Single Guy Says, ‘Cheers’

Cheers.jpg

Growing up, Cheers was a regular staple on Nick at Nite and TV Land. I used to like watching old shows like Wonder Years, Happy Days, and I Love Lucy. My favorite was probably Three’s Company. Maybe because it was a bit more ‘adult’ to me, being centered around a bar and with all these adults drinking and talking about their problems, but I never really got into Cheers. But just like a lot of those old shows, damn if they didn’t have a really catchy song, and that always stuck with me.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came

I may have not gotten into the story or the show, but I definitely understood the message of that theme song. And I was thinking about that tonight, as I was digging into my sushi at my favorite go-to sushi bar (fingers, no chopsticks, and always fish side down when dipping into the soy sauce), while enjoying a beer from my favorite go-to small craft brewery, knowing that the next day after an early morning archery practice I’d be stopping by my favorite go-to bubble tea place for a treat. And  I was thinking to myself in-between bites, why do I go to these particular places?

MS Sushi Seaweed Salad

It’s no big secret that I am a huge food enthusiast. In fact I’m so enthusiastic about food I seem to carry it around with me everywhere I go…right around the hips and stomach. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some of the finest and most spectacular meals I’ve ever had in some of the finest and most recognized restaurants around. But I’ve probably only been to these places what…once, maybe twice? If a friend or family member were visiting from out of town and asked me to take them around to try something interesting or exciting or unique, I’d probably take them to other places in the area. But if I wanted to enjoy a peaceful, comforting, satisfying meal on my own, or if I were with lifelong friends on a regular night out, or even if I were celebrating some special personal occasion like my birthday or my first paycheck with my family, you would definitely find me at one of these go-tos.

MS Sushi Gyoza

So what is it that captivates me so? What is it about these particular places that keeps me loyal, coming back for more, craving it even, like a comfort blanket during a storm. Is it the price? Hardly. Even casual craft beer drinkers will tell you that you have to pay a heavy cost for the luxury of drinking a beer five feet from where it was made. Perhaps then it is the location. But I can tell you that around my house there are at least three other places for bubble tea that are either closer or the same distance to me compared to the one I always prefer to go to. Then again, being the venerated food authority that I am, perhaps your best bet would be to say it’s the quality of the food. But I would have to be honest with you, and say that there are probably better places for the best quality examples of what each of these places has to offer. These are honest, skilled craftspeople though, and their food is without a doubt satisfying, delicious, and well made. But to achieve ‘Cheers’ status, a place has to be more about the food it serves.

MS Sushi Free Roll

It’s about the feeling you get when you walk in. It’s about being known. It’s that feeling when you walk into your favorite sushi spot with your family and the owner talks about how big your little brother has become and asking how your new job is going. It’s when you know the name of your brewer and your bartender, and they know yours. I love going to these particular places because they make me feel like I am a part of something, I like having a connection to the people there. It’s hard to sense this sometimes, especially when nowadays so much of the value of a restaurant is in how pretty their dishes are. But the restaurants that forever leave an impression on me are the ones that make me feel like more than just a customer, more than another flipped table. I appreciate the importance and value these restaurants place on hospitality, on fostering relationships. It’s a small step, and it may be completely unrelated to food, but connecting with your customers is what separates the places a thousand people will eat at once from the places one person will eat at a thousand times.

MS Sushi Sushi Platter

As I was walking home after dinner, trying desperately to start burning off some of the numerous pieces of sushi, getting whacked in the face by leaves because there are some unreasonably dark stretches of road with unreasonably low tree branches, I started thinking about how what I look for in a familiar restaurant is very similar to what I think I’ve always wanted in a lifelong relationship. I left that sushi restaurant at midnight tonight. They closed at ten. My family had already taken my car home and I was just gonna walk back, but I stayed because the owner wanted to talk to me about his 60th birthday coming up and his daughter was trying to figure out places they could go for vacation, and he wanted to know more about my job and where I had been, and it was the owner, his wife, his eldest daughter, his eldest daughter’s fiance, and myself just talking and relaxing at the end of the night and laughing. You know I know there are those foodie types who want to chase after the latest and greatest crazes, to either be the first to discover a trend or the first to declare its death, wanting one thrill after another. I know there are those who, recognizing the limitless varieties of foods and cuisines, couldn’t possibly ever consider limiting themselves, having to try something different, completely open to the world of variety. But for me, I want those restaurants that feel familiar, comfortable. The places that make me feel seen, important, known. I’m a lifelong commitment kind of person, and I’m looking for that kind of a person and place. Where I can relax, where I can feel my troubles melt away, where what I have feeds the body and the heart. I have never asked for the world’s best. Or the world’s newest. I have only ever wanted that which would make my heart the most full at every moment.

Jerel says, ‘cheers’.

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Single Guy Does Music Mondays; ‘May I Have This Dance’ by Francis and the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper

Francis and the Lights Chance the Rapper

This week’s Music Monday selection is the remix of  the Francis and the Lights song ‘May I Have This Dance’ featuring Chance the Rapper, with some pretty glorious moves to boot. I love Chance’s addition to the song because now we have more than just the romantic undertone of a couple beginning their journey together with Francis, but Chance’s lyrics dedicated to his young daughter. Haven’t heard it much on the radio, but maybe I’m not listening to the right stations. Anyways, hope you enjoy!

