“Be VERY careful about having friends of the opposite sex. If you have a “friend” that you tell things to that you don’t tell your spouse, then you are creating a toxic situation. Affairs don’t start in the bedroom; they start with conversations, emails, texts and communication that lead down a dangerous path. Protect your Marriage!” ~ Dave Willis, iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage
“I hadn’t realized that music could unlock things in you, could transport you to somewhere even the composer hadn’t predicted. It left an imprint in the air around you, as if you carried its remnants with you when you went.” ~ Jojo Moyes, Me Before You
Day 356. Last Night was Friday night. The girls and I drove around the city and ended up on the Lower East Side. We parked the car and walked out in the blistering cold in search of a place to eat. With the restaurant gathering capacity still limited to thirty-five percent, we settled on dining inside a bubble at this place called Route 66.
The inside of the bubble was warmer, but by no means warm enough to take off your coat. It’s uncomfortable to eat in such conditions, but even more uncomfortable to just sit there idle, so I ordered a cocktail and some french fries. Not exactly healthy, but hey, you only live once.
After dinner, we got back into the car and drove around the city some more. I swear to God, New York is so bloody beautiful. We turned up the music in the car and with the lights of the city shining around us, it almost felt like we were in a nightclub.
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” ~ Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery: An Autobiography
I got a promotion at work this week. It is long overdue, so I am not even excited about it anymore. I am thankful about it though. So many people are out of work and are anxiously waiting for the next stimulus check in order to make ends meet, while I am here flourishing in my career. It does not seem fair somehow, but then again, I worked damn hard to be where I am in life, and so I do not apologize for my good fortune, but as always, I am, and remain, grateful that I have achieved some successes in life.
My brother, on the other hand, has not been as fortunate of late as I have been. Troubled by his increasingly turbulent marriage and failing business due to the pandemic, my brother retreated back to the Philippines to reset his life. My parents, ever judgmental, have not been very supportive of his decision to return home, albeit temporarily, and have been bombarding him with questions and accusations, and in short, have called him a failure.
Harsh. But that’s how they have always been – tiger parents that have instilled in the minds of their children that if you are not successful (translation: rich), then you are a failure. Or simply: a loser.
But, really, what is success? A good job? A good marriage? To be able to afford a big house and a fancy car? Why can’t success be something intangible, like achieving peace in one’s heart? Why can’t one be considered successful if they are able to satiate the hunger for freedom in their soul, or dull the ache in their core to feel the fullness of life, instead of the emptiness in their heart?
In theory, my parents consider me successful. I have a good job and a lovely daughter. My brother has a failing marriage and a failing business, and his biggest crime: he has no children.
But in reality, my brother is more successful. No matter what obstacles he has ever faced in life, he has always kept a positive outlook and is genuinely happy. I, on the other hand, despite outward appearances, am prone to depression and disparaging thoughts. I am empty inside while my brother’s soul is rich. To me, that is real success.
“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.” ~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
Realizing that many people who I love are no longer here on Earth.
“The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.” ~ Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits
“Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.” ~ Rumi, The Essential Rumi
“The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves!It is Saturday, the 20th of February, in the year 2021. It has been three-hundred and forty-two (342) days since the quarantine/pandemic started for me. It has been nearly one year.All in all, the pandemic has been good to and for me. I feel horribly writing this, as I know so many people have suffered unimaginable losses, but aside from the long periods of sheltering in place and the limited social and physical interactions with society and people, overall I have done really well the last eleven months.Financially, I made more money last year than I have ever made in my life. Corporate restructuring is my line of work, and as you can imagine, with the fall of the economy as a result of the pandemic and the shutting of businesses, I was busy, and this is stating it mildly.Physically, I am in the best health and shape than I have been in years. I started a fitness regime last year to stave off boredom, and I stuck through it this entire time. The hard work has paid off.In the physical relationship department, I also flourished. A friend had introduced me to one of her clients, a Nordic pilot (“NP“) twenty years my junior. He and I got on in September, and until now, we enjoy an easy, no-strings attached friendship. With the massive age difference, we both knew that this “thing”would never develop into anything further, but we enjoy each other’s company whenever he is in town. I genuinely like him as a person, and hope that even when the flames die, we will still be friends.In October, I connected with a male friend who I met in 2014. We were both in relationships when we first met, but we since have both broken up with our respective partners. We decided to meet up one afternoon in October. The sexual tension had been building up the last six years, and on that afternoon, we finally succumbed to it. The reality was even better than the fantasy we both had created in our imaginations, and my only regret now is that we did not explore this opportunity earlier. His touch is always so gentle, yet wanting, and oftentimes I find myself daydreaming about our interactions, replaying them in my mind over and over again.He is a fantastic man overall – a loving son to his parents, a kind and caring brother to his sister, and a hero to the city as a firefighter (“FF“), and if the situation were only different, I really could see myself with him.However, much like NP, he is much younger than I am. Thirteen years younger, to be exact. Better than twenty, but still too much.And that’s where my good fortune ends.I realized that I was catching feelings for FF when one night in January, NP called to say he was in town and asked if I wanted to meet up. I told him that I was feeling under the weather and said that I would catch him the next time he was back in town. I sensed his disappointment, but I figured it was better than if he were to come over just to feel that my heart was not into it.The truth was, I could not stop thinking about FF, and I felt guilty as though I were cheating on him with NP, even though he and I had not established any kind of commitment. Even more so, I had broken my own heart when I had told FF early on that I was only looking for a FWB situation. I am not sure why I told him that, but I can only imagination that it was for my own self-preservation. Better for me to setup the hurt myself, than to be hurt by him in the likely event that once he bores of me, he would break it off with me and say “you’re just too old for me” or something to that effect.I just don’t think my heart can withstand another breaking.Matters of the heart are where I have never been successful. Ever. All other parts of my life may be flourishing and prosperous, but my heart has always been bankrupted.I am an expert in corporate restructuring – I only wish I knew how to restructure my heart to make myself believe in love again.
