maybe "rants" isn't the right word. these are simple thoughts about my life. some may be more colorful than others. some language may be offensive, but it depends on your definition of offensive. consider this your warning ;)

20 December 2013

The Duck Call Heard Round the World

People are funny. Anyone that has hung around me for more than fifteen minutes knows I like to laugh and that my sense of humor is awesomely broad, finding entertainment in so many things. But that’s not the kind of funny I’m talking about tonight.

I’m talking about how you use your voice. And not in a technical, vocal theory, Seth Rudetsky kind of way, but in the speak up for yourself and voice your opinion, first Amendment use your voice kind of way.

If you’re on social media sites a lot (which is probably applicable if you’re reading this, by nature of the beast), then you have probably noticed a swarming of posts regarding Phil Robertson, aka the Duck Commander of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. If you haven’t, or haven’t read any of the articles, here are a couple to get you going

The GQ article by Drew Magary that launched this online hornet’s off

So here’s the quick version.

Drew asked Phil a question. Phil answered and shared his opinion about homosexuality and some chatter about growing up in Louisiana. This opinion was taken as a huge kick in the pants and spit in your eye to those in support of marriage equality and pro-LGBT communities. After this article was released, A&E places Phil on “hiatus” and suspends him from the show.

There are two general posts I’ve noticed about this situation:

1. Down with Phil and the whole Duck Dynasty crew for believing in something different from what I do.
2. Hooray Phil for speaking what I believe in.

How about this, folks, when it comes to your opinion…

You’re right.

We’re all right in our opinions, and surprise, there will always be someone with a different view.

Yes, I agree with the principle that a man was asked his opinion and that he shared it. There’s nothing illegal about that. There isn’t anything illegal about publishing it either.

And I don’t work for A&E nor do I know what the conversation was that led to his suspension from the highly-favored show he is affiliated with. For all I know, the suits behind the show may have wanted this backlash to occur and arranged this as a stunt to really bolster viewers in support of Duck Dynasty, filtering out those that don’t share in Phil’s views. But I don’t, so I kick back and watch so many people flail about the online pool of bullshit.

Here’s where the crowds wake up, which leads me to my view of how people are funny.

Social media posts are a great substitute for current event news shows. Whenever someone dies, a major event happens, someone farts in church, anything. I can gauge how grand something is by the variety of people that post about it. When Nelson Mandela died? A few posts here and there. But Obama’s Selfie-gate? That turned into as big a deal as him getting re-elected. Paul Walker’s death. Everywhere. Billie Jean King going to Sochi. (High five if you didn’t have to Google that, or Billie Jean King.) Barely anything.

People like to sound off when it’s something people are talking about, and it’s usually something that doesn’t affect them directly, but they have an opinion about.

Shocker. You can have an opinion about something. Tell me what you had for lunch, I’ll have an opinion about it and tell you a story about why that pisses me off.

And I get it. I really do. It’s easy to share an opinion when it’s about something that doesn’t directly affect you, reflect on you, or make an actual difference in your own life. Because if you do share something about how feel and you offend someone or ruffle their feathers, then, oh snap, you’re getting ignored, blocked, defriended, or worse, not paid attention to.

What about the last time you ordered food at a restaurant and your order was wrong and you didn’t say anything because you “didn’t want to be that customer” or “cause any trouble.” Or the time that awkward co-worker keeps ogling you or making obscene comments about your sister, wife, or daughter. Or what about any other situation like bullying, harassment, or using words like “gay” or “retarded” in a derogatory manner. Did you speak up then?

Probably not. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve been guilty of this too. But I’ll tell you what…in the last two years, I’ve made a conscious effort to say something when someone says something is “gay” or refers to something as “retarded.”

Because that can actually help. That’s using my voice to make me world around me a little better.

Complaining about what someone else did, or defending them when they don’t know you from Adam just feels like waste of time. And maybe I’m wasting my own time, telling you that it’s a waste of time. And so what if it’s ironic that I’m sharing my own opinion?

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, relax. Take some of that energy you have, some of that pomp in your step, and some of that fire in your pocket and refocus it. Try thanking people for things that you make take for granted. Try helping someone out. Try asking someone how they’re doing and actually hang around long enough for them to tell you.

I don’t agree with Phil’s point of view, but I’m not mad at him for sharing it. He was asked. But I look at him like any other celebrity. Yeah, he’s a public figure and people enjoy him and his family for entertainment, and yeah he’s supposed to be aware of what he says, and I’m sure he is. But is what he says or does paying your bills or raising your kids? (well maybe it is the latter if your tv is raising your kids, but that’s a different story.) Is the private life of an athlete really going to make you stop rooting for your team? Or is the social life of an actor or actress really going to make you enjoy their beautiful performance any less?

Because if it is, then you should probably take a vacation. By yourself. For a while.

I believe in marriage equality, human rights, civil rights, and the pursuit of happYness.

I acknowledge that there are still racial inequalities and that makes me sad.

I hope to see the day where there is no more salary disparity between women and men.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and no amount of regulations, background checks, waiting periods, or anything will keep a criminal from committing a crime.

Regulations don’t keep people from taking drugs. Education and experience does.

