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Thankful 2015

As with most of my posts I meant to do this a couple days ago, and it seems a little ill-timed that I would write a Thankgiving-esque posted 4 days after Thanksgiving. But it’s still November, so back off!

I am glad though, that I delayed, because I got to do and experience a few more things to be grateful for that otherwise might not have made its way into this.

First off all, 2015 has been my busiest year ever. Not just the typical sensation that this year flew by faster than the others. In fact 2015 to me was so busy that this year has actually felt slower, which is a blessing in itself.

Friends

My friends take the cake this year. As we all grow older, it tends to become more difficult to spend quality time with our friends. This was certainly the case for me, and I would have loved to have spent more time with my friends. But again as with getting older, perhaps the biggest lesson I have to learn is that friendship (and most things in life) is about quality, not quantity. The number of regular faces has declined, as people grow up, move away, get occupied, and grow apart. The relationships that remain intact become even more impressive, and important, and I am very grateful to have the friends that I do.

One friend and I spent over two months just trying to find an hour or two to grab a quick beer and shoot the shit, but an ever demanding schedule made it nearly impossible for either of us to land squarely on a date and time. We finally did, and the experience was that much more rewarding. What’s impressive though is that in this day of impersonal communication, this friend actually called me, called me, at least once a week to chit chat on the phone, catch up, and just rant like we used to in the old days. As precipitous as these phone calls were, both unexpected, short, and without forum, they were awesome and heartwarming.

I am very grateful for my friends, all of them. And to/in honor of those friends, here’s a quick list of inside jokes and anonymous shout outs.

You know I’ll show up with the shovel. Whose car we taking?

Yarggg! Ye scurvy scum! Give us all yer rubbing alcohol and lemonade! Yarrr

Water plant with cry!

Annndddrrrreeeeeeeeeewwwww

Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym. Those who can’t teach gym work for the government.

AAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Accomplishments

2015 was a hodgepodge of accomplishments that I am quite proud of and thankful for.

Professionally, 2015 was incredibly rewarding. Business has been booming and as stressful as it is, I am eternally grateful. I always figured that it I have to choose between be stressed over having too little work, and being stressed over having too much work, I choose the latter. So many people are struggling to find work, to find clients, and I would take my 60 hour weeks over that any day. Yes I’m busy, but I’m also thriving and I wouldn’t give it up, and I won’t even hint at bad mouthing it. Never stop being thankful for your blessings, because when you do, life has a knack for taking them away.

I’ve hit 1,000 clients, which is a huge milestone for me, especially considering I’ve only been doing this for about 5 years. Just 2 years ago I remember trying to make it to 300, which know seems like a humbling experience, and makes me all the more thankful.

I’m thankful that my job allows me a degree of autonomy and freedom. And as childish as this sounds, I am thankful I am able to come to work in my PJs, and keep beers in my office mini-fridge next to my Avengers poster and bobble-head Groot figurine.

That job I’m thankful for allowed me to accomplish something else, homeownership. I didn’t blast it on social media but as of November 13 I am a happy homeowner!

1515-MMS-1448814481818-attachment1-IMG_20151128_192756425

I could go on for days about the things I am thankful, but I’m hungry so I’m gonna cut this short. I’ve thankful for my health, for my friends, for my family, for my eternally shedding and drooling dog, for my job and professional success, for my accomplishments, for living in San Diego, for Oreos, and for comic book movies. I’m thankful for a lot of things, I am thankful if you read this post.

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Disclaimer

This blog, article, whatever you call it has been on the back of my mind longer than any other I’ve written. A blog about how in modern society we have to give a god damn disclaimer before doing or saying anything. Most people will probably read this article and doze off three lines in so how do you start such a blog without first giving a disclaimer? Seems almost ironic that I would need a disclaimer to write a blog throwing jabs at disclaimers.

Basically, the gist of my angst here is that you can’t just be honest any more. You can’t just say what you think any more. You can’t just say the obvious any more. No matter how blatantly fucking obvious, or benign, or trivial something is these days, we all have to give disclaimers beforehand for fear of being shamed out of town, because we’ve fostered this atmosphere of wussiness.

I mean ordinarily, I would have been inclined to say at the beginning of this blog “Warning, this blog is about to use foul language. For those of you with children eyes, turn on the Disney Channel instead”.

People have to give disclaimers for practically everything they do. Here are some common examples you’re exposed to every day, whether at work, at home, during the holidays, or out in public.

  • What you say: “I can see your point of view, however it’s my opinion that…”
  • What you mean: “I heard you. I’m about to talk, please don’t hate me.”

