Jerel Says, ‘The enemy is not what we believed’; Fragrance

The Beguiled Banner

‘It seems the enemy is not what we believed.’

-Ms. Martha Farnsworth, The Beguiled

I can’t think of a guy who’s actually been in a serious relationship with a woman who still clings onto the juvenile, naive fantasy that being with more than one woman at a time could be anything but a terrible disaster. Leave those Casanova fantasies and playboy aspirations to doe-eyed dreamers and yearning youths. A man can tell you from experience, just one incredible woman can fill every one of your dreams, and it takes only one terrible one to possess your every nightmare. So what happens when a too charming for his own good, devilishly handsome Union gent finds himself under the care and supervision of a house full of Southern belles?

Well, if the modern remake of The Beguiled is any indication, first it’ll be a whole hell of a lot of mind numbing nothing. And then everything.

I never saw the original with Clint Eastwood back in the 70s, so I have nothing to say on the matter of its faithfulness to the original, or to the novel on which it was based. I am a blank slate, with no preconceived notions, letting you know what I thought of this standalone piece.

To be honest, I think very little of it. First, the strong points. I am beyond thrilled to see In BrugesColin Farrell in a film. I honestly find Colin Farrell irresistibly magnetic. Maybe I’m just another sucker for that Irish charm, but I do think Colin Farrell should have been excused much much sooner and forgiven by Hollywood for the mistakes of his past. I remember the tabloid stories and photos as he seemingly descended into a drunken, drug fueled, sex crazed rage. But I also remember how much fun the film In Bruges was because of him. I remember how kick ass he was in SWAT. I think Seven Psychopaths isn’t nearly as celebrated as it absolutely should and that’s a crime. I mean come on. You start to think back, Saving Mr Banks, Total Recall, Scrubs, Colin Farrell has been such a wonderfully charismatic and attractive pull. And it’s great to see Colin Farrell really be taken seriously in such a dramatic and intense role as the recovering Union Corporal McBurney. I hope that for whatever independent, art-house, cine-beauty attention The Beguiled received, some of it rubs off on Colin Farrell and I see him more often again, like when he was first hailed as ‘the next greatest actor in Hollywood’ in his youth.

In fact, every single performance in this slow crawl to inevitable nothingness deserves merit. Nicole Kidman is nothing short of expected perfection. She is calm, cool, calculating, and utterly reserved, as a proper Southern lady (I imagine) ought to be. BeguiledKirsten Dunst, another surprising nonentity considering her prolific repertoire, also brings a level of experience and expertise to the film. Not to be outdone, many of the younger actresses, led by the elegant and ethereal Elle Fanning, are also a great joy to watch on screen. I particularly enjoyed, and was surprised by, Addison Riecke (at only 13) for her humor and timing. If for nothing else, because you’d really be hard-pressed to find anything, The Beguiled shines as an exemplar for outstanding performances. There is real artistry and craft in every line delivered, every emotion expressed.

As such, my biggest criticism for The Beguiled is that though it is strong as performance, it’s honestly very terrible at being a film. Compared to my last rave review of Baby Driver which was almost specifically because Edgar Wright knows how to manipulate and take advantage of the unique characteristics of film, The Beguiled is just a static, dull, long drawn out smug self-satisfied expression. First off, cinematography is pretty much non-existent. The camera is almost always still, a passing thought, just a fly on the wall as action happens in front of, instead of with, the observer. Because of that, a lot of scenes Beguiled Establishedseem very boring. You as the viewer are just not engaged. It’s slow and it’s inactive. The whole thing would have worked better on a live stage versus a movie screen. With the dialogue and the performance and the performers, all of this with that live energy of seeing the action just a few feet away from you, the audience feeding off of the energy of the performers and the performers feeding off of the attention of the audience, you would have felt more engaged and enjoyed more. Instead, as I feel with most of these art-house style films, there was just too much in the movie. So many establishing shots. B roll of Southern landscapes and old plantation mansions. Portrait shots of girls doing mundane tasks. It all felt so self-indulgent. So presumptuous. Cut out all of that ego-elements, restrict it to just the dialogue and performances, and you would have had an excellent stage production.

As I’m wrestling trying to figure out if the movie should have been a play I’m also trying to figure out what’s supposed to happen in the movie. At certain times I feel like I know what’s about to happen and I like it, I’m satisfied, I think it’s smart and would make for a great film. And then the whole plot takes another left turn. At first I think the sudden appearance of an ‘object to be won’ (a clever and smart reversal of gender roles, a So Badstatement on modern sexism) can unearth some unresolved issues and tensions among the women. Could be a great psychological movie. But then the girls get jealous and possessive of the attractive young man, somaybe we have a group Misery ordeal. Trapped in a mansion and not getting any better as the girls obsess over him. Then Farrell reveals his character to be a manipulative and chauvinistic playboy, and there’s a hostage situation. So potential for a cat and mouse piece. And then sometimes in strange spatterings, the movie bothers to have a love story. It’s like being haunted by a mystery fragrance. It’s like that shame and embarrassment when you get home and smell and think to compliment your partner’s home cooking, only to find out the kitchen’s been sprayed all day by exterminators. Let me tell you, your partner isn’t going to be flattered that industrial strength killer reminds you of their cooking, and you won’t be so reluctant to trust yourself from now on either. It’s all so jumbled up and misleading, it seems the movie is not what I believed!

Overall, strong performances aren’t nearly enough to save what is to me an entirely ego-driven self-indulgent art-house attention piece. It could have benefited from a liberal amount of editing, a boost in cinematography and film style, and a more clear direction. I’m glad that the actors, skilled as they are, knew where they were headed and how to get there, because I was lost the entire way.

Jerel says, ‘the enemy is not what we believed’.

Jerel Says, ‘Love is a rebellious bird’; Edible


L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a rebellious bird)

Que nul ne peut apprivoiser (That none can tame)

Habanera, from George Bizet’s Carmen

LightningThere’s no warning to a lightning strike. If you’re lucky, you might feel the change in pressure in the air, the hairs on your arm standing on end, and you might at least get an idea of what’s about to happen, but there’s no anticipating it. No predicting it. And certainly no preventing it. When lightning strikes all you can really do is hang on, and know you’ll have one hell of a story afterwards.

This past Saturday, on my way to fixing my craving for some authentic Japanese soba (buckwheat noodles) at a restaurant near my home, I was struck by lightning. But instead of a bright and blinding light and electrical shock running through my body, I just ran into a small, lovely, incredibly friendly and entertaining Japanese woman.

From the parking garage to the soba restaurant is about a five minute walk crossing two very busy streets. As I’m waiting at the first one this tiny little Asian lady walks up and waits beside me. The lights change, and change again, and nothing happens for us, so she says in fluent English with a strong Japanese accent, ‘I don’t think this light works. I’m going to run for it.’ Look I have no doubt she could make the crossing no problem, but I’m not about to risk being the guy standing at the crosswalk while his Asian aunt gets run over by some unaware driver. So I pace out onto the street with her and just make sure I’m between her and traffic. We get to the second crossing and this time the light actually behaves for us and, I notice, we just keep continuing on in the same direction.

Seeing as we just survived a near-death experience and we seem to be kindred spirits on the same path for at least a little while, we strike up conversation. I forget who started talking to whom, but friendly chatter and some casual facts are shared. We both hate that the new garage is further from all the restaurants and actual main part of town. We both go into this town often but are from other areas (me from a different part of north Jersey and her from Manhattan). And we’re both right now heading to lunch.

Soba Noodle Azuma

Okay, I think as we continue walking in the same direction together and my soba restaurant comes into view, now I actually do want to know where she’s headed.

‘So where are you having lunch today?’ I ask her.

‘Oh every Saturday I like to drive here and then have lunch at this soba restaurant.’ She replies.

No way! I’m actually headed there as well!’

‘Well then, why don’t we just have lunch together?’

A bright flash. A crackle of white. A boom of thunder.

First of all, when she said she came here every Saturday, I believed her. I come to this place often enough to know it’s good food, authentic handmade soba prepared in the restaurant (which is incredibly rare), and that the owner is a charming elderly Japanese man. She not only knew of the owner, but immediately greeted, and was greeted by, him in Japanese and straight away had a table prepared for the two of  us. She greeted every member of staff personally and shared some of their details with me.

She has family in Tokyo, and she’s the only one here right now.

He used to be just a busser but look now he takes orders!

She’s going away to the University of Hawaii next week! It’s her last day here and I didn’t want to miss saying goodbye.

And to each one of them she happily joked, ‘Look! I’m taking my grandson out for lunch!’

We browse the menus, even though being the obsessive foodie that I am I’ve already studied this menu over and over for the past three days thinking about and fantasizing about my order already. I wait an appropriate amount of time to pretend like I just came to my decision. She gives me some extra Japanese tips, like which dishes were just added because of the season, and which ones are best to have during the hot or cold months. We both order and now we have a chance to really get to know each other.

Waiting at that crosswalk ten minutes ago I had no idea who this woman was, or what her story was, or how incredibly fate works in getting the right people to the right place at the right time.

