Three Friends, Three Cities, Three Very Different Experiences

Friendships are a true gift, but they aren’t always easy and they should never be taken for granted. As with all relationships, you have to nurture them. I have three male friends I have known for a combined total of close to 100 years. These men are different in many ways; they do not know one another; I love all three for different reasons. When I spend time with each of them, I have a totally different experience.

I spoke with them separately about spending some bro time together; in two cases without their female spouses. They all three agreed to see me for quality time we may not have shared otherwise. All three have agreed to my public blog. My goal is to illustrate in words and pictures, how each person in our lives provides us with something unique and necessary — as necessary as the air we breathe.

No Two Friendships are Alike

I learned early in life, that friendship cannot be easily explained. A person may appear one day as if placed down by a divine hand and the next thing you know, you are the best of friends. What makes this connection different? Everything. Trust, security, loyalty, companionship, confidant, active listener, great dining partner, a shoulder to cry on, understanding, a history, strength, support, and so on. My friendships with these three men consist of all of the above and more. I thank them for sticking with me and by me; I congratulate myself for doing the work necessary to cultivate good friendships. I have other men and women in my life that I love and adore, but I limited this piece to Adam, David, and Don because they are the three I planned various parts of this trip with.


All three are exceptional men. I have never had more than a friendship with any of them. They have seen me through the best of times and the worst of times; I hope they feel the same way about me, I’m fairly certain they do. What I think makes this situation somewhat unique is several things: first, only one of them is gay, but our sexual orientation is not what binds us; second, the three only know of one another through me, and lastly, they each provide support and love in very different ways. I know how fortunate I am; however, laying it out helps me to understand why the work we put into relationships is worth the effort. I’m a firm believer that most of us take way too much for granted (including me).

I believe that most people would agree that men are vastly different from women in many ways. I’m being cautious here as to not offend either sex. For the purpose of this piece, I’d like to note my observations (not absolutes):

  • Men leave a great deal unsaid.
  • Men are a bit uneasy when discussing how they feel.
  • Men are fairly competitive with one another.
  • Men believe they are physically stronger than women, but there are times I would have to disagree.
  • When men are into a sports event, very few things can/do distract them.
  • Straight men are stubborn about asking for directions when lost.
  • Gay men are particularly nostalgic.
  • Gay men and straight men usually enjoy very different types of music.
  • When a straight man is forced to be with someone or do something they’d rather not do, you will live to regret it in one way or another.
  • Gay men talk about being gay, straight men do not talk about being straight.
  • Men, gay or straight, prefer to be behind the wheel, as opposed to sitting in the passenger seat.
  • I have never heard a straight man utter the words, “thread count.”
  • Gay men tend to care more about fabric, wall color, and furniture.
  • Straight men do not moisturize.

Don’t beat me up over my impressions and experiences.

Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this: men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.
—Robert Jordan

All over the world when you test men and women for facial cue recognition, women test…better. It’s a negotiation tool.
—Michael Gurian


Adam and Toronto were my first stop. I didn’t really give Adam a city choice; I was trying out a new direct flight from Faro to Toronto. I had only been to Toronto once and I have always wanted to return. I proposed a few days with me in Toronto and Adam said yes. I wasn’t surprised, we’ve been close friends for a long time.

I met Adam at the James Beard House in New York City in the 90s. We sat next to one another at a table of foodies; Adam was by far the foodiest. When he talks about food and wine his eyes sparkle and he becomes charmingly animated. I knew I could learn a lot from him. I invited him to L’Ecole at the French Culinary Institute and we became fast friends. He eventually asked me to be his Best Man. His wife is one of my favorite people and his children are two of the finest humans I know. Adam considers me part of his family and I am thrilled to have that distinguished place in his life. He is smart, worldly, empathetic, and he accepts me for who I am.

Adam is a planner. Being like minded about researching a place before you travel there is something we delight in. He sent me a long list of possible eateries and told me that each of them was negotiable save one. There was a restaurant he decided was a must and getting in during our time in Toronto was going to be challenging. I must confess that I never doubted his abilities for even a nano of a second. He got us in. Knowing it was a bit more than I would usually spend on a meal, he offered to treat. Adam is one of my most generous friends.

Rather than name specific places we visited or talk about dishes we ate, I’d rather share the dynamics of my relationship with this very special man.

I feel fortunate because not all straight men can get close to gay men. We all know why these limitations and challenges exist; therefore, I will spare you the psychology of all that. I will also point out that I am not easy to be friends with. I am demanding; I can be selfish; I often run my mouth endlessly and expect you to listen to every word I say; I can be controlling, fussy, and I sometimes lack empathy. So when someone (Adam) decides despite all of those obstacles and challenges, they still desire my company, I’m game.

Adam is a practicing Jew. I have had the pleasure of Passover meals with him and his family. I also attended his daughters Bar mitzvah (Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah refer to the Jewish coming of age ritual. The plural is b’nei mitzvah for both boys and mixed gender groups, or b’not mitzvah for girls. Wikipedia). Sharing Adams faith with him is something he may not know is very special for me. Although, I am not Jewish, I love how strong his faith is and how happy it makes him. In some way it probably shapes my trust in him as a human.

We share a love of food, art, theatre, travel, making memories, and life itself. If I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sure about my friendship with Adam at first. God knows he was persistent and laser focused on forming a friendship. I’m pleased that neither of us gave up. Adam is a mensch.

Adam’s advice is always thoughtful and sound. I picked his brain a lot this trip. Someone I have known and loved for many years passed while I was in Toronto with Adam. The support and love he showed me as I grieved was much appreciated and a tribute to the friend and man he is.

I might also add that his wife is very special to me. It is not always the case that you love a friend’s partner; both Adam’s wife and Don’s wife give their husbands the space to be with me.


David and I met while sharing a house in The Pines on Fire Island. We ended up with bedrooms on the same floor with a shared bedroom inbetween. There were something like 11 other men involved in the share. David wasn’t anything like any of them. David was easy to talk with and real. Early on in our friendship we went for long walks on Fire Island and shared some of what frustrated us about our boyfriends at the time.

We participated in the share for several summers and spend time together during the other three seasons. We shared a very close friendship with a third man from the house who eventually died of complications from AIDS. David helped take care of Roger at the end of his life (he’s a saint) and always kept me in the loop. He called me shortly before Roger died to let me know it was time to say goodbye to him.

In many ways, David has taught me how to a gay man. It was David who instructed me on how to party safely. He accompanied me to many club events; he always made sure I was enjoying myself and made it home safely.

In addition to the many things we love doing together, we have one thing that we are polar opposites about; David loves opera and I hate it. He always had very expensive seats to the Met and once, I’m still not sure why, I accompanied him to see an opera. Once was more than enough. I love how passionate he is about opera, music, theatre and art. I asked in if he ever dreamed about being someone else or doing something else and he told me that he would have loved to have been a famous opera singer. You think you know someone.

David is a magnificent and talented artist. Several of his pieces have been shown in prestigious galleries and institutes. He is humble and creates in order to move people in some way — not in order to get rich from the sale of his work. He is a weaver; not shocking that the loom in his studio was larger than the bed I slept in. He is also painting these days. He’s his worst critic, but no doubt, he is good at everything he does.

Everything David owns in his beautiful apartment has been carefully curated. His taste is impeccable. I cannot say this about everyone I love, but David is someone whose home I could live in comfortably. It is surrounded by beautiful things; however, it remains cozy and comfortable. Oh and he is a wonderful cook; especially his Swedish dishes which come from several years of living and studying weaving there. He speaks Swedish too. I’m so pleased to have stayed with him. Now I can picture him in his studio. Now I can say that I have been to the homes of all three of these friends; they are all magnificent in different ways.

My conversations with David are usually very intense. We share just about everything and we share without judgment. As with most friendships, being friends doesn’t mean we are the same people. We are passionate about different things. What I think is unique about us, compared to Adam and Don, is our own stories of fighting to be ourselves as gay men. Our stories are different and similar, but they are ours to share with one another. Our conversations on these trip were no different. However, this time we talked more about quality of life, future plans, and end of life.

