Day 88: The Man and the Ugly Scared Face; ‘Graceful’

Shadows.gif

Happy October everyone! The leaves are changing, everything is pumpkin-spiced, I finally get my cold weather back. I’m a big fan of gray and dreary and cold, much like the weather is right now in New Jersey. But what I am most looking forward to this season is Halloween and all the wonderful scares. Scary movies, haunted hay rides, Fright Fest, haunted houses, I love every single one of these. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for those of you who saw my posts in the past on nightmares and scary movies like Lights Out.

What I especially love about all of these are the jump scares. Those moments that catch you so completely off-guard that you literally jump straight up in the air. They make for great viewing. I love being the victim for the rush of adrenaline and that hyper-awareness afterwards that really brings everything into sharp focus. I know some people could very happily life their entire lives without having to suffer through a jump scare but most everyone can agree that watching people go through them makes for some really funny entertainment. There are so many compilations on the internet of such experiences. One of my recent favorites has to be Ellen putting her producer and his assistant through various haunted walks.

What I enjoy about these moments is the sheer honesty of the victim. There’s no time to plan a reaction or compose yourself. The scare comes so quickly and with such complete resolve that you can only react in what is most natural and most honest. In that split second you are face to face with sheer terror and brutal honesty. Sure, afterwards you can laugh it off with your friends. Assure and comfort each other that it was all fake. The monsters might have been, but your reaction wasn’t.

Did you jump up and scream? Did you shrink and cower? Who did you grab onto when you were scared and needed protection. Who grabbed onto you. And what was with that absolutely ugly scared face you had.

This brings me to today’s prompt: graceful. Everyone thinks of grace as something to be displayed, like a well-tailored suit or a little black dress. It’s something we put on at the ball or at the evening opera. Grace and elegance accompany each other like two dancers doing the waltz. Some ‘possess’ a natural gracefulness and others go to charm schools to ‘acquire’ it. I think gracefulness is so much more than this. It is a product of necessity and it is the finer side of a coin. The other side is chaos.

Gracefulness is the finer way we deal with chaos and disarray. It is our victory against adversity. Being graceful isn’t just about how we move about the dance floor. It’s about how we conquer the music, take control of the rhythm, and then master the steps. Gracefulness needs a foil in which to prove itself, otherwise it is just vanity and ego. Often times you can see this in how we portray someone’s grace. We handle breakups ‘with grace’. We disarm tense and volatile situations ‘with grace’. In the face of shame or failure we can rise ‘with grace’. So for as much as we try to avoid these nasty situations the truth is we need them if we ever want to test, with honesty, the extent of our ‘gracefulness’.

I fear there is a very distinct lack of this true ‘graceful’ nature in our world today. I see too many examples of people who, having never had to face obstacles before, simply don’t know how to act. We shield ourselves too much, insulating ourselves from harm or injury, yet we still have the audacity to claim to posses the higher and nobler qualities and characteristics that come only through challenge. The ‘graceful’ way to handle insult or injury is not to spit back. The ‘graceful’ way to handle failure is not to try and change the rules or abandon the game altogether, it’s to learn from the failure and rise again to meet the challenge.

I am sometimes embarrassed and ashamed of how I’ve handled some of the moments in my life with less than stellar grace. I haven’t always had the best temperament, and I have certainly severed personal and professional relationships because of it. There is a fine amount of restraint and discipline that comes with grace that, if misunderstood, could be mistaken for submission or weakness. This is something I’ve always struggled with, not wanting to be perceived of as either of the two. Sometimes retaliation can seem so much more tempting and satisfying than grace. But as I’ve grown older, wiser, hopefully more mature, I come to crave the latter more than the former.

There are a few moments in my life now that I know will test my own personal level of gracefulness. Certainly my breakup is one as I continue to move beyond events and choose how to remember and share my story with Beautiful. I could be less than generous and graceful in my handling of the matter, but slander and vitriol would take away not only my credibility but the value in whatever lesson I could learn and share. When I eventually, carefully, try and re-enter the relationship-sphere I know that there will be times (more often than not) when my affections and attempts will be rebuffed. How will I deal with these situations? Can I handle myself to preserve whatever relationship existed prior or at the very least move on from the awkwardness of rejection with poise. Funnily enough my boss recently had a private meeting with me and apparently of the forty or fifty stores I’ve visited (some more than three times), five of them have reported me as ‘condescending’. Okay fine I admit, I expect a certain level of learning and development from grown adults. So professionally, how do I deal now with this small but perhaps growing perception people have of me. How do I grow in my field and perhaps navigate my professional development in this company or any other with grace.

What it all boils down to of course, is relationships. How do we deal with others. That is the true testament to our own graceful natures. Whether in our direct dealings or in how we are perceived by others, it is important to know that no matter what we do in that split second of challenge, it is always, one hundred percent, honest.

Day 88

Man: 69 Loneliness: 19

Day 86: The Man and the Big Ball of Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey…Stuff

‘People assume that time is a strict progression of cause and effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it’s more like a big ball of…wibbly wobbly…timey wimey…stuff.

