Day 199: The Man and the Missed Anniversary; ‘Oversight’

Today would have been our anniversary.

the office

When we first started dating back in college, we wanted some time just to test the waters, no need to rush. We made it official on January 23rd because we liked the idea of ‘1-2-3’. Easy to remember, and you could make a wish on a day like that. Hahah.

When we got back together last year, or were in the process of doing so, I asked her out for our first date on January 23rd. It’s kind of crazy to think that an entire year has already past. We didn’t even make it to the halfway point.

January 23rd has therefore always been an important day for me. Either I had something to celebrate, or something to miss. This is the first year I can say with full confidence that though I might not have something really to celebrate (other than being a day short of the big 200!) I also have nothing I could say that I miss.

But it is an interesting coincidence though that on this 23rd of January I do have to say goodbye.

Image result for hot pot gifOh maybe I should clarify! I’m not going anywhere. Slight trolling on my part. Hahah. Actually this is more of a reflection on the weekend; as most of you regular readers know I had my annual hot pot/sleepover over the weekend. Or at least, I tried to.

We do this every year and every year I am a more than willing host, partly because my parents love to vacation for months at a time and partly (mainly) because I am the only one in our group who ever offers to host or else we’d have had to do this at some overpriced restaurant every time. And every year we treat it as an opportunity to let loose and get drink just a bit more than usual because everyone stays overnight and then we have a big Filipino (read: hangover cure) breakfast the next morning. It’s a big tradition in our group. I thought these meant something to people. Maybe traditions have lost their significance. Maybe we’re all after the newest things, consumers of trends rather than bastions of tradition. Or maybe I’ve put too much into people whose only fault is that they just don’t care. Like at all.

Aside from the assumption of longstanding tradition, I have the written texts of all my friends confirming they were ready, able, and committed to this weekend’s events. It is not until the very day as I am picking them up at their homes (again, the idea was everyone would stay) that every single one of them tells me that they will not be spending the night.

Image may contain: foodI hate to say it but internally I immediately reverted back to my 7-year old self, thinking ‘well that’s fine, I didn’t want to hang out with you anyways, pfffbt’. The truth is it hurts. I feel like a child who’s been walking around holding something in my hands and wanting to show it off to other people and tell them how valuable it is and someone takes one look at it and tells me all I’ve actually got is some dirt or trash.

Apart from all of that and despite having to cut festivities short, we did have a pretty great time though. That’s the thing of it. We can always make a great time of whatever we do. Image may contain: foodWe had plenty of food, music playing in the background while we ate and drank, and the communal nature of a hot pot (everyone placing different things into the boiling broth and fishing out whatever catches their eye) really brought us together while eating. We had to do the grocery shopping together, we prepped all the ingredients together, set everything up, and took everything down. I had a giant Jenga tower for us to play (penalty shots of course) and then we whipped up some meringue and made a baked Alaska for dessert. While everyone was sobering up we played some Crabs Adjust Humidity (not an auto-correct typo, a great copycat game of Cards Against Humanity with better cards) and my friend even brought back souvenirs from his trip to Japan with his girlfriend.

Image may contain: foodSunday I had the day to myself again. I cleaned the house, just as I did the week before in preparation, loaded/unloaded the dishwasher, went grocery shopping, and realized I was just as happy as I was on Saturday, only minus the disappointment. Which means I can’t fault my friends. The only thing preventing me from being happy was me. And I think it’s because I’ve placed too much on these relationships. It’s hard to admit that maybe I’ve placed more value on our friendship than my friends have, but I feel that now that I have come to acknowledge this, I can be happier and enjoy and appreciate my friendship with them more, seeing it for what it really is. And that’s not to say that my friends don’t care or that I am anything less to them; it’s that I overestimated how much they cared and how much I am. But if I can successfully live in that ‘gold zone’ and be more realistic and aware, I think we’d all be better off.

I thought that the great tragedy this weekend was that I had been slighted. I wanted to be Image may contain: foodthe victim, to take offense at what I thought was being treated like an oversight. That is absolutely not the case. I’ve been thinking about ‘are these friends right for me’ and ‘what am I still getting out of maintaining these friendships’ but the truth is, I had a great time Saturday. We can still have great times together and I have no reason to want to change or leave. I do want to grow, and find people who might actually care at the same level and intensity and with the same openness and intention as I do, but I am still glad to have the friends I have.

Image may contain: foodAm I a little disappointed that their actions this past weekend clearly reflect that I’ve been pursuing much more in a well that ran out? Yes, a little. But I don’t say goodbye to my friends. I just have to say goodbye to these expectations and continue to search out. It must have been the same for when I was dating her. I placed way more into that relationship than I got out. But I am no victim and she was no villain. It’s important to get out of that ‘victim mentality’. I loved her deeply. I thought there was some great injustice to what happened between us. But I had invested too much, expected too much, in a well that was much more shallow then I could try to draw out of. It is not the fault of the well when your bucket hits the bottom. It is simply time to move on. Don’t hold on to any perceived slight, look towards more and better and deeper.

