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August 20th, 2011

12:37 pm - Real Life.
This entry has been in the making since around.. um.. I think November? But, as you might figure, real life takes a lot of time, and I've been terribly bad at remembering to keep track of it all. But here's the finished entry, which actually weighs in at 8 full pages single-spaced and 5,508 words. It was written in at least three different 1+ hour sessions, but I can't remember when exactly. If you're going to read it, congrats. But this is my life, from graduation til now.


I haven't updated in awhile. As in, since graduation. Over a year ago now. And a lot has happened since then considering real life started.. But this isn't surprising. We all knew what was coming. But to shed some light on the specifics (in still a general sort of way), let's talk about it.

Graduation went smoothly. I was more than happy on my graduation day, and I could hardly contain my excitement walking across the stage. To think that four years of (somewhat) hard work led to that moment for me, for my parents, and for my entire extended family.. well, it was a great feeling. And I know my family was so proud of me. I was proud of me too. :) But I digress. The ceremony was pretty great (our guest speaker was good, despite his thick accent and broken english), and I realized just how many engineers I knew in comparison to how few computer science kids I knew. Ace and Sumit were kind enough to attend my ceremony and give me an added cheering section, though I was still a loser since I didn't make that many friends in CS anyway. My engi's cheered me on, though. Hopefully.

After the ceremony was hanging out with Ace for a bit, eating a little, and then hanging out with family. We had a nice BBQ at my uncle's house to celebrate this momentous occasion, and while it was unfortunate that my brother was unable to stay for very long, my sister was convinced to stay a bit longer, and I actually got to see each of my uncles on my mom's side for the first time in awhile. Ace, Victoria, Joe, and Nate came by at different times, and we ate and talked, but more importantly, played with little Ethan.

My future at that point was a bit of a mystery considering the lack of information surrounding my potential position with the government. Now, if we recall (though I may not have said because I was waiting for official word), I was chosen to participate in a training program from a branch of the government that will remain nameless. If I said it before, oops, and go back and edit it out. Because it's better not to talk about it, especially considering I wasn't supposed to have as much information as I did. The point is, they said I was chosen, and that once they pushed through the paperwork, I'd be ready to start as soon as I graduated. Yeah, well, that didn't happen. The paperwork never got pushed through, then retroactively got unapproved, and effectively (without an official yes or no) killed the program I was going to enter. And all of this happened two weeks or so after I graduated, days before I intended to move out into a new apartment. In fact, I got that answer sometime around 10am that day.. and around 7pm that night, I received word from my brother that my back-up plan to work at his company in Modesto was a no-go. That is to say, it was a go—if I wanted to make minimum wage. Now, call me crazy, but I decided that there was no way I was going to work at a MINIMUM WAGE JOB while I had a BACHELOR’S DEGREE in computer science. I have standards. Obviously, when I heard this little detail, I was..upset. Angry. Pissed off. Fuming. Maybe some steps up. And I felt so lost, too. I lost my plan and my backup plan in the same day and didn’t know what to do. But I didn’t want to think about it completely. Not that night, anyway. So I left it for the next day.

But, enough rejection in life (or maybe just the fear of failure itself) has taught me that when times are tough like that, the only thing you can really do is push forward. Do what you can to get you out of the position you're in, because if you're not happy with the way things are, you have to change them. So, thanks to Seth needing to take summer school and Niko moving out to VdC, Joe and I shared his room at Seth's apartment for the month of July while Joe worked full time and I worked on finding a job that would sustain my life and expenses, at least for a little while. Every day, I woke up, applied/searched for jobs, wasted time playing games, applied/searched for more jobs, and then maybe hung out with people. It was frustrating, annoying, terrifying, and a whole bunch of other emotions that just brought down my attitude. But, you know, I kept the best attitude I could as I watched my best friend slip away just a little because of inconvenience and other priorities, while being teased with jobs by recruiters and staffing companies, and while spending money and making none. It was.. terrible, but I kept through it. Because it's not like I was abandoned in any way-- I had support, and I just had to get through that dark place.

On July 22nd, I think, GKN Aerospace called me in for an interview, and hired me by the end of the week. My future was saved.

During this time, Swiss was flying in and it was about to be Swiss Week 2010. I scrambled to find an apartment with Joe, hung out with Swiss as much as I could, but then also started my job at GKN. Coordinated a messy move-out/move-in, which didn't go so well and left Joe and me homeless for two days. Thanks to Victoria and Ace, we survived, and when both Swiss Week and my first week of work came to a close, Joe and I got a new apartment at an amazing community. My parents came down to help me move and bring my glass desk (if you look back to 2005 or 2006 entries, you'll see when I bought it), for which I'm still grateful. And unfortunately, after all of that strife and hardship on my side, Joe ended up getting losing his job. Now, remember that whole thing of me being in a dark place? That's where Joe ended up. And it was rough, 'cause tech jobs are a little easier to find than engi jobs. So for almost a month, Joe lived at home mostly to save money on food and other expenses and focused on applying all over the place.. which kinda backfired when he got his next job in Riverside. An hour away.
But for that month I lived basically alone, I kept myself busy/sane with some new additions: prize money from hiTEC gave me some extra money for computer upgrades! I upgraded my computer in anticipation for FFXIV and bought SC2 to keep myself busy. I played that pretty hardcore for a few weeks until I beat it, and got to hang out with Ace a bit before summer school ended and he moved away. I remember being a little lonely, but I know that there were three things I could count on to keep me entertained: SC2, Ace, and the Simpsons. Somehow, I survived.

Life approached normalcy once Nallen moved in and Joe started working again; I worked every day, but Joe worked earlier than me. Nallen's schedule was weird, and we eventually got into a routine of playing FFXIV almost every day when it came out. Unfortunately, by this time Ace had moved back home, which was probably a good reason why I was so into playing FFXIV every day. I still got to visit Ace or got visited by Ace, and I really appreciate that. Every now and again, I also got to hang out with Sarah and Christie, which was a welcome change to previous habits.

The months from August to December seem a bit of a blur because they're from a different chapter of my life. The only thing there was left to care about was GKN. I worked hard there. I did my best just about all the time in hopes that this would somehow get e a full-time position later on. I made friends and talked about some of my problems, but mostly, I just worked. I got to learn so much, and I really just can't get over how much more experienced I felt after only about a month. I was playing with servers by that point, and I built my own. I learned all of Windows Deployment, about common problems in Office 2007, about network and DNS issues, and so many other useful things. It was incredible. I don't think I could ever be more grateful for the experiences I had there, just because they gave me so much freedom to explore and learn what I wanted to learn, while providing me some structure. For that entire time, I remember being really involved in everything that I did with GKN, and I remember all the fun I got to have there. I mean, I really liked working there, and I think that's what made it so hard to let it go when I accepted my new job.

Basically, November came and they hadn't talked about hiring me full time. Or rather, they talked about it, but it never went anywhere. Student loan repayment was going to start soon, and I knew that if I didn't get a better job, I wouldn't be able to afford the payments.. so I went to my supervisors to discuss this. They advised me to start looking and applying, because I owed it to myself to have the best opportunity available to me. But they might not have counted on me finding something. I got an interview, followed by a job offer. I gave them a chance to counter-offer, and they didn't. That pretty much made up my mind. After I sent my reply back accepting the offer, GKN came with my counter-offer, but by then it was too late. I finished up a week of work and then rode off into the distance for a week-long vacation in Modesto for Thanksgiving, and as a vacation before I started my new job.

