Day 306: The Man and the Lone Traveler; ‘Pursue’

Today is my last (physical) day in the office, and then two personal days to complete the week (and the paycheck, hahah). This was waiting for me when I got in this morning.

Last Day

I do love the people I work with. They’ve got a great dark sense of humor. This is the team I work parallel to; they do the real main support and me and the rest of my team, we’re just the front lines, the ones who go out to the stores, so we get all the glory. It’s a shame really, wish I could give them a bigger shout out for all they do. I like the people I work with. (For, well, that’s a different story.)

So Friday I leave for Canada on my own, and aside from two nights where I will be meeting up with some old friends and a group walking food tour of Old Montreal, I will primarily be doing everything on my own. I’m very used to being a single traveler nowadays, though honestly I never thought I wanted to be one, or thought I would be. There are still so many trips I wish I could take with a special someone. I’ve done Vegas with friends, Vegas with family, but never Vegas with, you know, her. Or Aruba. I’m pretty sure that one I’ll specially reserve still though. No point going there by yourself.

The first couple times you do it, the first few nights there can sometimes be this tug of Solivagantwar between wanting to go out and just staying in your room where it’s safe and comfortable. The first few nights with this job when I was traveling to stores I’d just order insane amounts of Chinese delivery or pizza. Then I started slowly and gradually going out. First to chain restaurants, simple places where lone business travelers could find company by proxy in the shared chaos. And then to the more quiet, independent, noticeable places where a single diner could actually stick out.

There are definitely a few pros to traveling on your own. It gives you an unparalleled feeling of power and agency. There is nothing you’re doing that you don’t want to do. For the obsessive-compulsive planner (such as myself) it’s so much easier to have your entire trip planned out two, or even three weeks out, down to the day and time (which I have). For the free spirit, there’s no other accommodation or negotiation to answer the call of every whim. It also forces you to be more engaged and focused on your destination. When it is just you and a blank slate trip in a brand new city, you really have to create your own story. There is no safety blanket, no other who you can abdicate power and authority to. You are your own destiny’s author. So guess who’s fault it is if you have a terrible trip. I’ve put my ear closer to the ground than ever before and really had to find what it was I wanted to find, what I wanted to get out of every trip, every opportunity. I think it makes me a more responsible, aware, and excited traveler.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way trying to convince people solo travel is better than accompanied travel. I’m not even trying to compare the two. What I am trying to do is convince those people who have always been on the fence about taking that trip and whose only sole reason for not going is because they don’t have someone to go with, to go. No one has to be convinced more than once about going on a trip with people. Everyone speaks of the joy of traveling with company. But solo travel shouldn’t be something intimidating, or hell, only for seasoned travelers. Newbies, rookie travelers, and the uninitiated should find the comfort and confidence to do it too.

I think the biggest, and sometimes funniest, obstacle to traveling alone is the constant need to contextualize yourself to curious minds. The person checking you in will ask you if you need one key or two, expecting you to say your travel partner is just late arriving. Eating AloneAlmost every pre-booked excursion or activity you try to go on will default to two adults. You’ll never have to worry about reservations at restaurants, though I would please encourage you to avoid the comfort of sitting at the bar and actually own the experience of dining by yourself at a table. Your waiter will do a double-take and try to figure out if they need to pour water into the second glass in front of you. I used to like to mess with people when this happened. At resorts when I was traveling as an agent to do a site inspection or familiarization trip, I would weave sob stories of being an abandoned groom whose bride-to-be left him at the altar, but the honeymoon deposit was non-refundable. At restaurants I would eagerly sit upright and tell my waiter I was there for a blind date who would inevitably never show up. I think it’s interesting that for as much as people don’t want to travel alone, they don’t want to think others would either. Hahah.

I’m too excited and too eager to take this trip to have to sit by the wayside and wait for someone to go with. There are enough adventures out there for a solo traveler to pursue that can fill one’s life with stories and interest while you move ever closer to finding the person you’ll travel with for the rest of your life. You have to remember that this is the time that they are out there making stories and experiences to share with you as well. Don’t be the one to bring nothing to the table. For anyone who might be hesitant or unsure of solo travel, take it from someone who’s spent the past two years now doing it, it can open up a whole new world. Maybe in the future I’ll do a solo traveler guide, but really, all you need is the drive. So if I could sell you the emotions and the motivation, I would.

