Uncategorized

The Stage

Tick, Tock says the clock
Drip, drop answers the pot
Silence greets you from the  cup
As smoke dances from the pipe
The monitor lets out some light
The music sways from out a tube
Hints of Vanilla starts to play
It’s another sunday
As soon as it came, it went, the end

 

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Uncategorized

Self Loathing. It’s Easy If You Know How.

Sometimes, it creeps into your system. You don’t know when, but it starts with butterflies in your stomach and just grows from there. It brushes over every wound and scar you’ve been keeping inside you. Every hurtful word said to you, every time you lashed out, the moments you desperately wanted a friend, every time you wish wished you were one of them.  It hurts and yet you fall into that hole every time. It’s painful but at the same time comforting because it’s your default state when you’re alone. It’s what you try so desperately to hide. It’s what you’ve felt for as long as you can remember.

You look in the mirror and tell yourself to man up, you hit yourself, slap yourself. Anything to get out of this rut. To avoid falling deeper in that hole of self-loathing you drown yourself in every time. You contemplate telling others. But they’ll see it as melodrama. They’ve got their own problems. They don’t care. They’ll make fun of you. They’ll judge you even more. They’ll never understand and you’ll never be one of them. Not that you want to anymore. You’ve lived the better part of your life just wanting that, but it doesn’t matter anymore. You’re a well-adjusted adult who looks in the mirror every morning and wishes your reflection would put a bullet through your skull. It would be a mercy really.

The rational side of your brain tells you how good you have it. It tells you that you’re better now. You’ve got actual friends, real friends. People who care about you. So why does it still hurt? Why do I have this hole in my chest that burns coldly?

You don’t cry anymore. There nothing left. You just hurt, hurt and hate, hate and hurt. Seething. Just do something.  Smile. You put on your persona. Make people laugh, tease them, try to engage in flippant conversations. Pretend you’re a well-adjusted member of society. Don’t tell them how much you hate yourself. Because they wouldn’t understand and to be honest, they wouldn’t care. They’ve got their own demons to fight.

You’ve heard the theories. Why you’re damaged goods. It doesn’t fucking matter why sometimes. Not when you’re in the middle of it. Not when you’re in so much pain. Not when it presses down on you, when it permeates your every fiber. When every nerve in your body is shaking in impotent rage and fear.

You’ve never been good at anything. Never good enough at least. Always a parody of the real thing. Of things people find beautiful. A parody of a human being. That’s what you are and what you’ve always been. Fake laughs because you never learned to laugh. You know that people laugh at you for that? Yeah, they do. Among other things. They laugh because you’re a subhuman creature put on this planet for their amusement. Because you’re not one of them. They take out their own demons at you. It’s easy to feel big when you make someone feel small right?

So i’m writing this for anyone who would care to read it. It’s the words of someone who feels lost and tired. Someone who doesn’t know what to do or where he’s going. Someone who doesn’t know who he is because he’s tried to be so many things in this life, desperate to be anything else aside from the hateful broken person he is.

Self-loathing is easy. Just practice it a lot. Bleed. Look at your past and remember every damn cut and scar you carry.  Open it up again and again and again. Everytime. All the time. It’s easy if you know how.

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Pipe Smoking, Uncategorized

Music For Afternoon Tea

cup-of-tea-1437144-mLately, I’ve been relaxing a lot with a hot cup or pot of tea and some music. Now, being the lazy blogger that I am, I thought “Hey, this would make a good article!”

Seriously though, nothing enchances pipe smoking and tea than some good music. Here are a few of my favorite songs to play while drinking.

The Circle of Life (both from the movie and the musical) – This is a standard go to for me as I find it relaxing. It’s interesting enough that you could lose yourself in the details if you focus on it, but not so in your face that you can’t just leave it playing in the background as you focus on your pipe or cup of tea.

How Blue Can You Get (BB King Live In Cook County Jail) – Another personal favorite of mine, I just love listening to this song while having my tea and smoking my pipe on a lazy afternoon. His guitar playing and soulful singing relaxes me without putting me to sleep.

Circus (Eric Clapton Unplugged) – This is a song I usually breakout when I’m feeling a bit melancholic. The song’s emotions matches my mood quite well during these times and allows me to work through whatever issues I’m dealing with.

Only If For A Night (Florence + The Machine) – Something a little more upbeat. The vocals make you feel like you’re floating over clouds created by the beat. It is absolutely lovely when paired with a nice black tea and some Cavendish Tobacco for those days when you want to perk up.