Modesto was fine.. I don't remember that much about it, but far be it from me to remember a holiday revolving around food. I’m sure that it was great considering I hadn’t seen my family in awhile, and we were all excited for the new chapter I’d be starting with my new job. A blessing.

I have to figure I was mostly just excited about starting my new job. I was also scared. Aside from being my first new job, it was the first time in a long time that I was going to be the "new guy." I fit in really easily at GKN, and I knew going/leaving there that this type of thing doesn't happen all the time. I mean, I had seen Joe get a new job and hate it because everyone wasn't friendly. Or at least, they weren't friendly enough. So here I was, about to start a new job, and.. well, let's face it, I'm not the most social of people, and while people might like me eventually, these things take time. In the corporate environment, I had no clue how well I would be received.

I remember having a TERRIBLE first day. Like, wishing that I could do it all over again because I made so little progress and seemed to fail every test they shot my way because of special circumstances. I remember I did some things all right (installing printers, setting up PCs), but so much of the work requires information specific to the company (policies, passwords, locations to get software) that I just kept having to ask questions. I felt really bad about all of it-- to the point where I was super worried that they took a chance on me and realized they'd made a mistake. But of course, you can't live worrying about that, so I decided that I'd give it another shot the next day. It went better, but still not super great. I just did more things right, and people were a bit more helpful in explaining things to me. The third day, however.. man. On the third day, I made some mistakes that I didn't know I could have made (no one explained the process to me) and got chewed out. I knew I messed up, and I knew that getting scolded later was part of that.. What I DIDN'T expect is for that one instance to make my supervisor lose a little faith in me and think that I didn't know what I was getting into. It was just the phrase of "But you know, things aren't going to get any easier."

That got me fuming. Just because of this STUPID mistake that I'd made because no one explained to me the process, he thinks that I can't handle working in a business like this. I was so upset when I came home that day. I vowed then, though, that I would simply be better, and that I wouldn't get scolded again. They would KNOW that I'm a capable worker, and that I can handle anything they throw at me. I was more than competent. I was a good worker whether they wanted to believe it—it was just a matter of proving it to them.

The rest of the week was kinda lame, except my super-boss (VP of IT) came down just in time for the company’s first annual holiday party, which happened to be a dinner cruise in Newport Harbor. Being that it was my first week, I knew this would be the PERFECT chance for me to start getting integrated with people in the workplace and establish an identity for myself there. I went, hung out with most of IT and definitely got to know them better. I was still super insecure about how good of a worker I was, and they assured me that I was doing fine and would get the hang of it eventually—no one was going to fire me over things I simply had no control over. Spent lots of quality time with my super-boss too, and had a really great time meeting others.

The next week I worked my first overtime shift, which was uneventful, but I started getting the hang of things more. The next week (or the one after), the VP of Technology came again for the week and I got to work massive amounts of overtime (fun, IMHO—7:30am-9:00pm), so life was pretty great. Ace came by to hang out for the week, then went home before my parents came for Christmas.

That itself was a pretty interesting experience. It was the first time I'd really gotten to host my family somewhere. The time itself was so interesting because I still had to work while my parents got to do what they wanted/needed. I went to work and would come home to find a home-cooked meal waiting for me. Or I found that my parents, in their parental way, decided I needed something and bought it for me (things I didn’t know I needed). Or I’d come home and we’d go visit family. It was all just so.. nice. Something I’d definitely never experienced mixed with something I’d missed a lot. Christmas came and went, we visited family, family, and more family throughout the weekend, and I even had my first-ever birthday not in Modesto since living there. I had the pleasure of dining with Joe, Victoria, and Ace, but of course I also missed my dearest Modesto kids who had been with me so consistently to that point.

Eventually, of course, my parents had decided that they’d better get going—however, first we talked about the idea of buying a new car, since dear Barnabus (yes, I chose the name, kinda) was more unreliable than any car I’d ever owned. One thing led to another until we found ourselves at a Mazda dealership the day after my birthday. After a looong discussion with a salesman and test-drives galore, somehow I managed to weasel my way into a contract for a new car—something I never intended at this stage in my life, really.

My parents were, I guess, proud of the way I handled myself with the dealer. Obviously, the one thing you can’t do is get beat up by a dealer into paying outrageous prices or getting things you don’t want.. but I did all right. The next day while I was at work, my parents were taking care of the details and last bits of paperwork I needed to make the purchase. I remember, and will never forget, how nonchalantly my mom stopped worrying a little about me and realized I was, at least just a little bit, an adult while we were texting:
Mom: Oh, [I] forgot to tell you I’m proud [of] you.
Me: Lol, why? You guys taught me.
Mom: Because you are doing great with your life.
Me: Thanks.. but we knew this would happen, right? You guys pushed me for it. And you guys have helped me so much to get here. So thanks. :)

I guess it was that moment, that if I ever needed any more approval from my parents (because believe me, they’ve shown it plenty in the past anyway), I got it then. I felt like I’d actually done.. right. I came from.. nothing. From not having a job in high school and not thinking about a four-year public university to getting this education and getting this job that is taking care of me. That I was crushed from trial after trial, but picked myself up to set me up for success. And of course, that’s not to say that I did it alone, but I mean that the person I’ve become—the person my parents raised me to be—is someone that is strong enough to endure these kinds of things. And someone that has finally, more clearly now than ever, become an adult. And it was a good feeling to have.

Anyway, the next day we picked up my new car, and we made all the necessary preparations for my parents to go home. The next day, I went to work, and my parents went home.

Joe had previously invited me over to his place for New Year’s Eve/Day because my other plans with Kelly-O and Nallen fell through. Now in my new car, I prepared myself for one of the most careful drives I’ve ever made to Simi Valley to see Joe, and of course, eventually (and ultimately) Ace. The whole experience was more dramatic (for others) than necessary, but I still had a good time.. except of course, my stomach gave me some problems. And a week or two later, they gave me the same problems again. And soon after New Year’s Eve came Punam’s birthday bash in San Diego. I’ll leave most details out (I didn’t have a whole lot of fun, but I’m glad I went), but the important fact is that my stomach gave me problems again.

When I came back, I felt different. I felt like I’d lost my identity socially. I felt like I didn’t know who I was—what role I played. I felt like a drag to be around, I felt unimportant, uninteresting, and overall..useless. And I’m not saying that I felt poorly about myself exactly.. because I still knew that I loved who I was. That being me was something I’d enjoyed. I perhaps only hated that no one else really loved who I was. But I decided that day I got back to just be.. me. And stop worrying. That my problems are within my control mostly, but that’s all I can handle. That I have to accept some things aren’t my problem. That I can’t control everything, and I can’t control other people. And that I’m the only one I should really be concerned with at this point.

And life was better. My stomach was better. I was happier. I enjoyed more things. I enjoyed new things. Life changed for the better.