Day 306

Man: 273 Loneliness: 33

Day 222: The Man and the Benched for the Season; ‘Expectation’

So…I actually legitimately forgot it was Valentine’s Day today. Hahah. I had a completely different post lined up for today (yes I schedule and plan these out in advance). It was going to be another cooking post actually, something I made over the weekend. But that’ll be tomorrow because I feel like a blog with this particular focus and origin story should probably speak about something on what is supposed to be the most romantic holiday of the year.

Whatever that means.

ugh-valentineI actually do like Valentine’s Day. Yeah sorry, the world couldn’t make me cynical enough to not care. I know it’s a cheesy, overly capitalist consumerist holiday filled with earwax flavored powdered chalk hearts, assorted chocolate boxes that really only have two worth eating, impractically large stuffed bears, and overpriced prix fixe menus but it’s my cheesy, over capitalist consumerist holiday. Whatever little sense of competition and competitiveness I do have is usually reserved for things like this and I feel like not only am I competing against every other boyfriend in the world, most of all I’m competing against myself. Trying to make each year better and bigger than the last and ‘win’ at cramming as much love and sentiment and all that jazz into one day as possible. Ahahah.

For the most part, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. I remember my first real Valentine’s Day was in high school. I had to have my parents pick up my date because I wasn’t old enough to drive yet. We went to this Taiwanese restaurant that my family and I would always go to and they would give us little freebies. An appetizer, some bubble tea, simple things just as a sign of gratitude and appreciation for our continued and frequent patronage. She was Chinese and it was fun watching her order in Mandarin and we had these dishes that I guess had always been on the menu but my family never knew or thought to order. I gave her a Zune. She got me a mandolin slicer. Zunes ended up being a flop and I sliced off my finger pad with the slicer the first time I used it. Hahah. My first Valentine’s with Beautiful, we went to Build a Bear and made Big [My name] together. He’s sadly lost forever in some dump somewhere most likely. Last year, I took her to Philly for the weekend and we recreated our first visit and she got roses at every stop. I don’t need to tell you how that ended up.

I feel old and irrelevant. Like a former high school athlete who petered out and has dazed-and-confusednothing better to do than wear his old varsity jacket and hang around the local bowling alley. I worry all I have now are stories of the past. When I first started writing, my fear was that I would be haunted by the ghosts of my past forever, and that the reminders that surrounded me would eventually weigh me down so much I wouldn’t be able to pick myself up. Writing was this therapeutic way of bringing these ghosts back into physical form and letting them live on somewhere else other than just my memory. They became stories and lessons and things I could actually weave together into something productive, useful. Now I wonder if I’ve beaten a dead horse too much. If I’ve run out. There’s a fine line between nostalgia for the past and obsession for it.

At the same time though I also feel like I have all this pent up energy. Like I’ve still got so much to do and so much I could be capable of and it’s the last quarter and my team is down but my coach has benched me for the season. Yesterday as I was having lunch in our lounge area I heard some coworkers from other departments talking about their Valentine’s plans. ‘Oh we have a restaurant.com gift card to use up so we’ll probably go somewhere that’ll take it,’ said one woman. Another commented, ‘we usually just buy our own gifts since he doesn’t ever really know what to get’. The sole male member of their group was actually quite confident when he said ‘I have an app that remembers holidays and it just sends flowers and chocolates to be delivered home. It’s great and it’s so easy to use’. I physically cringed.

If anything, I feel this call to action because I don’t want to see the sorry sad state modern-day romance seems to be in. I’m not saying we need to go back to such old and im-batmanoutdated notions like a guy throwing his coat onto the ground so she doesn’t step in a puddle. But you know, let’s actually take the time and effort to plan dates and know what to get for gifts. Let’s open doors and pay for meals. It’s kind of worrying when around the holidays and Valentine’s there are so many online forum posts and questions about ‘how do I get her to tell me what she wants as a gift’ or ‘top 10 easy, universal gift ideas that’ll keep her happy’. At the same time though, I still find those overly-public and attention-seeking grand gestures too exaggerated and impersonal. Everyone wants to ooh and aah but I don’t know…I find it desperate, insisting upon itself. So I come off cynical. It’s funny. I have this die-hard romantic side of me that’s been kept bottled up now for going on two-third of a year, which is about as long as some of these new people I work with have known me. They never saw me with Beautiful. Or with any of the other girls. I’m not as close with them as I was in my old job at my old place. They know very little, outside of what I give them, and they supplement that with your standard modern-day twenty-something single male stereotypes. They joke that since I am usually very frugal and good with money that I must make the girl pay or I suggest we split everything when we go out. They tell me I better find a girl because I’m too quiet and uptight. That if I’m single too long I’ll go hungry (they don’t know I cook). They have this very depressing view on me, that either I must be sad because I’m alone or that I must be undateable. Hahah. I could say something, show something, but I don’t have the energy nor the will nor the care really to do so. I’m not dating or will date any of them, so what have I got to prove? It’s just really stifling, feeling like a superhero in a world that has no need for, or belief in, one.