Her name is Emi, Emi Peluso, and I don’t think she or I would mind putting her name out there because she’s lived a good deal of her life in the public eye to begin with. She was Shikokuborn in, and grew up on, the island of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. Though her family was primarily Buddhist she alone converted to Catholicism at an early age because, as she said, ‘she fell in love with how beautiful little Catholic girls looked like in pictures and paintings, their hands clapped together in prayer’. She studied to be an opera singer and graduated from the Tokyo College of Music. After performing in Japan she moved to New York to continue to pursue her singing career, though this was before recordings could have preserved her performances. She told me what it was like being the third daughter among four children, all girls. She was, as she put it, ‘the forgotten one’, the rebel who had to piece her life together on her own. She was the only Catholic, the only musician, and she was the only one who left Japan, left their island of Shikoku, where they all are still. I got to hear stories of what it was like growing up in Japan, studying opera, how hard she had to work to get her parents to accept all these things that made her different. How her study and passion had led her to New York. What it was like moving to a new city not knowing a word of English, only having opera to get doors to open for her.

She told me about her family and her home, but the real spark was how much she talked about love. Two years ago her mother passed away, and her father (going strong at 99) picked up the practice of writing daily haiku (Japanese short poems) in memory of her and their love. Last year she was in Japan for his 99th and as a surprise for the family, he Frank Pelusoread aloud some of these haiku. She was so happy and animated to tell me how sweet and loving and beautiful they were, and how writing them seemed to save her father, keeping his mind sharp and his spirit strong. Her own life has also been a fascinating and beautiful story of life. Obviously this Japanese girl from Shikoku did not originally have the surname ‘Peluso’. At an audition just two months after moving to New York, while waiting for others to finish, she heard the most beautiful tenor coming out of this young, handsome, Italian-American boy from Brooklyn. With his charming smile, young good looks, shiny slicked back hair, and his love for fine-tailored Italian suits, she pegged him for a playboy. And the one main warning her mother gave her before moving to America was, ‘stay away from the playboys!’ So she did. But they both got parts in the same production and she would listen to him sing and be amazed, but they never spoke a word to each other. Until opening night, after the final curtain fell, when he came up to her with a bouquet of flowers, and said the most incredible, unbelievable thing she’d ever heard. ‘I’ve been talking about you to my family non-stop, and they’d really love to meet you’.

I died laughing. It was just so awkward, so beautiful, so romantic. They had never spoken, never went on any dates, but apparently he was so smitten with her he just kept babbling about her to his parents that they thought they were already dating. Obviously, Central Park Nightshe said no. But she did agree to go out on a date with him to get to know this ridiculous young man. On their first date he took her up to his apartment on 66th Street, walking distance from the Lincoln Center (where they would have countless dates at the opera) with an incredible view overlooking Central Park. She joked that apart from the man, she could have fallen in love just from the view. Two weeks later, she moved in with him. ‘He treated me like a princess, I felt in my heart really special and important’. Whenever they fought he would stay home with her, talking to her, consoling her, never leaving her side until she felt better. They had their wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii. For their ten year anniversary, he surprised her with a beautiful painting he had commissioned of a photo of her in her wedding dress looking out into a Hawaiian sunset.

Three years ago he passed away. They tried, but never could have any children. He was twelve years her senior and had married before, leaving behind a daughter and four grandchildren. She still lives in the same apartment, with the same view she fell in love with, surrounded by memories of the man she loved. Turns out this building was a hotbed for performers and singers of the time. Imagine my shock when I learned that some of her best friends and neighbors were the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne! She was casually listing off some of the greatest and most famous singing talents the same way I’d talk about the family who lives next door. In fact Marilyn was at her husband’s funeral, and surprised everyone there with the honor and pleasure of an impromptu performance. She sang not only for the memory of this man, but for her love of Emi and the desire to comfort her and give her something beautiful to take some of the pain away. Below is a video of Marilyn Horne singing Habanera from Carmen. This was one of her most famous roles and even according to Emi, one of her best. Since then she’s kept busy, taking French lessons in the city and occasionally meeting with old friends. But, like this Saturday could have been, most of her days are lonely, and she says that sometimes she goes whole days without saying a word to anyone.

What absolutely struck me was how memorable and how vivid their relationship was. It seemed like if I had given her the opportunity she could have gone on forever about how much she loved him and how much he loved her. Nights spent together. The good times and the bad. And it amazed me how connected she still was to the memories. Often times I see people, after experiencing loss, try to distance themselves from the reminders. Good and bad relationships alike, some people just aren’t strong enough or willing to put themselves through the process of remembering all the time. Yet here was this woman dedicated to the memory of her love. In fact she told me that this  past summer she went back to Hawaii, looked up the judge who married them, and found him again and visited him! He was 89! But she wanted to retrace the steps of their honeymoon. See familiar places and faces. Watching her mannerisms, her expressions, listening to the rise and fall of her voice, I could tell how happy she was to be sharing these stories and how much it meant to her. The same way I might talk to you about food, she would talk to you about love.

I’m never one to shy away from meeting new people, and making friends out of strangers is an important skill to have when you travel, especially alone, like I do. But I make ‘friends of the moment’. I share brief but intense bonding experiences with kindred souls at bars or wander city streets with the equally inquisitive. I relish them for what they are, personal mementos of trips, a soul connection souvenir. But there was something very different about having this completely random happenstance lunch with Emi. I wanted to learn more about this love she had. Wanted to know where a love like that could come from, grow from, and grow into. There was just so much I could learn from this story. Her life just fascinated me. Inspired me. Thrilled me. As a storyteller, there is nothing more exciting than a good story. And I knew she had plenty.

The soba we had was delicious, as always. But this was more than just an edible encounter. Between satisfying slurps of soba I was surrounded with stories. EmiAfter our lunch she took me to this Japanese bakery right around the corner. I had been coming to this restaurant for a long time and never even knew this bakery was right there. We had a few pastries and some coffee and she continued to tell me about herself. Afterwards, knowing I couldn’t let this opportunity go by, I suggested that we keep up this newfound friendship of storyteller and storytellee. We exchanged numbers, and I told her the next time she was in the area and looking to have lunch, she should let me know and I’d be more than happy to join her. She could tell me all about this love that she’d had for so many years and was very clearly enthusiastic about sharing. We even took a commemorative selfie (which I never ever take ever to begin with) to mark this new friendship. I carried the bags of pastries she bought from the cafe back to her car and we hugged and I saw her off while I continued on with the rest of my day in solitude but I had that tingling feeling. That anticipation. Like maybe I was hoping sometime in the near future, lightning could strike again. I don’t know if we might ever actually get to share another lunch. I’m not sure if we’re ever allowed more than one of these perfectly aligned moments of kismet. This random person, waiting at the same light, going to the same restaurant, with no prior connection, sharing this brilliantly illuminating experience. I’m hoping I get to hear more. Learn more. I’m hoping I made a friend.

Jerel says, ‘love is a rebellious bird’.

Jerel Says, ‘Eat the Uni’; Bumble

Sushi Banner

First or second date, I would always take a woman to a really good sushi bar and I would order uni. If she didn’t eat the uni, that relationship was pretty much over. If she’s immune to the charms of sea urchin row or unwilling to try it, there’s no hope.

-Anthony Bourdain on dating

We all have our dating quirks. Relational eccentricities that, beyond any real rhyme or reason, we still look for, or look to, in a person. Even though I’ve definitely changed, Relationship Testlearned a lot, and hopefully shifted some of my priorities and desires when it comes to relationships and the kind of person I want to be with and the reasons I would want to be with them for, I still have these dating ‘tests’ from before that I have used and will still probably always use when I’m dating someone new. Some of it makes sense to me, some of them are about matters of compatibility or the importance of sharing similar interests. Others are just there to help me feel better, more confident about a potential relationship. Now take these for what you will. Obviously I sometimes tend to speak in hyperbole. Would I really consider scrapping an entire potential relationship because a girl might ‘fail’ one or two of these tests? Of course not.

I mean…probably not.

But definitely, maybe.

Jerel’s New Relationship Dating Tests


This is of course, inspired by my culinary and lifestyle role model, Anthony Bourdain. He Sushi Jumphas stated in numerous interviews and various episodes on No Reservations and Parts Unknown how important and integral sushi is to him not only in terms of food but in matters of the heart as well. I have always loved sushi, but I’ll admit I was a young naive ignorant fool compared to the master, Bourdain. I wasn’t even good enough to get a white belt in his dojo. But over the years and through extensive study and application *coughs*allyoucaneatsushibuffets*coughs* I too learned the secret ways. I learned that sushi is a finger food first and foremost. Or that sushi should be dipped fish side down into the soy sauce. And don’t you EVER, EVER, EVER let me catch you mixing the wasabi into your soy sauce. And that really great sushi is about the rice, not the fish. It’s 90% in the quality and attention and care to the type of rice and the preparation and seasoning of it.

So what’s the test? It’s part knowledge and part sense of adventure. I usually like to take a girl to a sushi restaurant on the third date. It’s a little more into the relationship than Bourdain, but then I don’t have Bourdain money, so I figure there could be other red flags worth noting before really investing in the sushi test. So by the third date, I’m Sushi Lovemaybe kind of already hoping it’s gonna work out alright. First off, it’s major negative points if I’m with someone who can look me straight in the eye and say ‘oh my god I love sushi’ and then order nothing but California rolls or shrimp tempura rolls or the absolute worst, deep fried sushi. First of all, there’s no way in hell if I want authentic genuine high quality sushi that I would take someone to a place that even has these on the menu. So if she’s searching for it when we order, I’m searching for the exit. While I would be absolutely thrilled and enamored if I found out the person I was with was just as into sushi and knew all the best pieces and ate them with confidence and style and all the right etiquette, I would be just as happy to see them at least interested and adventurous enough to try. Yes, uni would be on the menu. As well as squid, octopus, and raw scallop. Don’t lie about how much you know about sushi and at the very least be interested and open enough to try. Though I would also note, of all my past relationships, the worst have this in common: the girls did not like sushi. So yeah, it might be important that someone I want to spend a good portion of my life with should probably like my absolute favorite food.

