Saturday, October 29, 2016


aka The Clatter of My Broken Claddagh

"Lose My Number"
Famous Last Words if I ever heard any in my life.

First Things First: Where to Start?
Second Things Second: What's a Claddagh?  What's it mean to you?  I need to tell you what it means to Me before we go any further...okay?  

The Claddagh.
I grew up Irish-Catholic.  It's in my genes, my DNA, RNA & Defines My Family's Culture.  
The Claddagh is a triune thing beyond the ring many people wear on their hands.  
It represents We the Irish, a unique state of Mind, Matters and Manners.  We holds things of Significance that other cultures find Mundane or Antediluvian.  As much as we stereotypically hold to grudges, flip that value and you'll find The Claddagh: Love, Friendship and Loyalty.
I'm a Proud American yet in Our Melting Pot, We the Irish add Savor to the Stew...
Namaste & Slainte.  ^_~

What Went Wrong?:
Without my usual irony, smugness or wit...
Hello, My Name is Eric and I am an Alcoholic.  
You're supposed to say "Hello, Eric!"
I drink beer every night without fail.  I have, I do and probably will until whatever it is I'm figuring out is figured out.  I drink enough to make me sleepy.  I like the buzz.  All in all, it's not the Healthiest Lifestyle Choice on Planet Earth.  I know this because I am a Conscious Choicemaker and Not a Bundle of Pre-Conditioned Reflexes.  
Yet I know No Other Way to Unwind.

We had a really bad night all going out to a restaurant in June 2015.
Me, specifically.  Got way too drunk and Angry.
I never got my order!  I fussed.  As a professional chef, I still question "why didn't position 7 of 8 at Table 30 get their entree?" but iDigress.  The staff assumed it was ok to drop the plate at the head of the table and it got eaten "family-style".  I was pissed!  And Pissed-Off!  And only my girlfriend Mary knew the Truth...I was Broke, suffering through a Summer lay-off & literally "on the Dole".  I could not afford Dinner at this fancy restaurant but here we are and it's a "night out" with Mikey's Relatives.  She was an enabler when it came to over-drinking as well.  Thankfully, our relationship only lasted 2 months.    
Shit...but what Mikey never knew is that I actually smacked my girlfriend that night.  It was a tap no harder than softly striking a piano chord yet make no mistake, it was an Admonition.  On her face, her cheek in a response to something sassy and in front of company.  It was a Bad Combo.  
And I've never done anything before like that in my life.  
And I grew up in an abusive household.  
And I vowed to never strike a girlfriend.  
This is the Truth...and I Own It.  This Shame.
She kicked me out of her apartment later that night.  
Mary, a fiery Irish redhead herself and I broke up shortly thereafter.  We still share a neighborhood.  The Booty Calls stopped only recently so that's what happened between Mary & Me in a Nutshell.  ^_~  

It took me and Mikey another Year & a Half.  
So According to Mikey, this is How Sully Ruined Our Homelife.
By getting Drunk and "Embarrassing Him".  
After that, I was juxtaposed to a Drunk Uncle back in his home state of Colorado and judged likewise.  

That's His Story and He's Gonna Cling To It No Matter What.

Our Ruined Homelife had Absolutely Nothing to do with His Deadbeat, Compulsive Liar Sister coming to Live with Us in October 2015, about 3 months after this Legendary Bad Night.  

It was a true Sea Change.  And a Test of my Hospitality and My Claddagh. 

