10th week update (pet projects)

This week was all about pursuing my pet projects and getting the next phase underway, which meant I had intentionally chosen to spend little time with S. Not only was I still recovering from the verbal assault in week 9 from her overly emotional episode and “slip” of using our pre established safe word ‘macaroni’ that allows a clean exit from our relationship without explanation or recourse, but I also was focused on my exciting new venture. 

Emotional break…

I’ve put thinking about S and our relationship on the back burner for this week as I’ve got to focus on my second project, which is more exciting than my first venture for 2017. The first one is a food blog which I’ve mentioned in prior postings and this second one will remain under wraps until it grows legs and actually begins moving beyond the research phase. Reason I’m keeping it quiet is more about me continuing my focus because as I tell more folks about it, there will be more opportunity of that idea being shot down which eventually leads to me being discouraged. 

Now I’m not saying people would do that intentionally, but I think our human nature kicks in and tries to protect our friends (or just people in general) from doing things that are new and not someone like me would do. It just opens up unsolicited doubts. 

In the past, I also have found in passed times when I’ve spilled the beans prematurely, people air bomb unfounded opinions based on hearsay instead of experience, and I’ll listen to that unfounded opinion. Before long I find myself with doubt and give up trying. Imagine if we had lived during the 1700s when a lot of folks thought the Earth were flat. Its a good thing Christopher Columbus didn’t listen and proved that unfounded opinion false. 

Today for me to remain focus, I ignore the helpful naysayers, and like most risk takers, I don’t say anything until I have something tangible to show and/or when I have a nice story to tell. I probably will be like this the rest of my life as I like to explore and learn new things even as I’m getting older. After all, I’m only a young 52 year old. Colonel Sanders was in his 60s when he started his franchise.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m looking for opportunities to reinvent myself and find something that would launch me into a different area and away from my comfort zone. So my second project is in the research phase of the R&D cycle. 

Finding my motivation…

To this end, I took Friday (of week 9) off from work to push myself into my next ‘unknown to me’ project. To help jump start my new venture, I found a workshop scheduled for that day in Salem, OR, which required me to actually commit to securing a hotel room near the conference which also meant that I sequestered myself away from distractions (including the very emotional life of S) and fully immerse myself into my project. 

In fact, the conference was for three days beginning on Friday and going through Sunday and focused on learning and understanding my new project from folks who have explored and discovered a world I knew nothing about. So my risk is a little minimized as there have been others who have gone before me. Like most business ventures, you get out what you put in. I was tired but excited of the new road ahead of me by the time the last day were winding down. 

Can’t talk, I have homework…

Now because the conference were three days and the days were over the weekend, there was little interaction with S and any interactions were limited to very short texts during the day and brief phone conversations at night. This was partly because the conference required homework for the next day’s sessions. It’s been years since I had actual homework and I found it tiresome yet invigorating at the same time. 

To clarify, the homework was more of things like personal introspective and the exercise of mentally committing to what lies ahead of me should I choose to continue with this project. Like with every new venture, there is rampup time to get acclimated to the process and mentally commit to the work is the most challenging. I’ve always said: “where the head goes the body follows”. Now I usually say this as I mentor someone about leadership, but it’s also psychological when you take on a project. I’m all in mind and soul. 

Let fear drive…

I’ve found (for me), fear of failing is a bigger driver than the financial outlay of getting a venture up and running. A lot of people are opposite that approach, but I figured if I did the right thing and treated people right, the money will find its way back to me. Now of course I wouldn’t take on pro bono projects as this is counterproductive to my goal of retiring younger than what most Americans do.

For me, my drive has to come from some pressure, which means I got more of my skin in the game (risk) which in turn drives inspiration and motivation. I also set time limits, which reduces if not completely eliminates this fear of failure. But that’s just me. 

Back roads to home…

On Sunday night, once the conference let out and things were wrapped up, I drove home via the direction of S’s town, as that was the most direct route to my house and it was the route that avoided the Sunday traffic on I-5 with folks returning from their weekend excursion and traveling back to Portland metropolitan area. The back roads gave me peace of mind and the irritation of being in traffic. 

Once I was on the road and closer to S’s small town, I texted her to see if she were home. I knew she would be picking up her kids from her ex around this time and I was hoping she wouldn’t be close to her house so that I could just simply squeeze through her town without stopping. 

It turned out she was minutes away from her town and we would arrive about the same time. I couldn’t lie (well I could but karma comes back and delivers a consequence I would rather not experience) so we met at her house and I stayed long enough for a quick Sunday night dinner. No argument between S and me, but there were the usual tense moments with her and her younger son, as was their normal back and forth bantering. 

I ate and left shortly afterwards. The rest of the week were back to the normal grind with work, but filled with excitement as the work day ended because I get to work on my second 2017 project at night. There were still lots of work to lay down the foundation. 

The typical weekend with kids…

The weekend of week 10 were spent with S in her life with teenage children who are active in sports. I had a hard time of not thinking about my new project as what I really wanted to do was to work on my new project so that the  momentum would continue and also because it’s exciting. 

I’m a serial entrepreneur and love the thril associated with the startup phase of projects. There’s always a ton of energy that goes along with that initial phase. 

I guess, the phase of my relationship with S is where we are settling into more of a routine in that I spend each weekend with her and her kids instead of spending of every other weekend. Now there are times (like the weekend of week 9) where that didn’t occur, but those are becoming more rare. The weekend of the 10th week was our norm. 

Let’s spend more of my money…

On Saturday, S and I had planned to return to the annual McMinnville SIP, which I wrote about last year and is a wine tasting event held at the Evergreen Flight Museum. This year, we were more prepared and sampled only the wineries to which we hadn’t been wine tasting. We also wanted to try a new food vendor as the food we ate last year from this event was not good. 

