Observations on the Road to...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Remember...

Today is Justin's birthday. In preparation for this blog this week, I've been thinking about him, and about those last two weeks of August, and how life has gone on in these three years since Justin passed. It's so many things: trippy, surreal, and everything else.

I thought about those two weeks in August of 2004 the other night when the Lunar Eclipse was happening. Almost all of it came back to me.

I remember the night Justin asked me to come by his house. He said he had some people coming over. I remember arriving a little late, and actually a little surprised that there were quite a lot of people in the house. Turns out that was the night Justin let us all know he was gonna stop fighting.

I do believe that it was not long after Justin's announcement that I got a call from Susan and Kristin. They called me from Justin's house, and Susan told me that I should come by because there's a good chance Justin could go. I rushed over as soon as humanly possible. Besides Justin's family, it was still only Susan and Kristin that were at the house. The rest of the night saw a a steady stream of people walk up the driveway and through the front door. It was like that every night til the end of August and into September.

Justin was baptized in his room at his house on either Sept. 2 or 3rd. I can't be completely for certain. But I was there in his room that morning. I also remember receiving a call at around half past six in the am of Sept. 4th. It was Kris. He told me that Justin had passed in the in the middle of the night.

Frances didn't think I should be driving, so my sister dropped me off at Justin's house. I remember it was Steven that I first hugged, and then I think any memory of who I embraced therafter, and what order just gets blurry.

The summer of 2004 was by far the most difficult stretch of time for me personally. I had an anxiety attack in April. Went to the hospital twice in three nights. The specifics of what got me to that point aren't embarrassing or stupid, but definitely something I just shouldn't have let get to me. I was 19, and I let my worries and doubts kick me when I was down, and couldn't pull myself up. But in the weeks that followed I began to get over myself, and my fears. That is until Derek died.

Derek died in a freak bicycle accident as he was biking in Almaden Valley in San Jose. I remember looking into Patrick's eyes the moment he told me. My brother's eyes were watery and red. He had just gotten off the phone with one of Derek's cousins, Christel. The last time I saw Derek was a month earlier when he invited Patrick, Bella, and I to the A's 2004 home opener. Derek worked for Ross, which was a sponsor of the A's. I don't know that they still are, but being a sponsor, Derek's company gave him four tickets to the A's opening night gala. Food was everywhere. I remember dipping some of the deserts into the chocolate fountains. I haven't missed an A's home opener since. I love, and I miss you Derek.

I remember telling a few people of my anxiety attacks. I remember telling Justin of my anxiety attacks. He told me how he experienced them. We talked about things. We talked about Mark's father recently passing away. I remember when I let Justin borrow my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol. 1 dvd. It has the first few episodes of the original 80s-90s cartoon.

I remember back in 2003 when X2-X-Men United came out. Justin, Jory, and I saw it the day after it came out, on Saturday. It was at Mercado 20 in Santa Clara. The original plan was to watch it at around seven or eight o'clock. When I got to Justin's place to pick him and Jory up. Then Jory suggested we should wait til nine or maybe ten. He figured Mercado would be festered with teeny boppers. So we hung out at Justin's for a while. When we got to Mercado later that night, I realized Jory figured right.

The closing shot of of X2 is a crane/helicopter shot above Alkali Lake. There's a voice over of Patrick Stewart as Professor X, talking about rebirth or something other, as well as a faint image of a Phoenix. The whole closing moments of the film, Justin was whispering and repeating aloud and to me: "The Phoenix. The Phoenix."

To my knowledge, Justin wasn't that much into comics. But he did tell me earlier that he went to see the movie the previous night with some other friends. Oh well.

I also remember Justin and I going to see a screening of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at Mercado as well. It was a late screening. Something around eleven in the pm. He fell asleep somewhere in the middle of it. But it wasn't like he missed anything good. I stayed awake, and I don't know how I didn't fall asleep either.

