Day I-don’t-know (3/30/20 oh that day)

The last three or four days, I didn’t know what day of the week it was, but it doesn’t matter for me, so I didn’t bother to check. For a lot of folks, it’s been a few weeks at home. Today marks two weeks for myself, and my mindset has changed from that first couple of days. 

First two days: 

There was a 6-hour window where I lost my remaining five weekly gigs. Private events coming up in the following weeks were also starting to cancel. There were talks about the island shutting down the way San Francisco, Los Angeles, and then most recently San Diego had. We were starting to hear more details about the virus and how it tended to prey on those most vulnerable, like the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory conditions and compromised immune systems. It made me instantly think of a handful of people in my own life that fell into one of those categories. I was scared. I was really scared. I was scared for my friends and family. I was scared for those vulnerable people. I was scared about how I was going to make ends meet.  

Today:

I’m still scared, but I feel at peace knowing I’m doing my utmost to mitigate a shitty situation. I told my parents I’m going to stay quarantined for a few weeks before I come and visit them. Even when I do so, I want to practice social distancing. But knowing that’s the goal, I’m extra cautious when I go out and limiting the number of times I do so. Doing my best to support local business when I can, so every few days, I’ll go out and order a bunch of food from one establishment, or one or two things from multiple establishments. If I need to go to a market or store, I’ll try to do that during weird in-between hours where there’d potentially be fewer people around. Recently I started running again, so I’ll do that late at night to reduce the chance of running by someone. Also, it’s just cooler at night which is a plus! 

As far as money goes, I’m fortunate that I can still do live stream performances on IG and FB, and put out my Venmo for people to tip me if they feel inclined to. It’s strange asking people for money, but luckily I’ve only had to post my Venmo handle one time. During streams, if people ask for it, other people will take it upon themselves to tell them where they can tip me. It’s touching knowing people are going out of their way to help and make sure I’m okay. People have been extremely generous that way, so I’ve been able to keep up with what little bills I do have. It’s been fun in the last week, brainstorming ideas to make the live streams more fun for people. I do feel it’s healthy to have purpose and structure, something I lacked in the first week. 

Since I can no longer go to the gym, I’ve been eating a lot less. Taking advantage of intermittent fasting, and typically just eating one giant meal at night. It’s reduced my food costs, and also led to some weight loss! No “quarantine 15” for me. I designated a spot in my living room where I do pushups and air squats throughout the day, so it’s just become a habit to bang out 20 of each when I walk by there. 

It’s still so up in the air when all of this craziness will end. At least in my life, it feels like this can be an acceptable norm for now. I know everyone is not in the same boat as I am when it comes to being in fortunate circumstances, so I count my blessings. I think about healthcare workers every day, and how challenging and stressful their jobs are right now. Even more so than it usually is when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic. Shit hasn’t hit the fan here in Hawaii just yet, as far as an outbreak goes, and I’m hoping it never does. The horror stories coming out of Italy and now in places like New York and Florida frighten me. I just hope everyone can be onboard with social distancing and isolation and not taking things lightly. The implications of not taking extra precautions far outweigh the effects of this shutdown. People can rebuild their lives and recover financially, but they can’t do that if they’re dead. That’s the honest truth right now. 

Over not (3/13/20)

When I called you yesterday, and I told you I didn’t plan on calling you because I thought I needed some time and space, you said, “oh, you got over me that quick, huh?” I know you said it jokingly, and I took it as such, but I still thought about it today. I needed something to write about, and that’s what popped into my head first.

If anything, I’m less over you than ever. If I felt this kind of friction with someone in the past, I’d choose to dip out and say it wasn’t worth it. But for some reason, I want to stick around with you. I’ll admit, I was nervous when I called you, just because of how things were left off when we last communicated. But I forgot about that when I saw you. It was a fucking relief to see your demeanor changed, just in the way you looked at me. It felt pleasant and normal again and not stressed and forced. Let’s keep doing that; I don’t need anything more right now. But over you, I am not.

