Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quality Yet Social

Yesterday, Rossi, Robbo, and I saw "The Fighter" at Hazard Center. I found it to be riveting, brilliantly acted, and much more than a boxing movie. Definitely recommend seeing it. Shawn and I then kicked it at Casa de Rossi and our friend Katie Rose Barba, who I pretty much have a crush on, I admit, hit us up. She had friends in town so we met up with them at Quality Social on Sixth and F.

We had a few beers and Katie and I spent the night leaving prank comments on each other's Facebook page via our phones. At one point, one of her friends, a bearded guy, came over and said, "Hey, man, thanks for shaking my hand."


As he explained it, he saw my hooks right away and was curious but didn't know how to react or what questions he could or couldn't ask. So apparently my friendliness told him it was ok and he proceeded to ask a bunch of questions. Good guy and very smart too.

As I told him, I'd rather make people feel at ease so that they can ask questions and not feel intimidated or wondering. It's just me.

We then went to Double Deuce across the street, where we danced to hip-hop and fist-pumped. Katie and her friends rode the mechanical bull. That was hot.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You Guys Hang Out Away From Work?

I have really awesome co-workers, with whom I am very tight. On Monday, Alison "AG" Glabe hit me up b/c she had a friend in town and was wondering if The Crew was getting together for football that night. We weren't but her inquiry gave us reason to round everyone up. So we went to East Village Tavern - AG, her friend Veronica, Slick Nick, Rossi, Katie Leisz, my Domer buddies Larimer & AJ, and another friend Jessica Lopez. As J-Lo asked us, "It's your week off and you guys are hanging out? Away from work?"

Yep. I noticed the waitress was really hot too, and we'd chatted the last time I was in there, so I got her e-mail addy. I don't usually ask for numbers until an outing or get-together is already set. My crew teased me but, hey, you gotta always keep swingin'. You never know what'll happen.

Anyways, after the Saints edged the Falcons we edged our way to Maloney's. Amy Johnson was visiting from NYC so we mosied to Fifth Ave. to have a beer with her and her crew. Maloney's on a weeknight is desolate but with great music. At one point, Nick went to the restroom but left his phone behind so we opened his Facebook and wrote a status: "Nick Golden likes men and farm animals."  He wasn't amused.
I was.

Katie had slipped out to visit friends at another club called Henry's, so we stopped into there. She was nowhere to be found. We wrapped up our night with a few munchies at Casa de Rossi. Not your typical Monday night but not your typical group of colleagues either.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas was good. We got together on the Eve and my oldest brother threw a big family party. And when I mean party I mean the tequila shots he took caused him to forget the next day that he and his 21-year old son promised to take my other brother and me to a movie. Still, given the drama our family tends to have, it was the best Christmas Eve ever. A really fun night.

But, yeah, my bro and nephew totally forgot we made plans to go see a flick after the Lakers game, so we rolled up and they were, like, 'Oh we forgot!  You shoulda called first!'   I was mad. We ended up going to my sister's in Eastlake and just spending Christmas Day with her and her family. It was really nice.

The day after that was really chill and I just watched the Chargers at my house. They lost and I was angry and I expressed myself on Twitter. Then we ended up going to that movie, ''Tron'', which was awful. But we had fun and had dinner at Ruby's Diner and I felt bad for reacting so harshly to my brother and nephew's mistake. Then I felt even worse that some of my criticisms stung people on the Chargers staff I knew personally; or relatives of staff. I apologized for being an emotional and passionate fan and they were cool. But, still - I think I'm a good guy but I need to learn to be less easily disappointed and less harsh toward others.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010: Diverse & Dazzling

I didn't mail a Christmas letter this year b/c, frankly, it's pretty time-consuming and a little expen$ive. Plus I figure between this blog and my 17 daily posts on Facebook, people pretty much know what I'm up to. But in the spirit of the holiday, and to remain enviromentally friendly (I guess), here is an online version:

Dear Beloved Friends:

Wishing you a blessed and safe holiday season from beautiful San Diego. I particularly enjoyed the weather here this year, not because it was particularly tropical, but because it had awesome variety: a cool summer, a warm early fall, much-needed rain (and rain, and rain) recently, finishing up with a fresh and crisp flourish.