The Tenth Doctor

Reflecting back on this episode brings back such good memories. For those of you who are Weeping Angel.jpgunfamiliar with the series, Doctor Who is pretty much credited for being the prime source material for the nightmares of every single child who grew up watching the BBC. It is one of the few series I know that is at its best when it is centered around tragedy and loss. This particular episode, Blink, is especially notable. First, it is the premier appearance of what is now one of the most famous and feared of the Doctor’s enemies, the Weeping Angels. Real nightmare material. Beings that can only move when you can’t see them. They kill you by throwing you back in time and letting you live to death. Second, it guest-starred Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow. I loved her performance in the episode and I’ve Sally Sparrow.jpgbeen an avid fan ever since. She is the perfect example of just irresistible adorableness and pixie-like waifishness. Third, the Doctor, played by the incredibly talented David Tennant, barely makes an appearance in this episode yet it is still hailed as perhaps one of the best of all time. This is a testament to the show’s ability to capture so much without relying on the same people over and over again. Some shows never quite grow out of their cast, but this proves that Doctor Who is timeless and is so much more than just the sum of its greater parts. Fourth, and most importantly of all, the writing in this episode is just spot on. The entire episode is quotable. For example, here is Sally Sparrow checking out an old house with her friend:

Kathy: What did you come here for anyway?

Sally: I love old things. They make me feel sad.

Kathy: What’s good about sad?

Sally: It’s happy for deep people.

I think there are many of us who would heartily agree with that sentiment.

Still for all that I can say about this episode or the series in general, we cannot forget that the real reason why I brought any of this up in the first place is the line the Doctor uses to try and explain the true nature of our relationship with time to non-time travelers.


Everything that could ever possibly happen, has already. We are just slow to experience it.

Once again this is mainly a problem of perception. We view the world, and time, always in relation to us. This is understandable, as it is our best frame of reference. Since our day is structured as wake up, brush, shower, dress, breakfast, drive, work, etc., this is how we view time. Everything follows the previous in a nice, orderly line. The problem is we aren’t alone. At the exact same time you are doing your daily routine, millions and billions of others are doing theirs. And what they do could in some way impact what you do. Their present runs parallel to yours and their past affects your future. Everything becomes…jumbled.

Two things to consider when it comes to our minds. 1) We don’t like chaos. We always try to find order and reason behind things. We try to justify events with understanding or else we’d be too afraid of our own minds to ever step foot outside. So we try to convince ourselves that the other people that exist somehow don’t affect our realities. We can be perfectly immune from the action of others. 2) We have very limited vision. It’s hard for us to see beyond our own noses sometimes. Because of this we struggle to realize how many events are taking place independent of our own lives or the lives of only those who are closest and dearest to us.

If we took in everything that happens at the exact time it happens we’d be pinned to the floor with the sudden onslaught of information and experience. To keep ourselves from going insane we parse everything off. We create blocks of time. Seconds become minutes become hours become days and we place everything we experience into a schedule otherwise we could never process it all. This creates that order from chaos so we can say ‘oh this happened at this point’. It also helps us process when too many things are happening at once. We all know that feeling when we are weighed down by our concern for others or when we are thinking about all the people we care about for positive or negative reasons. We can, for those we care about deeply, think about all of their individual timelines at the same time. We know that we can think about say, maybe five different people and know what they are all doing simultaneously. But ten people? Fifty? One-hundred?! We divide them out. They are separate.

The world doesn’t run like this though. There are an infinite number of things happening at every single moment. Every possible outcome, event, experience, it is now, nownownow. Imagine an infinite amount of straight lines shooting out into the universe. But at the same time the gravity of our actions start to tug and pull on other people’s lines. My heartbreak intersects with so many people’s timelines. Your decisions are curving and warping the straight lines of time of every person around you. What started as a collection of parallel lines starts to turn in on itself. We get…wibbly wobbly.

Time is not a progression. It isn’t a line that we define on our own. When we gain the insight, the patience, and the broader vision to consider other people, time becomes a definition of our relationships with others. We all want more time. It is our most precious commodity. Perhaps the easiest and best way to gain more time is to let more people into our lives. A day lived through the relationships of five people is four days more than a day lived on your own. We might not be able to live forever but we can certainly keep touching more and more lives and adding more lines to our own twisted and curved time and live more.

Day 86

Man: 67 Loneliness: 19

 

Day 85 Supplemental: The Man and the Unhappy Righteousness, or the Wrong Happiness; ‘Disagree’

Colbert Told You.gifI used to love being able to say ‘I told you so’. On the playground it was the equivalent of ruling by divine will. Affirmation was absolution. ‘I told you so’ made me right and it made me happy. In my self-centered universe the most important thing was my own opinion and perspective and every action revolved around the pursuit of proving myself in every way.

I didn’t like growing up. The unbearable weight of maturity came with the burden of realizing that the universe did not in fact revolve around only me. Suddenly I had to take into consideration other people’s ‘feelings’ and ‘perspectives’. I had to be ‘courteous’ and ‘considerate’. I had to stop talking to people with ‘air quotes’ because it was ‘condescending’. Now I live in a world where ‘I told you so’ is only said by children and smug know-it-alls. It’s taboo and uncouth. Suddenly, I was faced with a decision that separated two things I once thought were the same.