Music doesn’t make people commit suicide, shoot up schools, movie theatres, or cause riots. Whether it’s rap, rock, opera, or classical, it doesn’t matter. Music tells stories, invokes action, and amplifies your soul.

The act of going to a church doesn’t make you a better person. And neither does not going. You make yourself a better person.

Will there always be people I disagree with? Yes. And some of those people are some of the coolest I may ever meet, but I’ll tell you this, at least they know what they stand for, whether it’s what I stand for or not. And as long as they listen more than they preach, I’ll sit and chew the fat with you.

So preach on, Phil Robertson. Speak your mind. I do, but I don’t have the millions to be famous enough for anyone else to care. This may not be read by even twenty people. But I said it. And I’ll say it again.

I’m sorry you feel that way, because the world is changing for the better whether you like it or not.

But who am I to you? No one. I’m just some Asian kid from the bay area livin in the heartland of America, and guess what? That’s totally cool, because you have your opinion and I have mine, and I can respect that.

I just wish people would use their voices more powerfully. To do something that’ll actually make a difference, and not just spend it on topics that won’t change anyone’s life.

Love yourself. Speak with honesty and conviction. Worry about the safety of your family and don’t think you’re above anyone. Your marriage won’t hurt mine. My owning a gun won’t have anything to do with your grandchildren. My vote in the booth is for my children. And don’t think my appreciation for country music is an attempt to blend in with the crowd. I’ll bump some Tupac too, but don’t be afraid, I won’t  cut you.

17 December 2013

Diving into snow

Looking out the window of my kitchen this morning, I was drawn in by the erratic paths individual snowflakes fly. Yes, we’ve heard it all before…

“People are like snowflakes, unique and beautiful in their own way.”

But what I saw led me to these subsequent thoughts:

Snowflakes are like people in many ways, but obviously not completely.

We travel individual paths, but not completely out of our own control. (At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.)

A gentle breeze may blow us around, dusting the earth with wintry highlights, but as we accumulate, we can bring destruction upon things that are not ours.

When seen from inside, behind the safety of a window, we are safe from the masses and are protected from the bitter cold they are flown in with.

When molded and forced to collaborate by children, artists, and free spirits, snowmen are created, erecting something joyful for others to appreciate.

Snowflakes only exist in certain conditions, in select parts of the world, during specific times of year. Some people feel they can only survive in certain conditions, whether it’s year-long tropics or seasonal, metropolitan or secluded.

We’re part of a cycle that, as many understand, to be finite and quantifiable, but can be viewed as snowflakes do, recycling over centuries, traveling great distances between continents and oceans, sharing the same planet that prehistoric creatures did and future generations will to come.

Sometimes, if you jump early, you can be smothered by those that follow blindly, or even by chance, but in someone or something else’s search for life or food, you can be unearthed, discovered, and redirected.

White is a color of purity for many people, and as the white snow falls to the ground, cars drive by, and dirt is mixed in, leaving it dingy and different, but not necessarily wrong or repulsive. As people, we enter the world without judgments, needing security and food, but as we travel our own roads and are kicked around by other travelers and become dirty ourselves, we can appear repulsive to others, but we are still ourselves.

And when the sun shines again we have lived through our time. Hopefully we have brought joy to others, but there will undoubtedly be those numbers that cause pain, suffering, and hardship for many they don’t know.

Bruce Lee said, "Be water, my friend" and snow is still water with a little persuasion from the elements, so I think we’re still capable of doing some good.


“How can you not get romantic about baseball?”
–Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball.

That’s the voice I heard in my head as I drove home from work today. In a light snow, well after the sun has set, I thought, “How can you not be romantic about winter?”

Don’t get me wrong, I miss my California family, and I’m excited as all hell to see them for Christmas, but the more I think about it, the more I’m not really looking forward to the warmer weather.

Call me crazy, and many of you already do when it comes to this, but the lack of four seasons where I’ve lived on the west coast isn’t my preferred weather cycle.

Yes, I love 70 degree weather and the days like April 25th where all you need is a light jacket (don’t judge, it was on tv yesterday and my wife was watching it), but this past year, seeing the seasons actually change here in one of Jason’s “flyover states,” I miss having four seasons even more than I thought I would when I left Virginia to come back to California years ago.

Tonight, as I drove home, and also when I admired the fresh powder on the grass walking up to the door, I realized why I love snow in the winter so much—it has been a part of a few winters along the path of growing up.

In the winter after boot camp, I was still in Illinois for a couple months before transferring to South Carolina. For this California kid’s first winter in the Navy, the snow from the Great Lakes piled higher than waist level around base.

On a North Atlantic deployment with The Mighty Rickover, this time twelve years ago I was in Norway. Yeah, it was cold. Definitely the coldest place I’ve ever been in my life, but damn was it gorgeous. Taking the tram up the mountain and seeing the fjords as snow drifted down from the heavens is something I’ll never forget. Walking through the plazas past decorated buildings, snow filling the cracks of cobblestone walkways. Truly breathtaking. Standing outside the club eating pizza from a place nearby because we felt like a food break between shots and dancing.

