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

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

At least…I thought I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good start to the month, looking forward to more!

 

 

 

Day 191

Man: 160 Loneliness: 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 187

Man: 158 Loneliness: 31

Day 66: The Man and the Brudah

Happy Birthday.png

It is customary in my family that on birthdays after our prayer (Filipino Catholics represent y’all) I say a few special words reserved for the celebrant. Yeah big surprise, wonder how I ended up with that responsibility.

Today is my brother’s 22nd birthday. Twenty-two years ago I got a little brother and a best friend. Though I guarantee you there were times where I wasn’t sure we were gonna make it together. We had a nice dinner at a family-owned Italian restaurant in town, exchanged gifts, and we are now off to the movies. But before I go, I wanted to share with you the words I decided to dedicate to my dear younger brother from his Kuya (big brother).


 

Boobalah, Munch, Tikboy, Bruuudah. Happy birthday. Today you are 22. I want you to know I am tremendously, immeasurably proud of you. I see a wealth of possibility and potential and I commend you for staying true to yourself your entire life. I’ve never worried about the man you would become. I never questioned your decisions or the path you chose to take because you have never struck me as less than completely genuine. It’s okay that our paths and choices have led us to different destinations. It’s alright that we don’t always see eye to eye. You have been steadfast and firm with me and I know you’ve been that way with everything else.

Birthday Cat.gifYou face some immense responsibility now. You are out of school and the world is going to call on you to use your skills and talents. Remember to use them for the betterment of yourself, your family, and your world. You have a responsibility to fulfill the role you were always meant to have and it is on you to discover what that is. You will take on more responsibility, as I have, to take care of Mama and Papa and you will have to contribute more to the family. This you should take on with pride and enthusiasm.

You know the world is very different now. The expectations and the rewards are grossly unbalanced. There are a lot of people who would want to take advantage of your skills and use you rather than help you. Be aware, be smart. I am not worried because I have never promised you anything that I did not believe I or the world could guarantee you. You are clever enough to see the world for what it is and still find joy and happiness and satisfaction.

You are no longer a kid. You have always been my best friend but now you are also my Sugar.gifequal. I respect you and I admire you and I work to make you as proud of me as I am of you. I will always be there to be your guide, your mentor, your confidant, and your number one fan. Make us all proud. Make yourself proud. You are my brother, my blood, and I love you.

 

Day 66

Man: 49 Loneliness: 17