Writing Therapy (3/12/20)

I felt very at peace with things yesterday after I wrote out my thoughts. That writing therapy got to me. I’ve heard many times of the power of taking those thoughts floating around in your head and putting them down on the “page.” It never really clicked until yesterday. It almost makes too much sense to write every time something starts to rattle a little differently up there in the dome. Like, why not? A part of me thought having the ability to go back and read it over and over again would trap me in a vicious loop of reliving it. But in actuality, it put order to all of those thoughts so I can see everything step by step, to make sense of it all. 

A couple of days ago, I told myself I needed some space from someone for a while. I texted that person yesterday. I think if I hadn’t put my thoughts in order yesterday morning, I’d still be exercising that space with zero communication. But when I texted, it wasn’t weird, it didn’t feel wrong or rushed or awkward, and the response I received felt normal and comfortable. I don’t know that I’m ready to have a face-to-face with them yet, but I think the overpowering feeling of missing their friendship dissolved any of those other space inducing feelings I was having.  

Being cerebral sometimes can get you in a lot of trouble with overthinking things, but it can also help you resolve matters quickly. For whatever reason, I was lucky enough to develop a perspective on life that often makes me ask if certain things are that influential in the grand scheme of my life. Resolving stressful issues is much easier with that combination of perspective and being so inwardly analytical.  

One of my greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses is my emotions. It helps me connect with people when I sing, but it can get me into pickles as well. Not very often, those emotions will overpower my reasoning. I could be way worse off and be a reactionary wrecking ball, but it’s still something I can work on. I’m much more scared of the emotionless person, or the person that suppresses all of their emotions to get through life. What kind of life is that? 

Dear someone,

Dear someone,

You said you “don’t take this that seriously.” That line was a wake-up call for me. 

I knew at the start, a relationship was off the table at the time, and I told myself that it was okay. And I honestly was fine with that. Somewhere along the way, I started taking it very seriously and allowed myself to care and invest more of myself into it than I thought I was. Way more than you can right now. But that’s okay. You’re where you’re at, and I’m where I’m at. There are no fingers to point, no blame to cast. It’s a nice place to be. Nothing about it actually feels nice right now, but I know there are worse places to be. I felt like at some point, you were starting to take things a little seriously too, so in my mind, we were just getting more serious, and I was okay with that. Now I know that was causing you discomfort and is ultimately what you didn’t want from the beginning. You said you were going to be harsh, but I didn’t see it that way, you were as honest as you could be, and I appreciate that about you so much. That line was so honest that it left no room for interpretation other than the simple truth, and it’s what I needed to hear so I could be honest with myself about my wants. 

Don’t feel bad that things affect me so much, you have nothing to do with that. You can sleep tight knowing you’ve done nothing wrong. I can’t help that I think about things very deeply, sometimes too much so, but it’s because in this moment I care about it so much. I can’t take back the feelings that grew from the last several months, cats (haha) out of the bag. So all I can do is step back and hopefully let those feelings subside so you and I can get back to our friendship. Which I deeply miss right now. 

Like an asshole, I clicked on your name in my messages and looked back at the photos we sent each other over the last five or so months. I wasn’t sad; I actually smiled. It was a lot of food pictures, you looking beautiful in dresses at different events, me taking selfies with the boys at my gigs, your HANDSOME dog, random things you and I were doing, you and your mom drinking, more food pictures, more of your dog, and one selfie I forced on you at that concert in Long Beach when we were watching The Green play. I think my favorite one hands down is the one I took of you with the face mask on at your mom’s place during your December vacation back home. That’s the smile that kept me up at night. You weren’t dolled up in a dress, or posing with coworkers at an event. You were raw and beautiful, and happy. And so was I. Happy, not raw and beautiful. 