A couple of weeks in Maryland, working at Aberdeen Proving Ground and getting a taste of Baltimore.

My last winter in Virginia Beach, playing in the park during the day and driving around in my truck at night to see the Christmas lights.

And now this winter, living with my wife, driving home from my one, full-time job to spend time with my wife in our toasty, little apartment with our mild-mannered Christmas tree and a couple of dorm-lifestyle chairs.

Eventually the winters will be spent in California again, and when they are, I’m sure we’ll enjoy our time with our family and friends who are much closer geographically than they are now. But at some point, I’ll think back to the snow. The places where jackets are actually needed for warmth and snowball fights and snow angels aren’t just pipe dreams.

Because, how can you not be romantic about a white Christmas?

04 December 2013

A response to Adora Bull's Paul Walker article on MWD

The following post is in response to reading the article from Modern Woman Digest by Adora Bull, "Top Five Reasons Why I'm Glad Paul Walker is Dead".

I, like many others, accept and enjoy satirical posts from The Onion and I don't consider myself to be an expert on really anything, but I sure as hell haven't heard of Modern Woman Digest to be a satire-posting site.

That being said, I'm utterly stunned at this post that was written to be published with whom I'm assuming to be loyal readers, knowing there would be a massive influx of new ones. Granted, there is a disclaimer from MWD at the end of the article, and there was a link to a follow up article regarding the author's moving into protective custody, but damn, this is some really messed up stuff.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who's going to take a sick day because someone whom I'm never met has passed in a wreck that some may say was deserved. But what I will stand for is respecting the dead and perceiving them as a friend or family of someone else who is grieving. Someone who caused me no harm, regardless of what happens in his private life. (So yeah, feel free to comment and “take a side” about his 23 year old girlfriend who he had been with since she was 16, I’ve read those articles too.)

Also, I see posts like this and it makes me hurt for the community of journalists, storytellers, and writers that aren’t out for shock value and hit counts. Writers like these get their posts shared, and I wholly acknowledge that my furthering the process is only aiding the intended result, but I’m not doing it without adding my commentary, obviously.

Yes, the comments within the article’s post are there, and many of them are commonplace to any opinionated article, but seriously though…

This is probably one of the most disrespectful posts I’ve ever read.

I don’t think I’ve read anything else by Adora Bull, and maybe I will, just to see how far off the deep end she’s gone with this one, but part of me hopes that the majority of her posts are as grossly inhumane and disrespectful as this one.

Full knowing you may never read this post, my sincerest apologies for the article that this is in response to, family and friends of Paul Walker.

14 November 2013

My First Throwback Thursday Blog

Typically, the hashtag #tbt would live in my Twitter and Instagram feeds, but I'm spinning it a little differently this week.

As some of you may now, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo 2013. If you don't know what that means (or Google it before reading further) it's National Novel Writing Month, and it's an annual online event that I'm partaking in for the first time this year.

Normally, I hear about it well into November, but when I caught wind of it in the Twittersphere mid-October, I knew I had to sign up. I had no idea what I was going to write about, I just knew that I did.

So, I've been cranking away at the keyboard most nights, and by the time my birthday and Turkey weekend rolls around, I should have what resembles a 50,000 novel.

But going back, for Throwback Thursday, I'm sharing an old essay. One from 2006, the first time I took Freshman English in college. Yes, I said the first time, because I took it again to receive credit for it so that I could transfer to a university. The first time I took Freshman English, I earned a solid "D" grade.

Yup. Me. Who loves writing, editing, and storytelling, nearly failed Freshman English at a community college. And now I'll be sharing with you an essay I wrote for that class.

Tonight, I give you, (unedited)...

Marlon Deleon
English 122-2000
February 1, 2006

Mrs. Potato Head

Not too long ago, not so far away was a town by the name of Walnut Grove, affectionately, “The Grove.” The Grove is not so different from your average city. There were schools, paved roads, traffic lights, shopping malls, supermarkets, and the like. The McElroys were a young successful couple residing in the heart of this town. They weren’t millionaires, but they were in good standing, and quite comfortable in their five-bedroom, ranch style home. Julian is a lawyer, and is on his way to becoming head of the firm he works at. He has a commanding look about him, some compare him to Denzel Washington, only taller, standing at 6’4.” Nothing about his Black-Irish form would hurt a fly, he’s a big teddy bear. Mariela is his lovely wife, born to a kind Irish-Mexican couple not too far away. With curly red hair and crystal blue eyes, her father’s Irish genes are inarguable, but she is built like her mother, five and a half feet tall, built like a gentle mother hen, arms open to welcome you into her embrace. She is the senior underwriter at her branch of the national insurance company she works for, and her iron-clad work ethic has her on a path for promotional greatness. They are proud parents of twin boys, Jamal and Seamus, and they undoubtedly take after their father. They are only five years old, but are almost at Julian’s waistline. These two boys are one and the same, as they redefine the connection that identical twins often have, communicating almost through telepathy. This tag-team of fast growing McElroys has their pee-wee football team in stitches, and all the parents talk of them becoming superstars of the WFL, the World Football League. This family of four is as happy as happy can be, without a care in the world. However, this is all about to change.

