Day 57: The Man and the Daily Prompt; ‘Fierce’

Tell me what you would do in this situation.

You check into your AirBNB for the weekend in the Poconos. Your friends have all split the cost for two nights and it came to ~$140 per person for this house rental.

You find out only after opening the door that the house has no central A/C. It is currently 89 degrees. You would like to turn on the fans around the house, but they are all coated in dust. You blast the central A/C unit in the kitchen and hope it spreads while you explore the rest of the house. Luckily the rooms have their own individual units but again, fans and surfaces are dirty. It’s been a long two and a half hour drive due to traffic and you go to relieve yourself. You reach for the toilet paper and the holder drops with a loud, threatening metallic THUD as the stainless steel paper holder drops to the ground, seemingly attached to the wall by a strand of hair. You go to place your towel on the towel rack by the shower and THUD it falls as well.

Whatever. It’s fine. We’ll just place the toilet paper on the window sill and our towels by the sink. You and your group all go grocery shopping, spending more than $200 as the plan is to cook all your meals as part of the experience. You return home hungry to begin the first meal and notice that the stove fire is weaker than normal…and weakening…and weakening…and then…it’s out. Like, completely out. You try to reignite. The starter works. You hear the characteristic *click click click* of the starter and you can see the spark. But no flame. In remote PA, you know all the houses rely on their own propane supplies versus hooking into a gas line. You fear the worst…and check the fireplace. You hit the start and hope to see a flame. It flickers…flames…and then dies again…

The propane is out. You notify the homeowner who tells you that, while they apologize for the inconvenience, they cannot get anyone to refill the propane until Monday. When you check out. It is Saturday and you have two days’ worth of food in the refrigerator. It’s fine. Whatever. We have an electric rice cooker, an electric griddle, and a microwave. We’ll cook everything hibachi style like our ancestors at Benihana (note, I am Filipino, one friend is Korean, and the rest are Taiwanese).

Ultimately, for the inconveniences of the house the owner reaches out to your group and offers a consolation of a $50 refund. The groceries cost $200, and each member paid more than $100 for the two nights. You feel it is a paltry sum and not reflective of nearly the amount of inconvenience, but it’s fine. Whatever. We’ll go spend it on gas and tolls.

TigerI know there are many of you reading this who would have been up in arms by the third paragraph. Outraged by the fourth. Livid by the fifth. There would have been harsh words. Demands for more compensation. Sharply worded complaints and negative reviews.

So what did my group of friends and I do? We wrote a four star review noting how wonderful the owners were for caring and trying to make us happy.

This is the curse of the Asian attitude. A cross-cultural embedded ethos of humility, meekness, and tolerance. It is why issues of racism against Asians and Asian-Americans are never as widely publicized or heard. This is why American actors are cast in Asian movies and no one cries foul. It is why relationally, American women are not as interested in Asian men as they are seen as ‘weak’ and American men fetishize Asian women as ‘submissive’.

When I was a travel agent, this presented a whole new level of complication and issue because my capacity to endure trouble and hardship without complaint was now affecting my clients. Clients who, primarily Caucasian, would call me furious about the fact that the ‘blankets are gaudy’ or that the room is ‘ocean view and not ocean front’ or that ‘the hotel has to move us from one room to the other in the middle of the trip’. All of these issues that, were it me or my family or friends, we would have accepted as part of the unpredictability of travel and would simply soldier on. But for my clients this was the end of the world and somehow I had to find within me a fierceness and an aggression not characteristic to me or my culture to demand of equally confused hotel staff refunds, upgrades, special amenities, things I have never dreamt of asking for.

KittenThis is by no means a criticism of American culture. It is an observation of the Asian mindset that has characterized many of my social interactions. I don’t know who of us is more right or appropriate. There are certainly times when the fierceness of a tiger is more apropos than the meekness of a cat. But conversely there are times when the ability to accept and move on is critical and better for the heart and the blood pressure.

I think the Filipino is even more at a disadvantage than most other Asians. See a key characteristic for the Filipino is in fact their ability to endure. ‘The Filipino endures’. Corruption. Poverty. Natural disaster. The Filipino is applauded for his ability to endure and smile and move on. They never cause a ruckus, never raise a voice, they are the most adept at adapting. You could throw one of us anywhere in the world in any situation and we would find a way to succeed. It is a matter of strength and resolution but also of accepting one’s fate and making the best of it, rather than subvert or augment it.

But there must be a turning point when to adapt is no longer acceptable. A firm stance is necessary. It seems so difficult, combining Catholic values of ‘suffer in this life to be rewarded in the next’ with the natural tendency for Asians to be more reserved, less open about troubles and difficulties, for us as Filipinos to ever ask, expect, or seek better in life.

Take meals for example. If you are not Asian and have ever eaten with them, you will notice a certain phenomenon near the end of the meal. No matter how hungry people are there seems to always be one last morsel of each dish still on the table. And now comes the song and dance of trying to get others to eat it and being offered by others to eat. There are smiles and gestures and gestations and it’s all a big commotion. Until your white friend, confused by what is happening, unused to the rhythm of the dance, helps himself to it all.

EatingThis is a huge social faux pas. What is happening behind the scenes is every good little Asian boy and good little Asian girl is doing what was always taught to them. Concern yourself with others and, ignoring your own condition, offer to someone else and allow yourself to take only what is offered to you. We are all hungry. We all want something. We know who to offer what so they can get what they like and we know someone will offer to us what we want. We won’t even find the ability to tell our friend what happened because again, we should simply be good diners and allow him to finish what he would like. To the untrained eye though, it looks like the perfect environment for more aggressive and self-assured people to thrive and take advantage.

Filipino Eyes.gifMake no mistake. Asians are fierce. Fiercely proud and protective. Fiercely loyal. Fiercely attached to honor and tradition that we endure the mark of meekness. If you cross us we will fight back. We have overthrown governments and dictators. Started revolutions. We just think that going a little hungry is less important than the contentment of our friends. We are used to a bit more hardship, and in the grand perspective of things, we shrink to the common trivialities and difficulties of the everyday. But we are fierce. And Filipinos? Some of the fiercest lovers. Blame that on some of our latent Spanish blood.

Day 57

Man: 41 Loneliness: 16

 

Day 53 Supplemental: The Man and Daily Prompt; ‘ Miniature’

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One of the hardest parts of transitioning from being in a relationship to being single again is realizing how much bigger your world has become.

When you are single your world is only as big as you know it to be. It comprises of your experiences, emotions, lessons, people, places, etc. With nothing else to put into perspective you find that you fit within your world in a comfortable way. You are not a big fish or a small fish and your pond is neither big nor small. You are simply a fish in what you believe is the only pond and you fit. Your proportions are equal to everyone else and you are contented to simply swim from one border to the next with plenty enough to discover and explore.

