My Monkey’s Paw

I generally don’t believe in curses, or wishes fulfilled magically. However, I do know not to tempt fate, or realize when my moral compass is pointing me away from danger. In fact, I was first introduced to those ideas by my high school friend, Marty. He loved the TV show, Tales From The Crypt. One episode we watched, that stands out in my memory: Season 7, Episode 4, titled Last Respects.

The episode’s plot was loosely based on the 1902 horror short story written by W.W. Jacobs, The Monkey’s Paw. An old fakir placed a spell on mummified monkey’s paw which would grant three wishes to the owner but only with hellish consequences as punishment for tempting with fate.

Lemme tell ya about my monkey’s paw experience oh-so-long-ago in a town of Issaquah, Washington …


MONKEY’S PAW

My Monkey’s Paw appeared as a 5 dollar bill. In the early 2000’s I was a gym rat to reach fitness goals, avoid commuter traffuck, and many more reasons. My metabolism was at an all-time high.

I would drive to the nearest grocery store which was a Quality Food Center (QFC), as an anchor store so there were many others stores such as a Starbucks Coffee Store. I bought some breakfast from the self checkout kiosk. As I reached for my receipt, I noticed a $5 bill in the tray below.

I thought, “Oh cool, free latte for me today.”

The nearby Starbucks was busy as always. I politely waited in line to order, afterwards I waited for the baristas to finish it. I surveyed the patrons before and after me in line to gauge my wait time or at least know when my coffee should be ready.

An unusual amount of time lapse, so I approached the counter. They overlooked my coffee, made it for me immediately, and handed over a FREE COFFEE coupon for the inconvenience.

<a few days later … >

I skipped QFC, and went straight to Starbucks instead. I was armed with my FREE COFFEE coupon from my earlier incident. The Starbucks was busy, they made another mistake, gave another coffee, and FREE COFFEE coupon.

What a lucky day! I have found an never-ending stream of free coffee, I thought.

I happily started work. Then my day really turned to shit. I received a counseling notice for a mistake. Even spilled some of my coffee on my keyboard and slack to add insult to injury.

I hadn’t realize that this wasn’t coincidence, yet. Keyword: yet.

I didn’t finish my coffee until I was on the road home. With now cold coffee in my hand, I sat through a horrible commute home.

Again, I’m not superstitious or believe in curses but I do believe in listening to your body, and watch for signs.

The next day I returned to my place of joy: Starbucks Coffee. Again it was busy, the crew made a mistake with my FREE COFFEE coupon. They attempted to offer me yet another free coffee coupon.

I politely declined this time, which shocked the crew.

This is situation is straight outta of Tales From the Crypt with Skompton laughing at my folly and inability to realize this is my Monkey’s Paw. I walked away from the Starbucks with two coffees that I didn’t give a penny for but knew I was gonna pay for it somehow.

I drove to the office, spied the nearest co-worker who I knew loved coffee as much as I do. I gifted Mauricio with the coffee to break this curse that I don’t believe in.

Thankfully, this action did break the cycle, and my moral compass was restored to true north. Luckily, I didn’t end up paying for this modern day parable.

‘los; out

The Library

Some of you know that one of my favorite hobbies / games I like to play is Geocaching. Furthermore, I’ve hidden a few geocaches in the area, therefore, a cache-owner (CO) One of your responsibilities is to regularly maintenance your hides. In fact, there’s an unseen algorithm that has a “cache health score”.

Recently, I traveled out to my lone library geocache which triggered my memory about a different library I visited many years ago …

Sin City, USA

Before COVID-19, I had a bro that would visit Las Vegas yearly. He would invite me regularly and for the most part I would accept, and in the year of this particular story was no exception.

And the invite would go out to his other bros as well. Those that accepted were part of a crew that meant at least one excursion to a strip club or gentlemen’s club. I always dreaded it.

WHY, you ask?

Why would a red-blooded, tried-and-true, dyed-in-wool, heterosexual man not want to visit a place of ill-repute? A place with scantily clad young women, dancing and writhing to loud music, with flashing lights, and leather furniture as men give away dollars like candy on Halloween Night?

I know that this is all a facade. That it’s just wasted money on a fleeting experience of feigned sexual encounter.

Oh, and just like any business establishment on the Las Vegas Strip, all the prices are higher than anywhere else.

So we searched for strip clubs off of the strip. This strip club was definitely off-off-OFF strip.