 

  • What you say: “Before I begin, I want to clarify that I didn’t vote for Bush…”
  • What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not Republican.”

 

  • What you say: “….oh and by the way, I’m Mexican.”
  • What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not racist.”

 

  • What you say: “No offense, but…”
  • What you mean: “You won’t like what I’m about to say, please don’t hate me.”

 

  • What you say: “Excuse me, can you please lower your voice. I can’t hear the movie.”
  • What you mean: “I paid $12 for this ticket! Shut the fuck up before I shove my foot up your ass!”

 

 

You might argue these are niceties. But I think it’s really just pussy footing. Sometimes I wanna just blurt out “Offense intended. That’s a stupid idea.” There’s being flat out rude, and then there’s being flat out ridiculous, and I feel like the pendulum has swung very far in that direction. Even when something isn’t rude we’re afraid of coming off as rude because as a society we’ve slowly but surely been getting thinner skinned. So many people have such delicate sensibilities, and it seems like every issue is a hot topic of controversy for someone.

I’ve been told not to talk about politics even when I am with like-minded people in public, because some random person I’ll never see again might overhear and get offended. Gasp!

But exactly that’s the root of it. People being offended. Us being offended. Have we all always been so easily offended? Did we always use to cower when something of controversy was said amidst a mixed crowd at a dinner party? Do we dare not raise out glass in agreement with the stranger across the room for fear of earning some random bloke’s enmity? What happened?

Whatever fucking happened to straight shooters? Whatever happened to people who know what they want and say it. They just fucking say it for the sake of saying it? Whatever happened to Eminem? Clint Eastwood, Winston Churchill and George W. Bush? What happened to not giving a fuck?

To quote the great Marshall Mathers, “Whatever happened to wildin out and being violent? Whatever happened to catchin a good old-fashioned passionate ass whoopin’ and getting your shoes, coat, and your hat tooken

We give disclaimers for almost everything. It’s expected that you do, and rude if you don’t. If you just go off and say what you want to say, without first lubing up the sensibilities of the people around you, you’re bound to create some friction, and some enemies.

Because of this, a void in communication has been created. There are certain opinions, certain ideas, certain offensive truths that dare not be spoken for fear of offending someone and permanently landing yourself on their shit list. No more getting invited to couples charades. What has filled this void, is lies, false pleasantries, groupthink, blind obedience to, and agreement with those whose sensibilities might be offended. We’ve catered our thoughts and speech to the lowest common denominator of the emotionally volatile.

Starbucks caught a lot of flak for starting up a dialogue about race. That’s all, let’s just talk about race. Howard Schultz never told his employees to don a white hood and start setting crosses on fire, but that’s how people reacted to it.

When you baby a kid, he turns into a baby. So let’s stop treating everyone like babies. Let’s toughen up. Let’s be bold and speak what’s on our minds. I’m not saying go out and be rude, but let’s stop acting like the simple act of disagreeing is rude. Let’s stop acting like being individuals, and thus have individual thought, is an offence. Am I asking you to stop using disclaimers? Well…

Thankful

With Thanksgiving a week behind us, this post might seem a little ill-timed, but the hell with it. I’m posting it anyway.

I have a ton to be thankful for. Some of those things are obvious like my health, a roof, food on my table, etc., and some are not so obvious, and I want to take some time to bring attention to them, and also bring attention to some of the people I am happy to have in my life.

My Parents

I am so thankful to have my parents. Not just parents, but my parents. My parents fucking rock. I wasn’t born super rich with a billion dollar trust fund to my name, but my parents always took care of me. Although divorced when I was very young, and even though they did not always agree, my parents had a unified front when it came to raising me. Many divorced or separated parents use their children as a bartering token, or form of leverage to enact revenge on their ex. My parents didn’t do that. When my (step)mom came on to the scene, she faced the obvious challenge of being a third wheel when it came to me. But if anyone asked me today, I would tell you have 1 dad and 2 moms. Not 1 mom and 1 stepmom. And my birth mother would agree with you. I’m fortunate to have been raised in a (very unusual) situation in which my parents were able to put parenting before politics. Something truly rare these days with divorced parents. Moms and Dad, I’m thankful for you.

My Enormous Family

Most of friends have but a glimpse of the size of my family. Let me break it down to you. As its height, I had 4 grandmas, 4 grandpas (yes 4 each), 2 moms, 1 dad, 1 brother, 1 sister, 9 aunts, 9 uncles, and 20 cousins. We’re unfortunately without Grandpa Hernandez at the time of writing this, but I’m still so happy to have my enormous crazy family.