But when you find someone and embark on a relationship, you have to realize that you are not only dating that person and learning more about them, but you are also dating and learning about their world. See she is not just another fish in your pond. She is a fish from a whole different pond, and now your waters flow directly together. In the blink of an eye, you are exposed to double the amount of space.

This is okay, however, because as a part of a pair you are now also double the entity, and therefore able to handle it all and remain in the same proportion. She brings with her her own set of realities, expectations, experiences, and stories. You contribute yours. Her interests can become yours and yours can become hers. You are suddenly exposed to brand new people, places, and things. Your pond has gotten wider and deeper and the two of you exhaust your little fins racing from one end to the other.

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Unfortunately not all relationships last forever, and sometimes two fish who seem to have swum together forever may find at one point that their streams will lead to different waters. The problem here is that, while she may be gone, the world she left behind isn’t. Your pond has permanently been touched by her presence. You will always now be aware of how much deeper and wider everything has become. Whereas before we may have been comfortable in our world and our size within it, we now find ourselves feeling much smaller in a world that feels much bigger.

I never knew about bouldering before I started dating Beautiful again. I never considered skydiving or hiking or any of the other many things she introduced me to. And I know I did the same for her, introducing my own interests and worlds. I find myself now realizing just how much more there is than what I knew. She may not be here anymore to be by my side as I learn and grow and experience but I don’t need her. We don’t need another to feel equal enough to the world we inhabit. Beyond simply just continuing to explore the things she introduced me to I find I am now more curious and inquisitive and exploring things neither she nor I had done before. Archery for one. More travel another. Even relationships have become new things for me as I deepen my relationships with my friends and family on a level I only once ever thought to reserve for someone I was dating.

Pond.gifSee there is only so much we as individuals can ever hope to explore and accomplish in one given life. The most inquisitive and explorative of us will find frustration at our limits and resent the infinity we cannot be a part of. The complacent and comfortable will become resigned to their borders and never develop their own incentive to grow beyond. The only way to really experience as much of the world as we can is to allow others to come and make their ponds part of ours. Whether or not they remain with us to explore it is an entirely different matter. Even heartbreak and loss needs to be experienced in our lives.

We can spend our time angry at those who left us. Allow ourselves to be consumed with anger and disappointment at those who have left us behind with this vast and violent rapid. We can dwell on those who built up false promises and hopes and threw us in unfamiliar waters.

Or we could recoil in insecurity and self-doubt. We could continue to feel small and insignificant in the face of the new world, the world of being alone where you once were not. Find a comfortable reef to hide away in as the world continues on without us because we feel incomplete or not large enough to take on the new challenges and stories that await our fish.

MiniatureOr we could grow bigger on our own. Consume. If our world has become larger than we must grow to meet it. Consume everything. Experiences. Stories. Knowledge. Love. If you ever played that computer game where you start off as a tiny fish and as you eat more and more you grow larger and larger until you can take over the entire pond you know exactly what I mean. Our worlds need to grow and we need to grow with it. People come and pour more water and we cannot just content ourselves to be small or hope to find someone else to make us bigger. We must do it ourselves. We must consume with energy and enthusiasm and the most powerful feeling of being entitled to grow.

You have to remember, have to realize, your pond can always get bigger. There will always be ways whether you choose to or not to have the borders of your world stretched and reshaped. You can always get bigger. You can consume and meet the same pace as your world. But even when the person who made your world bigger leaves and you feel less than equal to the world, you have to remember, you never actually shrunk. You have always been the size you are. You don’t get smaller. You get bigger. When you are left alone, you are not smaller than the person you were before. Your world is bigger, and at the very least, you are the same size fish you were before you met her. Which means you better get out there and consume everything you can. No one deserves to feel like a miniature of themselves in a life-size model of their world.

Day 47: The Man and the Fortuitous Madness; ‘Moon’

I’m not kidding, I sent this email to my friends two days ago. When I saw that the prompt was ‘moon’ I thought, how fortuitous, I could show you all what madness you would be in for if you were ever unfortunate enough to have to take a vacation with me.

Please note, this is just what I write for a simple, TWO NIGHT THREE DAY trip to the POCONOS. Last year we did five days in Vegas and I wrote a novel. 

But I’ll tell you what, no one can argue that my friends aren’t prepared when we go on trips together.

So without further ado, the email I sent my friends to prepare them for our vacation next week.

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Hello lovely people,

In a little more than a week we will be on our second annual Little ‘Un. Congratulations on achieving this milestone in consistency and travel.

As a reminder, we will be away from Saturday, August 27th, to Monday, August 29th in the beautiful Poconos Mountain area in eastern Pennsylvania.

Prepare for a weekend of excitement! Intrigue! And perhaps even….MURDER! Or maybe just some good food, good drinks, and good company. You know, whatevs.

Of course before we embark on this most epic of journeys, it would be most prudent to prepare properly, please.

Proposed Itinerary

Saturday, August 27th

We shall all congregate at the house of [name removed] on Saturday no later than 10am. This will provide us with ample time to go to Total Wine to procure our alcoholic purchases and, I recommend, have lunch together at Green Papaya to discuss preparations.

Upon completion we will begin our trek to East Stroudsburg, PA. Estimated travel time will be an hour and a half with a cruising altitude of…zero feet. We anticipate good weather and a smooth ride but your captain does advise that you have your seat belt on at all times.

We will unload our noble vessel of all our earthly belongings and begin claiming rooms at the house. We will also take inventory of the supplies provided by the house kitchen (as all meals will be prepared in-house) and once we are comfortable and confident in our selection, we will begin the task of grocery shopping for the duration of our stay.

Dinner on the first night will be expertly prepared and provided by none other than our dynamic duo, [name removed]!

Our nightly entertainment for the first night will be a visit to Mount Airy Casino Resort, a lively, upscale casino resort 11 miles from Camelback Mountain on the Pocono Plateau. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Sunday, August 28th

A hearty and filling breakfast will be provided by the Korean Culinary Conquistador, [name removed]!

I would recommend that breakfast be scheduled and provided at 10am.

Sunday is our day of outdoor adventure and fun!

I would direct you to this site, which lists all of the outdoor activities at our disposal at the Skytop Lodge, the premier family and conference resort in the Poconos. Located only half an hour away from our temporary palace activities INCLUDE, but are NOT LIMITED TO, archery tag, a treetop course, lawn bowling, hiking, paintball, and clay shooting! Spots fill up fast so I recommend we discuss and book as soon as possible. Our gated community also has its own park and canoe/kayak lake as well.