The Library

I forgot my library card at home in Seattle. This wouldn’t be an issue as a debit card, or credit card would allow me entry. We assumed it would be quiet by virtue of road construction leading up and around the strip club. Once we were inside The Library, it was abundantly clear we were the only patrons so far of the night.

The four of us had run-of-the-house, per se. I prefer blondes so my eyes started scanning for one. I mentally sighed, This is gonna be an expensive night.

The librarians were beautiful under the lights, make up, perfume, and my mind’s eye. My librarian was wearing a fragrance that was very pleasing. After the 2-drink minimum (more like shots), and lap dance songs, I became intoxicated with that perfume. I wouldn’t forget it anytime soon.

I surveyed the scene from over the shoulder of my librarian performing a lap dance: the sirens of sin city were entertaining the crew while we gleefully gave them our money.

Of all the libraries I’ve visited in the world, this was my favorite.

All good times must end, yeah? Mercifully, our night ended with our collective wallets emptied. I retrieved my credit-card-used-as-a-library-card, checked out and clamored back into the rental vehicle with a Cheshire grin.

At least one library isn’t boring.

‘los; out.

Wasted Time

To say that 2022 was fucking brutal for me is an understatement! Especially for the past 6 months at work and at home I’ve been questioning my sanity and my role in this life. I had some lofty plans at the end of 2021 to carry me through, which haven’t panned out.

I lost friends and family to sickness and death, a poignant reminder that each day isn’t promised. This only fuels my fears that I’m not doing what I’m “supposed “ to do.

What is it that I should be doing, you ask?

No clue, but I know in my heart it’s not this! I’m living life, correction surviving, out of obligation to others.


I have wasted my time on the 3rd rock from the sun. I have literally wasted four decades on fruitless endeavors, dead-end relationships, and meaningless goals. As I sit in this familiar Starbucks, I wanna breakdown and cry.

I have lived and served others so I wasn’t nurturing my life’s trajectory. I have concluded that once I stripped away the tasks, and activities I have done out of obligation to others that I have a pitiful life. No wife, no children, no legacy.

I can only blame the tired old man in the mirror looking at me. This is my fault.

When my friends do a welfare check on me, my answer is the same: I’m here, I’m surviving. That’s not how you should answer, that’s not how anyone should answer. I’m simply not living life for myself; only what others need from me.

Goodbye 2022, Hello 2023

No, I won’t quote those tired phrases such as “living my best life”, and “new year, new me”. I am gonna make a more conscious effort to do tasks, events, things for myself, and by myself for self-healing.

As I zoom towards the age of 50, my Bucket List is a key source of inspiration. Perhaps stave off the desire to date, and spend the year single.

I’m in unfamiliar waters with no map and only my moral compass. I should move to a new place to start this new chapter of my life.

I generally feel alone in a crowd of friends, but I kinda always have. I might as well feel alone somewhere new.

Whatever happens in 2023, I want it to be of my design. This pity party is officially over.

Wish me luck, Spaceship Earth.

‘los; out

Petty Reasons For No Second Date

So my estranged buddy, Jimbo Calrissian, and I posted up at Who’s On First in Snohomish, Washington a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully our 2-hour conversation organically transitioned from one topic to another.

We’re both in committed relationships (he’s married, I have a girlfriend) but we did have to date in order to find these women. One of my questions was: What was a petty reason not to ask for the second date that happened on the first date?

I quipped: Since it’s my game, I’ll go first.

Kathy, The Teacher

In the summer of 2013, I summoned the courage to ask a girl, that I had been exchanging messages with on a dating app, on a date. We met up at a street side bistro for starters, then migrated to the nearby Starbucks.

We asked those house keeping, first date questions such as where you work / what do you with your time, do you have kids, what pets you have, etc.

Kathy had shared she was a teacher. My thoughts were that’s admirable work to do. Perhaps she’s well read, and educated. In my heart, I’m a writer, a poet, yet my mouth dominates most conversations that I’m excited about. I make every attempt to dial that back, so I can actively listen, look at the person and key in on your word choice.

Unfortunately, Kathy’s “mental pause word” was like.

I assumed this was a product of the environment that she teaches in. She hears it constantly therefore repeats it herself.

UGH, I mentally sighed. After 20-minutes or so, I started counting how many times she used ‘like’ instead of hearing what she had to say. This would be my petty reason for no second date.

The more we converse, the more we realized that our interaction wouldn’t go any further than this experience. I asked my standard questions after the initial back-and-forth.

