Day 76

I guess the type of person I get along least with are those with low self-esteem. Well, maybe that’s not the proper category. Self-conscious? Basically, anyone who has that need to impress, either with material goods, intellect or just facts and statistics. Material goods, intellect and just facts and statistics can be good things to have and to give, but not when it’s unasked and unwarranted.

Know-it-all’s, they’re in that group.

I feel I can’t have a normal conversation. I feel like I’m being sold to. And when I feel I’m being sold to, I immediately put away the purse (why wouldn’t I say wallet first?) and try to get the fuck out. Flee the scene.

Both men and women do this, but of course it’s the men that irritate more. They probably do it more as I’m a man, and it’s some form of competition. Sometimes I don’t know I’m competing until they give it away with a certain phrase. And then I feel ripped off that throughout the conversation, I was being agreeable when I should’ve been on the defense.

Because I don’t like being had either.

Argh, this is all poison that I spew because I’m mentally and physically drained. Wrought with injuries, a pimple growing on my forehead.

I couldn’t surf today because of an old shoulder injury in conjunction with an elbow I injured just this morning at Hammerhead Fitness, around the corner from my pad.

Lots of big dudes in there. Lots of hot women. There was that incredibly fit, incredibly feminine … local? … girl in there with the white sports bra and kind face. A little above-average face, but it looked girl-next-doory, like she wears sundresses and appreciates men opening car doors for her. We made eye contact a few times but like any other gym in the universe, it’s just awkward to open up conversation. Maybe it’s not in Bali? Because of all the tourists? Meh, dunno, I’ve never been good at the cold open.

***

Well, there was that one incident on a plane ride from Toronto to Los Angeles where the flight attendant picked me up. I was seated in my economy seat with two friends scattered throughout the plane. Reading, watching a movie, whatever it was I was doing, was interrupted by a gleeful, middle-aged flight attendant with curly red hair and rosy cheeks. She looked like George Constanza’s mother. She giggled as she said, “My friend, she would like to buy you a beer!”

“Oh, I don’t drink on flights, no thanks.”

She was visibly shocked, her eyes turning from happy slits to regular caucasian-sized eyes. “But it’s a free beer. From my friend.”

Later I went to the washroom at the back of the plane and passed my friend’s seat. “Some flight attendant wanted to buy me a drink. Though I don’t know what she looks like so I said no.”

“Do it! She’s hot, holy shit, do it!”

I went back to my seat and when I saw George Costanza’s mom, asked if the offer was still on the table and it was. Maybe 30 minutes later I had another one, and then a young, Gino male flight attendant came by and said, “You should go to the back and thank her.”

I went to the back. She was this lithe, tall, blond French Canadian. Probably younger but looked about my age. She was gorgeous, stunning. She was too good for me. Way too good to be buying me drinks on a flight — that’s gotta be frowned upon, right?

We stood in the galley and talked, both nervous. I rarely talk to women in this manner sober. She was doing this and that with latches and buttons and cases and trays. There was a line up to the men’s washroom that was out of my field of vision. Later I learned that my friend was in that line and witnessed the envy of the men who wished the stunning blond French Canadian with the Quebecois accent bought them beers instead.

During landing, we sat in the back row where the flight attendants sit. We talked about sneaking back food from Trader Joe’s and how she sleeps in a bunk with other flight attendants in LA and Toronto. I asked for her email (I’m sure it wasn’t her phone number).

Once we taxied to the terminal, I scrammed. I was dating a girl in LA at the time who was waiting for us at baggage claim. I had to get the fuck out of there before world’s collided.

In retrospect, I made the wrong decision. Well, no, I made the right one — no one got hurt.

We emailed back and forth. She landed in Toronto once but could only meet at 4pm so I declined. Only drinking dates at night for me. Then on Facebook, she revealed she was pregnant and with the father. The timing was too close; I must’ve been the fling that she needed in order to something something blah blah blah.

Oh well.

Day 75

SWV’s I Get So Weak just started playing. It came out in 1993, I just looked it up. I was 15 years old, which makes me a fucking hundred right now. What was that, sophomore year in high school? I was still at West Hill, the “black” high school, interspersed with Chinese fobs here and there.