What keeps me sane through all this is the meshing together of these two thoughts. On the one hand, I know I am prone to, and enjoy, the larger than life displays and romantic gestures. On the other hand, that I am still putting myself in a position of waiting and analyzing. See because one helps me to realize that no matter how big or small the gesture, it doesn’t really do much to contribute to the overall success or failure of a relationship. There are people far happier than me who have done less and people who are alone and yet may have done even more. What I did for these women, they were never contracts or agreements. I did them because I wanted to. And they left because well, they wanted to also. I like the memories. I think they were sweet and I was happy in them. I’m still happy, but maybe just not so sweet. Hahah. But I’m not relegated to these reminders of the past. Because…point two, I know I am still very much able and capable and overall wanting, to be that person again. I never gave up on love or hope of love. I think if I’m really honest, a lot of times in the past the gesture came first, the person second. Meaning to say, I wanted to be this romance god and had this idea of what to do and I just projected that onto whoever I was with. But if the relationship is about the gesture, it’s not the best or even strongest foundation. Now, I’m still very much the same person but I want to find someone first. Spend the time to find someone really special. Important. Then, I want to figure out what they want, are looking for. Pour all this energy and drive into defying and surpassing all expectation and do something that speaks straight to the heart of that one person. Universal plans are nice, and I still have them. But I want to find someone and be with someone who inspires me to do things deeply personal and unique. I think she and I could create some real great things. And then I’d still be winning anyways. Hahah.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Day 222

Man: 190 Loneliness: 32

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

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

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

But circumstances are a bit different this year.

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

So what’s changed?

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

Take comfort and solace in the company of friends though!

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

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

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

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

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

Day 179

Man: 148 Loneliness: 31

Day 100: The Man and the Hundred Day Update

On a side note, I can’t believe it’s been 100 days!

Yes, it does mean that 100 days ago my relationship with Beautiful ended, and that was a very tough time for me emotionally. But it means so much more than just a timeline of heartbreak. I’ve been single and pretty happy and secure for 100 days. I’ve been writing for 100 days. At an average word count of about 1,000 words, that means I’ve written around 100,000 words! I don’t think I’ve ever written so much in such a consistent way over such a long period of time. They might not always be the best words but they’ve always been my words; genuine, authentic, purposeful words. For 100 days I have been moving ever forward and I’ve found my little niche in this enormous community where my words can find a home and even an audience. For 100 days I have been reflecting and learning and growing.

So I look at my M/L ratio so far, and I see I’ve had 80 days for Man and 20 days for Loneliness. That’s not too bad, I should think. If we break it down, it does still mean that I have a bummer day every 5 days. That’s still like, one or two a week depending. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it that way, but it’s interesting for me at least to think of the past three months in that way. Obviously it hasn’t been as consistent as just one a week. For the most part, the bad days came often times in a row. A slump to get over. It makes me wonder though at the end of the road, what my days will look like. I’ve never quantified them in this way. Thinking of how many good or bad days I’ve had to experience. I hope in the end I could say I had a bad day in every ten, or maybe even thirty days. I think that would be a very satisfying life.

What I have learned though is that my enemy was not who I thought it was. In the very beginning, Loneliness was the by-product of my breakup. I felt Loneliness in the void Beautiful left in my life. It was the bad reminder of good times long gone, like the charred remains after a house fire. I feared anything that would remind me of her or my relationship, so for a while I lived a shell of a life in isolated sanctuaries I knew she hadn’t yet entered. But I can’t live my life afraid of being burned by a fire that has already passed. So I moved on. Yet Loneliness remained. So I thought it was because I was without a relationship. But I have surrounded myself more now than ever with friends and family. I have been learning to cherish and appreciate these other relationships in my life. I could balance time with others and have time to myself to be alone but not lonely. So I have relationships right now to keep me happy and fulfilled. Yet, Loneliness remains. And now I’m beginning to see that I can sort of see the silhouette of what it is I feel so lonely for. This special, higher, much more intimate relationship. I’m beginning to reflect more on what it is I want in a relationship. I’m not just chasing the shadows of images confusing them for the real thing. I want to investigate the nature of what I want. And now those moments when Loneliness wins, it’s not so bad. It’s a bittersweet reminder of the intense feelings that come from being alive and having loved and having lost. Loneliness is the cloud from which there would otherwise be no silver lining.