This is the most transient of elements in our trip, completely open to customization and recommendations. Please let your server provider know if you have any requests.

After a full day of physical activity what better way to relax and reenergize than with an overly complicated and prepared meal by your very own humble author.

Night’s activities will include games, drinking, drinking games, and games of drinking, and when drunk enough, completely violating the community’s ridiculous ‘quiet time’ rules and howling drunkenly at the moon.

Monday, August 29th

We will prepare for the long road home with a meal by Iron Chef Taiwanese, [name removed]!

Afterwards I think a visit to the Pocono Bazaar on the way home would be a fun side-trip. Who knows what strange and unique wares we’ll find and ultimately not buy?!

Is what I’d say if it weren’t for the fact that Pocono Bazaar is closed on Mondays! So…iono…we’ll figure it out. We will endure. We will remain calm and carry on. God we better do something though. Maybe local back home? Get on this, guys.

What to Bring

Now that you have all been made aware of the activities and itinerary, let’s discuss provisions!

Please remember that the house DOES NOT PROVIDE LINEN SERVICE. Therefore you will be required to bring your own linens, towels, etc.

Apart from daily attire, please bring something for our casino night and active wear for our day of adventure.

Along that note, for those of you so inclined, please remember to bring bug spray and sunscreen. Brown don’t burn, baby.

For our game night, I will bring a deck of cards and Spot It. If you request any other board games from me, please let me know. Otherwise if you would like to bring any, please feel free to do so.

Money

The cost of the accommodations is $726 to be divided by five, which is $145/person. I have already charged this amount to my card so you would need to pay that to me either in cash or, if you prefer by check, I would need it asap, to make sure it is in my account before this month’s billing statement.

At the beginning of the trip I will have a full tank of gas, and at the end when I refuel we will split the cost of fuel plus any tolls incurred.

Aside from this, please bring enough in your budget to account for casino night, any activities we decide to book on Sunday, and the cost of your groceries as well as any provisions we purchase as a group (such as water).

Speaking of which…

Food

As you know, one of the more interesting and exciting twists to this year’s trip is that all of our meals will be in-house. You are free to do whatever you choose for your allotted meal, picking any dishes from any cuisine or preparation. We will have a full kitchen and outdoor grill at our disposal. Please bear in mind that while we will go grocery shopping in PA, if your dishes require any unique or particularly difficult to find or highly specific ingredients or instruments, you will need to bring these along with you. Or if you need only a specific amount of an ingredient that you happen to already have, by all means to help you control cost feel free to bring it. There’s plenty of space in the car to accommodate for Kitchen Stadium.

Weather

It is still summer and therefore hot weather wear is highly recommended. However we are in the mountains and in very shaded wood areas so bring layers.

Additional Information

Attached you will also find the house rules provided by our lovely hosts.

Well there you have it. The wild ramblings of a man with too much time on his hands and too many things to concern himself with when traveling. I hope you found it as amusing and useful as I did, and not just overbearing. Hahah. 

I really am excited for this trip though. It’ll be great to be out in the woods to clear my head, spend some time with friends, and I love the opportunity to cook and gamble and drink and everything else we’ll be doing. 

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Day 47

Man: 31 Loneliness: 16

Day 46: The Man and the Haunting; ‘ Ghost’

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What will the size of your ghost be?

We leave fleeting impressions on the world. Our existence is just the tiniest drop in the tiniest part of the large and infinite expanse of reality. But even a tiny drop, consistent enough, can make a mark on rock.

If we focus enough on concentrated areas, the hazy mist of our existence begins to take shape.

Focus on friends and family, and your ghost will be as large as your family tree, as deep as its roots, and extend as far as the very last leaf on the very last branch.

Focus on your trade, and your ghost will be as widespread as the fraternal order of skilled artisans you have contributed to.

Focus on your craft, and your ghost will reach through to the physical realm in your body of work, living for as long as your medium is relevant.

Focus on others, and your ghost will live in the hearts of those you have touched with your work.

Focus too much on yourself, and your ghost will fade with you.

For as long as immortality continues to elude the lives of mortal men, the best we can do to fend off the deep and profound fear of obscurity and oblivion is to tend to the ghost we leave behind.

I hope I love my friends and family enough. I hope they feel the presence of my affection and care long after I am gone.

I hope I find fulfillment and purpose in my career and that what I do is recognized and respected by my peers.

I hope my words find home in the hearts and minds of those who read it.

I hope to return some of the vast amount of blessings I have received in my life back to the world.

I hope to seek beyond my own understanding and my own reality to understand the tide that pulls and flows us all together.

We are all striking back against the wall, pushing against the barriers of our own mortality. As writers we scream and throw our words out into the void, trying to stake our place in the halls of memoriam. Do not concern yourself with immortality.

The grim but beautiful reality is that we have but a few decades to touch the world in some way. But without the luxury of time we are given a different gift. An impetus, a drive, a motivation that comes from being hyper-aware of our human condition. Do not squander this opportunity. Do not strive for more than your own ghost. Stretch every fiber, every tendon, every ligament of your being and reach as far into the forever as you can and know that your ghost will remain where you once stood for as long as you have fed it.

What will the size of your ghost be?

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Day 46

Man: 30 Loneliness: 16

Day 43: The Man and the Double-Dipped Cherry; ‘Complicated’

I got to do things yesterday that I didn’t think I’d get to do for a long time.

I got to experience some firsts again.

I love my friends. I’ve known some of them since elementary school. And because of that, I feel I know pretty well what we’re going to be doing every week. Eat, drink, play some games, watch a movie, chat, call it a night.

I never really looked to them for the excitement and variety in my life. I always looked to my relationships for that. First time to Mexico, that was with a girlfriend. First time hiking, girlfriend. Bouldering, girlfriend. Coney Island, girlfriend. Et cetera. Et cetera. So when my last relationship ended and I decided to take on this experience, I also thought I would be submitting myself to an understanding that my life would be simple, predictable, consistent, for that amount of time as well. I don’t hold that against them. God only knows with my job being the way it is and my emotions always on a day to day basis a little consistency and reliability is certainly appreciated. I have no problem with grabbing a good meal and having some strong drinks either out or at my place with friends. I have no problem with playing card games or board games or watching movies or just talking somewhere with a good ambiance. But that would never really extinguish a desire in me. A thirst for more. I crave new experiences. I am a frenetic ball of energy that needs to vent, to be let loose in some direction. So I was understandably a bit concerned in the long run what I was going to do. I could of course pursue activities on my own. But for even the most solitary of folk, I believe there is a limit to how much of the human experience can really be felt on one’s own. We are social beings, forming communities for survival and prosperity.