Last night is why I love Bangkok. Since this will be a month (or two) full of trips to surrounding countries and punctuated with weekends in Bangkok, I needed to make sure to put in face time with the local girl when I can.

Making plans with her is difficult. I’m very anal with my time, scheduling and all of that shit. It’s because I’m a by the hour freelancer. My brain is wired to think that time is money. Every hour of my life is worth this much, so if I’m going to fuck off, then it’s gotta be worth it. So making plans with people is difficult because I try to put these values onto them and they’re not having any of it.

I’m used to charging clients for my time, but I guess you can’t really do that shit with girls you’re dating. Not for lack of trying, though.

So it’s difficult. I’ll message, “How about tonight at 7pm? It’s my only free night.” I’ll see that little “r” symbol indicating that she read my message, but with no response. I’ll wait a few hours, then message, “What is wrong with you? Can you respond? I need to schedule everything out.” I just don’t think she knows what I go through planning out my day. If she says 7pm, then I’d cut my time at the gym and work on one article but not start my taxes because it’s not enough time. If she says 8pm, then I’d add HITT to my workout, maybe change to a squat/deadlift combo because I’d have time for a high-protein snack afterwards. If she couldn’t make it at all, I’d spend more time at the gym, add an hour of low-intensity walking on the treadmill, hitting the grocery store to cook dinner, and I’d get in the mood to do taxes.

Everything hinges on what time she (or whoever I’m trying to make plans with) is available. I work backwards from that event.

I’d like to chalk it up to a Thai thing, but it’s everywhere. Everywhere, people want to be able to tell me last minute. I replaced most of these people, but new ones keep appearing.

So she said 7pm and I immediately left the gym, showered, did some quick packing. Then I motorbiked to Fortune City to pick up my fucked up external hard drive, then crossed the street through the underground subway path to exchange my 2m iPhone cable (they have to order it from Singapore, the fuckers). Hit Uniqlo to replace my pants, Muji to pick up some empty carry-on liquid bottles. Then I raced up to Lad Phrao to meet her. Two hours of racing around the city like a madman because she said 7pm.

She was 40 minutes late. What can I do, I sat there smiling.

She parked at the mall’s parking, and we jumped onto my bike in search of street food. So back to the beginning, this is why I love Bangkok. Just racing around sitting at different street stalls, outside in the 31C heat. It’s exactly what I pictured myself doing, with a local girl on the back of my motorbike with her arms around my neck. I get shivers just thinking about this achievement.

We ate kuay jab — not as good as Chinatown’s but passable — then she ate a coconut-shave ice concoction. We argued about what the coconut actually was and she was right (it’s a softer, chunkier, mutated for of coconut that the Filipinos invented or something) so she got to flick the third-knuckle of my middle finger because that’s what you do in Thailand when you’re right, you inflict pain in the cutest way imaginable (but it’s still pain).

We went to the grocery store where she had to buy baked goods for her meeting in the morning, a random assortment of croissants and the like, with meats stuffed into them.

Then we returned to her car and sat, talking like highschoolers in the parking lot that’s a basketball court during the day. She berated me for traveling so soon after the Vietnam trip, and I just didn’t know she minded that much. We saw each other only once or twice a month anyway. Maybe it’s the distance that makes me seem further? When I’m in the city, I seem reachable, it seems like an option that she doesn’t see me. But when I’m gone, I’m gone.

I didn’t tell her I have Myanmar after this. And then South Thailand. And then maybe Taiwan, and probably Philippines. Most definitely Toronto and Los Angeles. She’s mad at a week in Vietnam.

Day 74

Books were a big thing in my family. Maybe more for my mom than my dad — he worked at the Ford factory when I was too young too remember, so that probably cut into his time with Proust and Faulkner.

(I remember asking what he did during his stint there and he said, “Body.” He used to carry one of those old-school lunch boxes with metal latches, and a metal thermos. It was so adorably cliche and retro. Like do factory workers still use that shit? Or are they now bringing bento boxes and massaman curries to the line?)

When my parents bought their (first) florist at Morningside Mall, that’s when the reading began. I was in second grade, so what is that, 6? There was a library beside their store and that’s where my sister and I would spend thousands of hours over the course of our childhood.

My mom was smart, she made it a game. “Be good and we’ll let you take out a book. Be really good and you get three!”