I could be happy…or I could be right.

When we learn to see beyond our own perspective we realize the ‘duality’ of things. Whereas before it was simply enough to be happy and right, now we have to consider that in order to be ‘happy’ someone must have to be ‘unhappy’ and to be ‘right’ someone must have to be ‘wrong’. As we learn to care for others and include other people in our lives, this realization complicates our relationships and often times presents obstacles and stumbling blocks.

Relationships are complicated and in the vast jungle of human interaction there are Happy or Right.jpgtwists, dead-ends, and u-turns. It is no longer a straight one-way street as we learn to ‘see’ others along the way. It isn’t as satisfying to be as staunch in our stances but at the same time it’s so difficult to yield.

I get it, it isn’t fair that we have to choose to be happy or be right. If only we could have both. But the only way to do that is to give up on our relationships altogether. No one wants to be wrong, but no one wants to be unhappy either. Someone is going to have to be one or the other though.

Being wrong hurts because it makes us feel insecure and embarrassed. It is an attack on our pride and our egos. Worst of all, it puts us in a compromised state in front of someone whose opinion, most likely, matters to us. It’s such a twisted irony that the biggest struggles between being ‘happy’ and ‘right’ that cause the most friction and frustration are often with the people we care about the most. These issues are so much simpler and easier with people who mean nothing to us but when it is someone important we become much more likely to ‘defend’ ourselves.

Being unhappy isn’t much of an alternative. The source of our unhappiness is the knowledge that we are right paired with the frustration of trying to assert that knowledge on others. We take up causes we believe in (why would we waste our time on things we don’t, after all) and it is our cross to bear. We are the heralds of our truth and much like all the visionaries of past, we are unwanted or ignored, or worse yet, challenged.

I think to help us make this decision we need to reimagine these two concepts. ‘Happiness’ could be considered ‘reward’ and ‘rightness’ could be considered ‘struggle’. If the struggle is worth more than the reward, we stick to our guns and continue to pursue being ‘right’. But if the reward outweighs the struggle, we should yield at the cost of our conviction for the greater good.

Let’s take domestic bliss for example. You and your partner are living together and you toilet-couplecannot count anymore how many times you’ve had to remind your partner to replace the toilet paper roll. You consider it a sign of common courtesy and respect. They just don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Your otherwise happy union is constantly marred by this…(pardon the pun) dirty streak. You could continue this crusade. Bring it up over and over. You might seriously believe that this is some indicator of a larger lack of respect or awareness in your relationship. But if you are truly happy, isn’t a moment’s inconvenience a small price to pay? When our partners constantly come to us to complain about their day, should we point out all the things they clearly did wrong that we warned them not to do that we had the foresight to predict, or should we simply nod along and offer sympathy and understanding?

I read an article last month about a woman whose crusade to prove the IRS owed her money cost her ten years of her life living homeless on the streets of Washington DC where most people considered her insane. For more than a decade she hopped from homeless shelter to street with her only belongings being three suitcases full of documents and checks from the IRS that she refused to check because she was sure they were in the wrong amount and that she was owed more than they were giving. She could have cashed these checks and taken the amount that the IRS had issued her. She didn’t have to move to DC to prove her point. She didn’t have to chase after the IRS for ten years. But if she had cashed those checks, the ‘reward’, who would have ever believed that she was right? This story has a happy ending, by the way. After a social worker finally agreed to listen to her case and review her documents they realized she was telling the truth all along and the IRS issued her $99,999. According to her lawyer she may be owed even more.

I’ve been so used to chasing being right. I live in an environment that thrives on that. Being the older brother and being the oldest person in my group of friends I am used to taking a leadership position and taking for granted that I would be right without much opposition. The only time I’ve ever really encountered some resistance has been in my relationships. In hindsight I realize now that while it wouldn’t have ultimately saved any of them, I must have surrendered so many opportunities and possibilities for happiness because I stubbornly insisted on fighting.

When we rephrase these concepts as struggle and reward, it’s interesting how almost none of us would ever freely choose to struggle, when the reward is right there in our grasp. But our pride and our ego and our vanity sometimes get in the way. Sometimes it’s just that we have so little experience taking into consideration other people’s perspectives. We’re not bad people. We’ve just been dealing with bad definitions of happiness and rightness. We’ve been dealing with bad perceptions of how relationships work. No one wants to struggle. We have to choose this. When we do for the right reasons it lends nobility and courage to our actions. But when we let the struggle choose us, we invite chaos and hurt and suffering.

So the next time you and a person disagree, don’t think ‘do you want to be happy or do you want to be right’, think ‘is this struggle worth more or less than the reward?’

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 84: The Man and the Second Day of ‘Winning’ Wisdom

Time for day two! As a reminder, Tantei M. Gin has challenged me to share three quotes in three days. Yesterday was day one and I shared:

‘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.’

Before I share Day Two I’d like to first reveal the source of this quote.

kitchen-confidentialI love this man. If there were the possibility of reincarnation I would be happy to just be his left arm. Kitchen Confidential helped me become more realistic about my ambitions when it came to food. I definitely still love to cook and there is still this passion in me to bring my creations to a broader stage but his memoir on his experiences in the kitchen have helped me to be much more realistic about the expectations and responsibilities that come with it.