Pass: Basic interest/knowledge in sushi or willingness to try/learn

Fail: Lying about their interest in sushi or not having any to begin with

Extra Credit: Orders the uni first and eats it all with her fingers


I was doing this before (500) Days of Summer! I never thought the deep dark secrets of my dating world would be plastered all over the big screen with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The Ikea Test comes after the sushi test. This girl is now more than Ikea Fail.gifjust someone I’ve seen a couple times and want to date. This is like, girlfriend territory waters we’re not dipping our big toe in. Like the way they test their furniture, I’m going to use Ikea to stress test this relationship. It’s gonna have to last longer than 1000 open and closes. We start at the Ikea Cafe, which to me is not celebrated nearly enough for the quality of the food and the price. Great Swedish meatballs with that rich creamy gravy and mashed potatoes, sweet and tart lingonberry jam, smoked salmon with mustard and dill, and some of the best fries. Crispy crunchy crusty surfaces with soft fluffy insides. But be honest. The moment I mentioned ‘we’re going to be eating at Ikea’, how did you really feel. Because that’s what I’m gonna want to find out about the girl I’m dating. Look, anyone can take anyone to a five-star top quality first class restaurant and have a great time and enjoy the food and the company. Now I’m not saying I’m taking someone to some unmarked shady hellhole of a restaurant. It’s a bright and well lit and clean cafe with practical, affordable, yet well made Swedish furniture. And the food is good. It really is. We can even get some soft serve ice cream on our way out. They have strawberry topping too if you’d like. The point is, life isn’t always going to be top of the tops. Anyone can enjoy that. I want someone who can see beyond that, to simpler and humbler things, and not only find joy in that, but add to it too.

Then we wander and walk off our meal on the Ikea showroom floor. And we get into conversations that honestly, I don’t know why so many people in relationships avoid. They think that those uncomfortable topics like, what kind of place do you want to live Ikea Datein, what kind of family would you want, where would you want to live, etc are taboo or that they’ll scare a partner. But let me tell you, even on first dates, it’s sometimes nice to break the barrier and get to those kinds of questions because you bond sooner and because really, who the hell wants to talk about the weather, or what they think of the city. No one ended up with their lifelong partner because they both liked the weather. In fact, a dating study found that when they forced couples on first dates to ask more ‘controversial’ topics (number of sexual partners, any history of STDs, if they’ve ever been broken hearted or broken someone’s heart) by the end of the date both the questioner and the replier felt closer and more satisfied with the other person. So here is this opportunity, in a very non-threatening, non-committal, and informal manner, to jokingly but also honestly imagine what a future would look like, and ask those questions responsible people should ask of each other.

Pass: She enjoys the Ikea date in good humor, and is comfortable with the ensuring showroom communication.

Fail: Her upturned nose poo-poos the Ikea date.

Extra Credit: Not only is she so familiar with the dishes she can order them in Swedish, but on the showroom floor she names the furniture she wants us to get.


Oh this is way way waaay more than ‘Netflix and chill’. No self-respecting adult should Better Off Deadever utter that phrase unironically. Now it’s obvious I’m a huge cinephile. But this isn’t about finding another film nerd, or quizzing some poor girl on movie trivia. Even I wouldn’t enjoy that. As I’ve mentioned in the past, movies are portals for our emotions, and great movies awaken the Better Off Deaddeepest and most filling and profound expressions. So to save us years of having to dig to find moments of equal emotional depth, I figure I could just have us watch certain movies and see how we (she) will react. I’d like to see how compatible our senses of humor are. Would we be able to find humor in the same things. (Good god I don’t have much, if she doesn’t find me funny I’ve got even less.) Do we share the same outlook and opinion on things like love and relationships. Do we feel emotions on similar levels, is there that sense of empathy that could help us understand each other better. We would actually have to focus and you know, watch these movies, rather than just have it playing in the background and making out.

I love a thousand movies. And in the course of  my life I’ll probably love a thousand more. But two essential must watch films for me are Better Off Dead and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both, interestingly enough, have breakups as the catalysts for the Eternal Sunshineplot. Obviously one is more humorous and the other more dramatic, but both are about how we deal with separation and how we move on in search of love and forever. They’re also both filled with absolutely stunning visuals. Eternal Sunshine has incredibly beautiful natural landscapes and scene-scapes, from the dramatic dismantling of the beach house scene to the wide beautiful sweeping shots of the beaches of Montauk and the frozen waters of the lake. The dream world scenes and the memory wipe scenes are beautiful and done so simply with minimal effects but lasting impression. Better Off Dead is visually overflowing with subplots, visual gags, and extra treats to unlock with further viewings. I remember the scene in Lane Meyer’s math class when his teacher asks everyone to take out their homework and there are a series of brief close up shots of various students bumbling about in their desks and bags. You’ve got one boy who is printing an entire thesis on an old dot-matrix printer, another girl has a metal accordion file that expands to like twenty sections of work. And you’ve got Lane (played by John Cusack) taking out a single folded piece of paper that’s stuck together with old gum and all it says is ‘do homework’. It’s visual gag overload, and there’s even a slightly creepy completely out of Eternal Sunshineleft field claymation scene with a Frankenstein-esque burger that freakishly comes to life and starts singing Van Halen. To me, both are excellent examples of their genre. Eternal Sunshine never fails to bring up these feelings of heartbreak and sadness but also nostalgia and optimism. And it evokes conversation about how we deal with loss, and what we view as the value of a relationship, regardless of it succeeds or not. Better Off Dead is so much more than just silly humor. It’s coming of age, it’s innocence, and it’s the joy and excitement of discovering new opportunities. It is also full of timeless cultural references, and I’ll always want my ‘two dollars!’

Pass: She enjoys the movies in much the same way, and I can tell we share the same sense of humor and outlook on relationships.

Fail: She falls asleep or doesn’t laugh/feel anything.

Extra Credit: She brings her own blu-ray copies.

Relationship Test 2So yeah, these are three of the relationship tests. Don’t know when my next chance to do them will be, but there they are waiting for the next soul. How did you do? Would you have passed some of these, or even gotten the extra credit? And do you have your own innocent little ‘tests’ when you date someone? I’d love to know!

Jerel says, ‘eat the uni’.

Jerel Says, ‘I’m in, Baby’; Bury

Baby Driver Banner

Baby: I want us to head West and never stop. You in?

Debora: I’m in, Baby.

-Baby Driver

You can have a shitty car and still make a great movie. Look at Little Miss Sunshine, as the Hoover family treks to their first child beauty pageant in a beat up, broken Little Miss SunshineVolkswagen van. Or who can forget the Wagon Queen Family Truckster that the Griswolds drove to Wally World in National Lampoon’s Vacation. At the same time though, you could have some of the best cars in the world and produce absolute garbage. Transforming into a giant robot doesn’t transform any of the Transformers series into anything salvageable. And I might get some flak for this, but to me, The Fast and the Furious franchise is to cars what Trump Steaks was to fine meat. You see it doesn’t matter what the steering wheel is attached to. What matters is who’s behind it. And Baby Driver benefits from two incredible talents behind the wheel. The titular character, Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, is one of the most incredible getaway drivers in all of filmdom, and the movie’s director, Edgar Wright, has once again proven his mastery of the fine art and beauty and expression of cinema.

Story wise, this isn’t going to be one of the most unique of its genre. The puzzle pieces are going to feel very familiar. A foreboding and immeasurably powerful and all-knowing criminal mastermind. An ensemble of equal parts crazy, violent, and sociopathic Baby Driver Car Chasecriminals and thrill chasers who form his ‘teams’. A mysterious, quiet, but incredibly talented driver in the wrong world for the right reasons. And at the center of it all, a beautiful young woman with a free spirit and an open heart who wants to run away with him. The pieces are all the same but they don’t quite fit the way you probably would have expected. The movie is at times a comedy, an action flick, and a musical. Imagine what it would be like if violent, frantic, chaotic bank heists and car chases were taking place in the same world as La La Land, while the Ryan Goslings and the Emma Stones were falling in love to dance routines on the interstates. Baby as a character is fascinating, with just enough context and purpose in his life to make us feel for him. Kevin Spacey, who is hands down one of the most talented and incredibly actors I have ever seen, relishes his role. I mean you can tell he absolutely loved and enjoyed his calculating, subtly cruel, and silently explosive criminal mastermind. The movie accomplishes what it wants to accomplish in almost every scene. There are moments of Baby Driver Kevin Spaceygreat humor, thrilling action, and wrenching tension. There is just enough variety and innovation in making the pieces fit that makes an almost all-too familiar setup still feel fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable. When people discuss Baby Driver, they’re not going to talk about the plot or the story. You can sort of construct it in your head already. He’s a great driver. He found love. And just as he thought he was finally out, they pull him back in. But, among other things, people should talk about the characters, their unique takes on the ‘action heist criminal heart of gold love story’ tropes that they each embody. Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez as Bonnie and Clyde. Jon Bernthal as the rebel without a cause. Jamie Foxx as the man with the chip on his shoulder who wants to get what’s his. They should talk about moments of picture perfect emotion and intensity. The chases, the standoffs, the romance, the escape.

