Same Story. Different City. And When Enough is Enough.

…since this space is shutting down, I am slowly moving a lot of pieces I wrote there, here, so I don’t lose what is and will always be a part of me.


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“You recommend ceviche? Ceviche… as in the dish with the raw fish?” I couldn’t help wonder out loud. After all we are in Texas, the land of steak, brisket, sausage and all kinds of fried and grilled and roasted and braised meats but the server’s recommendation is… seafood? And fresh seafood at that. I am skeptical. I can’t help it.

It was some years back in Austin, Texas. I had flown in from New York. Him from Europe. How or why we were in this random city is a story for another day. It was dinner time. We weren’t in the mood for BBQ or Tex-Mex so I asked locals for dining recommendations. Tallying the general consensus, we end up at Truluck in the Warehouse District.

The server laughs and maintains a pleasant demeanor as though tourists shocked by seafood recommendations in Texas is a frequent occurrence (I think he was just being kind). Before this night, I never imagined seafood as something I would order in Texas, but the server is correct. The ceviche at Turluck is fantastic. The fish is exactly the way it’s supposed to be: firm, dice-sized chunks of a non-descript white fish. The scallops are soft, creamy, slightly salty with a bite. The onions, aptly chopped. The three in my mouth, blending with the punch from the cilantro, and the kick from the spice infused lime juice is heavenly. I cannot get enough of the flavors and textures of ceviche.

There are house-made tortilla chips as an accompaniment that seem almost unnecessary. I am taken by this unexpectedly delicious ceviche, and my dining companion is too. I think we found something special.

Over five hours, two bottles of wine, two appetizers, a main I can’t remember, we got lost in conversation and with each other. I listened as he spoke of his ending marriage and heart wrenching family situation. God, this man is going through so much — how is he even functioning?

If hugging hearts were possible, I think I did just that. I showered this sad man with love and through the 15 days we spent together in Texas, I saw his broken soul transition to one filled with dreams, happiness and… hope.

Before him, I had no idea love so strong, so pure, so unconditional existed. I didn’t even know I was capable of giving another so much. As we said our farewells at the airport, I remember thinking: I don’t need anything in return. I only want to love him.


South Beach Miami, a year and some weeks later. I fly in from NY. Him from Europe. We still live on different continents but somehow maintained a relationship. South Beach is another neutral location we chose to meet over the year. I don’t care where we were. I just want to be with him.
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Playground for Adults

…since this space is shutting down, I am slowly moving a lot of pieces I wrote there, here, so I don’t lose what is and will always be a part of me.


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The champagne is steadily flowing. The DJ is dancing along with her vinyls. The crowd is beautiful. The venue trendy.

In any other city this would be a typical Friday night but it’s only Monday. In Tokyo, grown-ups can play any time, any day. It’s easy to see why there are many Peter Pans stuck in a Never Never (grow up) Land.

I am with four girl friends. We, too, are dressed to the nine. Champagne flutes in one hand. Cigarettes in the other. It’s the pre-opening party of the newest bar in the playground for foreigners: Roppongi.

As the reception draws to a close, we are told the after party is around the corner at their sister bar. The champagne takes over better judgment and I too, head to the next stop.

The night continues with more champagne, good music. Dancing is my activity of choice. It’s much more fun than talking to another Roppongi guy, whose objective is bedding volumes of women. I am having fun, possibly too much, as the champagne keeps coming.

Our eyes meet by accident. He is in a sharp suit. Even in the dark, I can tell it is exquisitely tailored. He is watching me, as he navigates through the crowd waiting their turns to greet him. He is generous with his attention. Shaking people’s hands. Kissing women on both cheeks. Getting hugged by men and women. Who is this man? He waits until my glass is empty, walks over and signals the bartender to refill my flute. Oh no, more champagne…

”Hello” he says with a smile. He is so charismatic I can’t breathe. I keep my cool, flash a smile and thank him for the refill. ”I saw you at the other bar” he says. ”Oh yeah?” I respond, my body is still moving with the rhythm of the music. I can sense his eyes on me. I turn back towards him and reciprocate his interest with my full attention. We introduce each other and the bartender hands him two new chilled flutes. ”Sit down.” he says, and smoothly replaces my old glass with the new. He pulls a bar stool out. I don’t resist. I sit.