And in fact, to this day, I haven’t been sick to my stomach like I ever used to be. There’s the occasional stomach-ache, but those are for more normal reasons. The mystery, although previously solved for a time, was solved again. Emotional stress, probably anxiety, possibly social anxiety. And I suppose you can say that it was those in combination with an actual stomach ulcer (probable cause, I guess) that made life terrible before. But I was happier now. My stomach was happier now, too.

After pulling out of that mini-depression, I did feel a lot stronger. Like I’d found myself again, in a way. It was really empowering. I started performing better at work (in fact, I think to this day, February has been my best month in terms of numbers), and I even got better socially. I hung out with Joe when he didn’t have school, I saw Ace on weekends mostly, grabbed dinner with Victoria on occasion, saw Nallen and company sometimes, and basically had a good time with all of that. Skype was such a savior of keeping my sanity, as was playing Black Ops with Ace. I remember making a trip to Modesto for Presidents’ Day weekend, but I don’t remember anything about it. Fast forward to April for VACATION.

Cruise!! Oh man, that was an awesome trip! Considering I was a full-time working man, vacation was definitely something that needed to have more significance than before, and it definitely worked out that way. Not saying that I didn’t like work—I did, and still do, love it—but things were getting boring, and I needed a change of scenery, plus some good family time to keep me going.

Being that the departure port was here in southern California, us three residents carpooled to meet the rest of our family over at the port. After waiting in a long line (as expected), we got on the boat without an issue, and dealt with some quick room adjustments to begin having an amazing time. To my disappointment, the ship had the exact same layout as the Conquest from our previous cruise, which I hadn’t anticipated. I was expecting a completely new experience to the point where I could explore the ship all over again and be pleasantly surprised. Not to say that it was terrible—I’d just gotten my hopes up for something else.

I can’t say I honestly remember a lot of what we did on the ship—I have pictures that remind me of fun in the sun, fun playing with Ethan, and even FINALLY WINNING ON NUMBER 27 IN ROULETTE. Man, that was amazing. In fact, I won SEVERAL times on 27 and surrounding numbers. I still lost, but it was definitely worth the thrill. There were mandatory karaoke visits and hanging out in the club, but with fewer young people (missing Louis, Khaminh, and Julie from the previous year) we were missing a bit of a rush. In fact, Michael, Jessica, and I had to use our own momentum sometimes to get people riled up for what we had in store. It worked out well, though! We went on photo shoots, paid quick visits to bars (Michael more than others), and frequented the buffet. Great times.

The ports of call were plenty exciting also. First stop was Cabo San Lucas, and we got an awesome boat tour for super cheap. Took tons of pictures, played on a beach, and I ended up cutting my foot on a rock (sad!). Back on the boat, I thought, “hey, I should probably get my foot checked out—you know, maybe disinfect it or something since I’ve been walking on a beach all day with an open wound.” I headed off to the medical area and got told (after a really simple glance from the ship doctor) that it’ll be fine, and not to worry about it. I was a bit caught off guard ‘cause I thought there would be a bit more to do, like wash it out, disinfect it, or, I don’t know, BANDAGE IT at least? But no, the doctor instead told me that if I wanted, I could call anyone from room service, and they’ll gladly bring me any of those things if I wanted for a fee. I guess I should’ve known that medical care wasn’t free.

Anyway, while the cut on my foot was a bit of a damper on any of my walking experiences (I mean, how much can you enjoy walking around when you wince each time you take a step?), Puerto Vallarta also proved to be extremely beautiful. After a failed attempt to go swim with dolphins, we toured the town for a few hours. Having Ethan with us, we headed back to the ship pretty quickly (not that we minded so much. It seemed like it was only great for shopping if you didn’t have an excursion into the jungle planned beforehand.), and prepared for dinner and the standard deck party. I started the night off strong with an AMF which had.. obvious results. But the party was great (especially according to the pictures), and the only terrible part about it was that we had to get up early the next day to do everything we wanted to for round 2 at Cabo San Lucas.

Promptly off the boat, Jessica, Michael, and I tried to see if we could get a good deal on parasailing, as well as fit in some swimming with dolphins. We managed to find an amazing event planner that got us in both for super cheap (comparatively speaking). PARASAILING WAS AMAZING. I had brought a walkie-talkie with me and was chatting with my brother who was on the shore at the beach, while Jessica and I were up in the air. We looked down at one point and saw a sea turtle that we’ll both swear was waving to us. I was so scared when they were reeling us back in considering it made the rope make some untrustworthy noises, but we made it back to the boat and Michael went up. After his turn—get this—our boat kept going at a good enough speed to keep the chute up and deployed. At this point, a boat taxi pulled up next to us, and, going at however fast we were going, we jumped across to the other ship to make it back to shore to meet the bus for our dolphin adventure. Michael went back to the ship, but Jess and I had a fun half hour taxi ride to the aquarium of sorts. DOLPHINS ARE ALSO AMAZING. Got a nice photo shoot, learned a lot about them, and I had yet another kiss with a sea creature (first a stingray, now a dolphin—I’m making my way towards mermaid, I think?). Got some nasty sunburn from that afternoon, but it was well worth it. However, our taxi back was running late, and we were scared to death of missing the boats back. We arrived at port about 10 minutes after our deadline and RAN to the actual dock—come to find out, there’s a huge line waiting to get back, so no one even noticed. Plus, a ton of people were still getting in line behind us, so we’ll just pretend we were on time. Back on the boat, we had a nice lunch, messed around, had a nice dinner, had a disappointing experience at singles’ night at the piano bar (can’t catch a break, man), and learned to dance to Thriller. I can’t say I remember the rest of the night, but it involved packing up and putting our bags outside the door to get picked up by the attendants.

The next morning, we (eventually) got off the ship. I said goodbye to my family, and made it back to our ride after some time. Drove to my apartment to find Ace here, and exchanged pictures with my cousins and chatted up a storm about our adventures. Had to adjust back to working all day, which sucked some because I missed vacation, but it was wasn’t so bad since there wasn’t much to do at work.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend for the usual trip up to Modesto for Ethan’s and my mom’s birthday festivities. I was joined by Ace for his first trip to Modesto in about a year, and we had a great time. The party was good, had a great time with family and seeing a friend or two. Movie-going, spending time with family, Ace getting sick and watching a DBZ Kai marathon, and plenty of delicious meals later, it was eventually time to head back south. Good times.

By this time, Niko was in town, with Seth on the way in a few weeks. I took this time to also get a bit more social at work in time for summer—thanks to newcomer Matt and the summer interns, work life was more interesting. We had our first annual company picnic, at which point I got to meet the families of my coworkers and realize how painfully alone I am sometimes—not that it really bothers me. Again, if life isn’t what you want, then you have to change it the best you can. So, after a chat with my super-boss, he’s become my adoptive work-dad for situations such as that. Got to hang out with him a bit both at the picnic and afterwards, which was really fun. In the coming weeks, the interns and Matt wanted to celebrate the end of each week with alcohol, and I willingly accompanied them—even planned it once or twice.

By the end of July, Seth was visiting and staying at my apartment, which was a welcome change. Got to hang out with him, Niko, Sarah, Christie, and Nallen a whole bunch, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It really was one of the best summers I could’ve asked for considering I still had to work and all that. And while it was a bit of a last hurrah of sorts considering the new stuff in store for Seth and Niko off in Chicago, it definitely lived up to expectations. Boat cruise with wine and assorted cheeses, pool BBQs, movies, dinners, and a Star Wars marathon brought us to the departure of both of them, which was sad, but expected.