And they definitely, absolutelyMUST, talk about the inimitable, unmistakenly distinct, and utterly flawless style of the film.  A style that Edgar Wright has perfected and sharpened and has so often applied to some of the best comedies of all time. He is the mastermind behind three of my favorite movies: The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy Shaun of the Dead Fenceof Shaun of the DeadHot Fuzz, and The World’s End. Visually, Wright takes his excellent storytelling skills in comedy and applies them seamlessly to action and thrill. Very few directors can construct shots the way Wright does and utilize his medium (film) in the unique and characteristic and advantageous ways that he does. Wright inherently understands the kinetic power of film. That is, he understands how to take advantage of movement. And not just of his actors or his sets. But of his camera and his shot and his staging. Wright uses the camera to add an extra layer to the storytelling, instead of just using it as a means to express it. The title sequence is an absolutely perfect example of this kind of talent and skill. It is riddled Worlds End Walkwith subtle visual jokes that works because of his cinematography and staging. It has elements of foreshadowing, it moves and interacts with the characters, and it contributes to the story by placing visual cues and clues. A lot of movies are ‘characters reacting’ and directors placing cameras to simply ‘capture’. But then it’s really no more than just a flip book, at best a really good collection of still images that work together. Wright emphasizes dynamic, interactive, and active storytelling with the camera. And that makes the shots, and not just the stories, interesting and already worth watching.

Wright is also a master of sound design. In terms of comedy and storytelling, Wright understands the importance and value of a well timed sound effect. It’s such a perfect example of that dry British humor, but I love the scene in Shaun of the Dead where right after Shaun and Ed witness the horrific disembowelment and subsequent zombified Baby Driver Musicresurrection of a girl in their garden, as they both look in sheer shock and utter disbelief, in the silence all you can hear is Ed ‘click click click’ winding up his disposable camera. See that is an example of taking advantage of your medium. A written story couldn’t capture that moment. A picture couldn’t establish the feel and timing. But a film with a good director can. And in terms of utterly perfect spot on sound design, there are few better examples than Baby Driver. This movie is perhaps the world’s first and only example of an ‘action musical’. Some of the best scenes are timed, shot, staged, and acted to and around the songs. Unlike standard movies where songs are either added post-production from whatever they could get rights to or composers create pieces after watching the La La Land Openingscenes, Wright already picked out, and storyboarded, not only specific songs but the sequences to them too. Some of the best scenes in the movie are examples of these. In the beginning Baby is waiting in the getaway car listening to Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. What starts off as your typical background music/character listening to song that happens to be in the scene turns out to be a note for note, second by second, perfectly synchronized sequence. The robbery, the chase, the escape, are all timed to the song. The movie perfectly captures every music fan’s dream of a badass playlist come to life. It films the scenes you wish you could see when you listen to the playlists of the life you wish you had. Every police siren, brake squeal, tire screen, gunshot, breath, it’s all synchronized to the music. I’ve never seen anything like it outside of either musicals or music videos but it adds such an incredible level of fun and excitement and variety and style to these scenes. It’s slick and smooth and oh so good.

If I’ve got any qualms with the movie, and I assure you it’s a tiny insignificant little oversight that I’m more than willing to bury underneath all of the praise and admiration I can possibly heap on this movie, it’s that the dialogue is at times pretty forced, pretty staged, and very awkward. Some of it is excusable, even acceptable, when you consider Baby doesn’t talk much. So why would he know how to, or at least be very good at, Baby Driver Foxxconverse. In fact, sometimes the best thing the movie can do is shut everyone up and let the action and the songs take everyone away. But there are times that Debora is just a bit too open, too charming, too strangely ‘I’m into you and coming onto you’ for a roadside diner waitress talking to a stranger in sunglasses. Or the characters, like Jamie Foxx’s, are just too over the top, too invested in the stereotype. The best dialogue, and delivery, is Kevin Spacey hands down. His veiled threats are as smooth and deadly as a knife hidden under a silk sheet. He breaks down heist plans with such confidence and joy and speed you’d think he was narrating a horse race. His dialogue is the best constructed and it’s all delivered smooth like butter. But some of the others, it’s honestly hard at times to take them seriously. And Debora seriously, it’s like she was ready to tell her life story to the next guy who walked in that diner.

Overall, I cannot recommend Baby Driver enough. It is just another incredible title to add to the already impressive body of work that is Edgar Wright’s filmography. It is sleek, stylish, and never at the sacrifice of subject. It’s utterly unique in its execution and Baby Driver Questionsvision, and enjoyable from beginning to end. For me this isn’t only a must see, but a must own. Now I don’t necessarily mean you all need to go out and buy it too, but it does mean something significant for me. Of the many many movies I’ve seen this year, this is one of the few that I must absolutely own forever to watch over and over again, whenever I want great car scenes or a shining example of real filmcraft or sound. All I know is for the next couple times I’m on the road I’ll be listening to the Baby Driver soundtrack, wishing I could be half as good as Baby at anything I do and look has as cool as Baby doing it. But I bet no one ever fell in love with how cool a guy looked typing at his keyboard. Hahah.

Jerel says, ‘I’m in, Baby’.

Jerel Says, ‘Go West, Young Man, Go West’; Grit

Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.

-Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley was an American author and newspaper editor during the mid 1800s. Go WestGreeley greatly supported the idea of westward expansion and, after President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, which gave settlers willing to move West large plots of public land provided they stayed for at least five years, encouraged Civil War veterans to take advantage of it. Like most Americans in the 19th century, Greeley believed in Manifest Destiny, that it was the mission and purpose of Americans to expand and settle across all of North America. He believed that Americans had the intrinsic qualities of fortitude, resolve, and grit necessary to thrive in the west, and that those willing could find fertile farmland to help ease the growing problems of poverty and unemployment troubling the big cities on the Eastern coast. He said other things about people from the East coast, but they can’t always be right, right?

I went West this week in search of destiny, too. Sort of. I actually went North. And then BrattleboroEast. Like, way way North and then a good bit of East. To Vermont, which isn’t exactly Oklahoma. But then from Vermont I traveled to New Hampshire! Which, admittedly, when you look at it from a geographical point of view, is also East. So for some unknown reason for quite a long time and long distance, I was going the wrong way. My friends can attest that my sense of geography has never been the strongest. But for once the sidetracking and the backtracking didn’t frustrate me. I wasn’t upset or angry. In fact, I have to say that those two hours I spent going West today were some of the best two hours of driving I’ve ever experienced. I spent a happy, awe-inspiring two hours on Vermont’s scenic, sprawling, beautiful Route 9 West.


After a good night’s rest, I was on the road bright and early, heading out at 7am this morning. I wouldn’t have to be at my first stop until 9am, so I had plenty of time as I set out. One thing you have to realize way up north here in Vermont and New Hampshire is that there isn’t much room for things. These were some of the earliest and first Rally.gifsettled areas of the colonial times, so many of the old roads still stand. What might have been fine for smaller horse drawn carriages has over time resulted in long stretches of single lane highways winding through forests and up and down mountains. In fact most of my driving this morning was almost exclusively on mountain roads, with varying stretches of either long gradual inclines and declines and sharp, steep climbs and drops. Just driving the roads themselves was fantastic.  It’s times like these I miss my old car. A six-cylinder sedan with squirrely front wheel drive would have been aggressive and reckless on these winding paths. Instead I had my Subaru Forester, a safe and responsible grippy four-wheel drive. Yeah, unfortunately, no matter how much I tried, I never felt unsafe or like I had to wrestle my car to grip the road. Too bad. These roads are also heavily unmonitored, as there’s no room for a cop car to hide, and since Interstates are so much more convenient and spacious, they’re practically empty. I was living out my rally car dreams, racing as fast as I could go. Route 9W is a beautiful and unpredictable road. You’re constantly winding left and right, never seeing more than two turns ahead of or behind you. At some points there are even hairpin turns. As you’re carving your way through the mountains of Vermont you are treated to high towering Winding Roadbridges, low roads running right by the  river, and literal cliffside paths keeping you no more than a few feet from the edge. As a road, Route 9 West is to me one of the absolute best to drive in America in terms of quality of pavement (even with the harsh weather and seasons of the Northeast, these rarely used roads don’t see much wear and tear from tires, heavy trucks, or salt), design (long, graceful, elegant curves, sharp banks, a variety of incline, and with bridges, cliffs, and rivers a great mix of driving elements), and overall pleasure to drive (no car traffic at all, no stop signs or lights, and with a speed limit of 50, it’s already pretty generous). For car enthusiasts, your so-called ‘gear heads’ or ‘petrol heads’, I would already recommend Vermont Route 9 West solely for the road itself.

But there’s so much more! Oh, is there just so much more. It had rained the night before, and there was still a slight mist in the air when I left this morning. The roads were stillFoggy Road.gif dry and not at all slick, but the entire forest, and it seemed like I was driving through an endless expanse of forest, had that glistening shining fresh mist quality. The woods seemed alive and as you went further and further up the mountain, a beautiful gray fog started to blanket certain spots. Just a few isolated areas where it felt like you were literally driving through clouds. The fog hung suspended, frozen in mid air, wisps of smoke so vivid they were like white fingers reaching out in the middle of the road. As it was cooler in the shade of the trees and with the rain still on the branches I drove with my windows down, enjoying the fresh mountain air and that smell of forest spring rain. Whereas I normally Mountain Pass.gifentertain myself on long drives with cheesy dance music and songs I sing *cough*screamandbutcher* to, on this drive I listened to the soft steady roll of my tires on damp road. I saw, either from above on bridges or right beside me at potentially hazardously low sections of highway, wide and mighty and expansive rivers twist and turn and grow and shrink until they were just streams and brooks and I could see the jagged rocks of the river bed. At certain scenic overlooks you could just view over the edge of the road more and more mountain peaks and endless forest. It was sight and smell and sound like you wouldn’t believe. Rolling blankets of mist and fog, sunshine peeking through pockets of trees, running waters, smooth pavement, the smell of rain on leaves. I was half expecting to drive right into the forest in Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro.

