Day 53: The Man and the Most Painful Relaxation P.1; The Kidney and Bladder

As mentioned before one of the main focus of my weekend retreat was to learn a new form of relaxation and meditation known as Yin Yoga.

I’d like to share what I learned and the poses associated as I begin a 30 day reflective yoga practice. I hope you find you can take some benefit from this sharing of knowledge. Regardless of what your belief system is I think a healthy mind and body is important and whether you agree or believe the concept of energy, or chi, the poses are still a great way to increase flexibility, sensitivity, and longevity. We are all on a continual pursuit to better our minds and bodies and I hope you find this to be a new opportunity to walk together towards that goal.

So what is Yin Yoga?

Unlike other forms of yoga, yin yoga emphasizes four things. 1) Holding poses for a longer duration of time 2) A deeper form of relaxation with less stress on the muscles and more focus on flexibility 3) A more meditative nature with slow, purposeful movements to create inner peace and silence and 4) A purposeful objective to stimulate or inhibit certain emotions, mentalities, energies, and/or physical characteristics.

How does Yin Yoga aim to do these things? How does one practice Yin Yoga?

The poses, or asanas, in Yin Yoga are much more relaxed and the movements from each are much slower and more meditative. There is less strain on the muscles as we work on slowly increasing flexibility and reaching and then slowly surpassing mental and physical ‘gates’ or limitations. With less physical exertion you are able to hold the poses longer, which allows for more gradual and consistent growth and improvement and also, as your mind is not so preoccupied with strain and exercise per se, you are able to spend more time in a meditative and reflective state. So the key in Yin Yoga is to understand that you are not supposed to be at 100% of your exertion as you will easily and quickly burn out before the end. Stay at a comfortable but consistent 80% and pay attention to your body and mind. Feel your body gradually begin to open up to the pose and sink even deeper than if you had exerted yourself outright. Pay attention to the calm of the mind and make no judgements as thoughts enter and then leave. Let them go as you focus on silence and peace. Use any necessary props to adjust poses to be more comfortable and to be able to hold them for longer. Props are not signs of weakness or inability. They are tools to help you attain your goals and hopefully one day you will find you will need them less and less, if at all. Again, no judgements.

Another aspect of Yin Yoga is how it can target specific body parts for specific purposes, whether mental or physical. You can pick and choose based on your needs each day on what you will want to improve and as you are in your pose, focus on stimulating that particular body part to induce that specific effect.

Today we will discuss the Kidney (Yin) and Bladder (Yang) Meridians of the body.

The Kidney

The Kidney is considered the ‘Root of Life’ because it houses the force that we are given at birth, chi. In Chinese medicine the kidney system also includes the ‘external kidneys’ (testicles in men and ovaries in women). The ‘external kidneys’ are important for sexual vitality and reproductive health. Kidneys are the seat of power, courage, and willfulness. When the kidney chi is full, we are centered, fearless, rational, and clear headed. We are gentle and understanding, filled with compassion for ourselves and others. But when the kidney chi is lacking, there is fear (possibly explaining why when we are frightened there is a tendency to urinate), paranoia, anxiety, jealousy, suspicion, and a loose morality.

Physical symptoms of a weak kidney chi are dark circles under the eyes, imbalanced hormones, genital and sexual disorders such as poor libido, impotence, and weak limbs.

The Bladder

While the kidney is considered the ‘Root of Life’ as it houses all of our essential energy, the bladder is called the ‘Minister of the Resevoir’ as it serves as the gatekeeper, keeping essential energy from the kidney in and filtering out bad energy to leave the body in the form of waste. Stress and tension play a key part when bladder chi is weak. Signs of problems with the bladder are backaches, headaches, and pain in the lower limbs. This is negative chi being housed and unable to leave, so staying and festering within the body.

The Poses

These poses in Yin Yoga are meant specifically to stimulate the kidney and bladder. Hold each as comfortably as you can, starting with one minute each and gradually over time increasing to around five minutes each.

Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose: Unlike in other forms of yoga, in Yin Yoga the legs are completely relaxed in the Sphinx pose and there is a natural, comfortable arch in the back from being completely held up by the arms alone.

Saddle Pose.jpgSaddle Pose: This pose stretches the feet, ankles, thighs, and arches the lumbar. Start by sitting on the top part of your foot and feel the stretch. If it’s okay, sit fully back and feel the stretch in your thighs. If still comfortable, go ahead and lean fully back and either support yourself on your hands or go fully back to your elbows.

Butterfly Pose.jpgButterfly Pose: A nice, relaxing way to stretch the back. From seated position, bring the feet together and lean forward, careful not to bend the spine but to stray straight and bend from the waist, stretching the back forward. Hands at feet in the beginning but when possible walk them further out, with the goal of being flat on the floor with head between your legs.

 

Dragonfly Pose.jpgDragonfly Pose: From the top resembles a dragonfly with its long body and two sets of wings represented by the arms and legs. From a seated position spread your legs out to your sides and fall forward. Spread your arms out as much as you can and try to lean forward and lie flat. If needed, prop either your hips up to help the legs or your elbows up to help your arms.

Caterpillar Pose.jpgCaterpillar Pose: With both legs out in front of you, fold forward and now allow the back to round. Try to hold the legs to stretch forward or, if it is too much, use a prop to sit on and elevate your hips.