May I Have This Dance

-Francis and the Lights feat.  Chance the Rapper

In the ground we bury

The seeds of a pear tree

All the things we carried

Now we’re down to our bare feet

May I have this dance to make it up to you

Can I say something crazy? I love you

Give me both your hands to make it up to you

Let me spin and excite you

[Chance the Rapper lyrics]

You’ve got your, your mother’s eyes

You’ve got your, your grandmother’s ring

You’ve got your daddy’s discernment

Girl, you did your thing, oh, give me one more

One, two, one, two, always on beat

You must have been born with two right feet

I know you’ve been looking for something concrete

You must have been born with two right feet

Say one, two, one,  two, always on beat

I know you’ve been looking for something concrete

You must have been born with two right feet

You must have been born with two right feet

Said I love you more than your mother

More than you love yourself

[End lyrics]

May I have this dance to make it up to you

Can I say something crazy? I love you

Give me one more chance, give me one more chance

Give me one more, let me spin and excite you

May I have this dance to make it up to you

Can I say something crazy? I love you

Give me one more chance, give me one more chance

Give me one more,  let me spin and excite you

Single Guy Says, ‘Am I Doing This Right?!’

Uh…everyone…I need some help here. So after my last post I finally took some time this afternoon to bite the proverbial bullet and create my tinder profile. But since I’ve not done anything like this in a very…very…very long time, I have no idea if it’s any good or not. Gotta make sure I do what I can to get my date offer to as many people as possible right?

Tinder Screen.png

The User Experience

Before downloading tinder and creating my profile I had a very faint idea of what the app would be like. I mean, how complicated could ‘swipe left or right’ be…right? Wrong, apparently. I have to be very very careful with my thumb. For example, I wanted to go ‘back’ to the screen that lets me edit my profile, but instead I ended up swiping left (passing) on someone who I would have actually wanted to swipe right on (liking). There’s no going back and recovering from your mistakes without paying for a subscription, and I’m absolutely just not doing that. And there are ‘super likes’ now too? Like, what the heck does that mean? When did the app that was praised for its simplicity get so complicated?

The User Profile

Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m not really looking for a relationship right now, just a fun date with someone fun. So I needed to get that across on my profile in 500 characters or less. So I came up with the below. Did I accomplish my goal? Should I have said it differently?

Tinder Profile

Also I’d like to point out that I did go to college and I do have a job, yet since I don’t put that info on my FB, I can’t add it to my tinder profile. Shouldn’t be too much of a big deal, but I just don’t want people to think I’m a freeloader.

Also there was an option to connect my Spotify account so people could see my music tastes, and that would have been great.  Because then people would see how much I love jazz and blues and college radio and Sting but instead somehow it got the impression to broadcast how many times I listen to Vengaboys, Aqua, and Spanish radio. Tinder, that was ten years ago. In high school.

 The User

I mean if we’re going to be brutally honest here…words and qualification aren’t really the attention grabbers when you’re looking at a million faces a minute, now is it? It’s the  pics. So some strategy has to into that.  So I decided to go for the strategies of…my best clothes, a pic of me cooking, a pic of me with an animal, an archery shot, and a baby photo because well…I was adorable then at least. What do you think of my selections?

That’s it then. It’s up to the tinder gods. If you’ve got any suggestions, I’ll be here, fingers busy swiping away.

Jerel says, ‘am I doing this right?!’

Single Guy Tries…ONLINE DATING?!

When I first started this new blog I said it would be about a ‘happily, but also looking, single guy just trying to live his life to the fullest, waiting and looking for that special someone‘. And for the most part so far, that’s been true. But with fall and winter (my two favorite seasons) approaching, I find there are many things I’d like to do with some company. I’m all for the fun and freedom of going out on your own, and while I would always promote that you can enjoy just about anything alone, I won’t deny that having someone to enjoy things with just adds an extra level.

Come Play With Me.gif

For example, in two weeks the nearby Renaissance Faire will be having a special ‘Oktoberfest’-themed weekend. Nothing quite says ‘big nerdy fun’ like fake jousting Ren Faire Crowd.jpgtournaments, giant turkey legs, medieval-style building fronts, and mugs upon mugs of craft beers. I’m a somewhat regular at the Renaissance Faire every year when it comes to Tuxedo Park, NY. It’s in a beautiful area in the woods, nestled into the forest with a natural lake and plenty of gorgeous park ground. On a regular RenFaire day you can enjoy a jousting tournament, plenty of food (always on sticks,  because somehow that makes it more ‘Renaissance’-y), knife throwing, archery, different skill games, random street performances from jesters and bards and magicians, and plenty of window-shopping with traveling artists and artisans at ‘ye olde this’ shop and ‘ye olde that’. There are plenty of volunteer performers who get dressed up and add to Ren Faire Tedthe ambiance but plenty of attendees also dress up as anything from vikings to pirates to knights to even elves and samurai. Whatever the imagination likes. And for those who want to get into the spirit but aren’t as committed, you can even rent costumes at the Faire itself. There’s music, games, food, kind of like Game of Thrones but more turkey and less dragons. And a lot less killing. And less penises. The ‘Oktoberfest’ weekend is really just an extra excuse for the Faire to get a bit more boozey. With ‘pub crawls’ that promise beers at stops throughout the entire fairground and medieval themed drinking games and songs.

I mean…I’m not crazy, right? There’s probably a girl out there who’d like to check out a Renaissance Faire…right?

Ren Faire Booty

Is her smile just hiding lies?!