And here’s the most surprising part of this beautiful and thrilling road. Up in the mountains, lost in the mist and fog, surrounded by trees, you’re not alone. I mentioned before that there are a few gorgeous scenic overlooks. Well they’re all connected on what I have to believe are some fairly popular and well known hiking trails. With nary a Mountain Hike.gifsingle driver to be found, I must have encountered a good handful of hikers. Some were walking along the road, others were paused at the various overlooks, still it was nice to see other people enjoying this beautiful area, albeit they have their way and I prefer mine. I’ll admit at a few overlooks I was tempted to stop and take a moment to take it all in and snap a few photos. But I did have a final destination to get to. These would not be the meanderings of a drive for pleasure. (Which is very different from a drive of pleasure, mind you.) Still you felt a little connection with these people as you passed them, knowing that of everything in the world, you are at the very least similar in your appreciation of that moment, that setting, that experience. And I also happened to need gas, and stopped at a little gas station right on the edge of the road, still a good ways away from reconnecting to any major highways or interstates. You know those gas stations. Local, friendly, and this one in particular was run by the very lovely Davenport family. I got to spend some time speaking with one of the owners, a young woman actually. I was surprised when she came out to meet me as I was starting to pump my gas. I’m not used to full service stations outside of New Jersey and yet there she was, not only filling my car but wiping the windshield and checking the oil. I swear that forest really is magic, because she must have stepped out of the 1950s. She laughed at my confusion and said that a lot of people who stop by from way way way out of town are surprised to find a full service station. I was already out of the car and wanted to stretch my legs anyways, so we chatted for a bit. And then she looked at me and asked ‘are you from the Philippines by any chance?’

Well, yes, yes I am. Now how in the middle of Narnia did you figure that out.

Turns out, her grandfather was in the military, and was stationed in the Philippines in the 1910s. She grew up reading the letters her grandfather sent to her father about the beautiful islands and the extremely rural lands and natives. She believes her grandfather was stationed in Iloilo, which would make sense as it was an economic and military Old Stationcenter for the Spanish and the United States. She told me how fascinated she was by the descriptions and how she’d grown up always wanting to visit and see for herself the places her grandfather had been to and wrote to her father about. I told her to train herself by sitting in a tiny chair for twenty three hours. But that it would be totally worth it, and that she’d be spoiled for choice in terms of islands and exoticness. It was just a nice surprise to have that thread of a story to grasp at so far from well, anywhere really. But as I pulled out of the gas station it was fun to think here is a family run business that’s been there forever, run by third generation, dreaming about the Philippines and the history and legacy of a family. Route 9 West just kept giving and giving.

As most of you know, I have to travel a lot for my job. Most of it is usually by car. Sometimes I get lucky, and I get a break from ‘highway hypnosis’ with these ventures into smaller roads. Sometimes I get to see more than just barrier walls and metal signs. But never for as long as I had on this road, and never with such an impact. There’s something really beautiful and magical about Route 9 West in Vermont. It’s more than just a fun road to drive. Or a beautiful place to look at. If you’re like me, you’re going to quickly realize that there is more than just a journey to be had here. There are stories. And if you’re not like me and still want to go, I’ll drive you.

Jerel says, ‘Go West, young man, go West’.

Jerel Says, ‘Hello World’; Caper

It’s funny just how much you all actually know about who I am.  You know most of my hobbies, passions, and interests. You know a lot of what I don’t like, because I am more passionate against things than I am for. Hahah. You know my hopes, aspirations, and struggles. I dedicated a month to sharing as much as I could remember of my complicated, rocky relationship and a year to sharing as much as I could remember of my complicated, rocky  relationship with ‘relationships’. If my life were conducive to capers, you would have definitely known about those too. My likes, my career, my travels, I’ve shared a lot.

You know how this blog started out of immense heartbreak. How at times when I felt more alone than I ever have, and had nothing but bittersweet memories to keep me awake and afraid at night, I would instead write, opening a vein, bleeding my story out. You know my continued hopes for love and companionship and warmth and connection, and for as much as I myself have figured it out,  you know what it is ultimately I am trying to look for. You know how random words or encounters or  conversations would light a fire in me and how much I would want to share it here, to see if my thoughts and musings could hold up as well on screen as they do in my head.

But you don’t know my name.

Hello world, my name is Jerel. This is my blog.

In a Suit

In Toronto for the wedding of one of my best friends.

There is a chance that there are new readers and new eyes looking at this blog right now. See, I happened to coincide the first post of the new year and my face and personal life reveal with letting friends and family know that I’ve had this, and that they are now welcome to read and be a part of this world. But unlike Man, Jerel has a very minimal and often times  unnoticed social presence, so who knows. Hahah. But in the rare case there are, that means some of you are for the first time finding out about this blog, while most of you are for the first time finding out about its author.

Just so you know, Man also has a twitter you can follow at @ManVsLoneliness.


But you won’t be able to find absolutely adorable photos of me like this even if you follow me. #nofilter

I started this blog as equal parts therapy and exploration. Getting over the past and figuring out the future. I took a year off from relationships and just wanted to focus on figuring out who I am, what I want, what I’m looking for, and why I’ve been such a shitshow trying to find it. In a year’s worth of posts you’re going to find very personal writings about my past relationships, personal reflections on heartbreak and hope, and personal pieces just about who I am, what I love, what I hate, and what I think. The number on the top of the page there, in case you’re wondering, is a score count. As the days went by, I’d take a mental inventory of how it went. My mood, my attitude, my outlook, and I would decide if it was a day to be proud of, happy with, satisfied with, or if it was a day I let my pain, insecurities, or fears get the better of me. Overall, long story short, I didn’t.


I’m an image of grace and beauty in repose.

But for most of you reading,  I’m finding it difficult to think what there is of Jerel there is to share that hasn’t already been a part of Man. I’m 27 years old, I was born and raised and still live in New Jersey with my incredible family and ‘eh’ friends. (Kidding.) I went to elementary, middle school, high school, and college in New Jersey. I hate when people refer to it as ‘dirty Jersey’.  I’m left handed and flat footed. I really really want to be able to describe myself as awkward, quiet, reserved, but the truth is I’m awkward, loud, and just a damn good charmer. Hahah.

Ladies Man

And I’ve always been quite the ladies’ man.

I don’t get very many opportunities in real life to be as expressive or to share like I do here, though. And that is actually true. I’ve kind of developed all of this train of thought on a parallel path to my regular day to day. But I would like to think, I hope, that a lot of what I’ve learned and realized and grown through has changed me and made me more aware of my personal life. Now that everything, Man and Me, has been combined and integrated I’m hoping to share more of how the thoughts and reflections I share here affect what I do out there.

HighSchool Jerel

Peace, love, and chill is all a high school Man wants, man.

I’m not entirely sure what will change for the blog, but I do know there won’t be a day count anymore. And I’d like to still keep up a relatively consistent and reliable stream of posts. I may want to explore various other media, if I can find the right equipment. Maybe my personal connections can help with that, as I know some of my other friends and family have blogs or do things with social media. Maybe I’ll just keep posting baby photos because adorableness should get me a few more likes, right?

Strike a Pose

Outside of this, the future of Me, Man, and this blog are unknown to everyone here. I mean, I’ll keep writing, you’ll just know who the writer is. It’s not gonna affect what I choose to share or how I choose to share it. BUT, I do have a request of  you all reading.  I do know for a fact that something I’d like to do in the near future is a ‘get to know Me or Man’ kind of thing. I’d love to hear all the questions you might have either about me personally or about the blog or anything really.

Cooking Jerel

I will admit, I love including this photo in online dating profiles because women love a) guys who cook and b) cute little kids.

I’m hoping I can get a good number of really interesting questions that could lead to something substantial. Readers and subscribers will be able to comment right on here. Those of you who don’t have blogs can email me or Facebook me, if you got to this from there. I really want to compile all these questions and do a project with them. So please please please, ask away!


A surprise birthday treat at Momofuku Ko. With friends at one of the best, most memorable meals I’ve ever had.

Here’s something I can share with you guys about my real self. I was born with a full head of hair. Like, crazy amount of hair. And most family have this like, one famous photo of me as a baby with a wild untamed afro of hair. I was, according to some of the older folks at least, kind of an annoying child, pretty hard to handle, so maybe this is why they only remember me a) for my hair and b) before I could speak.

Famous Hair

My father likes to joke that I skipped the ‘adorable baby’ phase and went straight to ‘funny looking kid’.


Day 365: The Man and the Clean Start; ‘Savage’

‘Day of rest’ my shiny keister.