Day 199

Man: 167 Loneliness: 32

Day 193: The Man and the Obligatory Company; ‘Invitation’

My next food project is an old favorite of mine, something I always love making whenever I feel like treating myself. LAMB! Food of the gods, as my father likes to call it. After beef, it is my second favorite meat. The rack of lamb, the Rolls-Royce of meat, is incredibly versatile and these perfect sized meat ‘lollipops’ are incredible roasted, herb-crusted, grilled, whatever. It is always difficult for me to resist ordering if I ever see it on a menu, especially at French restaurants. Lamb shanks are great and relatively cheap when you consider how much meat and flavor there is, especially with that rich bone marrow. Leg of lamb, oh my god, at a buffet carving station? Whoever is there quickly becomes my new best friend. But cooking at home, my absolute favorite piece to cook, are the lamb shoulder chops. I’m drooling just thinking about it and I’m already looking forward to tomorrow just because it means I’ll be having more and I just finished eating too. Hahah.

If you haven’t had the opportunity yet to try lamb, I highly recommend it. It’s low in calories, high in flavor, has a very mild gamey taste, and is incredibly tender. Lamb shoulder is a relatively cheap cut that can be grilled, braised, pan-fried, but my favorite preparation is simply broiled. The day before I season both sides of the shoulder chop with Goya Adobo seasoning. This is the magic fairy dust from which all great meat seasonings derive. Seriously, get this in your kitchen. I add extra fresh ground pepper because I find it helps to balance the fatty richness of the meat. I then spend the good portion of the rest of my day chopping up heaping tons of garlic and ginger. I mean, when you get to the point where you feel you have enough, double it, and then add more, just for safe measure. You’ll thank me later. Cover both sides of the lamb with this garlic/ginger mixture and then let it marinade in the fridge overnight. Pop it in the broiler until it’s just medium, medium-well. Please don’t overcook this delicate meat. Make sure you’ve got plenty of rice or some good bread handy. The copious amounts of garlic and ginger you spread on the lamb has roasted and absorbed all the meaty flavors and the lamb itself has rendered a good amount of sinfully rich fat. Spoon that flavor packed mixture over your rice or dip some bread into it and oh my god. I could have plenty of meals just mixing that with rice.

They were on sale at my grocer’s so for this entire week I’ll be enjoying lamb. Some meals were meant to be shared, but if you don’t mind, I’ll take this one alone. Hahah.

Having said that, I am planning on sharing some meals with friends soon. This weekend will be the invitation to our annual winter hot pot. Can’t wait for that and I’ll be sure to surreptitiously take plenty of pics. Wouldn’t want my friends to become so suspicious of my new food pic habits! Hahah. On Saturday night we’ll meet and spend the time drinking and playing games and then just have a spread of meat, vegetables, seafood, noodles, rice, all to just swish in the hot flavored broth to your preferred doneness. Great DIY food for a drinking party. Some friends will sleepover, one who lives nearby will probably go back and then come back Sunday morning, where we’ll make some breakfast, and I know my one friend has been wanting to make some baked alaska and meringue so we’ll probably just fool around doing that.

My one friend has just come back from a trip to Japan with his girlfriend, so I will be excited to hear about how that went. We’ll also get to try those drinking games I got for Christmas. It will be fun, and as I’ve mentioned before, it’ll be nice to have that connection and time to spend with them, despite the distance I might have been feeling. It will just be a bit strange because I know in the back of my head I’ll be thinking about what connects us, and trying to see what the years will bring.

That’s the plan for the next couple days at least. Hope you’re all happy, healthy, and eating plenty!

Day 193

Man: 162 Loneliness: 31

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

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

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

But circumstances are a bit different this year.

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

So what’s changed?

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

Take comfort and solace in the company of friends though!

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

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

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

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

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

Day 179

Man: 148 Loneliness: 31

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

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

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

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

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

ManVsLoneliness’s Holiday Survival Guide: 2016 Edition

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

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

Don’t forget. Frankie says relax.

Home Alone.gif

Day 164

Man: 136 Loneliness: 28

Day 114: The Man and the Bellowing Sorrows; ‘Smoke’

Work Crazy.gif

Finally an opportunity when things have relatively calmed down. It has been a hell of a week which has been quite the shame considering how great the past weekend was.

Got a chance to watch The Accountant with Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick. Great movie. I don’t know why the critics panned it so much. I feel somehow somewhere along the line, perhaps around the Giglii era, Ben Affleck turned into critic and box office poison. He has since proven himself again. The Town was great, Argo proved his abilities as an actor, producer, and director. Yet everyone was so eager to see him fail as Batman that I cannot really get a sense of where people are in terms of Ben Affleck anymore. I was always a fan and Anna Kendrick, though she pretty much plays the exact same person in every one of her films, still plays it well and convincingly and she’s just so damn beautiful. There was an entire subplot with JK Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson that, though interesting, provided very little to the actual story. But the character was compelling and the intrigue was captivating. Highly recommended.