“Why is summer mist romantic and autumn mist just sad?” ~ Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle
While the quarantine period ended sometime in May, we are still working from home and schools are on a blended distance and in-person schedule. It is day 223 since they shut down the city. More than half the year. And in no time, 2021 will be upon us.
The summer came and went quickly. I can count on my fingers the number of days I spent outside and actually felt a semblance of normalcy.
In late May, we took a drive to Connecticut. They were the first state within driving distance of the city to open restaurants and public spaces.
We had a lovely lunch at L’Escale. After eating oatmeal and salads during the quarantine, this tasted like the best steak (and meal) I have ever eaten.
In late June, we took a drive to the Hamptons.
In July, we were tourists in our city.
In August, we took a short trip to Saratoga Springs.
In September, we stayed home and paid our respects to the fallen heroes of 9/11.
And now it is October, and it is autumn in New York.
There is a somber and dreary look and feel this season. Or maybe it’s just me and my dark, depressive moods. I always try hard to battle my ongoing depression, but this year has been especially difficult.
I battle it every day by sticking to a workout routine. I started using the pull-up bar, though I am still unable to do one proper pull-up. I also started to work on my handstands, and I have done a solid job of sticking to a routine.
I even have abs now that are not covered under layers of fat and disappointment. My fitness routine, and the positive side effects that come with it, is the highlight of my year. Hey – I have to take the wins anywhere I can.
“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Human alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.” ~ Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper
Today is the 28th day of the quarantine for me. Today is also Easter Sunday for the Roman Catholics and the Christians.
Yesterday was also my 49th birthday.
It is difficult to not feel despair and hopelessness during these uncertain times. A general wave of gloom and irritation washed over me yesterday, and it was not lost on those who called to greet me a happy birthday.
One of my friends texted to wish me a happy birthday, and she asked, “What are you going to do today?“
I was not angry with her at all, but I knew my response was snippy and mean as soon as I hit the SEND button.
“I’m going clubbing tonight. Wtf do you think I am going to do? My choices are limited to what side of the couch I am going to sit today, or what part of the apartment I will spend my day.”
I felt badly for being so bitchy, so I picked up the phone and called her. She also felt badly and we talked about some of the difficulties she is facing in her own life with this COVID crisis.
As a little bit of a treat, I ordered pizza and seafood linguine from one of the few neighborhood restaurants that are still open for delivery. For dessert, we had carrot cake that I defrosted from my Omaha Steaks order that was delivered on Thursday. It was not the best birthday celebration, but neither was it the worst. We just have to make do with what we have, right? And always remain grateful no matter what.
I was tired of doing much the same thing everyday. My friends pursued their course with uneventfulness; they had no longer any surprises for me, and when I met them I knew pretty well what they would say; even their love-affairs had a tedious banality. We were like tram-cars running on their lines from terminus to terminus, and it was possible to calculate within small limits the number of passengers they would carry. Life was ordered too pleasantly. I was seized with panic. I gave up my small apartment, sold my few belongings, and resolved to start afresh.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence
I just finished the twentieth day of isolation/quarantine. I did not leave the house this entire week. The CV situation has reached a devastating level – over 3,500 have died already, with over 680 deaths in a 24 hour period.
I went outside today, only the third time in the twenty days that I have been in isolation. It was a quick stop to the food market, and when I saw that the line was wrapped around the corner, I headed back home. It took all of twenty minutes.
I have to admit that I had a hard time this week. I know – I am not the only one. This has been rough on everyone. I still feel grateful in my heart that I am working and that my family is safe and healthy. But if I am being honest, being grateful does not mean that I cannot hate being in what feels like house arrest, and feel anxiety for the uncertain future that we all face.
G was so bored this week that she cut her own hair. Surprisingly, it turned out quite nice. I was not happy at first that she did that, but after some thought, I realized that she has had to adjust to this quarantine life, and if something as innocent as cutting her own hair makes her feel better, than how can I be mad at that?
I dreamt last night of G. She was younger in my dream, maybe six or seven. I was standing in my living room, aware of the chaos outside, and saw that she had sneaked outside to play. Behind her, as she was blissfully unaware of her surroundings, a Neanderthal-looking man was swinging around his firearm. I screamed through the glass sliding door for her to come inside, but it was as if she could not hear me or the Neanderthal circling around her. I frantically kept screaming for her to come inside, and I woke up right as the Neanderthal was about to close in on her.