 

Reclining TwistReclining Twist Pose: Start by lying on your back. Roll to your right side and keep your right leg straight in line with you. Take the left leg and raise your thigh perpendicular to your spine and place it over your right leg. Your left arm will extend straight to your left side, twisting the body. Do this on both sides. Modified version as shown where both legs are thighs perpendicular to spine.

Corpse Pose.jpgCorpse Pose: Lie flat on your back, with legs slightly apart, arms at your side, with palms up and fingers spread. Use this time to relax, focus on breath, and take a mental inventory of your body and mind. Reflect on any sensations that came up during yoga. What body parts responded well, what rebelled. What emotions are you stirring up in this long and mindful practice. Make no judgements. Allow everything to be.

 

Well that’s it! Part 1 of sharing my Yin Yoga experiences with everyone. I hope you enjoyed the read and hope you can try it out. If you do I would love to know how you felt and if you noticed any changes or sensations.

Day 53

Man: 37 Loneliness: 16

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 45: The Man and the Things He Carried; ‘Carry’

Frank and Nancy.jpg

 

“Everything had its own little home, neat and tidy. The white linen handkerchief on the inside pocket. The little mints… A single key on a fob.”

-Nancy Sinatra on the contents of Frank Sinatra’s pockets

Coming from a modern culture of hoarders, gorgers, and over-indulgers, it was understandable that many people would take to the prompt as a call to remind us of the joys and inner-peace that come from minimalism and simplicity. Others feel the weight and burden of the word carry and reflect on the gravity of its effect on the body and mind. ‘Carry’ feels like a responsibility or an obligation. It is a duty, a chore, something we must bear.

But ‘carry’ can be positive, resourceful, or even romantic. What we carry characterizes our persona and hints at who we are, who we were, and who we strive to be. If you’re outside, stop for a moment and touch your pockets. Rummage through your bag. Take a look at the things you carry and ponder why and what and how and who. There is a story, no matter how big or small, in everything that we choose to bring with us.

Trade and craft men are rarely ever caught without their tools nearby. They live and breathe through their instruments. You do not question how much you rely on the implicit understanding that a repairman comes to you with his own tools nearby or that a chef inherently carries his or her own knives. Physical or metaphorical, what we carry makes up the better part of our stories. Writers carry words, messages, stories, that we wear on our faces and our hearts, hoping for the right opportunity not to alleviate ourselves of the burden but to share with effervescence our ability to elevate the human experience with poetry and prose.

What I carry everyday is a part of who I am and who I want to be for others.

EDC.jpg

This is my EDC (every-day carry). The accoutrements to my very special and unique identity.

First, we have my metal card carrier. Inside are my personal calling cards with my name, number, and email address. I carry this with me for personal interactions. You never know when you might run into someone who could become a valuable friend, ally, or professional contact. It is important to be ready at a moment’s notice to leave a lasting (read: physical) impression. I designed the cards myself and had them printed online on thick cardstock and now I use them when meeting new people, RSVPing to events, or to write short messages to friends in birthday gifts or for the holidays.

A deck of cards. This would come to no surprise for anyone who knew me personally. Even in high school, I was known to always have a deck of cards in my backpack, always ready for a good game. I actually met one of my friends in high school this way. He surprised me when he came up to me and saw me practicing my one handed deck cuts and shuffles and asked if I knew how to play Pusoy Dos, a popular card game in the Philippines. He grew up in a predominantly Filipino neighborhood and learned from his neighbors. We became fast friends and rivals. I carry a very specific brand of cards, from Theory11. They make a certain kind of high-quality smooth-backed cards perfect for card sharps and magicians. Yes, I also know how to do card tricks. No, I don’t think I’m that much cooler than you. Yes, I have tried it to impress women. In fact, there is a great memory when I was in Boston with friends at a bierhaus. We were playing cards and drinking and as we were getting ready to leave, the group next to us asked if I would mind leaving the cards with them so they could play as well. There was a particularly cute girl in their group, so I told them they could have my deck under two conditions. 1) I would try to do a magic trick, and if I could whichever card the girl picked 2) I would keep that one card and she would write her name and number on it. I did, she did, and it makes for one hell of a story, even if I never did see her again.

My wallet. With some certain essentials. My student ID from college (I graduated four years ago, and unscrupulous as it may be, until I stop looking like that picture I will continue to collect my student discounts). My IATA card (International Air Transport Association), basically my membership card to the international association of travel agents. Making me eligible for travel agent discounts wherever applicable, including hotels, shows, and attractions. CASH. I don’t care if we are in the age of credit cards, QuickPay, ApplePay, and BitCoin, cash is still king. I dare you to walk into Chinatown and assert otherwise. Besides, since it is no surprise to ANYONE how many decisions I make revolve around beautiful women, I believe cash is more useful and universal when out with a cute date. And cash carries a bit more message and weight than a piece of plastic when it’s time to take care of the bill. Yes, I pay. Absolutely at the very least for the first few dates.

A handkerchief. Not necessarily always white. But certainly a sturdy yet soft piece of cotton. Something practical and useful with the potential to also be an attractive clothing piece. Once again, I say that a man should carry this not for himself, but for the person he is with. When they are teary-eyed, be there to wipe away their tears. If they get food or dirt or anything else on them, offer it to them to clean themselves up. Preparedness is sexy people. And when your date is done with the handkerchief, let them keep it. They will, if they are good people, take it upon themselves to wash it and return it to you, facilitating future contact!