After they were gone, life was a little quieter, and I can’t really say what’s been happening since then. I’ve dived into watching TV shows in preparation for the fall lineup, and hanging out with kids every now and again. Joe will be starting school next week and has crammed his schedule full of classes in an attempt to graduate by this semester and be done with it all. Ace is now employed and doesn’t really have an abundance of time to hang out, but that’s all right. I’m going to need to develop a time-table to get myself learning some new material so I’m not just tech support forever, and I’ll just have a good time socializing when I can until then. I’ve been playing more games now, reading tech news, watching movies, listening to new and good music, and having a good time with it all.

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since I graduated, but it has. Staring at the diploma on my wall, I can really only look back on college years now. That chapter is long closed, and I’m what some people might call an adult now. I’m definitely the most immature adult I know, and I’m stupidly childish with childish morals and high hopes, but that’s really who I’ve been for awhile—since I started this journal, even. I’ve grown a lot too, and I’m fully appreciative of everyone in my life that has helped me along the way.. but the amount of independence I’ve achieved to this point is amazing to me. I am truly blessed to be where I am now, and I’m sure I owe a ton to my support group of friends and family. I might get lonely or homesick sometimes when I’m away from them all, but that’s a part of life, I think. So long as these people are in your thoughts and in your heart, you don’t have to get sad that you’re not together. There will come a time when you’ll be together again, and you just do the best you can until then.

Things to look forward from here: North Carolina trip to see Jared, my sister’s wedding, fun October shenanigans (Knott’s Scary Farm, Halloween Horror Night, costume fun at work?), Thanksgiving, 1-year anniversary at work (including a performance review and hopefully a raise!), and holiday fun FINALLY in Modesto again. I’m way looking forward to it.

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June 8th, 2010

01:22 pm - From four years to four days.

Today marks four days from graduation ceremonies depending on how you’re counting. It’s a little overwhelming to think that we started this journey of college just about four years ago, and that now we’re only standing 4 days away. That’s less than 100 hours. Isn’t that.. well.. I don’t know what it is.

As most of you know, I take a proactive role of looking to the future. I’m afraid of it sometimes, sure, but I’m mostly ready to get there. And a lot of you are still more scared than excited, so anxious isn’t the right term.. but we can’t change the fact that we’re this close, so we might as well embrace it, right?

There is so much to consider when thinking about the last four years.. I mean, I went through some of it when bringing up Dan to speed the other day. So much has changed over the years, but some of it just slips the mind. From freshman year, we were a hall of 78? Now we’re a hall of 68 still attending UCI, including those who’ve already graduated. Some of us are engaged, some with jobs, some going to grad school, some still undecided. But that’s less important right now: I’d like to place the focus on the journey.

First year was like.. camp. Just a long long camp. I remember it wasn’t until around October or November that I actually realized we weren’t going to be leaving anytime soon. That’s when I realized that, while I had an awesome group of friends already, there’s no reason to shut other people out. And I mean, how can I really get to know everyone else if I don’t go out and make some effort? So I did. I went out and met a lot of really great people, most of which I still talk to everyday. I regret not balancing time better (which happens all the time), but I’m so grateful for what did come out of it: I met great friends in my suite that I may have drifted from at some point, but came back to eventually, and/or still appreciate. I met an awesome guy who so easily joined our personal group of NorCal friends and the only college person special enough to celebrate my birthday with me. I met the sweetest little nurse-in-training who, despite trying to burn down my room, has proven to be the most caring person I’ll ever meet. I met the most outgoing fellow computer scientist that was so admirable for being so goal-oriented and dedicated, and he gave me the courtesy of being a good friend of his before he had to leave the country. And of course, I met someone who reminded me what it felt like to be wanted, to be trusted, and like I was worth something, and who let me get close enough to establish our own hardly-dynamic duo. And of course, I met plenty others (I mean, there were 78 kids at least), but these ones have greatly affected and changed my life throughout all four years. And of course, I still had my original friends there, and while we drifted because I expanded my efforts, I would soon find out that this wouldn’t keep us from being good friends in the future.

Academically, it took some adjusting—in fact, I’m not sure I ever got used to it. I remember at the beginning I was just always disappointed in myself. No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t meet the standards. I briefly what would happen if I dropped out—maybe I considered it even for all of a few seconds. But the only thing that kept me going was knowing that my family was counting on me and had faith in me. That I was better equipped to handle this than anyone before me in my family, and I just wanted to prove it to everyone that I could do it. That I really am capable of succeeding. Especially after taking this risk with my future when I could’ve exceeded all expectations at somewhere like ITT Tech. My last-minute college decision would amount to something better than I was expecting throughout most of my high school career. And while I can’t say I achieved every goal I set for myself, I at least didn’t give up, which is the first step.

But the year itself was… both long and short. I was aware of the time that was passing, but it didn’t seem too important to me. I mean, I still had another 3 years—why should this one, or any quarter of this one matter so much? And of course, there were ups and downs.. but I remember having fun mostly. And living in the moment. Creating a new web of friends that would also support me, just like my previous friends had done, still do, and will continue to do. It was so rewarding, and it’s a good thing since freshman courses were absolutely unfulfilling.

Second year was better: I found myself going on more adventures, getting more involved, and also even getting a little better at school. Things were really on the rise to some extent. I bought a new phone at an inopportune time, since my car then broke down and left me strapped for cash for rent. I manned up to the challenge and got a second job where I worked HARD. Skipped class to get to work to make ends meet, worked during winter break, and took fewer classes just to spend more time working. I got to spend nearly 700 miles on the road to visit an old friend in town from his home country, had the BEST NIGHT EVER ending up in the ER (thanks, even if I didn’t need it), and having late-night dinners at Harbor House. There were just so many things. But I think the most important part of this year was the living situation, which allowed me to reconnect with old friends in a new way where we could all be happy. And it was because of this that I met a few new great friends through others to share wonderful music and adventures involving said music. I also had a chance to pretend to be a life coach and test out my helping abilities to the fullest. But then came the downfall. After being perfectly content with how life was, things weren’t looking promising. Friendships cracking under pressure, people moving out, and getting in a car accident are just a few of the things that led to a low point of the year/summer. I had a new apartment, and I was strapped for cash. I was in summer school and just looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel: my trip to Switzerland. I got to spend an amazing ten days with a certain kid and his amazing family, and went on tons of adventures and.. well, it was awesome. Most memorable trip ever, maybe. And when I got back? Friends from back home visited me, and I got to reconnect with everyone I had drifted from here in Irvine. I spent the summer getting LOST, plus watching about a million other TV shows and movies, but also hanging out with my newly 1-year old nephew. I began counting the days to start this scary adventure of being in this apartment with people I’ve never lived with before, excited to be in fully upper division classes and start my specialization.