Long story short, I spent nearly $1000 (slight exaggeration as it was closer to $900) on wine, and the wine were for her wine cabinet as well as her wine cellar, also known as her under house crawl space, because it’s literally a crawl space. 

It’s not like I couldn’t afford it. It just felt that I was expected to pay. I think the total money spent on Saturday was in excess of $1200. The next day was her typical grocery shopping and I didn’t even offer to pay. Of course it wasn’t that much (under $200), but I quietly refused (by not pulling out my wallet). 

Personal thoughts…

We all go through life wondering if we made the right decisions with our relationships, careers, or what have you. I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) that sometimes life always gives us lessons as we choose paths on to which we travel. Sometimes those lessons are immediately thrusted upon us and sometimes those lessons come much later down the road selected. 

There’s not a crystal ball. But even if we had one, would we have chosen differently.  For this week’s lesson, being in a relationship is expensive especially when you’re dating an old-fashioned, yet want to be an equal rights “I’ll pay for that” feminist, who doesn’t make much money, but who likes the finer things in life…

…or maybe I’m just a tightwad. 
Until my next post, be safe online as well as offline. 

#life #lifeasithappens #lifeasiknowit

5th week 2017: Anniversary of first meeting 

This past week was the one year anniversary of my meeting S at a speed date event. If you’re still single and you want an adventure, try speed dating. It’s a place to meet a lot (15-20) of people at one event who you could possibly have an actual date with after the event. The lot of women I met that week a year ago were, for the most part, very interesting and each were different and had something interesting to talk about. So who knows, you possibly could find someone who clicks with you. 

Dating update…

No deep discussions this week as I think the deep conversations we had the week prior were enough. That’s the case for me anyway. Instead we did partake in a cooking date surrounded around the theme of Chinese New Year. It was a great date as we actually cooked with another couple. 

One thing that’s becoming more evident is that if we are out and away from her kids or family setting, S is not as intense. Maybe it’s because her guard is down. I’m just speculating as I didn’t ask her. And I probably won’t as I can already see that could be a touchy conversation topic. 

I did play nurse this past weekend as she wasn’t feeling well. Like a good boyfriend, I made her turmeric tea and took care of the cooking and chauffeuring her twins from their house to their friends house and back. It gave me time to spend with her younger son, who isn’t as bad if he’s not dealing with his mom.

I also made dinner for all of us while the kids studied for their finals, and S was sleeping off her cold. After dinner I cleaned up my mess in the kitchen while S dropped her younger son at a friend’s house to complete their final exam project for his marketing class. I don’t remember having marketing classes in high school. What kids are learning today are amazing and preparing them for the higher paying corporate jobs. 

Back in my day, the only preparation for adulthood was the home education class that I did not take as I had already leaned the basics of the kitchen from my mom and vocational programs like woodworking and auto mechanics. 

After S returned, I sat with her a few minutes before I started to pack and go home. Apparently she was shocked that I was leaving to go home as she thought I would spend the night and just head into the office in the morning. 

“I don’t remember committing to that,” I said. “We talked about it but I don’t remember saying that was the plan,” I continued. 

She came back, “we talked about it and you said you’d try it.” I guess trying it means “yes” in her mind. I guess I need to watch what I say and apparently confirm that she heard what I say. 

Just for the record, I’m not in that place where I’m ready to give up my personal living space at least for the next few years. I love living on my own and in my own space. 

Wonder how that conversation would go when I mention that to her as I think she’s progressing faster to the cohabitation land of whoa. I did agree, for the coming weekend, I’ll stay over on Sunday night and commute to work from her house Monday morning. I’m already dreading it as she lives an hour away. 

My cooking blog…

My new cooking blog will be official with my launch date on Wednesday, February 1st. I’m not spending any funds on marketing just yet and relying on the various social networks to increase traffic to my new site. Unfortunately I’m not adding the link here as this blog keeps my identity anonymous. By adding the link, I lose my anonymity. 

My triathlon training…

As I mentioned in a prior post, I’m still nursing my left knee back to health as I injured it on my ski trip in December. This is a definite detour from my cardio training. My doctor said that I can continue with hiking as long as I wear a knee brace for support but warned to not overtrain as I could prolong the healing. 

My biggest hurdle at this point is learning to swim as I’m not skilled in this area. I can’t seem to find an adult swim class and when I do, the class schedule does not fit my schedule. So if I can’t find a class soon, I’ll be forced to find a personal trainer. 

I found a sprint triathlon in July and also one in September which might be a bit cooler than I would like. I’m limiting my sprint triathlon to those where the swimming leg takes place in a swim center as I would rather swim in a pool instead of in a lake. This is just for my safety as there would be lots of eyes on me in a pool just in case I go under.

Have a great week and I’ll speak with you all soon. Stay safe online (and offline)…

#life #lifeasiknowit #lifeasithappens

Week 4 2017

“I must be in control” were the words she finally uttered when I asked her the fifth or sixth time why she couldn’t let things go until she heard the right response. 

Let me step back a few steps…

During our heart to heart discussion we talked about the things that bugged her about me and she mentioned that she didn’t get the sense that a lot of times she feels that I was not “getting” what she was telling me. I of course did and told her I had always understood and if I didn’t I would have asked. She continued her rant about me not understanding, “no you’re not getting it!”

Now I’m a grown man in his early 50s and have lived in the US since I was 4 years old. So although English were not my first language it was the only language spoken and written in my house growing up. I graduated in the top 1% of my class, so I think I’ve mastered the basics of the English language. 

I retorted, “please explain calmly why you say I’m not getting it?”