David visited me in Portugal and trusted me to plan his time with me. Except for insisting we spend no more than three hours in a car at a time, I did the same with him. He took me to Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, Maroon Bells, Aspen, and several excellent restaurants. I won’t lie, one of the hikes was quick challenging, but I have no regrets and I will remember the experience forever. He also threw a party for me and allowed me to invites other friends who live in Denver. I was also able to meet people in his life I have not met in the past.


I’ve known Don longer than my other two friends; we were roommates at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (44 years ago). Don is a very successful architect. When we were roommates he promised to design an underground house for me. While in Detroit, I asked him if he is still committed to design that house for me and he said he is. That’s all I needed to hear.

We chose Detroit because of its rich architecture and outstanding restaurants. Neither Don nor the reason for meeting there were disappointments. The city has rebounded from despair to beauty and culture at every turn — we were impressed. Cranbrook House & Gardens were a real trip. We took a side trip to Ann Arbor which was also fruitful.

Don was my best man when I married 40 years ago. He arrived at the church missing a sock and someone else from my wedding party had to run to a store to buy him socks. This is probably one of the things I love about Don. He is about as easy going as a human can be. I checked this fact with him on this trip:

Don, have we ever had words?

No, I’m pretty sure we haven’t.

That’s pretty crazy considering how difficult I can be.

No Chris, you’re easy.


Me easy? Perhaps Don makes it easy?

Don and I have long periods of silence when we are together, no matter where we might be. The silence is about respect and comfort. There is no concern about what might be unsaid. When Don says he wants to see a building, I want to see that building. When I say I want to eat Italian, Don is fine with Italian. The ease of our choices is delightful.

I learned something shocking about Don on this trip: he has never been to a nightclub. This blows me away on so many levels. He believes in God and doesn’t shove religion down my throat. He speaks fondly and respectfully of his incredible wife and two amazing daughters. I listen with awe and delight, having been in his life for all of the milestones and disappointments.

I cannot say that I got closer to these three men on this trip, because I’m not sure we can be any closer. I feel privileged and blessed to have had the time to be with them and I’m pleased that they made the time to be with me. True friendship is a gift that keeps on giving and these three friendships are more than I could ever hope for.

The three cities we spent time in matched our personalities in a way. Toronto is intelligent as is Adam. Denver is filled with natural beauty and light, not unlike David. Detroit offered a rich history; Don as my oldest friend knows a whole lot about that.

I realized on this trip that all three men love to walk, love to eat, love film, love to talk, love their friends and family, love to read, and truly love life. These are the things that bind us together.

An Old Friend I Haven’t Seen

I met Gina over 15 years ago at an accreditation conference. We hit it off instantly and we’ve never lost touch. I had breakfast with her and in Denver. It was as if no time at all had gone by.

Future Travel

My three times cancelled cruise (COVID) to northern Europe is coming up in just a week. I’m sad about just getting home to see and spend time with Paco and then having to leave him again. I know he loves his sitter, but I like to think he’d prefer to have me at home. When I return from the cruise I intend to stay put for a few weeks. The timing of the cruise is not ideal, however, there is nothing I can do to change NCL dates.

Lyon, France with friends in November and a few trips planned for 2023.

My Paco (right) and his best friend Petucha, while I was away


I apologize for spelling or grammar mistakes. I’m not in the mood to reread this blog.

Travel Tips for Frequent Travellers and Genoa

A little bit of Milan as well (less than 24 hours in this city)

Photo: Milan and Genoa (on this trip)

My Blog My Opinion

I’m stuck in my hotel room in Genoa today (Wednesday) due to severe thunderstorms (I love them, but they never happened). I shouldn’t say “stuck” because I’m in a very pleasant hotel in the oldest part of Genoa and my room is quite comfortable. I love reading; watching films can be relaxing, but writing takes me to my happy place. I have been travelling quite a bit and I thought some travel tips might be useful to some of you.

These days, I mainly travel for two reasons: 1)to try food in different parts of the world, 2)to experience change. I’ve noticed great things happen in my life when I shake things up a bit. In the process of shaking, I like to minimize things that could go wrong.

Deciding on Where to Go

I’ve written this before, but it’s worth repeating: the older I get, the less I want to leave the comforts of home. I love my life in Faro and I miss it when I am away. Then why do I do it? It’s a complicated answer, however, I’ll give it a try: I travel because I think I should. Lame answer isn’t it, but it’s true. I believe that I grow as a person when I travel. I know I grow physically from all of the eating I do (another blog).

When experiencing different cultures, you are able to broaden your thinking about the human condition. Of course you can experience differences in your own backyard, but it’s not the same when you’re surrounded by people who look different, sound different, behave differently, and interact with you differently — and that’s all good.

I’ll use my current situation as an example. I am in the Old Town.

“The historical centre, also known as old town, of Genoa is one of the largest and most-densely populated in Europe. Part of it was also inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO) in 2006 as Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli.” Wikipedia

As I dragged my suitcase through the narrow, hilly, horribly humid streets I noticed two things: First, there are prostitutes everywhere. They don’t seem to be hiding at all. Second, the area is ethnically diverse. I know that neither of these things is atypical to Genoa, but they stand out here. Where do my thoughts go? Well, I’m certainly happy to see so much diversity. To me that always means more food options and a city that is welcoming immigrants. The prostitutes? I’m not so sure how I feel. I guess if it’s legal and I don’t know the answer to whether or not it is, then I would think there would be regulations around health and safety matters — I’m speculating. Prostitution doesn’t directly impact me personally; however, in my mind, where there are prostitutes, there are illegal drugs and other crimes. This way of thinking stems from my early years in certain parts of Manhattan (remember when Times Square was a hell hole?). Right or wrong, these impressions are part of a history I cannot erase. The prejudice around the selling of one’s body is also deeply embedded.

So as I walk around the Old Town and take it all in, I don’t judge the people I see, but I do wonder how and why it is accepted here and not in other places. We humans are complicated; my prejudices and thoughts are not something I am ashamed of, but the more I learn, the more I understand, and therefore, the less prejudiced I become.

Back to deciding where I want to travel. My first priority is to choose a place that I haven’t been to, where I can fly direct. I hate changing planes. Most of my travel woes occured when I missed my connection or had delays on my first flight which caused me a great deal of anxiety — then and now. There are times when a connection cannot be avoided, but I try to minimize the frequency.

On this trip, I flew directly into Milan. I’ve been to Milan many times because of my position at the French Culinary Institute. I had no desire to spend time in MIlan. Genoa is only 90 minutes away by train and I have always wanted to experience Genoa. Seemed like a no brainer and so far, it’s working. I take the train back to Milan tomorrow and I get to visit with a friend. the next time I’ll go north to Lake Como.

I try to choose places where I can experience dining at ethnically diverse eateries. The cuisine is excellent in Faro, however, it is not diverse enough for me. I had Korean food my first night in Milan. This made me very happy.

Update on prostitutes: The Old Town was swarming with police at noonish today (Thursday); I don’t think it’s legal. I didn’t see a single prostitute.

How to Get Where I’m Going

I love trains and I hate buses. Even though there are usually less delays with buses (in Europe), I hate them so much. Sometimes I have a choice and sometimes I’m forced to take a bus. For example, Sevilla is a couple of hours away, but you cannot get there by train from Faro. Then of course there is flying — terrible for the environment, I know. I prefer to fly out of Faro because I live 10 minutes from the airport and that is a big reason why I chose Faro. Faro has several budget airlines (EasyJet, RyanAir, Jet2, Air Transat, and a couple of others). I can book these airlines inexpensively and fly direct to many cities; then if I need to I can add on a train trip (Genoa where I am now for example). These airlines are all about loading them up and shipping them out, making their on-time-record pretty decent.