Hotel California (The Eagles) – While I know a lot of my friends normally associate this song with a few beers, I’ve found it to be quite a good match for an early afternoon tea and smoke break.

Anything classical – Classical music, tea, and pipe smoking is a match made in heaven and is something that has always been a standby for others who do indulge in tea and pipe smoking. I decided to throw it in just to silence the indignant looks by traditionalists.

Of course this doesn’t mean that these are the only music I listen to, or that you should listen to. If you want to listen to Dio or Metallica while enjoying your afternoon tea, then by golly go for it. In case you’re wondering, I’ve been known to do so on occassion as well.

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Uncategorized

Why Wet Shave?

ImageWet shaving is not as inaccessible as some might believe. It’s not some magical thing that is available only to the privileged few. The only thing keeping this out of most male’s daily rituals is the fact that rubbing an electric razor on one’s face is considered faster and more convenient.

Now, you might be asking, why do I need to learn all that when I can just rub my face and end up looking semi-decently shaved? Well, I can’t tell you why YOU would do it, but for me, I’ve never had a closer, non-irritating shave in my life. In addition, I’ve yet to find something as relaxing as properly prepping my face and creating lather, then indulging in a wet shave. Finally, I find that shaving has given me some time to get away from it all and focus on a task that our forefathers engaged in. I’ve also found that I’ve broken out in pimples a lot less than shaving the normal way.

Of course, it’s not for me to decide if this is for you. You’ll have to see if it’s your cup of tea, so to speak.

If you’re still reading, then a part of you might have been intrigued by wet shaving. So let’s go into what it is. Essentially, as the name implies, you shave with a lot of moisture. That means that your face will be perpetually wet during the whole phase. This has many benefits and I’m sure you can find better articles that will explain it to you.

In a nutshell, wet shaving can be broken down into a few steps: the prep, the lather, and the shave. I’ll go into each one briefly.

The prep is where you prepare your beard for shaving. Hair softens as it absorbs water, so you soak your beard in warm water to make it soft and easier to cut. There are others who do all sorts of things like wrapping their face in a towel and more. While I enjoy a hot towel as much as the next guy, I just take a nice warm shower and find that it does all the prep I need.

The lather is using the soap and a badger hair brush to create a thick cream which you will slather (or even whip) on your face. This makes a protective layer on your face that will prevent you from cutting yourself and facilitate a smooth shave. (Note: Unfortunately, shaving cream just will not do for me as I have yet to find one that provides as good a shave as a proper shaving soap and brush.)

Finally the shave itself. You take your blade of choice, and shave with the grain (the direction your hair is growing) for the first pass, across the grain for the next, and against the grain last. In between each pass, you apply more cream and wet your face some more.

Wet shaving is as much a skill as riding a bike. There are many things to learn such as the angle of the blade in relation to your face, the way your hair grows, how to properly create lather with your brush and soap of choice, the list goes on.

It may or may not be an easy ride for you, some people will pick it up slower than others. Regardless, here are some things that I think everyone will experience at some point:

  • You will nick yourself at one point or another. 
  • You will end up throwing away some good soap because you made too much lather. 
  • You will cringe when you end up making one pass too many and experience razor burn.
  • You will learn what direction your hair grows.
  • You will celebrate when everything you learned just comes together to form one awesome mosaic of shaving perfection.

On that note, I think I’ll be ending this short mini-blog with a few announcements. Expect to have a few more shaving articles on this blog, more in-depth information about it, as well as reviews of some of the better products I’ve tried.

Finally, If you want to try wet shaving but don’t know where to get the necessary equipment in the Philippines, I’d like to direct you to the PhilShaveShop on E-bay. These guys have always been consistently awesome and provide some really good equipment at reasonable prices. And no, I don’t get any money from them or will receive anything for this endorsement. I’m endorsing them because I really believe they’re a good online shop with quality products.

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Pipe Smoking

Carrying the load

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I’ve been noticing that my friends have had a number of problems in their lives recently: losing loved ones, emotions taxed to the limit, workload too heavy, and more. Essentially a variety of other things that feels like you were shot in the gut and leaves you reeling.

Normally, I think the first reaction of a lot of people would be to just “power through it”. Hell, I’ve done that for years on end. It ended with me having an emotional breakdown. Something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, especially not people who I care about.

So what is one to do when one encounters challenges in their life? Back down? I say no. Face it head on. Deal with the grief and the pain. Confront it, think about it, and break it down. Pick yourself up after you’ve had time to sort out yourself. And only then should you move on.