She started tearing up in frustration and had difficulty explaining her feelings. She finally responded, “you’re not saying the words I expect you to say.”

WTF! 

She really had a difficult time understanding that I was hearing and understanding what she was saying simply because I didn’t respond with the words she expected me to utter. Are you kidding me! She needed me to say it specifically the way she thought someone would respond. 

Hmmm. Is this a Mars vs Venus thing…

I’m no expert, but maybe it could be. You’ve probably seen the video folks have reposted on Facebook about the relationship guru where he talks about the different ways women and men think. One of his lectures spoke exactly about a couple where the man (husband) washed the dishes after every meal and when asked why by the wife, he said he didn’t like dirty dishes. The wife went crying to this relationship guru. When asked why she was upset, she told the guru what her husband had replied when asked about the dishes. The guru was perplexed and asked the wife what was wrong with that. She replied, “I wanted him to say he did the dishes because he loved me.”

So I guess S is the same way.  She wants to hear the specific words before she can accept that “I get it”. 

As I’ve heard my mom utter these words most of my childhood and throughout my high school…”Lord give me strength!”

I continued on a pathway of inquisition on why she needed to have the response in the fashion of which she thought she needed to in her head. I kept pushing and asked about other means of communicating, like actions over words. Some people say one thing but do opposite of what they actually say. 

I read that in a lot of people and at first I had thought them to be hypocrites, but in reality they better communicate with their actions. I saw a lot of this behavior in the church my mother took us to when we were little lads and lasses. So as I grew older (not necessarily wiser), I learned to weigh what people said to what they did. Their actions really spoke louder than their words. 

Back to S and my heart to heart…

Our conversations continued and I turned it back to her and her kids relationship. I again pointed out the screaming matches and that I don’t understand them. Why the screaming all the time. I get you need to scream some times when it’s appropriate but every conversation ending in a screaming match is not healthy. 

She finally admitted that she is probably doing damage to her kids. A breakthrough…probably not. At least not yet as the years of this behavior cannot be reversed in a snap. 

I planted several seed though, that perhaps the screaming matches between her and her boys were because she was expecting them to say or respond in the way she wants them to. Another seed planted was that her family (that included her girl and her parents) would probably never respond like she wanted them to. Then finished off with, “and I probably won’t either”. I reminded her we are all different (not right or wrong) in the way we interact and communicate with each other. 

One other things I learned and am still confused about was her conception of giving up her power to someone else and then trying to get it back. That’s why she says she has to be in control and continues until she gets the right response. Hmmm I don’t understand what she was trying to say and will bring that up in different, and much later discussion with her. 

When I was younger, I was also a bit of a control freak so I kind of understand the need to control situations, but unclear about the giving up of power and then trying to get it back. I’ve since learned from my naive, ignorant younger years that if you try controlling a situation especially involving people, you’ll never obtain true control as we cannot control nor should we control individuals – it’s like trying to control an avalanche headed your direction. You can only control how you react to it. 

I actually, verbatim said those words and she almost stopped to correct me but then hesitated and instead said I was right. So maybe she got it that by controlling how she reacts to situations, she actually becomes in control. 

After a few more dialogue exchanges she was done with the deep talks and quite frankly so was I. Like I said it’ll take some time to change behavioral patterns that stem back to when we were children. It took me some time to get where I’m at. Apparently her own mother did a lot of emotional damage to her as she is now doing to her kids, specifically to her boys. 

A few days later she was telling me of her morning with her youngest son and that he was going off on her about something. She was repeating how she did not let him get to her and proudly left his anger to him and didn’t join him in on it. 

“Wow!” I said and thought she did get what I was saying. But the hard part of maintaining that stand is the true test of self-control. 

Lesson learned…

She wasn’t the only one who had learned something that day. I now understand more of the road S had traveled emotionally and understand how I need to be cognizant of how her primary communication method is through speaking and that I would need to factor that in my communication style with her. 

The rest of the week was the typical work grind where I worked for the man during the day and worked on my exit strategy from corporate life at night. 

#life #lifeasiknowit #lifeasithappens

2nd week 2017

Monday morning I awoke before my annoying weekday alarm setting with a rejuvenated spirit not solely because of a good night sleep, which I didn’t, but rather that I had an epiphany last week that fueled me to look beyond the monotony of the day to day necessary tasks to please my corporate bosses. I have been in a quandary for the past two years which could be due to the end of my latest marriage as I no longer had focus outside of work. I guess that happens when you devote your personal dreams and aspirations to something that you thought would be there until your last days and then have it evaporate into thin air. I needed to find a new focus. 

New projects…

I used to develop websites many years ago and when I first started, the effort was high as that was not my expertise. I could have hired someone but I also didn’t want to lay out a tremendous amount of money that after the fact I would have kicked myself because it was something that I could have done easily. 

In this time around, there is a plethora of resources readily available via that invention of the internet and specifically YouTube instructional videos. The technologies have also advanced in that an ancient developer type like myself can literally have the basic website up and running in a couple of hours without remembering the various coding languages, or worse yet, someone with no coding knowledge at all. It’s quite amazing on how quickly we’ve moved from having the detailed understanding of all the intricacies with HTML, Java, and CSS. Thank goodness to the nerds who have developed widgets and plugins!!

My biggest hurdle now is learning the production process of video editing and splicing. I’ve tried several techniques from still photos interspersed with video, using only photos, and using only videos. Also, understanding how to bring background music into the whole process has been a challenge. I’m sure the next attempts will get better and streamlined as the process will evolve and organically come together. I’m keeping production costs low by doing this all via my iPhone and using the various free video, movie making apps. In my next food post, I’m using a voice over feature which seems to be a much easier, efficient process of having photos, videos, background music and my voice all incorporated without it being forced. 