A bit easier to market would probably be that I’d like to spend a day at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park. Specifically around October versus in the summer because October is when the park stays open til midnight on weekends for Fright Fest. Because the only thing more fun than a rollercoaster is a rollercoaster at night. You have no idea Six Flags Fright Festwhere you’re going but you definitely feel how fast you’re getting there. The fall weather is much cooler and easier to tolerate when you’re standing in line and walking around, and there’s nothing better than a hot chocolate and a churro to warm you back up on your way out at the end of the night. I’m a huge ride fiend, so I’d probably have to make sure I go with someone who’s just as much into rollercoasters. But I mean, rollercoasters, games, food, who doesn’t love a good amusement park? Now Fright Fest…that might be  a whole other beast. The reason why the theme park stays open at night in October is because when the sun goes down ‘zombies and ghouls take over the park for a truly frightening evening of fun’. Their words, not mine. There are a few ‘scare zones’ where actors in costume will run around and try and scare park-goers, but for the truly brave there are actual haunted attractions like haunted houses and mazes, and even a ‘haunted heist’ where participants are given a treasure map and Six Flags Aftermathhave to find certain cursed items to prevent the monsters inside the house from chasing after them. It’s all adrenaline-pumping heart-racing fun with a little bit of paranoia and fear mixed in. Did you know, in Japan, haunted attractions become really popular in summer? For one, it attracts a lot of people because the indoor, air-conditioned sets are much better than the extremely hot and humid Japanese summer weather. And for two, the adrenaline that rushes really ‘chills the blood’ and helps to cool down and refresh and invigorate attendees. Of course, the possibility of having to cling to each other in the heat of the moment and keep close in  these scary attractions is universally appealing in any country or any language.

Hell No

Okay fine…this might be a hard sell too.


So…since this blog is about taking on new adventures and new experiences…I’m proposing something brand new. Maybe even a bit unheard of. I’m not quite ready for a full-fledged relationship, for reasons I’ll have to write about later on. But I’m also not entirely opposed to the idea of a few dates. I’ve always enjoyed first dates and meeting people, and I think it’s important to you know, remind myself what it’s like ‘out there’. I’m not really meeting people through work, family, or friends, which means diving back into the world of online dating. And considering what I’m thinking of doing…it’s gonna have to be right into the belly of the beast. Tinder. Ugh.

Tinder.png

Now believe me. No one is more aware of tinder’s rather thorny reputation. But since I’m not looking for anything quite so serious yet, and my real aim is to try and get to as many people as possible, it’ll be a bit of give and take to make things work out. See, my idea is this. I’m going to put it right out there on my profile that what I’m really looking for is someone to go to these experiences with. I’ll still put the pics, the stats, whatever that thing asks for nowadays, but the most important thing I’ll put in is information on what the proposed date will be and when.

I figure I’m taking away at least a few of the complications with this approach? I mean a) I’m making it pretty clear there’s no pressure or expectations beyond this one encounter, so that means no awkward or uncomfortable follow up or even worse, avoiding. Plus b) I’m being very specific about what exactly is going to happen on this date, so if you’re into it, great that gives you more incentive, and if you’re not, that makes saying no so much easier. I think it’s still important that I take the same time and effort into making the profile, because the other side of this is, I would still like that the two of us are somewhat mutually attracted, so at least it’ll be fun and we can enjoy each other’s company. The last thing I want is for someone to treat this as an opportunity to take advantage of a free RenFaire or Fright Fest. Because those experiences must be in high demand.

So what do you think? Is this a good idea or am I completely insane? Is this a revolutionary approach to online dating or am I going to be permanently swiped…uh…what’s rejected…uh…left? I haven’t done it yet, I want to get some advice and counsel, but my first attempt will be a tinder profile to help me get a date for the RenFaire since that’s coming up sooner. If you don’t think I should completely abandon this idea, what should I look out for? Any advice on the profile or the date description, or how I should pick someone, assuming I’ll have more than one taker? What should I be wary of, and how should the date go? This is completely uncharted territory, so I’d love you all to let me know what you think, and if you think you know someone who might have some advice, let me know what they think too.

Single Guy Says, ‘Happy to serve!’

Souma Yukishiro.png

Happy to serve!

-Yukishiro Soma, Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma

I first got into manga (Japanese graphic novels) in middle school. A friend introduced me to Ken Akamatsu’s greatest work, the 14-volume romantic comedy series Love Hina. Before that I had never been exposed to manga or anime (Japanese animation). Now here I was reading these comics of beautifully drawn young women chasing after seemingly ordinary run-of-the-mill guys. I mean, middle school me is thinking, this is what heaven must be like, right?

Love Hina

Since then my collection has expanded much much further than just those 14 hilarious, sweet, at times ridiculous volumes. In a time when most anime and manga fans are more than content with online scanlations (scanned translations) and streaming videos, I’ve invested into my collection to the tune of more than 300 physical manga of over 20 different series and more than 100 anime ranging from motion pictures like Studio Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Princess Mononoke’ to the animated series of many of my favorite manga.

Manga Haul

There are some really great series that I absolutely would love to recommend to anyone Yakitate Japanwho is into manga and looking for some good new ones or anyone who’s never picked one up and was interested in starting. There are two great series revolving around food. Yakitate Japan is about a young man with an exceptional baking talent on his quest to create a uniquely Japanese bread. There are baking competitions, some absolutely hilarious and ridiculously over the top reactions to taste tests, and it’s also surprisingly well-researched and practical, with some accompanying recipes so you can make the same breads you read about, in your own home. The other is a still-ongoing series that has become pretty popular in Japan and abroad, Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma. It takes place in a fictional prestigious culinary academy in Japan where the best young talents are developed, and Soma is a gifted and unwaveringly optimistic chef who goes to the school to follow his father’s footsteps. There are plenty of interesting and hilarious Battle Royalecharacters from his fellow classmates and rivals to his demanding instructors. Kindaichi Case Files is a Sherlock Holmes style mystery series following the grandson of the famous fictional Japanese detective, Kosuke Kindaichi. The story of Battle Royale is both famous and controversial. Based on a novel of the same name, Battle Royale is about a class of high school seniors who are brought to a desert island and forced to kill each other until one one survivor remains. It’s emotional, grotesque, haunting, and moving. The novel inspired a manga series, two movies, and even a theatre reproduction in the Philippines. On a much lighter and more uplifting note, I love Yotsuba&!. This series centers around Yotsuba, a young girl with green hair living in a small Japanese town. She is cheerful, friendly, a bit naive, and the adorable center of all the chaos, hijinks, and fun. She has adventures with her neighbors, small animals, cardboard robots, and she feels terrible whenever she gets in trouble for disobeying her father. It’s simple, the drawings are clean and crisp and naturally evoke the calm and serenity of the Japanese countryside, and the awestruck wonder that Yotsuba still views the world with is refreshing and uplifting.