And enter third year, where I did all these things. But you know, I remember less about my academic third year, and more about my social escapades. Which is really just me helping people. It’s funny, though. Once I got my laptop, I started being more social. Funny how that works, eh? But the point is, I gained serious value with it. Suddenly, watching things on a big screen was so much more possible, and everyone benefitted from it. 24, How I Met Your Mother, and all sorts of other fun shows just remind me of all the fun times I had junior year. While I can’t say I developed a full consistency in my relationships, I can say that I found a way to be happy. I got closer to my own apartment of girls living in an especially lucky and amazing building number, I got to get closer to my new roommates (with whom I was nearly a stranger), and I attempted to still stay close to previous friends. In essence, I had everything I needed: I had my job, I had school going well for me, and I had my friends there to hang out with me when I needed it. It was wonderful. I got to go on an amazing vacation with my family to the western Caribbean, and I have so many memories from there that I can’t wait to complement with future cruises. I had amazing teachers that were so kind to me for that quarter and helped me keep my senior year stress-free. And I can’t say I remember that much else about this past year—it’s really hard to remember considering I haven’t moved yet. Summer was amazing. The first summer I spent fully in Irvine (with the exception of a Modesto trip twice), and I loved it. Even though I was let go from my job on campus, I got to be a good student, be a good friend, and do almost anything I wanted. It was really satisfying—even though I was in summer school the entire time, I really felt pretty relaxed most of the time. Why, I even made two computer science friends! It’s a little sad that I spent a lot of my summer dying and losing precious weight, but a cure was right around the corner.

So I guess then came fourth year. There were roomie issues, sure, but nothing that time can’t/hasn’t fix(-ed). Life continued on maybe a little uneventful for awhile until we picked up the groove of things for the year. In fact, a lot of the groove kinda came from summer itself. I don’t feel like too much had changed except that people were in class or doing homework a lot more, but it was basically the same. For me, anyway, since I in fact was in class less than everyone else. The fall lineup was amazing, and my classes were easy and even the slightest bit interesting. Not having a job anymore, I had more time to focus on school or to look for more work, which includes applying for the most amazing job I could’ve hoped for. And while other jobs refused to let me succeed in starting (kinda putting a damper on my funds), I kept going through all the disappointment, just having a good time with everything that I could. My grades soared, I strengthened bonds, and I even took 112 pills to get rid of my stomach ulcer that had caused me illness on occasion for the previous three years. To be honest, this year was the most relaxed of all of them. No job, rarely class, rarely homework.. I was really just a little bit of a bum.

And that’s where we are now. We’re at this place at the end of our long journey. We’ve all met some of the greatest people we’ll ever meet. And we’re all going to remember so much about our experiences here. What more do you say to that? I’ve talked about futures before, I’ve talked about the past now… It really seems like there’s nothing left to say. But if you know me at all, you know I have to try.

To those that I’ve met here, I can only say that there are those of you who have made such a difference in my life. You know who you are. You’re my best friends, and you’re the reason I’m going to miss the college lifestyle to which we’ve all grown so accustomed. In a few days, our lives may be thrown into a bit of a disarray because of move-outs, jobs, and other “real-world” things like that. I hate to be leaving it—I really do. I’m proactive about thinking about the future, sure, but I’m going to miss everything I have here. But it’s probably right that it should happen now when we’ve finally got it under control—I mean, life wouldn’t be interesting if we got a chance to have everything under control all the time, right? Part of life has always been chaos, and adapting to it is part of the fun. But I’m beyond grateful for being able to share this time with you. For being able to experience the good times and the bad. To start over initially to just find the real me (which, honestly, was very similar to the old me) and be accepted by so many of you. I mean, these were all amazing experiences. You all have such a special place in my heart and established yourselves in my memories, and it’s a great thing. You’re all beyond amazing, and I just hope that you had as great a time as I did.

So to my friends in general, I say this: you guys, whether I met you 9-10 years ago (you know who you are), or if I met you just recently or at the start of this college thing, are the reason life here hasn’t sucked. I owe so much happiness, laughter, memories, and experiences to you guys, that I couldn’t forget you if I tried. That, and I’m not good at forgetting things anyway. But these four years have been some of the best of my life, and knowing each one of you as a result just makes me both proud and grateful. The future might mean moving away or whatever other chapter in our lives, but it doesn’t have to mean drifting away. The world is getting smaller with technology, and we have it our disposal. There are those of you, who, unfortunately, can’t get rid of me too easily, and I plan on maintaining continual contact with you, whether you like it or not. And so, I can only really say these few things: I love you guys, and this isn’t a goodbye; rather, this is a “thanks for being my friend through college,” and I’ll see you around. In four days (again, roughly), we start on the next part of this journey.. and while I’m sad to know this previous chapter is ending, I know the future will work out with a little effort.

A quotation I’ve used before and still love: “Don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” – Richard Bach.

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March 27th, 2010

03:18 am - Initiative, Perseverance, and Having a Title.

(This is a backdated entry because some things have changed. But more on that when I write a new entry eventually.)

Given that the end my college career is coming so soon, I’ve had lots of discussions with people about future plans; where we wanna be, what we wanna do, and in essence the overall hope that we get somewhere near there. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that what we want to do is very different from what we end up doing in a lot of cases; there aren’t so many people who know what they want to do and find the right opportunities to go along with it. I mean, in a lot of cases, most people don’t even know what they want to do initially, so finding those opportunities just gets that much harder. And as the end of these college years draws nearer, some of us still aren’t sure—the very thought of leaving this safety zone is just scary. For some, the end of college means bigger and better things, and for others it means the lackluster, humdrum, and possibly difficult “real life” that everyone has been preparing us for (or warning us about) since we were so much younger. But what I’d like to focus on is moving from the negative view to the positive.

To dispel this belief, normal life isn’t boring. Normal life is what you make of it. It always has been. Think about it: do you really think elementary, middle, or high school was that interesting? The course material was bland, but the only reason you might’ve liked it was for extracurriculars (including sports, games, or other random activities) or because you had a support system with friends. You made do with the crappy situation that was high school, and you survived. It wasn’t hard; it was really just a matter of time. And how much did you really fear college during that time? Personally, I thought it was just a place where I’d go to learn more relevant things. It was no tougher or scarier than high school had been—it’s just where you have to go to learn something useful for your job. For those of you who don’t/didn’t know what you wanted to do, I can see how that must’ve been scary. Myself, I’ve been goal-oriented to the point where I’ve always had an idea of what I’d like to do. But to not know..? I’m guessing a lot of people had a tough time with that. But that brings us to another good point..

What you do isn’t set in stone. It really never is. To quote FMA, “you have your own feet, so get up and use them.” You can study something you find interesting, and leave it at that if you don’t see a future. People are versatile. Our brains handle mass quantities of information, and there’s no reason why we can’t be skilled in multiple fields. More importantly, each category of job really finds its way into any other job category; if you study one thing, you could find yourself doing something related, but still not what you studied. There are computer science teachers with a masters in computer science but a bachelors in drama. History majors that turned into political scientists. I mean, there’s so much out there for each of us, it doesn’t make sense to be worried about it. Just get something under your belt, and see where it takes you. Which brings us to the next point..

Initiative. Especially now (really earlier), we have to take initiative. Today’s economy isn’t going to help us out any for our jobs; we have to do real work in marketing ourselves to employers. We have to be willing to look hard in places we’ve never looked before, and take jobs that we wouldn’t expect ourselves to take (or even know existed). There are theories that our generation is under much more stress than previous ones, and I agree to an extent.. But you see, our generation has also had more distractions and more obstacles than previous generations because we’re under so much more stress. Since we’ve been raised with it, we’re used to it. So is it really a bad thing? I don’t think so. It makes us stronger and a more efficient work force. Mind you, the economy might not let us get a foot in the door right away, but when we do, I’m sure we’ll blow them away.