Saturday my friends and I got to go to Six Flags Fright Fest. The day was perfect for it. Fright Fest.jpgOvercast, slightly misty with sporadic rain, and 50°. The rain was moving through southern Jersey heading north so by the time we got there it had pretty much cleared up, but the weather did exactly what I hoped it would. The cold and rain kept most people away from the park so as soon as we were in it was nonstop rides. The shortest lines I’ve ever experienced and that made the cold so worth it. Plus, it’s crazy to feel the wind just freeze your teeth off as you’re screaming down a long drop. I’m a ride junkie so it was great but I was most proud of my one friend K, who hates rides. Something about Saturday just lit something in him though and he was on most of the rides with us. Some only I got on because everyone was too nervous to try. Joker was a solo ride because no one else wanted to try it. If you haven’t seen the ride or know anything about it, it’s a free-rotating and spinning rollercoaster ride. It goes straight up like an elevator and goes along the track with the carts suspended over the railing and Joker Ride.jpgspinning off. Green Lantern was fun and I love the gimmick of standing to ride. Superman you ride on your stomach. Batman the track is above you so your feet are hanging off. I love rides that are beyond your standard car and track. Having said that, the BEST ride experience of Fright Fest was after sundown, in pitch darkness, seeing nothing in front of you and going down an INTENSE drop at 70mph on El Toro. The frights of Fright Fest were okay, predictable, and the haunted mazes were unfortunately an extra cost, but just being able to do roller coasters in pitch darkness was entirely worth it. That and the hot cocoa and churros. Six Flags churros are the best.

Sunday was a thrill as well. I met my cousin in the city to try an escape room experience and take her to a bar in the Lower East Side that has some great drink and oyster specials all day on Sundays. I’ve done escape game before and I love them. Open ended puzzles, usually some great theatric elements (our had secret panels coming out of fireplaces and Mission Escape.pngsecret doors that opened to other rooms and chessboards that lit up when you placed pieces in certain places), wonderful opportunity to be working with friends or even strangers in small groups, and themes that to be honest, I could take it or leave it. The ones that are too over the top or try too hard actually turn me off to it, but just enough to create ambiance are fine. The one we went to was called The Hydeout, where we had to investigate what happened to Dr. Jekyll and how it relates to the mysterious killer Mr. Hyde. It was my cousin’s first time trying it and she admitted it was a bit out of her comfort zone, but I was so happy that she was willing to try it and I think the level of difficulty, the intricacy of the puzzles, the friendliness of the staff and our group, made for a great first experience and I think she sincerely enjoyed it. Afterwards I took her to The Essex, a restaurant in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It used to be an old warehouse which gives it a great setting with high windows and a second floor loft. Unfortunately a rather…rowdy….birthday party was going on literally right next to us but as soon as they left it quieted down and we were able to have conversations without yelling over each other. The drinks were great (and half off on Sunday) and the oysters were only $1 each. Essex.jpgFresh, good flesh and flavor, enough saltiness, great pairing for the night. Actually almost missed my bus because we spent so much time talking and drinking! I’ve been really looking forward to these opportunities to spend time with my cousin since I never got to really know her whenever I would visit the Philippines. We talked about relationships and life decisions and all these wonderful engaging complicated topics. Always fun to stretch the mind that way. Feel bad though because I know it can be exhausting as well. Maybe next time I’ll talk to her about the weather. Hahah.

It really is such a shame then that as fun and exciting as the weekend was, this week has been complete and utter trash. A new update that we were supposed to give people time to prepare for and teach them how to handle was sprung on the company on Monday Dwight.gifmorning and suddenly it was mayhem and chaos. People are emailing, messaging, texting, everyone has no idea what’s happening and our responsibility within our team is to disperse the information as quickly as possible. While my team, who were consultants longer than I was and who know more of the agents out in the field, were handling the smaller requests and one on one messages through our FB@Work program, I was the medium between the actual programming team and IT desk and the area stores. I had to talk to our program director and my manager. When our support desk didn’t know what to do, I was the one who spoke to them and coached them through the updates and how to fix it and what to tell people so that they were armed and equipped to help everyone who was calling and emailing in. But this put me way far behind the front line. I was far removed from where people could see who was giving them information so my boss was wondering where I was, asking why I wasn’t helping, at the same time that I was coordinating with our entire support staff and answering the questions of my team members because they weren’t aware of the changes. I was the one who, at the end of the day, had to give a report of my activities because no one could see me posting on Facebook or responding on emails. It was my work pride that took a little bit of a hit when everyone else was getting shout outs and thank yous and special head-eskmentions for how wonderful they were and how on top of things they were. My colleagues are not ones to easily give credit to others (you don’t get far in sales by giving other people your commission, now do you) and I am not one to ever seek or expect recognition. I trust enough in meritocracy that a good job should be recognized as such. I’m not the type to ‘blow smoke’ up someone’s ass nor am I the type to particularly enjoy the sensation of it being blown up mine. I’ll praise a job deserving praise and I’ll accept praise for a job well done, but I can’t ever support anything else as more than superfluous. Yet here I was dealing with the stresses and demands as I should but watching the ones I armed getting credit. It just hurts the motivation and incentive sometimes, vain as it may sound.

On the bright side it’s almost the weekend, and next week I am on the road, getting to enjoy the traveler life again, staying in my favorite hotels, and I even organized my schedule so that I am working my down the shore so I can spend next weekend in Atlantic City by myself. I have a favorite late night Chinese restaurant that has real authentic dishes for delivery like oxtail noodle soup and salt and pepper squid and jellyfish, the hotel I always stay at is giving me a free night and half off their buffet, Philips Seafood does happy hour drinks and oysters all day Sunday, and I’ll spend some time gambling and maybe catch an IMAX film. Next week it’ll be about me and the road and my work and my writing. No reports, no checking in, and the immediate benefit of my efforts will be leaving a store better than it was when I first walked in.