I don’t know why but recently I’ve been on a serious binge of really sappy love songs on Spotify. I’d come into work and turn on my computer, log into Spotify, and almost immediately Celine Dion is playing. They don’t write love songs like they used to anymore. Celine Dion, Boz Skaggs, Lionel Richie, those love songs you feel in your heart versus your pelvis. Recently I’ve been having more dreams with these mysterious dream girls. Always different, never the same, never even someone I know. Just these various versions of what I’m looking for. Last night she had long hair and was short and we met in martial arts class. The other night she had short hair and had this pale skin like the full moon and she let me rest my head on her lap. I used to hate these dreams because I’d wake up and focus on not having these things but now I wake up and love how much I want them. I’m not gonna lie I’m almost itching to get back to dating. But I can see so much of the benefits of this time away that I don’t want to stop. There is value and worth in discretion and discipline. I knew it would be difficult and I knew I’d want to get back real soon but I thought it would be out of fear and desperation. Instead I find it’s out of excitement and enthusiasm and wonderful curiosity.

Beside the fact, I wouldn’t even know where to fit dating into my life again at this time. Hahah. What started as attempts to drive loneliness and fear and insecurity from my mind as distractions have become genuine interests and passions. My days are full of activity and growth. On Mondays and Thursdays I’m taking boxing classes. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays I am still going to martial arts. On Fridays if I’m not there I’m hanging out with friends or going out on my own. This Friday I’m seeing Kurios with a friend and her family. On Saturdays I am almost always either with friends or family. Sundays are my days to myself to rest and recuperate or to enjoy my own company doing the things that I love, fully comfortable on my own. I cook more. Next week I am planning a meal for my family and I can’t wait to cook and take pictures and moreover I can’t wait to share with you all a post I already have planned about what cooking has taught me about life. I am blogging now almost every single day and that takes up a good amount of time. Quality content doesn’t come easily or quickly and I’m still trying to find it. I’ve taken up archery. I even built my own target stand. I try to shoot 100 arrows a day to develop my muscle memory, my eyesight, and my instincts (no fancy equipment or sights here). I thought my life was defined by my relationships and that without it I would only be left with silence and thoughts. Instead I find that without a relationship to define me I am filling in the blanks with my own interests and values and spending my time defining myself for myself.

I won’t lie, I miss having someone though. I still fall ever so slightly in love with every beautiful woman who looks my way. But there’s no pressure to do anything about it. I’m not killing myself not having it. Just enjoying that rush and that feeling. I miss having someone’s hand to hold as I walk through the special and wonderful places and times of my life. I miss hearing sweet words directed at me. I miss a beautiful woman’s laughter right next to my ear. The unmistakable sugary flowery sweet smell of a woman’s perfume on my pillow. I miss the gaze of a woman who can see into my soul and see her world. I miss it because I want it. I refrain because I want to earn it. I write these clumsy words because I want to remember how to cherish it.

Day 100

Man: 80 Loneliness: 20

Day 85: The Man and the Third Day of the ‘Who’s WHO’ of Wisdom

Day three of the quote challenge and it has been a lot of fun to actually do this. More than I thought I would, not being a quote person. Before we move on to the last quote, let’s review.

kitchen-confidentialWe now know that the first day’s quote came from Anthony Bourdain’s hugely popular first book, Kitchen Confidential.

‘I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.’

I chose this because of the brave and wildly reckless attitude towards good food and good life. Bourdain is a culinary and lifestyle hero and I’ve lived by his creed in all the ways I can. (Yes, this does mean that every girl I have ever dated has had to pass his infamous ‘sushi test’.)

Yesterday’s quote source is revealed today.

‘Worse than the feeling of loss that comes with a breakup is the feeling of losing. Loss is a state of emotional injury that you can get past; losing is a feeling of humiliation and defeat that stays fresh. The latter causes most of the problems in the world. If there is another man involved, it is almost impossible not to judge yourself as a failure and see him as an enemy.’