Dental floss and mints. I’ll tell you what’s not sexy. Bad dental hygiene. Save yourself (or your date) the embarrassment of broccoli in the teeth or fish on the breath. Carry these around to use surreptitiously or to freshen up before the long kiss goodnight.

Cologne. Not everything I list here I carry in my pockets. I would look awkward and blocky, and risk bursting at the seams when trying to bend over to pick up at least one of the things that would inevitably fall out. I deploy these various items strategically around my person. Whether directly in my pockets or in my coat in winter (long coats, gentlemen) or always in my car. That is where you will always find some cologne to lift up the wear and tear of the day. Nothing too heavy. We’re not teenagers in the locker room anymore, gents. Something with a slight subtle presence, just enough to leave an impression when you get close to your date. Nothing to knock them out when you approach from a block away. The sense of smell is the one most strongly associated with memory. Be unforgettable.

My watch. I am still a firm believer and proponent of a man wearing a sturdy watch that frames his wrist well. A fashionable timepiece is a distinguished way to accent an outfit and again, presents an image of preparedness and practicality. This was a gift given to my upon my college graduation. I am rarely seen without it. I like to wear it with the watch face facing down, a habit I picked up from my grandfather. There is something alluring and impressive about the extra gesture of lifting your arm and turning your wrist out to check the time. It draws attention to the gesture and the instrument. I later learned that this was common among soldiers, as the position prevented glare and alerting enemy snipers. Whether my grandfather knew this as well or if it inspired him to wear it, it is still a fascinating piece of history that I now wear every day.

My keys. Organized on a single key fob (that happens to double as a carabiner and a bottle opener). Preparedness is sexy. Two house keys. One for the storm door (without a key cover) and one for the main door (the one with the zombie key cover). The zombie cover was given by a friend for Christmas back in college. I am a huge zombie fan: movies, literature, TV, games. I devour zombie lore. It was a perfect accent to a very personal piece of every-day carry. I live in and through my car. What some may see as a necessity of life I see as one of the great luxuries and privileges. We command the road, feeling every twist and turn in our feet.

So that’s it. Everything I carry with me. Never a burden, never a chore, always a reminder of who I am, what has made me, and how I want to live my life. We carry so much in our lives and not all of it is good or of our own volition. Sometimes it is important to remember the things we choose to and why. I think the Chairman of the Board would abide.

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Day 45

Man: 29 Loneliness: 16

Day 41 Supplemental: The Man and the Social Media

In an attempt to reach beyond my own self-interested and self-centered experiences, I want to try and reach out through the very self-indulgent surface of memory to extract some value for you.

My experience with all this can be summed up into this.

Devil.jpg

After a breakup, social media is the devil.

Cut all ties.

Don’t go where you don’t belong.

Let’s break this up into parts.

Part 1) What is true does not matter. What matters is what is now.

  • This is the first thing I must learn to reconcile with the breakup. After we broke up and I read those posts about her and her ex, my reality was upended. I questioned what I believed and what I knew. I remember all the sweet words and promises she and I made to each other. I remember all the things she told me about him and what she needed and was not getting. Was it all lies? Because if it was true, then I must be worth even less than that. I was wracking myself with worry and self-doubt. How could she want him again? Didn’t she tell me this, and that, and didn’t it all mean he was bad and I was good? I concerned myself with the possibilities. Either a) she lied to me about him or b) she told the truth and ultimately it just didn’t matter to her. I never considered c) which is…
  • It doesn’t matter. What you have to understand now is that whatever she said before, whether it was true or not, is the past. What matters are the words she says right now. It is not your job to investigate the truth. It is not your job to convince her or yourself of what is reality. The reality is that you two are not together, and the words she speaks are now not for you anymore.

Part 2) There is nothing here left for you.

  • The second part of social media and breakups is you sometimes wish to see some sort of signal from your ex. You want to see some sad post about how poorly they are taking it. Or maybe see some clearly over-compensating pictures of some crazy party they went to to try and get over you. You want to believe that there is still more to the conversation and that your ex will somehow convey to you that this was all a mistake. So you spend more time on their social media than you did when you were together. Every picture, every word, you wonder if it was somehow meant for you.
  • It wasn’t. It isn’t. It won’t be. You know what, in fact, leave social media altogether for a while. Let the little buzzing of third-degree acquaintances gorge themselves on the corpse of your relationship while you go out and remind yourself of the things you did before the relationship. The truth of the matter is there is no secret code to get someone back. No one is going to get back together because of a tweet. And the more you visit, the longer you stay, the higher the chances of you seeing something you shouldn’t, or wouldn’t want to see, and it causing more harm than help. Believe me, because this leads us to

Part 3) You are better off unfollowing each other on social media. Because

  • No matter what happens, you’re going to feel like crap. Is your ex’s life going terribly? Is their feed now filled with despair and sad memes? Are they going out each night trying to drown their feelings in cheap vodka and even cheaper thrills? Do you think this is going to make you feel better? You are watching someone you once loved and cared about self-destruct. You will either feel shitty because it hurts to see someone you care about hurt themselves or you’ll feel REALLY shitty because of the brief moment you let yourself actually enjoy watching that. You’re better than this. You’re a good person.
  • You lack the genuine capacity to be happy for them. The truth is, in a breakup, what is essentially being said is that these two people will have better lives separately. And the truth is, usually at least one of you does not want this to be true. So you do not want to see how happy your ex is with their new job. Or that they are moving to a new city. Or even worse, you do not want to see them happy with someone else. I know this from personal experience, but even from third party observation. One of my friends is friends with her ex. Who recently got into a new relationship. Do you know what we talked about that day? ‘God this is so typical of her. She’s not good in a relationship. It’ll end in flames. But I wish her the best.’ Yo. No you don’t. Don’t kid yourself or me. Noble gestures need noble actions. If you want to honestly wish your ex the best, do so and then never concern yourself with what her best becomes, because it isn’t you.