It’s incredibly overwhelming and disappointing, looking for a job. I’ve sent out my resume a LOT, but things haven’t gotten any better for my situation. I’ve been looking for almost a year now, and still… nothing. I’ve gotten close to several jobs, only to have them snatched from under me. And after maybe a max of two days of being a bit disappointed and depressed, I put myself back out there, continuing the search. Rejection is just part of the application process. Maybe it was less so in earlier years, but now you really can’t expect to get anywhere without experiencing it at least once. That’s where the perseverance comes in; understand that rejection is natural and move forward. Don’t expect to get any one job and just keep applying. And once you get something, you’ll realize just how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished. Which is my last point..

Having a title. Everything that we’ve been doing in school right now hasn’t been for nothing. We’ve tried so hard for the past four years to just try and get somewhere, without really knowing where we were going. I mean, we might’ve had an idea, but who can really say if we’ll make it and get to exactly where we wanted to go? Life changes on a daily basis, and goals have to change slightly at some point to compensate. But when we get there—get to that somewhere that we’ve been trying to go without knowing—is when everything has a certain amount of clarity, assuming it’s close to what we wanted. That’s when we realize we’ve come such a long way if it hasn’t hit us already, and we know it was worth it. Think about it: Econ majors can be Financial Assistants, Planners, Advisors, Analysts.. Anything like that. As a computer scientist, I have the opportunity to become so many different things. IT Consultant I think is the most impressive. But the options are out there. And to have a business card that says it.. To have proof to show to everyone I meet that I’ve gone through this (if nothing else) rigorous course of study to get here. It just means so much. It’s just so worth it.

And that’s what keeps me going most of the time. We have to keep trying because we have to end up somewhere. And someday, we’ll get the feeling of it all being worth it. We’ll have our own independent life where we can finally make our own money and have so few obligations. No more school to hold us back, and life really is ours to explore fully, with our own set of adult responsibilities. I’ve thought about it for so long, and I really do believe it’s an exciting time. Everyone has gone through it before, and it’s almost our turn.

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January 10th, 2010

07:11 pm - Exit 2009, Enter 2010.

Man, oh, man. 2009 is over! This post comes a bit late because I forgot to finish it when I first started way back on the first or second of the month. But, as is tradition with every year, let’s recount some of the highlights of the year and reflect just a bit. And afterwards, a resolution or two just for hope’s sake.

So the year was.. ultimately good, I think. There were (and still are) rough times, but such is life. If I had to weigh everything out, I honestly believe there was more good than bad in my life, and that my life has definitely improved since last year. In no particular order here are some reflections on important things in my life:

- Laptop. It figures that the computer science major would need a laptop especially more than any other student, wouldn’t it? But it wasn’t until this last year (December of 2008, which means it was in full use throughout 2009) that I got to experience that convenience. I feel like the addition of this WONDERFUL tool of mine (because it’s absolutely perfect in [almost] every way) definitely made me more productive and organized throughout the year. I kept my life more together through the use of calendars, being more connected to others, and with extra computing powers (better than my desktop since it has been in need of an upgrade). Wonderful that I should get it before some programming courses to help me out with that and add mobility to my homework, too. Of course, life got much better considering entertainment levels went through the roof. I gained so many more hours of entertainment after connecting my laptop to fun devices (only TVs, I guess).. 24, How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, Better Off Ted, and TONS of movies. I mean, this blends in really well with my next, smaller point.

- NinjaVideo. I couldn’t have survived the year without it. I couldn’t survive next year without it. I don’t know how I lived without it. It has made college infinitely better, and I owe my lack of boredom to it. One day, when I make money, I will donate. But I simply can’t afford to. Which brings me to my next point..

- Job, money, and lack thereof. Finances haven’t been great since.. well, probably since I lost my secondary source of income. As we all know, the economy still crumbled throughout the year, and only now are we at least seeing trends slow, and in some areas reverse. The path to recovery is a bit dangerous, but we’re all still here, so we must be doing something right. I haven’t had a job for the past six months, and since then I have had to watch my spending, and been doing a poor job of it. I’m in debt to my parents, but that’s partly because the budget I laid out for myself had unexpected twists. On the plus side, I do have parents that are able to help me in these tough times, and thank goodness for that. The job hunt continues, even after some disappointments. Someday.

- 2009 Resolutions: If you remember, I decided to to be more involved, be a better friend, and manage my time better this year. As far as more involved, I was definitely at least more charitable. I took the time to do surveys here and there, I donated money to MAE monthly even with what little I had, and even though I wasn’t proactive enough to join clubs or actual hands-on efforts, it’s still an improvement from before. Being a better friend… well, that’s a matter of perspective, I guess. I think I did a decent job for about half the year when it came to keeping close friends close, but then I found it a little hard to do that and expand my efforts. I would think I did a better job this year than last year with keeping in touch, but I definitely messed up with letting lots of time go by for some kids. And as far as managing time.. well, I at least definitely focused more, which is good in one way or another.  Ultimately, I’d like to believe I was pretty successful with these things, and that’s all that matters, I guess.

- Ulcer. Thank God that’s over, eh? Health is plenty great right now, and it’s thanks to the discovery and treatment of that terrible ulcer. H. Pylori, you are mean, and I’m glad you’re gone. Special thanks to Ace for the give and take leading to that, though I’m sure if it would’ve continued like it had been for that month, I was bound to get to it eventually. I’m still appreciative though. I’ve almost gotten used to hunger again. :) That’s not to say I still don’t get sick sometimes, but it’s certainly much less. In fact, I’d say instead of feeling crappy about 65-75% of the time, I’m probably only feeling bad 5-10% of the time. Major improvement, yeah?

I guess aside from those things, there’s just a bunch of smaller stuff that I remember. Mostly not worth mentioning. I can really only say that the year passed by quickly. I had a really great time most of the time, and even if things were ever bad, they seemed to work out at this point. Good times.

Now as far as resolutions for 2010 go, I’m not sure what I can really do. I know I’m graduating, and I know I’m going to work hard to get there. I know I’m going to find a job, and I know I’m going to work hard when I get there. The only thing I don’t know at this point is what happens to my life in Irvine. And so the only resolutions I have for 2010 are to 1) do a good job at keeping in touch, and 2) accept and embrace change. I’ve spent four years, almost, with these people in Irvine… I can’t say I’m so willing to let them go. So, I promise to do my best with keeping in touch with everyone. I understand that people get busy and that people (not usually me) forget. But I will do my best to try and bring people together, just as I have with my older friends.

The change thing applies to a bunch of other aspects of life, though. If new things come my way, I’ll do my best to change, assuming it’s for the best. We live in a fast-paced world, and it’s only right in my field that I adopt new changes quickly in order to be more efficient and desirable.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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December 10th, 2009

06:38 pm - No more fall classes.

Ever, in fact. And that’s a really great thing. I think more than anything, I’m just still looking forward to the big day in June. And this quarter was another stepping stone. Gladly, I can almost reach the end.