I was worried my life would become too simple without my usual outlet (girlfriend) to explore everything I wanted to.

But yesterday proved me wrong. It showed me that my friends, the relationships I already have, can also be a source of new and exciting things. I have discounted my friends too much. I have underestimated their own propensity for adventure. I am humbled and a bit ashamed of myself for that but I see them now for so much more than just the same old same old. I mean, my friends have all had very dynamic lives without me really noticing. Two of them have just recently changed careers and positions. I am so proud of them for chasing after more than what they have and acknowledging their self-worth. Another friend is just now beginning a brand new relationship for the very first time and I can see how much it has changed him for the better. (God I miss that. Hahah.) They have all been equally hungry for life and I was too busy focusing on someone else’s plate rather than theirs.

So we’ve started to do more new things. We’re exploring interests and activities and hobbies. I am allowing myself to let go of plans and pre-conceived notions, I’m learning to be more flexible and share more of what I want to do with them rather than hold it back and prevent myself from really living and enjoying myself during this year of singlehood.

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Your humble author channeling his inner Legolas. Or Green Arrow. Or Robin Hood.

Yesterday we tried something I’ve always been interested in and, I found out, another friend has always been interested in too. A new archery range opened up nearby and they had a Groupon for an hour’s rental and use of the facilities so we decided to give it a try. It was so much fun and there is a certain peace and tranquility in the sport. The guards and equipment make you feel like a superhero and there is a deep and profound satisfaction in the sound of the arrow leaving the bow, even before you concern yourself with whether or not you’ve hit your target. We had some friendly competition and they even tied balloons to our targets once we were more comfortable for us to try and compete with. As I mentioned I discovered that one of my friends had actually always been interested in this as well which was a pleasant surprise and in fact we are seriously considering purchasing our own bows in the future to practice and improve and become more involved in the sport. I think there is great potential in pursuing this interest and I am equally excited for the opportunity to pursue a new hobby with one of my friends and also for the potential it unlocks for future blog posts.

 

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I would love to see if you could all guess which hand is mine.

We also went to the Hoboken Pilsnerhaus for the first time. It is a biergarten in north Jersey with a plethora of imported beers on tap and a large menu of German cuisine, including an indoor grill which would have been awesome if a) it wasn’t already 100 degrees outside b) the grill wasn’t also contributing even more heat into the facility and c) the proprietors weren’t so stingy as to not have air-conditioning inside the building. There isn’t enough beer in the world to make you forget about the heat and humidity. It’s an awesome place and again I got a chance to get really serious about a passion of mine (good food and drink) with a friend. Comparing beers, ordering a few different styles, we definitely could have made a session of it if it wasn’t so unbearably hot and crowded. A note for the future, we should go back for Oktobertfest, or Winterfest, or just ‘you won’t need A/C weather’ fest. The beers were excellent and of a wonderful variety of taste and feel and aroma. The food was wonderful. We started with a grilled sauteed mix of calamari and German sausages with rosemary, garlic, and paprika. From the grill I had two very large but wonderfully seasoned currywursts with crispy shoestring fries and a wonderfully peppery and crunchy housemade sauerkraut. This place is such great fun with the large communal wooden tables and the old world warehouse feel (I just wish the warehouse feel didn’t also include feeling like I was in an old hot warehouse). Had I not been with friends, I actually would not  have even known of this place. It was my friend’s recommendation to go here after archery.

 

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No I do not read or speak Korean. No not all songs are in Korean. This was just taken while my Korean friend was up and he figured if we didn’t know what he was singing, we couldn’t tell if he was messing up. He was wrong.

Even more significant and thoroughly surprising than the biergarten buzz was our Korean karaoke carousal. Yes dear readers after heat exhaustion and heavy drinking, we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our night singing (screaming). I have never been to a Korean karaoke studio before. One of my friends  goes semi-regularly with his friends in the city and another used to go in college with his Korean club (go figure). It would be a brand new experience for two of us though. I had always wanted to try one of these. I am a particularly compelling case of tone-deaf but I cannot deny a deep national heritage of wanting to sing karaoke. If you’ve never been, Korean karaoke studios are great because you rent a room per hour regardless of how many are in your party, the room usually has some sofas, strobe lights, a great sound system, and they are all BYOB and BYOF. We stocked up before heading to this particular one with some beer, some sake, some jelly wine (Yes this exists and it is incredible. Imagine a giant lychee pudding cup only alcoholic. And if you don’t know what a lychee pudding cup is, get an Asian friend and head to your nearest Asian market. This was the best after-school sweet and the best part was sucking up the sweet juice before munching on the lychee and the pudding and this wine perfectly captures that with a slightly emulsified jelly like filling.) and plenty of Asian snacks. You know, rice balls, sushi, fried chicken, it was a real party. I learned I love singing badly with friends. I learned that I am not, surprisingly, the worst singer in the group. I also learned who was the best (still not me). I also learned I really need to step up my old school hip hop game because I can’t get by on singing pop songs. I swear to you the next time I go I will have memorized No Diggety by Blackstreet and U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer. Maybe I’ll even throw some Salt n Pepa in there courtesy Shoop. Confuse the hell out of my friends. Hahah.

I had an incredible time yesterday, and it goes t show me that I do not have to wait to live. Just because I have decided not to pursue any relationships this year does not mean I can’t have fun with the ones I already have. Life does not have to be simple because you are single. It can be argued that it is definitely simpler than being in a relationship, but by no means does that mean it must be. Life is full of adventure and spice no matter who you choose to live it with. It is varied, complex, and dare I say, even complicated.

Boom. Drop the mic.

Day 43

Man: 27 Loneliness: 16

 

Day 39: The Man and the New Friends

I don’t quite know how to explain this. I don’t know how to ask for help on this. It’s just that…

I…

I don’t know how to make friends anymore.

Another blogger I follow regularly wrote a very poignant post about spending time with the ‘right’ people and learning to take value and appreciate that our growth can be very much attributed to the sum of the people we surround ourselves with.
I count myself very blessed that I have been surrounded by incredible people for my entire life. My family is warm, nurturing, supportive, and affectionate. My friends share similar values, beliefs, interests, and we call upon each other to always fulfill the best of our potential. And I am grateful for all of this.
I don’t think it’s selfish to want more, though. As I shift focus away from romantic relationships and relearn how to appreciate and develop the platonic relationships in my life I also want to gain a better understanding and skill in fostering new relationships with people.