“If time and budget were no obstacles, what are the top 5 international places you would visit and more importantly, why?”

“If time and budget were no obstacles, what are the top 5 domestic places you would visit and more importantly, why?”

Then the following questions I gauge how the conversation is progressing before asking one, some, most or all of these questions.

  • What was your relationship with your father, and if you didn’t have one, what was it like with the males that stepped into that role?
  • What were you like in high school?
  • What’s one thing about men that you’ve learned that’s been valuable to you?
  • What’s your favorite quality about yourself?

Kathy answered the first two but they were not strong answers. Then we just didn’t find a spark, or a connection between us. We hugged, and left it at that.

Relationship DNA

My relationship DNA doesn’t have frivolous dating or casual sex in it. If I’m being honest with myself, it never has. Based on my interactions with divorcees, widows and those dating in their 30’s and 40’s post-relationships … I’m the type of guy that you eventually end up with.

I’m not your starter-marriage partner.

I’ve been told I’m thoughtful, loving, energetic, and handsomely aged. *sigh* I digress.

WHEN I was actively dating, I would call or contact ladies for second dates for petty reasons, LIKE the one I recounted before. (see what I did there?)

‘los; out

Random Riley – Do You Know How To Juggle?

Every workplace I’ve been at there’s invariably an individual that is too smart to be there. At my current workplace, I only identified this person about 6-months ago.

I was transferred to the Produce Department. And one of the employees really stood out on an intellectual level.

The Other Day At The Office

Yesterday, I was assigned the task of salvage with two other teammates, of which was Random Riley. We had previously done salvage in the Produce Department months ago before I was promoted to a Manager. However, it was generally on a smaller scale of 2 flatbeds with boxes of expired fruits and vegetables.

Another employee, Riley and I were to process 4-pallets of produce plus 2 flatbeds. For us this was a mind-numbing job. Naturally, as we worked, we talked.

Riley is a great conversationist. He includes everyone present or that passes by. He can transition easily between subjects and questions.

One of the questions he posed was: If you had to switch out the traditional turkey at Thanksgiving what would it be?

The other employee turned the question back to him, which he answered. I answered with Cornish game hens.

Later, as he picked up several oranges, he jokingly asked, “Hey Los, do you know how to juggle?”

I smirked, “Yeah. I know how to juggle. I assume you require a demonstration?”

“Hell yeah, I do,” he pressed.

After I successfully demonstrated I can juggle, I gathered up the three oranges. “Ok,” Riley acknowledges. “Now why do you know how to juggle?”

The King And I

My mother was Filipino, and my Dad is American for lack of a better term. My parents signed up to a social club called the Snohomish – King County Filipino American Association or Sno-King Fil-Am Asso for short. At the height of membership there was 40 full families.

One year we performed a production of The King and I.

I was forced to learn how to juggle as one of the court jesters, just like all the little boys. My poor sister was a ballerina, just like all the little girls.

To this day, we have no idea why we did this or if we made any money. What we do know is … I can still juggle, and Charrina has fond memories of ballet.

He was seemingly satisfied with my backstory. I pressed on, “Well? Does that impress you?”

He grinned, “It was more elaborate than I thought it would be, but then again, it’s a Carlos story.”

‘los; out

Easy Like Sunday Morning

UGH. Christmas time is usually tough on my mind, especially since 1997. Growing up in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, USA, we were typical middle-class, “nuclear” family. That meant we had enough money between two paychecks to pay for basics but discretionary funds for extra items, especially Christmas gifts were not available.

My mom succumbed to gastric cancer on December 17, 1997. Her death was devastating to the family and myself. In order to think of better times, my mind would drift off to experiences that my mother and I shared.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

While I was in high school I worked for Payless Drug Store. Most of the time I was scheduled to work Sunday, and early shifts. My Mom didn’t typically sleep in, therefore was usually awake while I was getting ready for work.

Every Sunday that we shared, I would brew coffee for us to enjoy, my Mom would retrieve the delivered Sunday newspaper. In 1990’s, the printed newspaper was still a “thing”, especially the Sunday edition.

What most folks have forgotten that Sunday edition newspaper included:

  • Coupons
  • Comics
  • Editorials
  • One-off Inserts
  • So much more
Easy Like Sunday Morning

We would divide up the newspaper the same way. I would pass the coupons to Mom, while I laid the sports section in front of myself. Then we continue to parcel out the sections: I would seek out comics, and she would like front page.

All the while we would comfortably share silence.

