Friday, March 23, 2012


The Process of Making Contact.

If you're confused as to what "IRL" stands for, allow me to use it in sentence to give you some context.

"I can't wait to meet you IRL!"

If you're still stumped (and I don't blame you), it's text/tweet-speak for "in real life."  That very sentence was directed at me while tweeting with Charissa from Zest Bakery in California.  When I first read it, it took a few seconds before it clicked.  While I suppose it's no more strange than "LOL" or "TTYL," I guess it was the fact that I had never come across it before that threw me at first.  But when I really think about it, beyond my lack of fluency in acronyms, I guess it might also have thrown me because I'm such a lone wolf by nature.  Someone actually wants to meet me?

Which brings me to the topic of today's post: Getting out from behind my computer and smartphone, and actually meeting people, face to face and in the flesh. 

Now what would bring a self-professed "lone wolf" to break with his M.O.?  Well, to be honest, while I'm the epitome of an introvert in many ways, I also long to share aspects of my life with others.  Whether it's recipes,  photographs, wisdom I've picked up along the way, or trials and tribulations that have challenged me to rise above, it's in giving them away and paying it forward that I find real worth, value, and vitality.

Playing Sir Joseph in HMS Pinafore in 8th grade.

Growing up, I remember lamenting being "different."  Raised in a community where my family and I were the minority among minorities and being an awkward chubby boy with a flair for the arts,  it was common for me to come home pouting or crying because of the things other kids would say or do.  And my parents would always sit me down, look me in the eyes, and tell me that being different also meant being special and unique, and that when people make fun of you, it's because they're not happy with who they are.  Of course, at the time it didn't feel like very good advice because the teasing didn't stop.  But looking back, I am so grateful to my parents for teaching me that life lesson.

In my everyday life, I am rarely similar to those around me, and I've grown accustomed to it.  But when I have an opportunity to be around people who perhaps look like me, who think like me,  or who eat like me, there's this sense of affirmation and completion that brightens my view.  I feel like I'm smiling with my entire being, with rigid boundaries temporarily dissolving, and I can allow myself to live within each moment with no worries about the past nor the future.  The fact that it is strange is ultimately what makes it wonderful.

So as I near the one-year anniversary of The Canary Files, it's a goal of mine to actually meet some of these people who have inspired me to gather up my courage and finally share my story.  Social networking has allowed me to connect with people all over the world, many of whom I deeply admire and respect, and I enjoy communicating with several of them on a daily basis.  But for me, the true beauty of meeting a bird of the same feather doesn't really happen until I've actually met them, and we've seen each other's face and heard each other's voice (and in a perfect world, shared a meal (or two)). And that's honestly what I'd like.

Dinner IRL with Jess Simpson of forgiving martha (L) and her sister at Eastside Cafe.
Even if it's just to say, "Thank You," I want to begin putting names to actual faces instead of avatars or profile pictures; making a connection without degrees of separation or waiting for tweets or messages to load up in "real-time."  In the past, maybe I would've been afraid of rejection or scared that someone would think this is stalker-ish or weird of me.  But another life lesson I will never stop learning (or passing along) is that Life is too short to allow Fear to govern our actions.  

Being the orange in a bushel of apples is something I'm quite familiar with.  Heck, I'm more like a dragonfruit.  But even within the first few months of putting The Canary Files out there, I realized how important my work could be - not in terms of groundbreaking baking techniques or popularity, but in touching people's lives and helping them to identify with someone who may be on a similar path.  Reading other people's books and blogs reinforced the lesson to me that different is beautiful, and in the process, inspired me to find the courage within to stand up and share my passion and my voice.  Now, I comprehend my own potential, and ultimately my responsibility, to do the same.  And I also am coming to understand that I can't honor that if I'm hidden behind the scenes.

Starting here in Austin, with its vibrant and seemingly endless supply of foodies, writers, photographers, and bloggers, and then making a trip to the West coast in August (L.A., San Francisco, and possibly Portland), I am beyond looking forward to stepping outside my comfort zone and embarking on the adventure of meeting those who make up this wonderful community I am so proud to be a part of.



  1. Beautifully written Jonathan. I can relate to the "being different" from everyone else. Thank God for people like you who are authentic and real. It invites the rest of us to step up and be ourselves as well. Thank you for being you.

    1. Thank you so much for this heartwarming comment, Jenilyn. In the face of "being different," there were many times when I wanted to just fit in and lose myself in the crowd. But now I understand what a gift it is, and that only through understanding what it's like to be on the outside can one find their way in.

  2. You're wonderful, Jonathan. IRL. ;) xo

    1. No, you are, Jess! ;) Can't wait for Simpchon Round 2!

  3. Great blog, Jonathan! Let's SIMPCHONFEST soon! :)

    1. Thank you, Tara! Simpchonfest will definitely be happening soon. And I may have just the place for us... :)

  4. We are cut from the same cloth. I am extremely introverted as well. Classic textbook introvert. But I love how the internet has given me a way to express myself and to interact with people through the blog, food, photographs, and stories. Beautiful post!

    1. Maraming salamat, Jun! While the internet and computers can be seen as interference or as a way to "unplug," for many of us, it's just the beginning of making connections and finding kindred spirits, and in some cases, discovering lifelong friends. :)


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