I don’t know what it was, but this morning the sun was shining, it was a crisp and clear Catand beautiful day, and I wanted to bury myself in dust and dirt and undo a full year’s worth of damage to my bedroom. Now I’m not actually a ‘messy’ person, per se. Like, I have very strict bedroom rules. Absolutely no food or drink. No one is allowed on or in my bed unless they change into ‘bed clothes’, which as the name would imply, should only ever be worn in bed. We’re your typical Asian family so we already do the whole ‘no shoes indoors’ thing and that extends to no socks and slippers everywhere. Slippers are worn all around the house but are left at the bedroom door and I’m only ever actually barefoot in my room. I put dirty clothes in the laundry, worn but clean clothes on hooks, and all clean clothes are folded or hung. Like I said, I’m not a savage. Hahah.

But I am a bit of a hoarder. And that’s the big problem. My rooms never gets dirty, it just gets crowded. And every now and then I need to just arm myself with five extra large Activitiesgarbage bags and three empty boxes and remind throw out everything I once thought I might need and probably haven’t touched since 2014. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. I did actually find and throw out things I’ve held onto since then for no real rhyme or  reason. So I’m currently enjoying the incredible ease and peace of  mind that comes from a near empty room filled with only purposeful and  meaningful things. I can’t believe how much I had that just had to go, and for good benefit. I even managed to clear enough to redecorate and reorganize some parts of my room. Plus, I think I unlocked like a good ten extra square feet of space.

Resolution 1The timing of my clean room purge isn’t lost on me, by the way. I know what today is, and I certainly think that at least some of my desire for this cleaning was definitely in part due to the last day of my year. You know how some people get around New Year’s. They clean up, they get hopelessly and foolishly optimistic, some even run or exercise, or get foolishly optimistic about running and exercising. And in many ways, to me this is more about the start of a new year than the end of the last. Nothing ends after this. The Resolution 2blog continues, Man continues, and Me continues. In fact, all there is to look forward to is more new, more change, more ‘more’ of everything. And the fact that I am cleaning and listening to more 70s and 80s and 90s pop and dance and rock and I am dancing and singing my way to the end of this day, the end of this year, does make me feel foolishly optimistic that everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be good.

That I could sing and dance and be hopeful at all is in and of itself a major accomplishment, and a testament to the strength I’ve found this past year. I look at the final count and think to myself, 33 days, a little more than a month, really isn’t all that bad. And I think it would have been a lot longer, and would have been a year with much more negative experiences to have to answer for. When I first started this blog, and when I did some research for my NaNoWriMo project, I remember reading articles about how men and women get over relationships differently.

See emotionally and mentally, women are hit more notably and visibly. You know the deal. Sappy romances, chocolate, ice cream, and flannel pajamas for days. Women will Sad Ice Creamshut themselves in and shut the world out. On a very superficial level, compared to men, it seems like women take longer to get over breakups and feel the effects of them much more deeply. And there are very clear and logical evolutionary reasons for this. Biologically speaking, women have more to lose when a relationship fails. Women naturally have much more to invest in relationships and therefore have to consider them on deeper levels faster than men. What one man sees as a brief night of passion a woman might have to see as nine months of pregnancy and years of lactation and care. With much more to gain and to lose, a failed relationship could bear great weight on a woman. But inevitably, give it a couple weeks, a couple months, maybe a year or two, a few pep talks, some honest late night conversation, and she always, always, recover.

You’re gonna think guys get over relationships faster. You’re going to think back and remember men who’ve broken hearts or whose hearts have been broken, and remember how seemingly easy it was and how quick it was for them to get ‘back in the game’ so to Sad Andyspeak. And I’m not denying the signs. Relationships being formed seemingly right away. Clubs and bars and nights out with friends. Sometimes it seems like their feet hit the bar before your tears hit the floor. And certainly in terms of ‘moving on’, men do move on faster. But a lot of times, unlike most women, while men do ‘move on’, most never ‘heal’. A lot of men, even those who seemingly move on quickly, end up burying and bearing the feeling of that loss for much much longer periods of time than women, feeling either the pain of having to try and find what they lost or fearing that what they lost is irreplaceable. You see this in disastrous cycles of identical failed relationships, or men who end up becoming self-saboteurs.

So we’ve got deep and searing pain for a couple months with the eventual promise of recovery, or a speedy bounce back with years of lingering effects. Huh. And to be fair, I think normally I would have followed my natural path and probably within a month or two, try to date, get some online profiles up on a couple different sites, maybe dig up old acquaintances on Facebook to promisingly disastrous results. From personal experience, I know how these breakups usually go, and often times the harder and harsher the fall, the quicker I resort to same old tricks. So what broke the cycle? Why didn’t I go down the most familiar and comfortable path I had? What’s so different about men and women when they go through heartbreak?

This is just conjecture, just one man thinking and speaking out loud, throwing it to the void and seeing what sticks, but I think it comes down to just that. Thinking and speaking ConstantTalkingout loud. Communicating. Women are natural communicators. They share. When they’re done and hurting, they tell, or they have good friends who come and listen. The point is, there’s no shortage of willing ears, or a willing spirit to share. So everything comes out. In large painful bursts but, eventually, it all gets out there. And they’re afforded that opportunity to heal, to recover, to grow, develop, and maybe just maybe avoid the same mistakes, same hurt. Guys, we don’t usually do that. We like to think we’re just so in tune with each other that we don’t need to say anything. It’s almost like, the closer and the manlier your bond, the less you speak. We’ll drink, we’ll spit out enough cliches to get a guy ‘back on the horse’ ‘back in the game’ ‘back in the hunt’ and maybe we’ll just need to keep the cycle going more often that we’d like or imagined. But it’s gotta work, right?

This time, I had this blog. And for 33 days I shared 33 reflections on 33 things that hurt me, kept me up late at night, made me afraid of the coming day. And that number could have been anything. The point was, I always had this outlet. No thought unsaid, no feeling unexplored. And while in the beginning it was to the void, even just the act of verbalizing, forming, seeing the thoughts on screen, had effects. But eventually I had Dataconversations, and interactions, and extra voices, to build up or tear down, depending on what my train of thought might be and where it was headed. Ultimately, I don’t even think it was about the no dating for a year. Or the particular count and wanting to ‘win’ the year. I think it was about finding a voice. Saying something, anything, was better than keeping it in and doing just whatever it was I wanted to do. There’s value in communication. There’s value in the people you communicate with. When I started this blog, one of my goals was not just to be a place for me, but a place for anyone who needed to talk, or needed a second reassuring voice, to find comfort and solace, and maybe some wisdom through similar experiences. I’ve seen and felt firsthand the power of communication. I’ve learned so much, but not nearly enough. And I’ll keep learning and going. But for anyone who ever needs to talk, or listen, I’ll want to be there for them. Unless I’m cleaning. Because I won’t be able to hear you over the Vengaboys.

Hey, that’s just for cleaning music. Don’t judge.

Day 365 FINAL

Man: 332 (WINNER) Loneliness: 33


Day 364: The Man and ‘The Big Sick’; ‘Jangle’

My friends don’t understand why it is I’ve always been so obsessed with relationships and romance and love. And I used to always tell them that once they were finally in a relationship, they’d understand. They’d see everything for how much brighter and more colorful and more vibrant they become when they’re with someone. I just got out of the movies, and rushed home, to start writing this very late post, because I think I got that illuminating ‘a-ha’ moment wrong all this time.

I was a kid living and watching through the golden age of cheesy romances. Many were, WhileYouWereSleeping.jpgand still remain, some of my favorite movies of all time. If You’ve Got Mail is playing on TV it doesn’t matter what time it is or what I’m doing, I will stay glued to that TV to finish it out. I happily sing along to the  energy and fervor of Moulin Rouge. I remember watching While You Were Sleeping with my mother during the day, and how for a span of like, three months she used to have Leap Year on endless loop playing in the family room. Who could forget the Titanic marathons women would subject themselves to, watching this movie over and over in theatres. I swear, if the sheer demand didn’t keep it in cinemas, Kleenex certainly would have. And all these movies, for as wonderful and cheesy and heartfelt as they are, they all have this one thing in common that I thought was the end all be all for love and romance. They all built worlds and stories and characters around just that one moment where two people fall in love and…end. Credits. Every time. And what waaays they ended up together though. Oh, the heart melts. Who can forget Meg Ryan looking tearfully at Tom Hanks, saying ‘I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly’. It YouveGotMail.gifwas always about two people realizing they should be together and then just being together and then credits roll to Hollywood happiness. And because of that, for the longest time I thought the most important part of a relationship, the part you learn the most from, was the getting together. That that must have been the hardest part in the entire process. Two people finding each other in the chaos and randomness of the world and being each other’s soulmates and the search was the obstacle and the soulmate and the life of ease and comfort was the reward. If you weren’t lovesick, it just meant you hadn’t found the right person, and it would just take the finding and the being to make a lifelong convert.

But that’s not exactly true, is it? In fact, it’s not even remotely true. It is the complete Summeropposite, the antithesis. And over time, people began to realize that. We had, or have, the rise of the ‘anti-romcom’. Smart, witty, deliberate attempts at subverting the romcom tropes we grew up with. And I’ve seen so many this past year. Don Jon was a self-aware movie that purposefully poked holes not only in the ridiculousness and excessiveness of pornography but also in the unreasonable expectations and demands of romcom relationships. I’ll admit it wasn’t this year I saw it for the first time but it was this past year that had me constantly revisiting and reexamining (500) Days of Summer first as life model, then source of hope and optimism, muse for love and relationships, but most importantly, a reminder of Swiss Army Manwhat it is I’m actually supposed to be looking for. Swiss Army Man caught me by surprise because it did such an incredible job of masking its actual identity of a romance and love film with all the nonsense and distraction of a farting, shooting, Daniel Radcliffe corpse. The Way Way Back was one of the first movies I saw last summer that really made a lasting and important impression on me for its own much more mature and yet lighthearted take on pure, young love. And now, to add to the list of these new wave of intelligent romantic comedies, there is the semi-autobiographical but fully humorous, entertaining, and heartwarming The Big Sick.