Grandma’s house on Christmas and Thanksgiving was always the place to be. Drop in any random Wednesday and you’re bound to bump into a few cousins. Grandma would say I was “too flaco” and sit me down to eat something. Score.

There was the ever abundance of relatives keeping your ass in line. It truly takes a village to raise a kid. When I fucked up, and I did plenty, I had not just 1 or 2 relatives barking at me, I had a village of relatives lecturing me to not fuck up again. And for that, I am truly thankful.

My Good Family

Out of 25 grandkids in total, you figure at least one of us would have ended up on the wrong side of the law. Nope. To the best of my recollection, no arrests, no DUIs, no gang members, no domestic violence, no drug addictions, no alcoholism, none of that shit. Even an unfathomably low level of inter-family bickering.

Am I bragging? A little. But more importantly I’m thankful that our family instilled a sense of values into us. That none of us grew up to be low lives. That we all kept our shit together in rough times, and Grandpa passing was a very rough time. And that after all these years, our reunions still fill the house with noise and laughter.

 My Role Models

I had a very big and diverse group of people who raised me, in addition to my three wonderful parents.

Fred, Todd, De Veau, Johnny and Tawny, Jeff, Steve, Tobie, Vicky, Enas, Mr. and Mrs. Diaz and countless others.

If you read this post, you know who you are. You helped mold me into the person I am today (for better of worse!). You all kept my ass in line when I was a kid and even now into my adulthood. You are all honorary parents of mine, and I am thankful for having you all in my life.

My Awesome Friends

Getting older is tough. People grow up, and grow apart, and admittedly it can be very sad. I prided myself on having a select group of close friends, vs. an endless list of “associates”. Here’s a quick shout out.

Jenny, Adriana, Anders, Becky S, Becky W, Brett K, Brett N, Brian, Candice, Fred, De Veau, Jon B, Jon VM, Louis, Melody, Nick, Ryan, Stephane, and TJ. (Please notice with the exception of Jenny that was all alphabetical, so no one getting butt hurt on me).

I haven’t kept in touch with all of you as much as I would like to, but I am nonetheless thankful to have you in my life.

My Upbringing

I’m thankful for the life lessons I was taught and raised with.

Family is important.

Respect your elders. Look out for your siblings and those younger, weaker, or less fortunate than you. Stay together no matter what.

Work hard.

Work ethic is very important. No, don’t waste your years working away, but also don’t be a lazy sack of shit. My grandparents worked their asses off for my parents. My parents worked their asses off for my siblings and me. And I’m gonna work my ass off to give my kids the life they deserve.

Do right.

From a young age I remember my mom and dad telling me to do the right thing. “Boy, always do the right thing”. Those words echo in my mind every day. Don’t rip people off to make a quick buck. Tip well. Share. Be charitable. It’s not that I’m righteous or holier than thou. I’m legitimately thankful I was raised to be that way, because not everyone was and it pisses me off.

Martinisms

My dad is Martin, and he taught me what I call “Martinisms”. Here are some of my favorite martinisms:

  • If the mind is weak, the muscle must grow.
  • Stupid hurts.
  • Two in the chest, one in the head. When in doubt, empty the clip. Bullets are cheap, life is expensive.

And of course I’m thankful for bacon and California burritos.

Seriously though, this Thanksgiving I had a lot to Thankful for. For those in my life I hope you all know how thankful and grateful I am that you are in it.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

The People in Your Life

Some of my blogs are inspired by recent events like what’s on the news, or by something I had been dwelling on for days or even weeks prior before getting the nudge I needed (and a spare 45 minutes) to sit down and write about it.

This post is inspired by – but not about – a dream. This dream was intense because almost everyone I know or knew was in it. People from various circles of friends, and relatives from different families, and people from different times (or decades) of my life, all hodge-podged into a single dream. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, but it felt like going through 20 years of photo albums in one go.

I woke up, mind on fire. I’ve met so many people. So many interesting people. So many different people. They didn’t all have to be from different continents, from exotic places, speaking different languages. What makes them interesting and stand out in my mind is the vast difference in personalities a lot of them had. There were so many archetypes and personality types from opposite ends of the spectrum that my Rolodex of friends, family and acquaintances could fill the pages of an award winning TV series. Something important that I realized is that they were all there for a reason. Or at least, they all served a valuable purpose, whether I keep in touch with them today or not.

The people in your life all have a purpose. They each fall into one of two camps: They are there to either teach you what to do, or they are there to teach you what not to do.