That’s right we wouldn’t exchange a word for about an hour to an hour and a half. More often than not, most folks feel the compulsion to fill the air with conversation. I didn’t realize how much I would cherish those moments more than ever.

It was always easy like Sunday morning. I miss those mornings.

‘los; out

Home Sweet Home

After the recent series of rain and windstorms that ravaged the Pacific Northwest from Canada down to Oregon, I was reminded of the raw power of Mother Nature.

The following is the 16th time I’ve posted this journal entry. It’s my first-hand experience surviving a sudden ice storm that paralyzed the Seattle area for one night in 2006 …

This is my almost 20 hour (19hrs 56mins) odyssey from Costco Travel (Issaquah) to my Home, Sweet, Home (Bothell) and the 26 miles that separate it…

“Home, Sweet, Home”
November 27th 2006

[The car radio clock: 430p]
Left work to start my commute home. Since it had rained/snowed earlier, I knew that traffic would be delayed. I just didn’t realize what the Gods of Lunacy had in store for me…

Home, Sweet, Home – the Sapphire Sled

[The car radio clock: 630p]
Two hours into my usual 1.5 hour commute, and I was only near 160th St SW on I-405 North. I sat there for 15 minutes with no movement. I made the fateful call to bail off the freeway and brave the surface streets to home.

Now to fully appreciate the situation, you must know that accessing Bothell from the Woodinville is like connecting via Hong Kong on a Seattle-Los Angeles flight. It was dark, cold and starting to freeze the water on the roadway. I started to make my way east up the 160th hill. With tires spinning, the rear end of the SS at a 45 degree angle and 20,000 miles less on my tires, I summited.

I turned left to go down the hilly street. The nose of the car came over the crest and started sliding because it’s nothing but a sheet o’ ice.

I tried to stop.

I manage to plow into a small snow bank on the right with the tires.

Whew, I breathe out a sigh of relief. I think, Screw this. I manage to turn this tank around on a inclined skating rink. Don’t ask me how I did it!

New plan. Go back to the damn freeway. 

[734p]
As I’m 6th car in line, I might just make it… hold da door. DOT & WSP closed the ramp – They are yelling it’s too dangerous. Now they are turning around the cars to get them off the ramp.

LOVELY. Never mind. New route. I can travel west along 160th to 100th street to Lake City Way to Highway 527 to home! I arrived to Lake City Way easy enough.

[The car radio clock: 805p]
My wife, Charlene, calls on my mobile phone and asks where am I? I answer with mere car lengths to joining the pile of cars turning left onto Highway 527.

She presses, “Do you see the Highway 523 sign to head into Woodinville?”

“Yep,” I answer. I’m almost 4 hours into this situation, so I’m damn near delirious.

“Go there,” she directs me. “Circumvent this mess and hop on 405. You should be north enough.”

I motor along the prescribed route. WSP closed off both directions of the 405 ramps at the interchange.

WTF?! NO choice. I’ll travel into Woodinville. I’ll cut over to Highway 527 on the Beardslee Blvd entrance. YES!

[The car radio clock: 933p]
Charlene calls again to inform me while I’m waiting at the nearest entrance that Interstate 405 North has been closed at Highway 527.

OMG! *insert a Denis Leary tirade here* 

Luckily, I’m literally adjacent to the driveway of a Residence Inn. I think, they should have rooms. I park and exit. By the time I open the entrance door, the counter person, bellows, “NO vacancy! Don’t try Springhill Suites either, full.”

I mutter under my breathe, you’re full of

I return to my car. I’ll heroically navigate the narrow, dark, icy roads to 228th and get to Highway 527 and finally home. Since I’m 5 hours into this worst case scenario, now this is a personal damn vendetta as I’m getting home tonight!

[The car radio clock: 945p]
My dear friend, Sidney, who’s contacted me several times and my wife, Charlene, are genuinely concerned about my safety.

It should have been my sanity in hindsight. I’m on the threshold of Hell. I’m beyond tired, hungry and frustrated. The reports of closed highways is longer than the ones open. I get out of my car to survey the situation.

Charlene calls my mobile while I’m outside my vehicle to inform me that she reserved that last room at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville for tonight.

She almost pleads with me to return to the car. I think, I can walk this. I can abandoned the car like several others have done. However, cooler heads prevail as she coaxes me back into the Sapphire Sled.

[The car radio clock: 1015p]
I claw my way BACK the way I came from Woodinville (haven’t I seen this hill before?)