There are times when I am forced to take the train to Lisbon because I cannot fly direct to my final destination. I will occasionally add on a Faro to Lisbon leg, but only if the connection is less than three hours. The train is just a little over three hours, therefore, it doesn’t always pay to fly. I normally add an overnight stay in Lisbon; it’s a beautiful city with lots to see and do.

How Long to Stay and Where to Stay (and cruise bookings)

For certain destinations, there are sometimes flights only once a week in and out of Faro. For these trips the decision has been made for me. If there are a couple of flights a week, I will take a three or four night trip, depending on how close or far away the city is. If it is a trip to France and it’s a little over two hours in the air, three nights is sufficient for me. If I’m flying to the States or any place where I’m flying over seven hours, I will go for a week or more. My problem has always been that I miss being home after a few days. This includes times when I am having a great time. I know, I am a complicated fella.

I love using to book. After 10 nights, I get one free night (it depends on the per night costs for the 10 stays — it’s a average cost for the free night. There are times when I have to pay a little bit more for the free night. How is it free then? Who knows.). I have achieved a certain status due to frequency of use, so sometimes I am upgraded to a nicer room or they might leave me a bottle of wine or even include breakfast — as long I don’t end up with twin beds, I’m happy. Happiness being relative. I love when a good breakfast is included. It means I eat more than usual, but I’m learning to be more selective about my choices (i.e., granola rather than three croissants). sometimes has more choices, however, I’ve noticed the deals are not as good. It’s good to compare. I think most of these booking platforms are similar. VRBO is good for long stays in homes or apartments. For booking flights, I love I have gotten some great deals on this site and they send alerts.

I use Airbnb a lot when I’m staying more than two or three nights. I like that I can cook my own food and I love the often, not always, homey feel. People can be very generous and creative — I have stayed at amazing Airbnbs at bargain per night rates. Look closely at the cleaning fee, service fees, taxes, and the cancellation policy. When COVID hit us and flights and trips were being cancelled, I did lose some money. Now I mainly book hotels or Airbnbs with generous cancellation policies (some even the day before travel). I only bother with travel insurance if I’m taking a cruise. I think most have restrictions and do not pay out. For cruise bookings I use Ryan Holland at Vacationstogo. He’s a true pro and gets what I like. It’s all about customer service and knowing the customer. I usually book my own excursions, but not always. Sometimes the cruise lines give you credits and then it might be a good deal. Again, do the research and fine the best deal for you.

For me, finding a bargain is a great deal of fun. There is nothing better than planning a trip to a great city for a song. I look at it this way, the less I spend on airfare and hotel, the more money I have for dining out. As you already know, I live to eat. If you are one of these people who eat to live, I am so sorry for you.

How Much Do I want to Spend?

My budget is always different depending on the following: If it’s a quick weekend away, it’s a tight budget. A longer trip requires more comfort and therefore, a bigger budget. I trip I have waited a lifetime to take (Asia 2023) will mean a greater budget. I don’t love spending money on high-end hotels (although the Sofitel in Havana almost changed my mind; it was fabulous). Sometimes I book a really inexpensive vacation and then I upgrade right before I leave. You know, if I find money in my dirty laundry or a great aunt dies (never going to happen). If you’re travelling with a friend or partner, budget must be discussed and agreed upon.

Tipping: know the tipping practices of the country you are in. Whenever staff go above and beyond, I reward them generously. As a person who worked for gratuities for many years, I know how it feels to be snubbed or rewarded.

What to Do Once I Get There

If I’m traveling to a different time zone or after a long journey, I plan a nap. If I know I’m arriving early (most U.S. east coast flights arrive in Europe in the morning), I write to the hotel and let them know my flight time. I usually write something very humble, such as: “I know this may not be possible, but if you have a room available by 10:00 a.m. I would be very grateful. I will be arriving after a very long flight and I will need to rest and freshen-up.” It doesn’t always work, but I sure am happy when it does. I have learned that when travelling, being nice goes a long way. Should be the way we live, but it’s difficult sometimes because people (hospitality people specifically, aren’t always nice. I have noticed that if you are super nice to angry staff, they sometimes chill out. I live in a fantasy world most of the time.

When planning your first day, keep it light; pace yourself. I always say that if I fail to see or do something and I really like a city or place, not seeing or doing everything will give me a good reason to return.

What if Something Goes Wrong? Stop laughing!

What is that saying? “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Pessimistic at best. Considering the amount of travelling I do, I’d have to say I have very few problems when I travel. Here are some of the things that I do to avoid problems:

  • Do your homework and keep your documents in two places: in your phone doc file and print out paper copies. If something happens to your phone, you’ll be glad you had your docs with you.
  • Always keep your passport and visa in the same place. I pack mine days before a trip and I keep it in a deep pocket of my carry on (and I keep a 20 note folded up in my passport case in case of an emergency). Note the expiration date of your passport and visas on a digital calendar months before the expiration date. Pop-up reminders are very helpful and will prevent you from paying expediting fees. I know too many people who have had to postpone a trip because their passports were either expired or the new one did not arrive on time. Make sure you don’t need a visa to go wherever you’re going. Travel agents are useful for this sort of thing. The travel agent I used for my Cuba trip did everything and it was worth the extra money I paid for the trip.
  • Order a taxi or transfer the day before an early flight. You cannot count on Uber at 4:00 a.m. (Maybe in big cities, but not in Faro). You’ll pay a bit more, but you’ll make your flight. Today, my taxi driver wanted 30 euros for a six minute ride to the airport. I bargained him down to 25; still too much. The world has become a greedier place.
  • Arrive earlier than you think you should for your flight. Getting through security and passport control can take longer than you think. Download a movie or bring a good book. Most airports have free wifi. Having time to spare is so much better than begging people to let you in front of them — some people are gracious and kind; others are bitter. Some people will hold you accountable for every bad thing that ever happened to them. That horrible person may be the reason you miss your flight. I can recall a moment in the Miami airport when I came close to crying. A stranger took tapped my shoulder and led me to the front of the line without even asking anyone; he’ll forever be my hero. I wasn’t blessed with balls that big. Strangers can surprise you and restore your faith in humanity.
  • When you travel to a country with a different currency, either get some at your bank before you leave or keep some from a previous trip. Not all taxis take cards. And what if you haven’t eaten for a few hours? Even in the digital automated world we currently live in, sometimes you have to have cash.
  • Pack light. I usually try to book an Airbnb with a washer. If that’s not possible, I wash by hand. If you’re going somewhere for more than four nights, you do not need underwear or pants for every day you will be away. Most items of clothing will dry overnight. In an emergency, you can always buy a few things.
  • Keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, medication, your phone charger, a pair of underwear, and any other essential item, in your carry on bag. If your luggage gets lost, you’ll get by for 24 hours. If the airline does lose your luggage, ask for a clothing allowance. My favorite pair of shorts were purchased in Seattle when my luggage remained at JFK.
  • If you have an early flight, stay very close to your hotel — it will reduce your stress. As I type this I am in a hotel room 10 minutes from Malpensa Airport in Milan. I have a 6:00 a.m. flight (not by choice) and I’ll need to wake early. Sidenote: I did not sleep well thinking I’d sleep through a call and my phone alarm. It doesn’t matter that this would never happen.
  • Try not to plan your travel back-to-back. I’m sort of in that situation now and it’s not good. This was all due to COVID disruption, rescheduling of cancelled flights, etc. A day of getting to the airport, security lines, Ubers, trains, and buses, can zap you of all the energy you have. Your body needs time to recover.
  • Try not to stay with friends and/or family for more than three nights. Having guests isn’t easy; after a while you’ll start to get on each other’s nerves and it can ruin a good vacation. If you can afford it, find your own place to stay. I stayed with a friend for over two weeks once and I still feel bad about it.
  • Bring a small pillow or one of those neck thingies. My pillow has a 100% soft cotton case and it helps me to sleep better on trains, planes, and buses.
  • Lastly, don’t let the details bog you down. Remember, being organized is supposed to make life easier and help to avoid headaches and disasters. Keep telling yourself how much fun you’re having.