So we were good and books were the prize. When you’re a kid, you don’t have friends or social obligations, so this was it: TV and books. We didn’t have a restriction of how much TV time we had, but between 9am and 3pm there wasn’t anything on for kids, anyway.

I remember reading Cujo way earlier than any child should read Cujo. I didn’t get most of it — Stephen King is extraordinary in his description and exposition. That’s good for adults, but for kids? We’re like, fuck that shit, where’s the man-eating dog? (I’m still semi-traumatized by Stephen King books in my adulthood. Not the content but the style, the pages and pages of expository paragraphs. I need to re-read him because it’s no accident that he’s a millionaire writer.)

When I ran out of my Encyclopedia Browns and Choose Your Own Adventures, I tackled my sister’s stack of Sweet Valley High and Babysitter’s club (Claudia and her “jet-black hair” — I’m still in fucking love).

Lots of Christopher Pike and RL Stine — those teen horror novels. Maybe the equivalent of Harry Potter and those serials now? But without the recurring characters.

So reading was a normal part of the diet. I didn’t know this wasn’t the norm until after highschool when I moved to my first apartment. I brought my books and lined my bookshelf in the living room (it wouldn’t fit into my room). The inventory crept up throughout the years as I discovered Murakami (both of them) and Bukowski and the travel guides and writing how-to’s and autobiographies and unauthorized bios and ESSAYS! Holy shit, I got into essays in a big way. And Best American Series. And Best American Non-Required Reading, started by Eggers who I have an affinity with (like billions of other hipsters — what can I say, he was the voice of our generation).

I found old books, old authors. I got into John Fante and … well, that might be it. I couldn’t (and still can’t) do literature, it’s just too heavy, I don’t have the vocabulary or the expertise in grammar. I tried to read Salman Rushdie but all the characters had Indian names and so I couldn’t decipher the gender and so I couldn’t form them in my mind’s eye and so I had to put them down.

Anyway, so I didn’t know it wasn’t the norm until people came over and teased me: “You’re just trying to look smart.” Or: “You didn’t really read all of these, did you?” I thought, of course I did, why would they be on my bookshelf? It was a strange question and so I could only answer honestly with a meek yes and they would remain unconvinced because it wasn’t my job to be the Convincer Of Men.

It might’ve been the same if I walked into their houses and saw trophies for bass. “You’re just trying to look tough; you didn’t really catch all of these fish, did you?” But I’d never say that because a) I’d believe it; and b) I wouldn’t give a shit in the first place.

Christ, I hate when people recommend books. I hate when they recommend Harry Potter. “It’s well-written, it’s not for kids. Stop being stubborn and read it.” Well, that’s not the point.

The point of books to me aren’t the plot. Murakami, one of my most revered authors, I can’t remember the entire plot to any of his books. Even the end of Norwegian Wood — a book I read almost yearly — is fuzzy. The point of books aren’t the story or plot, it’s the style. I read books for the authors, for the way they put sentences together, for what’s in their heart and head and how they get it down onto paper. The rhythm of their writing.

That’s why I’ll read anything Murakami puts out (though he’s getting tiresome these days). And used to read anything by Nick Hornby. Charles Bukowski will never let me down but that’s because he died before he could.

So I know I won’t enjoy Harry Potter. It’s a plot-driven book. And since it’s a plot-driven book, I’d rather watch the plot-driven movie. Same with DaVinci Code — smartly written (he wrote these tiny, pithy chapters so a movie exec would read them as scenes that clever fucker) — entertaining read, and I did it in one night, but if the movie exists, just get your plot from that, in 2 quick hours.

A bad book recommendation isn’t just a wasted $10. The opportunity costs are too high, there are way too many other books out there on my list. So if someone recommends a book to me that I’ll eventually find to be shitty, it’ll just ruin our friendship. “You don’t know me, we have opposing styles, we don’t think the same, we have absolutely nothing in common.” That’s what I’ll say.

An ex-girlfriend had great taste in books. It helped us out during dark times.

Day 73

A day of frantically running around, tying up loose ends. Trying to fix my external HD, replacing my iPhone’s touchscreen, finding a better backpack, hunting down another selfie stick. Started off with 2 hours in the gym and laundry. 10 hours of running errands. How did I do this when I had a job?

Well, I never really had a job.

I did, what am I talking about?