Everything Anthony Bourdain does originates from a deeply profound love of food. I think the reason why he is so interesting is because he sees past the pretentiousness and surface vanity of food. You can’t fool him with pretty garnishes or influence his opinion by spending half an hour explaining to him how the ingredients were made or what techniques were used or why your food is supposed to taste good. He knows honest cooking when he sees it no matter where it comes from. I loved watching him in No Reservations and his newest program on CNN, Parts Unknown, is like a travel checklist for me. His love letter to Tokyo is one of my all-time favorite pieces of television.

Anthony Bourdain is as close to a hero as I’ll ever allow myself. He is an incredible author and TV presenter. I’d highly recommend reading his first book, Kitchen Confidential, or his follow up, Medium Raw. You can catch him on television either on reruns of No Reservations or on repeat and new episodes of Parts Unknown. He is opening a food hall in Chelsea sometime next year in New York and I cannot wait to live in that space.


‘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.’

Appropriate, don’t you think?

Day 84

Man: 65 Loneliness: 19

Day 83: The Man and the Golden Balls; ‘Dilemma’

Prisoners.jpg

Do you consider yourself a good person?

I’ve no doubt that any mature, reflective, well-adjusted individual has at some point spent at least some time considering this question.

‘Am I a good person?’

And certainly there are ways in which we can prove, to ourselves and others, of the inherent ‘goodness’ of our natures.We are, after all, also incredibly generous, according to my previous writing. We are loyal to our friends and family. Give of our time, money, and possessions to those in need. We never speak ill of those with whom we disagree and we never participate in negative gossip. As we walk through our days we are conscientious and courteous of others: we hold the door open for people, we say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, we help little old ladies cross the street and load their groceries into their car.

For all intents and purposes we do all the things we feel we need to in order to effectively convince all those involved that we are good people.

But a good person can find himself in a bad situation. One day as you are walking along you suddenly find yourself in a dark room with a man whom you do not know. In front of you are two buttons, labeled ‘split’ and ‘steal’.

The stranger explains to you the following situation:

In another room is another random individual whom you have never met. Between the two of you is a total sum of one million dollars. If you and the stranger both decide to press the ‘split’ button, you will each receive a payment of $500,000. If you choose ‘split’ but the stranger chooses ‘steal’, they will walk away with the entirety and you will be left with zero. On the other hand if you choose ‘steal’ and the stranger chooses ‘split’, you will be given the entire million dollars. If you both choose ‘steal’ you will both walk away with nothing. There is no way for you to communicate with the stranger to assess the decision and you must make a choice.

So, do you choose to split or do you choose to steal?

Those of you who have studied psychology or game theory will realize that this is a stylized version of the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma conceptualized by RAND Think Tank mathematicians Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher and formally structured by Albert Tucker. The original, actual Prisoner’s Dilemma is as follows.

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They hope to get both sentenced to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to: betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent. The offer is:

  • If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison
  • If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa)
  • If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge)

You would perhaps think that the decision would be easy to make. One would simply have to consider one’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ nature and make the decision based on that. But the reason why the Prisoner’s Dilemma has remained such a fascinating example of game and social theory is that it forces us to not only consider our nature, but the nature of the other person. The result of whether we choose to ‘split’ or ‘steal’ or ‘cooperate’ or ‘remain silent’ is not simply a result of our actions but a result of the other person’s as well. This is best illustrated as such:

Dilemma.png

From a purely logical standpoint, speaking from either prisoner’s perspective would show that the most logical decision would be to actually ‘defect’. (8 years is better than 20 years and free is better than 6 months.) Even though the absolute best outcome would be for BOTH A and B to ‘remain silent’ (what we consider the ‘good’ option). This requires a tremendous amount of trust in the good nature of other people. Especially when considering that, as I mentioned, the logical decision would be to ‘defect’ (what we consider the ‘bad’ option).

Do you have it in you to not only believe that you are a good person, but that this strange is also? Remember that the off-set if you choose to ‘remain silent’ or ‘split’ when your partner chooses to ‘defect’ or ‘steal’ is either 20 years in prison or no money at all.

This brings us to consider some very interesting things about our own good natures. The first is that we have to realize that our good nature is not objective. It’s actually very subjective. Therefore, good people cannot exist in a vacuum. If you are alone, and only interact with yourself, can any of your actions ever be considered ‘good’? We need other people. It is against the backdrop of various experiences and interactions that we actually define who we are. It doesn’t matter how often you tell yourself you are good or do good things for yourself, without someone to compare to it would be like throwing shadows against the wall.

Here’s a great example from a British game show called Golden Balls (I know, it certainly wouldn’t have been my idea for a game show name either).

As you watch the events unfold you are perhaps tempted to side with Ibrahim and find Nick to be a manipulative untrustworthy thief. He speaks of his father who gave him advice on a man and his word. He assures us all with emphatic enthusiasm that he is a noble man and has every intention of sharing. Nick on the other hand is unmoving and untrusting. He is prepared to risk it all for seemingly selfish gain by choosing ‘steal’ despite all of Ibrahim’s pleas.