By the grace of God, my Mom’s heavenly help, Charlene’s sweet voice on the end of my mobile (thank Christ I bought a car charger as the battery expired) guiding me in, and some mad skills behind the wheel I get to the open Highway 202.

[The car radio clock: 1045p]
I arrive at Willows Lodge. The front desk employees, Colton and Antoinette, have my room keys ready. 

They ask, “Are you hungry, sir?”

“Yes, I am,” I acknowledge. “Is there somewhere I can eat?”

“No, but we have these Chicken Margarita sandwiches that you can have since we’ll donate them in the morning,” Colton offers. Antoinette adds, “Here’s a free bottle of 2004 Cab-Sauvignon, and a bottle opener.”

With my arms full, I drag myself to the room. I call Charlene to inform her that I’m safe, but far from sound.

Quick note: at the end of Die Hard and Die Hard 2, “Let It Snow” plays during the credits. As I place my dinner items on the room desk, and finish my phone call, I hear in that Isn’t-It-Ironic type of way… “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” Of course it is!

[The room alarm clock: 1010a]
Now I’m on the verge of heading out, and getting HOME!! H-O-M-E, should be me. I blaze outta there with a wing and a prayer. I’m hungry, again. The roads are great: bare and wet.

I pop through Woodinville (again) to travel along my regular route home. I drive through McDonald’s to buy brunch for Charlene and I.

[The car radio clock: 1100a]
Chains! I’m buying some damn chains. Les Schwab should have oodles of them! I step inside to discover only 1 set left for my tire size: P205 / 55R16. 

[1150a]
I struggle mightily to test fit my chains. Are you kidding me? Ron, the tech, politely and compassionately demonstrates me how to put them on. Apparently the last step wasn’t necessary and I could have easily been home by now.

[The car radio clock: 1226p]
I park in my driveway with the chains on still. I am triumphant! Alive, not injured, with the car (no damage) after 20 hours but home at last. 

Home, sweet, home. As I enter the house, I look up from the foyer, Charlene smiles from the top of the stairs. “You’re home!”

I smile, and thought: YES. Yes, indeed.

Muddin’ In Jamaica

Every once in awhile, as I scroll through social media posts on various platforms, I encounter a pick up truck stuck in mud or a buddy mobbing through mud having some fun.

Several of my outdoorsy friends like to play in the mud with their All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) Before, during and after, there’s drinking beer, perhaps shooting rifles, and at the very least merrymaking. A catch-phrase I’ve been overusing recently is “FULL SEND” ( a la Larry the Enticer, YouTube famous for jumping, but mostly crashing his snow mobile)

The activity is simply summarized as muddin’.

FAM To Jamaica

November 2008 – I was cordially invited to another business inspection trip to Jamaica while working for Costco Travel. Otherwise it was known as a Familiarization Trip, or FAM for short. Needless to say, I was amped. I had no illusions about this trip as a “free vacation” or “working vacation”.

It was work, and nothing less. Costco Travel paid good money for me to work for them in Jamaica. That said, all work and no play will make Los a dull boy. Each day was the same: woke up, group breakfast (sometimes on your own), loaded up in the van with my co-workers, inspected various resorts / hotels until lunch time. After a hosted group lunch it was more hotel inspections until dinner. After a hosted group dinner, you were cut loose until the next morning.

In essence, you’re programmed the entire time to ensure that Costco Travel got their money’s worth. IF the Buyer of that destination was progressive thinking, they also program in some of activities members would buy while on vacation. The Caribbean Buyer was a progressive thinker.

The adage is still: You sell what you know.

One of the activities we participated in was driving a buggy on a dirt track. Prior to the trip, we were advised to bring clothes we were willing to get muddy on the last day.

Here’s Mud In Your Eye

It was the last day. The tour operator greeted us. After waivers were signed, and brain buckets selected (helmets) we were further divided into team of 4. Kathy, Cat, Mary, and I were partnered up. They nominated me to drive, so that was reassuring.

This was a controlled environment as possible for an outdoor setting.

A lead buggy, nose-to-tail tourist buggies and finally a chase vehicle (ATV) Thankfully, there was no rain at the beginning of the tour, but I definitely committed to memory the route, plotting all the dips and pot holes.

[halfway]

Our group leader pulled over to warn us about the hill that was treacherous with or without rain. Then it started to rain so the dirt quickly turned into mud. The lead vehicle successfully made it to the top. Then one by one the dune buggies slid down the hill backwards in defeat, eventually resting cock-eyed off the trail.