In highschool, everyone had jobs. That’s just how it was in East Scarborough. We were all the first generation of immigrants born in Toronto, and all from various backgrounds — Korean, Chinese, Greek, Caribbean, India, Guyana, Philippines — so we were all in the same boat. Thank fucking god that that’s how I grew up, y’know? Both in terms of the variety of ethnicities and that work ethic.

Some of my friends work at the McDonald’s at Kingston and Morningside. This location was close to two highschools that I went to, so friends from both schools worked there. McDonald’s always had application forms next to the cash register, and as soon as I turned 16 — legal working age — I applied. Never got an interview. Over and over again I would apply and get no interview. Apparently you needed to have an “in” to work there. What the fuck is that, that you need hook ups to work at McDonald’s? But it does also go to show that everyone wanted to make coin, and everyone was willing to work for it.

I had an interview at the Gap at Scarborough Town Centre some point as well. I had the requisite hook ups. I was talking to the assistant manager in a very casual manner, and we somehow got to talking about the door alarm. I asked if it’s true that if it went off, we weren’t to chase down the thief and it was store policy to let him go and to call mall security. It was something our class got into; someone who worked in another clothing store brought it up and our teacher decided to discuss that tactic.

So I was asking from a completely honest, educational point of view, but apparently that’s what got me moved to the bottom of the list. I was the suspicious guy asking about theft policies. Jesus, really? Whatever.

It wasn’t until maybe 17 or 18 — after countless rejections — that I finally got a job telemarketing at Weed Man. We would call people at home and say, “We’re just calling to ask if we can drop off a survey. We’re not selling anything (yet), we just want to know if you’re interested.” Most of the customers hung up. They didn’t even care to understand what we were proposing. I don’t blame them, everything’s for a reason when a stranger calls on the phone, and you’re the only one that can lose anything out of it.

When we were approved to drop off a survey, I think what happened was that we’d put them on hold and transfer them to someone else. But that could just be my brain remembering Boiler Room and Wolf of Wall Street and shit. Either way, we would go and ring a bell. In the beginning it was fun because I was constantly ringing that fucker, miles ahead of everyone else. After a few months, I sank to the bottom and it was no longer fun.

One day I was called into the back room with managers. They explained to me what was happening: “Some of our female employees are getting calls from inside the building. They’re being sexually harassed by someone in here. We traced the calls to your phone.”

I gasped! I didn’t know what to do, what to think. I’d never been accused of something so criminal in my life. My face must’ve given away what my speechless mind was thinking.

“We know it’s not you. We’re pretty sure we know who it is. We’ve had our eye on this guy for awhile. You’ve been doing great here, we know. So what we’re going to do is *67 (or whatever) on this phone and see which phone rings. We know it’ll be his phone, so just relax.”

I relaxed. They *67’d. My phone rang.

We all sat and looked around at each other, silently. Everyone wanted the perpetrator to be the other guy. You could tell. They wanted him out for whatever reason and this was it. I was the innocuous Asian kid that used to ring the bell frequently. They wanted me to stay.

But my phone rang.

I left the room and went back to work. I worked for a few more weeks but eventually stopped showing up. How could I? How could I show my face in there anymore?

Anyway. That’s why I’m a freelancer, and that’s why I’m fucking excellent at it: I can’t work for other people, whether I want to or not.

Day 72

Killer, killer, killer trip. Motorbiked from Saigon to Dalat to Nha Trang to Mui Ne and back, with a side trip to the Mekong.

I thought I forgot how to ride a clutch, but like most things in life, it came back fairly quickly. Well, it had to, I was trying the bike out in front of the guy renting it out to me, I couldn’t stall out or fall in front of him. I had to thoroughly convince him that I knew what the fuck I was doing.

So like most things, when faced with pressure, I’ll come through. At least I know that of myself.

I passed his test, but it really was easy: I wanted to rent his bike, he wanted me to rent his bike. I doubt there was anything I could do to fail. The next trial was, however, life or death: driving to my hotel, through Saigon rush hour.

I started off shaky but within minutes I was speeding past everyone else, trying to accelerate more and more off red lights. Fucking insane.

The mountains of southern Vietnam aren’t as grand as the ones in Central. There, you truly feel you’re away. Here, they were just obstacles with trucks and cars all jockeying for position on the single-lane, curved road. When there’s construction, it’s every motorist for themselves, on both lanes, upside down, whatever.