That's kind of how my year can be described: diverse. And enjoyable.

Gray skies filled our hearts with the passing of Grandma, to natural causes, in July. She was 86 and spent the last four years in our household. As tough as it was to lose her, though, I was just glad she no longer had to suffer through her dementia, respiratory problems, and other ailments. Grandma Bernice often said she was happy being with us in her final few years and I know she's up in heaven now, golfing, cussing, bowling, and asking God for cigarettes.

2010 will be most remembered by the abundance of blessings I received in being able to promote my book via speaking engagements, usually averaging two to three per month. At Cal State San Marcos, a young man gave me a tri-colored Colombian bracelet and at a junior high in Barrio Logan, some kids thanked me for "showing that anything is possible."   My most memorable one was delivering the keynote presentation at the Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Breakfast before 1,200 people at the Convention Center on March 31st. The San Diego Union-Tribune even ran a story about it afterwards. I love speaking and making presentations and hope I can do many more.

It was a great year with the San Diego Padres, as we surprised the baseball world with 90 wins and took the National League West pennant race to the season's final day. Although it was disappointing to not make the playoffs, I'll remember doing the "Spotlight" gesture with friends like Nick Golden, Nina Tarantino, Shawn Rossi, and many others, singing our victory song - "Beauty in the World" by Macy Gray - , and celebrating in the East Village. In fact, I'll never forget after the last game of the year, after the eventual world-champion Giants eliminated us, that we greeted the team when they returned from SF and said Thank You for an amazing year. That was so cool. And so was winning a new TV at the company Holiday Party! Best moment all year! Well that and the Chavez Day speech.

I didn't travel much this year, though I did hit Las Vegas twice, for Colleen McEniry's 30th birthday in February and Mark Matsunaga's bachelor party in July. Los Angeles was the center of my sports travels - in June, I saw the Yankees beat the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium with Logan Washburn and his fianceĆ© Heather Contreras; and on Thanksgiving Weekend, I went with Chad Huebner and his wife, Jessica, to see Notre Dame defeat USC for the first time in nine years. The Irish have a new coach, and are Sun Bowl-bound, and I greatly enjoyed Saturday gamewatches in the fall with Tom Larimer, Joe Quiroz, Jessica Jimenez, and other Golden Domers.

Other more local sporting events included Chargers games with Slick Nick, Matsunaga, and Adam Kinowski; San Diego State Aztecs basketball games (ranked 7th nationally this Christmas); Team USA vs. Mexico in women's soccer and Chivas vs. Chivas USA in men's soccer; and the Poinsettia and Holiday Bowls. I love watching live sports and concerts (John Legend, Macy Gray, Los Tucanes de Tijuana).

My most enduring memories of 2010, however, occurred the first two weeks of June. On Sunday, June 6, I completed my first-ever San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon as part of the Team MADness Relay Team with McEniry, Karen Madden, and Alison Glabe. They are my co-workers, teammates, and now part of a lifelong sacred memory. A few days later I celebrated my birthday and the marathon with a big gathering of friends at La Puerta in the Gaslamp. Early the next week, I delivered a keynote speech at the King-Chavez Academy graduation in Sherman Heights in their gymnasium. With the sound of their cheers and graduation gladness still ringing in my ears, I left their hardwood court, went home, and watched the Lakers tense, thrilling, heart-stopping win over the Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. What an awesome couple weeks.

What a year. What a country. What a blessing it is to share it with you. I wish you the best in 2011, with happiness, success, friendships, and many belly-aching, tear-inducing laughs. It's what life's all about.

God bless you,


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Flood of Perspective

The last couple of days have reminded me to appreciate and enjoy life.

Last night I joined some friends who belong to the Flood church in distributing food to people who are homeless in downtown San Diego. We bought some food at Smart & Final and then walked on and around the 14th and 15th Avenue blocks and handed out corn nuts, fruit, water, crackers, and more. I gotta thank God here b/c prior to meeting Navreena, Logan, and Heather (and about 15 others) my left kidney was really sore. The kidney stones were flaring up. But then they went away. That allowed me to focus in as we met people, heard stories, prayed and sang with them, and gave food. The one that got to me was the little kid from Monarch School who looked like any other 8-10 year old - but you know he's endured hardship.