The girl hyped me up with the chants: “You’ve got this, Los!” and “C’mon Los, kick some ass!”

I closed my eyes for clarity. I breathed in deep, exhaled and eased into the throttle. I felt the tires take a bit into the somewhat dry dirt underneath the mud kicked up. As I drove us up the hill, I kept thinking, “C’mon, just a grip gas. That’s it!” I was 75% in the throttle and the buggy stepped out on me.

Fine, I breathed.

Silently, I counter-steered while accelerating up the hill. The girls were hollering for me; cheering me on. As we approached the final stretch of the hill, I buried the throttle into the floor board – a FULL SEND before the term would even born.

The engine surged, the steering wheel dancing lightly in my hands, yet we were still ascending the hill. The engine was in full song, the mud was rooster-tailing off the tires, and I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

WE MADE IT TO THE TOP!

[end scene]

By the end of the tour, the rain was torrential. My helmet visor was constantly fogging up, but it didn’t matter because visibility was 3 meters. I locked my eyes on the brake lights of the buggy in front of me like a train car. I could up ahead there was a small berm in front of a ginormous mud puddle on the trail.

Or as I viewed it: an invitation to jump it!

I slowed to stop on the trail – citing I couldn’t see out my visor. Honestly, I was creating space for a landing zone. After a few beats, I smashed the gas suddenly sending all of us back into our seats.

The engine wailed with the girls, “DAMNIT CAAAAARRRRRLOS!!”

I started laughing manically as I launched the buggy off the make-shift ramp, Dukes of Hazzard style into the air. This wasn’t the General Lee, though. The nose lurched forward and slammed into the Earth creating a wave of muddy water that engulfed us. It filled the crew area with an inch of water at least.

The girls were as pissed as they were drenched from the rain and muddy water … all the while I was cackling with laughter from the chaos I created. They were still complaining by the time we rolled back to the finish. Speaking of finishes, that’s how you end a muddin’ session.

‘los; out

These Edibles Ain’t Shit

FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS. “These edibles ain’t shit,” I bemoaned many years ago when I had my first taste. IF you ever consumed a [marijuana edible] you know this a false statement. If you have NEVER tried an edible, but are contemplating it, please do not utter that phrase.

The other night over dinner at the Flying Pig Bar, my conversation with my girlfriend organically landed on our first time experiences of consuming edibles.

The following was my story … and no, it’s not a cautionary tale to be heeded. More like entertainment for the masses.

Act I – Here. Try This.

October 2006 – My friend, Sidney, was celebrating her birthday at a local bar called the Giant’s Causeway in Renton (closed many years ago) Amongst the usual fanfare of gifts, cake on the table, the flow of drinks and shots was a pan of homemade brownies. The power of observation is not lost on me so I asked, “Why have the brownies not been touched? Are we waiting for the birthday girl to take the first customary piece?”

Sidney and her room mate / best friend, Lupe, exchanged quick glances. Sidney answers coyly, “Um, Los those are special brownies. You’re welcome to them if you’re curious. I know you like brownies.”

Her words piqued my interest. “Why are they special? Is the alcohol baked into them? Or is it something else that we can’t mention?”

Lupe answered deadpan, “Something else, Los.”

I thought, aiight, chronic brownies. I’ve always wondered what they tasted like.

They cut a small piece, handed it over on a napkin with the words, “Here. Try this.”

I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed the brownie, and plopped it into my mouth. My wife, Charlene, waltzes up from seemingly nowhere, “So? What’s it taste like?”

I replied through chocolate ladened teeth like braces, “Like a brownie.” Please keep in mind my marriage with her was on the decline at this time.

Act II – Happy Birthday, Sidney!

Our server was a mutual friend and co-worker at our place of employment. The drinks arrived like the Fast & Furious but unlike the effects of edibles.

I grumbled to my bro, Scott, “These edibles ain’t shit,” as I popped my 3rd brownie into my mouth. We continued to celebrate with Sidney’s birthday with rum and Cokes (me) gin and tonics (Scott, Charlene) and whatever Sidney wanted.

At one point in the night, I questioned Lupe, “How much chronic did you bake into it? Just a grip to take it easy on us?” I literally didn’t know how these worked.

She laughed softly with her words, “I can assure you these brownies are loaded.”