Yotsuba.gif

But alas, this post isn’t about the manga I enjoy. They’re about the ones I find myself no longer enjoying. As in, they’re becoming unbearable. I physically cringe as I rush to get through the pages and I verbally exclaim ‘oooh what the fuck’ almost every other page. They’re the kinds of manga I first started reading, the ‘one guy being chased by a bevy of beautiful and unbelievably smitten young women’ types commonly referred to as Strawberry 100‘harem manga‘. In particular, two series are the most egregious of offenders, Negima Magister Magi (written by Ken Akamatsu whose Love Hina series is still my all time favorite ever) and Strawberry 100%. Which, okay, let me explain to you its threadbare plot. Basically, Junpei, the most bland and uninteresting flat character I’ve ever read, is up on the rooftop of his middle school when he sees a mysterious young girl wearing strawberry print panties and he falls in love and seeks the identity of said mystery girl. Somehow along the journey to find this ‘strawberry panty beauty’ he gets not only one, not two, but five different girls chasing after him. One is willing to shape her education by committing to going to a lesser college just because he’s there, another rejects countless eligible and compatible suitors to continually wait for Junpei to decide on what (who) he wants, and another is so obsessed with him she takes any and every opportunity to strip and desperately try to seduce him. Meanwhile, the majority of the series is about Junpei alternating between being sad because he can’t make a decision, or being sad because one of the girls might actually move on and find their own happiness, or being sad because he’s oblivious to these five desperate and confused young girls and instead focuses on his always feeling like he can’t ‘compete’ with the other men in the series. Ugh.

Negima…what can I say about Negima… I’m surprised and appalled that it could come from the same person who wrote Love Hina. Sure, both were similar ‘harem manga’ but the protagonist in Love Hina had more important things that defined him beyond just the girls who were after him. Like his quest to get into Tokyo University, his affinity and skill for archaeology, and his seemingly immortal powers that allowed him to take the Negima Magister Magiconstant physical abuse from the girls, natural disasters, and ancient turtle civilizations. Every character was well-rounded and had their own intentions, motivations, and personality. But there were only six. In Negima, Akamatsu had to write for a class of 31 schoolgirls. He clearly ran out of personalities. There is one character who frustratingly has no better motivation than to continue to say how she is ‘just a supporting character’. And another whose sole job is to show up and do the ‘you’re such an idiot I’m going to hit you with tough love and make you realize your mistake’ cliche. Oh and the romantic center of this particular ‘harem manga’? Their teacher. Their ten year old teacher. It started off well enough. Basically, what kind of comedy and hijinks can ensue when a class of high school girls is taught by a ten year old wizard. Like, hahah, when he sneezes it’s so strong all the girls skirts lift up. Innocently stupid enough. Then it got weird. Like…really weird.

Don’t get me wrong. I know why I thought I loved these series when I was younger. Being the bland center of my own story, I loved the escapism and promise of these un-noteworthy protagonists somehow being pursued by plenty of beautiful young girls. I thought, ‘my god, wouldn’t it be great if the world worked like this’. Somehow by not doing anything on my own of any particular merit, I’d be surrounded by all these girls who still wanted me. It’s interesting, reading these series I started in middle/high school, and didn’t get to finishing until now. I can see the young kid who was drawn to these. Probably influenced by them too. Can you imagine the identity complex you can get when you are brought up with the hope of being wanted by a variety of girls and at the same time being told you’re bland, talentless, unremarkable, and constantly in ‘competition’ with other guys? Yeah, jesus. Now here I am reading them and I’m cringing, physically pained with every cliche, every repeated scenario, every ridiculous setup for even more gratuitous fan-service.

I mean…I still gotta see them through til the end though…right?

Jerel says, ‘happy to serve!’

 

 

Single Guy Says ‘I always dreamed to Square Marden’

It might have been Jackie Chan’s dream to ‘Square Marden’ but I would gladly settle for an incredible Eric Clapton concert at Madison Square Garden. And for those of you who follow me on instagram (@singleguyinstas), you would know that last night I got to do just that! And for those of you who aren’t on the ‘gram’ (is that what kids say?) and even for those who are, I wanted to not only share some photos of the concert but also share some of my reactions and stories before during and after.

Clapton Concert 2

I grew up on classic rock legends like the Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and of course, Mr. ‘Slow Hand’ himself, Eric Clapton. It was the unmistakable and unavoidable influence of my father who, until I could drive myself, had complete control over the radio. Eric Clapton was one of my favorites. There are those incredible guitar riffs in ‘Layla’, that soulful sorrowful mourning in ‘Tears in Heaven’, and I still dream of getting to slow dance with someone to ‘Wonderful Tonight’. I also loved the calm, cool, collected vibe whenever I saw his live performances. In the memorial ‘Concert for George Harrison’ at Royal Albert Hall, there was EC just teasing this incredible sound out of his guitar, no big flashy strumming, no running up and down the stage, it was just so…dignified. I feel like you could tell, when it came to Eric Clapton, the music came first, the musician second.