In the Beginning...
Mikey & I met over a decade ago.  He was my ex-girlfriend's roommate.  I was over their place all the time.  About 5 years ago in his new 2 bedroom Condo, down the street from my then-current Flat in my beloved neighborhood, Mikey threw a Party and  I was invited.  He was showing off the empty except-for-a-queen-Sized-Bed room and he mentioned how he was gonna rent it out.
I said blithely, "I'd live with you."
He said satisfactorily, "I'd live with you."
And 3 months later...I moved in.  
This was April 2012.  
And the next three years were out of a Network Sitcom...it was my version of the Odd Couple.  
2 bedrooms.  A great small Dog.  One living room with a dining room table.  A small kitchen with an open window and bar space.  We never got the barstools.  It was a spectacular space for two grown men bachelors in the prime of their lives!  Many great times were had!  A sense of Brotherhood.  Of Partnership.  
And for the Record, not intimate.  He's Gay, I am Not.  Yet I love tolerance & diversity.  And I own that.  I'm a professional chef...do you know how many Gay Waiters I've worked with & befriended in over 20 Years in the Hospitality Business??
As I was leaving, Kara from Across the Hall said, "you'll find another guy, don't worry"
I smiled & responded, "I ain't gay, I like girls.  Don't tell Theresa!" with my patented wink ^_~
Theresa is the meddlesome old lady in the unit directly above us.  Mikey avoided some Condo Fees for not backing down in their Condo Owners Committee Meeting by lying and claiming I wasn't his Border but His Boyfriend.  I rolled with it.  I didn't care.  
I cared more the unfair balance of it: that he lied about my sexuality for his financial benefit but never tried to set me up with any of his galfriends.  I brought it up only once and he smugly stated, "you're on your own".  I'll never forget that one.  That stung.  
Mull that one over but So It Goes...
Yet in this time, I shaved my head, "came down from the Mountain" so-to-speak and started dating again after a Four-Year Sabbatical of Brahmacharya.  I finally sought Therapy for my Anxiety & Depression.  
And I also, fully knowing that all I'd do is sit around, drinking beer & eating sammiches if I had Sundays off...
became a Brunch Chef in my neighborhood's most popular restaurant.  

They were Good Times.  

The Deadbeat:
The Sister showed up early October 2015.  
As Promised.  
Mikey brought it up a few times over 2013 & 2014.  He informed me basically, 'I intend to have My Sister stay with us for as long as it takes for her to get back on her feet again'.  That's the Spirit, not the literal wordage lost to Time.  
The Sister was in a Bad Place back in Colorado.  
She visited 2013 in a dramatic, alcohol-fueled Fear & Loathing Long Weekend.
I knew what luggage she brought.  
Let's not be judgmental yet Inventory:
  • she's getting out of a bad marriage, left behind three daughters 15, 12, & 8.  The children have been with the "bad" father who has Custody.  
  • she's on Government Disability at 35 years old due to a hip replacement from a car accident and a diagnosed case of Fibromyalgia.  At home in Colorado, the Government paid her a monthly stipend and she's on Medicare, actively.  
  • she's a high school dropout and a teenage runaway.  Whether or not the Sister finished High School or got her G.E.D. is not known to me.
  • she's got a history of chemical dependence, lying and emotional instability.
In order to get residency in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, therefore Disability Benefits, The Sister asked Mikey for a Lease, something I was Not On and something she was not paying for in full agreement of the written word.  My best friend Peter angrily stated that this was literally Committing Fraud.  Was I complicent to that?
I didn't need a Lease.  I was a Willing Tenant-At-Will.  No Lease, Just Partnership and Splitting all reasonable Household costs evenly.  Bills.  Disposables.  My Rent was Half of His Monthly Mortgage and a Sweet Deal for the Both of Us!  Talk about Interdependence.
So the Sister was basically a Freeloader and we all knew it.  
And She was also sleeping in the Living Room on the Blow-Up Bed.
Our 2 Bedroom Flat was now home to 3 people.  
All with tacit approval, for a greater benefit.  
Now The Sister has her MA Driver's License (and now on Mike's car insurance, again never me) and MA Disability Benefits.  From whatever amount she truly makes whether it's $300/month or the +/- $425/month she "secretly disclosed" to me after a Medicare Deduction Letter ("Don't tell Michael!!), the Sister kicks about $100/month to Mikey.  
I've never really known the Particulars of their Financial Agreement but this is close.  Yet this Small Sum, how could it practically and consistently apply to the $1300-$1600/month it takes to keep the Condo afloat & running smoothly between Mortgage & Monthly Bills?  
Think about it...wait for it.  

My Mother warned me...watch out, she ain't leavin' and she's afta yoah room!
Who was Right on That One, folks?  Who?

Now we have three humans, living daily in a space nominally built for 2.  
And things started changing.  
The Dynamic was previously Balanced. 
2 Grown Men.  Both Extreme Personalities.  Gregarious, Emotional, Fraternal.  
Sure we pissed each other off all the time yet it was always something to build and learn on.  We had a real relationship.  It was a Brotherhood.  
Now insert one toxic, needy person.  
Their interpersonal dynamic slipped into probably an old routine of pissing the other off & yelling.
I was tired of that when I was Four Years Old with my abusive father smacking my mother around, now try that to the power of Four Decades of Dealing with That Baggage.  Mikey never hit The Sister yet emotional and verbal violence was still palpable, especially when it's your Homelife.  
When it's in earshot.  
When it keeps you prisoner in your bedroom.