But on a lighter, more humorous note, let’s talk about the origin of the phrase ‘to blow smoke up someone’s ass’, shall we?!

In the late 1700s ‘blowing smoke up your ass’ more than just a figurative expression for meaningless praise to ‘inflate’ your ego. It was an actual medically accredited method of Smoke Ass.jpgresuscitation, particularly among drowning victims. Much as how nowadays you are expected to know the location of an AED in your office or home, the people of the 1700s were expected to know where smoke bellows were found hung along the routes of popular waterways and by bridges such as in London and along the River Thames. To use the device, a tube was inserted into the victim’s rectum which was connected to a bellow and fumigator to create smoke and push it up into the victim. The nicotine was thought to be an accelerant that would speed up heartbeat, thus reviving circulation. The smoke was also thought to be able to warm and dry the victim’s insides, removing excess water. This practice was so prevalent that the Royale Humane Society offered the equivalent of $750 to anyone who successfully revived a victim through this method. Much like how we nowadays tell those who are administering CPR to sing Staying Alive by the BeeGees to remember rhythm, in 1774 the Royal Humane Society released this little ditty to help remind people what to do for drowning victims when administering the smoke enema.

Tobacco glister, breathe and bleed.

Keep warm and rub till you succeed.

And spare no pains for what you do;

May one day be repaid to you.

In fact, smoke enemas became so popular as form of treatment that its use spread to more than just drowning victims. Smoke enemas were used to treat headaches, hernias, and abdominal cramps. One of the earliest and most popular examples of a smoke enema successfully resuscitating someone was when a young man’s wife had nearly drowned and was unconscious. Without the proper bellow and tube, the husband took a lit tobacco pipe, shoved the stem into his wife’s rectum, covered the other end with his mouth, and blew as forcefully as he could. His wife regained consciousness, though I can’t help but think maybe it was really from the sensation of burning hot tobacco embers being blown literally up her ass.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century when tobacco was found to be harmful to the cardiac system that the practice of ‘blowing smoke’ up someone’s ass was finally considered more harmful than helpful and the expression stayed in the figurative sense. Personally, I’m glad for that.

Day 114

Man: 93 Loneliness: 21

Day 101: The Man and the Manliness of Praise P.5; ‘Candle’

‘Virtues are acquired through endeavor, which rests wholly upon yourself. So, to praise others for their virtues can but encourage one’s own efforts.’

– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine.jpgFor the final part of my series on praise I would like to discuss the act of praise in particular as it pertains to men. I’d also like to issue a warning about the efficacy of praise and the discretion of its use. And finally I’d like to issue a challenge to everyone to become a bit more active in their mindset of praise. We’ve got a lot to go over people so let’s get started.



The Manliness of Praise

Though I know the majority of my readers are women (as seems prevalent among the blogging community) I cannot ignore the fact that I am a guy and I feel that more men should be able to write and find community and find relevant posts for themselves. And though I may direct this portion towards men in particular I believe there could be benefit in everyone reading this, as it does not necessarily only apply to men and it can also help understand a bit of the male psyche.

I believe that while men may have no issues giving or receiving praise from women, we are particularly restrained when it comes to praising our fellow man. I know I have definitely shared more positive words with women than I have with men and I believe this could be true for many others. The causes for this I think are rooted within our views of masculinity and other men.

See for the most part, guys view others guys primarily as competition versus ally, which is man2man.jpgusually the reverse for women. We are still tuned to want to hunt and provide and fear the scarcity of resources, including praise and success. For many men success, respect, and praise are all ‘points’ to be won and to offer someone praise is to ‘give up’ precious points. Yes, it is true that praising someone is to recognize that they particularly excel either in a particular skill, characteristic, or trait. But success isn’t a game to be won and simply because someone excels in something does not mean there are no opportunities for you to excel in the same thing or something else altogether. The truth of the matter is respect is something we have plenty of to go around and offering praise, while raising one person, does nothing to lower another. In fact the man you are praising most likely doesn’t even think to keep ‘score’ with you so this worry that prevents you from sharing some positivity with your fellow man is just keeping a valuable asset out of the hands of someone who might really need that affirmation.

Further, I challenge men to consider that it is actually the higher man who is able to comfortably, confidently, and consistently offer his fellow men words of praise. Humility, self-awareness, and the desire for improvement are all valuable traits to have in anyone, regardless of gender. Especially for a man who might be hesitant to offer a compliment because of lowering his value I say that it actually shows you to be someone who possesses these three traits. It is honorable for a man to be able to find excellence in others and respect and recognize them for it. Further it shows that he has thought about the traits he wishes to possess and it portrays it in his search for examples of such. Often times offering a kind word can also open the door to improvement. Praising someone for something you admire and wish to also possess can facilitate growth in the greatest way – by finding someone whose example you can follow either in the form of formal tutelage or in spirit.

I also believe that when it comes to men and the manliness of praise, praising another person in particular for their values also reflects positively on the one praising. Remember ‘it takes one to know one’? When you genuinely and sincerely and specifically praise someone for their values or virtues and it is convincing and thorough, you are also broadcasting that you too are someone who recognizes this trait and strives to possess it in its highest form as well. When you can honestly and without judgement or fear of feeling lesser or inferior recognize the great values and traits of others, you are indirectly glimpsing at the greatest version of yourself in various forms. It keeps you focused on your goals and directs your mindset to be seeking and improving on these aspects yourself.