Clapton Concert 1

So it was great for everyone involved that my mother was able to get the entire family tickets to Eric Clapton’s concert at Madison Square Garden as a present for my father’s 60th birthday. He played all the classics, but they were just different enough that it was like hearing it for the first time all over again. Clapton’s roots and passions were always blues, and this concert really cemented that love. He’d start off with this incredible blues riff, his hands just dancing on the strings, and the rest of the band would slowly start to fill in, and then he’d just gradually start changing, shifting to the bridge, and suddenly he’d take you into the heart of one of his greatest hits, and the crowd would go wild. During songs he’d take some time to break into these wild solos and his guitar would just wail and cry and you’d have that piano and organ accompaniment come in and it’d all just accumulate into this crescendo and you’d have such a music high. Seeing him on stage, performing like he was, you know, recently every time Clapton goes on tour people go ‘oh he’s such and such years old, this will probably be his last tour’ and yet he keeps going and having full and exciting performances, you watch him and realize how much he lives for his music and you know, he’s one of those greats who just don’t ever stop.

Clapton was preceded by two absolutely incredible opening acts. First was the older brother of blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a legend in his own right, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. Aside from their incredible music talents, Jimmie Vaughan has another more emotional tie to Eric Clapton, in that his brother Stevie Ray, and three other close members of Eric Clapton’s circle of musician friends, were all killed in a tragic helicopter accident. Vaughan is a great example of the influence of all the classic blues legends, with a real old-school soul that just oozes rich smoothness, rolling off his guitar like molasses. And from the classics to the new, the second opening act was ‘The Chosen One’, Gary Clark Jr. I’d actually heard of him before. He mixes blues with soul and hip hop and it’s just all kinds of new age cool. He can rip into a guitar solo like nobody’s business, and he had an incredible cover of the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ that he performed last night that just brought the house down. At the end of the concert Clapton came back out for an encore performance and after the second encore song, he brought out both Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. for one last song and they just took turns unleashing the most soulful sounds I’ve ever heard. It was truly and honestly, one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever been to.

HK Wonton Garden.jpg

Now of course by the time everything is said and done we’re getting out around midnight, and really when you’re in the city at midnight there’s nothing else to do but to go straight to Chinatown for a late night feast. So proceed to Chinatown we did, to my family’s long-standing favorite spot of all time, New HK Wonton Garden. It’s currently on Mulberry Street, across the street from Columbus Park, but we’ve been patrons since it was in its original location on Mott, right in the heart of the busy and bustling main streets of Chinatown. I don’t know why it took us so long to realize, but after years of struggling to settle on just one dish to satisfy our late night Chinese food cravings, we realized we could, you know, order more than that. So ever since then it’s always been ‘let me get a bowl of wonton noodle soup AND something else’. This time it was ‘a bowl of wonton noodle soup AND roast pork and roast duck over noodles’. Sweet and sticky roast pork paired with crispy and fatty duck, their juices mixing with Chinese egg noodles, and that incredibly flavorful soup filled with even more noodles, packed shrimp and pork wontons, and rich broth, nothing could soothe the soul more at 1 in the morning while your ears are still ringing and your toes a-tapping.

I’ll probably be listening to a bit more blues than usual for the next couple weeks. Call it a welcome after-effect of last night’s incredible performance.

Jerel says, ‘I always dreamed to Square Marden’.

Single Guy Does Music Mondays

I’ve seen something similar to this on another blog I follow, only he does it on Wednesdays. I’ve gotten some great music recommendations from that though and added some really interesting and great bands to my Spotify collection so I’m hoping to be able to do the same here and share with and educate the world on some of my favorite music picks on a new regular feature, Music Mondays.

Kurt and Brandon

My first pick is quite timely and relevant I would think, considering the events of the past week, but this was completely by chance. I regularly listen to WBGO Jazz 88.3, and on Sunday I heard Kurt Elling’s rendition of Practical Arrangement. The song first appeared on the album The Last Ship by Sting, which was a tie-in for a play by the same name by Sting as well. I love Sting’s performance but Kurt Elling is an incredibly talented vocalist who adds so much emotion and affection into the lyrics, and Brandon Marsalis is such a fantastic saxophonist and he adds a harmony and melody that was missing in Sting’s piece, which sounded more like spoken word. It’s a bit melancholy, but also I think very beautiful and romantic and endearingly tragic. I hope you really listen to the lyrics, and also enjoy the incredible accompaniment by the talented Brandon Marsalis.

Practical Arrangement
-Lyrics and composition by Sting
Am I asking for the moon’
Is it really so implausible’
That you and I could soon
Come to some kind of arrangement’
I’m not asking for the moon
I’ve always been a realist
When it’s really nothing more
Than a simple rearrangement
With one roof above our heads
A warm house to return to
We could start with separate beds
I could sleep alone or learn to
I’m not suggesting that we’d find
Some earthly paradise forever
I mean how often does that happen now
The answer’s probably never
But we could come to an arrangement
A practical arrangement
And you could learn to love me
Given time
I’m not promising the moon
I’m not promising a rainbow
Just a practical solution
To a solitary life
I’d be a father to your boy
A shoulder you could lean on
How bad could it be
To be my wife’
With one roof above our heads
A warm house to return to
You wouldn’t have to cook for me
You wouldn’t have to learn to
I’m not suggesting that this proposition here
Could last forever
I’ve no intention of deceiving you
You’re far too clever
But we could come to an arrangement
A practical arrangement
And perhaps you’d learn to love me
Given time
It may not be the romance
That you had in mind
But you could learn to love me
Given time

Single Guy Says, ‘Communication leads to community’

Panda Groceries

‘Communication leads to community: that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.’