I’m very optimistic that we can get back to that one day because we bought those face masks on my last trip, and we never used them. I can’t wait to goof off with you again and make you laugh at dumb lawyer jokes. I miss hearing about your cases and the challenges you faced at work. What did you do to me that I looked forward to you venting to me about work? What the fuck. I miss walking your dog in the middle of the day because I slept through the morning. I miss kissing you, but I can’t kiss you right now without those deeper feelings creeping in. And I realize it wasn’t about not having feelings for each other, of course we had feelings for each other. It was the wanting-something-more that was the issue. I get it. I never expected anything from you or pressured you, but you were right, I deep down wanted more than you’re ready or willing to give right now. All good. Am I sad? Yeah, of course.

I promise to be a good friend to you again soon, as long as you can be one to me as well. I miss you a lot. Before it was the proximity, you being across an ocean, and I missed being near you. Now I miss just talking with you and joking, and venting, and smiling at each other because we made each other happy. One day soon, hopefully. 

You’re probably going to shake your head if you ever see this because you said you don’t want me reeling over things, or thinking deeply into our conversations. But I don’t think this counts because we had the conversations, I understand them now, but now I’m sorting through my feelings. And hell, this is giving me tons to write about! So suck it, I’m going to keep writing, haha. It’s also helping me work through everything. It’s true what they say about writing being theraputic.

Here’s a picture of a plate of tater tots I refrained from eating so I can beat you in our weight loss challenge that you haven’t started yet, but that I started back in January. One of the pictures I sent to you in the last few months.

Something in your eye… (3/11/20)

It’s a strange knot that appears behind your throat. It’s just a slight tingle, making it hard to swallow. Your chest fights the inhale like a stubborn gatekeeper causing a tremble while your lungs want to cave in and expand at the same time. At the deepest part of your inhale, your eyes shut tight with the weight of the world on your brows. The spot behind your nose itches, like the feeling before a sneeze. But instead of a sneeze, your eyes flood, and your throat feels dry and collapses in on itself. From corner to corner, no matter how tightly you squeeze your eyes shut, the tears make their way into the cold air. Sometimes it stays there, clinging to your eyelashes, till they evaporate into the void. Sometimes they take a trip down your face. From the outside corner they cascade down your jawline, sometimes reaching your chin. From the inside corner, they hug tightly to your nose and sometimes make it to your lips. Other times, from either corner, they find their way onto the floor, or your pillowcase. I find it best to let things happen, and feel the things you’re feeling. Still, “there’s no crying in baseball!” But I stopped playing baseball 19 years ago.

Morning Thoughts (2/18/20)

I miss the way you smell…

In the morning, with your arm draped over me. With your eyes closed, lips pressed to my shoulder, dreaming carefree.

I miss the way you smell…

Getting dolled up, robe on, makeup in front of the mirror. Pulling those jeans every inch on making it hard for me to breathe clearer.

I miss the way you smell…

In the car ride, it doesn’t really matter where. With my fingers squeezing your leg hoping time stops so we never get there. 

I miss the way you smell…

At the airport with your ear on my chest, where you can’t see the tears while we slow dance this duet…

Until we meet again I count all the seconds. 
Every hand click devours me,
but every phone call empowers me. 

I’m counting down till I fly the sky and subtract an ocean
till I’m turning the knob on your door 
I don’t need direction

I’ll find you there happy, sad, stressed, or relaxed
it won’t matter much, this is why I was cast

I’m gonna hold you till your heartbeat bumps with mine
For a little help, I’ll get the glasses, pour the wine

I love the way you smell…

when I see you again,
it doesn’t matter what we’re doing,
where we are, for how long, or when.

No name yet (2/17/20)

This is a song I wrote yesterday that has no title. It’s a song about happiness.