I remember an episode of the Simpsons, where Jacques, Marge's bowling tutor is trying to seduce her. He's getting ready in his bathroom, waiting to see her. Among other things, he talks to himself about the anticipation being better than the moment itself. Obviously, he's alluding to sex, but what he's saying is certainly true for most everything else. Justin's passing was so numbing. We all knew it was coming, and that impending sense of doom was the scariest. The anticipation. Every night in those last couple weeks, we left Justin's house saying our goodbyes to Justin like they would be our last words with him.

I don't remember my exact last words with Justin because I had so many. I do remember sitting around Justin's bed in the afternoon once. I'm fairly certain it may have been the same day as his baptism actually. I'm also fairly certain that it was Kristin, Susan, myself, and... I think I'm forgetting who else was there in the room at the time, but we decided to have story time. So as it turned out, I was the one who did the reading. I want to say it was the Cow over the Moon story. But I can't commit to that. I do remember reading it to everyone the way that a Kindergarten teacher would read to his/her students: read a page out loud, then show each side of the room the illustrations on the page I just read.

There's a lot of other things that I remember about Justin, and about that summer and fall of 2004. Derek was a family friend, and although his death was tough to take, and I wish he was still here, but my brother was closer to him than I ever was. It was a very difficult time in my life. Personally, Justin's death was like the climax in the third act of a story.

In these three years since Justin passed, there's hardly a day that goes by that I don't think about what could have been. I say that because it's hard to not think about the guy since I wear a yellow Livestrong wristband as well as an orange wrist band that bears Justin's name. The orange band also has the words: "Don't sweat the small stuff." Wish he could've told me that before I had my anxiety attacks. Oh well. =p

I could talk to Justin about any and everything: music, movies, comics, books, sports, news, whatever. He loved The Doors and Jim Morrison, Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, we shared a mutual affinity for movies, The Clash, and he introduced me to Texas Hold 'em, and Da Ali G show.

More often than not, after each time I've visited him at the cemetery in Los Gatos, I would start my car and either Nirvana or the Foo Fighters (the Kurt Cobain connection with Dave Grohl) would be on the radio, and I'd smile.

I woke up this morning to find my mom watching The Today Show. Matt Lauer was interviewing Ellen Degeneres in promotion for the new season of her talk show. Then I remembered Justin was an avid watcher of the Ellen Degeneres Show. I smiled.

I love you Justin, and I miss you. Happy Birthday my friend!

Justin 2 Justin 1

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Anthony texted me this early morning at around three in the am. He said there was an eclipse right outside. I went outside, and sure enough, it was there. Very cool sight. I shit you not when I say that I took a picture of the eclipse on my Canon... needless to say, it didn't come out... Anyway, this week is what would have been Justin's 23rd birthday.

I've been planning on posting something on his actual birthday, Thursday the 30th. So I've been thinking a lot about him, and about what to write. Like I said, I'll wait for Thursday to get all this down.

But yeah, as far as those in North America, only those on the west side of the Rockies would be able to see all phases of the eclipse... pretty cool.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

No Foakleys for me!

Simply put... I picked up my new glasses yesterday...

The lenses are new, but a while back, my brother gave me his old Oakley frames he didn't need anymore. Recently, I figured I may as well use these frames... especially since the right side of my old red frames broke.

My red frames broke a few days before my birthday weekend, so I had to wear my back-up frames that weekend, which was two weekends ago. When I got home from the bars, I fell asleep on my living room floor for about a half hour. When I awoke, I got ready for bed, but not before stepping on my (back-up) glasses. The damage wasn't that bad, really. The lenses weren't cracked, scratched, or otherwise broken, but...

Things were kinda, well, crooked for about the next week or so. The left plastic-nose-guard thingy kinda broke off, and it occasionally falls back off, but I've made it fit back in. Actually, that night I stepped on them, I also ended up spending what felt like an inordinate amount of time looking for that plastic nose-guard thingy while in the dark.