-Rollo May

There’s nothing quite like a good bit of retail therapy to help clear the mind and calm the soul. Throw in a good BOGO deal and some bubble tea and you’ve got the making of a good Friday out. This past Friday, September 1st, one of the larger local Asian grocery stores in my area had their annual first of the month ‘buy one get one free all day’ sale. Every first day of the month around 90% of their entire store, from produce, meat, fish, dry goods, frozen, to even their prepared foods, becomes ‘buy one get one free’ for the entire day or until supplies last. I did a preliminary scope a couple days before, stopping in for some bubble tea and a chat with the bubble tea cafe owner while watching the endless convoy of trucks unloading pallets upon pallets of goods and the small army of orange-vested grocery store staff trying to fill every available nook and cranny of space left on the floor. On a Tuesday afternoon the store was practically a ghost town, save for the employees who knew that come Friday there would be a constant never-ending line of shoppers that would stretch from the registers all the way around, touching every corner of the store and ending practically right at the entrance.

Grocery Line

There are those who would say only a madman would dare to brave the chaos of a store-wide BOGO sale. That only the very desperate or the very insane would ever find themselves shoulder to shoulder, cart to cart, basket to basket, with other equally desperate or insane shoppers. Well, call me desperate, call me insane, call me what you will, but for all the madness and chaos, I actually quite enjoyed my time there. Despite the best advice of Joe, the friendly owner of the bubble tea cafe inside the grocery store, I did not think it entirely worth it to queue up outside the store at 7 in the morning, as the more seasoned veterans are more wont to do. I didn’t even think to worry about parking at the pharmacy across the street to avoid the mad dash for valuable parking space in the limited lot in front of the store. I came in around 11, and ever the child of good fortune, found a spot right up front as they were pulling out. Shopping carts were even rarer than spots, and that did actually take me a good bit of time to find. It gave me a chance to check in with Joe though and he gave me a rundown of some of the better, more valuable sales to take advantage of. It’s amazing how the words ‘buy one get one free’ can affect your decision making process. Did I ever in my life consider I’d want to buy a can of boiled silkworm larva, a delicacy in some other Asian countries? No, absolutely not. But did I suddenly find myself holding not one, but two cans in my hand, contemplating the same question because it said ‘BOGO’? Yes, I’m ashamed to say, I did. (I ended up not buying it though, thankfully.)

grocery-cart.jpg

But I did end up buying, among other things, some dried shiitake mushrooms, coconut juice, frozen grilled eel, frozen milkfish, dried seaweed, honey butter chips, shrimp chips, Korean wafer cookies, bags of white rice…etc.

After spending about an hour shopping and another hour waiting in line to pay, I decided to reward myself with some bubble tea and Filipino food from a cafeteria-style casual Filipino place also inside the grocery. As I’m sitting there tucked away in the corner with my rice and my barbecue and my drink, and I’m watching the line of shoppers pass me by and the cafeteria regulars chatting it up with the workers, thinking about the past night, I get that faint hint of what it was I’ve been missing. Community. It’s what made butting carts against endless throngs of shoppers and waiting in line for hours all okay for so many of these people. They came in with family and friends with systems and plans. One would man the cart and wait in line while the other roamed the store and returned to dump all of their findings before jumping back in. They would search the crowd for the familiar faces they knew would show up to chat and pass the time away, to ask about work and family and the health and happiness in each other’s lives. They may have been somewhere they didn’t want to be, doing things they would rather not want to do, but they were in a place doing these things with people they were happy to be with. I’ve lived in this area for twenty-seven years, and only recently started showing up at this  grocery store. I see whole generations assembling here and enjoying the benefit of that shared sense of community.

Grocery Lunch

Though I wrote a couple days ago that I found myself alone yet surrounded by people, I have to admit that I should also be partly to blame for that. I never built that sense of community, that channel of communication, outside of my relationships. Only recently have I started to build myself as a member of other communities outside of that. Obviously WordPress is one of those communities that I’ve tried harder than most to really become an integrated part of. But I have so many opportunities if I would just look where they are. I’m not saying I need to become a grocery store regular, buying stockpiles of things I don’t need because I want to make friends with locals who shop all the time. A 15 lb. bag of white rice may be  $12.99, a large taro-almond bubble tea $4.95, a two  side one rice combo with drink $6.50, but a sense of community is priceless. I’m still learning a lot about relationships. And not just the romantic type but the social, friendly, ‘you are not alone’ types too. One of the first things I learned last year was that I need these relationships as well. That I can’t hang everything of who I am and what I want to share on this one type of romantic relationship. Then I started to grow my world ever larger, bit by bit. I visited the communities of archers at ETAR, communities of people with similar interests through the MeetUp app, communities of locals through my travels. Now, I need to keep learning how to stop visiting, and become an actual member of these places. Share myself, and receive others in return, in ways outside of romance that before, I neglected, and now realized, I need.

Jerel says, ‘communication leads to community’.

Hello, Beautiful

I figured that eventually you would find this blog. It doesn’t surprise me, and honestly, there’s a part of me that was hoping you would. You should know that you’re always welcome to read. I made this blog public for anyone who needed it. Anyone who wanted to remember the feeling of a long-lost love, or find solace in heartbreak, or strength in solitude, or even just a restaurant or movie recommendation. In case you were wondering, no, I haven’t been back to your blog. I’ve learned too much too painfully from it already.

You now know for yourself what the past year has been like for me. More or less. I’m not going to feign humility here, I’m damn proud of what I’ve done here. I’ve met some incredible people with incredible, fascinating, insightful outlooks on life I might never have touched on, or it might have taken me years to learn for myself when they were willing to show me and teach me. And there are some posts on here that I really really do love. They might not be the happiest, and in fact some of the best really have come from deep hurt, but they are honest and true and, in my eyes, beautiful.