No girls. Why no girls on this trip? Or in Saigon in general? There’s that glam fashion designer, but she keeps appearing and disappearing so quickly I’m not even sure if I actually saw her or if she was an apparition of my imagination. Wispy, gliding in and out.

The beautiful Vietnamese girls, did they all make an exodus? To Southern California, to Macau? Even to Toronto, there are the gorgeous, mid-dark-skinned ones with ample bosom and buttocks. Where are they here, in the largest city in Vietnam? Fuckers, get the fuck back here.

I miss Bangkok. I miss it so much. Goddamnit, it’s now home. I miss the money and the language and the food and the smells. I miss my bike and my apartment and my bed. It’s only been 8 days but goddamn, feels like months. I miss the BTS and school and lying on my sticky couch turning the air con on and off because it only has two temperature settings, both at the extremes.

I miss KFC and Pizza Company. Well, I had KFC here…

Strange city, I don’t think I could live here. The pollution is incredible. The food, though, is insanely cheap. Half the price of Bangkok. How does that happen, how is a Southeast Asian country half the price of another? Well, wait until Myanmar. And try to pull that Philippines/Taiwan trip together. That’s going to be tough, I’m going to be fucking exhausted.

And what of the local? Does she even care that I’m gone so frequently? She acts as if sometimes but not all times. I can’t stay for her, I can’t leave for her, I can’t anything for her. It’s too new, and she made it this way. I’d rather have jumped in, found out, jumped out. Ah well, slow death, it is.

***

Stepped into Bangkok and realized how much I missed it. This happens every time, even on short weekend jaunts. My problem is that I begin to take it for granted quickly, within weeks. I get complacent in my routine — which is odd because I love routine. I get bored, maybe.

I have three nights here, then off to Bali for 10 days. Then 2 more nights here and then off to Myanmar for a week. I’m sure after that I’ll be exhausted as hell, but I need to take advantage of April and May to travel, since I purchased that damn AirAsia ASEAN Pass that’s turning out to be more stressful than fun. I need to hit south Thailand again at some point, and there’s no better week than the one right after Myanmar, after Songkran.

Okay, so do it, suck it up and do it. Fly south for that week, come back here and it’s Deadline Week. Stick around here, then head up to Philippines for early May. Then come back here and chill the fuck out until June when the big Hong Kong-London-Toronto-Los Angeles trip happens.

(Will that actually happen? Why leave Bangkok, a city I love, a city that took me a year to get comfortable in? To do it all over again, that’s why.)

LA, my dream city. It was right there within my grasp all this time.

Day 70

During those days of working at the Italian restaurant, I met a girl, an immigrant from Korea. I forgot how. Someone had set us up and although it wasn’t a great match, I dove in anyway as I was want to do back then, for lack of anything better to do. I did a lot of things out of “boredom” and I suppose I’m still like that, all, “Let’s see where this dark path leading into the forest goes…”

She was mildly attractive but there really was something about her personality. These Korean immigrants — fobs — acted differently than the Canadian/North Americans I was used to. They were more unexposed. I’m not sure if that’s the right word. Less guarded?

Basically, they wore their emotions on their sleeves from Day One. They had absolutely no care how crazy they would come off, and that was admirable to me. I’d rather an honest psychopath than a dishonest one, one who hides the crazy and then blows up months later, or turns nothing into something because it’s been growing inside of their crazy heads.

I can’t remember much about this girl. Kind eyes?

One night we went clubbing. Then we went to Rol San after, a popular Chinese restaurant frequented by the after-club crowd. We joined a table of my friends. She went to the washroom and — I’ll never forget this shit — a purported friend of mine says to me, “Congratulations, you got the ugliest one of the group.” She had the nerve to say that about anyone, about any fucking one on the planet?

That’s when my friendship died with that girl. I still remember it now, more than a decade later, that poison that spewed from her fucking mouth. You don’t talk like that about someone your friend is dating. You don’t talk like that about anyone at all. Jesus. Anyway, a few years later we would have sex and she wanted a relationship and I easily walked away. Easily. Because I remembered that moment.

Anyway.