Mariela and Julian are expecting their third child, and to add to the excitement of having another McElroy enter the world, they have decided to leave the gender of this new addition a surprise. The day approaches quickly, and tonight, as they are all having dinner in their quaint little home, Mariela speaks up,
“Now listen here boys, your father and I don’t know if you’re going to have a little sister or a little brother...”

“I want a brother!” exclaims Jamal.

“I want a sister! Jamal smells!” adds young Seamus.

“But, no matter what, you two are the older siblings, and you will always protect the baby, however old you are, wherever you may be.”

The boys reply in unison, “Yes, mother, we will always look out for the baby.”

Julian leans over Mariela in the hospital, holding her hand, helping her focus on breathing techniques they learned in class together. After a while, the doctor stands up beaming, and says to the panting parents, “It’s a girl!” The nurse brings the crying bundle to the parents, and looks down at the baby and up at the parents, a puzzled look on his face. Mariela looks at the little girl, and then up at Julian, noticing the look of shock in his face is similar to the look on her own.

“Those are the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on a baby,” Julian utters, “and they’re really far apart. What color are they?” His wife simply stares at the child, and they exchange glances again, seemingly disappointed. Composing himself, he says, “she’s still our daughter, and we will love her no matter how she looks.”

Later on that evening, Seamus and Jamal are ushered in to the recovery room and they come up to their mother on opposite sides of her bed, sizing up their newborn sister.

“She has green eyes,” notices Seamus.

“No stupid, she has brown eyes,” Jamal states victoriously.

Their tired mother looks up at them both and sets them straight, “He’s not stupid, you’re both right. Her left eye is green and her right is brown.”

“No matter what color they are, they’re still huge,” mutters Julian, chin still in his chest, as if he cannot bear to look at his new daughter.

Almost on cue, the twins yell, “They are huge! Freak!”

“Stop that! Both of you. Remember what we talked about at dinner that night?”

“Yes, mother. We’re sorry. What’s her name?”

“Your father hasn’t brought up any names at all, but I’m fond of Daisy.”

“Like the duck?” inquires young Seamus as he starts quacking at the baby. “Daisy the little duckling.”

“Yeah, the little ugly duckling,” snaps Jamal.

Julian picks his head up in disgust, “You boys stop that right now. Daisy’s your sister and you will always look out for her. Got it?”

“Yeah we will,” they say together.

The boys never spoke of their sister at school, or at football, or anywhere else for that matter, because whenever anyone did ask them about the baby, someone would ask what color her eyes were. And when they would answer, that one was green and the other brown, the response they got was never good. “That’s weird,” was the popular response amongst the other schoolchildren.

As the days went by, more and more people would talk of her mismatched eyes, and the boys could do nothing but defend themselves and their little sister. It didn’t stop there, sad to say. Young Daisy McElroy was destined to be different, and grew herself a full head of blonde hair. Not dirty blonde, nor strawberry blonde, but bright, bleached, platinum blonde hair, like no one has ever seen. Her parents were so shocked as this came about, and were utterly disgusted with it. They covered her in little caps and pulled them down low so that her humongous eyes were hidden from ridicule.

Daisy grew up, but she was often quiet, playing in a corner, or far off in the schoolyard, apart from the other children. She had no friends, and being her older brothers were on the road to athletic stardom, everyone knew the McElroy ugly duckling, since they always walked to and from school together. The other schoolchildren gave her nicknames, ridiculing her hair or her eyes, sometimes even both. Some would call her “flashlight” because her head was so bright, others, “Mrs. Potato Head,” inferring that her she was thrown together like a little toy. One green eye, one brown eye, ultra-blonde hair, all painted on a skinny, lanky, olive-tanned body.

Throughout gradeschool, Daisy tried to find her niche, soccer, softball, painting, band, all in vain. Her mother suggested acting, but the soft-spoken, almost mute, Daisy would never think of getting up in front of hundreds of people at a time. She was deathly afraid of crowds, and would barely speak loud enough for waitresses to hear on the rare occasion the family would go out, since they didn’t enjoy the attention of gawkers. High school came about and these young boys and girls were becoming adults. Jamal and Seamus had graduated high school and had both received full football scholarships to La Salle University, six hours south of Walnut Grove.

And so, Daisy was alone, a freshman, ready to start high school, what her brothers called, “the best years of their lives.” As we all know, at this point in our lives, we start to change, physically, emotionally, and everything is a blur. Little boys and girls don’t have “cooties” anymore, and all of a sudden, “popularity” becomes a four-letter word. Daisy was still quiet, and still possessed her “Mrs. Potato Head” look, but the boys started to notice her more, because she was developing into quite the beautiful young lady. Almost as tall as her father at the end of her sophomore year, she was turning heads left and right, and she started to talk more, being more guys were approaching her.

One weekend towards the end of the summer she went for a run down at the beach. Shorts and a sports top were all that clung to her olive colored body, blonde hair in a tight pony tail, sunglasses protecting her captivating eyes from the midday sun. She noticed a large group of students in the distance, and as she approached she discovered they were all from La Salle University, the same school her brothers were attending. As she ran closer, their conversations started to fade, and the guys turned to see this attractive young lady running down the beach. They called for her to stop, and as she slowed to talk to them, she removed her sunglasses.