Eventual Travel

Cop-out I know, but true: as I get older I will be taking shorter, easier, higher end trips. Possibly one long journey a year, to places I have never been . . . I think, perhaps, maybe? I can talk myself into just about anything. Remember not to take your health for granted — there may come a time when travel is not possible. I’m a realist . . . except when it comes to eating great food. I think I’ll eat well until the clock stops ticking.

Upcoming Travel

Toronto, Denver, & Detroit, coming up on the 14th, Northern European cruise in early October, Lyon with friends in November (what was a three night trip has become a seven night trip due to a flight cancellation — more wineries and more French food), Florida with friends in March, back to Liverpool in April so I can spend time with a friend, and a big trip to five Asian countries in November (with same friend — no not that kind of friend). I haven’t planned all of 2023, but I know I will spend more time at home in Faro.

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Restaurant Tips and Pics of Genoa

Alla Lunga Restaurante in the Old Town, Genoa is superb. Local ingredients, excellent service, great atmosphere, and not pricey.

Locanda Spinola, Old Town, homemade pasta and fresh fish. Not a bargain, but excellent traditional Genova cuisine.

Il Mannarino, if you love meat you will love this restaurant. My friend Valentino took me there because my father was born in Bari (outside of the city in Bisceglie) and the owners of this restaurant are from there. I had an outstanding lunch. I did not have steak, but no doubt it would be good here. Beautiful memories.

There is a lot to see and do in Genoa (Genova here). I mostly ate at reasonable restaurants on side streets. After years of travel I can recognize and smell the tourist traps. The food where I dined was good and the service was excellent; however, I only note when they are exceptional. When visiting Italy, I eat pasta daily; it’s my birthright.

Why Being “Right” Can Be So Wrong

Ego versus Humility

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Can You Hear Me?

Abandoning a full-time career has provided for more time to sit around in groups and shoot the breeze. Sometimes, rather than contribute, I observe. What I hear, stirs up all sorts of thoughts and emotions. First and foremost, I fall back on a belief I might be running into the ground: people do not listen to one another. Everybody has something to say and few among us listen.

It’s true, make a conscious effort to observe what is happening around you today. I guarantee what you hear will disgust you. People talk over one another, disregard major points being made, ignore emotions and cries for help, and generally exhibit rude behavior. There are exceptions of course. I have a friend who will look directly into your eyes and actively listen. It’s incredibly effective. He always makes you feel as if he is taking in every word and processing what you are sharing. There will be a pensive pause and then a brief and thoughtful response. It’s the most incredible virtue.

I have observed him interacting with others and I have noticed that some individuals do not acknowledge his excellent active listening skills. These people are so wrapped up in their own need to spew bullshit, that they take no notice of the curtesy that has been extended to them. I’m sure there have been numerous studies done to help determine why people have a need to be heard and/or speak. I think it boils down to a few basic principles:

  1. Human beings rightly or wrongly believe that others care deeply about what they have to say. We have a strong need to be thought of as a person of authority.
  2. We all believe that we are actually listening, even when we’re not. Try telling someone that they haven’t heard you.
  3. We are afraid of silence. I’ll never understand the fear of silence. Have you ever observed an older couple in a restaurant sitting across from one another eating and neither one of them is speaking? It’s not that they have nothing to say to one another; in fact, they are more than likely just enjoying one another’s company and the silence. Many words are often spoken in silence; a look, a squeeze of the hand, a tender stroke on the cheek.

I’m not a psychologist or an authority on communication. What I know, I know from observation and reading. How often have you heard someone pose a question to a group, where an answer might not be readily available or known? You will rarely hear people say, “I don’t know.” Instead, more often than not, individuals will make up facts or distort the truth. This need to appear to know the answer is stronger than a desire to be truthful. Why is it so difficult to say, “That’s something I need to learn more about,” or “I don’t know.”

I absolutely love asking Alexa (Echo by Amazon). She (it) doesn’t always know the answer, but when she does, it’s extremely gratifying.

Being Right

It’s natural to want to be right. When you’re in a group and everyone wants to be right, that’s a problem. Or when you have one person who always wants to be right, that’s also a problem. I know someone like this and he makes me crazy. I need to explore what this says about me.

Exercises You Might Like

Give the individual you are speaking to two minutes (more or less) to speak; tell them that you will not speak until their finished. When you are done responding, reverse roles. Do note use a timer because it can be distracting — approximate the time. The point is to not interrupt and allow your partner to complete a thought.

Listen and then speak: tell yourself to listen carefully and not to speak until you know the person whom is speaking is finished.

Ask a question and listen to the answer: whether or not you know the individual well doesn’t matter. There is always more to learn about someone. See what happens when you ask a question and silently listen to the response. During the lockdown a friend and I spoke daily. We made a commitment to ask one another three questions a day. It was an incredible exercise. I have known this friend for over 25 years, but I came to realize that I did not truly know her.

Ask for feedback: ask the person you are having a conversation with if they felt heard. “Did I listen to what you had to say today? Did it feel different than it has in the past? Could it have been better for you?” When you become a better listener, your partner will also improve.

Ask for what you need: we seldom if ever ask our partners to listen attentively. “John, I know you usually listen to what I have to say, but I’m asking you to focus on my words today. What I have to say is important and I’d like you to listen more carefully.” This request, repeated now and then, will remind your partner that you need to be heard. The other person will respect you for being clear. Always return the favor.

Provide positive reinforcement: “Wow Annie, I really felt like you were listening to me just then. Thank you, it means a lot to me.”

Admitting You’re Wrong

I think that when you realize you were or are wrong, the best thing to do is say so. People will be extremely understanding and they will more than likely tell you so. Telling someone something is legal when it’s actually not, doesn’t count.

A Good Read:

I Might Be Wrong by Björn Natthiko Lindebald


A weekend in São Bras de Alportel with friends this coming weekend, Milan and Genoa early September, Toronto, Denver, & Detroit, mid-September, Northern European cruise in October, Lyon in November; followed by a few other trips in the not-so-distant future.

Summer is almost over, I sure hope you’re enjoying it. I just finished a complete renovation of my bedroom. If you want a lift, spruce up a room or your entire home.

I Am Not What I Own

A Gentle Reminder . . . to Myself

“Hush Christopher! You’re not supposed to talk about your money.” It’s funny how in certain cultures, money is not discussed, yet in others, it is flaunted. I was raised in an environment where it was not appropriate to talk about what one paid for things. Mind you, I was raised in poverty. I recall teachers in school telling us that there are certain things one didn’t share. You were never supposed to make your peers uncomfortable — boasting about what you have and reminding others about what they didn’t have. Looking back, I believe this was a good life lesson. Something tells me Brooklyn has changed since the 60s and that they’re no longer teaching these values.

I’m getting to my point . . . I live in a place where lots of expats (immigrants) come to retire, play mah jongg and/or poker. The people I’m surrounded by are not poor, but for the most part, they are also not rich. These are people stretching their hard earned dollars. Travel, good food, concerts, and time with friends, is their currency. I rarely hear much boasting; it seems to be more about sharing experiences. What is nice about this, is that you can get some good ideas and learn from other people. So long as we listen to one another — a lost art indeed.

Every once-in-a-while, someone says something about a house they’re buying or something they ordered online. I hear a hint of bragging and it makes me cringe, but the truth is we all do it. I try to stop myself when my thoughts head in that direction, but sometimes it feels good to hear someone ooh and ah. For example, I was sharing a recent memory of a Michelin star lunch I had in Porto. I was treated, so I’m not sure it counts. I was describing the setting and the dishes and I could tell, a couple at my table was taking mental notes. I know it wasn’t a vacation in the Maldives or the purchase of a beach house; however, I was eating up the envy. Isn’t that a form of bragging?

I recently spent some time with friends from South Wales. They casually asked me how much I paid for my condo. I shared the amount with them, but I was somewhat surprised that they asked the question. I told them that although I told them what I paid, in my world it was not something you usually divulged. They were miffed by my words. First, it was their impression that Americans loved to discuss their wealth and second, they said that people in Wales talk about what they paid for a house without giving it a second thought.