The marketer in me has also come out of hiding and have been talking up my new project by word of mouth to prep for my alpha release. I’m talking up my pet project to folks active on social media which would be my distribution channel. 

The office…

Although I’ve found a new fire to stoke outside of my corporate life, I am grateful to start a new endeavor at work. It’s the same HR role but with a new team, so a lateral move with a different set of stakeholders and team member personalities. The amount of work is also the same as I still have two teams. I’m slowly making my mark by changing the mindset and challenging the two teams to be more effective and efficient which seem to be similar words but implementation of both are slightly different. Processes will be tweaked which could upset the cart as people are not always open and welcoming of change. My first few weeks of observations have been eye opening in that no matter which teams I get assigned, they seem to have similar issues. Same issues different set of individuals. I’ve been doing this for 17 years. Somehow this type of work always finds me. So Here we go again!! SSDD – same sh$&@, different day. 

Dating life…

Regarding my dating lif, I haven’t seen or hung out with S this week due to our La Niña weather where this past week she dumped nearly 8″ of snow at my house, upwards of a foot of snow across the Portland metropolitan area, and even more snow accumulation on the surrounding hills with reported levels of more than a foot and a half of snow. 

I’ll digress a little…

This city isn’t accustomed to much snow and becomes a standstill (literally) if more than 2″ hit the surface. Typically (or should I say in recent years), there’s been only a few occurrences of snow causing this phenomenon in Portland. This season (December 2016 to this past week), we have had at least four weather patterns. Here is a picture of the snow in my neighborhood just outside my front door. I actually love this kind of weather as growing up in Texas did not provide the vehicle or opportunity of having outside fun during the winter months. 

Back to dating S…

So needless to say, S and I have only texted this week which I’ve noticed the amount and duration of that form of communication has continued to diminish as the number of days of not seeing each other have increased. I wonder what would happen if the gap of physically spending time together continued to grow. Would our relationship dwindle? That would provide an insight of the fragility or solidness of what we currently have built over the past 11 months. 

But who am I kidding! I don’t think there is one factor that determines how long relationships last other than the tolerance and commitment of the two individuals to each other. That’s what I’ve learned through my experiences anyway. You can be committed, but if that other person isn’t, then it’s not going to work out no matter how desperately you try. 1 + 0 = 1. Even mathematically it works out, and numbers never lie. 

S and I have a long weekend coming as Monday is a holiday for both of us and hopefully other communication channels would again open up. We’re supposed to go on a hike (or two), weather permitting. 

#life #2017 #beingme

 

2017 – first week

Going back to the big corporate company after being out on vacation for nearly three weeks was very hard on my psyche especially that I have come to the realization that I’m looking for something more meaningful to do with my life. I’m almost 52 and I just woke up. I guess that’s okay as Colonel Sanders started his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise when he was in his sixties. There’s hope for me. 

Back to the grind…

On the first day back, I had to re-train myself to go to bed early so that I could get up early. Oh I can’t wait to not be awakened by that annoying buzzing sound every weekday morning. 

4:30 AM and the alarm sounded. My goal was to be at work at my desk by 8AM. Actually my goal was to get there early so that I could leave at a normal hour (normal being around 5PM). Prior to my first day back, I had resolved to myself that I would be there before 8AM every day and leave by 5PM, which in so doing would allow me to reach my quota of 40 weekly hours by 4PM on Fridays. This gives me time in the evenings to work on my new cooking blog and other projects I had planned for the coming year. 

The first day, I met the goal of being in the office and at my desk before 8AM. Check! Unfortunately I overstayed my departure by an hour, which was fine as I still had about three hours I could work on my projects. 

It’s weird, or maybe it’s the laws of life that time passes quicker when you’re excited about what you’re doing and when you have a personal stake into want you’re trying to accomplish. I left work, stopped off to buy dinner, reached home, ate my take out dinner, and started in on my projects within an hour. I set my alarm for three hours later to ensure I don’t work too long on my personal projects, which if I did, would snowball into staying up too late, waking up late, getting to the office late, resulting in me not getting to work on my personal projects. 

10:30PM my alarm sounded which felt like it was only 15 minutes since I had initially set the alarm. My goal was to get the new website up, which I did but I really wanted to get further along than I had. I only secured my new domain, secured my hosting, installed the blogging tools, and started in on the configuration of the look and feel of the site when that rude alarm signaled me to stop. It was like my mother talking to my school aged self ordering me, “go to bed.”

It’s funny how you start negotiating with yourself, “what if I did one more hour?” Then your common sense steps in like a good parent and reminds you that you have to work in the morning. Before closing down my project for the night, I jotted down what I had yet to do to get both the site and the social networks up and ready and also established a rough scheduled of the work for the next couple of nights. The scheduled list showed the site would be live and my first blog posting uploaded by Saturday (that’s in three days). 

Next day I left work around 7PM and had to push an hour beyond the initial sounding of my “go to bed” alarm, which of course resulted in me getting to work the next morning later than my goal, which consequently meant leaving later than the intended departure time. 

S and I had planned a couple of long hikes this weekend so my goal for having all the pieces of my new food blog up this weekend would be in jeopardy of slipping into the second week of the year. It’s not like my food blog were something no one had ever thought of before and had to beat everyone to some imaginary finish line. It was just a timeline I put onto myself. Oh the pressures we add to ourselves. 

Everything happens for a reason…

It turned out the Portland area would be under another deep freeze (the third or fourth in the last month) that extended all the way south to the Oregon and California borders. The weatherman cautioned its viewers to not traverse the roads as they were predicting roadways would be covered by a sheet of ice by Saturday night and well into the morning commute on Monday. 

