Thursday, November 27, 2014

There will be noise in this kitchen.

There were days, growing up, when I would wake up to my parents, uncle and grandmother loudly gossiping about old neighbors and friends from the old country. I was most likely 11 or 12 years old. There I would be, trying to sleep, and there they would be, exceeding all government recommended decibel levels for my fragile little ears. My mother would most likely be wearing her apron, preparing coffee and something small to eat for everyone while my grandmother sat on the chair closest to the phone (Valanti is pictured on her chair). My father would be sitting across from her at the head of the table. My uncle George would normally sit near my father, if I remember correctly.
(Clockwise from Top Left: YiaYia and My Mother; Melomakarona; Valanti in Yiayias Chair; Sweet Potatoes)
I would get so frustrated with them, so self-involved, that I would bang on my bedroom wall so they would get the hint and bring it down. There would be a short moment of silence, then they would get right back to their explosive debates.

Tonight, I went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving with my Aunt, Uncle, sister and her boyfriend. It was great to be around friends and family, enjoying good food and laughter. Conversation began about recent current events and something concerning happened. One of our friends' family members got frustrated with another person's opinion and left... in a huff! Just left... on Thanksgiving.

I have never seen this before. I'm used to my family raising their voices and disagreeing about all kinds of things, but I've not known them to ever leave, clearly pissed off about another person's beliefs. They would just get over it and continue talking, eventually moving onto another topic and eating more food. Then, I thought about it even more. I've never felt like my family was apart during the holidays. We were always together, and we were always happy to be together. That's when I thought about my family sitting at that little table, and that's when I realized just how long it's been since I was awakened by those wonderfully loud noises.

Point here is, my friends, I wish I had realized how perfect my family was, growing up. Although my father, mother, and grandmother are no longer with us, I am very proud to be here with my uncle, aunt, sister and brother. And I hope to, one day, bring back the noise to this kitchen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't ask me for relationship advice. I'm single for a reason.

At the ripe age of 32 (quickly approaching 33), I'm finding myself in a very interesting place in life. I wake up, go to work, hang out with my dog, and do a lot of traveling. I'm surrounded by many wonderful friends, some of whom are regularly cast in my life, and some who make guest appearances every now and then. Either way, these people are colorful, extremely unique, and they bring so much joy to my life, mainly because our connections are so deeply rooted. We have all experienced each others lives over many years of ups and downs. People have come and gone, but we stick together...

... That being said (chuckle), we all get romantically involved with other like-minded people throughout our unpredictable little lives. Sometimes, though, said people may not be so "like" us, but we see something in them... Something that begs us to pursue the relationship further. We start to get stumped. That's when friends seem to look to me for advice... and I don't know why.

Why isn't it working out?!

Let's make a list:
  1. I'm 32.
  2. I live in a three-bedroom house... with my dog.
  3. I am single.
  4. I don't date.
  5. I prefer Netflix to late-nights at the bar.
  6. Quite frankly, I'm scared of the women out there.
So, based on this very current list, is it safe to conclude that I am in no position to give another human being sound advice on their love life? Maybe the list doesn't provide enough information to truly paint a picture. You might need more insight into my overwhelmingly askew view on dating and happiness in order to judge whether or not I am worthy of guiding you towards a happier co-mingling between you and theeeeee-uhhhh... let's call them Tossers.

I'm calling them "Tossers" because we never really know how long they'll stick around before you end up throwing them to the side.

Okay, so let's make another small list:
  1. I love holding hands.
  2. I love couch time with my other half.
  3. I love planning trips.
  4. ... staying in.
  5. ... cooking together.
  6. ... drinking wine.
  7. ... making short-term goals together.
  8. ... enjoying life as it comes.
I am not ready for marriage, children, sharing bank accounts, or giving you my house for that matter. The idea of marriage scares the crap out of me... Actually, no. Let's clear that up. The idea of jumping into marriage without creating a proper foundation with another person... that infuriates me. If we don't know each other, I am not committing to you for a lifetime. This is all pre-disclosed information, by the way. I never go in under false pretense with the "I'm looking to settle down." rap. So, if we are six months into a relationship and I'm feeling pressure over an engagement ring, we don't belong together. Better yet, if you're raising your voice at me because you "... don't know where this is going.", something is not right, my friend. Any concerns about the relationship can be quietly discussed at home. I'm an open book. This is a diplomacy. We are not on a reality TV show.