A Warning on the Efficacy of Praise

As powerful and as positive as praise can be, when used improperly it can also be praise.jpgdestructive and have negative effects. For one, remember that praise is first and foremost for the benefit of the one being praised. Any ulterior motive or agenda, wither implicit or explicit, detracts from the value, the worth, and the sincerity of the act. This can jade our opinion of others and make us feel wary or suspicious of any kind words. It also reflects a manipulative and less than honorable image for the one who uses praise for their own benefit. So always be forthcoming with your words and intentions. Sometimes we may also be tempted to offer praise even to someone who may not necessarily deserve it simply because we wish to be kind or perhaps because we think they need it. While the person may honestly need some words of encouragement, if you are not careful to choose something truly noteworthy and simply make something up, you could make this person feel worse than if you had said nothing at all. Remember that the efficacy of accepting and internalizing praise is also predicated on if we believe that we truly deserved it or not. If they don’t deserve praise for that particular thing but you still wish to say something positive, choose something else. Undeserved praise serves no one in any way. And finally, in regards to back-handed compliments, remember that a compliment should be a compliment and an insult should be delivered to the front of the person, and not to their back. If someone is feeling particularly proud or excited about something and you decide it’s up to you to restore ‘balance’ with your back-handed compliment you could seriously damage their self-esteem or their enthusiasm. Praise positively, peeps.

A Challenge

Yes, I believe it is time we all put our money where our mouths are, so I am issuing this challenge to you all for the weekend with the understanding that I will of course also be engaging in it as well.

The challenge is simple. It deals with changing our negative mindsets to find the positives in our every day and then actively sharing what we see. Over the course of the weekend, preferably once a day, compliment the following people in your life:

  • A family member or friend: This is the easiest one of course, but it is also a great way to strengthen your relationship with the ones you love.
  • A co-worker: For most of us these are the people we will spend the second most amount of time in our lives with so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to improve relations and morale with your office mates.
  • A business you patronize: In a world of TripAdvisor and Yelp and viral reviews it’s a shame that we are more likely to share complaints and negative experiences over positive ones. Your local business thrives on word of mouth and needs the support of the community to survive. Try to spread a good word about a business you frequent not only on some form of media but with friends, family, or even just let them know you think they’re doing a great job.
  • A young person or beginner in some field: Remember from the early on in the series that the young and the novices are the ones who benefit from positive encouragement the most. So take some time to provide that boost of confidence they need to believe in themselves.
  • A stranger: Perhaps one of the hardest to do and yet the easiest in terms of finding something to compliment. Brighten someone’s day with as simple a remark as ‘I love your tie or shoes or etc’. Try to be specific to show that you are genuine and paying attention.

Thus concludes ManVsLoneliness’s seminar on praise. Hahah. I hope it helped in some way and I hope you take on this challenge.

Day 101

Man: 81 Loneliness: 20


Day 80: The Man and the Predicament of Giving; ‘Generous’


When is an act of generosity not actually an act of generosity?

We like to think of ourselves as generally good and generous people with a giving nature, but have you ever stopped and wondered if there were any caveats or conditions to that generosity?

The benefits of generosity are easy enough to identify. It is the generosity of others that provide funding for many non-profit organizations who work for the betterment of the world. When everything is clean and above-board and we can trust our organizations then we know that our donations go towards actual good. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless. Generosity is one of the hallmarks of humanity in all its noble nature and many historic milestones in all aspects of society have been accomplished through remarkable acts of generosity from the population.

We cannot, however, deny or pretend not to acknowledge that generosity also benefits the generous.

Sometimes these little rewards for the giver are just that, little rewards meant to honestly Tip jar.gifexpress gratitude and appreciation. If you donate $1 to the Feed America campaign you get to write your name on a little cutout of a grocery bag that the grocery store displays at the register. If you donate blood at your local blood drive they might give you some cookies and juice (also to help replenish vital sugars) and send you on your way with a sticker that marks your act of generosity for the day. A ‘thank you’ can go a long way to reassure a generous giver that their contribution is appreciated and welcomed.

Now, let’s say you’re on a date with someone you particularly fancy. It’s come to the end of the meal and you of course offer to cover the check. When it comes time to calculate the tip you may be tempted to do two things. First, you will want to tip more than the standard amount and second, you will make every subtle effort possible to ensure that your date sees this wonderful, noble, and selfless act of generosity.

The next evening you are at a charity event hosted by your company. Everyone is enjoying a wonderful meal in an elegant banquet hall and the time has come for the partner organization to explain their mission statement and ask for the ‘generosity and kindness of fine folk such as yourselves’. You reach for a $5 bill in your pocket but notice that your boss is watching you from across the room. Suddenly, as if by some magic force, your $5 bill becomes a $20. You glance over. Make that $40. One more look. Okay fine, here’s $50 to save the rhinos of…Canada?!

Why do we do this? How can we explain how we act so differently when around certain people like romantic partners or employers? And more importantly, when does our act of generosity lose its generous spirit?

When it comes to finding a potential partner, most of us would say that ‘generosity’ would certainly be a desirable trait or at the very least, that ‘selfishness’ is a trait we’d like to avoid. During the beginning of a relationship we naturally desire to put our best food forward. We are punctual, organized, mature, and yes, of course, generous to a fault. If you were on a date with someone, wouldn’t it strike you as unappealing or odd if they couldn’t share? And similarly are we not so impressed and attracted to a person who, oh my, look at how generously he tips. Look at how giving he must be. Surely, this is a benefit for me to have a partner such as this.