You may look around this blog  and think I built this to villainize you. And I admit, the times when I was more angry than sad, I wanted to make you out to be the bad guy. The cause of my heartbreak. But I didn’t do all this because I wanted to tell the world how much you hurt me and how horrible a person you must be to do so. I’m no more the victim than you are the villain.

Last November I participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. And my novel was supposed to be about you and I, but really it was about my own expectations and obstacles with honest, true love. I liked almost everything about it but I struggled with the ending. And some of my readers pointed that out, and didn’t like it much either. They thought I victimized myself too much, putting all the blame on you, none on me. And it didn’t show much growth, honesty, or bravery really. I haven’t gotten back to it to rewrite a more satisfying ending, but let me tell you what I would want the ending of that story to be.


Beautiful was never the villain of this story. What happened in our relationship, from the very beginning in college to its very end as young adults happened to both of us. We both felt the pain and the loss and the hurt. And we hurt each other. I hurt her. The truth is, the worst thing I did when we got back together again was never let her be herself. I was so overcome with the joy of being reunited with Beautiful, my Beautiful, I didn’t take a moment to enjoy and appreciate the brand new woman who was standing before me. I lied to her. I entertained her interests enough to say I did so that we could go back to ‘where we left off’. ‘Who we were when we first fell in love’. At least a complete stranger would have had the time and opportunity to let me learn about her before I started doing what I normally did and shoved her into some mold. Because of my short-sightedness and my obsession with cookie-cutter romance, I put her on a pedestal she felt she couldn’t come down from. Our relationship was probably doomed to begin with because of this. After all, what outcome could result from this? Either she would not live to the unbearable weight of expectation I had spent years building up to unload onto her, or she would find any means of escape to get out from under the prison of who I wanted her to be for me.

No, unfortunately, there is, and was, no third option. No happy ending. Not for the people we were, the relationship we were in, the things we wanted of each other. Were I to try and defend that our relationship should have lasted because of the person I was, or to put blame that our relationship should end because of the person she was, I’d still be falling back on molds and expectations. I wanted so bad to play the victim, to have the world cry for my story.

But this was our story. A story where two people were hurt, and two people lost something very deeply special.

I wish I could say to her I never wanted my dream girl. I never wanted my ideal. I only wanted her. I wish I could say how sorry I am for making her feel she had to be anything other than herself. I didn’t know anything about her when she first spoke to me at that college club meeting.  Everything I loved of hers, I learned to love.

I wish it didn’t take losing Beautiful twice to learn this important lesson. What use is a man whose lessons are learned after the test? She was never supposed to be anything more than Beautiful, because that’s all I wanted. She was my everything, my Sun, and the flower asks nothing of the Sun other than to be itself.

Whatever anger I thought I would lash out onto her, through lessons learned, reflections, and staring deeply into this love, I’ve found should really have been towards myself. Taking romantic movies and novels and cheap comics aimed at teenage boys and trying to focus all of that on one incredible woman.

Two people were deeply hurt when all of this came crumbling down. I wish I could have taught myself sooner to love the person and not the idea. I wish I could have told her I loved her and not who I wanted her to be.

I wish I could have learned this lesson some other way, because there will always be a deep part of me that wishes I could have saved this. Saved her. Saved us. I learned my lesson at the expense of possibly the most important person I wanted to share it with. We both did horrible things, not just to each other but to ourselves and to the people around us who would have cared for us too. And of course I wish it weren’t so.

But not all wishes come true. And not all happy endings come to the Prince and Princess who believe in them.


I really am sorry, Beautiful. You were never supposed to feel the weight of my own unreasonable expectations and ideals. I could wait forever for a perfect woman, a perfect love, but for so many years of my life, I learned to love you. Love is not an instantaneous reaction. It is an act, a muscle, it’s something you grow and foster and care for and bloom together. We never should have tried to fool ourselves into thinking we knew exactly who the other person was after so much time. Was I proud and happy and satisfied that you felt I knew you so well, connected so deeply to your soul, even after so much time apart? Yes, indubitably so. But I would have rather  swallowed my pride and gotten to know you all over again if it meant a better chance, a stronger chance, a lasting chance.

What and who I am, I would gladly show you, teach you, guide you, for however long it would take. And what and who you are, I would learn if you would  just understand all I ever asked for, all I ever wanted, was to love you. Ikea and sushi be damned, the test isn’t getting to know who you are, it’s loving you for it.

I wish you could have seen that, before you left us. Before you hurt me. I’m so sorry you’ve had to struggle with who you are with the one person who should have made you feel the most comfortable and proud. You are a flawed, broken person. But aren’t we all? Did I ever ask for perfection when all I ever wanted was you?

I can’t say I’m glad for how things have turned out, or for the lessons you’ve learned yourself, the growth you’ve experienced, or even the happiness you’ve found somewhere  else. But I do support it. To ask me to be happy for you is to accept that the best place for you is somewhere else. I’m sorry. I can’t do that. But I’m a bit wiser and smarter now. And I know the world is huge and that we’ll find plenty of people who will make us happy and fulfilled. So I believe it to be true with you, and I support you in that. And I’m sure it must be true for me too, so you don’t have to worry about that either.

It is wonderful that you’ve moved on, and seen the faults in both of us. I’m so proud of you for finishing grad school, and excited for your new job. I knew you would  push forward and succeed. I have always believed in you, and I know that the world was just waiting for the right moment to believe in you too. I don’t blame you for anything that’s happened, and I want you to keep going forward with a clean conscience. Not because I think you’re perfect and capable of no wrong, but because I’ve learned to love and accept you for who you are.

