Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Observations & Thoughts After Visiting Maui

Ka'anapali Beach, Maui

My sweetheart and I just returned from our first visit to Hawaii. Here's some thoughts and observations I generated from our trip halfway across the mighty Pacific.

How to Know You're in Hawaii
In my travels, I've always been interested in identifying landmarks, physical features or manmade structures that can tip me off as to where I am if I were an alien life form cruising on by. Here's some examples:

Los Angeles – an eight-lane highway or the Hollywood sign
Amsterdam – picturesque canals or a plethora of bicycles
Rio de Janiero – Sugarloaf Mountain or Christ the Redeemer
Bangkok – tuk tuks or short non-pervy-looking men saying “You want boomboom?” as you walk by.

Anyway, you get the picture.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

My 2015-2016 NFL season preview

Summer is fading out. A federal court ruled against Roger Goodell again. That means it’s time for you NFL fans to set aside, yet again, all the yucky moral apprehensions that come with being a devout fan—like rooting for a league with an inordinate amount of batterers, rapists, and jock asshole motherfuckers who are frequently in trouble with the law; a league managed by a commissioner who earns $44 million per year; a league managed by a bunch of self-serving cunts who have been trying their darndest to mask the full truth about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) since 2006—the degenerative brain disease that has ravaged the lives of former players such as Mike Webster and Junior Seau and Harvard MBA-educated hard-hitting safety, Dave Duerson, both of whom committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest. (Dave Duerson’s suicide note read, and the caps and misspellings were in his writing: “MY MIND SLIPS. THOUGHTS GET CROSSED. CANNOT FIND MY WORDS. MAJOR GROWTH ON THE BACK OF SKULL ON LOWER LEFT SIDE. FEEL REALLY ALONE. THINKING OF OTHER NFL PLAYERS WITH BRAIN INJURIES. SOMETIMES, SIMPLE SPELLING BECOMES A CHORE, AND MY EYESITE GOES BLURY… . I THINK SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY DAMAGED IN MY BRAIN, TOO.”) That’s right—it’s time for the NFL season to begin!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Memoir Outtake: When Did It Begin?

This is an early chapter I snipped from my book. In the end, I condensed nine pages to a few paragraphs.
Photo by Frankicello

When did I know that my body had a Life-threatening Disease in Residence?

My Long and Winding Road to Diagnosis began in June 2008, ten months before I was given The Bad News. I was at home, chatting in the hallway with my roommate, Adam, after a day at the office. I wore a sky-blue button-down shirt and gray slacks. While we conversed, I touched the area by my left clavicle. There was a lump. It seemed peculiar, though I never made a habit of touching that part of my body. I reached over to my right clavicle to see if I had a symmetrical lump.

I didn’t.

I made an appointment to see my doctor the following week.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Shit to Do During a Summer Internship in the San Francisco Bay Area

My employer hired a number of fellows and interns to work for us this summer. I was involved in hiring our two undergraduate interns, including one also named Juan who came out from Texas for a ten-week internship. Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area I felt a responsibility to make sure he squeezed all the juice out of his time here. This served as the inspiration for this post.

Like anyone, I have my own style. I roll in a particular way. Por ejemplo, when I’m traveling to an unfamiliar city or area I am far, far more likely to gravitate toward a seedy dive bar than some wine-tasting tour. Also, since I’m a restless human being (if I were a dog, my energy would likely match that of, say, an English Springer Spaniel) I like to keep on the move.

And so, here’s a list of activities to do in the San Francisco Bay Area—mostly centered around San Francisco and Oakland—that meets my personal stamp of approval.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thoughts on Work, the Forty-hour Workweek and Work-Life Balance

At my office we have a large dry-erase board in the kitchen. We use it to ask questions for staff members to anonymously respond to. Recent samplings include: “If California could have a state meal, what would you include?”, “What are your favorite water-saving tips?” and “What was your first memory?” For the past week the question has been, “What are your strategies for maintaining a healthy balance in life between work, family …?”

I was the first to respond.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Survivor's Celebration

Last night the Golden State Warriors defeated LeBron James and the Cavs to win the NBA Championship. As you may know, it’s Golden State’s first championship since 1975, Oakland’s first championship since another duo of brothers—The Bash Brothers—helped lead the A’s to a World Series victory in 1989. In 1989 I was ten years old. In 1975 I didn’t even exist; I may have existed as an idea, a dream, una esperanza para mis papas.

After the game, I joined my homies, Kevin and Joanne and a few of their friends as we walked to the 14th and Broadway intersection, a stone’s throw from City Hall. A mass of rowdy revelers, donning yellow and blue, had united there to celebrate our team’s victory. Downtown was joyous bedlam—a never-ending stream of vehicles honking and hollering as they coasted down Broadway and its adjoining streets, the sidewalks teeming with fans shouting back in a give and forth with the celebratory honking, a helicopter hovering high above. It was a swirl of exaltation. It was thirty-nine years in the making.

I cheered and shouted with my friends and the crowd gathered in the middle of the street. The streets echoed with chants of “WAAAAAAAARRRRRRRIIIIIUUUUUURRRRSSSS!” “Fuck LeBron!” and “M-V-P!” when one man held a blown-up drawing of Stephen Curry’s face sneering like he did after sinking a three near the end of Game 5. I used my voice recorder to capture these chants, these roars, these moments. I also snapped some pictures and video-recorded our celebration. With camera in hand, as I did a pan of the crowd, I stepped back and remembered that this moment might not have happened for me. (This happens every once in a while, especially when I’m seeing something beautiful, almost never for something mundane like biting into, say, a Whopper Jr.) If I had not received treatment, I might have been another lymphoma statistic. My life may have culminated to becoming a few handfuls of ash scattered up into the sky—in a redwood forest, up along the Salkantay Trail, or perhaps at the foot of El Misti. I’m not sure what my parents would have done with my remains.

Being reminded of all this made the celebration even sweeter. And that’s the thing about being fortunate to be a cancer survivor—that well of gratitude never ends until we’re dead. It never ends as long as we remember to remember. I lived long enough to see my team, the city I love so much, win a championship.

It was a beautiful night. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memoir Outtake: Never Underestimate the Healing Power of a Super Soaker

Mariana and I sipped stiff cuba libres in our parents’ backyard. We stood beneath the patio roof as my brother-in-law, Rick, and my dad prepared the grill with lighter fluid and charcoal. The first drink I slurped down produced an immediate giddying effect. I’d slept for shit the night before which is why I thirsted for that caffeine-liquor kick. At some point, while we flashed the gab, Rick mentioned these Super Soakers he had in their car trunk. He bought them to shoot around with his four-year old nephew. He typically left the water guns in their garage but he figured I might want to have a showdown with him on a hot, summer afternoon in Fremont.

I said hell yeah.