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 ;)

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