S and I diligently checked on the declining weather conditions throughout Saturday and both decided to forgo my coming down to her house and our hiking expedition, which we’ll have opportunities to do later in the month. 

So as we continued our periodic weather condition check in, I was able to complete the new food blog site, completed the setting up of the social feeds and links, and posted my first food blog. I never realized how much goes into the production of the videos, and the time to ensure the branding is consistent across all the social platforms. What did I get myself into. It was my first one and there’s always room for improvements. 

Cabin fever…

I’m easily bored and cannot just sit and do nothing. So I also managed to pack all the remaining Christmas decorations into the suspended garage storage shelving I installed before thanksgiving, and moved in the few furniture pieces from the garage into my living room and upstairs areas. These were the furniture items that traveled with me from the big move from Texas to Washington State a decade ago and had just came out of the last storage unit I rented and wrote about a few postings ago. 

Since I bought my house a little more than a year ago, my friends and S have made statements that the house doesn’t look like I had moved in yet. I guess my house is finally getting to a normal lived in state. 

Bad weather preparation…

I’m one of those folks that continue to work on things until they’re done and many of those times don’t think or focus on other things I should be doing. Case in point was the preparation for the inclement weather conditions. 

After I had completed the first food blog posting and rearranged, redecorated my house it finally dawned on me to check if I had rations to ride out the approaching winter storm. Fortunately I would be fine as I’ve previously stocked up my pantry and purchased several containers of water. What I don’t have are fresh fruits and veggies, but of course I have plenty of carbs. 

Hmmm, maybe I should also put more effort into having a stocked refrigerator with fresh fruits and veggies on my list of life changing habits for the new year. After all I now have a food blog and those items would be used to cook something that I could document on my food blog. 

Dating update…

S and I hadn’t seen nor spent time with each other since New Year’s Day and weren’t together this past weekend to hang out and compete two of our 24 planned hiking trips this coming year mostly due to the inclement weather conditions. In retrospect, I do miss hanging out and spending time with her and if it weren’t for the hazardous weather, I would have driven to her house and would have been okay with postponing the launching of one of my personal projects. 

I guess it’s true, absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

According to what we’ve previously planned, we won’t see each other this coming weekend either as she and her oldest would be in route traveling to southern Oregon to visit a college that he’s looking to apply to and possibly attend in the fall. Now another weather system is supposed to drop more snow and ice in the southern part of the state later in the week so perhaps their plans would also get cancelled and I could sneak some time to see her (and her kids) since it’s not the weekend they spend with their father.

We’ll have to see what La Niña brings us this coming week.

#newyear2017 #lifechanging #life #goals

#239 (skiing Ski Bowl)

6:15 AM and the alarm was blaring to force me awake and out of bed. Didn’t the alarm know that I was on vacation. I tapped the STOP button on my iPhone and turned off the annoying buzzing and laid my head back on the bed, closed my eyes, and tried to return to a deep REM cycle. 

Failure occurred as my body was conditioned to remain awake after seven hours of sleep. So try as I might, I couldn’t reach that sleep state. S and her kids were still sound asleep and since I couldn’t sleep any longer, I got up and made a big pot of coffee, poured me a cup and enjoyed the quietness of the moment alone. 

The solitude was broken…

My watch showed 7:45 AM and I heard S rustling around upstairs followed shortly thereafter with footsteps coming down the stairs. 

“Good morning honey,” she said as she kissed me good morning while I was still seated in one of the reclining chairs (and in the reclined position). I returned the reciprocal morning greeting. She walked to the kitchen counter where the carafe of coffee holding the hot morning brew was, prepared her a cup of Joe, and sat next to me in an adjacent rocking recliner that I repositioned to look out onto the Zigzag River, which flowed about 100 feet from the back deck of the rental house. 

It was a brief quiet time where we just sat watching the river flowing and sipping our coffee before her oldest child emerged out of the back room and began banging on the door his brother had chosen for his bedroom. 

“Bang! Bang! Bang!” Then silence. Then another three loud wraps on the same door. Still nothing.

“Mom! Can you get him up? We’re supposed to be at the ski rental place in an hour!” Her oldest said in a half requesting and half demanding tone. 

S responded, “we still have to make breakfast before we go.” To which the oldest abruptly went back into the room he slept in. 

Time out…

Growing up this behavior was never tolerated in my parents house. Even when my mom and dad divorced, it was still not a behavior we showed our elders or any of our family members. Don’t get me wrong, I and my siblings may have performed normal sibling infighting stuff but it was never done in disrespect. Even today, we are civil with each other. We were never rude to our parents – well maybe it occurred once in each of our lifetimes – but I assured you, we had our attitudes adjusted swiftly by either and/or  both our parents when we had. We just didn’t treat our parents, or anyone, with disrespect.  

I couldn’t believe S allowed this behavior as I’m sure this has been the norm since her children were little. Based on the tone and the execution of the statement indicated that this wasn’t the first siting of this behavior. Mind you this was the same son who got caught by the police while he was driving under the influence of marijuana a week ago. 

Coffee break over…

I took another sip of my coffee and made my way into the kitchen to begin breakfast. S followed me and asked where she could help. I asked her to cook the hash browns while I started the bacon and eggs. She said, “okay but I’m not good at cooking breakfast.”

I forgot S doesn’t cook breakfast and it showed as she struggled with the hash browns. I kept encouraging her that she was doing great as I continued with bacon and then the eggs. Now although she doesn’t cook breakfast she proceeds to instruct me on how I should drain some of the bacon grease before I cook the eggs. 