What is interesting is what you DON’T see. The actual exchange during this final round was closer to almost an hour long. At a certain point the studio audience began to turn on Nick. They booed and jeered at him for what seemed like such a stubborn and selfish act. Everyone, wanting to believe in the good nature of Ibrahim’s words, was now on his side as they tried to convince Nick to choose ‘split’. Ultimately though you see that what looks like Ibrahim’s good nature (as he eventually relents) was actually manipulated by Nick’s knowledge not just of the game but of our human nature. (I would also like to point out that in a radio interview Ibrahim outright ADMITTED that a) he NEVER met his father and b) he had EVERY intention of choosing ‘steal’ had Nick agreed to choose ‘split’). But we only judge people by what we see and perceive, and so we were ready to side completely with Ibrahim.

Dilbert 1.gifThe other interesting thing that comes up with the Prisoner’s Dilemma is how little our own nature actually influences our behavior. Humans are social creatures. We live and survive in packs. From the most primitive hunter-gatherer tribes to the vastly complicated international web of city-states, our survival is based on how we interact with each other. Therefore most of our decisions are also social based. If we believe in the good nature of others we are more likely to choose actions of good nature. But if we perceive any possibility of injustice or unfairness or of someone ‘getting away’ with something, we will go so far as to purposefully sabotage our own interests in order to deny others’. This isn’t immature or unnatural. In fact it is, if we are honest with ourselves, the truest most natural state of our mentality. Our justice system is not built around the idea of judging the morality of our actions but of punishing those who do things that we wouldn’t want to go unpunished.

This understanding extends beyond just contrived prison examples and cheesy British game shows. This is about our mutual success and/or mutual destruction. Countries dilbert-2should keep this in mind when considering policies on energy and climate change. We understand that the mutual benefit of an entire global community cutting back on emissions and using fuel is that we save our planet and last longer. But we also know that if we were to cut back but our neighbors do not, we would fall behind in industry and wealth. So who moves first?

In relationships this can extend to how we define our relationship with our partner. If we work together to compromise and soften our expectations and demands of each other we attain a better understanding and perhaps happier and longer union. But the danger of perception here is that if one is more willing to yield than the other, a power struggle could result and pride gets in the way. So who gives in first?

So here’s your new dilemma. When you’re walking down the street don’t just ask yourself:

Am I a good person?

Consider also:

Do I think you are?

Day 83

Man: 64 Loneliness: 19

Day 82: The Man and the Apologetic Gratitude

I am always so floored when people tell me they’ve nominated me for these awards. I’ve never gotten such consistent and quality feedback. It’s not just the positivity and the recognition. Every comment influences my consciousness as a writer and blogger. All of the feedback I receive helps me become better over time: polishing my writing, developing my rhetoric, creating a voice that is more universal, finding topics that reach more of an audience.

And yet I also feel bad because most if not all of these most recent recognitions were on Saturday night and I couldn’t get a post done for yesterday at all. Really great French restaurant twenty minutes from here that my friends and I had to try out! Hahah.

As I’ve done for the past nominations, I would like to recognize and thank the bloggers who have nominated me and recommend that you visit them and give them a read if you haven’t yet already. I don’t have anyone to nominate that I haven’t already so I will stick to the thank you and the responses. Hope that’s not too narcissistic.


Blogger Recognition Award

blogger-recognitionIt is my honor to receive another Blogger Recognition Award from meetmeinnevada. I love reading her writing because of the freshness of perspective and the unbridled enthusiasm and positivity she writes with. ‘Fish out of water’ transformation stories are always particularly interesting and following the chronicle of her journey from Kansas to Nevada has been a wonderful read. Aside from this she also includes some great personal and honest posts that are truly thought-provoking and inspiring. She’s given me plenty of great ideas to write on in the future. Thank you so much for your nomination and I cannot wait to keep reading your story. I hope many others soon follow suit.

Most of you know how this blog came to be. It was my salvation, my refuge after a devastating breakup. I had to rediscover myself and what I was looking for. I needed to step away from my cycle of dating and distraction to do some serious reflection on my own, and the only way to know I would give myself the time and the opportunity to do so was to bar myself from relationships for a year. From there I thought I’d be journaling how each day went, talking about the struggles and victories, but instead what I discovered is that this process isn’t about winning day to day. It’s about serious thought and transformation. I had to rethink everything I thought I knew. So days became concepts and daily victories became campaigns. Now I still keep track of that and on certain days I might want to capture the feeling of that, but a lot of my blog has now become about those things that I needed to give myself time to think about and sharing what I’ve come to discover.

My two pieces of advice from the last nomination can be found here. To reiterate: 1. WRITE WRITE WRITE and 2. BECOME INVOLVED.

If I could add to that, I’d say…

3. BE CONSISTENT. And I’ll try to be better at this too. Creating a consistent schedule of posting benefits both you and your readers. It helps your blog grow its audience because people who have come to appreciate and enjoy your writing know they can consistently expect content to keep them satiated. As a writer maintaining a disciplined schedule helps you focus and improve your writing.