At company events or outings we must remember that we are representatives not only of our individual selves but of the company as well. And as such our actions can either reflect negatively or positively on our employers. Your boss is looking to you to judge the extent of your generosity as an expression of your suitability to the company. If you look good, your boss looks good, which makes your boss’s boss look good, and so on and so forth. And while we are all admiring ourselves and patting each other on the back for our altruistic nature and celebrating our contributions, oh yes, apparently we saved some kids or some animals in some country. Right. That’s what it’s all about.

I do not think that enjoying some personal benefit from generosity is necessarily bad or detracts from the nobility of the gesture. To an extent. One of the reasons why generosity joey-doesnt-shareexists is because we can derive a certain sense of gratification and satisfaction from the act itself and I certainly do not wish to say we shouldn’t feel this way. When it is a cause we truly believe in or something close and personal to us, the simple act of giving can be cathartic and relieving. We give not only because it is good for others but because it also makes us feel good about ourselves. The problem is our sight is limited and often times we cannot see further than what is immediately in front of us. So how do we incentivize an entire population to care about something far removed as much as they care about something on a personal level? We can take advantage of another even stronger desire. The desire to be recognized. Say what you will about those big gestures with names attached but you cannot deny that it moves a lot of money to a lot of places that normally wouldn’t have that. So we appeal to our vanity and need to be recognized by others. It isn’t the greatest evil in the world and it is a system that works. But make no mistake, this is not generosity for generosity’s sake.

It is sometimes difficult to weed out the truly generous from the seemingly generous. In regards to relationships this is especially important because we certainly do not want to be caught off guard with the person we are with. True, altruistic generosity has certain defining characteristics that one should always look for in a potential partner if genuine generosity is something you are looking for.

  1. They believe that what is theirs is also yours.

Those who possess a true sense of generosity also tend to not have a high sense of possession. They should not be possessive of material things and should be willing to always give of what they have.

  1. They regularly demonstrate a belief in altruism.

There is a saying, ‘it takes 21 days to develop a habit and 90 days to develop a lifestyle. True generosity does not begin overnight. It is a reflection of a long and conscious effort. Those who are truly generous live lives that show it. They volunteer their time, they donate their goods to the needy, they contribute money to charities. A truly generous person gives not only to those he knows but to strangers as well.

  1. They give for the act, not for the reward.

One of the biggest red flags of ‘pseudo-generosity’ is the person’s focus on the reward of generosity and not on the act itself. If the conversation leans more towards ‘check out all the cool stuff they give if you just donate’, perhaps this is not the most genuinely generous person. They may disguise their actual wants and needs as generosity. For example, they might give you a big screen TV for your birthday when you know they’ve really been wanting one all this time. Or they might leverage their gift for something they want. ‘Well you know I gave you this really nice gift that cost x and so for my birthday I think it’s only fair I get y.’

  1. They give even when there is the possibility of anonymity.

Perhaps the biggest characteristic of the truly generous is their ability to give even when there is a chance that they will never be recognized for their contribution. They put money in the tip jar even when the cashier isn’t looking. They enjoy, rather than avoid, thankless donations. This is a true love of altruism, when the simple act of giving is all the pleasure they need.

We might not always be the most generous in all aspects. But we are certainly capable of generosity. Be generous in life, love, and laughter.

Day 80

Man: 61 Loneliness: 19

Day 77: The Man and the Enemy Revisited; ‘Silence’

Silence Please.jpg

Back on Day 8 I wrote ‘The Man and the Silence’ which you can read here if you’d like. Beautiful had left me only a week ago and I was still getting accustomed to my new job. My sleep pattern was shot to hell and I was keeping myself up with the background hum of my hotel television because I couldn’t handle the permanent ringing silence that had characterized my nights.

When this all started, I thought the definitions were set. I was a lonely, heartbroken victim trying to pick up the pieces, Beautiful was the hungry consumer who took everything I had given her to figure out her feelings for someone else, and on that day, Silence was the enemy to be conquered.

I likened Silence to Loneliness and believed that the presence of one would surely shortly The Silence.jpgbe followed by the presence of the other. I feared and hated the Silence because it only reminded me of the void I had in my life. My stories were caught in my throat with no one to share with and there were no soft, gentle voices to accompany me to sleep.

I realize now that I was mistaken to consider silence and loneliness as equivalent. After all, how many times have we felt alone amidst noise and chaos and how many times have we spent quiet, contemplative nights with the people we love? It is the loneliness we feel when surrounded by the noise of so many people that strikes us with the harshest clarity and it is the ability and comfort and ease of spending moments in silence that characterize the strongest of our relationships with others.

To conquer my enemy, I must know my enemy. Silence is not the enemy. It can most definitely be a symptom of loss, but it is not the ally of it.

Since that original post I have been sleeping better (as much as a night-owl can) and sleeping in silent peaceful contented solitude. I have been able to bring back and appreciate a facet of life that I used to always be comfortable with.

So what changed? Why this transformation and how?