[Verse]
The champagne flows
but no one knows
the pain that fills you when you see them smiling
And I’m smiling too
But it’s all because of you
but you don’t believe me when you feel like crying

[Pre-chorus]
You’re scared the light in me
is the only light you’ll see
and your hands can’t hold the fire in your own chest

[Chorus]
But I will catch you, climb your walls
any distance you may fall
no one said you had to do it on your own
Be in your corner, take your time
I can stand and hold the line
We don’t need a plan just footsteps we can make
so footsteps we will take

[Verse]
they’ll probably say
they know the fastest way
To thrive and smile and figure it all out now
But you make friends with time,
just be open to the signs
They’ll never know your heart the way you do

[Pre-chorus]
Their mouths will move to set you free
but their tongues can’t taste the victory
baby I won’t say a word, I’ll just keep the light on

[Chorus]
But I will catch you, climb your walls
any distance you may fall
no one said you had to do it on your own
Be in your corner, take your time
I can stand and hold the line
We don’t need a plan just footsteps we can make
so footsteps we will take

Grinds (2/16/20)

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today, so I googled, “random writing prompt generator.” What popped up was, “write about your relationship with food.” PERFECT, I LOVE FOOD.

I’ll start by saying, I’ve always been a little overweight. Maybe that’s not the best way to start writing about my relationship with food, but I think it’s an excellent place for some context. I was 150-ish pounds by the fourth grade, and haven’t dipped anywhere close to that weight since. I’ve never been a picky eater. My parents raised me to eat everything on my plate, with the threat of some unknown consequence. I think overall, it was a positive thing. Besides the more unusual food items like bitter melon, or chicken feet, I’ll pretty much eat anything you put in front of me. I still have friends that say “yuck” when they hear the word “vegetables,” and it makes me cringe!

I was lucky to grow up in a household where my mom and dad both cooked, and a majority of the meals we ate were prepared at home. My love for all things related to eggs came from my dad. Whether it was scrambled eggs, over-easy eggs, or omelets, I learned to appreciate them all. I can walk into the kitchen, fry up a few over-easy eggs, and be eating them in five or so minutes (depending on how long it take the pan to heat up). I can do this with just one hand! Having cracked open so many eggs myself, I just taught myself to do it one-handed. I’m still working on the left hand, though.

The general cooking techniques I learned from my mom. I never knew why we cooked the garlic and onions with the oil first, but I knew to do it from her. I later learned that those things are considered “aromatics,” and the heated oil releases aromas and flavors that you want to impart on whatever dish you’re cooking. I learned to hold the knife a certain way with my right hand and to make my fingers curled in a certain way while holding the onion down on the cutting board with my left hand. I also learned how quickly your finger bleeds when you get lazy and hold the onion lazily.

I was talking to my friend a few years ago, and she told me that her mom would never let her or her siblings into the kitchen when they were growing up. So they never learned to cook from her. It made me appreciate my mom for letting my brother and I bother her in the kitchen and help her cut up veggies or stir the aromatics while they simmered in the pan. Sometimes when people tell me they “know how to cook”, what they mean is they know how to boil water in the microwave and make instant ramen, or Kraft mac and cheese. I’m so thankful I was lucky enough to have parents that had the time and patience to at least teach their kids the basics.

Sure I’ve been overweight, but that’s probably because of portion control. I’ve never been one to down full-sugar soft drinks or fast food more than once every other week. One of the things I was lucky to have, three out of my four years in college, was a kitchen. No matter how busy I was with school, I’d take an hour or two to cook every night. It was relaxing and rewarding, and probably great for mental health. I lived with guys from Hawaii throughout college, so we always had a rice cooker with rice in it. We’d always have a Costco sized bag full of onions, and a case of cream of mushroom. Cooking prep usually started by dicing up some onions, then cooking some kind of meat product, and topping it off with cream of mushroom. We are the kings of meat, onions, and cream of mushroom dishes! Full of flavor, always filling, and the naps afterward were beautiful.