Also, before leaving the optometrist with my new glasses, I had a dilation exam. And I'm happy to report that my eyes are nice and healthy. Or at least as healthy as they can be. I mean, I do wear glasses. C'mon now...

But yeah, I got my vision kinda blurred because of the dilation droplets. I don't own any prescription sunglasses, much less did I have any kind of sunglasses on my person when I was at the optometrist yesterday. So it all meant driving home in a most humorous fashion...

I was given -what I have come to dub- "paper shades" to help my eyes combat the sun and the blurriness. And I figured it'd be easier to drive home with my old frames since my eyes were blurry enough that I didn't want my eyes adjusting to the new lenses, all at the same time, too.

But I did decide to do the driving and errand running an hour or two later with the "paper shades" and Oakleys...

Stylish, eh?

Monday, August 20, 2007


I had an exremely long Sunday. Longer than I care to remember, and not really wanting to get too into it. But yeah: A's game (we won, so that fact wan't bad), warm day, engine trouble, sun burned, other stuff, and non-stop frustration.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Happy 23rd.

Birthdays means to celebrate one's life.

Today, the 13th of August is my Birthday. And this weekend, including today the 13th, I along with my family and friends celebrated my birthday. As is customary, I have been wished a "Happy Birthday" by many a family member and friends. It's a lovely feeling when someone tells you "Happy Birthday." It demonstrates an act of love and care. For that, I am grateful for the last few days, and I think that it may have started when a fellow Caballero wished me a "Happy Birthday" on the Cabal early last week.... and then came the rest of the "Happy Birthday" well-wishes through the course of the weekend, and of course, today, the 13th. So again, thank you VF, and to the rest of my family and friends, thank you....

Because on Saturday night, the 11th.... well... you know how the morning after you go out drinking, you ask yourself "Did I really do that last night?".... and then you ponder that for a good long while, and then say.... "I did do that. Didn't I?"... and then you go... "Shit!"... And then you wanna find a a blanket or something or whatever, and cover yourself and hide.... yeahhhh... that was my Saturday night. Good times. Good times. Good times.

Here's my cousin Michelle, me, and the Mind Eraser I'm about to devour...
JP's B-Day 1

Sunday was Mommy's (aka my paternal Grandmother) Birthday. Her family is her life, and it was good to see most of my cousins come together again on Sunday afternoon. Happy Birthday, Mommy.

That brings us back to today, Monday, my actual birthday... as I mentioned how birthdays are meant to celebrate one's life... well we are also meant to celebrate one's life when one passes away.

This morning, I found out via the Cabal that Mike Wieringo passed away on Sunday. I think the best way I can summarize my feelings is to plainly repeat what I wrote on the Cabal:

I've only started collecting comics here in the 2000s, and although I've read quite a bunch of comics, I don't think I've quite scratched the surface of it all...

Unfortunately, most, if not all of Wieringo's work is one of those somethings I've yet to experience. I've admired his artistic style each time I've glanced through his work. As has been mentioned here, and on other places: his pieces have wonderful hints of hope.

And again... 44?? It boggles my mind at just how unfair life is. Jay, you mentioned examining your own mortality... that type of pondering will always come up in the wake of such a tragedy. I think to an extent, we all are right now. I mean, fuckin 44??

I celebrated a birthday this past weekend, and then this morning learn of Ringo's passing?? This world works in some screwy screwy ways. I hate to state the obvious guys, but always tell your family and friends you love them. At this moment, I'm sitting on a couch in a room full of people I'm close to, and damn... I cannot begin to express just how really surreal this all is.

I'll get caught up on my "must read" list as soon as I'm able to, which in a way, I hope only grows and grows... and while I am, please Rest in Peace Mike.