How One Might Respond to Boasting

There is the gentle, innocent bragging and then there is the Donald Trump, over-the-top variety. Which one might you think I despise? There are a number of ways to deal with it when it is directed at you or when you are a part of a larger group listening, as all collectively cringe.

Here are some responses to the obnoxious kind we have all been forced to endure:

“I didn’t realize you could afford something that expensive.”

“Wasn’t that watch popular in the 80s?”

“Can you leave it to me in your will please?”

“Can you save this for the next time, I’m buying a Ferrari today and I’m afraid I have an appointment with the dealer.”

“Show me that diamond again, I didn’t see it the first time.”

Bragging about children, grandchildren, or pets shouldn’t count; except of course, when a person goes on and on until you get to the point where you’d like to knock the phone out of their hands.

Am I being unkind? Sorry, I don’t think so.

What I Have that I Consider Priceless (happy to boast about this):

  • Family who love me despite my shortcomings
  • Friends who make me laugh when I’m down and who are there for me when I need them most. In other words, friends who are chosen family.
  • Paco, my furry friend and companion
  • A love of art, words, nature and the undiscovered
  • Good health
  • The ability to reason and rationalize
  • A home in a country where social democracy is embraced and practiced
  • My father’s passion for food and cooking
  • My mother’s sense of humor (and legs)
  • Fearlessness
  • Optimism
  • Authenticity
  • A seeker of truth and justice

Not an exhaustive list, but you get the point. How can anything material this world could offer me, trump this list? I implore you to take inventory of what truly matters.

I consider “know it alls” to be right up there with people who boast. Wouldn’t it be great if we could sometimes just say, “Would you please just shut up!”

When You Might Be Misunderstood

I recently posted the purchase of a friends painting on Facebook. Some might see that as boasting. “Look at him bragging about buying art.” In truth, I did it to promote my friend’s work. I wanted others to see her talent and visit her studio; in my mind, that’s not boasting, it’s supporting a friend. I’m not ashamed of my behavior; I’m proud to know talented people.


I’m currently exploring the Loire Valley. It’s too hot to walk around, but Pornic on the coast starting Saturday will offer milder weather and even a thunderstorm (my favorite). Milan and Genoa in early September; Toronto, Denver, and Detroit coming up mid-September (the best time to travel). Cruising to northern Europe in October, and then a number of shorter trips to the end of the year. This isn’t boasting by the way. If I said I was was staying in a suite on the cruise, that would be boasting. I always travel on the cheap.

I probably won’t dedicate a blog to Nantes and Pornic (where I am now). I’m enjoying being away from home. For me, writing about a place can be distracting. Feel free to ask questions if you have any. France is one of my favorite countries and sometimes being here feels like an extension of home.

Photo by Gabriela Palai on

If it Were My Last 24 Hours on Earth

“No one here gets out alive.” — Jim Morrison

Reblog Nov. 2019 (with additions)

Not to worry, not checking out anytime soon, just reminding myself how fragile life can be. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone; therefore, I think it’s best for me to respond in the abstract and not name names.What if you knew that you were going to die and you had 24 hours or less left to live? Would you want to be surrounded by those you love? Would you run away and hide from everyone? Would you tell people you cared about? Would you share things you have been holding back? Would you look back at memories? Would you end your life sooner in order to control the situation?These are the kinds of questions I ask myself when considering just how finite life is.  And by the way, the questions come up occasionally, not every day. There are statistics that guide us when we consider our lifespan. There are formulas based on how long your parents lived. Then there are calculations based on lifestyle. Genetics sometimes come into play. However, an accident may make all of those theories insignificant and irrelevant.I had a pretty bad accident a couple of years ago that made me question life, death, and how I feel about both. Up until the accident I was fairly certain that I would grow old and cranky. If I’m going to be honest, I have to say I’m well on my way.I attended a dinner party a few days ago and raised my blog topic for this week. It’s interesting to hear what people have to say in a relaxed social setting. I don’t usually share my own thoughts until after I’ve heard from others. As with any difficult subject, some people prefer to avoid the matter altogether and this time was no different. One of the things I love about people is how very unique we all are. It’s for this reason that I try my best not to judge. Our prospective can be polar opposite based on things like upbringing, religious beliefs, the truth we hold on to, and so forth. I would be untruthful if I didn’t admit to feeling strongly about my own beliefs; the power of personal conviction is essential for many reasons. Keeping that in mind, I don’t claim to be right, but I do think that what I am espousing is true for me; sometimes, that’s all that truly matters.I posed the question to a small group of people sitting at the table after lunch:If you knew you had 24 hours or less to live, what would you do? The answers I got were interesting and understandable:”I wouldn’t change anything; I’d want it to be a normal day.””I wouldn’t tell anyone because all they would do is cry and pity me.””I would be with a very small group of people I love very much.””I wouldn’t do very much because I would want time to slow down. When you do a lot of things, time speeds up.””I might consider ending my life sooner — when I decided it should end.””I would have a couple of conversations I have been avoiding.””Why, do you know something I don’t know?”The thing is, do we truly know how we would behave until we are actually in a particular life altering situation? I could easily say I wouldn’t tell anyone that I was going to die, but in truth, if I knew it was the end and I became extremely emotional or scared, I might need to tell or want to tell someone.What follows are some thoughts on why we live our lives as if there is no expiration date:I love this poignant comic included in Brian Lee’s piece on living life as if we’re never going to die at Lifehack. Check out

  • We are complex creatures with hopes, fears, frailties and misgivings. Our highly developed brains allow us to tuck away thoughts and focus on things that make us feel good; I should note that some of us are better at this than others. We often behave as if our daily actions do not have consequences for the future. Vices and health related toxins are often imbibed or eaten without concern for longevity. It’s a curious human occurrence considering that most of us would like to grow old. So what drives us to recklessness? It’s as if there is a little switch in our brains that we choose to turn off when desire overpowers restraint.It is no accident that the precise timing of our death is unknown. Imagine the chaos and emotional instability that would ensue. I think that animals have a better sense of death and what it means than we do and, therefore, have better dying coping skills. I’ve been with several dogs at the end of their lives and the sense of peace and acceptance I felt from these animals was both life affirming and beautiful. We live and we die and that is the true miracle of life.As I consider complicated mechanisms for denial and delusion, it once again brings me to how I might deal with knowing when my own demise is just around the corner. Here are some thoughts that come to mind (not necessarily in order of importance):

    1. There is no doubt in my mind that I would want to truly enjoy the wonders of the earth. The sunrise and sunset continue to amaze me and I take both in as often as possible. The smell of flowers and the feel of earth between my fingers, gives me great pleasure. I can only imagine that knowing these wonders would no longer be accessible would heighten my desire to experience them.The people in my life who have shown me love and devotion would be on my mind at the end; I would hope that these cherished few would be nearby. I would want to let them know how much I love and appreciate them. I still do not know that I would share the inevitability of my passing. We all know that we should be showing our love and appreciation often, not waiting until we are sick or dying.I have loved food since I could smell my dad’s pizza in the oven when I was a wee toddler. My relationship with good food has never waivered and I hope I remain true to my passion until the day I die. I have been reading research about taste buds and how our sense of taste diminishes with age. I refuse to believe that this applies to me. My father and aunts and uncles on my father’s side, all enjoyed savory dishes well into their 80s. If I knew that my death was near, I would want to devour my favorite foods:  shellfish, pasta and cake and a nice red of course. I know that knowing it was almost over would probably have an effect on my appetite; however, knowing how I sometimes eat and drink to feel better, I imagine I’d be hungry and thirsty. A very expensive armagnac would be a must have. Being present and cherishing every moment of what life I have left, would likely be my mode of thinking and feeling. I have never feared death, therefore, I’m fairly certain I would be at peace with it.I would want to be comfortable; the right temperature, the right place, and the right people around me. I would probably want to be on a good dose of xanax.
    2. I have had many people in my life pass:  my grandparents (three before I was even born), my parents, several siblings, close friends, teachers, co-workers and acquaintances. My mother’s brother died of a massive heart attack in his 50’s; how could I not consider the possibility of dying at anytime? Personally, I don’t find this morbid or sad.