I moved home after college and was sucked into the world of endurance sports by my brother. First into cycling, and then into full-on triathlons. It consumed me for three years. In that time, my relationship with food transformed from one of pleasure to one of sustenance. I thought about food as a fuel source rather than something to just be enjoyed. Not to say I didn’t enjoy the food I was eating, my mindset just shifted. I think it was healthy for me to develop that side of the coin because it’s helped me the last couple of years on my various dieting escapades. I’d choose my meals based on the activity I’d be doing the next day, or even in the next few hours. At the time, it was higher carbs before long or intense workouts and more veggies and protein before light activity days. For the most part, I didn’t care how the food tasted because I just wanted to make sure my workouts would be fueled for optimum performance. If I was going to spend a bunch of money on the sport and dedicate 10-20 hours a week training, I was going to make sure I got the most out of the workouts.

Fast forward to today, my relationship with food is quite healthy. I wouldn’t say it’s a positive or negative relationship. My goal is 80% of the time to eat as clean as possible. That means no processed carbohydrates, a decent amount of veggies, and as little processed protein sources as possible. So I consume a lot of steak and ground meats, like beef, bison, or turkey. I try to eat various types of veggies of varying colors to get a broader spectrum of micronutrients. On days that I workout, I make sure to accompany the whole foods with multivitamins and other supplements like collagen, flaxseed oil, and spirulina, to name a few. The other 20% of the time is alotted for those days when I’m celebrating someone’s birthday, or playing at a wedding with a unique spread of delicacies. That 20% is meant for guilt-free eating of that chocolate Dobash cake or that bread pudding with haupia sauce.

My love for cooking and my triathlon days have molded a pretty healthy and sustainable relationship with food. It helps me cook delicious yet “clean” food on a majority of my days, and be okay with eating that cake on those few and far between days.

Cheers!

OB Noodle House (2/11/20)

*Delayed post. Fell asleep after I wrote it on account of food coma, and forgot I wrote it.*

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s my last full day here in SD before my full day of traveling to get back home tomorrow. Currently, I’m sitting on a couch, sipping on a locally brewed coffee/chocolate stout at 2:25pm, with a handsome dog laying to my right. Rewind to this morning, after we dropped Cat off at work, Ili and I went for a decent walk in downtown SD near Cat’s workplace. He barked at zero people, barked at zero dogs, ate grass like ten times, peed until he was shooting blanks, and pooped twice. It was a productive stroll for us. Cat had pointed out to me that when he wants to poop, he starts smelling around a bit more than usual and starts to do a “sidestep” thing. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about until I witnessed his sidestep into poop-squat maneuver myself. 

Drove back to Cat’s to feed the pup. Mostly wanted him to finish his food so I could give him one of the treats I bought him from Trader Joe’s on my last visit. They’re some peanut butter flavored dog biscuit type snack and smell identical to graham crackers. Almost curious enough to taste it on the smell alone. I can tell Ili likes it because he doesn’t just start eating it, he makes sure he takes it a little ways away from me and eats it in privacy. Last night I was laughing at him because he seems to snore just like a human does. Cat asked me how dogs snore differently than humans, and I had no answer. Maybe I haven’t been around sleeping dogs much? Regardless, I’m amused. 

After Ili and I got back home after the walk, I wanted to make a game plan – one that included a stop at a Trader Joe’s, maybe at an In & Out, and possibly at OB Noodle House. A quick check through google maps indicated that there was a route that included an In & Out, a Trader Joe’s, and finally the golden gem of Ocean Beach, OB Noodle House. I made a game-time decision to bypass In & Out on my way to Trader Joe’s, so I could enjoy my meal at OB Noodle House even more. After a quick stop at TJ’s, to buy some seasonings and cookies, I drove with much haste (legally) to OB Noodle House. It was around 1 pm, there was zero wait time, and I was beyond excited. I sat down and immediately ordered.

“Could I get one extra-large 1502 Special pho, the crispy Tiger Shrimp…” “okay, will…” 

“Oh, one more thing, sorry, and the spicy garlic wings!” 