Attempting Normal.jpgThis is an excerpt from the wonderfully manic and depressed comic Marc Maron in his second memoir, Attempting Normal. I like this quote because it deals so poignantly with the origin story of my blog. I could certainly speak to great length about this very true and very deep feeling, as petty or vain as it may seem. A breakup does feel very much like losing. Say what you will about the folly of pride but it is an undeniable accompaniment to loss. There were plenty of sleepless nights spent imagining Beautiful with her ex, the one she left for me and then left me for. In a relationship you spend so much of that time idolizing the other person and being idolized in return. You shower each other with praise and admiration so consistently and constantly that you begin to believe it in the deepest most dangerous parts of yourself.

To that, I say there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is Beautiful’s words have begun to fade from memory. I’ve separated her perception of me from my own self-perception and am beginning to identify and characterize myself for myself, not for what I once meant to someone. This is a major point, I believe, in the process of getting over someone. The bad news, ironically, is that this would have been a really great piece of writing. So before I completely heal I’ll need to pick at this wound just a little bit to capitalize on what sad inspiration is left.

The truth though is that this quote is too mature, too insightful, too serious to really capture Maron’s spirit and prose. This is a wonderful book full of trauma, humiliation, self-deprecation, and insecurity. It is a love song to paranoia, self-doubt, and feral cats. If PokeMeme.jpgyou’ve ever seen or heard Maron’s material or seen his short-lived IFC sitcom Maron, you would know that this level of self-awareness and confidence is so rare in his environment of self-loathing and self-destruction. I like broken heroes. I prefer the Batmans of the world over the Supermans. Both Bourdain and Maron lived lives that were so dangerously close to the edge of peril that I want to hear their stories because they survived. I can’t deny that I’ve had a pretty god damn cushy life. I have two parents who are happy, healthy, and together still. My brother and I are closer than ever. I’ve got a nice job, friends, and I enjoy a regular diet of good food. I can’t change this. I can’t just suddenly inject myself with so many drugs that the still living ghost of Keith Richards suddenly appears at my door to take me to nirvana. I live vicariously and destructively through these idols. I love a broken psyche. The fact that these guys have not only hit rock bottom but have then eked out more than just an existence but a success story is all the more compelling. I don’t aspire to live their lives or be them. I’m just glad that these people exist for our benefit. You need to read these stories. You need to see that the human spirit is not only capable of incredible victory but that it often times craves intense loss.


Time for quote number 3! This should be a dead giveaway for fans. I had to do this in video because his delivery of the line is just so perfect as well. Enjoy, if you recognize it I hope it brought a smile to your face, and there is a whole beautiful post lined up just for this that I’ve been waiting to share and lines up perfectly.

Allons-y!

Day 85

Man: 66 Loneliness: 19

Day 79: The Man and the Unlikely Desire; ‘Jump’

What a silly, stupid, frustrating way to lose the day. Today goes to Loneliness because…I really really missed it.

A bizarre, cruel twist of fate. One of the rare few times I desire to be alone and goddamnit I cannot for the life of me squeeze a few minutes of privacy out of my day.

I really don’t know what happened today. I just wasn’t feeling it. Didn’t want to talk to others, didn’t really want to socialize, just felt a tiny bit of gloom over my head and I knew I needed to get ahead of it, give myself some alone time to recharge.

Got into work, didn’t go to my desk. Went to the Lido Deck (our communal space) and set up shop in one of the booths. Today of all days our marketing team decided to start shooting videos for our YouTube channel. You know, those cheesy company videos where we talk about what we do while playing ping pong so we seem hard-working but also fun. Scripted jokes. Scripted laughter. Do you know what wasn’t included in the script? A six-foot tall anti-social Asian man. So I was kicked out.

Okay, that’s fine. One of the things I do happen to love about my office is how modular it is. There are plenty of little private nooks and crannies with sofas, booths, tables, etc.So I find my own little niche and take a deep breath.

‘Where are you?!’

Oh god. The new girl. She’s texting me.

‘What do you need.’

‘Email came in and I don’t know how to respond.’

‘Alright, no problem. I’ll take care of it.’

‘No, I want to see how you do it. Where are you.’

‘Hiding, primarily.’

She didn’t take the hint.

I’m squeezed into this tiny little space and now she’s brought herself and her laptop. I didn’t ask for this. In fact, I asked for the complete opposite.

I think I struck out on almost every single social interaction I had today. I didn’t want to be with company at the moment so I was definitely curt (maybe more than I should have to be you know, a civilized member of society) with the new girl. And for some reason today all the people that I helped, and I helped a lot (that is the job description) either didn’t believe me and doubted my help and good intention or weren’t satisfied with my responses.