When I got home, my kidneys hurt again and I grabbed some pain pills. But before I would've said I was "suffering".  No way I'll say that in a house, with a warm bed, and cable TV and food in front of me. Man, I have lots for which to be grateful.

Life really is about giving. And loving. And just working hard and enjoying each day.

So I won't be afraid to do silly dances like this one last Sunday:!/video/video.php?v=175681035790045&comments

And I won't be afraid to help others or just appreciate the people and blessings around me. I better keep drinking more water too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hoo Invented This?

Being a believer that you should try most things - not all, but most - at least once, I partook in a hooka smoke for the first time last night.  I don't smoke but I have tried cigarettes and cigars. They're just not for me.

Neither is hooka. My friend, who asked me to try and I said yes because, well, she's hot, ordered tobacco and mint flavor.  The mint is stored in a base of this long pipe.

I took two puffs at Cafe Lulu in the Gaslamp and my chest felt heavy and the molasses within the mint (?) tasted gross. So I stopped and ordered a Coke.

I did meet a girl seated next to us who was gorgeous and from Morocco. I gave her a card. I prefer smokin' women over smoking hooka.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friends and Football

I love sports, especially football, but not just because of the hard hits or adrenaline or gratutious shots of cheerleaders. Football, probably more than any other sport, gives people a reason to get together, to congregate, to make a party out of watching the actual game.

Today I posted on Facebook pictures from my journey to L.A. two days ago for the Notre Dame - USC game. For the last ten years - literally a decade - every time I went up there I questioned my loyalty to the school as ND spiraled downward and USC shot to the top. Saturday was a reminder that I chose that university b/c of its blend of spirituality, sports, academics, and rah-rah alumni. USC is awesome too and I love their campus but ND was just a better fit for me (plus I wanted to explore life outside of Cali).

On the spiritual tip, I was blown away by God's small favors. A free ticket from my classmate Chad, little traffic (a minor miracle), literally running into Joe Quiroz on the way to the tailgate we were looking for, and after climbing up a loooooong stairwell finding that our seats were just three rows down - with seat backs! Plus I met a Hollywood actor, Milo Vetamiglini (sp.?), seated right in front of me and girls apparently love him.

What else? It rained but my Padres jacket and cap were perfect resistance. And I met the guy that dresses up as a Trojan warrior and we playfully sparred for pictures' sake. Frankly, a lot of 'SC fans were rude and condescending. But history has shown me that those tend to be just 'fans' of the team whereas most alumni are classy and good sports. Like the Trojan warrior - he was cool.

And that's what football is all about. Fun and good times. I capped the weekend by going to the Tilted Kilt on Sunday night with Rossi, Slick Nick, Soltren, Ana, D-Hanse, Rochis, Katie Barba, Ari, and Phil. We watched the Chargers pound the Colts 36-14. The Irish's 20-16 triumph could have been watched at home and I would've been dryer and warmer. The Charger beatdown could have been watched at home as well. Thank God neither were.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's What I Do

I've always written, but usually on e-mail or Facebook or MySpace or when I finally put it all together and wrote my first book. It's what I do, it's what I love. But this is the first time I've created an actual blog per se.

Do I treat it as an online journal and tell you - in "Dear Diary" form - that today I got a fresh fade, stopped by my work to clean up my snail-mail inbox, and tonight am heading to a friend's birthday party in Chula Vista? Do I admit that I bought that friend a gift card at 7-Eleven primarily because I wanted to snag a hot dog too?

Or do I wax poetically about Thanksgiving Day yesterday serving as a reminder that, this year when I thought a dating relationship would work out, it didn't, or that getting ahead financially is going to require some great thought and sacrifice, yet all that matters is when friends take time to text or hang out with me?

The year isn't over but I can tell you that I am pretty much questioning love right now. Yet I am not questioning my love of friends, books, athletics, spirituality, and fun...none of those needing to be mutually exclusive...because they bring me happiness and joy. Lots of it. I am proud that I completed a marathon. I am proud that my speaking career has taken off this year. I am proud that I know probably 50 cell phone numbers by memory.

So as the year closes I'll just keep on laughing, loving, observing, and writing. As long as I have friends, everything else seems secondary.