Those who don’t know, teach…

Hmmm. So the pan I used for cooking the bacon is a bit warped and the bacon fat accumulated on the edges and not in the middle of the pan. Clearly anyone who wasn’t blind could see this. Now I’m guessing either she just loves to tell folks how to do things even though she claims she doesn’t know how things are supposed to be, or she just likes to be bossy and micromanage everything. 

I responded, “no worries, I got this,” as I pushed some of the bacon fat back towards the center of the pan and let gravity work its magic and let the fat naturally retreat back to other fat molecules congregated along the pan’s edges. 

I cracked her eggs in the center and ensured the bacon fat collected on the edges were not soaking into her eggs. After a few minutes, I flipped them over (she likes her egggs like mine…over medium where the yolks were runny but the whites were solid). A few minutes later, I flipped her eggs into an awaiting plate. 

“Those look perfect,” she says shockingly. She later stated that she thought it’ll be too greasy but they’re just right. 

“Well of course! I’ve been cooking eggs for over 40 years.” I didn’t say this to her but I really wanted to. Instead, I nodded and smiled. 

Her hash browns were just okay. Truly it wasn’t her best item and also true to her word, she doesn’t cook breakfast items well.  

We finished eating and started our way to our first day of skiing. 

What? No money…

Now they say, the first day of any trip, you will encounter everything that would go wrong, does go wrong. Our experience wasn’t out of the norm. 

Before we left the house, S discovered she had left her wallet at home which meant she had no ID, no credit cards, and no cash on her person. Our arrangement was that I secured the house, which I did several months in advance and the food for our stay. In turn, she would be responsible for the ski lifts and any ski or snowboarding equipment needed. So now that she has no means to pay for equipment rentals and other things, I am fiscally responsible for the entire trip. 

Like our prior arrangements where she owed me money, I’m not expecting to get any of what I am now going to lay out on this trip back as she’ll find ways to pay for stuff we do that she would then use to chip away at the balance of what she owes me. I paid for two 2-day ski packages for me and her youngest, a new helmet for me, and two new goggles for S and her oldest son. 

I don’t have my jacket…

We left the rental equipment and drove up to our ski location (Ski Bowl West). It took a little longer to get there as weather conditions were changing and requiring folks to either chain up their tires or have traction tires. I had all weather tires on my truck so we were good, and switched over to four wheel drive for better handling. 

About 45 minutes later, we made it to our ski destination with no problems. Everyone piled out of my truck and started getting their ski clothing and equipment ready when her oldest discovered his jacket was not in the truck. It turned out, his jacket was still in the closet back in the rental house. 

He wanted to just use his brother’s outer shell. S was contemplating the idea and I stepped in and said, “No, he’ll freeze and would be miserable. We’ll all go back to get his  jacket.” I’m not letting that bad parenting decision happen under my watch especially when safety and/or health could be compromised. 

By the time we were back at the rental house, it was almost 2 PM and everyone was hungry and ready for lunch. On the way back, we stopped off at a Subway and ate our lunch before continuing up the mountain to our day of skiing and snowboarding. 

My bindings are broken…

Another hour later, and everyone were now in their clothing, with their gear, and headed towards the ski office to get our lift tickets. Fortunately, S purchased the lift tickets online a few days prior which saved my pocketbook from being deducted a large amount of funds. 

We were all set with our lift tickets attached on each of our jackets. Her boys took off and were headed onto the slopes while S, her daughter, and I were getting ready to head for the green area of the course. 

As we were clipping into our gear (S and I were skiing and her daughter snowboarding),her  daughter discovered one of her bindings were missing a strap and she couldn’t clip into her snowboard. What do you do? 

Minutes later, we were in line at the onsite snowboarding rental counter awaiting our turn to rent snowboarding equipment. I looked down at the counter and mentally noted the rates: “snowboard deposit – $300”. Great more cash out of my bank account. 

About an hour later, the three of us were on the green course of the slopes. 

I lost my wallet…

After the second trip down the mountain, we took a break to enjoy some hot cocoa and of course fries for her daughter. That’s her favorite food and I swear she would bleed French fries. 

We were seated just for a few minutes when her boys found and joined us. Her oldest sadly announced to his mother but loud enough for everyone at the table to hear, “I lost my wallet!”

S and her daughter gasped. S asked, “where did you have it?” To which he showed us by placing his hands in the muff located at the front of his hoodie. Of course the smart thing to do was to put your wallet into one of the zipped pockets of his jacket. I checked my pockets to be sure I didn’t make the same mistake. The truck keys were in my jacket pocket but weren’t zipped. I immediately zipped that pocket. 

“Whew!” I whispered to myself. “That could be really bad if I had lost those keys.” I did have several spills today as well as having to jump off the chair on the top of the mountain, and also being pushed to the ground by the chairlift on my second time up the mountain. So I had several opportunities of losing those keys, which fortunately did not happen. 

His sister asked, “Did you loose all the money dad gave you for Christmas?”  

He replied by shaking his head but his face showed he might have had some of that newly received cash in his now ‘lost somewhere on the mountain and never to be found’ wallet. 

Luckily no other mishaps occurred the rest of that night. The kids took another ride up the mountain and then decided to head back to the rental house for dinner and a soak in the hot tub. 

#skiing #snowboarding #mounthood #oregon #life

#235 (52 years ago)

On an island 5 km in diameter, I entered this world as a premature baby weighing under four pounds. At least that’s the story my mother told me when I was a young kid. I don’t have many pictures of me when I was a child and living in the Philippines. The only one I have is in black and white and is the size of a passport picture. It wasn’t a closeup of my face. So making out who the subject of that vintage photograph was would require a magnifying glass. 

It took four years before my mother married my step father who was stationed on a military base in Manila. My mother worked on base as a housemaid for one of the military higher ranking officers. My step father was in the US military stationed on the base where my mother happened to work. That’s how my mother met my step father. 