After the restaurant, we were looking for a hotel to have sex in and sleep over for a night. For some reason, all hotels in downtown Toronto were full. It seemed unlikely that every fucking hotel in this stupid city that no one comes to was full, but I had to believe it, we seemed like a nice couple just looking for a night cap at 4am.

We drove north up the Don Valley Parkway where it meets the 401. There were several hotels there for conferences and the like. We were rejected at a few and finally accepted at one. She paid (these Korean immigrant girls were in Toronto to ostensibly study English, and were usually from wealthy families who gave them a helluva lot more allowance than I had).

We entered the room and there were two doublebeds. She said, “Okay you take the left one and I’ll take the right!” I still laugh at that joke and make it myself.

Oh, right. She had a boyfriend in Toronto. Ah well, what can you do.

I took her shirt off. I took her bra off. “No, don’t look, my nipples are horrible, they’re so big!”

“They’re fine.”

I took her pants off. I took her panties off. “No, don’t look, my hair is so long and curly!”

“It’s fine.”

Oh, right. She was also older than me by a few years. Doesn’t mean anything, just remembered this.

We had sex. I don’t know why I remember we had sex in doggystyle position. Why would I remember that? And is it seriously called doggystyle? Is there no other name? I feel like a fucking 12-year old using that term.

I fell asleep and woke up to her dancing in my boxer briefs. That was sexy. She jumped onto the bed and measured my penis, my testicles. She weighed them in her hand like it was her first opportunity to study the male genitalia. I watched her in the moonlight. It was just a silhouette handling me, looking at all of the angles.

I think she screamed during sex. I think she was used to Asian porn (or is this just hard-coded into Asian women) to do that furrowed eyebrows-painful look. Why is that? Like it hurts, like it’s unpleasant, like it’s rape. North American Asians — most of them, anyway — have a smile on their face, these vicious, conscious eyes. Asian-Asians close their eyes, squirm and push you away.

I don’t remember the morning and how we left.

After that she kept calling the Italian restaurant asking for me. That’s a no-no. My bosses were all very entertained. Once, my friend was with her outside the restaurant, and he pleaded me to come out because she was going insane. I hid inside the walk-in fridge.

I never saw her again.

Day 69

Have you ever dated somebody who wasn’t photogenic?

But not just not photogenic, also really, really hot.

I met her probably a decade ago. We met online and became fast friends, then met in person and she was stunning and so we dated. Incredibly beautiful, bubbly, positive, energetic — happy. But she wasn’t photogenic, and this is a bigger problem than you realize.

I’d tell my friends, she’s so great, she’s gorgeous, this, that, and show them her photo. Now of course a photograph can only show one thing: what the person looks like. It’s a very flawed vehicle when it comes to determining a person’s character: intelligence, humour, wit, or even things like, her defined bare back, her slim thighs in a loose summer dress.

They would look at her photograph and sometimes they would say, “She’s gorgeous,” and other times, a diplomatic “Niiiiiiiice,” and yet other times, nothing at all. Lies, all lies, and I could see right through every single fucking one of them.

“No, seriously, you gotta see her in person, she’s beautiful,” I’d beg.

“Okay,” they said, disinterested. Who would be in for such a thing? Who would say, “Oh okay, because she looks like shit in these and you’ve talked her up like a motherfucker. I want to see this person in real life so I can ascertain her true looks.” None of my friends would say that because none of them are psychopaths, and all of them cared less about looks than me.

So that was the issue, I was dating the most beautiful woman in the world, but I could not tell anyone, or no one could know, or something along those lines, like I’m some sad mythological god that needed to learn my lesson from the Father God, Zeus or whoever was being a bastard and doling out the lessons on that day.

I broke up with her. Maybe not solely for that reason, but that was in the mix.

Never felt bad about it. There was a steady stream of women back in those days, around that time when I was at my dating prime. Prime meaning quantity and not quality; back then I was out four nights a week, starting on Thursday and ending on a Sunday night at a pub. I was meeting girls — and people — everywhere, like someone in their 20’s and living on their own for the first time ought to do.

That was 405 word? Fuck. Okay:

There was this fob Korean girl back when I was 18? 19? Maybe the year I was allowed to drink, because we met at bars. Wait, I still worked at the Italian restaurant back then, which would’ve been ages 19 to 22. Probably when I was 19.