“Wait a minute, you’re the McElroy twins’ sister, right?” one of the boys inquired, the others in silence, still in awe of the amazing sight in front of them.

“My name’s Daisy, and yes, they are my brothers,” she said, almost insulted.

One of the other college boys piped in, “I knew it!” After what seemed to be an eternity of silence, that same stunned student said, “What happened to you?”

“I got older and grew up, like we all do. I’m still the same person,” and with that she was off.

A yell came from the crowd, “Wait up! There’s a party tonight at the golf course club uptown. It’s my sister’s birthday, you should come.” She thought nothing of it and continued down the beach.

Later that night she was driving around town and noticed a large traffic flow going uptown. Intrigued, she followed, and ended up at that same party that she was half-way invited to. As she walked in, there were greetings from every direction. Word had quickly spread that Daisy McElroy might possibly arrive, and there were high school students and alumni spread about the club. It was a birthday party, and everyone was having a grand time, but it came time to sing “Happy Birthday.” The crowd was eventually hushed, and they all started to sing. After the first “Happy birthday to you,” almost everyone stopped singing. Almost. As soon as Daisy opened her mouth to sing, those around her noticed her amazingly soulful voice, more powerful than anyone could ever imagine coming out of her soft-spoken self. Daisy sang with her eyes closed, and didn’t notice everyone staring at her until she was done singing, as she slowly reopened her eyes to look at everyone else.

“Daisy...that was...amazing,” said a young girl next to her, and the entire club burst into wild applause. 

“I had no idea you could sing like that.”

“Neither did I,” she said shakily. “I usually only sing in my car, and in the shower, but I’ve been having such a good time here, that I just let it all out.”

As junior year started, she changed her schedule, auditioned and was welcomed into the concert choir and the locally known traveling performance group that the choir teacher also taught. She finally found her niche, and went on to become an infamous singer/songwriter and a model, performing all over the globe. She was never called Daisy the ugly duckling ever again.

24 October 2013

A cave on the beach

 Being scared of putting yourself out there isn’t a new concept to most people. Whether it’s romantically, professionally, or socially, among relatives, classmates, coworkers, or strangers, taking a step forward is difficult for everyone at some point. Here’s a visualization I created for myself when explaining to others what I’m feeling.

I’m standing at the mouth of a cave on a fairly deep beach (deep as in distance from waterline to said cave, as opposed to wide as in distance running along the water). Enjoying my time on the beach is where I want to be, not necessarily at the waterline the whole time, but out of the dim, musty cave that I’m currently standing in. I take a couple steps out and feel the breeze across my toes, but as I get farther into the beach, the sand gets a little too hot and I retreat back to my cave.

Unbeknownst to me at that moment, I’ve entered the cave a few feet in from where I started. The cold sand feels good on my feet, and although I can see the light on the sand, it’s comfortable to sit in the cave that whistles to me while it holds me.

After a bit I gather a bit of courage and take some bold steps onto the sand, exiting the cave on my own willpower and desire to be on the warm beach. The warmth feels good on my back. The sun rejuvenates my love for the beach that I knew I wanted to be on. Life is good.

Taking a few more steps towards the water, the calm crashes of the waves shows me a serenity that I did not know was there. The sand beneath my feet, the breeze rushing through my hair, the warm sun on my face, and the rushing symphony of the crashing waves fills me with energy and passion that I knew I wanted in some form but did not know how to harness.

Until a wave knocks me on my back and the seemingly calm water has now taken my over and dragged me chest deep with my toes barely touching.

I panic, become disoriented, and with eyes closed and erratic breaths, find the sand with my feet and hands and crawl back up to the waterline, shaking the water out of my ears, wiping my face, and spitting the salty ambush from my mouth as I run back towards the cave.

I stop running when it gets dark and the water still dripping down my body is starting to make me cold in the dim rock shelter so I collapse to my knees and hug myself to keep warm.

My breath stabilizes and I can’t distinguish between tears and ocean, but I bury my face in my hands atop my knees and sit in silence in the cave that I did not know was this deep.

I feel like I’m being punished for my bold steps onto the warm sand. Distracted by the elation of the symphony of peace, I let my guard down and trusted the world. For a brief moment I forgot my fear of drowning and total disorientation, and in that seemingly perfect moment I lost myself. When I finally gathered myself I ran as fast as I could on solid ground until I knew I was safely away from the grip of the rushing waves.

And just like life, the cycle continues, the desire for the beach keeps me coming out, and whenever I am beaten by the waves, sunburn, or sand in my eyes (all things I know are possibilities of being on the beach) I retreat further back into the cave. Sometimes I run so far back that the outside is but a tiny pinpoint of light. Occasionally, someone comes into the cave with a torch to show me the way out. But the more they approach, the more I recoil. If I trust them enough I may come forward to join them. Depending on what I see up ahead, I may come barreling forward knowing that whatever is motivating me is worth the risk of being knocked on my back by the waves.