Then, I started losing my Partnership, Fairness & Equality to an Artificial 1/3rd.  Her voice equalled his and it became 2-on-1 in most important things.  
I still paid half of all bills and my rent.  Mikey monthly quoted a third on bills yet I'd still pay half, fearing that would give the Sister an Imaginary Leverage she just didn't Pay For.  He never offered a third for Rent, by the way.  Chew on that.  

The Sister rarely ever on the average day left the Apartment besides walking the Dog, running an errand or having a cigarette. 
She likes to hang on the couch all day long watching her shows with the electricity, Cable TV, WiFi, Netflix & Amazon that I paid half of.  
Sleep.  Nap.
Dance in front of the living room mirror with interpretive baton practice.   
I got exiled from my own living room because it boiled down to simple things like not being able to watch one's own paid-for programming or eat at the table in favor of the Deadbeat.  I ended up eating supper in my bedroom for months until my rug was besieged with ants.  

Ultimately, It was my choice to defer.  It's called "Hospitality".  Look it up.  That's how I looked at it...with My Claddagh.  Not familial entitlement, which it turned out to be.  

And all this time she's here, Mikey & My Relationship Erodes.  
Remember: The Sister has nothing to do with the Ruining of Our Homelife.  
This holds no valence to what Ruined Everything: Me.  

Cut & Paste from an actual email sent after I moved:
"In all things (The Sister) mate, I'll suggest my tattoo, "qui bono".  Who Benefits?  For the past 3 years at MIT, I worked for a chef named M.A..  He was an alright guy, kinda charming but in reality was a Compulsive Liar.  I started reading books on Lie Spotting and I eventually learned tactics to deal with the daily little lies and the occasional whoppers.  But daily things like "where's the produce order"?  The guy could never give a straight answer.  There was always an excuse and a story involved and then again, later on in the week...Chef, where's the orders?  Where's this?  Who did this?  Why didn't you do that?  And as always, the confidence behind his response and the stories and the excuses.  I realized early on that I was using these same coping mechanisms I learned at work to deal with (The Sister) at home.  I'm not saying I feel lied to by her yet I think it's just part of her survival skills.  It's how she moves through the world.  It's why I eventually got a lock for my bedroom door, the reality of it and living with her.  "
Coming from Colorado, The Sister uses marijuana to manage her physical pain, so she says.  I use it in MA because I'm a Natural Mystic.  Mikey too.  In a word, we're a bunch of Stoners.  
We liked it too.  ^_~  It's part of what was working.  A common vice.  
In 2016 MA, it's currently illegal yet decriminalized.  The Sister would blow through his stash with as the French refer to as "vitesse".  Quickness.  Wastefulness.  Then complain about her Pain Level, a Metric that can only be Trusted if the Patient is being Honest.  Cui Bono?  
Once Mikey started getting wickid stingy with her weed, she completely endrunned him and hooked up with His Dealer.  
When I left, the Boyfriend was staying over every night for the past 4 months.  
Every night.  She gets "free weed" now.  
Or what is she trading for it?  
What felt horrible and stressful with 3 people now climbed to 4...

What a homelife!  And for whom?  At whose literal and figurative expense? 
You answer...it's "Sour Grapes Whine" if I do.

2nd Tense:
In the waning months of living there, I walked into The Sister and her boyfriend having sex 6 times in the living room.  They bursted the Blow-Up bed so they used the couch cushions as a makeshift bed...
I never sat on the couches again after that, knowing that's "where the magic happens".
I mean this only happened once growing up when I walked-in on my ma & my stepdad in the mid-80s and however many times between 0-4yo, my dad must've forced himself on my Ma...we shared a room.  I saw Everything.  I've blissfully have blocked a lot of it out.  Who'd want that junk floating around your skull, anyhoo.
Once was a weekday, workday 5:00AM.  I come out of my room, as usual & on time and boom!  There he is, pumping away on her like an oil derrick and all I want to do is make my daily cup of AM Coffee.
It was horrible.  The Boyfriend was over every night.  March 2016 was when Mikey asked me to leave and gave me until September, since he cared about me and this his him being "nice".  I guess this is when The Sister gave herself permission to rule our roost, knowing that she'd get my room when I left.

This was my homelife.  Day-in, day-out.