Now I’ve eaten at enough places alone to hear some variation of this next quote many times. Once I ate alone at Din Tai Fung, located in the Del Amo Fashion Center mall in Torrance, California. I received zero reaction for ordering six dishes by myself and remains one of the only instances where I received such a response. At OB Noodle House today, I got a, “Oh yeah! Treat yo self!” I just laughed in agreement, instead of trying to explain I was only planning to eat the pho and take most of the other stuff to go. On my last visit, Cat took me to OB Noodle House, and I’ve been craving the 1502 Special pho ever since. The menu describes it as “Hormone Free, Grass Fed American Style Kobe Wagyu Beef.” And somehow it tastes even better than that modest description lets on.

For pho to be delicious, in my opinion, it needs to satisfy specific guidelines. Number one, it’s 85% about the broth. If the broth is delicious, almost anything you add into it is going to taste just dandy. You can drink the broth by itself and be satisfied. The other thing is the meat to everything else ratio. Is there meat in almost every bite of noodle you take? If the answer is yes, you’ve got yourself a winning ratio. Other than the broth not being hot, nothing is worse than getting a full bowl of noodles and four small pieces of steak. OB Noodle House passes with flying colors.

I’d love to type more, but not eating carbs for the last four weeks has reintroduced the dreaded Kanak attack (food coma). It’s hitting me quite hard. Okay, good night. 

Happiness (2/15/20)

While at the gym tonight, I heard a quote from Lewis Howes’ podcast, The School of Greatness. The episode was titled ’10 “Happy Habits” Successful People Do Differently.’ Lewis opens the podcast with a quote from Gandhi that goes, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in Harmony.” Of course, I listened to the rest of the podcast, but that opening quote lingered in the back of my mind the whole time. I thought genuinely about where my happiness is at today.

“What you say… what you think…” 

 I feel like I have a healthy outlook on life. Through my life experiences, I’ve developed a level headed ability to “not sweat the small stuff,” pause in times of abnormal circumstances, back up and try and take in the big picture. I take a moment and ask myself, “what significance will this particular moment have on the bigger outcome of my life?” It’s not always easy to do that, especially when emotions and stress are high in the moment. But I think it’s one of those things, like a muscle that needs to must be developed through repetitions. In a way, it’s like meditation. 

I know one method of meditation is to focus on the breath. Whenever the mind wanders into other thoughts, and when you become aware of it, simply bring the attention back to the breath. Don’t feel mad or disappointed that it wandered. Acknowledge that it did, and move on. After enough consistent repetitions, the time it takes to notice the mind wandering lessens. You spend more time focusing on the breath and less time “wandering.” Being able to recognize when to take a step back is a lot like recognizing the wandering mind. 

What does this have to do with my happiness? I think what I say and what I think are pretty harmonious. I come off as a levelheaded guy with levelheaded advice (when it’s asked for, most of the time haha). I know all the steps I need to take to be successful, and I say those things out loud. I believe in what I say. 

Now about, “What you do…”

In many facets of my life, what I do lines up with what I say and think, while in other aspects, it hasn’t. For example, I know to better my musicality, I need to practice consistently. I say that I need to out loud, but doing it is another story. I say I want to hang my hat on songwriting eventually, and I know to better my craft at songwriting, I need to write consistently. I say that I need to out loud, but doing it is another story. I know that to become healthier, I need to eat better consistently. I say that I need to out loud, but I have no problem doing it. Honestly, I’m pretty good about eating healthier. The musicality and songwriting have been the cause of dissonance between saying, thinking, and doing.

So, where is my happiness level right now? I think it’s been as high as it’s ever been! Sure, I have a ton of things to be grateful for in my life. But besides that, I think the leading cause of happiness is, across the board, I’m doing those things I say and think more often. I’ve been trying to take time daily in writing. Maybe not songwriting specifically, but writing in general (which is a start). I’ve been learning piano, which in turn is making me study music theory. And I’ve been picking up the guitar at home more often. 

Based on fresh personal experience, I think there is a lot of merit to that quote. So I’m saying and thinking right here and now, that I want to do all of these things. Like Nike says: JUST DO IT.