    3. Long ago I decided that if I had a fatal illness, I would travel (if I could) to a place where you could choose to die with dignity. If this were to happen, I would have an opportunity to decide how I would spend my final hours; all of this provides great comfort. I am not obsessed with dying, I am focused on living and making sure my quality of life is the best it can be.

      The purpose of this blog is twofold. First, it is my hope that it will get you thinking about how you live your daily life; what are your priorities and do you consider and cherish the people and things that bring you the greatest happiness. Second, it is my belief that we as individuals have the power to change the course and direction of our lives. I felt stuck, misguided and unhappy in Maine. It wasn’t so much the place or the people, but an environment that was too comfortable and unchallenging. I moved to Europe in order to reboot, recharge, and start afresh. It’s not right for everyone, but it has taught me more about myself than I anticipated. Self-discovery and change can be as exciting as a new relationship; driving gleefully into the future with renewed hopes and dreams. Fear is what usually holds us back. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of death. Put all of your fears aside and go for it. The unknown can be a wonderful and rewarding future. Focus on the image of a door opening to a paradise you never imagined existed; more often than not, we have the ability to manifest our dreams. I choose to manifest those dreams while I am still alive.

Travel Update

Going to Nantes, France Wednesday. There is a heatwave in this part of the world and the Airbnb I booked way back is not air conditioned. The owner claims it stays cool in the apartment, but I’m not convinced. I have booked a hotel room just in case. Pornic will be cooler (second half of trip) by the time I arrive there, so I think I’ll be okay. Fact is I don’t sleep well in extreme temperatures.

More travel after this trip — my next blog will include an update.

Navigating Feelings

“Feelings that come back, are feelings that never left.”

— anonymous

I got feelings, you got feelings, we all got feelings . . . truth right; poetic even? Lately I feel like I’m feeling too much; too much is wrong with the world and I have the feeling that it isn’t going to get any better anytime soon. I’m wondering how to remain positive when everything around me is falling apart.

Is it okay to laugh when there is so much to cry about? Is failure to turn on the news or “like” your friends’ posts on Facebook, the same as living with your head in the sand? I’m not sure out of sight, out of mind is such a bad thing these days. It seems like self-preservation is the only tool that has any usefulness and my toolbox is half-empty, said the optimist.

Everybody wants to give you advice on how to make the best of it; why you should be grateful; remind you of all of the abundance in your life, but what if you’re just not feeling it? Are you the problem or the solution? For me, the answer is neither. I am neither complicit or the cure; what I am is human. Human beings feel and sometimes deeply.

My capacity to temper, hide, and/or come to terms with my feelings, has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. Empathy is good; however, when feeling the pain of others weighs you down to the point of stagnation, it’s time to reassess. Time to find a way to shut it down, switch it off, cover it up, and walk away. Don’t ask if it’s right or just, remind yourself that there are limits and that you are no good to yourself or anyone else when you have gone beyond those limits and you can no longer yank yourself out of bed.

Me First and the Face of Deception

We all know people who appear perfect. How does she do it? Why does he have all the luck? Who does she think she is and why can’t I be more like her?

You don’t have to go deeper than just below the surface to see that trouble and pain are being hidden, with the hope of never being discovered. That knowledge alone should help us to be more forgiving, but we’re not. We beat each other up and judge as if we ourselves have cornered the market on perfection. The moment we accept that we are all broken, is when we can accept our own flaws.

Why is it So Hard?

Beating yourself up is so much worse than you might realize. It has lasting effects on the psyche and makes you appear weak in the eyes of others. Dark, dark blog this week.

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

As I become more aware of my feelings and the reason I experience negative feelings, I have to learn to accept that there are setbacks — times when I do not handle my feelings as well as I would have hoped. It is at these times when I realize patience, forgiveness, and learning from your mistakes are essential for future success.

My Next Move

I have no next move. I will continue to monitor my feelings, knowing that I will never stop feeling and I can do little to control these feelings.

Feeling by Bnxn & Ladipoe (partial lyrics)

Ain’t nobody Realer
Touch down got a couple gees for the dealer
Gang signs out the window my killer
Life getting sweeter no use water dilute my Ribena

So we toast to the good life
Every minute to the full cos I could die
Pull up open doors then it’s suicide yeah
16 bad woop and they all by the poolside

I like the way I’m feeling now
No come use your Reggae spoil my blues and rhythm now
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
I like the way I’m feeling now
Omo e get small thing weh dey stress me but right now I’m chilling now
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
I like the way I’m feeling now
No come use your Reggae spoil my blues and rhythm now
No no oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
I like the way I’m feeling now
Omo e get small thing weh dey stress me but right now I’m chilling now
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

Travel Plans

I travel to discover new places, revisit places that make me feel good, and to recharge the worn out batteries. And of course, to be with friends and family.

Alvor, Portugal, end of July, Nantes and Pornic in mid-August, São Brás de Alportel, Portugal end of August,Toronto, Denver, and Detroit in mid-September, Northern Europe NCL cruise in early October, with some time in London for West End Theatre, Lyon in late November and I’ve decided to stay put in Portugal for Christmas ’22. Florida to be with friends March ’23. Asian cruise on Celebrity November ’23. This cruise has been postponed three times.

“Travel far enough to find yourself.”

— Unknown

Here’s Paco teaching me how to relax:

Facing Your Fears

Or Choosing to Remain Fearful

Fear is the #1 reason for stress and anxiety in many people today. Fear of death, fear of the future, fear of losing a job, fear of pain, fear of going broke, fear of fear . . .

If you can overcome your fears, you will be way ahead of the game. You will perform better, sleep better, have better and longer lasting relationships, and be an overall happier individual. I sound like a used car salesman, but you have to admit, these are major concerns and goals for most of us.

There are great resources out there for coping with fear. I found one-on-one therapy to be extremely effective. Talk about your fears and work through them with a trained professional; it’s money and time well spent.

Not addressing your fears will only lead to distress and unhappiness. It’s one of the few things in life we can control. I write about this not as an expert, but as a person who has spent a great deal of time working through my fears.


“The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety,” Very Well Mind, Ankrom, July 8, 2020.

What Is Fear?

Fear is an emotional response to a known or definite threat. If you’re walking down a dark street, for example, and someone points a gun at you and says, “This is a robbery,” then you’d likely experience a fear response. The danger is real, definite, and immediate. There’s a clear and present object of the fear.1

Although the focus of the response is different (real vs. imagined danger), fear and anxiety are interrelated. When faced with fear, most people will experience the physical reactions that are described under anxiety. Fear can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear. But the subtle distinctions between the two give you a better understanding of your symptoms and may be important for treatment strategies.


Why Fear Can Be Debilitating or A Barrier to Success/Happiness

I have a person in my life who is so afraid of outcomes, it takes her a very long time to make decisions — if and when she even makes them at all. Unfortunately, because sometimes life happens rapidly, opportunities often pass her by. If fear gets in the way of living your life, that’s a huge problem.

There are those who are so fearful of being hurt, emotionally and physically, it stops them from doing important everyday tasks (i.e., driving, crossing the street, confronting someone who is treating them poorly). There are so many others I did not name.

How We Run Away From Fear

Self-awareness is essential and its advantages are vast for so many reasons; however, when it comes to fear, you might be able to name the fear or identify the fear, but you may not have the ability to manage it. I wish I could say concurring fear or managing fear is easy, most of us know it’s not.

How Fear Can Motivate

If you like a good challenge, you may see fear as an opportunity to push through it and come out on top. For example, if heights are a problem for you, but you really want to experience a vista from a mountain or rooftop, if you’re able to manage the fear and climb that mountain, the accomplishment of that task might be a significant reward or pay-off.