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Listen, do as I say and not as I do. I wish I could tell you that I do not still sometimes check her blog to see what she says. I wish I could tell you that I do not sometimes quietly relish that while I am trying to move on (albeit recently with much trouble) she is mired in regrets of the past, even though her writing also reveals how little she is cared for. It does hurt me that the man she has lost herself to did not even remember her birthday and that it characterized her special day more than the efforts of her friends, family, or even me. I wish I could say that I do not still sometimes think back to the words she only spoke to herself and compare them to the words she so freely shared with the world about him. I am a work in progress. And if you take these words to heart, I promise you I will too.

Social media is the devil.

Day 32 Supplemental: The Man and the Nightmare Know-How

First, on the virtues of nightmares.

Consider the following scenarios.

Scenario A) You are walking along the sidewalk in your town when you notice a dollar bill stuck between the cracks in the pavement. You decide to pick it up and, with no other better idea coming to mind, you purchase a lottery ticket. You use your birthday, the birthday of your brother, mother, father, and finally the birthday of ‘the one that got away’ and your anniversary. That night you wait for the numbers to be called and it wins! Then a train full of beautiful naked your women rolls past your bedroom window, but you notice that on the hill past the train standing underneath a large tree stands your ex, beckoning to you. You cannot believe it. There is the indescribably happy feeling of being wanted. You did it. You found your way back.

Scenario B) You are walking along a dark alley when the narrow opening on the other side slowly begins to close right in front of your eyes. A brick wall manifests itself out of thin air and you are forced to turn direction. Where once you were alone, a large four legged beast with the face of a grotesque carnival clown is now standing between you and your only exit. You run straight at it and at the very last moment do a dive between the beast’s legs. You end up on the other side, which is now a landscape of a cemetery with tombstones floating in midair. You try to hide behind them but just as soon as you touch them they shoot up to the sky, defying gravity. You cling to one and it rockets up. Your grip begins to loosen. The beast is waiting, directly below, with an evil grin. Your hands finally fail you and you begin to plummet.

And then you wake up.

Now I pose this question to you. In which scenario do you feel better being awake rather than asleep.

My guess is, tempting as A may sound, if you really think about it, B is guaranteed to get you up off your feet and ready to face the day.

I’ve had both of these dreams in the past. And let me tell you what happens the morning after.

After dream A, I wake up with a smile. There is this warm feeling radiating through my body. Until I realize it was all just a dream. There is no one in bed next to me. And no one who is looking forward to hearing from me or seeing me today. There is no reunion, no lottery fortune. My bed is cold and empty. I bury myself under the sheets trying futilely to go back to sleep and recapture that feeling. For the rest of the day I will think about the girl under the tree and how she looked at me and wonder if anyone will ever look at me that way again. I will wonder about her. I will remember that I can’t go out to lunch today because I have no money. I’m unwanted, lonely, and broke. I want to go back to sleep. Back to my dream. My day is unproductive. Everything around me is a stark reminder of how much better my life was asleep. I just want the day to end and hopefully I can catch that train once more.

After dream B, I awake startled and alert. I am acutely hyperaware of every detail in my room. There is no lull, there is no sleep still left to wipe away from my eyes. There are a thousand thoughts racing through my head, ever forward, grateful, enthusiastic, and none of them are of sleep or to lull me back into retreat, stepping backwards. I am happy to be in my own bed. I am excited to see who I will interact with first on this bright beautiful day that I am happy to be a part of. My heart is so full of adrenaline that I am springing to my feet and racing through my morning tasks. A nightmare makes me happy to be awake and to be nowhere else but now here.

Nightmares, the good kind, the monsters and ghosts kind, make us appreciate more what we have. Those nightmares are fun and exciting. Much like the Twilight Zone episode of the man who eventually realizes he’s in Hell (spoiler alert) we would tire and grow weary and maybe even numb or resentful if our dreams were the dull repetitive winning the lottery, getting the girl (or boy), having superpowers, eating a bunch of food (what, am I the only one who watches Iron Chef Japan before bed?).  Sometimes I choose to try and invoke nightmares because I feel my daily life has become too boring, too bland. I need some variety, some nuclear spice, and a refreshed appreciation for what I have. Other times it’s for the story of it. Some of my nightmares make for incredible stories to be told by the campfire or to little kids you don’t like. Other times it can be an insurance policy to help ensure I get out of bed on time. Hahah.

The point is, I think nightmares are seriously underrated. People like warm and fuzzy and safe and comfortable. But that doesn’t push us forward. If we were always like that, we’d have no drive to do anything. I’d stay in bed all day until I withered away if you gave me a button that would shoot happy blissful dreams to my mind while I slept. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came to her in a nightmare. Nightmares bring our fears and secret thoughts to the forefront, in bright contrast where we cannot hide from them.

So I implore you. Give nightmares a chance. Feel what it is like to wake from a nightmare and pay attention to those initial sensations after waking. Just…no nightmares like the one I posted about today. Those are different. I don’t like those either. Just a good monster and a good chase and one of those jolts at the end that make you jump when you wake. A shark about to bite. An axe about to fall.