Messy People

Some people are going to be messy, dirty, or unsanitary. Their purpose is to teach you to be clean, pick up after yourself, and to take good care of yourself and your surroundings. Take care of your personal hygiene. Exercise and take good care of your body. Take care of your environment, whether it’s your kitchen, bedroom, or car. Take care of the environment by not littering, not throwing your cigarette ashes out the window, and making as small a footprint as possible.

Messy Room
Honey Boo Boo’s home

Punctual People and Late People

Punctual People
Man looking at his watch.

Some people are going to be punctual, and their purpose is to teach you to do the same. Punctuality means more than showing up on time. It means RSVPing to let people know you’ll be attending at all, and doing it in a timely manner as well. Admittedly this is an area I can improve in, and have been actively improving in.

Other people are going to be habitually late, or slow to act. Their purpose is to instill patience in you. Many events are time sensitive. Many are not. Know how to tell the difference, and only rile yourself up when absolutely necessary. Showing up 10 minutes late to a wedding is worth an earful. Showing up an hour late to a football party is not.

People with No Drive

You’ll undoubtedly cross paths with your fair share of lazy, un-driven people. How this laziness manifests can take many forms. It can be in the form of a serial couch surfer who spends hour after hour, day after day, month after month, watching way too much TV, not progressing in areas of hobbies and interest, employment, or self-improvement. This is one of the single most important types of people you can meet. They stand as a cautionary tale of what not to do. Every time you sit down to watch TV, no matter how well deserved it may be after pulling 3 hours of overtime, you’ll second guess whether or not it’s worth it.

Slob
Honey Boo Boo’s dad

This group of do-nothings serves a very valuable second purpose in your life, and that is to teach you to help others. It’s not your job to fix people, but every once in a while everyone can use a little help or word of encouragement. Some praise, suggestions, or motivational counsel can go a long way. Learn to reach out to others who may be in need of help. If you can help them, great. If not, then at least you know you tried.

Stressful People

I know a thing or two about stressful people. Actually, without knowing you, I can bet you my left leg that I know more about stressful people than you ever will. These panicking, high blood pressure inducing individuals will be one of your greatest life challenges. Everyone stresses over big things like cancer, IRS audits, colonoscopies, going for 4th down, and being kidnapped by ISIS terrorists.

Stressful people stress over things like where to eat breakfast, a flat tire, a $5 late fee, burnt toast, spilled milk, someone else’s marital problems, the color of the sky, and how far you’ve driven since they last called you 15 minutes ago.

Learning how to deal with stressful people is one of the single most invaluable skills you can master. I consider myself a double black belt in this martial art, meaning I out rank Batman.

Stressful People
Stressful People

Seriously though, stress is a killer. Stress can ruin weddings, funerals, parties, social outings, careers, friendships, and marriages. If you let stress be the prevailing emotion, you will surely be miserable. Despite how crappy or dire the situation, taking it in stride will ultimately determine your happiness.

You can’t always avoid these people like the plague, especially when they are family. But you can learn how to not get sucked into their tornado of stress, and make yourself an anchor of calm amidst their stressful storm.

Snobs

Whoever first uttered the phrase “The suit doesn’t make the man. The man makes the suit.” Was a true genius. You can learn a lot from snobs. Some snobs, as snobby as they are, actually know a thing or two about their particular snobecialty, be it watches, or wine, or audio equipment. And that’s all fine and dandy. But the most important thing you can learn about snobs is this: Don’t be one.

Snob
Anyone who says the word “Quite” is probably a snob.

You can drive yourself crazy heeding the insult laden, condescending advice of snobs. You’re drinking the wrong wine. You’re driving the wrong car. You’re watching the wrong movies, and you’re wearing the wrong shoes.

A $1,500 pair of Oxfords says nothing good about you. It doesn’t say that you have class. It doesn’t say you have good style. It doesn’t say you support quality. It doesn’t even say you are wealthy, or make good money. All it says is you spent an exorbitant amount of money on something you could have paid considerably less for.

Don’t spend your life trying to live up to the expectations of snobs. Remember, the suit doesn’t man the man. The man makes the suit.

Conclusion

You’re going to come across many different types of people in your life. Some will come and go, others will stick around for a while, and others will be with you ‘til the very end. Some people should be emulated, others should be a cautionary tale, and others should be avoided like the plague entirely.

Regardless of which category they fall into and how long they are in your lives, the people in your life all serve a valuable purpose. Learn from them.

The People In Your Life
The People In Your Life