Don’t worry about Y. I’ll deal with that.

I wish I could get you to see that whatever I thought I was looking for, I learned to look beyond that to see you for who you are. It’d be a lie if I said it was always the case, but I did learn my lesson on that. I wish you could have seen me for who I was, the man I became apart from you and the man I became because of you. I’m sorry, but it’s very important to me that I tell you, I really don’t want to ever see you again. I don’t think I can ever be your friend.

A lot of times I’ve been asked on my blog by readers if, given the chance, I would ever want to get back with you. And I’ve said wholeheartedly, no. But you should know, it’s because I believe I live in a world where that isn’t a possibility. And I need to live in that world. I may have learned a lot this past year about love and relationships and expectations, but I never unlearned how much I love and care about you. If anything, because I realized you weren’t the villain of my story, I lost the hurt I could hold against you. This isn’t about you, or who you feel for, or who you felt for. It’s about me. And it still hurts, paralyzingly so, to hear from you, to see these reminders of you, to think of you. Please understand, I can’t ever see you as anything less than what you mean to me. I can’t be your friend. I would always come running  to see you again if for the chance two people who’ve known each other and loved each other can try again as two brand new people, start fresh as strangers. But unless for that reason, I can’t, won’t, ever see you again.

With all the love that I can muster,

Jerel

Single Guy Says, ‘I’m Heading Full Speed in the Wrong Direction’

The thought of love scares me.

I never thought I’d say that. But it does. And the truth is, though my year as ManVsLoneliness was about forcing myself to step away from love and relationships to learn and grow and reflect with the eventual ultimate goal of jumping back into the waters, now that it’s over…I’m afraid.

There are sharks in the water.

I’ve been in two vehicle collisions in my life. The first, in high school, a minivan slammed onto the passenger side of my vehicle. The second, in college, the driver was on her cell phone, didn’t notice the light had changed, and t-boned my car. It was a direct hit and my car was totaled. She hit me on the driver side. I suffered a slight fracture on my wrist, a few bumps on my head, and lost my first car. In both cases though, it didn’t take me longer than a day or two to get right back behind the wheel. I couldn’t live without my car. I was married to the road and the freedom it promised.

I’ve suffered heartbreak, in varying degrees, plenty of times before. You could almost say I’ve built a habit of it. Hell, I built a mini blogging empire around it. And I’ve never, until now, let any failed relationship deter me from pursuing another.

I’ve never wanted anything as much as I wanted Beautiful. I’ve never lost anything so worth having.

I wrote before about hope and disappointment. About the extreme and intense depths of emotion we experience through love and loss. After a year of numbness, a separation from the source, from either love or loss, how I was beginning to experience these emotions again, discovering how much I could feel. This afternoon, picking up a package on my front doorstep, I felt the tremendous, burdensome weight of both, and the floor going out from right below my feet.

Based on the box, I was about to receive some books from Michigan. I actually went and checked all the manga I received last week to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. (Interestingly enough, today’s post was actually supposed to be about said manga.) Everything checked out, so this was just going to have to be a surprise. Inside was an envelope with very familiar handwriting and even more familiar clothing. The clothes were mine. And the handwriting was hers.

I have memorized her voice, played back sound bites a thousand times in my head. I can hear her whenever my mind betrays me and takes me to those places I thought I  had left behind. I can hear her say all those wonderful beautiful things that made me happy and made me fall in love in the first place. I know how she would say my name, how she would sigh into my ear when I held her close, how she would say ‘I love you’ a thousand ways a thousand times a day. But I don’t know how her voice would say ‘I’m sorry’. Or ‘it’s not you that I want’. Because those she never said to me in person. I had to read it over and over in the gray lifeless listless echo chamber of the loneliest parts of my mind.

I know that this ringing in my ears, this painful heavy weight in my chest, this numbness in my legs, and in the depth of where I find my heart has dropped, that there is the potential for me to reach the same ever-reaching height of happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, and love, because my heart and my mind tell me so. And I know that I should appreciate and cherish that through it all I can still care and love and feel  because I would in, different circumstances, tell someone else as much with a voice of bittersweet optimism and melancholy hopefulness.

But that might just be the problem. There’s no one else to say it to me. There’s no one to say anything to me. Dissatisfied with my friends, I’ve let myself be more than happy to see them just once a month. God only knows, I might have lost the ability to do much more than that anyways. But not seeing someone and not talking to them is easy. It’s harder with my family. Living at home still, surrounded by people and voices all day, but none able to understand or see what’s going on, having to have the same conversations, it’s torture. During the day I work from home, so I have my silence. But maybe this is why at night I find excuses to leave, to fill my time until they go to sleep, or simply just hide in some separate room. It’s more painful to realize you have no one to talk to when you’re surrounded by people.

I’m not equipped for this. ManVsLoneliness didn’t have to worry about this because he had an excuse not to worry about Beautiful or anyone or love in general. But Jerel, SingleGuySays, he’s fully exposed to love, loss, hope, disappointment, loneliness, and longing. I thought last year I had firmly planted my feet into the ground and, not moving from that spot where Beautiful left me, I was building roots. But I think part of me was just pushing things back. I’m not saying my past year was meaningless. I really did learn a lot and grow. But because of the rules I gave myself, I never gave myself the time or the opportunity to face these things. I was just pushing it further and further away, hoping I could eventually just wipe it all off and have a clean slate. But everywhere I go, I know I am haunted by these ghosts who know me. Maybe it’s because I’m still here. Where I can be found and where I can find the ghosts.

Jerel says, ‘I’m heading full speed in the wrong direction’.