Over the course of my writing I have begun to create a much clearer image of who the enemy really is and what it is I am actually fighting against. It was never silence. I was so caught up in defining myself by my relationships that to me, I thought anything that was not a part of that was the enemy. Beautiful was the enemy for ending our relationship. Loneliness was the enemy for creating the vacuum next to me. Silence was the enemy because it meant no one to listen to or talk to.

Loneliness is still the enemy. Nature abhors a vacuum. Beautiful, I wrestle with from day to day. But I can guarantee you that Silence is never the enemy. It gets a bad rap because Silence is an ally we all need but never want. It is the only one that speaks the truth.

When we are left in silence we are stripped of the distractions and pretty things that keep us occupied. It forces us to face the things we hum away in our mind with catchy songs and jingles. I hated Silence back then because it was only in its presence that I began to really reflect on the relationship and start to pick apart the good from the bad and learn to survive and grow on the scraps. The silence rattled me because I could not keep playing my victim song over and over. It offended me because it tried to understand Beautiful’s own journey and my place in it. It reduced me to tears because it couldn’t answer the questions I kept yelling inside.

Why not her.

Why not us.

Why am I alone.

Will I ever find someone.

Can I do this on my own.

But, it was also in the company of Silence that I began to acquire the wisdom to answer for myself. And the humility to let go of the questions that were not mine to contemplate. I stopped trying to control and justify the actions of others. It was in silence that I stopped obsessing over Beautiful’s actions and began to only hold myself accountable for my own.

It is always in silence that I find the best words. It is in silence that I find the best company. I used to fear that having no one to share with meant silence. Now I hope to find someone to share silence with.

Silence can sometimes be a grim accompaniment but is always a necessary companion. I do think for the same reasons I’ve said that too many people fear the Silence.

Perhaps it is possible to live a happy, blissful life never confronting or being comfortable with Silence. Perhaps, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not for the curious and insightful soul. Not for the true consumers and devourers of life. If you are hungry, be quiet. Silence accompanies all the great emotions that are responsible for great writing. You are so happy you find yourself speechless. Grief overcomes you with such immensity that your sobs stay in your throat. Fear grips and steals your breath away. Love overwhelms in a way that cannot be expressed. Beauty freezes every part of you.

I am now okay with sitting next to Silence. It is my friend once more. I know to seek it in the largest moments of my life as that one brief moment when I am not distracted by little things. Silence is the sharp intake of breath when you take everything in for the very first time. It is your purest reaction.

Know your enemy. Conquer your enemy. Silence is not your enemy.

Loki Ssh.gif

Day 77

Man: 59 Loneliness: 18

Day 66 Supplemental: The Man and the Annoying Dinner Conversation; ‘Sandwich’

This is one of those moments where I wish there was a faster and easier method of delivering my thoughts to you than typing. My mind races and my fingers stumble and there is only coherence and order and structure in the infinitesimally brief electric jolts of my brain. The whole of what I wish to say flashes in my mind at the speed of thought but disappears by the time I can think of the first letter to type.

And what praytell, you may ask, is causing such a frenzy of thought and inspiration that I Idiot Sandwich.gifshould want to share with you so immediately? It is this:

What is a sandwich? When is a sandwich not a sandwich and what makes a sandwich so?

The conversation begins innocently enough. The ‘sandwich’ is something so intrinsic to our very existence. It is so common in our vocabulary that the assumption is that if we are asked to define what a sandwich is, it would be so easy to capture its essence.

You can use the dictionary if you’d like. It really would be not much more help. The dictionary is lazy and timid. It must remain neutral. So you receive the simplest and lowest common denominator of ‘sandwich-ness’. It is by no means a satisfying enough portrayal of what we think we know of sandwiches.

I propose to you the following items: the taco, the hot dog, the lobster roll, the Reuben, the grilled cheese, and the argument-inducingly named ‘open-faced sandwich’.


Are these all examples of sandwiches? Why or why not?

I assume many of you have considered at first thought that surely that which makes up a sandwich is ‘some filling encased in an edible container’. That would certainly allow for all six, yes? Now how do you feel about the hot dog or the lobster roll? Tempted to say it has to be two pieces? What about the open-faced sandwich. And what if the hot dog bun splits in half.

There are a lot of layers of understanding and interpretation behind this seemingly simple question.

There are matters of intent. Can you say the pitmaster who spends all day making pulled pork, which is then served on bread, was really just making sandwiches all day?

And what about of efficiency. If we have a more specific and particular name for something, we tend to use that over anything less specific. We call a hot dog a hot dog because it is more specific, though a hot dog could still be called a sandwich. We call benches benches and not chairs though they are certainly equivalent.

And what about of context. Certainly most of us would recognize a sandwich as usually being two pieces of bread. But in Scandinvaian countries they have open-faced sandwiches. Can we apply imperial rule to dictate that what they have created must be categorized as completely different entities?

Did you know that New York has a sandwich tax? As such in order to profit as much as possible the New York state legislature has legally broadened the definition of sandwiches to include burritos, gyros, wraps, and pitas? Certainly if it is of legal benefit or discredit, we are going to be more or less generous with our definition.