Okay! So, we're good? That's me in a nutshell. Now you know why these particular conversations with my friends will never be productive:

Friend: Hey, I need your advice.
Me: Yeah? What's up?
Friend: Me and Tosser just got into a fight.
Me: Oh no. Again? What about? Are you okay?
Friend: Yeah, I'm fine. Same shit. Tosser doesn't like me hanging out with So-And-So... But I've known them forever!
Me: Did you two talk about it?
Friend: Tosser won't talk about it.
Me: You have to or else it will never get resolved.
Friend: I've triiiied! Tosser will not talk.
Me: You have to break up.

Next conversation:

Friend: Hey. Tosser's been texting So-And-So.
Me: The Ex? What about?
Friend: I don't know. I don't think it's anything serious, but it bothers me.
Me: I can understand that. Did you two talk about it?
Friend: No. Tosser doesn't think it's serious enough to talk about.
Me: But Tosser knows it bothers you.
Friend: Yeah. But Tosser brushes it off.
Me: Well, you guys need to sit down and talk about it if it's important to you.
Friend: I've triiiied, but no dice.
Me: You have to break up.

See where I'm going with this? I'm fine being single! I'm the wrong dude to ask about relationships. If your relationship problems are bringing you down, I don't see a problem dumping whoever you're dating. I don't think you need to be with some loser because you don't want to feel lonely. I see my friends as strong individuals who are deeply rooted in an expansive network of friends and family. My answer will, nine times out of ten, be a question.

"Did you guys talk about it?"

If the answer is "No", then fucking talk about it. If that doesn't work, then why the hell are you wasting time with somebody who can't talk to you? You're not an object. You're a complex being with many, many needs and wants. Your significant other should want, at least, a healthy portion of the same things.

I'm not a fucking expert. I'm just a single guy living with his awesome dog. Have a good day, friends.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Am I preaching?

Everybody goes through high points and low points in their lives. I have, within the last 4 years, been struggling to find a stable wavelength; I've been searching for equilibrium between healthy mind and body, yada yada yada... You get the point. Until recently (the last six months or so), I was struggling heavily with eating healthy and trying not to lay sedentary every night after work. I was in a relationship that had made it exceedingly difficult to focus on myself over the years. Since the breakup in September, I've found enough inspiration between family and friends to get back to who I really am. I've gotten to travel, gotten back to having a social life, and now I'm back to eating healthy and working out six days a week. So, anyway, after posting a photo on Facebook last night, one of my favorite people asked me a simple question.

Here's the photo:
This is me after a workout, showing my heart rate numbers.

Here's the question: 
"Are you going to get all preachy about working out now?"

Short answer:
No.

Long answer:
I feel like I'm coming out of some very harsh "lows" in my life. Right at this moment, I'm back in shape, I'm eating good food. There is less weight on my back, figuratively and literally. At the core, this is me. I love working out. I love being able to climb things. I love being able to run around with my dog and not get winded in seconds. I love looking at the numbers on my heart rate monitor and seeing the math actually make sense.

If it feels like I'm preaching, please know, I'm not. The truth is, I'm excited. I want to share knowledge with my friends. It took me almost two months to go from three minutes of jumping rope to twenty six. That was hard for me, and I would like to share how I did it with friends. If they're not interested, they won't read it. If they are, hopefully my posts can help them in starting a new workout regimen.

Staying active is what I know, and I will always be learning for years to come. I don't have much in the ways of money, but I can always take hold of my own health. That makes me happy. So, please don't ever think that I'm on some high horse telling you to stop being lazy. I understand how hard it is to start that first workout after months of not moving. I know. know. KNOW how hard it is not to eat that slice of fucking apple pie, pizza, mac & cheese. You get it.

I broke down my walls, and I'm happy. That is my answer.


Love you guys,
Manny