A Fear of Mine: I am afraid of my anger. Because I have witnessed physical abuse from someone I care about, I fear becoming abusive. For this reason I check my anger constantly. If I’m in a situation and I feel myself heating up, I walk away. I take deep breaths and I think about my anger and the damage I could do. By managing my anger and defusing it, I can claim my appropriate reaction as a prize. Not only do I get the prize, in addition, I have learned a better way of coping with my anger. Each time I disarm my anger, I improve my response. I’m at a point now where I rarely have to remind myself to back down; it’s almost automatic. My goal is to be completely calm in every situation, not easy for a hothead like me.

Some people become extremely frustrated by my non-reaction; these people like a good fight. Just remember, that’s not your problem or concern. Your concern is your own peace of mind and feeling secure with your behavior.

Another of my fears is losing Paco (my dog). Sometimes this fear is so intense, it prevents me from getting a good night’s sleep. I dwell on what could happen to him. I often think that I cannot imagine what kind of a father I would have been. I’m not sure there is enough therapy in the world. I will admittedly never be completely at peace with this fear.

Overcoming Fear

Even writing about my fears has been tremendously helpful: identify, attack, overcome, and celebrate. Reassess occasionally and reinforce if need be.


A few years ago I was writing my bucket list and I got to #7, “jump out of a plane (skydive).” I wondered what the heck I was waiting for and I made a reservation to do it that very weekend. Procrastinating seemed ridiculous because the only thing stopping me up until that point was the cost. I figured I’d either take the money out of savings and suck it up or lament about it later in life. Honestly, it was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done.

You cannot help but consider death when you’re skydiving. Parachute could get stuck, you could accidently hit a tree or some other large object, you could hit the ground head first, yada yada yada. While free falling and marveling at the world from that height, it occured to me that if I did die, it would be over quickly and it would be a great story: Christopher had an accident skydiving and he died instantly with a smile on his face. Seriously, that’s what I thought. I honestly wasn’t afraid. I’d already been hang gliding, deep sea diving, and raised by a lunatic; I figured I’d survive this too.

I don’t fear death. What I fear is a long, debilitating illness. I can assure you that if I have any say in the matter, this will not be the case. I will have a right to choose and I will choose death with dignity — thank you very much. One of the many things I feel very strongly about.

I checked skydiving off my list and decided I had no reason to ever do it again. Sometimes just getting yourself to do the thing is enough. My bucket list is ever changing. It can be long or short depending on my mood. It’s just a list; as you well know, I love lists.


I hope parts of this blog have been relatable. If your working on a fear and the work your doing is effective, please share so I can relay your success and assist others who might be dealing with a similar challenge. We have more in common than we realize; it boggles my mind that so many of us end up suffering alone.

Concurring my fear of asking for help and being rejected, has been a major challenge. The worst case scenario is a “no” or a “I can’t help.” In this case you learn who your friends are and who you can truly depend on — both good things to know.

I’m hoping I don’t sound preachy or righteous — please tell me if you think that’s the case. Works-in-progress need critical feedback.

Blog Topics

Topics are selected randomly. Sometimes it may be something I’m grappling with; at other times it may be a nagging demon, and perhaps it may be divine intervention.

Upcoming Travel

Alvor, Portugal, end of July, Nantes and Pornic in mid-August, Toronto, Denver, and Detroit in mid-September, Northern Europe NCL cruise in early October, with some time in London for West End Theatre, Lyon in late November and I’ve decided to stay put in Portugal for Christmas.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

What I Don’t Miss About My Youth

Not sure of my age here, but clearly younger than I am now.

I used the above photo for two reasons: first I was partying like the devil that night (on Fire Island for a few days), and second, when I look back, I have no desire to return to that time. Naive, blind to the truth and too easily influenced by others. No regrets, just looking forward to the future. I have some control over my future and no control over my past.

Lamenting About What Once Was

It’s so easy to look back and glamorize your past. “I was so much happier then; I was thinner when I ran marathons; there were no signs of age; nothing hurt when I was 20; my problems were small; I had potential partners; the drugs were good and the nights were wild.” You get the picture.

Today, I’m focusing on what I don’t miss. Just a reminder that there is a reason the past is the past, and furthermore, what makes the future so attractive.

What I Don’t Miss

When you’re young and stupid, you make mistakes you can never erase. Enumerating my mistakes would be a waste of time and would bore you to tears. Let’s just say that I did things I’m not proud of and I doubt I am alone in this feeling. Fortunately for me, I lived to tell my story. Being one of the lucky ones who survived is not something I take for granted. At some point I pondered that I could either continue down that rabbit hole of destruction or crawl out of the hole and make a life I could be proud of. The latter was the better choice.

Good Riddance

There are a number of things about being young that I do not miss:

Most importantly for the sake of survival and peace of mind, I do not miss being insecure. If there is one message I can send to the youth it is this: Be true to yourself, embrace your body type, know that you are enough, and forgive yourself. Therapy, failure, and friends who love me dearly, have helped me to become a more secure person.

I do not miss lying to myself and others about my sexuality. I need not say more.

The constant fretting about all the shit I didn’t have … or need.

I spent a bit too much time caring about what people thought of me or anything else. This has been a difficult one to shake, but I confess lately, it’s been easier.

Along the same lines, I wasted far too much time being with people who either only cared about themselves or who cared little about me.

There were battles not worth fighting; I fought some way too hard and lost a little bit of me in the process.

Who among us hasn’t spent way too much time feeling sorry for ourselves?

There was always a voice in my head telling me that I shouldn’t be spending time having fun — I needed to be serious and work hard and focus on the future. Most of it was nonsense. That voice has thankfully been snuffed out.

I don’t miss countless hours in the classroom listening to some professor who knew very little about very little. Not always the case, but often the case.

Working for a narcissistic power monger stole years of my life. No one is to blame but me. I don’t miss her or that time of my life.

I have spent too much time on my skin; a delicate coating that has protected me and caused me way too much stress. I’ve mostly shed that burden.

I, for the most part, do not miss my manic, bipolar, sadly broken mother.

Being terrible at sports and beating myself up for it. Marathon running took care of that.

Friends and colleagues (people I thought were friends) who either actively tried to take me down or whose gossip was divisive and hurtful. Not bitter, just glad it’s over.

This process of growing older and looking back can truly help to put things in perspective. Now is the best time of my life. Now I know my truth. Now I know the significance of pain and healing. Now I know and embrace who I am. I understand time and I am grateful for whatever time I have left. Treat me with love, kindness and respect, and I will return the same in spades.

My Previous Blog and the Relocation Dilemma

Thank you for all of the comments and feedback; really good stuff to ponder. I am ravenously pursuing an idea; stay tuned.

Upcoming Travel

Hoping my trip to France in August sticks, but if it does not, it does not. More time with Paco and the Algarve coast.

Older, wiser, more confident and looking forward to whatever comes my way.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Fighting restless demons . . . again.

From my terrace on a clear night, the Ria Formosa with the Atlantic Ocean behind it.

I personally know a few people who have lived in the same house or apartment for over 40 years. I admire their staying power, but I cannot relate. I have moved no less than 15 times in the last 30 years. I’ve relocated so many times that my friends and family do not trust the address they have in their contacts.

I don’t know why I am this way. I can only guess based on my thoughts, however, messages come in and out of my brain quickly and most don’t stick around very long. I relocated to Faro 4.5 years ago and I haven’t budged (meaning I haven’t moved). In all fairness, we did have a two year pandemic and I am living in a foreign country where moving is complicated. I don’t consider myself impulsive, but recent frustration over a condominium issue has me wondering.

A brief disclaimer: I have a bit of reticence in regards to writing about my living situation. Because I know I have an awesome life, I fear people will think I’m boasting. I have two thoughts about this: first, anyone who believes that to be true doesn’t know me or my intentions, and second, if you believe that, I prefer you to leave now – – do not read any further. This is the way I work out some of my internal battles; many people have told me they find it a useful tool. Anything I have achieved in my life I did on my own; I hardly need validation.