Friend.gifI’m headed to Chicago tomorrow, which is the furthest I will have been for work. Unlike Florida, this will also be my first time in this area. I’m excited and looking forward to a fresh break. With Beautiful back home I am too constantly haunted by reminders in everything I do and everywhere I am. My hotel is in a great location, within walking distance of all the Chicago landmarks. The Cloud Gate (bean) is nearby, I’m two blocks from Pizzeria Uno, and there is a great rooftop bar and club I will be visiting on Thursday at the dana hotel. I’ll be walking everywhere, I only have three stores to visit so I’ll have plenty of free time, and I would love to use this opportunity to make some new connections in a strange new land.

Later on this year I plan on using the air credit from the cancelled flights Beautiful and I were supposed to go on together to take myself on a solo vacation. Four days in a place I’ve never been before and I would like to think I wouldn’t spend all four of those by myself, or I might end up retreating to my hotel room and never venturing out.
The science is there to back me up. The great paradox of our modern society, other than how a cronut can be both flaky like a croissant and rich and doughy like a doughnut, is how the world can be filled with so many new mediums for social interaction and yet create a generation of existentially lonely people.

It has become increasingly harder for 20-somethings and above to create lasting meaningful relationships with their peers. Without school and the constant persistent echo of other people’s noise we are unaccustomed to the ritual of making friends.
How do I reach beyond the void and touch the person next to me? I am realistic and know that three days in the city a friend for life does not make. But am I to assume that the image of strangers meeting at a bar and going off on a night of crazy adventure and camaraderie is only reserved now for movies about man-children and bad mothers? While I walk through the Windy City, how do I connect to other people so that maybe I might hear footsteps other than my own headed in the same direction? As I absorb the beauty of the city at night from the rooftop bar how do I reach out to the person sitting next to me so that we may both imbibe of more than just spirits but the spirit of the city?

When I return home, how do I find all these people who are so close to me that would share the same interests and hobbies and would want to pursue them together? I am supposed to be on this journey of reflection and discovery and new personal and relational growth. But I cannot keep tending to the same flowers over and over and say ‘look at how wide and varied my garden has become’.

I’ve got two things going for me, though.

The first, as is so readily apparent in my writing, especially my last post, is that I am one funny bastard. The other are these guys. I met then in Boston two years ago at Boston PAX (a huge video game conference) and have been following them on YouTube, watching them play games and enjoying their commentary, ever since.

SaintLucia.jpgThe last time I took a picture with a stranger was when I was rum punch drunk in Saint Lucia. The drinks are stronger and cheaper in the Caribbean, so I hope it doesn’t have to come to that again in Chicago. I don’t think my wallet could handle it or my already over-worked liver would appreciate it.

Day 39

Man: 25 Loneliness: 14

Day 39 Supplemental: The Man and the Daily Prompt: Joke

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them suddenly collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and frantically dials 911.

‘Help,’ he gasped, ‘I think my friend is dead! What do I do?!’

The operator says ‘Calm down, I can help. But first, I need you to make sure he’s dead.’

There is a silence, and then a gunshot. Back on the phone the guy says, ‘Ok, now what do I do?’

I was 12 when I first heard this joke. It was in my father’s Reader’s Digest along with an article about a British psychologist on a quest to find out what makes something funny across cultures, races, and sexes. This was, his studies found, the funniest joke in the world.Doctor Who.gif

I didn’t have very many friends when I was 12. That was the first year of middle school, when all the elementary schools in the area would combine for the very first time. I was a small fish in a large pond and I didn’t acclimate very well. Most lunches I spent hiding in the library, reading books or drawing cartoons. There was however usually one other person in the library with me aside from the librarian. A bookish girl with black rimmed glasses, barrettes in her hair, and a red jacket in winter. One day I decided to try out the science behind the joke and see what would happen. She was at another table, reading another book, when I came over, sat myself down, and just started.

‘Twohuntersareoutinthewoodswhenoneofthemsuddenlycollapses,’ I said it in one burst of frantic breath.

She was more startled than amused. I had failed to consider that she was so invested in her book that my sudden and unannounced appearance and frenzied speech would, understandably, scare her more than anything else.

‘Oh, sorry, I forgot the rest of the joke,’ I weakly apologized and excused myself. But in my hurried retreat I misjudged the position of my chair and tripped over myself.

FarSide.jpgAfter an initial shock and seeing that the only thing really hurt was my pride, she actually started laughing.

Suddenly I wasn’t mortified or embarrassed. I was funny. I was interesting. I was in!

She became my first ever girlfriend. And I became an inadvertent comedian. The day I finally mustered up the courage to attempt to kiss her, I was so nervous I closed my eyes when I got close to her. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, I thought the world was gonna end, and then I noticed how…pointy(?!) her lips were?

Oh my god, I had kissed her nose.

And not even a gentle peck. I had misjudged the distance and speed of my trajectory that I full on mouth-butted her cute pointy little nose.

And she couldn’t stop laughing. This was the funniest thing in the world that she had ever seen. I had aggressively made out with her nose.

As most childhood romances go, the girl with the barrettes in her hair is now a woman with a career in a state across the country with a man she met somewhere other than a middle school library. I’m a bit better at aiming my kisses but what hasn’t changed has been the power of humor in my life.

If you can’t be tall, dark, and handsome, try to be tall, dark, and funny. If you can make a person laugh, you’re already in. I’ve never gotten along with anyone who didn’t find me funny. One of the first things I did when I started my new job was try to make my boss laugh. See this was a new position for both of us. She used to be the area leader where my store was located and she had a reputation for being a real hard case on most consultants, and you were on her radar if either a) you made a lot or b) you made nothing. I was perilously close to b. But now she was in charge of this brand new department and I was the only person under her supervision. She needed me as much as I needed her to like me. The first time I got her to laugh I knew we were going to be okay, and the work environment’s been great. She finds my cockiness at how good I am at what I do and my obsession with food to be hilarious. She tells me where stores need help and where I’m headed and I tell her I’ll be done with them by the afternoon and where I’ll be going for dinner. I’ve used humor as an icebreaker with almost every girl I’ve ever dated.

That's So Funny.gifI have no game, no swagger, no animal magnetism. I’m witty and silly and ridiculous. I make bad puns. I argue with ridiculously stupid logic. I elicit equal amounts of chortles, chuckles, and groans. I enjoy being entertaining and humorous. I can distinctly recall the laughter of all the people in my life. How my mother gasps and shrieks for air between uncontrollable laughter. How my father laughs with his eyes and his hands more than his mouth. How one friend would cover his mouth when he laughs, the other would shake his head as though in disbelief that he could find something so silly and stupid so funny, and how yet another friend would laugh so hard she always teared up. Most of all I remember the laughter of the women I’ve been with. Some were high-pitched and fast. Other had full on chest heaves with each chuckle. Beautiful laughed with every part of her body; her hands would go up and down, her hair would wave crazily in the air, her stomach would shake, and her eyes would light up. All different, all unique, but all genuine and honest, open laughter. Laughter that meant the happiness I gave them they felt in the very core of their being.