We spend the rest of the evening talking. I am charmed with his existence. The champagne keeps coming, I’m no longer tracking time. Like clockwork, he pulls me towards him and whispers: let’s go, it’s World Cup time. I shake my head more so with exasperation than defiance. ”You are so sure I am going with you.” I say. ”Why wouldn’t you?” he says. Why? There are so many reasons. Way more than I want to think about. But the number one reason is because he owns some of the hottest clubs, bars and restaurants in the trendiest parts of Tokyo. What would someone like him want from me? My gut is telling me to RUN. But I suppress those inner voices and along with my girlfriend, head to the next place with him. Even on the street, he is the man. People call out from all directions to greet him.Jesus. What have I gotten myself into…

Fast forward a couple hours, it is now an indecent time when ‘normal’ people head to work. My girlfriend leaves and it’s just him, me and a few of his staff watching the game. I am sleepy and he notices. He escorts me out into a cab, pays the driver and sends me off with a kiss on the cheek. ”I’ll call you tomorrow.” he says, and closes the cab door.

I wasn’t expecting to hear from him but he calls and asks to see me again. Every fiber of my being is saying NO NO NO, red flag, red flag, red flag! but my will power is gone, thrown out the window with responsibility and good judgment the minute I chose to spend time with him. I agree and see him again at another one of his establishments. It is a busy Friday night. He is in his element. He is the center of attention but his attention is with me. Of course I am enjoying it. He invites me to the private room and we indulge in more conversation, champagne.

I don’t know what I’m doing with this man who I know is bad news. Roppongi is like Vegas, Miami and Beirut times ten. Here he is, this man who is the King of Fantasy Land, and I know I shouldn’t be there. We drink champagne until it is light out again, and he invites me for a dinner date. Everything in me is saying NO but I can’t help but do whatever this man asks. I know it won’t last. But every second I am with him, I feel like a princess.

I wake up to a text with the address of where he is taking me for dinner. I am still undecided but it’s him. I just can’t say no…

To be cont… Maybe.

Resurrection of TokyoFinds

BIG NEWS

I laid TokyoFinds to rest at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to Leah and Angie at Tumblr, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE!!

REJOICE. Visit Finds here: tokyofinds.com

Sidenotes: as much space as I take up on the internet, TokyoFinds is the only place I post under a paid domain LOL
For those wondering what Finds is:

Instead of polluting my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all things Tokyo and Japan, I decided to deposit them here. Enjoy.

Big shout-out to Leah!!!!!!!’n Thank you, thank you thank you!

Reminders

  
Facebook’s new(ish) Timehop like features are so great. Today, it pulled up a note I published on FB six years ago. It’s a quote from Mother Teresa. 

So wise. 

Speaking of notes, I wonder what happened to that feature. I haven’t published one in years and haven’t seen anyone else publish either. 

So it goes…

Ode to The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin

It’s not about abortion. It’s about the next 20 years. Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cellphones. I’m talking about health records, and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?

— Sam Seaborn in The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 9. Air date: 11/24/1999

I’m re-watching “The West Wing” again, letting it run in the background in lieu of music. No matter how many times I watch the series — at least three times a year for about six years in a row now — I am blow away by the super sharp, clever dialogue.

The quote up top is only one of the many reasons why “The West Wing” is still my favorite series on television – hands down. Think about it. In 1999, the public was still heavily reliant on pagers. The internet was only used by ‘nerds’ and ‘weirdos’. Dial-up was the norm. Aol was slowly being discovered by teens. Sorkin was way ahead of his time for someone writing for television.

If you haven’t seen the series, it is highly recommended. I may also be biased, as that particular quote by Sam, reminds me how fortunate I am to have lived through one of the most spectacular eras: the shift from analog (vinyls, cassette tapes) to digital. Rise of hardware, software, cloud and back to hardware (wearables). The mobile revolution (pagers to flip phones to smartphones) — I mean, I can go on and on. Every time I think of all that I have seen and experienced, I cannot help but to be grateful.

Thank you, mom and dad!

Digital Expectations

She sucks.” he said. “Just because she has different email habits than you and me, it doesn’t means ‘she sucks’.” I immediately wrote back.

The other day I hooked a friend up with a friend of a friend for a ‘friend’s and family’ AirBnB discount. My friend looking for the AirBnB isn’t online 24/7 but for hyper connected people, one day of unresponsiveness seems like a week. My friend hooking my other friend up with the AirBnB sent a borderline hostile email threatening to cancel the verbal reservation if she doesn’t respond within x number of hours. The whole thing was a bit stressful for all parties involved and unnecessarily dramatic.

But then I thought about it and realized I am guilty of acting like him too. That when I send an email, I expect a response within a day. Which got me wondering: “Do digital people expect too much from others who have different behaviors than us? Do I cause unnecessary drama, stress and negativity because of those expectations?”

I don’t know if there is one answer but the biggest takeaway I got from this interaction is the world isn’t going to end because someone doesn’t immediately respond. Be more empathetic. Lay off expectations. Ease up a bit. Not just for myself but to be better towards others and, to the world.

Learn something new everyday.