So since last time, I was just fresh with information about my internship as an IT consultant or whatever. Hah. That never happened. Unfortunately, our good friends at Synoptek decided that they wanted to interview for a position they didn’t have proper authorization to open yet. So after giving me the green light that I’d be able to start soon, they realized that the company didn’t have a spot for me. But to their defense, they did thing there would be an opening soon. So three weeks later after trying to get in contact with the human resources lady or trying to get any word from anyone in the company as to why I wasn’t being contacted about a schedule, deciding on wages, or anything like that, I came to find out that they actually weren’t going to hire me. It was more of a “Well, we’ve hit a little snag, but we’re going to keep working on it. There’s about a 50-50 chance you won’t be hired. But, um, if you have other opportunities, don’t let us hold you back!” I got the hint and kinda stopped worrying about it and continued the job search. And I guess it’s wrong to put that in past tense—I’m still looking. And that’s not going well, but I do what I can, and I can deal with it.

In the meantime, my schedule for the rest of the quarter was just like it was at the beginning; I had much too much free time on my hands and not enough things to do to fill it with. If I really had to think back about all the things I did, I really wouldn’t know what to tell you. I did spend a good portion of time working on bigger projects for all of my classes; my second project for operating systems didn’t work, and but my third one did. Provided I still get a C on the last project, I’ll get an A in the class. In Philosophy, I got an A- on the midterm without showing up to most of the lectures thanks to some creative curving by dear Kai. The second half of the quarter was less interesting than the first half, and I paid attention (and attended) about just as much as I did before. I took the final today and I am sure I got an A. AI, however, remained my most lackluster performance. I did complete the project, which I was incredibly worried about. I made a very thorough report and hopefully can get at least a C to give me a C in the class, provided my final turned out all right. The issue is that I’ve been about average all quarter, but average is still low for the class. I wonder if Mr. Welling will decide to curve at all, since it’ll really hurt my grade if he doesn’t. Upsetting.

I guess I’ve mostly spent my time keeping up with the fall lineup. How I Met Your Mother, House, V, Glee, Criminal Minds, FlashForward, Fringe.. I definitely had my work cut out for me. But I’m up to date, and I’ve enjoyed my time spent, so I guess I can’t ask for more. Other than that, I’ve been hanging out plenty with Ace, either attempting to study or just having fun with whatever we could.

Thanksgiving break proved to be pretty great. I really enjoyed each day I was home, and I was really impressed with how easily I fit back into old tendencies with my friends. Got to watch some great movies on satellite, hang out in fun situations, and even made a trip to Galaxy. It was really great, and I can only hope winter break will offer me an equally fun time. I’m going to finally have to work on hanging out with people I haven’t seen in a really long time, just because college is winding down so everyone may be getting ready for some life-changing decisions and everything. It’s important to know what they are.

Laptop is running Windows 7, desktop is running an official version of Windows 7.. Beat Mother 3 translated (instead of reading a script online like I did last time), got to the end of FFIV but didn’t beat it yet because I got busy with finals and projects. I’m poor right now, but financial aid will be my savior come January, so that’s good.

I guess life has been pretty tame as of late, but that doesn’t mean I’m not having a good time with it. Could things be better? Always. But could things be worse? A lot worse. I’m pretty content with everything right now, and I’m just looking forward to what winter break and the last bit of my academic career has to offer me.

Modesto kids: if you wanna hang out this break, please call me or something. I need to re-open some of these friendships that unfortunately have closed, and I don’t know how else to open the lines of communication except by saying: if we were friends once, we can probably be friends again. I’m always interested in catching up for old times’ sake, and I’d really appreciate any opportunity you give me.

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October 22nd, 2009

11:07 pm - Final fall, plus the REAL cure.
There's quite a bit to discuss, but let's bridge the gap between last entry and where I wanna start for this entry first. Nothing super exciting happened my last days in Modesto, except that I got to go to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Marine World, for those of us who remember) with my mom, sister, Ethan, Ethan's dad, and Ethan's other grandma. It was pleasant to say the least, and I'm glad I went. Frito Lay company picnics are great. I took the train back to Irvine on the following Monday, but the train broke down when we got to Fullerton. It set me back an hour or so of my expected arrival time, if memory serves.

Life was not as I expected when I got back, and due to miscommunication and unjustified assumptions.. well, things were just simply not expected. But after some mild unpleasantness and some unfortunate circumstances, things bounced back. And that's all I'll say about that. So let's continue with the actual topic: fall quarter, all the fun times it has brought so far, and all the fun things yet to come.


Fall quarter seems a bit less intense than I originally thought. I was extremely worried about my project course, 'cause I'd heard from tons of people that ALL project courses suck, and I was sure that a project course in operating systems (having taken the course for it in the spring) was quite possibly THE WORST THING ever. To top it off, I had two more intro courses and an upper division math course (which I was sure would be easy, though).

I was pleasantly surprised with my project course; it turns out they really hold your hand through a good portion of it, and it's really well-planned. If it wasn't for the fact that I absolutely suck at programming anything worthwhile, I'd definitely have a shot at that A without trying too hard. If I keep up my work so far, I'm sure it's still possible.. but.. programming.. :( .. My upper division philosophy class (taken for my upper division math requirement) appeared and still seems to be super easy. No stress, and I stand by my previous claim that someone named Kai can't possibly be a bad teacher. He's great. I'm also in an Intro to AI course, which is challenging to say the least. I'm sure I'll pass, but it really is going to require some intense thought at some point. I'm really upset that I'll have to do that sooner rather than later is all. A big AI project due in week 8 on a game I've never played, but I have to program both the game and the AI. No fun. And that's only worth a lousy 20% of my grade... Still got the midterm, final, and quizzes to worry about. Gah.

I was also enrolled in a Design and Analysis of Algorithms course, but I decided to drop it because it was cluttering up my schedule just a bit. That and I found out it was going to be offered in the spring, which is exactly when I need to find courses to take since I only have one course I need to take that quarter to graduate. I figure I might as well take another required course then and lighten the load for right now. Plus it made my schedule so available for a job, but more on that later.

[Transition into HEALTH]

The quarter itself started off kinda bad for me; stomach aches, boredom, and laziness kinda took over and I ended up missing a LOT of class during weeks 1 and 2. But I do have a reason for it. At the end of week 1, there was a nice party. At this party, lots of great things happened, but some not-so great things too. And ultimately, it was decided that I would go to the doctor AGAIN to see if we couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. To clarify, after I had last found a "cure" to my illness, I was doing pretty well for about.. a month? I was pretty happy. But then summer session 2 started and I spent about an entire month waking up with and enduring a stomach ache. It was really horrible. And I guess time kinda flew by, 'cause I didn't really realize that it was happening continuously and consistently, and I guess I was so used to dealing with it that I didn't let on too much that I was doing horribly. But I made a deal with Ace, I guess. He did something I wanted him to do, so I did something he wanted me to do: go back to the doctor.

This time, my doctor instantly had an idea of what it'd be. There was no hesitation, and she was pretty convinced that she had a valid diagnosis after only a few minutes. Turns out, my good friend Helicobacter Pylori had actually shown symptoms in me, and I had developed an ulcer because of it. Apparently, about two thirds of the world's population is infected with H. Pylori, and in fact a much smaller subset of that ever show symptoms. Aren't I lucky? :) (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ulcer/files/hpfacts.PDF ) Anyway, after some blood test, it was confirmed, and I have to admit, I had the most odd feeling when I read my test results online.

