Friends?

“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
 
Day 360.  
 
I got blocked today on Instagram by a male follower with whom I shared a friendly and platonic relationship.  We have followed each other on Instagram for over six years.  We had never met in person, and rarely communicated outside of Instagram direct messages.  Over the summer, he reached out to me through text message, and we exchanged messages through the summer and the early part of this year.
 
We were starting to develop a real friendship, or so I thought.  He lives in Texas and because I knew that Texas experienced some rough times, I had reached out to him to make sure he was faring well through their ordeal.  In turn, he messaged me quite frequently to wish me a good day or to just check up on me.
 
Last week on Instagram he posted a video of his trip to Hawaii with a female companion, presumably his girlfriend.  I was happy to see that he had finally taken a vacation and even happier that he was with someone who made him smile the way he was smiling in his video and photos.  I gave a thumbs up on his posts, and he sent me a message with the thumbs up emoji.
 
Today I noticed he blocked me.  I am not mad or hurt, but I am a bit shocked.  I had never approached him in any sort of inappropriate way – if anything, he was the one who tried on several occasions to cross over from the friend zone.  I never bit on his baits, though, and had always kept it platonic.  I also never gave him any mixed signals and made it absolutely clear that I thought of him purely on a friend basis.  I have my own theories about why he chose to block me, but in any case, I am fine with his choice.  I am notorious for cutting off people at the first red flag I see, so who am I to judge when it is done to me?
 
But this begs the million dollar question:  Can a man and a woman truly be friends?  
 
I am interested to hear others’ thoughts.
 
 

Intangible Success

“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

Day 354.

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.

Quinto Giorno

“Human beings are so destructive.  I sometimes think we’re a kind of plague, that will scrub the earth clean.  We destroy things so well that I sometimes think, maybe that’s our function. Maybe every few eons, some animal comes along that kills off the rest of the world, clears the decks, and lets evolution proceed to its next phase.” ~ Michael Crichton, The Lost World

Fifth day.

Because I didn’t do any panic buying, I was forced to go to the store today.  I had to buy a few essentials so I went around noon.  The streets were not exactly empty, but they were not as populated as they would be normally.  I received a few nasty looks and one woman at the store grimaced when she saw me, and she purposely made a dramatic turn to walk as far away from me as the store aisle would allow.  At first I told myself that it was just all in my insecure head, but when she allowed others to walk close by her, I knew that I was not being overly sensitive.

Because of this virus, most people either hate, fear, or blame the Chinese/Asians, or maybe a combination of all three.

As I was walking down the street, I suddenly became aware of my Asian-ness.  I felt a bit frightened when I saw a group of teens walking in my direction.  I had just heard of an Asian couple who got stomped by a group of teens on the subway platform in Philadelphia.  Their motive: they are angry at the Chinese/Asians for this virus that has become pandemic.

I quite imagined that I was feeling very similar to how Jewish people felt during WWII in Germany (but of course not as extreme): scared of being negatively identified simply by the color of your skin, the slant of your eye, or the religion that you believe.

I was both relieved when I returned home but also anxious for when I will need to go back out again and possibly face more prejudice.

This afternoon, my cousin texted me an article of how dolphins and swans had returned to Venice Canal amidst the quarantine, and although the article has since been debunked, the reports that the Canal has improved is not untrue.  The mayor of Venice did state to reporters that “the air is less polluted since there are fewer vaporetti and boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents.”

I consider that a small win for Mother Earth.

Here are some photos of beautiful Venice from my trip nearly three years ago:

Sending all my love to you, Italy.  Forza Italia.