4. GIVE/GET FEEDBACK. We are all writers who can always stand to benefit from continued encouragement and feedback. If a post resonates with you in a certain way, let the writer know. If it inspires a thought, share. You never know if your comment could start a whole new path or direction for the writer. In the same vein, keep the communication open with your readers. Enjoy and appreciate the compliments and positive feedback but be able to grow and take in constructive feedback. We all want to see each other be better writers.


Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you to aYoKa for nominating me for another Sunshine Blogger Award. aYoKa’s blog is one of the most positive ones I’ve read and so to receive a Sunshine nomination is quite an honor. I’m actually very glad that the blog was nominated because the answers were so interesting. I did not know about the origin and struggles of the author’s life and it frames the positivity and optimism in a much more dramatic way. Always fun to read the posts and always such a bright light to remind me of the good in myself, in others, and in our shared experiences. You can’t have a bad day if you read. So please, check out this blog.

What languages do you speak?

I was born and raised in New Jersey so English is my native tongue but my parents are from the Philippines and made sure I learned Tagalog as well. I would like to learn French and Norwegian in the future.

When did you last cry in front of another person?

When Beautiful broke up with me. Uncontrollable, inconsolable crying in front of someone who clearly did not care about me anymore, if ever.

Are you less religious than your parents?

Yes. My parents were raised as devout Catholics in Catholic schools in the only Catholic nation in Asia. So that was a big part of my youth. As I’ve grown I have drifted further from the church but I will never be able to fully separate myself from this part of my identity.

What is the the one thing you have tried but will never do again?

Does Tinder count?

Do you believe everyone needs a soulmate?

Oh man…this deserves a whole separate post in the future! To suffice for now…no. I think there’s too much unfair and unrealistic pressure to make someone our ‘soulmate’. We deserve someone in our lives. Someone who loves us and accepts us but also inspires us to be better than we are. But ‘soulmate’? No. I just want someone who loves me and who I can love back.

Would you say no to palm oil products to save the orangutans?

I think I’ve lived pretty well so far without palm oil so…sure? What could possibly be the biggest departure of my life in a world without palm oil?

Have you ever succeeded when you thought you might fail?

This blog certainly has received more attention than I ever thought my simple musings would have ever attracted, but I never really thought it would ‘fail’ or that I would measure any sort of ‘success’ from it. Otherwise…when I left my teaching job I thought I was a failure. I was ashamed that I had to walk away and that I hadn’t lived up to my potential. But a month before the end of the school year my Juniors got back their standardized test scores. Almost all of them (89%) of them passed, and of those a good third of them were in the ‘advanced proficiency’ category! I thought the biggest success was the numbers. But it was actually the pride and gratitude I saw in my students’ eyes when they called me ‘Mr. [Man]’. I will never forget that. I made my mark, I did the best I could when I had the chance.

Who makes your dinner?

If I’m on the road, the restaurant chef. If I’m at home, my mother. If it’s a special occasion or date, me.

Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert ?

An introvert no doubt. I couldn’t live without alone time. It’s the only way I can maintain such a bright and chipper personality. Hahah.

Have you ever witnessed a panic attack?

Yes. The first major car crash I was in, I was driving my friend home from college when a woman ran a red light and t-boned my car on the driver side. I suffered a minor fracture in my lower leg and a bump on the head but my friend, who had never been in an accident before and was never comfortable driving, suffered a straight up panic attack. I had to calm him down and coax him back to the ground. He was relatively unscathed and just really shaken so I sat him down at the side of the road. Gave him a bottle of water and told him to drink long slow big gulps to help regulate his breathing. Told him to focus on me and assured him he was going to be okay.


Versatile Blogger Award
versatile-bloggerShayma nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, which always means a lot to me. Versatility and variety is something I strive to bring to my writing and to this blog. I’d like to keep experimenting not only with different topic but different mediums as well. If you want an example of excellence and versatility, you definitely could not go wrong with Shayma. Her poetry and her prose are equally impressive and a joy to read. There is a high level of awareness and maturity in each piece. It’s a relatively new blog but that means you can be on the ground floor to really see some growth. I truly hope that Shayma continues to write and shares the love and insight.