I unfortunately don’t remember my biological father. The story my mother tells me is that they were both young and my biological father decided he didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

It takes a village…

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Based on my mother’s stories, I had plenty of relatives to watch and care for me so I guess I was literally raised by a village of aunts and uncles and cousins. 

People say they can remember their childhood but I’m not one of those people. I only have faint recollections of playing with some airplane and I remember the first time I’ve ever seen fireworks. I also vaguely remember taking baths in a barrel similar to an old oak barrel where wine or whiskey ages and ferments. Other than those faint glimpses into my childhood in the Philippines, I don’t remember anything else or people who cared for me. 

Going to America…

Shortly after my mom wedded the only father I know, we both flew from the Philippines to the US of A. The first American soil we put our shoes on was San Francisco. 

Since then, I lived in various states: North Carolina, which was where my brother was born. From there, we lived in Virginia, which was the first time I had ever seen snow. It was fun for me as I was too small to actually do chores like shoveling snow or the like. I remember having loads of fun with my friends during my first snow sighting. 
Then I believe we moved to Arkansas then Kansas then finally settled in Texas, which is where both my little sisters were born. 

I blinked…

Now, I’m 52 living in the Pacific Northwest with two grown boys of my own. In retrospect, I’ve lived a life full of twists and turns that couldn’t have been anticipated – but that’s life. You roll with the punches and there were many of them. 

I didn’t think I would be a widow at 26, remarried and annulled within six months, then married the third time to be dismissed after ten years of marriage with no reason other than “I just don’t feel that way for you anymore.”

Apparently my mother had a sense that this would happen as I’m the only child taught how to cook. My other siblings were not required to know their way around in the kitchen. When I confronted her for the special treatment, she replied, “I saw that you would be on your own in the future and you would need to fend for yourself”. Thanks mother for your foresight. It has paid off in spades. 

Birthday celebrations…

I typically keep things on the down low when my birthday comes up as I’m not big in public celebrations. I would rather the day be just another day. So far I’ve been successful in avoiding the public celebrations with the help of taking the day off from work. 

The adage: “Out of sight out of mind” has apparently been the saving grace as when I did have to work on my birthday, I chose the “work remotely ” option for that day. No one had been the wiser. 

For this year, I’m on vacation for my 52nd year and I love it that way. 

Happy quiet birthday to me…

#bestbirthdayever #life #singleasianmale

#231 (let it snow)

Ten years ago I moved from south Texas where the weather was consistent with 80% or greater humidity most days of the year. Rainfall statistically were the same as it is in the Pacific Northwest, but instead of the drizzle, rain drops from the heavens in buckets. Literally! Stepping out in the southern Texas rain would soak you in seconds. 

Winter in south Texas only had a few weeks of the cold with an occasional hard freeze. I lived there for 34 years and there were maybe three hard freezes. At least that’s what I remember. 

PAC NW…my second home…

I love the weather here in the Pacific Northwest where four actual seasons could be experienced. The humidity happens for a brief two to three week period before it returns to the typical nice, comfortable, warm summer days and cool summer nights. During the fall season, the crispness in the air could be felt. I love it!

It doesn’t snow here…

However, when I first moved here, I was told snowfall were seldom. I have to tell you…they’re liars…it has snowed every year for the past ten years I’ve lived here. 

I’m not complaining as I love driving in the snow, playing and walking in the snow, and just being active in it. Last year I learned how to ski and before the end of this year, I’ll be back on Mount Hood skiing again. I cannot wait!

As early as this past Thanksgiving Day, the nearby mountains, and both the ocean and central cascades had been receiving plenty of snow, which is fantastic for feeding our sreams and rivers as the snow melts in the upcoming spring and summer months. 

On the valley floor…

We are currently still in the fall or autumn season and a few weeks away from when winter officially starts. However, La Niña has kicked in strong this year and provided a wintry wonderland twice in the last week with a potential third snowy day coming this next weekend. 

We normally don’t get snow that sticks to the valley floor this early in December. The surrounding hills with elevations higher than 500′ may receive a dusting of white powder but seldom on anything below the 500′ elevation ceiling. 

Early snow…

For the first snow storm that took place a week ago, I spent most of the time indoors working on actual work stuff. This second round, I’ll try to take some advantage snd actually get out into the elements and enjoy the snow and the coldness it brings with it. 

Of course, since Portlandians don’t know how to drive in snow, I’ll take extreme precautions to avoid the idiotic, inexperienced, and overly cautious drivers along the way to my fun. 

#letitsnow #winterwonderland #pdxoregon #life #singleasianmale

#230 (teenagers)

I woke up an hour earlier Wednesday morning than I normally do and well before the time my alarm would have sounded. I’m not sure why, but I was wide awake. “Hmmm,” I thought and wondered what was I dreaming about to wake me up so suddenly. 

My morning routine is to check my phone for messages, make my coffee, and make a quick breakfast that consists usually of a slice of toast and maybe some fruit. The latter is only if I have it. 

I must have slept hard…

I think I now understand the reason I awoke so suddenly. I believe there are messages in an alternate reality or universe that we are all connected to and if we’re tuned in to that world, we could receive certain information subconsciously when we’re asleep and even at times while we’re awake. My dreams must have been telling me about something that required me to awaken before my normal time. 

On my phone was a missed call from S and a voicemail, “I need you…call me please.” It wasn’t the typical message and it sounded like she was crying. With no response from me to her voicemail, S sent a series of texts as well, with her final text received around 2:30AM. I read her text messages and immediately called. 