I didn’t really know much about this movie, or that in particular it was actually based on the true circumstances of the first year of Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with his now-wife. Is that a spoiler alert? She’s fine, everyone. She gets out of the coma. I saw an interview of Kumail on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ and they showed that clip of him in the hospital cafeteria with his girlfriend’s parents when he’s asked about 9/11 and I just knew I had to see the whole damn thing. And I’m so glad I did, and I definitely think if you have the opportunity you should as well. It’s a limited release movie so it isn’t showing in nearly as many theatres as it should, but seeing as it is an Amazon production, I imagine it’ll be on Stream soon enough. (What what get that Amazon Prime y’all.) There are such great moments of comedy and they’re written with such sharp wit and they’re delivered with perfect timing and pacing that it’s hard not to find yourself lost in laughter. And there’s certainly a lot to say about the particular skill not only in writing but in acting and perceiving to take what I don’t doubt was a scary and stressful time and reaching beyond that to the humor and heart that makes it a story worth sharing. It is a funny movie. And it’s a real story of real love. And there’s risks taken and hearts to be won and obstacles to overcome. But even the old guard, those 90s and early 2000s throwbacks, could have that and make us want to laugh. It’s these newer ones that have something else in common that to me, make them more ‘authentic’, more ‘relatable’, more ‘real’. They make you cry.

There’s this misconception in high school English classes all over the country (and maybe the world) that we read Shakespeare and Hemingway and Twain and Joyce and whatnot because we want them to know about Hamlet or fishing or the deep south or Ireland. And I would always tell my students that I don’t care if in ten years from now they remember what Hamlet’s father said to him or the symbolism of his soliloquy. I barely cared in the moment about how much they could recognize metaphors and references to southern politics and society in Twain’s depiction in Huck Finn. We read these novels because they are supplements to knowledge we don’t yet have. I want them to read Othello because a classroom and fictional characters are safe environments for young minds to develop mature attitudes towards loyalty and friendship and envy. They know so little when they’re young of great and significant issues and we use literature as tools to exercise and hypothesize and figure out slowly and gradually the kinds of people we are or want to become. And to me, movies are the same way when it comes to emotions. Great movies that are the golden standards of their genres are such because of how they awaken emotions in us that we might not normally feel. Good horrors scare us to the bone, they make us question everyday objects and feel a primal, instinctual, survival type of fear. Great dramas show us just how deeply we can feel for others, constantly pulling on our hearts to greater depths and unlocking levels of humanity and understanding. Action movies make us feel nobler and braver and stronger than we are, inspiring some of us to be heroes. And great romances, real, true, authentic romances, take us way beyond just that sheer ecstasy of the beginning. It shows us past that illusion into what really tells us why love is so important, why we search for it, why we crave it. It shows us loss.

I’ve cried more in movies this past year than I think I ever have. Way Way Back, Swiss Army Man, Big Sick, Kubo, La La Land, even Guardians 2. (Hey I never said they’d all make sense. Sometimes I’m just an emotional mess.) But the romances, the Way Way Backs and the Swiss Army Mans of them all, I was glad to have them to make me cry. Those were tears I think only people who’ve felt love and lost love could cry. You know for as happy as I’ve been this past year, I don’t think anything ever has made me as happy as losing love has made me sad. And sometimes I am afraid of that. And it’s for that reason that sometimes I feel bad for people who have never dated not because they don’t know that relationship lovesick happiness, but because they don’t know that soul crushing yet soul affirming depth of sadness of love loss. A lot of things can make me happy. And a lot of those are not dating or relationships or love. I can find it much easier and in equal or greater portions in so many other things. But nothing like love can make me feel as human as its sadness. I love these newer modern romances because the good ones add that loss. Some, like Swiss Army Man, are even brave enough to stop it at that loss. But I don’t blame most for still wanting to give us that happy ending. It’s there for everyone to have and to relate to. But those scenes of loss, of reflection, of appreciation, those are for the ones who’ve known heartbreak. To feel it again. To remember.

I look back at this year, and I think, I’m glad I had those sad days. I’m glad I could feel how big my heart is and could be, by reaching out and touching the empty expanse of where I wanted my love to be. It’s a measure some people just don’t get to know. I don’t want everyone to go through heartbreak, mind you. If a good enough movie or song or book or piece of art can get you to understand that loss, all the better. I just don’t want to see so many people never appreciate or understand their love because they’ve never had it or because they’ve forgotten what it feels like to be without it.  I still enjoy my cheesy romances, but they stay strictly in the movie world. I’ve had my fill of happy endings and stories that ended at the beginning. I like the romance movies that can make me laugh and cry. That poke and prod at the sore spots to remind me not of the hurt, but of the fact that they are there. I don’t keep pursuing love because of the happy happy joy joy mushy gushy stuff. I can get that. I can do that.  I do it because I know how much my heart misses it. Oh how happy am I that I could ever afford to have been so sad.

Oh right. The daily prompt. Jangle. Like, what in the fuck even is that?!

Day 364

Man: 331 Loneliness: 33

Day 363: The Man and the Impostor; ‘Quill’

Oh No Baby

There is Man, there is Me, and then there is the Impostor. He’s a fairly new identity, and Impostorhe only comes out in one very particular circumstance and situation, and I don’t really like him, and for as much as I feel the end of the year and opening up my blog to friends and family and opening up my personal life more to the blog will create new opportunities, I also feel like this might be one of the last few times I get to talk about this.

Particularly because it has to do with a friend of mine. And I mean, who knows. Maybe no one I know will be interested enough to read all of this, but maybe they will, and I won’t have that comfortable mask of anonymity anymore. But I still feel like there’s so much more to gain from opening up than there is to keep this all private and closed for just one reason, one person.

I’ve mentioned before that my incurable addiction to love has in the past alienated pretty much all of the friends I had who were women. Either by dating them or not dating themSick and losing interest or trying and making it well you know, awkward, I really don’t have many female friends. That is to say, save for just one now. (That I regularly spend time with and see, as one of my best friends lives in Montreal with her husband so I don’t get to see her or them as much.)

But I’ve known this particular friend since college, when we met in our Public Speaking class (so much fun, I love to make people listen to me) and we went to the same clubs (Chinese Student Association and, for a time, fencing). So we’ve known each other for almost a decade now. Since then we’ve both gone through relationships and heartbreak, we’ve grown and changed, started careers, changed careers, we’ve traveled together in groups, had plenty of late night conversations about families and dating, and turned to each other for advice and guidance. We share much of the same interests and hobbies. If I need a second for a night of drinking, I know it couldn’t be any one of my friends but her. Exciting new restaurant that I want to share with someone who can talk ‘food’, her. Movies, constantly going out to watch new ones and sharing what our ‘must watch’ lists are and meeting up for the ones we both want to see. Aside from me she has the second highest sense of adventure and willingness to go beyond comfort zones in our group of friends. Recently I’ve been spending more time with her and her family, getting fairly comfortable and familiar with her brother and her mother, as we’ve gone out to see Cirque shows in the area altogether. Ever since college she and I have had this tradition at her expense. Whenever we go to a new restaurant, I always sneak away to tell the staff it’s her birthday. She gets so embarrassed having an entire restaurant sing to her, and I love watching her reactions. It’s made for some great photo opportunities.

So yeah…I think you know where this is going.

And I don’t want it to go that way.

This is maybe one of the first major decisions I make as Me, and not as Man. This isn’t about an experiment or blinders. It’s about not wanting to lose a friend. It’s about putting Chicken Runto work, in practice, what I’ve been so passionately and eloquently putting to quill and paper. And so I’ve had to do something so uncharacteristic. Yes, I’ll admit, more recently I’ve been thinking of her more. But for the first time I’m really trying not to do anything. Calmer, cooler, heads should prevail and for the most part, there is a huge part of me that knows nothing good can come of this, or more specifically, knowing her, and knowing me, nothing can come of it, period. Let’s just say her past relationship history will prove I’m really not her type. Not knowing really how to handle this, I don’t like the person I am sometimes when I am with her and others. I get jealous more easily, and unlike John Lennon, I’m not ‘just a jealous guy’. Jell-O doesn’t get jealous. It’s such a stupid and childish feeling in my opinion. And yet…we went to karaoke, and I got so jealous of how much she liked someone else’s song choices and wanted to sing with them. (I get a small sense of pride whenever she asks about a new song I’m listening to because she wants it as well.) In silly things like talking about ‘who can eat the most noodles’ I get jealous when she picks someone else. (In truth, I don’t think anyone wins at those.) When she messages me about seeing a movie together I get excited, and then disappointed and jealous when I see another one of her friends shows up as well. But then, I know there was no promise or indication otherwise. This wasn’t anything more than just going to see a movie. Yet I feel indignant, and I make myself distant and moody. I’ll sit purposely away from them because ‘I want to sit closer to the screen’. I’m trying soHorrible Person hard to deny these thoughts that a lot of times I have to make myself think of all her shortcomings and focus on those more. She’s honestly very terrible with time. But then, as a Filipino, so am I. Yet I know I am sometimes curt and brusque with her when she arrives. I have to calm and cool myself, but in the time it takes, I know I can feel myself sending off these harsh negative vibes. I create unnecessary tension that she, in her patience, lets me dissolve and bring it all back with some jokes. We’ve never actually missed anything because of her. I don’t like how I am when I’m trying not to like her. This isn’t me. And unlike when I am with someone I am attracted to and actually want to attract them, I often lack self-confidence, I feel like less than I am. I never feel less than when I feel myself in her eyes. Maybe again as a defense mechanism, that I focus on my own shortcomings as much as I try to focus on hers.