There have been times when I stand at the waterline with a friend. There have been other times when I’ve shut my eyes in the cave and stayed there until I’m too cold, and I’m forced to come out onto the sand just to stay alive, but I don’t step too far out, and the light is painful to my eyes that have adjusted to the darkness.

Obviously, this visualization is perfect for me since I love the beach, the sun, and can’t swim. For you, your beach may be a forest. Or your cave may be the ocean as you look for trees and land. Wherever you end up, you make the decision to step towards the light or retreat further back into your cave. Sometimes you run forward, and sometimes you crawl back. Maybe what you think is the sun glimmering into your dark prison is someone’s smile, and that’s all you need to open your eyes. I can’t answer that for you. All I can do is decide how far out onto the beach my feet take me, and if I get knocked down, I can rinse off in the water, and curl up at the mouth of my cave when high tide comes in to rest—until the next day when I step out onto the sand again.

10 October 2013

Routes about Roots-Beer beats pudding

Blood is thicker than water. I mean really, in scientific terms, blood is in fact thicker than water.

As far as the saying goes, well, sayings are about quips and concise wit. This one in particular, is exactly that for me—just a saying.

In typing the last two entries (Cycling and Negative Instructions, one specific word continued to stand my hairs on end as I typed it—biological. I use the qualifier at length because that’s how I feel about said connection (read: “not a relationship”). Biological…father, mother, brother, sister, sibling, what have you.

Internationally speaking, family is something that has been cherished for centuries. Wars have been waged and vendettas have been vowed. Tribes, villages, colonies, empires, the list goes on, and because of this innate cultural gravity, I feel like what I’m about to say in this blog is as blasphemous as any God-fearing soul can imagine.

I respect my elders. I acknowledge the past, and I learn as much as I can moving forward. I know it’s a privilege to drink clean water and have a warm bed under a roof. I get that any self-respecting parent would want the best for their child.

But what I refuse to hand over is an entitlement of blind respect, unquestioning submission, and an attitude to bend over and bow down to selfish cowards.

I do not have to respect someone that blames, blackmails, lies, and alienates. I do not have to love someone who manipulates trust and uses immature tactics. And I definitely do not have to deal with someone who does not listen.

It’s a rough moment when you realize that someone you thought was strong, rational, mature, and above all else, a friend, turns out to be a conniving coward who can’t answer simple, straight-forward questions or communicate without feeding a chemical dependency first.

I don’t feel bad them, nor do I pity them. I don’t waste my time trying to reach out or do anything else for them. I focus on my safety and health and realize that I now know the true meaning of disappointment.

I feel bad for my friend who has never met his father, for my friend who doesn’t know she’s adopted, for my friend who’s afraid to get married because they don’t know how a marriage is supposed to work. I feel bad that I can harbor these types of feelings for a figure that someone I care about only wants to have in their life.

But that’s just it. These biologicals? They’re figures. These genetic roommates? They just happen to have the same set of sperm and egg donors as you do. That doesn’t make you an emotional family. It makes you a statistic, and it gives you a template that you can decide to follow or not.

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends…
So choose your family to be your friends,
or choose your friends to become your family.

The latter is the choice I’ve made, and it’s a decision that’s often difficult to defend because so many people choose the former and feel it’s the only way.


My biological older brother got married a few years ago, and because I acknowledged we were never that close, I did not assume (nor ask to be) in his wedding. My mother already assumed I would be, and I came to find out he thought the same. If he wanted to, sure, but I just wanted him to ask me like any grown man would ask anyone he would want in his wedding. By the way it was handled, you’d think George McFly was asking Biff to borrow his truck.

When I got engaged a couple years later, my mother assumed both my biological siblings (there is a younger sister as well) would be in the wedding, and she was disappointed to hear that I requested neither of them.

However, I did have my brothers and sisters in the wedding, and those that weren’t standing up there with me were probably in the seats and hung around for the whole reception.

Yeah, my side of the wedding party looked more mixed up than Peter Klaven’s in I Love You, Man, but dammit, my family was in my wedding.

My kids will have cool uncles, aunts, and cousins, and that’s because all the parents will get along too. Not because we’re supposed to because of some invisible-to-the-naked-eye double-helix structure, but because we want to.

Blood may be thicker than water, but water’s in beer and what does blood make, pudding? I’ll take beer over pudding most days.

Routes about Roots-Cycling

Last week I found out via Facebook post that one of my uncles had passed. The last time I saw him was…over 20 years ago, but I still felt it. I wanted to reach out to my two cousins who just lost their father, but at the same time I felt grossly awkward for wanting to feel so close after being so far for so many years.

A couple months ago, I received an email invitation to a wedding for a cousin I have never actually met. I’ve met her sister (for the first time just two years ago), but not her. I appreciated the gesture of inviting my wife and I, and I felt guilty for not inviting them to my wedding just this past January.

When I was seven, I think, I went to New York with my parents and older brother and we stayed at my (mother’s side) uncle’s place. Aside from him being “really tall” (because who isn’t when you’re a seven year old Filipino?) I don’t remember much else. Not if he had a wife, children, or anything.