Yes, I know it’s easy to put down on paper but hard to do. Nonetheless, I’ve found that my hobbies are a good way to help me unwind and get back into the saddle again.

When I find that life is getting to be too much for me, I tend to do two things. The first is think, and it helps to have a pipe in hand, a nice black cavendish blend, a nice cup of earl grey d’amour tea in front of me, and some time to think. During this time I face the pain head on. Depending on the circumstances it may take a single session of rumination or even me brooding in my spare time for a week or more. Regardless, I deal with it and give myself time to do so.

This stepping back allows me to put my mind into focus again. It acts as a catalyst in solidifying my resolve in dealing with the problem. It also helps me decide on my course of action in handling the issue. A decision made with a clear and analytic mind, not one clouded by emotions and pain.

The second thing I do is lift weights. More often than not, the problems we encounter today are not physical. Much to my dismay, I can’t punch my problems till it bleeds or drop elbows on it until it wishes it didn’t exist. However, lifting weights gives me the physical release I need. It gives me that physical aspect in dealing with the aggression I so often feel when thinking about problems.

This is not to say I don’t lift weights when life is going good, I just happen to hit my weights harder when I have problems.  The act of doing this mechanical thing, fighting against gravity to move an object that refuses to budge makes me feel better. At the end of it all, I find my aggression tempered enough that it is easier to make a proper decision, one that isn’t colored by the need to hurt someone or do something drastic.

After all this, I act. I try to resolve the problem and make it better. A younger me would have acted immediately, even if I had time to step back and think about it. Nowadays, I find that my rituals make for better decision making. Of course, there are things which need to be acted upon immediately. For those cases I may skip my weights (but you can bet my next workout will be very intense) but not the time to think with my favorite pipe in hand and a cup of tea.

That said, I know this won’t work for everyone. People deal with their problems in their own way, and step back in their own manner. I guess I just want this to serve as a reminder to everyone to step back from their problems and give it the time it needs. More importantly, I want to remind everyone to give themselves time to deal with the pain and grief they feel. Those emotions are all too real and it is important to give yourself time to recover from it, in the same way one would recover from a wound or an illness.

After all, what is emotional pain and grief but a wound in one’s soul.

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Pipe Smoking

My pipe smoking journey so far.

Pipe SmokingI can’t remember when I first picked up a pipe. It was over half a decade ago or so and I did so on a whim or was it? I think I needed something that would help me reconnect with the men who have helped shape me into the person I am today. It became a crutch, a way for me to pretend that my father and grandfather were still alive. I even found myself imagining what I would say to them when I got home.  Needless to say, coming home was heartbreaking every time. I ended up dropping it after a few months.

After a lot of soul searching and dealing with a lot of emotional baggage,  I find myself coming back to it. I can’t help but think I started pipe smoking for the wrong reasons or that I lacked the maturity to appreciate the art of it. Perhaps a little of both. But now that my mind is clearer, I gave it another chance, and I am glad it did.

Yes, it still remains a way for me to reconnect with my dad and my grandfather, I still imagine what I would tell them, but now it’s something more than that. I find that when I pick up my pipe, it lends me a certain amount of clarity. It is a perfect companion with a nice cup of tea and a good podcast or video. It lets me step back when my temper gets the best of me and view things with a better perspective. It makes good conversations amazing, and quiet time more meaningful. 

Now, I know you may think I am overstating things. Perhaps I am. I have been known to exaggerate. But that doesn’t change the fact that pipe smoking has given me a lot. I used to laughingly quote statements from other esteemed pipe men such as Mark Twain and Einstein, but I never understood what they meant. Perhaps I never will, but at least I have a little glimpse into what they were trying to say.

So I find myself, at 2 AM, drinking a pot of some Black Pagoda Tea, smoking a pipe, looking at pocket watches, and writing  my thoughts on a hobby and fascination that has captivated greater men than me in ages long gone. I feel thankful that I’ve decided to join the brotherhood of pipe smokers, a small spark in a room of bright flame, but a spark nonetheless. Sad, that I started this journey alone, that the people I wish to sit down with have gone on ahead to the great beyond. I feel hopeful, that this journey will never end and that I will always keep learning more and experiencing more things.

There are so many other things I want to say, but it is getting rather late. So till the next time, thank you for having the patience to go over my ramblings.

PS: Now, I know a lot of people in my life who love me condemn my smoking and keep warning me about how it will kill me.  I appreciate the concern, and I love you all but this is something I have decided to do. I know  you don’t understand, and I don’t expect you to. I just hope that you will respect my decision in this and that you will continue loving me. 

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