Sandwich.gifThis is a fascinating conundrum. One that threatens many friendships and will certainly be a part of heated discussion tomorrow with my friends. I think ultimately though what this humorous and hopefully lighthearted conversation will convey is that…it is really impossible to know anything completely and absolutely objectively. We will always offer our own shades of meaning because we cannot know everything about what is without really discussing what isn’t. So a sandwich becomes difficult to define to capture all of its iterations without ending up discussing what a sandwich isn’t. And that’s why we disagree. It’s because we see the shadow of a sandwich from different angles and different light sources.

If we can’t agree on something as fundamentally simple as a sandwich, what about the real matters of life? Of justice, of truth, of morals and ethics. It becomes so…lost in translation. The best we can do is understand that definitions change based on perspective. And what do we do with that. Well we can’t keep at each other’s throats over hot dogs, that’s for sure. We’ve all seen and processed the shadows on the walls from our own vantage points.

Such then must be our understanding and expectation of relationships as well. Of love. We all know it intrinsically within ourselves what love should be and feel like. But we often times cannot agree on love without discussing what love isn’t, and thus we fight and fall out of love again because we are not the same.

My mind is exhausted and yet still racing. Sandwiches, who would have thought? Hahah. A lesson to be learned of love and expectations and definitions. A warning to be wary of context and application. What makes a sandwich to you?


Day 64: The Man and that Thing in His Eye; ‘Twinkle’

Beautiful liked to tell me that one of the major things that initially attracted her to me and was always so alluring was the passion I had for the things I loved. I can recall so many nights spent sharing stories and dreams and plans and hopes and how vividly it all came to me and the excitement in my voice, my eyes, my hands as I shared with her. I think there was something so natural about that relationship. She enjoyed watching me, being carried away with my wild dreams and gestures. I enjoyed being watched, feeling her gaze on me as I indulged in my hopes. A storyteller is only a storyteller if he has an audience, and the best way to his heart is to give him your eyes and ears.

I am normally a very reserved person. I prefer to observe and absorb as much as I can in large amounts until it becomes unbearable and I literally burst with stories. It is a common misconception to believe that the loudest and the most outgoing of us are the ones with the best stories to tell. I’m sure that plenty do and are, but you should never discount what the watchful and observant gaze can tell you. I am so much more occupied with capturing stories than telling them that I am sure to never run out.

There is constantly this ongoing battle within me between the one who watches and the one who shares. My hands were meant to wave wildly in the air with grand gestures mirroring the grandiosity of my verbosity. My voice was meant to rise and fall and inflect Jeremy.gifwith such passion and immediate transformation. Often times my fingers stumble over themselves trying to capture the words as they form in my mind. I can hear and see whole thoughts and images so vividly in my mind that I could so easily paint for you and transport you but the process of thought to hand to keyboard is oft times so much harder for me than thought to voice. I have finished all of this and right now my hands are actually just trying to recall everything I’ve already said in my mind. This is why I tell stories and not poetry. I could never figure out how to distill so much emotion and energy and wild fervor into the restrained fiery tempest of poetry. Instead I find that so many words fly in and out of my head that the fact I am able to restrict myself at all is a feat.

The thing of it is I also know that I secretly (or not so secretly) crave an audience. I am not content to be an unheard or undiscovered voice. I crave specifically that physical interaction. I love a live audience. I want to feed off of live laughter or gasps or cries. It isn’t just a coincidence that Beautiful felt that way when I spoke. I am, without ego or vanity or pride, aware of the effect of empassioned speech. I never feel as confident or as self-assured as when I am in the throes of sharing something I love. I spoke before of theeye-roll power of humor in attraction and how I was aware of that too and how it characterized my interactions with women. Even more so than that is the way I feel when I get a chance to speak about my passions. This is so much more than lazy, uninteresting, uninteractive self-centered speak. This is a way of engaging both people because when you speak with that enthusiasm and energy even listening becomes a more active experience. You listen with your eyes and your ears and your mind. You watch as I move from point to point, my arms flying with direct purpose translating thought to physical motion. You see every micro-expression as my eyes light or my brows furrow and how my mouth races to catch up with my thoughts. You hear the love and action in my voice. There is pleading and yearning and hope and despair whenever I need to invoke it. I find the best ways to connect to you, to move you, to transport you. I want what I see in my mind to be as vivid in yours.

Give me an opportunity to speak to you about food, about drink, about movies, literature, video games, martial arts, and I guarantee you will never see me as confident, smooth, articulate, and/or eloquent. Let me regale you with my stories. Let me strut with raw power and command across the stage of your mind. Let me undress you with my words as I wrap tantalizing, tempting, teasing words with my tongue. Let me move you and inspire you and sell you on my dreams. I wear my prose like a fine well-tailored suit and my speech could get me onto any red carpet.

The thing of it is though, for me, this is a very deep and personal relationship. It is a connection of words and thoughts and mind that…I choose not to want to share with everybody. The audience I crave is…an audience, really, of one. While I feel my most confident when I speak, I also find something incredibly attractive in someone who listens with such rapt attention and care. I don’t want some doting mindless audience of ‘yes’ bobbleheads. I want that one person who sees how significant it is to share. She would be the best, most engaging audience. I will feel inspired to keep talking and more importantly take words to action because of how much of me she sees and hears and believes. I miss and so incredibly desire that feeling again of being someone’s center of attention when I share. Someone who finds my hopes and dreams attractive not because of what they are but because of what they make me.

I never lost that twinkle in my eye. I just hope that someone will see it again.

Day 64

Man: 47 Loneliness: 17