I can handle being a terrible person. I’ve been that before. But there is something about all this that doesn’t sit well, that unsettles me. And it’s that at times…I feel like a liar. An Officeimpostor. I didn’t write about this when it happened, but I did speak about it to my cousin, who I’ve shared a great deal with this past year. During the holidays my friend invited me to be her +1 to her company’s Christmas party.  Of course, I was more than happy to attend, and that wasn’t just because of the free food and open bar. I knew this was just two friends at a party, one there to help make the other feel less awkward. But I also knew in the context, that I could ‘pretend’ a bit more than usual. For the first time in all the years I’ve known her, I got to see her in a dress. She looked incredible.  At the party, I had more than  just a little bit of fun pretending to be her actual date, and sometimes I relished the joke for more than what  it was worth. There was a photo booth where you could take pics with different props and costumes, and I had fun posing there, with my arm around her, pretending. Around her coworkers and her supervisors I did my best to make her look good, being the fun and attentive date. I chatted up her group and got them laughing with my usual party self,  I’d always very cheekily enjoy getting another drink for her when hers was empty. ‘Oh no dear, you keep mingling  with your friends, I’ll get you another, boo.’ On the surface it was all just in good fun, but there was a part of me that did enjoy living that impostor’s life for a moment, but I knew I was lying, to myself and to her. I don’t like that feeling of always finding something when I know there isn’t anything there. I don’t want to always look, like this is some really badly written romance. I’ve mentioned that this month I’ll be going to the Eastern Traditional Archery PugRendezvous, and I’m very excited about that.  And I’ve off-handedly mentioned it to my friend, as we are both into archery, that she might want to attend and we could go for the weekend. I know I’d have a great time just going with a friend to make it easier and less awkward and at least I’d have someone to talk to before making new friends and trying to find new groups. But…is there a part of  me that sees more than just that in this opportunity? And am I not a liar for hiding that.  Don’t get me wrong. I am a decent and good human being.  I’d never take advantage or take some  opportunity that wasn’t afforded to me.  But just knowing I have these feelings to wrestle with, and knowing there is nothing to make her think such, and yet putting us in those situations, I feel like a liar.

The best thing I can say I’ve learned this past year to apply to this situation is that the previous me would have been foolish and brash, saying ‘you can’t pass this up, what if she’s the one!’ Knowing now that, there are plenty of ones out there. I know that there must be plenty of women out  there with the same or similar interests and backgrounds. I know that I could be equally happy with a great number of other people. And more recently I know that even then, there’s no guaranteeing that this type, this particular sort, would have led to anything more or less significant. I’m not fooling myself with delusions of destiny or fate. And a very practical voice is telling me a lifelong friendship is better than a brief glimpse of love. And for however much difficulty I may have in convincing myself not to feel for one person, I know it would be equally easier to find someone else to feel for. I just have to keep working this new muscle until it gets easier. And as I do, I hope I don’t keep hating the person I am in the process.

But man…she’s great. Hahah.

Day 363

Man: 330 Loneliness: 33


Day 362: The Man and the Ship of Theseus; ‘Tether’

First, I would like to introduce to you the paradox known as the ‘Ship of Theseus’.

The ship, wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete, had thirty oars and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place. So much so that this ship became an example among the philosophers for the logical question of things that grow: one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

-Plutarch, Theseus

It basically comes down to this. Is an object that has had every single part of it replaced, Theseusstill the same object? It’s a classic paradox since ancient Greek times that has been used in various forms in philosophy, politics, literature, religion, and even pop culture. I don’t even recall exactly when or where I first heard of the ‘ship of Theseus’ but of course I was intrigued to see if maybe it could be used in relationships as well. Relationships change and grow, just like, or really even more so than, boats. There are so many moving and changing parts, yet so often we feel like somehow we’re just caught in a loop. We fall for the same people, our relationships encounter the same pitfalls. In the endless infinite number of people there are in the world, we keep repeating. Why is that? What is it about finding something so different that they all end up…the same?

PersonTo me, this comes down to really a question of identity. After all, to answer this paradox we have to answer what we think the ‘ship’ actually is. Is a ship’s identity its individual parts, or is it the form of it? So we have two separate entities. The ‘parts’ and the ‘form’. For Relationshipme, that means I have to separate the ‘person’ and the ‘relationship’. Since the question for me is, does the person make the relationship or does the relationship determine the person?

Let’s take the person first, for example. Often times when we imagine the kind of person we’d like to date, we like to think up a certain persona, our ‘type’. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  We all have our certain particular attractions, things we look for, our own way of measuring up a romantic interest. It My Type.gifcould be anything from physical (we like them tall, short, long hair, short hair, fit, lean, curvy, etc.) to the more personal (tomboys vs super feminine, good guys vs bad boys, partiers, readers, playboys, or poets). I’ll be the first to admit that I have a type as well, but I have noticed that over time my ‘type’ has changed, differed, evolved. Personally, I think I’m on the cusp of another ‘type’ shift as I think about dating again in the future and who I might want to be with. But is there any credence to ‘types’? Can we trust this blanket general assumption? How closely can we correlate the success or failure of a relationship to the type of person in it? I mean, if we think of it this way, up until the very final moment that we actually end up with the person we end up with, up until that ultimate, final, most successful relationship, haven’t most of us always gone after our ‘types’? So, mathematically speaking, what’s the success rate of going after types? I don’t think I’ve ever dated someone I didn’t think was my type so that makes my own personal success rate, oh…0%? Let’s say 0 for 7. Ish. It’s interesting to me to see that often we attribute relationship success to seeking our ‘type’ and yet, despite the fact thatAddams.gif we meet failure more often than success, we never think to apply the same logic to saying maybe juuust maybe a certain ‘type’ can lead to a certain outcome, that being of failure and sadness and heartbreak.  And yet, the most important statistic, the one that sticks out, isn’t the six times we went after someone we thought we’d like and it didn’t work out. The most important is the one time we did and it was incredibleLife-changingLasting. So really, who’s to say in this sense? Can we safely and reliably predict the result of a relationship based on the person, and if that’s the case, for so long as we keep going after the same type of person, do we then also assume it’s going to be the same relationship?

And let’s talk about that relationship for a second. Because some of us don’t have types. PortlandiaBut most of us have an idea of the kind of relationship we want. We might not know, or have, the individual ‘parts’ just yet (the person) but we certainly have in mind the ‘form’ (relationship) we want it to take up. So is this more or less important, more or less reliable as an indicator of any sort of success or failure? We want a relationship that is stable, loyal, satisfying, in whatever ways and measures and metrics we’ve decided are important to us. Indeed in conversations with some of my friends, I know that at least some of them have given little thought to the person they might end up with. It’s almost as if ‘who’ the person is, is of little importance compared to ‘how’ they fit into this form. New or old planks, original or renovated, as long as it is the same form, it is the same ideal. The thing of it is, as humans, I think we’re naturally designed to never be quite satisfied enough. It’s that itching, nervous twitch in the back of our mind that constantly asks us ‘is this enough’ that drives us either to great success, or to go mad. Some of us use it to continually grow and develop, to adapt and achieve great results. Others become paranoid, self-destructive, our own saboteurs, uncomfortable with happiness or satisfaction. So what is there to guarantee that once we find the person who fits this ‘form’ that we are going to be happy, with no regard for ‘who’ the person is?

The only truth we can safely arrive at, is that there is no answer to this. That’s why the ‘ship of Theseus’ is a paradox and not just a pub trivia question. To whatever aspect of Jeannot's Knifeour life we find the ship to be relevant to, we’re not meant to arrive at a conclusion. We’re meant to reflect and ruminate, to ponder with patience and perseverance. It keeps us aware, mentally and physically, and tethers us to reality. I’m no more ready to completely disregard types as I am to simply walk around with a cookie cutter and see who fits into it. And if I ever get tired of thinking about relationships (perish the thought), the ‘ship of Theseus’ has become such an important philosophical conundrum that I can find examples of it everywhere. In France there is the proverb of ‘Jeannot’s knife’, basically if the handle and the blade of a knife are replaced, is it the same knife? In movies, animation, and comics, the Japanese title Ghost in the Shell often wrestles with matters of humanity and soul when humans,Shrine.gif almost completely replaced with cybernetic enhancements and prosthetics, wonder where their humanity actually lies. In Japan, Shinto shrines have a very beautiful and sacred symbolic ritual wherein the entire shrine is dismantled and, on the same foundation, it is rebuilt with entirely new wood. This is meant to symbolize a cycle of renewal and rebirth, yet it remains, in spirit, the same shrine, built with wood from the same sacred woods. In 2013, the Ise Grand Shrine, one of the most famous and notable Shinto shrines, was rebuilt for the 62nd time.

I am anxious to ensure that I don’t just fall  back into old habits, or continue to pursue the same relationships with the same results. I will keep these thoughts and lessons in mind, and hopefully if at least the Man is different, the path will be as well.

Day 362

Man: 329 Loneliness: 33