Their problems were fixed five minutes ago but now I’m either listening to them tell me they don’t believe what I’m saying and know more than me or are telling me that the solution is unacceptable and they’re too busy to work on fixing their mistakes.

I’m not in charge of this program you guys. I don’t have special powers. I don’t even get special emails. I am just a man who knows this system faster and better than others. I’m a teacher. I know the subject. I’m an expert in it. But I can’t change it. I can teach you math but if you don’t like that two plus two equals four I can’t…you know…make it five…so why does everyone look at me today like I can.

Everyone was an expert today. Nobody liked my answers or my solutions. They were kind enough to let me know this after we fixed their problems. At certain times I had to just pass it to the new girl because I couldn’t continue conversations just to justify what we did. I fixed your problem. I shouldn’t have to defend that.

Just not feeling it, you guys. There was an unfunkable funk that caught me today. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I hadn’t really considered that trying to avoid Loneliness for so long I might have a few days when I need it around.

Sometimes I feel like I need to jump out a window like some action star just to escape some people. Here’s to better days.

Day 79

Man: 60 Loneliness: 19

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

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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.

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Day 77

Man: 59 Loneliness: 18

Day 73: The Man and the Distance Between Words

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I dreamt of Beautiful again last night.

I really don’t know why. I haven’t thought of her in weeks. I don’t miss her. And ever since I wrote my post on social media being the devil, I am proud to say I’ve stayed strong and since then I’ve unfriended her on FB to avoid seeing her posts and I’ve had the self-control and self-discipline to not visit her blog in some vanity-driven quest to see if she’s missing me or writing about me or what a big mistake this all was. I’ve done the necessary steps, I’ve taken care of myself, so I really wonder what ingredients had to be mixed together to create the cocktail of last night’s dream.

I remember it starting off with me, Beautiful, and my group of friends all at Chinatown in NYC, one of our favorite late night hangout spots. We’re looking around, checking out shops, I’m holding her hand. I see my usual martial arts supply vendor and decide to take a look around. I see the dao I was working with during my martial arts retreat and get excited. I start to swing it around and test it, I happily tell her all about it and the kind I bought and the history of the weapon but she seems bored and uninterested, so I put it down and we keep walking. Then it’s my favorite part. The food! Chinatown is a glorious budget smorgasbord for the adventurous. I remember wonton noodle soup, xiao long bao (soup dumplings), har kaw (crystal shrimp dumplings), siopao (okay that’s a Filipino word but it refers to Chinese meat buns; my favorite are the white siopao with ground pork, mushroom, egg, and Chinese sausage), beef tendon, bubble tea, and salt-pepper squid. She isn’t eating and I notice this. We remove ourselves from the group and duck into a side-street to talk, only she isn’t saying anything. I want to know what’s going on. Why she’s giving off so many strange vibes but not saying what’s wrong. She tells me she needs to go back, take the night, and we can talk in the morning.

I stay out all night and don’t get back home til sunrise the next day. I am nervous and fearful of the call. It is afternoon now and I still haven’t heard from her. Anxiously, I text her ‘Hey, love’. The phone rings. ‘Hi [my name].’

That’s all I need to hear. I know what’s coming at the end of this conversation. She never used my name. It was always a nickname, or if not, it was ‘Baby [my name]’ because of how lost in my interests and hobbies I get and how adorable she thought it was when I was so giddy and excited. Like a baby. Her baby.

I’m sitting in my living room and as soon as I hear her say my name I start bawling. I’m kicking at the coffee table between heaving sobs. ‘Why,’ I ask. ‘What happened to us.’ But this is my dream. This Beautiful only know what I know. So she says only what I can answer for her. 

‘I don’t know.’

Like I said, I don’t know why this came up again. I’ve been doing really well; better than I could have expected actually. It’s hard to think that the events that hurt me so much, the events that pushed me to create this blog, happened only 73 days ago. About two and a half months have gone by since she left me and since I started this journey of reflection and growth. It’s hard to envision two and a half months when I’m writing on average 1.000 words each day that goes by. I’ve never written this much before and certainly not at such a consistently maintained pace. This has definitely helped me process things and get over the hurt much quicker and more effectively though. I’ve never talked through a breakup or had such a far-reaching opportunity to share my story. Even though I don’t talk about it as much and I’ve been able to move on to discussing other things, the simple matter of writing has taken everything that could have hurt me in my head and poured it out through my fingertips. I’ve expelled so many doubts and worries. Each word I type puts more distance between me and her. Maybe this is why I have so much to say and why I want to say so much.