If you are not in the habit of remembering or recording your dreams, I also highly recommend you begin some sort of system for yourself in order to keep track. You might be having incredible dreams or nightmares but if you are not exercising the ability to retain them, you could lose complete recall within just the first minute of your day. When you wake up, try to keep your eyes closed and don’t distract yourself with outside thoughts. Don’t think of the day ahead. Don’t look out the window. Grab a piece of paper and a pen that you will now be required to have at your bedside to jot down what you remember or grab your phone and record your voice. With time you’ll find your time of recall gets progressively longer and then you can have the dream still in your head by lunch.

Below are some of the methods I have used in the past to incite nightmares. If you are brave enough, I challenge you to experiment with a few. Of course be aware and be warned of whatever emotions or images this may bring up, and do this with care and with responsibility.

Method 1: Eat certain foods. Certain foods are believed to help invoke nightmares. I prefer salty and/or spicy. But they also say fatty foods might help. I just don’t recommend it because I want you to be healthy. I’m looking out for you. Eating these things a little before you go to sleep can help intensify the vividness of your dreams.

Method 2: Scare yourself. There is a fine line between spooked before bed and lying in bed too terrified to close your eyes. I think watching a scary movie is too stimulating and can end up making too much of an impression. But a good scary story can do just enough to begin planting a seed in your imagination that could end up maturing in your sleep. I love the short stories that give you just enough of a scare to send a chill up and down your spine. You certainly don’t forget that as you fall asleep and your eyes just manage to lazily register the shadow moving in the corner.

Method 3: Pills. Whoa whoa whoa. Let’s be clear here a second. I am absolutely `100% NOT advocating for the abuse of any drugs of any sort. I’m talking about vitamin B6, which also affects vividness but can also have a certain slight influence on dream subject. And melatonin, which is often used as a sleep aid. One of the specific side effects of melatonin are bizarre or vivid dreams. A combination of the two would be highly effective, and a more natural way to combine would be to have melatonin and a banana.

So game plan: About an hour before you go to bed, pop some buttered popcorn, add some salt, and sprinkle some cayenne pepper or Sriracha. Not for nothing, but if you don’t have a nightmare you’ll at least thank me for this serious popcorn upgrade. While you munch on it read some scary stories. Real life encounters with the paranormal. Ghost stories. r/creepypasta. Whatever floats your nightmare boat. Then right before bed, take the proper dosage of melatonin and snack on a banana. You’ll be healthier and on your way to hopefully some good nightmares.

Hope this works for you and that you give this a try. If you ever need a refresher, a good nightmare is an excellent restart button.

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

Day 21: The Man and the Power of Routine, Executing a Plan

It’s 12:40am and I have my past post up on another tab to compare and contrast. Today was…interesting. Plans, am I right?

Flight got in early, nice tail wind. I worry that this means on the way home the flight will take longer than anticipated since we’ll be going against the wind. As a former travel agent I am supposed to hate JetBlue for its bully tactics and refusing to work with the industry, but after my third bag of those blue Terra chips, I had to give in.

Rental car is standard. Because my company pays for the rental and adds the CDW, I drive these cars like I stole them. The traffic in Fort Lauderdale is…almost nonexistent. The freeways are relatively open and the speed limit is already pretty high. But god damn Florida…use your blinkers!

Store visits took a bit longer than anticipated. The consultants here are just so averse to change; they hit one obstacle in the new process and they just walk away and don’t try again. It’s frustrating because it makes me almost not want to help them. The new systems have been up for two months now. Are you telling me for two months you never tried to use the system because you couldn’t get it in five minutes. How lazy are you. If I had not been sent down here, what would you have done. It’s deplorable. Terrible work ethic. Having to work straight out of the gate, I didn’t have the patience to deal with this.

Okay first, and really only, major obstacle of the day! I have learned that sleep is the great momentum killer. I check in to my hotel at 3pm, as planned, and decide to take a quick nap to restore my energy after the early morning flight and work.

I didn’t get out of bed until 7pm.

What the hell?!

ShirtSleep is terrible for someone who is trying to accomplish things. Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t have the discipline or the persistence to get myself out of a relatively comfortable bed. I lost all momentum at that moment. Luckily after dinner I still went to the fitness center and still did my time. I’ve never been an Adonis or anything. But there was a time that I possessed the perseverance and the motivation to look my best, and I did. I’m ashamed, embarrassed, and scared that a good portion of my clothes don’t fit me well anymore. Look right now I’m not even trying to be better than I was, I’m just trying to maintain some semblance of what I was before, to prove that I can balance everything with this new job and not forsake my own health.

About dinner: Old Heidelberg’s is a…fascinating kitschy German/Bavarian themed tavern style restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. I am sad to say that I did not get a picture with the accordion player as live music is only on Wednesday and Sunday. But theOldHeidelberg.jpg decor inside was pretty cool, and it’s nice that some of it is actually tied to heritage and not just gimmick. There are lines from some famous German writers painted onto the rafters: Goethe,
Hesse, Schiller. The beams are adorned with assorted kinds of mugs and steins. I will admit the waitresses in the Bavarian dresses is a bit much but they own it and enjoy it and no one is doing fake German accents and singing birthday songs so it’s not that bad. The tables are remnants of the former oyster bar that used to be where the restaurant is now and are made of reclaimed wood from ships. Pretty cool history.