I think humor speaks to a very core essence of our humanity. See the best jokes build on shared context. The jokes that can cross all these demographics and still be universally funny are the ones that appeal to a very primal, ancestral identity that we all share. When you laugh at something and the person across from you laughs too, you are acknowledging some shared experience, a connection that supersedes race, gender, ethnicity, and prejudice. A laugh and a smile disarms negativity and fear. It allays pain and loss. In the greatest and worst moments of our lives there is usually some laughter to be found to either lift us up further or, when we feel like we are at rock bottom, to lift the floor a little bit so the bottom isn’t so far down. We laugh when we graduate, get the job, get married, have kids. We laugh when we remember the best of people when they’ve left us. When we go through heartbreak or loss, we laugh to remember we can move on, and that happiness is still always possible. And when others laugh at heartbreak with you, it can only be because they know the pain you feel and are reaching out to connect with you.

If everything else fails, we can at least always trust that a good joke reminds us that we are connected to other people. May you never have to laugh at your own jokes alone.

via Daily Prompt: Joke
Joke

Day 38: The Man and the Chocolates

Let me tell you a little story about when I went to Philly last month. I was there, as mentioned before, for work, and staying near the waterfront. I decided to walk around the city the morning of my last day before heading back home. I wandered into Shane Confectionery, as I’ve done so many times before, and browsed all the incredible handmade chocolates. I admire the craftsmanship and the tradition of their candies from a very artistic and aesthetic perspective but I just really hate chocolate so on a culinary basis the place does nothing for me. I don’t like chocolate. I find it needy and cloying. That’s beside the point but would be a fun extra supplemental just so you understand the nature of the beast that is Man.

For now, the only thing you need to know is that I purely and unhesitatingly despise chocolate and do not partake of it in any forms. Yet here I was in a confectioner’s renowned for their chocolates filling up a beautiful decorative gift box with all sorts of ganache, milk and dark chocolates, buttercreams, and caramels. The shop charges for the size of the box, not the weight or the number of chocolates inside. So I was on a quest, striding from one display to another, inquiring about the flavors of one, the ingredients of another, and the popularity of something else. I wanted to build a bouquet, an assortment of flavors and styles and techniques that would showcase the best that Shane Confectionery had to offer. I was conscious of size and shape and made the most efficient decisions to maximize my gift box and when it was all said and done we wrapped it up in a pretty white bow and I was on my way.

But…to where?

The situation at the time was this: Beautiful had broken up with me about a week ago and I had just met Bird and we were talking and exchanging messages daily and excessively. At the time I did not know about Beautiful’s real, hidden feelings still for her ex, or that she had barely left the still warm corpse of our dying relationship to pine after someone who did not want her anymore. I did know that Bird was single and looking and active on Tinder but I did not know that she had set up a date for that weekend with a cute Japanese podiatry student who lived in the city and liked to make puns and play Fire Emblem. The only thing I did know was that I had a beautiful box of exquisite chocolates and an equal reason and desire to give it to either of them.

See I could give them to Beautiful, ShaneMe.jpgremind
her of the times we spent in Philly, and maybe try to change her mind and convince her there was something here worth wanting, worth working for. I could surprise her at her place on my way home and overwhelm her with chocolates and a rose I could pick up along the way. I was always sweet to her, always the romantic, always wanting to surprise her with unannounced visits. I never did, never have, and probably never will stop loving her. What better way to show her than with this gesture. That I was thinking of her even when she wasn’t thinking of me, and that I see her beauty in everything I do and every place I visit. I wouldn’t make a big show of it. Just show up at her door, hand her the chocolates and the rose, and leave. Acknowledge that we are no longer together and therefore have no obligations to each other. Let her think about the weight of the gesture and her decisions.

But that wouldn’t change the reasons why we were separated. And even though at that time she was hiding the most egregious and painful reasons why, what she fed me was still relevant, still bitter enough, delivered still with enough sting. I could not share in her interests, and aside from a passing involvement for her sake I would not be able to invest myself as much as she has already invested herself, and in the pursuit of her interests I knew there would be a point where I could no longer even condone or support her decisions. In our time apart she had become an avid hiker, rock climber, thrill seeker. I could accompany her on local hikes, even entertain backpacking and camping with her for a weekend or two. But I had neither the interest, the time, nor the resources to devote much more than that. And yet still I knew there was more she was seeking. She wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, a months-long process that would have her out in the wilderness unaccounted for and untracked. She wanted to climb up frozen waterfalls in winter. Rock climb upside down in the canyons. I’m a man of creature comforts but I can rough it and enjoy it still. I still enjoy the idea of retreats and simple living. I want to hunt and be in the wild and learn to forage for myself. But I know I wouldn’t be able to maintain, nor would want to maintain, that lifestyle. And I know that eventually when she goes on one of these off-the-grid ventures she won’t just be leaving me, or her family, or her friends behind for some thrill. Eventually she’d be leaving the home we built together. And the child we’d be taking care of. And I could not condone that kind of risk-taking, that kind of absence, when we should be trying to build something back here, at home, where everything we care about still is. Eventually she would either relent and agree and learn to resent me for it, or I would have to let her go and worry and feel abandoned every time she left. So no, perhaps this was really not meant to be, and maybe I would be fighting for borrowed time, and maybe I really did not want her back. Had I really thought about what it was I wanted to save. Was it her or the relationship or just me from being alone? I hadn’t started this blog at that point and I was not used to asking myself these questions.

So I could instead give them to Bird. I’d show up at her store, stroll in, leave the chocolates at her desk with a cleverly written Post-It ‘don’t let the others give you flack for eating like a Bird’ which she would love because it worked on so many levels and I was such a clever bastard for coming up with it. See the office would make fun of her for loving to eat and always having food and snacks around, which is torture for a self-conscious young woman who has to live under the constant watchful judging gaze of a Korean family and community. And her name is a type of bird, hence her nickname, and it’s ALSO a play on the fact that people say ‘eating like a bird’ means you eat very little even though factually speaking birds eat like, twice their body weight during the day to handle the intense metabolic load of flight. It would have been a tactically brilliant move to undercut all the digital suitors after her and remind her that I was here, physically, immediately available, and clearly interested. The chocolates would segue into future interactions. We still had to plan DC (this was back when the original plan was for us to share a room and explore the city together) and I wanted to take her to a Filipino restaurant (she had expressed interest in trying Filipino food as she had never had the opportunity before). I would drop off the chocolate, give her the note, and she would of course mention it and thank me later on that night when we would normally start exchanging messages. She would mention she owed me, and I would tell her she could buy lunch. Filipino of course, and then we could discuss DC, and I would take her to a homemade ice cream stand near the restaurant that was built in an old train stop in a park.