Still it is very clear I am not immune to pain. There will of course be obstacles, as there are in anyone’s path. I still think I am happily and healthily over her and the breakup. I just think I can’t deny I miss having someone. That is right now the hardest part. The fear of being alone. When you’re with someone, you don’t really spend much of that time envisioning when and why you’ll grow apart. You only hope that if it happens, you’ll know why. People can change, that’s a fact. For better or for worse. You hope that each time a relationship fizzles you are strong enough and humble enough to take what you can out of it and be better next time. But when it seems so right and so strong…and you’re left with so little to go on…you fear you lost your progress.

It is unrealistic and vain to think ‘I did nothing wrong’. ‘It was all her, none of this was me’. I’m not saying I could have changed to save the relationship, I’m saying I could learn from this too of what my shortcomings were and how I could continue to improve. I did not get that conversation. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. Partly because there is nothing left for her to say and partly also because she has neither the strength nor the awareness herself to know. I will have to grow on my own, I have to be courageous to face each new opportunity and hungry enough to keep learning. I certainly fear and hope I won’t be alone forever. I hope I learn enough to realize what it is I truly seek and am able to recognize when it is in front of me. I hope I can learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid them in the future.

Her and her pain feel more like the Boogeyman than anything else now. Just a reflection of a primal fear embodied in a more modern and more attractive face. The nightmares will come. But we all know that eventually we wake up. And today I wake up to a work day that consists of nothing but a longer than usual drive home. And afterwards, I’ll be meeting a friend at IKEA. It’s time for their annual crawfish party. Maybe I can dream of that instead.

Day 73

Man: 55 Loneliness: 18

Day 65 Supplemental: The Man and Challenge Answered; ‘Elegant’

For today’s prompt I decided to stretch out of my comfort zone to honor the efforts and an agreement made between two parties. Please pardon the interruption to your regular broadcast as I attempt something I am very much not good at. Oh and don’t worry, I’m still flying high. This is not meant to be for any particular person.


Unanswered Unnoticed Elegance

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My words are oft large, clunky, heavy phrases

but you are soft and light.

So how can one as unrefined as I

capture the beauty in my sight?

If I could I would wrap you in miles of dedicated words

but your beauty is one that will not wait.

And so, my love, while I have you here

it is the wild tempest of my head whose thoughts I must abate.

How does one who knows so little of these things

frame the luxuriousness of your hair?

How do I distill in words to tell you plainly

of a love, unrequited, pure, an admiration unaware?

I must find the way to speak, sophisticatedly

to match the feeling of your presence.

I have to shed the formalities, the grandiose

to speak truly to your essence.

Your face is a reflection of starlight

I am absorbed in its beauty.

I have no power when I am in your gaze

your eyes take me to infinity.

You hold yourself with such grace and poise

your slender arms reach out with tenderness.

I see in you a rest, a repose

a cure to a wandering soul’s loneliness.

Your spirit is curious and unrestrained

your words are lifted lightly on gentle fairy’s wings.

I hang on every word you say

of hopes and dreams and wishes and other secret things.

Have I even slightly triumphed to capture your wit or strength or humor

can my superficial words come close to your elegance?

Or am I simply crippled by your touch

or struck dumb by my arrogance?

Of all the things I am most sure

Death, taxes, the setting sun, and the rising sea.

There is none as sure as this:

that you will never notice me.

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Day 65: The Man and the Work Invasion

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Not to sound too melodramatic, but my workplace is being invaded by hostile forces and they threaten my very peaceful existence.

I know I’ve mentioned before that the travel is beginning to take a toll on me with work and how relieved I am that we are looking to hire more people in my department so I can spend more time at home. But I didn’t know that meant that they had already found someone and that she starts…wait, what…yesterday?!

Yep. My boss failed to mention that the new hire, a former manager of one of our travel agencies, was already here. Did I greet this news with elation and gratitude? Was I overcome with feelings of relief and joy? No. I very quickly realized that what I was looking at was the main threat to my otherwise agreeable arrangements.