Teenagers trouble…

Her oldest child was was out with a friend parked on country gravel road doing something they shouldn’t have been doing and subsequently got pulled over for a broken taillight. It turned out, he and his friend were smoking marijuana with the evidence bellowing out of the vehicle. When S was describing what happened, I pictured the scene from the Cheech and Chong movie “Up in Smoke” where the car was filled with smoke. Hilarious in movies but not in real life. 

Recreational pot is legal in the state of Oregon but like alcohol you must not be under the influence while driving. 

She has had the “drug” talk with her kids, and she did learn several months prior to the early morning incident that he had previously smoked marijuana with his friends. However, he had told her that he had never been behind the wheel after he was lit. 

I was not there for that pre-incident talk, but got the gist that as long as he was being safe and not driving, it was okay. Hmmm…

Different parenting style…

I would have never said it was okay for either of my sons to smoke or do drugs while they lived in my house. As I’ve mentioned in my prior posts, I’m not into any mind altering medicine let alone drugs (whether the drugs are legal or not). The reason is I have to be in control and having medicine or drugs that gives up that control would not enter my body on my own volition. That’s just how I’m built.

Loving your kids never means condoling any compromise to their safety especially allowing them to partake in recreational drug use. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean your kids who reside under your care should be doing it. 

My point of view is drugs, legal or not, puts my kids in harms way. I’m not saying that prescribed medicines that help illnesses such as diabetes, or a thyroid issue, or cancer should be avoided. I’m only referencing recreational drug use, which includes alcohol. Now when they stopped living with me, then they were on their own and no longer subjected to my house rules, and can do whatever they want to do regardless of my approval. 

Suffer the consequences…

Part of my parenting view is that if you do the crime, you pay the time. Consequences are great parenting tools and I used them in raising my kids. I think my kids are better off as I’ve allowed them to experience the appropriate pain levels. Moreover and more importantly, they’ve learned to cleanup and find ways to resolve their own messes – no government (parent) bailout. 

Her oldest son now has a record and would most likely lose his drivers license for up to a year, could lose his job, definitely would incur court fees, and would also result in an increase to their automotive insurance premiums. All for a moment of not thinking (or allowing your child to do something they shouldn’t be doing). 

The enabling parent…

Now S doesn’t subscribe to this point of view. She doesn’t want to take away all their “fun” things in life. So I guess her consequence would be that she would continue to bail out her kids for the rest of her life…

#parenting #toughlove #life #singleasianmale

#229 (no lazy Sunday)

My Sundays normally start slow and remain low key. Well I couldn’t do that this past Sunday. I spent the night at S’s house and with the looming end of year coming and my garage is not close to being vacated, or at least rearranged enough to begin parking my car in there, I needed to get home. 

I fail miserably during the week nights to get motivated to work on my garage project as long work days drain me mentally. I’m also transitioning into a new area at work which requires me to ramp up quickly thus I’m breaking my rule of not bringing work home. You have to do what you have to do right? I’m hopeful it’ll begin to slow so I don’t have to work long hours as I have been. 

You have to go???

I woke early and completed my morning routine before S even stirred awake. I was downstairs making coffee when she came into the kitchen. She saw I was already dressed and my bags were by the stairs next to her front door. 

The fourth of July is an awesome holiday here in the USA as that’s when the big displays of fireworks are anticipated followed by ooos and aaahhs as the colorful, controlled explosions unravel in front of the gathered spectators. 

There were no spectators uttering their ooos and aaahhs, but there was an explosion all right. 

Boom!!…

“I don’t see you much and you’re leaving soon!” S started in as she realized not only was I dressed, but I had brought my bags down from her bedroom, and I also fixed my hair. 

After 10 months, S has learned that I don’t venture out unless my hair has some product in it or I’m sporting a baseball cap. 

In the words of Obama…”settle down”…

I explained that I still need to work on my garage, and that I have a goal of getting my garage project done before the end of the year with the main reason is that I could again park my car in the garage. I extended an invitation for her to help me, which I knew she would decline. It’snot only she wouldn’t help but also because she would be chauffeuring her children in various errands throughout the day in preparation for the coming school week. 

A life coach…one of my many talents…

We had a heart to heart discussion for about an hour, which afterwards, I took her out for lunch. During our discussion, she opened up…well actually I’ve observed most everything she mentioned already so it wasn’t new to me. But it did confirm my readings. 

She admits that her attitude has been shifting especially with her kids and her parents and she doesn’t want to be so volatile so quickly. She’s also under a lot of pressure with being a single parent of active teenagers who demand a lot more work than she has energy. She also confessed that she feels like a failure. 

I asked if she knew why she feels the way she feels now? After listening, she concluded that she’s not happy with herself. I asked what was her top things she wasn’t happy about herself. She rattles off her list and number one was her size. 

Size is not everything…

I’m going to pause here because I don’t understand this ladies. Why is size always at the top of your lists that you don’t like about yourselves. Personally I blame this on magazines and TV shows. For me (and I bet there are many men like me), the person inside is more important than what you look like on the outside. A gorgeous, slender, proportionately appealing woman could be the biggest turn off because she’s mean, ugly, and downright horrible on the inside. My advice is make sure your inner house is clean before you worry about the cosmetic outer shell.  

Therapy session…

About an hour later had passed, I jokingly said, “this session is free but I do want you to come regularly to talk through your feelings.”

We both laughed. She replied, “just add it to my tab,” 

So although, I didn’t leave as early as had planned, our intimate conversations brought light that she wasn’t naive about her social awkwardness with her family and kids, especially her younger son. It also reassured me that she truly wants to be a better person. 

I told her that I had something to help her but she wouldn’t be getting it until we opened our presents on Christmas. I think I could actually help and best news is…she wants me to help her…

#lifecoach #life #singleasianmale