1. As a child, I only saw my cousins, aunts, and uncles of our parents coordinated it.

2. My parents’ relationships with their siblings affected my relationships with my cousins, aunts, and uncles.

3. Now that I’m older I’m able to contact my cousins, aunts, and uncles on my own.

4. It’s awkward, but (compared to before) it’s better than nothing. (Or is it?)

5. I have a one year-old biological nephew, which means I have the opportunity to be a cool uncle.

6. My (non-existent) relationship with my biological brother affects my (non-existent) relationship with my nephew.

7. As my wife and I have kids, my decision to not communicate with my biological siblings affects their knowledge/relationship with their biological uncle/aunt/cousins.

8. They will have chosen uncles/aunts/cousins with my chosen family.

9. As our children get older, they may want to reach out to their cousins, aunts, and uncles.

10. It may be awkward.

History does repeat itself, and although the reasons may be different, the result is the same. This feeling does not sit well with me.

My goal as a husband (and eventually, as a father) is for the health, safety, well-being of my family. Right now this is centralized on my wife and myself. My decision to maintain a safe distance from my biological siblings and parents has been made clear. As kids come into the picture, there are new relationships that must be acknowledged: uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.

There may be some blood-related folks out there that I do not wish to have involved in my child’s life.

I don’t make a lot of wishes, but I wish it could be less complicated.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Art.  Arthur Edward Ponce 6/25/54-10/1/13

--Art will never die, and without it there is no heart or earth.

Routes about Roots-Negative Instructions

In an open confession with my Youth Pastor before my Confirmation, I shared with him that a lot of my troubles had to deal with my parents. He then said to me something that we all know, but am definitely glad he said—when kids are born they don’t come with instructions.

We all know that this is true, but to some extent, growing up with whomever we’re raised by, we just kind of slide into the understanding that they’re supposed to know what to do, and we maybe think they’re a little bit invincible in the fact that they’re supposed to protect us.

In the last year, I learned just how human my biological parents are, and as I’m newly-married and thinking about raising a family in the (relatively) near future, raising kids without instructions is something I think about quite often.

I was raised in nuclear family: father worked, stay-at-home mother, older brother, younger sister. Throughout grade school it was rare (for me) to know someone that didn’t live with both of their parents, and I definitely didn’t know any openly gay couples, or people for that matter. From an early age I wanted to get married and have a family of my own, and it just felt natural that I would feel that way.

After high school, while in the Navy, and even more so after I got out, moved back to California and started in community college, I met so many people who were felt strongly about “never” getting married or having children. Many of these opinions were followed up with a statement of how they didn’t have a good example growing up of a good marriage or healthy childhoods, so they didn’t feel comfortable going into a marriage or raising kids, let alone even entertaining the thought.

Who did have an excellent/perfect/normal childhood or have indestructible/flawless parents, though?


And even though I realized this at a fairly young age, the more I thought about my life growing up, the more I realized I had a clear blueprint of how not to raise children. Bad times and scary stories stick with us more vividly than good times, right? Well, after so many you start to think that you just don’t want to deal with it, but I flipped it and realized I had the perfect template of what not to do.

Now that I’m married, I’ve started reflecting on aspects of marriage, and I’ve found it to be just as helpful, I know that there are certain things I don’t want to do in a marriage.

About a week ago, I wrote this blog (click me!) and talked about how I caught myself early emulating a life that I observed growing up. How did I refocus myself for I really wanted? By recognizing what I did not want.

My wife and I do want to have kids, and I know there won’t be instructions on the placenta, but I have, in effect, written my own instructions by living my life and listening to my past. How that turns out, I’ll have to let you know in a few years.

Until then, I need to figure out how I’m going to branch off this family tree stuff into the local weather—leaves of different trees strewn about the yard.

07 October 2013

Roots- A Prologue

2013-10-07; 2143

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” –Benjamin Franklin

See also: “Blood is thicker than water.”

There’s a blog I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but it’s been spinning around in my head (and snowballing) for multiple reasons:


The primary topic is rarely, if ever, considered taboo, but my reluctance to actually get this down on “paper” is suspended by my sensitivity to many people I care about and have no wish to disrespect.

I know it isn’t like me to pull any punches or veer away from any topics that may seem off-color, but this one particular one is rooted so deeply in so many of us that it may just be too far for some.

My views on this specific concept has evolved drastically over the last three decades, and I can confidently say that I am in the minority opinion. This doesn’t surprise me, because with as unique a path as I’ve carved for myself (in regards to those I am close to), different opinions are often products of different environments.

The topic?


05 October 2013

sailor completes the circle

We’ve all heard it, and probably at some point said it,

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’,”

…but in the first three minutes of the OU/Notre Dame game this past Saturday there were a couple of INTs (#boomersooner)

(As a Sooners fan living in the South Bend area, I had to bring that back up, but it really does keep me on track.)

Whenever I think of teamwork, I think of sports. To some extent, I find this ironic because I’ve never considered myself an athlete, and growing up as a first-generation Filipino American, a life in the big leagues just wasn’t in the cards for me. My owners force-fed the importance of science and math in my life and wanted nothing to do with sports as a recreational activity.

Growing up watching His Airness on TV, I had a literal hoop dream of being the first Filipino-American in the NBA.