When I’m on the road it is certainly very difficult to maintain some semblance of a normal routine. I lack the rigidity and uniformity that allows me to thrive on consistency and rely Passenger.gifon expectations for the next day. I don’t get to go to practice as often as I’d like, I spend more time eating and drinking out, my sleep pattern is shot, and I am often isolated for long stretches of time in the afternoon and evening. But on the bright side…I am often isolated for long stretches of time in the afternoon and evening. It’s a tough life but for someone who needs to be alone in order to recharge it can be…very Zen. And it gives me plenty of time to reflect on the day and formulate my writing better.

What I wanted in a new addition was someone to assume some of the burden and load of travel, but assume that mantle on their own. I was not anticipating that my boss would decide that she would still need to shadow me in this respect. I had no guidance when I started. There was no mentor, no book, no protocol. I walked into stores very unassuming and timid but have learned to command with my presence, share my knowledge, and establish urgency and necessity in their compliance. So what if I choose to reward myself for driving the distances and spending the long hours and repeating the same lessons over and over with you know…say…a work day that ends at 4 and an afternoon movie. It was one of the pleasures of setting your own schedule and traveling of your own accord with very little overhead.

But next week I find myself mentor, guide, and chauffeur for our new hire. I am to pick her up from our headquarters and transport us from here to Connecticut to Boston Airport, fly buffalous to Buffalo, then continue to drive us from Buffalo to Amherst and then Syracuse and then back. Along the way I am now responsible for showing her the ropes, shuffling her from store to store to hotel to airport to store to store to hotel to store to store to hotel to store to home, and bringing her…oh lordy…to dinner. We’re going to Buffalo. BUFFALO, NY. Do you know what’s in Buffalo? Yeah, that’s right. BUFFALO WINGS. As in, Anchor Bar, the origin of the buffalo wing. I wanted to go there. I recommended it. I requested it. ‘You know there are better and classier places in Niagara Falls to go to. I’m a foodie.’

God I hate that word. I don’t use it, by the way. I would never refer to myself as one.

‘Okay…uh…what do you recommend.’

‘Oh I usually eat at the Hard Rock Cafe or the Planet Hollywood.’

…sorry….what…

I wanted less travel. Not group travel! Oh god. What do I do. I’ll be very British about it. I’ll grin and bear it. Chin up old chap and all that. All because of the promise that after this, she’ll be ready to go on her own, I’ll be on my own, and everything will return to normal only with less travel. But if she starts staying in stores longer than I do…she’s gonna make me look bad.


Now that we’ve tackled the foreign invasion, let’s talk about the homefront.

Do you know what I do when I’m at headquarters?

I’ll admit it. Nothing. Hahah. I call consultants when they need help. I answer emails to work-aloneput out fires. My boss has me do some reports, check in with some stores, do a few Skype sessions. Otherwise I’m at the company bar or playing arcade games or walking around or writing. My most productive writing has always been during work! Since I work on a laptop I get to be highly mobile and move around the building. My boss is used to this and knows this so she never really quite knows just what all my busy work amounts to. Hey, being on the road is tough. The rare times I am grounded are a luxury.

As we are not traveling as of yet, I find my solitude threatened by her constant presence. She ‘shadows’ me as I furtively try to write in secret. She observes how I spend most of my Go Away.giftime in our leisure deck. She laughs and smiles and says she finds it amusing and refreshing but I do not know this woman. I do not know what she is thinking. I do not know if she is threatening this arrangement. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t have a laptop or phone yet. That would at least tie her to her desk. But what would it say if I’m not right there as well. Should I be concerned that she is able to relate more easily and readily with my boss. Whereas I could only casually ask about how her son is doing and how school is, they are sharing mother stories of girlfriends and high school shenanigans and the difference between the eldest and the youngest. We are creatures admittedly of consistency and habit and change does not come easy and this is certainly the biggest change in my work so far.

I know how I sound right now. I’m not proud of it. I don’t like having a new coworker. I don’t like not having the distinction of being ‘the only person in my department’ as I would often half-complain half-brag to friends and family. I don’t want a travel companion from work (don’t get me wrong I’d loooove a travel companion in my personal life). I don’t want people to find out how good I’ve got it back at headquarters. She threatens all these things. But if I’m not too harsh, she does represent a lightening of the travel load. She represents the possibility of the same amount of work being done by two people and thus less for both. But god I hope my boss doesn’t see how much free time we have.

It’s okay. I got this. I can handle this. I’ll train her, she’ll go on her way, I’ll go back on mine. I can do this.

Day 65

Man: 48 Lonelines: 17

WAIT WHAT?! SHE’S HIRING A THIRD PERSON IN TWO WEEKS?!