In this year, the Sister had spent about a few week's worth of time in Colorado, some of it actually with her children.  She swears she's not an Abandoning Mom.
Besides that, she's on the couch, watching TV, smoking weed.  Then the boyfriend comes over.
Every night, she'd be cooking for them or however she afforded takeout and delivery, eliminating me from using the common area I continued to pay half for.
The couple were browbeat by Mikey into using the bathroom to smoke blunts in after some neighbor complaints, therefore I ended up urinating in a large sports bottle because the bathroom was occupied or going to the head at Midnight involved catching an eyeful.
Once again, I'd like to bring up the terms "My Claddagh" and "Hospitality".
In Context.

On Sept 2, 2016. I moved into my new apartment.  I kept my beloved neighborhood.  I didn't have to quit Highland Kitchen by moving too far away or losing my local pub, Olde Magoun's Saloon.  I have a three bedroom place with 2 nice folk.  A living room, an eat-in kitchen and a bathroom (of course).
Plenty of room for everyone to live and coexist comfortably.
The past 3 months have been a revelation.
How much suffering and negativity I endured.  For whose benefit?  Cui Bono?
Life isn't bad anymore.
I no longer have to walk on eggshells for people who don't deserve it.
Who does, in hindsight?
Who ever?

I'm happy.
And I never betrayed my sense of friendship, love, loyalty or hospitality.
I feel abused yet that could be the Great American Victimhood Paradigm.
I chose this.  I could have bailed anytime.  Yet I chose to stay.
I have my problems, my vices, my needs.
Yet I don't have to feel like a burden to Difficult People anymore.
To soul-stifling, selfish, negative people who do not care about their impact on the others around them, in their home or where they're from?
Where my story, my needs and my life did not matter.
I paid my last bills half & half as I did when I first moved in with him.

How many people suffered on a daily basis because of the Sister taking Mikey up on his well-intended offer?  Mikey is an enabler, he's earned his suffering when it comes to The Sister.  I'll count on my fingers.  Me, the "bad" Husband, the three children and whomever is helping that dad drive those girls to the Mall or practice.  I'm counting a minimum of Six so far.
How does this add up?
For the benefit of supporting a Deadbeat?  I've met Grannies with Less Mobility working, earning and contributing to their households.
How do we explain this?  How?

You make up your own mind: was I taken advantage of?
Well, was I?
(updated: 11/5/2016, e'os)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

I'm very grateful to my family for showing up to Highland Kitchen for Sunday Brunch last week.
I'm proud to be blue collar.  Proud to work, to earn.  Proud to make daily differences in my guests' lives with nutritious & delicious foods from MIT Brain Food Salad Bars to Captaining a Sunday Brunch at one of Somerville's Most Popular Hotspots.
I am a Linecook.  I am a Union 26 chef.  And I live to serve.  Life does get easier when we make the choice to switch our intrinsic values from "What's in it for Me?" to "How Can I Help?".
My parents have been to Sunday Brunch at Highland Kitchen a few times over the past few years.  Sunday Brunch is what keeps me from Easter & Mother's Day so they share theirs with me now.
My cousin Michael pulled this together.  Scoreboard: Table for 9.  My parents, 4 cousins, 3 spouses.
9 very happy people.  I saw a bunch of clean plates.  The best compliment a chef can get.


How's it going?  ^_^
I've found a great past time.
I've been bitten by the LEGO Bug and I'm shamelessly a Happier Nerd for It.

You might remember The Inciting Incident: The STAR WARS MILENNIUM FALCON my parents gave me last year as an X-Mas present.

I've been a DOCTOR WHO fan since I was a kid, before Star Wars to be sure.  Way before the Modern Era and the Age of the "Whovian".  It's a term I shrink from personally.  I'd like to think of myself humbly as just another one of the Doctor's companions but iDigress...
It used to be an exclusive club and you had to find "the secret door" to get in.  And of course, the room was bigger on the inside, so to speak.
My "secret door" was my PBS station WGBH Channel 2.
And in the 1970's on Sundays, they would play blocks of Doctor Who in the afternoon.  Doctor Who became synonymous with Sunday Dinner at either Grandma's House and What Do I Only-Child Do After Supper?
I'd watch a shitload of Doctor Who, that's where "I went" for a few hours, weekly.
Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor was My First Primary Health Care Provider for the Imagination.
"Jelly Belly?"
Peter recently turned me onto to LEGO Ideas.  An Official Site for Real Suggestions for Future Kits.  It's a really dynamic system and if your idea hold merit, interest and most importantly traction with other members "Likes", your Kit could become Manifest!
The DOCTOR WHO TARDIS Kit is Number Eleven in the LEGO Ideas Series.  A fan thought this design up and lo & behold...$60 Yanquee Dollars Later, it's sitting on display in my room.  ^_^