LambShankThe food was excellent as well. Of course for a German restaurant I had to start with the sausage sampler to test the quality of their kielbasa, bratwurst, and knockwurst. The sausages had a satisfyingly crisp skin with a great bite and you could taste all the seasonings mixed into the meat inside. The star was my ‘Munich Lamb Shank’. Two generously sized lamb shanks slow cooked in a creamy bell pepper sauce with onions and a slight spicy kick served with spatzle and red cabbage. The lamb was incredibly succulent and had a good amount of meat on the bone. The meat was so tender I could have carved it with a spoon. I love that gamey slightly sweet taste of lamb and it was perfectly complemented by the bell peppers. The spatzle could have used some more butter and nutmeg but I forgot all about that when I was using the little noodles as sponges for the lamb sauce anyways. Never much of a fan of red cabbage, I will have to admit that theirs was actually quite enjoyable. Not mush and not bland. All in all a very filling and satisfying meal.

Once I finish this I’m off to bed. First day a success. Second day will be important. I will have to be sure to wake up at 6 to accomplish everything I want.

Day 21

Man: 17 Loneliness: 4

Day 20: The Man and The Power of Routine, Setting a Plan P.3

NewarkIt is now 5:17am, and this post is actually for Sunday. I’m sitting here typing on Word because the internet at Newark Airport is pretty much nonexistent. I wonder when I’ll actually be able to post this. It’ll be interesting, considering that today’s (Monday’s) post will be in direct response to this.

As I mentioned last week, I need to do a better job of setting a routine whenever I’m on the road. For the myriad of personal physical and mental health reasons. A routine will help me get back in shape and not let the road add too many unnecessary poundage. It is also necessary if I hope to stave off loneliness and insecurity that comes from being alone with your own thoughts too long. It’ll help me better enjoy and appreciate the destination and the opportunity afforded to me by this very unique and dynamic occupation. A routine sets discipline and order, which, paradoxically, gives me better chances for some spontaneity and excitement. I don’t have to worry. I know where I am, what I’m doing, and why. And when I afford myself the chance to indulge, it’s guilt-free and I can be 100% committed to enjoyment without worry.

I’m actually grateful thatJetBlue.jpg this time I get to set up a home base for the three days I’m in Fort Lauderdale. None of the stores are more than an hour away from each other so I just chose a hotel that is at the nexus. This means I don’t have to pack every morning and unpack every night. I get to spend more time getting to know my surroundings better. I already picked the restaurants and can’t wait to try them. With more time free because I won’t be relocating and checking into a different place each day I can work to better follow the schedule I set for myself.

So here’s the plan:

Monday July 18, 2016

Flight arrives at 9:30am

Pick up rental car at 10am

Arrive at first store (Davie, FL) at 10:30am

Arrive at second store (Boca Raton, FL) at 12:30pm

Check into hotel at 3pm

MUST GO TO FITNESS CENTER FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR

Shower

Dinner at Old Heidelberg’s, this crazy looking German themed bierhaus with accordion players and girls in those Bavarian dresses and corsets. I have to take a picture with at least the accordion player and hopefully one of the Bavarian girls.

Write blog post. I’d like to maybe for once not be up at 3am writing in my hotel room, and maybe I can actually take care of myself and post at a reasonable time which means sleeping at a reasonable time. All part of being responsible.

Sleep, preferably no later than 1am.

 

Tuesday, July 19 2016

Wake up at 6am

MUST GO TO FITNESS CENTER FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR at 6:30am

Breakfast at 8:30am

Arrive at first store (Hollywood, FL) at 10am

Attend First Year Consultant meeting, lead with area Career Coach

Back to hotel to change out of uniform

MUST GO TO FITNESS CENTER FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR

Shower

Explore town, actually investigate. Maybe I’ll check out the beach. Hope to catch lots of Pokemon.

Dinner at Catfish Dewey’s. Another promising seafood shack with daily all you can eat specials. Another place with a bar. Another opportunity to take to always sit where the action is. Sustainable Florida stone crab claws.

Back to hotel. Write blog post. Relax. Sleep early.

Wednesday, July 20 2016

Wake up at 6am

MUST GO TO FITNESS CENTER FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR at 6:30am

Breakfast at 8:30am

Explore town again. Maybe catch a movie. Do something for me. I worked enough.

Must be at airport by 4pm.

Back home.

 

This routine should help me get the most out of my trip and work to better myself at the same time. Obviously the next days’ posts will be about how well I can stick to this expectation. But I have to remember I’m doing this for me. That this is for my own benefit. I’m taking personal incentive in taking care of myself, not waiting for someone else to crack the whip or kid myself in thinking this is for someone else. When I land and get settled in, maybe I’ll see if there are any movie theatres nearby to catch a movie on my last day.

 

Day 17: The Man and the Power of Routine, Setting a Plan P.2

Nice to have an opportunity to write again from the comfort of home. The coziness, the company, the chatter, it’s all so refreshingly familiar and reassuring. I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to take it all in and savor it before my next assignment: flying to Fort Lauderdale, FL for three days. It is in Fort Lauderdale that I will take on part 3 of this Power of Routine series, the actual implementation of the routine and how to handle obstacles.