I was already shit-hammered [shitfaced + hammered = the highest level of conscious intoxication] on beer, rum and Cokes, shots, etc. I didn’t realize just HOW loaded I was at the time or about to be …

ACT III – The Hangover

Thankfully, Charlene drove us home. I managed to exit the vehicle, and stumble up two flights on concrete steps to the front door of our split level house. She scampered up the stairs to wait for me. I stood like a statue on the tiled foyer. Then? It hit me.

IT REALLY HIT ME.

A tsunami of euphoria flooded my brain, so I burst out laughing. No, actually cackling. I kept getting louder and louder until my body was in full animation of my laughing until my world went suddenly dark.

[The hangover]

I woke up inside the scene of the movie, The Hangover. My mouth had the dryness of the Mojave Desert, my head wanted to implode crushing my eyeballs into my gray matter. UGH. I raised my head up from the floor to survey the room.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The couch cushions were removed from the couch, but laid down on the ground as a bed because that’s where I woke up. The coffee table was flip over with a saucepan hanging on one of the legs. I am only wearing boxers, and one sock.

Uncooked Top Ramen noodles were strewn as a trail from the kitchen to me.

I crawled to the kitchen as I was unable to walk. The pantry door and several cabinets were open. Another package of uncooked Top Ramen was scattered over the oven and counter space.

I cleaned up the mess I created before Charlene woke up, thankfully. That would be one of the last times I underestimated a foe! To answer the question: I never did find the rest of my clothes.

It’ll just haveta be one of the mysteries of life. Maybe they joined mismatched dryer socks, and 10mm sockets?

‘los; out

Tagbilaran To Manila Sponsored by Jollibee

The following is an excerpt from my journal entries. I traveled to the Philippines with my Uncle Dave to be the best men for my Dad’s wedding. The last few days were spent traveling by vehicle from Tagbilaran City to Manila to complete two tasks 1) Dave and I were flying out, 2) Dad and Luz were selling said-vehicle to a buyer.

This is what happened …


September 15th 2008
“Happy Birthday”

Inday’s 19th birthday is today. Dave and I came to the house to drop off the Avanza for Dad and Mom to clean up the wedding. Inday, Dave, and I literally got fat on the couch while watching TV and movies all day long.

Dad treated the family to dinner at Bohol Plaza Resort and Restaurant. For our dinner purchase we could swim in the pool. I thought, YAS! Glad we brought the swim gear.

In the end, the boys discovered only Jea can swim. The rest of the girls can’t swim and were regulated to staying in the shallow end of the pool. Lemme get this straight, I mentally say, They live on an island, that’s surrounded by water, and yet they don’t know how to swim? Apparently, they never learned or taught, but I digress.

Since it was a birthday celebration and farewell dinner for Dave and I, we continued the fun elsewhere. We dropped in on the local karaoke bar called Myx. It was fun! I actually did karaoke for someone other than my family to hear. Yep, yep. Stayed with Ice, Ice Baby and We Like To Party. I didn’t “sing” per se, but I had the mic.

September 16th 2008
“Manila Bound and Down”

We tried to figure out flights from Tagbilaran to Baguio but that just wasn’t happening. Instead of just flying from Tagbilaran to Manila for us to catch up to our flight home we decided to road trip to Manila!! So Dave and I woke up and kinda puttering around thinking it was before 9a (we didn’t have a reliable time keeping device) We went downstairs for breakfast to find Dad and Mom were there already!? It’s 910a and we’re late. We tried to rush through breakfast and that didn’t work either.

There was 5 stages, 1,500 kilometers between the beginning and end. GAWD, help us all!

Here We Go …

Stage 1: Ubay and the Roll On, Roll Off
To the north end corner of Bohol and port city of Ubay that I’m damn near sick of. It’s hella faraway and the drive there is dreadful. We boarded the Roll On, Roll Off (RORO) bound for Tacloban. Essentially it’s a passenger-car ferry… the first 2.5 hours of driving have been logged to Ubay, and another 2 hours on the RORO.

Stage 2: Tacloban, Leyte
We landed in Guadalupe, Leyte ready to rally to Tacloban!! Dave, Dad and I traded off driving duties (Mom doesn’t know how) We’d stop periodically for Kodak moments, gas, or food.

We’d joke that our sponsors are Caltex (gas) and Jollibee (fast food) and we could only use them.

After 2 more hours on the road, we arrived on the outskirts of Tacloban. We posted up in the “Budget Hotel”. Certainly was that – 2 beds, TV, shower, and toilet. Clinically white walls, floors, and linens. YIKES! NO karaoke tonight.