Ah, here’s an aside:I worked in an Italian restaurant after my first year of art school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and Illustration wasn’t it. Those fuckers were at school at 7am to paint or draw for 3 hours every morning. What the fuck was that? I have some friends that came out of there and now in computer graphics, working for Lord of the Rings over in New Zealand — but they’re few and far between. I have zero idea where the other 500 kids I knew ended up (and me myself, ended in graphic design, which was the best damn decision to be made outside of not going to college at all).

My friend got me a job at the Italian restaurant, in the mini kitchen where I’d put together the side salads and dole out the desserts. Hence, “Cold Kitchen.” I worked in this cold kitchen for about 6 months, and then went off to Korea to meet Jeannie who taught me to be mean and unavailable to girls, in order to win them.

When I came back from Korea, I was in love and decided to leave school, work for a year, save that money and see Jeannie the next summer for a month. Shockingly, I came through with this plan 100%. The devotion of young love, Jesus fucking hell. So I stayed at the Italian restaurant, where they moved me to the regular kitchen, “The Line,” that everyone now knows of, thanks to the Food Network. The Line, the fucking LINE where burns and sogginess and smells are a daily occurrence. The cooks are hardened immigrants or criminals; the pre-prep guys are Sri Lankens who all left en masse once to drive trucks; the dishwashers were these two mentally … adjusted … individuals, both really nice, but took some babysitting to get what you wanted.

The wait staff looked down at us. We looked down at the busboys The bartenders were on the highest rung, but so high that they treated everyone great; everyone loved the bartenders. The managers were fucking psychotic.

Ah, word count’s up.

Day 68

I invited her out for dinner and she met me wearing a dress and heels. Hair all done up. Goddamnit, the second I saw her I knew I’d have to scram.

You know what, if a girl wants to impress me it’s less important that she puts on a nice outfit and crucial that she meet on time. Jesus, I wanted to eat at 630pm and we ended up eating close to 930pm. No matter how “nice” and “grounded” I become the further I’m away from Toronto and winter, I will never, ever ignore the time. I’ll never be late. I’m still early, even in Bangkok, with iPad and Moleskine in my side bag just in case I need to wait. Every fucking time.

I mean, of course, when the French girl is late I don’t mind… Of course.

Well, fine, attractive women get off easier. That’s just fact, and I just proved it by not letting unattractive friend off. All I was thinking about was how rude it was, how I hadn’t eaten in 6 hours, how my muscles were wasting away, how I was probably going to pay for a dinner that I didn’t want to do anyway.

All of that happened the way I imagined.

Oh, shit, this entry is going to hurt.

I’m insufferably tired. That is, I’m lying on the bed of this $15 hotel room trying not to sleep, waiting for 7pm so I can eat my one meal today — not including the two beers I’m having. What’s up with all the beers lately? I need to calculate those into my macros. This is the biggest bullshit I’ve ever typed.

Okay, let’s talk about something important, then. Of course on the road I have a million topics to hash out in my head, but once I start writing it all disappears.

One of my ex-girlfriends claims that I’m her favourite ex. But we dated for maybe 3 months. She was probably the most mismatched girl for me. The most fucking mismatched girl out of the millions I’ve dated (ha ha). Can you imagine that? I suffered in that relationship. I couldn’t fucking get her to like me enough. That was the problem: she did not like me enough.

Never did I lose the cursory power struggle so quickly. Or usually I lose it (to gain the girl) and then I quickly get it back, mainly by being normal about it, not falling in anymore. But in this case, she fucking didn’t give me what I needed and the roles were reversed. I was the one messaging her, trying to get her to meet me, telling her, “I fucking like you, man — what the fuck? Stop playing these games with me.”

We broke up very swiftly. It was almost a Fuck me? No, fuck you! Fuck you, you fucking fuck! It was the most maddening break up. I tried to get out, she pulled me back in in order to get herself out. Jesus.

Anyway, so now she maintains that I am her favourite ex. I don’t see the point of that, the point of saying that shit. We talk once in awhile, and maybe she likes that I travel? Maybe she likes that I’ve freed myself?