  1. Not so much as before, but I am a huge anime/manga fan (Japanese animation and graphic novels). I currently have more than 200 manga in my bookshelves. Aside from the books and the DVDs I also got the merchandise to prove I was in the deep end at one point. Swords, wall scrolls, figures, accessories, and even clothing. Yes, I have cosplayed (dressed up as some favorite characters in public, usually at conventions).
  2. I know it’s been irrefutably proven to be disastrously detrimental to your health, but there have been a few occasions in my life, even post college, when I’ve pulled all-nighters out of sheer enjoyment and/or curiosity. Sometimes I wanted to keep playing video games or watching movies. Other times it was just because I felt like it and wanted to see what would happen. I love the silence of the early hours when the world is still wiping the sleep from their tired eyes. I also like the luxury and audaciousness of sleeping when everyone else is up and being productive. Hahah.
  3. I’ve been featured in my local paper three times. Two have been for spelling bees. One year I won the tri-county and another year I was second in state. Unfortunately never got further than that. The third time was in high school. I was a member of my school’s China Care Club. China Care is an organization that helps Chinese orphans. One of our programs is called Dumplings, which is a playgroup we host for families who have adopted Chinese orphans so that they can learn about the culture of their homeland. Every Chinese New Year we would do a huge celebration with the families and I’d do a martial arts demonstration and then teach the kids a little something. One year the paper came by and did a story on us and they took a picture of me teaching the little kiddies.
  4. The worst injuries I’ve sustained cooking are a permanent burn mark on my left arm from trying to grab a cheesecake in the oven with my bare hands and slicing off the surface of my finger tip using a mandoline slicer the very first time. Don’t worry, it grew back. Too bad. Without fingerprints I could have committed all the crime I ever wanted.
  5. I saved my brother’s life once. He loves peanut M&Ms and when he was 5 we were walking around and he had a bag of them. As he was eating he must have accidentally swallowed one whole and started choking. I did the Heimlich Maneuver on him and it popped out, just like in the TV shows. Got some good air too. Flew for a good little while. Hahah.
  6. If I want to impress a girl, the first meal I make for them usually starts with a salad (either tomato and mozzarella where I cut the tomato partially and insert the cheese so it looks like a fan or a frisee salad with bacon and a poached egg), linguini with clam sauce, rack of lamb, and then a dessert (either tiramisu, creme brulee, or a strawberry napoleon).
  7. My first car was a Honda Accord that I named Baby. My second car was an Acura TL I named Appa (after the character in Avatar the Last Airbender). I currently drive a Subaru Forester that I have not yet named. I haven’t discovered its soul yet.

Tags of Eight

This isn’t an award nomination but still seems like a lot of fun. Cosmic Explorer tagged me to respond to an array of questions where I need to make lists of 8.

8 TV Shows I Love Watching

Big Bang Theory

Modern Family

Brooklyn Nine Nine

The Walking Dead

Stranger Things

New Scandinavian Cooking

Law and Order: SVU

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

8 Favorite Games to Play

Chinese Poker (also known as Pusoy Dos and Do Dai Di)

Mahjong (Filipino rules)

Gin Rummy

Cards Against Humanity

Billiards (8 ball or 9 ball)

Fallout series

Mass Effect series

Paragon (recently)

8 Things I Look Forward To

Travel with friends

Travel with family

Travel alone

Travel with someone special

Moving out to my own place

My next career move (whatever it may be)

Another first date

Day 365: The Man and the…

8 Things I’m Passionate About

Food

Drink

Film

Literature

Martial Arts

Love

Travel

Writing

8 Phrases I Use Often

Right on, Donkey Kong.

Please.

Thank you.

It’s on like a chicken bone!

Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.

I love you.

Ehm…

I was kidding. Don’t believe that.

8 Things I’ve Learned from the Past

If a restaurant offers reservations, make one.

Try before you buy.

You should have more dignity than to ever be someone’s rebound.

You need to have a plan when you go to a casino.

The best way to lead and to gain followers is to lead by example.

It is often better to be happy than to be right.

Blood doesn’t make family.

Breakfast tastes best at 2am.

8 Places I Would Love to Visit

Montreal

Norway

Taiwan

Japan

Korea

Italy

England

Aruba


Day 82

Man: 63 Loneliness: 19

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. They regularly demonstrate a belief in altruism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 80

Man: 61 Loneliness: 19

Day 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 78: The Man and the Wardrobe; ‘Stylish’

Dressing Occasion.jpg

Someone is going to make fun of me for referencing another older post, but it seems to be a running trend with the prompt nowadays. The post in question is this one, in which I discussed the important of humor not only in my dating life but in my socialization and in how I view the connected experiences of humanity. I know, heavy stuff Doc.

Today’s prompt was ‘stylish’, which brought up thoughts of another aspect of my personality that I practically personally tailored (bad puns) to fit my dating life once more. I didn’t just use cheesy humor to get a girl’s attention. In the immortal words of ZZ Top, ‘every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man’. I learned the myriad benefits of realizing that a guy’s outfit could be more than jeans and a t-shirt.

When I was in the first grade I had to wear this shiny gold vest for Easter Sunday. I thought I looked so cool with it on and everyone was saying how handsome I looked. There was a girl in my class who I had a huge crush on. Her father owned the local bakery and I used to go with my parents when they wanted to pick up some bread and biscotti. She was usuallyFrontShot hanging out at the store on weekends, coloring or running outside. I was always too shy to approach her or let alone talk to her. But if I could show her my cool new vest…well she’d have to…uh…I don’t know…my first grade self didn’t know what you were supposed to do with a girl you had a crush on. Maybe she’ll hold my hand. Hahah.

On Monday morning I stuffed that gold vest into my backpack so my mother wouldn’t know I had it with me. As soon as she dropped me off at school I asked my teacher if I could use the restroom. Inside, I slipped on this very shiny very sparkly golden vest over my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt. I was a 6 year old little boy in Power Rangers sneakers, blue jeans, a TMNT shirt, and a gold Easter vest. I thought I was the bomb. As I strutted my walk back into class with that runway look I very quickly realized otherwise. My guy friends were confused and dumbfounded. They stared and poked at the vest and wondered why I was wearing it. I could hear the girls in class looking and giggling at me. (See, making them laugh since day one.)