We finished Dad’s Johnny Walker outside on the balcony.

September 17th 2008
“On The Road Again”

Stage 3: Allen, Samar
We blazed outta there early since we gained an hour getting to this point. What we didn’t know was the road conditions on this island.

The dirt roads were muddy, and it was rainy on this island. The topography changed every island we drove through. At one point during my driving stint, several oxen passed me as if I were a stop sign.

We were attempting all-terrain roads with a passenger van. That doubled our travel time. GGGGRRR, still… Caltex and Jollibee kept us moving! That was a long-ass day, for sure.

Stage 4: RORO to Luzon
Once we arrived in San Juan, Luzon we kept digging another 65km to the city of Sorsogon. Now we’re dependent on ourselves; no more ROROs!

We posted up at the Arica Hotel for the night. Mom was hungry and no Jollibees in sight! The Mango Grill was nearby, and frankly, our only choice. Dad didn’t want to retire for the night so we stumbled over to the hole-in-the-wall, no signed bar. We got tore up on San Miguel beer, and sang more karaoke.

I tried my turns on rap songs like Vanilla Ice and Eminem which in my mind’s eye, didn’t work out. I decided to attempt to sing. YES… actually sing, with notes and a beat like a tried-and-true, dyed-in-wool Filipino. Admittedly, I’m only half-Filipino, or informally called tisoy (which is a shortened version of Filipino Mestizo)

I decided on Over You by Daughtry. At first I was weak, but several seconds in all the frustration, anger, hurt, and sadness just came flowing out in the form of this song. I felt great and thought I did a solid job. I scored 90 out of 100, the highest at that time in the evening. Then we continued to keep the place open 2 hours after close.

September 18th 2008
“Manila Or Bust”

About 2 hours after we returned from the bar, I heard a knock on the hotel door at 2 a.m. Mom is standing there in her nightgown. She woke up and can’t find Dad. Ah, shit.

When he’s crunk like tonight, he sleepwalks. I calm her down by going back into the room and surveying the situation.

His smokes, lighter, car keys, cell and dentures were on the dresser. He obviously didn’t get far nor intend to.

Maybe he locked himself in the car below or out of his room? We checked all the open rooms on the floor. No Dad! I grab the car keys and roll to the car. I accidentally set off the car alarm which ironically made Dad show up on a 2nd floor balcony in his boxers from his hiding place. FINALLY! He’s in trouble, and everyone else can go to sleep …

L to R: Yours truly, My Dad, and My Uncle Dave

(Dad told us later that after using the washroom, he slept walked to an open room, and fell back asleep there)

[a few short hours later]

Stage 5: Manila
We piled into the clown car for the final time! AFTER 14 hours of driving we were still 129 km south of Manila and we stopped for dinner because it was 8 o’clock.

We ate at (WAIT FOR IT) Chow King, sister company of Jollibee. We rolled into Manila around 1030p. I took control of navigation after Dad barked at Mom for not knowing the cityscape after being absent for 20+ years. We finally decided on the Pinoy Club for the night so we could rest our heads.

“Excuse Me?”

The room Dave and I had was interesting to say the least … a one-poster bed. Yep, not 4 or 3 or 2. Just one. Oh and mirrors on the ceiling too. Then Mom and Dad had a bed shaped like a Spanish galleon. No lie!! Mirrors on the wall, and strategically place on the ship bed. Complete with a mast and ropes, etc.

We ordered room service beers and bullshitted each other until late.

September 19th 2008
“My Bags Are Packed…”

Time to go home! Our grand Filipino adventure is at its’ end. Mom and Dad dropped us at the airport to begin our long, long journey home to Seattle. We have a short flight to Taipei but an 8-hour wait for our Taipei to Seattle flight. Good luck to us…

[much later]
So I must admit, my ever silent friend, that once I purchased my ticket for this trip I was hell bent to make this trip about me with the wedding being a background task. Selfish, I know.

Two hours upon my arrival at the house in Tagbilaran I tossed that game plan out the window.

And now?

Two weeks later I realize that this trip was about family and unconditional love. Certainly nothing to do with selfishness. I opened myself to the entire experience. I’m grateful I was able to. I caught up with an uncle that unless he was visiting Dad I didn’t speak to him. And of course, used the two weeks to get to know my step-sisters, and step-mother. All are very sweet, caring ladies in their own way.

In the end, it was a great trip with my new family so I slept with a clear conscious instead!

Until next time, keep diggin’.
‘los with the most

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