See at home, the routine is very easy. There’s work of course, but then there’s relaxation and watching DVR shows with my brother. Then martial arts practice. Dinner. Shower. Some video games. Catch up with friends and plan the weekend. Sleep. Not much room to dwell on past regrets or to wander about aimlessly. It’s that purpose and knowledge of what to do and what there is that can be done that is missing from the travel aspect of my life. So the routine I really want to develop is one for travel on the road. How to fit in allowing for some self-indulgences, enjoy good food, exercise, etc. The day starts pretty much the same regardless. You wake up, you do your work. Whether that is a regular 9 to 5 in one place or hopping from store to store and driving in between. You have the regularity of work to provide you with a structure for a good part of the day. It is the afterwards, in the silence and in the dark, that we must define ourselves and our goals. Do you go back to that hotel room. Blame it on the long drive or the jet lag or whatever. Order bad takeout and fall asleep. Never really knowing where you are, where you’ve been, or where you’re going. Do you never take care of yourself mentally and physically. Do you let the mind get stagnant and the body weak and large. Do you succumb to all the pressures and fears that bond you to meekness and regret. Do you let the world pass you by when it finally asks of you, ‘what is it that YOU want to do’. Void of any structure or expectations. How do you tackle freedom.

DreadI feel I should be honest with you for a second here. You need to know, as I know, that a routine is a great tool for structure and for stability. That it is a wonderful instrument in gaining control over one’s life and thoughts. But it is not the end-all be-all. It is not a perfect solution and the process is more than just simply repeating the same activities over and over again.It is about consciousness, mindfulness, and awareness. Your mind and body enjoy the consistency and over time learn to focus for you. There will be times that, struggle as you might, there just aren’t enough things to do in the world to distract you forever. But setting a routine and working through it has two benefits. The first is, as you prepare yourself to face your demons, process that heartbreak, or resolve to chase your dreams, you are keeping yourself healthy and busy. You are still being actively engaged and so like any other muscle, you strengthen your heart and your mind. The second benefit is even when the world knocks you down, you find your legs limp and heavy under the sheer weight of your unhappiness, your routine promises to keep moving you so long as you still believe in it and yourself. A routine is only good if it’s followed through. And it’s only worth following through if you’re still doing so even in the toughest of times. There will be days it just isn’t enough. I know, I’ve had those days, and I know I will have more in the future. Nothing goes your way, or everything reminds you of her. You can’t cherry pick the rest of your life to avoid any remnants of the past. Some days DontLetItloneliness wins. Some days her words just ring too clearly or too loudly in your ears. It is important in those moments to remember that you are not alone. That you are not lost. Get back on the horse. Do something you love. Commit yourself to what it is you are supposed to be doing. Sometimes a little pain is necessary. It reminds us of what it is we love, want, cherish, miss. It’s the pain that helps to define what we want. Is is the pain of loss. The pain of being replaced. The pain of losing her. The pain of loneliness. How do we deal with each of these different kinds. Work through it.

Vacuum.jpgWhen all else fails, go back to your routine. Go back to what’s familiar. Go back to what is comfortable and perhaps maybe even comforts you. Don’t lose hope. Just keep going. Tidy up a bit. You have no idea how much more relaxing and recuperative a good night’s rest is especially knowing that your surroundings are neat, tidy, organized. I get a sense of pleasure every time I check into a hotel room. Opening the room for the first time. I know what temp I want my A/C on. I scout a bench to put my shoes under. I slip on some hotel slippers. Toiletries are hung on a hook in the bathroom. Laptop is placed on the desk. Cell phone by the bed. Everything neat. Everything clean. Another important gesture of taking care of oneself. You don’t clean for others. You don’t clean because you have to. You don’t clean because you were told to. I am telling you, promise yourself that you will clean yourself because once again, you are showing that you are someone worth effort and care. And sometimes no one is in more need of that reminder than yourself.

So there you have it. What is for me, the necessary elements of an effective routine, at home or abroad. Remember to enjoy the little things that make you personally happy. Feed yourself more than just what’s good for the body, but good for the soul and the heart too. Take care of your mind and body as an investment in self-worth and future self. Know that there will be obstacles, and days when it is difficult to just get out of bed. Do not fear or avoid these moments. Process them. Understand them. Allow them to let you feel what you need to feel. Then move on. And finally, take care of your surroundings.

I will begin to implement a more purpose driven routine next week on my travels in Florida, and I look forward to seeing how it helps. The road can be a lonely, desolate, and frightening place. Leaving you with just the worst parts of yourself that want to be called up and analyzed and fretted over time and time again. But it doesn’t have to be. And even a little routine can go a long way in enjoying even the spontaneity of life.

Sometimes Man doesn’t win. But that doesn’t mean you lose sight of the next day’s battles.

Day 17

Man: 13 Loneliness: 4

Day 16: The Man and the Power of Routine, Setting a Plan P.1

When your world starts to fluctuate wildly and the variables change more times than you can count, it is time to counter with some consistency.

There are immense advantages and benefits to be gained from setting and executing a successful, consistent, effective routine. This is about more than just organization. It is about exercising power and control over what is otherwise chaos and confusion. It is about more than just focusing on time and activity; it is really a way to harness emotions, memories, energy, positivity, negativity. It channels the restless soul and gives it an opportunity to express the excess. For someone like me who is constantly on the road, I know that there is a very good chance that every time I look outside it will be a different locale, a different environment, a different situation. I will wake up in a different city. I will drive or fly or take a train and be someplace completely different. At first it will be exciting and the thrill of the unknown will take over and you, like I, will be enticed and seduced by the unpredictable nature of constant travel.