Our pastor at church even approached my mother and asked if I could play for the CYO team at church, and she said, “oh no, no, no. He’d get run over by all the big, black people.” True story. She said this to the pastor.

In high school, I wasn’t allowed to even try-out for the basketball team (not that I would have made the cut), but I did get to participate as a team manager at home games. The basketball coach was also the men’s tennis coach, and after noticing my ability to cover the court fairly well in gym class, he asked if I’d be able to try-out for tennis. Surprise. No dice. Not even with Michael Chang’s fame at the time.

My 10th grade science teacher was also a wrestling coach, and after “breaking up” some horseplay on The Stoop (aka me writhing my way to survival out of my larger friends’ grips), he asked me later if I wanted to go out for the wrestling team—in the 105lb class. Once again, the parentals shut it down.

Once I moved out of the house and left for the Navy, my physical activity level increased tremendously, and I picked up quite an enjoyment for beach volleyball.

I did still try and a play a pick up b-ball game with some of the senior enlisted members and officers I worked for and in an attempt to throw a pass down court, my right shoulder decides it wants the same fate my left shoulder had previously.

Staying away from the hardwood court, I came back to the sand, and as much as I loved it, Mr. Wilson was no good for my shoulders, and the last time I injured my left shoulder, I literally threw it out of socket on a dig, and that, well…led to an ambulance ride and a long night in the ER.

A couple years later, down in Southern California, I was cast in an original play. A site-specific piece to be performed on basketball court in the Hollywood Fringe Festival—this was to be a huge break for me landing a gig outside of school—and I pop my right shoulder during the first rehearsal…playing basketball.

So yeah, sports weren’t really in the cards for me anyway, but I did enjoy them when I could. However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a fan of them and marvel at those that excelled in their respective fields, courts, and tracks.

I eventually started following college sports after I got out of the Navy (See: “I Am Mr T.”) and as much as I love watching the games, I also love watching coaches’ speeches, motivational videos, and documentaries.

So yeah, I may not have been part of a sports team, but I still learned about what it was like to be on a team when I was stationed on my submarine. (Hooyah, Rickover!) However, learning about teamwork on a submarine, in the military, set a really high bar early in my professional career, and that has been something I’ve struggled with at several jobs.

All this came to a halt in the last couple of weeks, and to add some coincidental irony, what I learned in the US Navy led me to my decision to leave Old Navy.

01 October 2013


“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
--Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (and one of the competitors in Washington Nationals’ home games races)

Whether it was running around the gym during pep rallies to distract the crowd in high school while technical difficulties were happening behind the scenes, or bouncing between coasts while in the Navy (and still afterwards), or finding myself in a myriad of part-time jobs from pizza delivery guy, teacher’s aide, karaoke DJ, or barista, I’ve tried to keep in mind the aforementioned words of the original Rough Rider (sorry, DMX).

In light of recent events—more specifically, graduating from college, getting married, and the implosion of my immediate family (term used very loosely)—I have realized that T.R.’s famous words, like many things, are better served in moderation.

For those of you I’ve spent more than five minutes around, there may be a chance you’d agree with me when I say I’m a positive person. I like to have fun wherever I am, whether it’s work, school, or play, and I attempt to find the silver lining (which, sidenote, I just read The Silver Linings Playbook last week, and good lord, I’ve never ended up in tears as I closed the back cover, but damn.) However, this “blind positivity” (as I’ll call it for now) has led me through quite an interesting journey, and well, it’s time to refocus.

A few weeks ago, in a moment of clarity amidst one of my self-inflicted 17-hour days, I asked myself, “Why are you doing this?” And well, the answer was simple, “So I can help pay the bills.” And with that, I was not pleased. Somewhere in recent past, I lost sight of a goal that truly enticed me, fueled my passion, and compromised well with reality. Among the emails of “Your Student Loan Payment is Due”, “25 New Job Openings in Your Area!”, “Enlarge your penis is six days!”, and “Enlist in the Navy Reserve Today!” I got sucked into a head-down bulldog charge of “gottamakethenextpayment.”

That is not living.

I opened my own eyes and stopped justifying why I was where I was. I weighed out some options and thought about the future. I was literally breaking myself trying to succeed at my job. There are some days when I spend more time talking to my wife on the phone when our stores call each other or when I’m behind the register at my coffee shop. I’ve been married less than a year and I already miss my wife. I’m no longer in the military, I don’t deploy for weeks at a time, and I felt that in less than ten months, I fell into a chasm of isolation that some couples live in for decades and don’t do anything about.

And I thought, “we don’t even have kids yet, and if I don’t have time for my wife now, how the hell am I going to make time for my wife AND our children in the future?” And at that exact moment everything I retained, rejected, observed, and hypothesized about the four others I lived in a house with growing up came full circle.

From the ashes, the phoenix emerges in a blaze of glory with the vigor and ferocity of a thousand suns.

The dust has officially been kicked off, the tents have been packed up, and my boots are tied tight.

After opening with such strong words, I have no choice but to end with even more poignant thoughts. These come from two younger minds that both live like champions:

“I’m gonna come at you like a spider monkey!” and “I’m all jacked up on Mountain Dew!” –Walker and Texas Ranger