink just a tad bit more than usual and we get just a tad bit crazier than usual. The hot pot is a great way to just keep eating all night and since we cook it in boiling water that we flavor with different Chinese pastes and spices, that technically counts as staying hydrated, no?

So what’s changed?

Yes obviously I am single, that’s the big one. I’m not lamenting not having Beautiful around, it’s more like that anxious feeling of FOMO. You know, Fear of Missing Out. Like, here I am, in the prime of my life, with this time of independence and freedom, and I don’t have anyone to spend it with or celebrate it with. These are the feelings I knew would show up eventually during the course of this year-long experiment. That feeling I can’t shake of ‘come on, Man, this is the time you’re supposed to be out there and enjoying yourself!’ The temptation, especially with Valentine’s a month away as well, has never been higher to get back on some dating site and just find someone to be with to not be with no one. Two months of the house all to myself and, if you’ll allow me this small primal indulgence, I feel like I should be having some company over to avail myself of such luxury and pleasure! Ugh. Is it such a terrible way to be, to feel? Hahah.

Take comfort and solace in the company of friends though!

Yes, I will still use this time to have another hot pot sleepover. I got some great new drinking games for Christmas that I cannot wait to play with my friends. But with our careers having taken us further out and with my one friend in the excitement and thrill of his new relationship and my birthday coming up, I can’t help but reflect on my friendships and connections and wonder if maybe I’ve grown out of it in some ways. I’ve seen some great blogs and great writers on here wrestle with their own friendships and feeling they’ve put in more than they’ve gotten or that their trust has been misused or taken advantage of. There’s been this inkling in the back of my head for a while that has taken deeper root in the past couple months, now that I’ve been spending more time reflecting and working out my thoughts.

I think, and strongly believe, that both this loneliness from lack of romantic relationships and doubt of friendship stem from the same thing. For a very long time now, (179 days perhaps?) I’ve felt starved of any strong, deep, emotional, and mental connection. I’ve known some of my friends since elementary school. We’ve been together for decades now (weird I can now afford to make that kind of distinction). But we’ve never really been able to talk about anything of substance. They are great for some drinks, some adventures, and to pass the hours shooting the breeze until 3 in the morning. But, devoid of so many of the life experiences and passions I have chased after all my life, we can’t speak to each other of the deep and profound and emotional and heart-wrenching moments and thoughts. I used to find all of that in my relationships. It was a happy balance of satisfying all the sides of my self by finding the right company in each. But now I am without relationships (but still happy and content, mind you, I am still strongly on this path) so I have to look on my friends and then I see and wonder, has our relationship, has our depth, has our conversation, never progressed past our student lives?

I never got a merry Christmas from any of them. Or a happy New Year. In October I wanted to watch scary movies and play scary games so I kept asking everyone to hang out and they canceled on me all month. I decided there are only so many rejections a man can handle before his pride and dignity are hurt so I took a break in November and decided to let them organize and call us all together to hang out. Instead I spent the entire month by myself because no one did. No one even noticed. I didn’t see them again until the Friendsgivingmas that I still was the one to organize a week before the date. I wonder if, left to their own devices, they’d ever try and reach out first. I’ve celebrated each and every one of their birthdays. I even took them to Atlantic City each time they turned 21. They’ve never organized anything for mine. I find myself today texting and reaching out and clamoring to try and organize something before I leave for my birthday trip to see them and go out for dinner.

Without a romantic relationship to rely on like a crutch, I have only my friends and family. My family will be gone, and so I only have my friends. And even then now, I wonder sometimes about the company I keep.

I’ll tell you what though, because I refuse to give this day to Loneliness. I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do the next two months. I’m going to play music really loud and sing to an empty house. I’m going to dance in my underwear through the halls. I’m going to cook some crazy-ass stuff I’ve been wanting to try but no one has tastes for. I’m going to roast bone marrow. Cook lamb. I’m going to use the MeetUp app and find local groups of board and card gamers and hang out with them a few weekends. I’m going to watch movies by myself. I’ll catch up on all the shows I’d been waiting to watch. I’m going to do all this because if I don’t I’ll drive myself crazy and because this will help me stay sane and still appreciate my boring but oh so lovable friends. Hahah. I’m gonna be okay in 2017. I’m gonna be okay at 27.

Day 179

Man: 148 Loneliness: 31

Day 178: The New Year New You Old Recap

Happy New Year everyone! How are those resolutions and reflections coming along? Hope you all had a good time and made good decisions. In case you’re wondering, coming in to work twenty minutes early the day after New Year’s because you think your boss is back from vacation (she isn’t) is a bad decision.

Good decision: making a strawberry cheesecake with the leftover strawberries from your pavlova. I make cheesecakes every holiday for friends and family. I even used to sell them to my mother’s coworkers to take to their own parties as well. Had some strawberries left over from the pavlova experiment so decided to whip up a cheesecake.

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Good decision: Spending the holiday time as an opportunity to have drinks with my family and practice my barcraft. I’ve always wanted to be a bartender, and you can bet that my future restaurant will definitely have a bar program, so this was a fun chance to get to highlight new recipes and techniques and practice making drinks for everyone and just have a good time in general.

Barcraft.jpg

Bad decision: But felt oh so good. Flaming B-52s. In case you haven’t had these in your life yet, and you really should though by the way, a B-52 is a shot that is equal parts Kahlua, Irish cream, and Grand Marnier. Slowly pour the three over the end of a bar spoon and it’ll create a beautiful layered effect. A Flaming B-52 has a little bit of Bacardi 151 floated on top and lit on fire. Oh and a B-52 with the Bomb Bay Doors Open is the same only with Bombay Sapphire gin instead of Grand Marnier, and a B-52 with a Mexican Gunner is the same with tequila instead. Hahah. But the standard B-52 tastes like a sweet and sinful coffee drink and the fire of the Bacardi 151 warms it up which makes it perfect for those cold winter nights. Just be sure to extinguish the flame before taking the shot. There are enough fail videos online of people who forgot to do this.

B52.jpg

Bad decision: You cannot keep a Filipino away from his mahjong set for too long. Which also means even if you have work the next day, and even if you think your boss is coming in, and even if you know you need your sleep, you’ll be more than willing to play more than a few rounds of mahjong with the family. Hell, it probably means you’ll even help set up the table. And then you’ll get hungry after playing which means going to Burger King at 2am. And then it means you’ll need to watch the latest episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine on DVR while you eat. But it’s all good because you made it to work and you spent the entire last night with your family together.

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No matter what it was a great time and I was so happy to be able to spend it with my family and my cousins. We went out to eat, had drinks, went bouldering, played bingo and got lottery scratchers, it was a great way to ring in the New Year. All I need now is some more snow!

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year and look to 2017 with hope and cheer.

Day 178

Man: 147 Loneliness: 31