But the road is long and the soul gets weary. Your body starts to crave some sort of familiarity, some knowledge to be able to prep and handle the challenges of the day. We are creatures of pattern and habit. We like to look for order where there is none. We seek patterns to justify the past and predict the future. Dipped into too much chaos, we freak out and strike back. Order from chaos is one of man’s greatest obstacles and is considered one of man’s greatest victories. We all need some semblance of routine.

I think the reason why the travel and the job seem to be taking a greater toll on me this past week is because I have not yet figured out an effective enough routine that I can faithfully and regularly execute within possibility. I can see the inklings of what it is I want to be able to do and accomplish in a day and I have an idea of when I would like to do it but no routine keeps me in check. No routine holds me accountable for the events of the day. No routine guides me out of recklesssness and abandon to drive against the tide of the world. I am listless and lack direction. I want to do something, but I don’t know what, and then I feel guilty for having done nothing in the interim. What happens after my workday? When I have visited my stores, trained my agents, what do I do with the day to a) feel accomplished b) take care of myself both physically and mentally c) appreciate my opportunities and surroundings and d) give myself a chance to process all of these pent up emotions and pain.

ShopTieDoing something for yourself is important. Allowing yourself to indulge in some pleasures, some activities that bring happiness, is never a bad thing within reason. This is by no means a license for lascivious self-indulgence. It is simply an important note to remember the things that make us happy and that we can do on our own for ourselves. Travel in and of itself can already be a source of happiness and pleasure but when a lot of it is for work, it is important to steal away a few moments to appreciate it for what it is. In Philly I visited the Magic Gardens. Had a cheesesteak. Walked along the waterfront. In Boston I explored the downtown area, went to Faneuil Hall. Next week when I go off to Fort Lauderdale, I won’t visit the beach, as I am not a beach person, but I will explore the area, as I’ve never been to that part of Florida. When I am home, I enjoy watching movies, hanging out with friends, or yes, shamelessly, I do also enjoy going shopping for new clothes. I may be a lonely man, but I am a well-dressed lonely man. During the weekends I make sure to spend one day with family and the other with friends. During the work week it is right after work, which incentivizes me to work fast and start early to capitalize on as much time as possible, that I explore my surroundings and commit myself to spending time outside and not curled up in my hotel room.

It is by now readily apparent I believe that I am also an Macaroniavid culinarian. I dislike the term ‘foodie’ for a myriad of reasons that I may indulge myself in explaining in the future but for the time being suffice to say that I prefer ‘culinarian’ as a more all-encompassing term to mean someone who not only appreciates food for the sensory pleasures but also appreciates the art of cooking and preparing and the culture and practice of good food and drink. Good food is nourishing for the body and the soul. When I travel I don’t seek out the familiar or the safe. I want local, I want authentic, I want it within my company allowance but apparently sometimes that’s too much to ask. I have loved the fact that I can discover delicious, honest, genuine pho in Catonsville, MD. Or that an elderly Korean couple has maintained what has become a hub for scattered Koreans and adventurous eaters in Lawrence, MA. I loved my experience at the Old Ebbitt Grill in DC, one of the cities oldest establishments. The wood in the bar expresses so many stories just from resting against it. When I am sent to Pittsburgh I know I will be both well fed and broke. When at home, I love to cook. I take the opportunity to be back in a kitchen to work out some emotions through my cooking. Emotional cooking is good cooking. Unless you’re angry. Then everything becomes spicier. Before I head out for another assignment, I use the weekend to explore the areas I will be in and find the restaurant I will go to each night. It is nice to have that promise of a warm, filling, nourishing meal to propel me through the day.

CardioI know I’m a big guy. I definitely stand to lose a few pounds. When I am on the road it seems even more difficult to find opportunities to stay healthy and exercise when in reality, I think it is probably the best thing to help me get to my goals. For one, because I focus so much on that meal after work, I don’t bother with lunch. And secondly, every hotel I stay in has a 24 hour fitness center free for me to use. So I should absolutely avail myself of this resource. I have sporadically found myself in and out of them on occasion, but I need to set a more consistent routine to promise myself that I will put myself in that room and exert a genuine amount of strain and effort and work however gradually, towards my goal. It is easier at home and more enjoyable as I have my martial arts school which I have been attending for the past 19 years. Martial arts is quite literally an exercise for the body and the mind. You are training both simultaneously and I feel so incredibly powerful and accomplished after a good practice. I kind of seriously can’t stand, alright I HATE, standard cardio. UGH. But whatever. They have elliptical machines that are easier on my knees and they TVs in the room. I can do this. And I should. Exercise is important. We can’t always be about what makes us feel good in the moment. The truth is today we are a society almost unilaterally and solely about immediate gratification. This is no surprise and I don’t want to indulge in cliches but…it’s undeniably there. Exercise is a promise. Exercise is an investment. The time you give yourself in the day to take care of your body will pay off in the long run. And when you spend a good majority of your day sitting in the driver’s seat or on a train or on a plane, it is important to work out those tired bones. Plus, it is a reminder that you are thinking of your future and reminds you that you have something to look forward to as you move ever forward.

Okay, it’s 3am. That’s enough for today. I have one more store visit and then another 300 miles to drive. Remind me that ‘getting enough sleep’ needs to be on this self-help and self-care routine eventually. Part 2 tomorrow! Looking forward to writing it. I think we’re onto a winner here, dear readers.

Day 16

Man: 12 Loneliness: 4