Bird represented a new start. A chance to get over old pain by opening up the potential for a new wound. My father used to say that the best way to get over a stubbed toe is to cut your finger. The idea was new pain helps you get over old pain quicker. I was ready for another mistake a la so many Taylor Swift songs. She was attractive, into video games and anime (Beautiful never was, and I never pushed her into it), was an adventurous eater, and had a similar sense of humor. When I first met her I was single and too self-conscious and self-deprecating to do anything about a very strong initial attraction. So I was my usual cold and stupid self, which she verified once we actually got closer and started talking. She thought I hated her for some unknown reason. We discovered that we had lived in the same town our entire lives and even went to the same elementary school, but she was four years my junior so I had never noticed her (as is appropriate, I honestly wouldn’t want to have thought about a sixth grade me going after a second grader). We had the shared experiences of youth and the present, working for the same company. We both loved jazz and swing and planned on listening to that and singing and dancing in our own after-party after the DC company ball. I appreciated her frankness, which is refreshing when dealing with Asian girls. I was attracted to her and I knew she was attracted to me because she had said so. You never forget that rush you feel when someone you like tells you they like you back. Well, to be fair, she admitted that I was cute and attractive and that if I weren’t she wouldn’t have been talking to me anyways. I can dig that.

But the timing was just never right. When I first met her we were both single and available but I couldn’t make the move because I wasn’t confident enough. By the time we met up again and actually got to know each other she was still single but I was in a relationship that (I thought) was going to last the rest of my life, so this was an attraction that would go unreciprocated and unpursued. When I was ready (I thought) to pursue her, I was just out of another relationship. Whether my interest was honest or not, whether my feelings were legitimate or not, it did not change the fact that I was superseding honest, genuine interest with a desire to cover hurt with more hurt. I was just running away and doing what I usually do hopping from one to another and despite how honestly and intently I felt these feelings, it would have no chance to blossom or grow under those circumstances. And did I mention Bird was also incredibly smart and emotionally intelligent? She saw right through my attempts. In her gentle but frank manner, she made it very clear that though there may be something here, my wounds were too fresh and needed proper dressing. It would have been awkward and unfair. And though I thought I was ready I really was not, and though there may have been something, there was no reason for her to wait around and so she pursued something else with someone else to leave me my space.

So what happened to the chocolates?

They melted. They rotted. The box was never even opened. The ribbon turned gray. The box is bent and creased. The insides have long lost their appearance, their sheen, their appeal. I wasted money, time, effort, and valuable commodities. I pondered and considered my options the entire drive back home and couldn’t come to a satisfying solution. I had bought these candies for the sole purpose of giving, but I had no one to give it to and no one who would want it. So it went bad, unappreciated and unenjoyed. Neither of them even ever knew I had bought it in the first place.

What does it all mean?

This is very obviously not about chocolates. It was never about chocolates but I had inadvertently taught myself a very important meaning through the chocolates.

This is about love. This is about my, and your, heart.

This is about understanding both the energy and effort it takes to build your heart and acknowledging how important it is to find the right person to give it to.

I have spent my entire life trying to be a better person. I have cultivated the best parts of me and I have, through reflection and honest introspection, come to terms with my shortcomings. I have gained the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change about myself and the humility to amend the ones I can. And I believe you, dear reader, have done the same. I believe that every good person in this world has lived a life of betterment and self-improvement, and that we are all incredibly appealing packages of a wide assortment of goodies wrapped up in a pretty white bow.

But do not do what I have done. Do not throw your package at the first hungry passerby. Do not let yourself be consumed by those who wish to just consume. Love yourself, appreciate what is inside of you, know the assortment of sweet, bitter, salty, and rich that makes you so enticing. Know who this was all meant for, or at the very least know who it is you want. I was at first content simply to offer what I had to anyone who would have me. I would continually throw myself at the masses and make destiny out of chaos. Until there came the point when no one wanted me, and not knowing how to move forward, how to measure my worth, I spoiled and went bad.

Shane.jpgMy box is bent and creased. My bow is gray and fading. But I still have the recipes for everything inside. The package may be worse for wear, but I can recreate every buttercream, every milk and dark chocolate, every caramel. I will never stop making incredible candies. But I will be more careful who I offer them to. I will learn what it means to want to give it to someone so honestly and openly and I will learn again the immense joy and bliss of giving it to someone who wants it so honestly and openly. I am not unwanted. Just unappreciated.

Until then, you and I, we need to remember there is always someone worth sharing with. I could have given the box to my family. I could have enjoyed it with drinks with my friends. I could have given it to those less fortunate. The truth of the matter is that there will always be an opportunity, always be someone who could use exactly what you have in your box.

Day 38:

Man: 25 Loneliness: 13

 

Day 31: The Man and the Secret Identity

SonofMan.jpgOne of my favorite parts of travel is the privilege and luxury of anonymity. I’ve been in a different city every day and in each one I am presented with the opportunity to reinvent myself or to disappear into the fold. No one know who I am and the ‘me’ I am in the city can be completely different regardless. It’s exciting and intriguing, albeit a bit lonely at times. You do sometimes miss the genuine connection with someone who has known you for a long time when you are constantly surrounded by strangers.

Anonymity is something that eludes us nowadays with all of our options of connecting to others.I maintain a relatively small digital footprint in the world and really am not that active on social media or anything aside from this blog and the Twitter account linked to it. Sometimes I wonder what I would say if I were to strike a conversation with someone during my travels. Who would I be. What would I do for a living. What kind of things would I care about. What would my priorities be. I’m more sociable when I travel for work on my own. For some reason I’m more inclined to smile and nod at the person next to me at the bar and maybe even start a conversation. I’ve met people and exchanged food stories. Hell I talk to my cab drivers more.

The most interesting secret identity I’ve maintained however…has been this one. I have very purposefully and deliberately maintained a separation between who I am in the real world and who I am here. That’s why I’m Man. Why my photos are all blocked. I wanted to write and investigate these feelings and attitudes towards relationships and not have any sort of…outside interference or influence. I wanted real honest interactions to be able to write about and reflect on.

Take my friends for example. They have no idea I have this blog. They have no idea how much this exercise has helped me get over the breakup and move on with a new purpose. To them I am still the same me, but they see a stronger version who has been able to handle himself and move on with relative ease. They don’t walk on eggshells around me and they don’t feel I need to be consoled or shielded from the reality of the situation. I like that I am able to be an example of strength and fortitude to them. They’ve seen me through breakups and some I have handled less than well. Some recklessly. They see me now, moving forward, entertaining, living, working, and perhaps they can begin to sense how I have moved beyond that seeking, craving, relationships.