I just also wanna add that I hope that everyone remembers to live life, and enjoy it. It's a beautiful thing, and share it everyone you know and love. You just don't have to drink yourself into the oblivion that I did over the weekend, teeheehee, yeah... As my dear friend Justin once said: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Where was I when Barry Bond's hit #756?

So I had that Goldilocks shoot yesterday. For those that don't know, it's a Filipino restaurant. Oye, was it long. But a nice and fun experience none the less.

The commercial is about a husband and his pregnant wife ordering and then enjoying some "luscious lumpia," "pork barbecue that looks super tasty," and "Wow. Sotanghon."

Actually, in addition to just being a PA on the shoot, I got a spot as an extra. Not to take away from the cute couple, but I snagged the very important role of playing the person in front of them in line. You see my face for what will probably and eventually be for less than two seconds -maybe even less- but you do get to see my backside for probably four seconds. Maybe five. Oh well.

It was a fun little job to add to my resume, and met some new people as well. This particular Goldilocks we shot at is in Newark, CA. By far and away, this is the biggest Goldilocks locations that I have ever seen with my own two eyes. In fact, it was the second time that this particular store was used to shoot a Goldilocks commercial in.

As the day wore on, I got to know more of the crew and cast, which again, is very cool. I got to meet the couple who played... the couple, and I must say that they did a mighty fine job. And then there's the rest of the cast that I got to meet... the food... I ate a lot of food on set while I wasn't doing anything, and well.... but I think I'm gonna lay off Goldilocks for a while before I get to the point that I just don't wanna ever eat their food again.

For those that have read this blog, and especially for those that know me personally, you already know that first and foremost, I bleed Oakland Athletics colors. But I'm just as much a fan of baseball, and didn't get to see Barry Bonds' 756th homer live like most of you because I was at work. That's history and I wish I could have witnessed it right as it happened. But as luck would have it, it was during our dinner break that Chris, the 1st AD on the shoot, blurted aloud his wanting to check the Giants... and immediately I remembered that I had forgotten to set my TiVo to record the Giants game for that night, and I immediately called my brother, Pat, to check the game. At the time that I called my brother, it was the Top of the 5th inning and Bonds still hadn't hit number 756... and it just so happened Pat and his family had just arrived to my place to visit my mom and dad and I asked him to record the rest of the game for me, which he did. Now skip ahead to no less than 10 minutes later, and one of the managers at Goldilocks pronounces aloud that Bonds just hit a homer.... THE Homer.... It sucked that I couldn't see it live -especially since I begrudgingly sat through Monday night's game and channel surfing to the A's game as well.

I mean, usually I feel pretty damn dirty when watching a Giants game -when they're not playing the A's- but I felt ESPECIALLY dirty watching a Giants game. Just about as dirty as I felt last week after actually going to AT&T Park to watch a game... but anyhow.... I got to watch the recording of the game that my brother started.... which was cool.

I think the whole dirty thing is best attributed to the fact that I've just been wanting Bonds to reach the record so we can move one, and get it over with... not because I love or loathe Bonds.

Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams came to speak to the journalism class that I took this past spring, and well... what they had to say in their reports, and in their book, and what they mentioned in class... is pretty damming stuff, but I'm not gonna put down Bonds until something truly definitive about Bonds knowingly taking steroids comes out. So until that happens, I won't do it. It's something not meant for me to judge. So I won't. But Bonds completing his 756th home-run trot is a seminal moment in sports history, that is for sure.

I watched the recording of the game after I got home, which was something of about 1 in the am. It was a nice end to my long day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Comic-Con 08 or BUST!!

I was planning to blog about turning in my keys, and finally moving out of 11E in the city, and back to San Jose. But fuck all that emo shit! I wanna go to Comic-Con!

After reading just a few tidbits of my fellow Caballeros' SD Comic-Con stories that transpired last weekened, I'm makin the proclamation right now: I AM GOING TO COMIC-CON IN SAN DIEGO IN 2008. No "ifs, ands, or buts about it!" I am going!