Here’s what I have decided to do: I am going to note all the pros and cons and make a decision based on the weight of either side. I’m completing this exercise on my blog for those of you who struggle with a similar affliction, that of inner conflicts based on little or no facts.

Some Background and Generalizations About Faro

Faro is part of the Algarve and the Algarve is known for its incredible, unbeatable, beyond fantastic . . . weather. It’s sunny over 300 days a years, winter temperatures are moderate compared with many other parts of the world, summers are hot and dry, and fall and spring are glorious. Our trees bloom year round and I do not own a winter coat (not true, I just bought one for a fall cruise to northern Europe). There is a regular breeze off of the Ria Formosa and Atlantic Ocean. And if you’re already wondering why I would leave this slice of paradise, hang tight.

Faro is the capital of the Algarve. We have an international airport (10 minutes from my place), a train that takes you north to Lisbon, Porto, and many other cities, and a regional train that takes you to the border of Spain to the east and to Lagos, west. Faro is a working city — of course there are wealthy people living in Faro, but is is mostly middle class Portuguese people. Faro has a small population of expats and it is surprisingly diverse. Tourism is the number one source of income for most people working here. If I get any of this wrong, my Portuguese/Faro friends will set me straight.

There are restaurants throughout Faro, however, a majority of these eateries are traditional Portuguese restaurants — Portuguese people love Portuguese food; probably true for most cultural groups. In recent years, ethnic restaurants are popping up all over the city: Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, Italian; the food scene seems to becoming more sophisticated and varied. You don’t have to go far to encounter other types of international food in nearby cities. For example, there is a Korean restaurant in Alvor that I am crazy about; Alvor is about an hour away by public transportation and Vilamoura to my west, has three Thai restaurants.

The Algarve is in the southernmost part of Portugal; therefore, miles and miles of spectacular beaches line the coast. Faro has a beautiful, long stretch of flat beach you can get to by ferry, bus or car — I prefer to go by ferry. There are many seafood restaurants at the beach and most of them are quite good. Other flat beaches or beaches with spectacular rock formations, are east and west of Faro and can be reached quickly and easily. Off-season is the best time to go: mid-September to mid-to-late June. The tourist season has been expanding in recent years; great for the economy and the locals working in tourism or hospitality.

It’s not the Algarve I am considering leaving, it’s Faro. I told you I’d outline the pros and cons, so you’ll have to wait.

There are some things about the Algarve and Portugal that are typical or pervasive. There is no point outlining those because I’m only considering a move away from Faro. When you do this kind of exercise you have to narrow down your objectives. If I were to move, it would be to another city/town within a 50 mile radius.

Pros to Living in Faro

  • Airport nearby (great if you travel a lot)
  • Trains nearby
  • Excellent medical and dental care (great vet as well)
  • Restaurants are plentiful and open year-round
  • I have made some very nice friends in Faro; friends for life in fact
  • The Ria Formosa
  • Unpretentious
  • Easy walking city
  • The capital of the Algarve where all the main government offices are located
  • My street is wide and full of beautiful foliage
  • One does not need a car (a decent city mini-bus system)
  • Extremely affordable
  • Great food stores and shopping
  • Close to several beautiful towns
  • The marina/downtown area has a lot to offer
  • A very small expat community (I cannot get a poker game together — the only downside). I prefer authenticity.
  • The city is growing and adding amenities
  • A large indoor produce/fish market and a Sunday outdoor market

Cons to Living in Faro

  • My condo neighbors do not want to spend money to beautify the building — some of these individuals can afford it (I’m making an assumption).
  • It’s a nice city, but it’s not a beautiful city
  • A very small expat community
  • The Ria Formosa is in front of the ocean; therefore, you do not have a direct view of the sea — true throughout Faro unless you live at the beach (not my scene).
  • Only one good Italian restaurant. This is a significant con.
  • Many of the friends I spend time with live in Tavira. Most of them do come to Faro to see me.
  • There is a growing number of teenagers who have removed the mufflers on their motorbikes. They ride up and down my street revving their engines and the police do nothing. I jump 10 feet in the air everytime it happens. I feel old typing this.
  • It is a city filled with cigarette smokers. They fill outdoor cafés making it impossible to enjoy outdoor dining (a European problem).

You might look at these lists and say, “Ah, first world problems,” and that would indeed be true. Keep in mind that we all have to keep our lives together and that searching for happiness is a human condition.

If I do move, it would only be where I have a direct sea view.

I have an idea that might help resolve the condo issue, however, I’m not hopeful that it will fly. One of the things that frustrates me about Portugal is that you often float an idea and get back this reply, “We don’t do that here.” or “That wouldn’t work here.” Sometimes you words are met with silence or a shrug; not easy for this problem solver/fixer.

I’m not expecting anyone to have the answers; however, if you’re so inclined, please let me know what you think.

Upcoming Travel

Alvor, Portugal, end of July, Nantes and Pornic in mid-August, Toronto, Denver, and Detroit in mid-September, Northern Europe NCL cruise in early October, with some time in London for West End Theatre, Lyon in late November and I’ve decided to stay put in Portugal for Christmas.

Being Happy With What You Have

Or Why Are You One Upping Me?

The older I get, the less I understand rivalries. Why are some people so hung up on believing they are better than or have more than someone else? That’s all it is by the way, is a belief. Abundance is an accumulation of material things, yes, but true abundance is about love, joy, family, friends, experiences, memories — these are the things that fill us up; make us whole. All the other things are just that, things. Stuff that makes you happy for a nano of a minute.

Yet, when we are in a social setting, we sit around boasting and comparing what we have accumulated. And it’s not just about things either. I don’t have to give examples, because clearly you know what I’m talking about and we’re all guilty of it on some level, at some point in our lives.

Getting Rid of Shit

When I decided to leave the United States, one of the many positive outcomes was getting rid of all of the crap I had accumulated over the years. I made a commitment to only take along what was important and necessary. I was able to reduce 59 years of stuff, to three suitcases. The challenge for me was to keep myself from doing it all over again. Could I show restraint at all the new shops I would discover in Europe?

My Plan

What I set out to accomplish was fairly simple . . . only buy things you need. Simple but rather broad. “Need” is difficult to define. Take for example a stylish red chair I recently purchased. Do I need that red chair? Of course the answer is no. However, that red chair has several purposes: 1) a valet for my clothes in my bedroom, 2) a place to sit to put on my shoes, 3) an extra chair for an additional dinner guest, etc. So in fact, I need that chair, but did I need a fancy 350 Euro chair? Could I have just purchased a 10 Euro folding chair?

Mind Games

We talk ourselves into many things on a daily basis. If I do that, then this or if I eat that chocolate cake, I’ll skip lunch or workout twice as hard at the gym. We are masters of deception, but it’s how we humans keep from giving up.

I admitted defeat a long time ago. What I tell myself now serves as a compromise and a guideline. Absolutes no longer apply and that’s a good thing. If you set up roadblocks and restrictions for yourself, you are bound to fail and end up beating yourself up. Who doesn’t do this?

The End of the Day

When all is said and done, you have one person to answer to: yourself. Therefore, if you brag about what you have or buy an expensive car just to impress others, it’s your own reflection that you have to face. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and not judge yourself harshly, well then, good for you. I’m learning life’s lessons the hard way. My intuition tells me that there are only two things that I have that might impress others: integrity and authenticity; everything else is just a shiny object without real meaning.

So when people around me are one upping one another and working hard at being something they are not, I am trying my best to focus on their intentions and my own path going forward. Are they so broken that your opinion of their Rolex matters? If that’s the case, it’s more sad then annoying.

Working hard at being perfect is exhausting. First I have to convince myself that I am enough, then I won’t need to tell you, you will see for yourself.

Upcoming Travel

My trip to Milan to see friends was cancelled by EasyJet. I pouted for five minutes and then rescheduled. The pandemic helped me to realize just how flexible and resilient I can be. Instead, I’ll stay close to home and spend a few days at the beach. Maybe (who knows these days). Nantes/Pornic in August. Toronto, Denver and Detroit in September and Northern Europe in October.