My family and relatives definitely have no idea. What is notable about everyone in general is how they view me. I remember when my cousin was staying over last week, my mother very non-jokingly asked her if she had any friends in the Philippines who I might be able to date when I visited. My grandmother is visiting this week and she wants to know all about my love life. My other cousin who already lives in the city was shocked that I wasn’t in a relationship or not out seeking one. It seems my romantic escapades have been a hot topic of discussion back in the Philippines! Most people who know me, define me by my relationships. I have always been that person. This journey of reflection and maybe eventual transformation is mine and mine alone to have. So I made the decision to not let anyone personal know about what it is I am doing. It makes the act so much more natural and more rewarding. Every person who finds themselves here, every word read by others, something I wrote or speak to or try to express speaks to them on a very real level, not one of obligation or familiarity.

I do plan however at the end of this experiment to let everyone know what I have been up to. I would explain to them that a year ago someone broke my heart almost entirely and forced me to realize I needed to shift my entire priority and work on myself and ask questions I had been avoiding or didn’t even realize needed to be answered before I could seriously handle a relationship of the level I wanted. And that through a year of reflection and introspection I would catalog and capture all of the observations, insecurities, victories, and defeats of a year of being single and alone.

For now I enjoy the anonymity. I enjoy knowing that every experience I have now is able to be captured and that I afford myself the time and a space to actually reflect and grow. It is a little secret I keep in my back pocket, and keeping secrets is just so much fun sometimes. I don’t feel any weight or responsibility, and I get to write openly and honestly without fear of outing anyone or offending them. And no one can read my blog out of some vain pursuit to see how often I might or might not mention them, as I know many people who know bloggers are wont to do. And I can write about people like Beautiful and Bird and, though it might not be directly to them, it is out there and it is in some physical form so that I might relieve myself of the burden of those thoughts weighing down on me forever.

For now I remain, blissfully, Man.

Day 31

Man: 24 Loneliness: 7

Day 30: The Man and the Lobster

A little rain never stops my group when we make plans. Annual summer lobster boil didn’t exactly go as planned with on and off rain and intense humidity in my slice of NJ.

It’s crazy to think how much can change in a year. The lineup was a little different for sure. I had just started hanging out again with one of my best friends from elementary school. We had grown apart in middle school and hadn’t seen nor heard from him since, but my other friend went to college with him and brought him back into the fold. I was also seeing a different girl and this was the first time I introduced her to my friends. The relationship ended about a month later after she went crazy in Atlantic City during a school trip, and just to further illustrate how relationship crazy I was/am, in the year since I’ve dated four others. That number is going to be significantly less by next year’s lobster boil. I was working as the manager for one of our family’s ice cream stores. I hadn’t even considered being a travel agent yet. So I know I’ve already stated that I am the real food enthusiast and culinarian in the group but that doesn’t nearly elaborate enough about how little some of my friends know about food. Hahah. In fact I remember last year when we decided to do the lobster boil two of them the week before watched non-stop videos on YouTube to learn trips tricks and hacks on how to crack and peel lobsters and crab legs. I guess they didn’t want to have to ask me to do it for them. It was fun seeing them try their new techniques. We had a cooler full of beer, a pitcher of white sangria, a gallon of sweet tea, and afterwards we built a bonfire and just relaxed outside.

Those were simple and fun and beautiful moments. You don’t forget nights like that. Nights that engage every sense of your being. You remember the sound of cracked shells. The smell of the butter and the beer we used to boil the seafood. The bright reds of the crab and lobster, full and rich and plump. The taste of each salty sweet piece of meat. How tough the shells were in your hand and the satisfying reward of breaking through the armor. I was blissfully happy and simplistic. No experiment. No blog. No thoughts. No worries. I don’t know if I’d want to go back to that. Sometimes a little awareness, no matter how painful, is worth it.

I think I did much better yesterday than I did the first time my friend brought his new girlfriend over though. I didn’t let myself dwell on what I did or didn’t have. I didn’t concern myself with the world turning without me. I focused on my passions and joys. Cooking. Enjoying good food. Being a good host. Entertaining and being entertained by friends. It was a great night and I didn’t let anything affect my enjoyment of it. No negative thoughts here. Just good times. I have to admit, it is nice to have someone new in the group. I can bring out all my old jokes again!

No matter what changes, the lineup, the weather, our statuses, what doesn’t change is my time-honored perfect lobster boil recipe. This relationship blog is about to delve into food blog territory, but bear with me. I know what I’m doing and maybe one day someone will pay me for it too. Until then this one’s on the house.

Annual Lobster BoilLobsterBoil
For 5 people (or more depending on who’s in your group and who starts dating). Next year we might have to cook for more.

A lobster per person (I usually go 1 ½ lbs)

Snow crab legs (1 – 1 ½ lbs per person)

Clams (I prefer the smaller little necks but you can also do cherry stones). This year I did cherry stones because they were on sale. Depending on which, ½ dozen to a dozen per person.

Potatoes, corn. Sausages (I do a mix of Polish kielbasa and French andouille). Know your group and love your appetite fillers.

In your largest (and I mean largest) pot, start by melting a stick of butter. Sautee some chopped garlic. When fragrant (but not brown) add the chopped sausages and cook until they begin to brown. Add the potatoes, washed and quartered, and corn, split in half. Pour around 18 oz of beer (I do one bottle of lager like Corona Extra and one bottle of a lighter sweeter beer. In summer the Schofferhoffer Hefeweizen, a grapefruit beer, is an excellent choice not just for cooking but for keeping cool and refreshed. Cover and let simmer until potatoes are almost fork tender and corn is a vibrant yellow. When potatoes and corn are almost ready, add the lobster, crab legs, and clams. Pull off heat when lobster and crab legs are bright red and the clams begin to open. Let cool, and serve with reckless abandon right on top of your super amply wrapped and waterproofed table. This is a) for the sheer look of serving a mountain of seafood right on your table like a feast from Neptune himself and b) for easier cleanup: when you’re all done just wrap and roll up the table covering and trash.

This is very important: RESERVE the broth left in the pot! Begin by ladling some into small bowls and serve alongside the feast as a dipping sauce. More flavorful than butter. Can’t speak to its health but…definitely more flavorful. With the rest, well, it’s an incredibly strong and powerful broth with the most intense and pure flavors of seafood. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it yet. Open to suggestions. But if not I’ll find something and when I do I’ll do a supplemental for it. I’ve poured the broth into quart containers and frozen it for now.

Day 30

Man: 23 Loneliness: 7