My teacher came over to me and in her teacherly way simply said, ‘Why Man, that’s a very nice vest. Why are you wearing that to school today?’

‘I don’t know,’ I wanted to say. ‘Love makes you do stupid things?!’

‘I…I have a party to go to after school,’ I lied.

Obviously, or well maybe not obviously but hopefully, my fashion sense, much like my comedic timing, has improved over the years. It was, after all, something I actually wanted to study and know more about and get better at.

I went through phases, just like anyone else growing up. Later on in elementary school I
got into the skater look. Long sleeve shirt with a short sleeve on high-school-metop. I got so lazy I just started buying shirts that just looked like it was two layers. In middle school I was very into the Asian motif so a lot of dragons and flames and ninja designs. It was bad. In high school I would change almost weekly. One week I’d try out the Seattle grunge look. Ripped jeans, plaid lumberjack shirts. Another time I’d be uncomfortably, unnaturally preppy. Polo shirts with the collar popped and a stupid jacket tied around my shoulders. I’d wear the jerseys of teams I didn’t follow whose players I didn’t recognize. I am so eternally grateful that my mother put a very quick and definite end to any possibility of me getting some obnoxiously long black trenchcoat like I saw in The Matrix because my dumb impressionable self was convinced this was the coolest jacket in the world. I would have even walked around with my arms folded behind me like Morpheus. I was most comfortable in jeans and a button up with the sleeves rolled. That’s what carried over mainly into college. College was also where I started to really want to dress smartly, dress like a guy who knew what the hell he was doing. Threw out all the skulls and dragons. Threw out the skater shirts. (Donated to Salvation Army, don’t worry.)

I started buying jeans that I realized didn’t always have to come in bright blue. Khakis. Chinos. Short-sleeve polo shirts, long-sleeve button ups, three-button henleys. I loved my assorted blazers and suit jackets. I learned to dress for the season and dress with variety. And you know what, girls did notice throughout all the years. If you show up over-dressed, like say a gold vest to homeroom, you’ll stick out for all the wrong reasons. But if you just do enough to be the best dressed guy in the room, you stick out for the right ones.

Say what you will about anything else, but I can at least say for certain that the women I’ve dated were sure of two things. 1) I was funny. And 2) I dressed well. Who wouldn’t take a little extra time to notice and appreciate when a guy shows up at your door and it looks like he spent more than five minutes deciding what to wear.

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There are so many benefits to a well-stocked and versatile wardrobe. Functionality is of course still the most important thing. I would never support a fashion choice simply for its aesthetic versus practical use. A good wardrobe and a good sense of how to use it means you’ll never be caught unprepared. You’ll have the right clothes for each season and every weather type. You’ll be able to dress well for any occasion, from the most casual to the most formal. You can sell with much more confidence any image you wish to portray. A good outfit can also help a man hide some flaws and accentuate some strengths. I have particularly broad shoulders, so I like to wear clothes that accentuate that. This may sound weird but I am also a big fan of my forearms, which is why I very rarely wear sleeves to the wrist. I usually roll sleeves on my button ups or pull them up on sweaters and the like. Since I am tall,especially for a Filipino, I am very particular about my pant length. Too short, like how a lot of Asian men (especially Korean) like to wear it, makes me look awkward and gangly. Too long means the pant bunches up and makes me look saggy. But a pant with just the right length that ends at my shoe makes me seem like just a tad bit more of a commanding presence. You’d think with my little extra paunch I’d want to wear oversized shirts or baggy items to hide that, but I know it just makes me look frumpy and wrinkled. So a goodfitting shirt is actually better because it can help to narrow my profile a bit by aligning closer to my pants.

As the fall season approaches in the East coast I look forward to my cold-weather wardrobe coming back into circulation. I tend to sweat easily so I don’t get too fancy in the warmer months in terms of clothing. Material is more important and I am particular though to make sure I wear things that are almost always 100% cotton. In the winter though I get to dress my smartest. Layers are my friend. Collared shirt, vest, blazer. Plain tee, sweater, scarf. Cardigans. Long manly winter coats. No marshmallow jackets here.

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Honestly, I don’t know when or why or how not caring about your clothes became synonymous with ‘manliness’. I feel sad that so many guys think the best way to show off masculinity is to try really really hard to dress like a homeless person. When did knowing about the benefits of different kinds of materials and shirt styles lose its prowess in the circle of men. Why is it nowadays it’s either basketball shorts and t-shirts or fedoras and trenchcoats.

A man dressing well is manly. It speaks so much to a person’s knowledge, skills, and talents. It’s an unmistakable first impression. We don’t even need to know too much or have too much in our wardrobe. It’s not difficult for a guy to master the basics of smart dress for men. Even though I’m not actively going out and trying to find someone and telling myself I’ll find the love of my life at this particular moment I still like the fact that I learned the skill and ability to dress well enough so that no matter who looks, hopefully, if they appreciate something like that, they could still say ‘there goes a stylish man’.

Day 78

Man: 60 Loneliness: 18