Well, when we were dating, that was the only summer I didn’t travel outside of Canada. I told her the way in which I travel, and maybe she didn’t believe me. Maybe she thought I was some sort of homebody. It wasn’t until after our demise that I got back out there, and I think she was shocked to see that I was actually the kind of guy to travel in that kind of way. From then on she was inviting me on trips to South America and the like, and I kept telling her, we’re not going to make it, man. We’re not going to fucking make it on a trip together. We will kill each other, I need to go it alone.

Of course I’d give it another chance. Why? Because she had perfect teeth. A damn near perfect face. Perfect breasts. But I’d give it another chance because I still need to turn that table of power back to me. I need to do that in order to stop thinking about her. Shit, is all of this just a game to me? Perhaps, but it is to her as well.

So in order for me to win, I need to get her back, and then not care so much about her. How fucking mental is this?

Whatever, tired, 6 hours of motorbiking.

Day 67

I woke up in a bed that I didn’t want to wake up in. We were supposed to be friends, I wanted to maintain our friendship and keep it there. Really because she looks bad and I knew that if I saw her without her clothes on, the friendship would’ve been over. You can’t unsee some things in life.

Yeah, this is a terrible thing to think and to do, but honestly, that’s what’s up, and I’m glad I have the foresight to not have given in. Most guys would fuck anything they can get their hands on. Most guys would do it for the experience of it. I have these tendencies when it comes to other things in life, but not for sex. Sex with an unappealing woman is just … gross. It’s not my bag. I mean, I barely like having sex with girls I don’t like. When that happens, it’s usually because she’s super hot, or offers something at the very least. She could be unattractive but have a killer body; chunky but have a perfect face. There are a million of these combinations I could offer up to sell that I’m not a pig. Fine, I’m probably a pig, but I’m less of one. “For the friendship…” Jesus fuck, who says shit like this.

I woke up with a dark hangover. Dark. You just know it’s going to linger. Everything was shiny. Head pounded to my heartbeat. It was all that sugar in those buckets I was drinking.

We went to a rooftop patio owned by a guy from Montreal. I didn’t feel like socializing so didn’t. Used as little English as possible when ordering so he would suspect I was Viet. We watched tourists play shitty pool.

Sailing Club is still the happening spot here. It’s a beach club that leads right up to the water. Vegas-style cabanas that are always empty. Everyone congregates at the small dance floor near the back and that’s where we headed as well. 120,000 dong for entry, and each came with a free drink, either the aforementioned bucket or a bottle of Heineken. I got two buckets.

It was a mix of Viet locals, Russians, mainland Chinese and a few random white guys from Australia or France. The DJ spun mostly Top-40, but what was surprising was the amount of Russian rap he tossed in there — and the place went bonkers.

There was a very cute Chinese mainlander dressed like a librarian. Her face wasn’t pretty but her body wasn’t bad, and she danced like a little demon, enough that she made the list of girls that I would be able to bed based on special circumstances. It’s like how the US loves celebrities and has that visa for anyone “special” or with an interesting IMDB page. That’s me, that’s my fucking list. Have a cute nose? You’re on the list. One breast larger than the other? Get on the list. Veiny abdomens? List. Two vaginas? Listy list list list.

What was I talking about?

I was devising my strategy for the next day — today — on leaving Nha Trang a day earlier than scheduled in order to get to Saigon on Thursday but well rested. It was creeping up on midnight and I was drinking my second bucket and only feeling buzzed, so planned to yawn, say goodnight, hug goodbye and scram. But then she bought me a third, and that little fucker sent me over the edge and into twirling madness that ended up me breakdancing on the dance floor. Fake breakdancing. Fakedancing.

Met a bunch of old white people and we were all drunk and jovial. So of course, at 2am (?) we decided that we needed to drink more, we needed to give our livers more work to do. So we hit Why Not? Bar, where the club felt like an actual club. How do you do that, how do you make the ground floor of a beach town bar feel like a grimy basement in New Jersey? How the fuck did they pull that off?

I don’t know what happened in there. More dancing? Drinking? I think I switched to beers at this point, smartly. For the hydration.

We left and she pulled me into a taxi. “But I live 20 feet away!” It didn’t matter. We got to her apartment complex and hopped a small, waist-high fence. A dog ran over to us, barking. I went to say hi and she pulled me away.

Then the world turned black.

I woke up with all of my clothes on and a splitting headache. Called a cab and saw the same dog on my way out.