So, I mean, I've had a few rounds of blood work done, and all of them were just lists of possible infections or anything-- usually the word "NEGATIVE" next to them. I can still look back on blood tests and see all the negatives, and how we ruled out a lot of things. When I checked online for this result, I was so nervous, and I could just already see the "NEGATIVE" in my mind, but I tried to indulge my optimism to click the test anyway for the result in hope of having an answer.


I stopped. I was with Ace at the time. I just started laughing a little and got a weird half-smile of disbelief on my face and just kept re-reading the test and result. Positive. I didn't say anything to Ace, and instead I called my mom, and I just didn't know what to make of it. I was relieved, yeah, but I didn't know what it meant. It was curable. I'd have a normal stomach again. I didn't know what that felt like. I hadn't felt completely, consistently normal for a long time. And here it was, the answer finally staring at me, and I was going to finally be able to do something about it. My mom was happy, I was happy, Ace was happy overhearing my conversation. The real cure was found. Finally.

So, 112 pills and two weeks later, here I am, no longer with an ulcer in my stomach (/duodenum, depending exactly where it was), and I've been feeling great. I just finished my regiment on Monday, so I haven't had so much time to fully test it out, but I have high hopes. I don't wake up with stomach aches anymore, and I eat full meals. I get hungry again, and I can stomach the food. It's really an amazing feeling. One that I'm certainly not going to take for granted. Thanks to everyone who showed their support over the years; I can't be grateful enough for all the kindness you showed me if I got sick in front of you. Ace had to deal with it the most, especially over this past summer, and I feel absolutely terrible for making him deal with it. To be honest, I avoided a lot of social situations because I was afraid of how my stomach might act up.. but I guess I don't have that excuse anymore. :) Anyway, I am fixed now. And I just want everyone to know that any way you tried to help me, or any good thoughts or wishes you sent my way while I was ill.. I appreciate it, and I guess no one has to worry anymore. Oh, and also, amoxicillin is probably one of the most disgusting tasting pills I've ever had, even if I've never had that many pills.

[Transition into JOB]

Given that I have 12 units this quarter, it seemed like the best idea to get a new job-- specifically, a technical job. One where I could FINALLY learn something useful and that would actually prepare me for industry. So, during week 0, I started looking around for places to apply to. To be honest, I guess I'd always been keeping an eye out, but I was lucky enough to find some IT Consulting companies in need of a good worker. I applied to two specific places, and just kinda hoped for the best. I kept checking back to see if there were any more jobs looking for people, but at that point I got a little side-tracked by my health issues. As luck should have it, though, at the end of Week 1, I got a call back from Synoptek, Inc., and an interview for the following Tuesday (of week 2).

That interview went pretty well; I followed the same rules that I always do of being honest, genuine, and professional. Admitting defeat where I had it in my past, but more importantly pointing out learning experiences. I let them see the real me, and that was good for everyone. I got a second interview for the following Wednesday (of week 3). I felt a little uneasy about that interview mostly because I kinda knew that this guy could be my future boss, with whom I'd work with closely just about all the time. I mean, if he didn't like me, there wasn't much hope for me. I did my best, though, and he said he'd have an answer most likely by Tuesday (of week 4).

Just like it always does, time went by so much slower just waiting for the phone call of whether or not I got this job. It didn't help that I didn't have much class to occupy my time, so all I could do was busy myself with TV and video games.. that is, until Tuesday came and went. The more time that passed by starting on that Monday just made me a little less hopeful. I felt extremely qualified for the job and couldn't figure out what I did wrong, and I kinda had an assumption that there probably were more qualified people that he interviewed after me (he had mentioned there were others). But, I remained determined to find out an answer, so I gave them a deadline of Wednesday at 2pm for them to let me know, otherwise I'd call them.

2:00pm rolled around on Wednesday, and I was disappointed. But I gave them about an extra half an hour til I called to see what happened, and in a very anti-climactic way, I was told that I was basically hired. There were some issues with paperwork regarding my wages, but they said it'd be resolved on Friday, at which point they were going to send me an official job offer letter and everything. I guess they had decided on Monday and wanted to update me via email, but they forgot. Understandable, since it's only this one HR person, so I don't hold it against her at all. I'm more grateful than anything that they decided to hire me. I can't possibly let them down, since they feel like my attitude was the one that was the most ideal for this job, all necessary skills aside. And just like that, I am now employed again.

[Transition to LIFE IN GENERAL]

And so, now it's the end of week 4 of my final fall quarter at UCI. I've got classes more-less under control, I'm going to start working at a techincal job, my stomach problems are officially fixed, and in fact, there's nothing really stressing me out right now (not that there usually is). Life has certainly taken a turn for the better, and I feel really hopeful for what the rest of the year has to offer. At this point, I aim to do great work in all aspects of my life, since I'm not exactly one that falls so easily into depression. I'm really genuinely happy with most everything. I guess if I really had to choose something, though, I'd say I'm just really upset that everyone else seems to be having a much worse time with this year than I am. I know lots of people that are struggling just a little, and here I am perfectly content with everything because it's so easily manageable. I guess I'm just blessed for right now, and soon they'll have their good fortune soon too. I'll just continue to help them in whatever way I'm able.

Life is terrific.

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September 19th, 2009

11:09 pm - End of Session II, plus end of summer.
Since the last entry was a bit of a cop-out as far as updating children on my life is concerned, I'm due for something like that now.

As we know, Session I ended and, if the conclusion wasn't clear, my grades were good enough. To be fair, I really didn't care about those classes, and I was right not to considering how worthless they were. But that's part of school-- there's really no escaping that. Well.. public school, anyway. Once that was over and done with, though, I was visited by my ultra-good friends Kelly-O, Jared, and Melissa for the rest of that week and to finish off the weekend.

The visit was great; we all reverted to high school mode (not that it's that different from normal for some of us), and we just had a really great time together. Okay, well, a great time when we weren't playing Risk. And I guess if you really take a summary of that visit, we might've been playing Risk for about.. 35% of the total time they were here? That's including hours spent sleeping. That's a little sad. But the point is, we had a good time, including lots of eating and lots of hanging out with Nallen and Niko (and Seth before he left town to go to Modesto and then to vacation).

By the morning of session II's start, I had dropped off Jared and Melissa at the train station, and I was ready to start my new schedule. Session II was a fun challenge: I had to make sure I didn't get bored seeing almost the same people almost everyday in the same room. Two classes, both 3 hours long 2 days a week, and in the exact same room. I'm a little tired of ELH 110, to be honest.. I much prefer full on ELH 100. But we can't have everything.

Writing was easy. As dear M(r?)s. Regan said, you really have to try to fail that class. I mean, I can honestly admit that past the second assignment (of 5) I stopped trying, and I got an A. I mean, I wrote a paper saying absolutely nothing 'cause it was all based on conjecture and assumptions for which I had absolutely no proof or even the slightest possibility of proof. But oh well, got an A on it. I mean, after a certain point (especially with writing), I feel like there's not much people can do to help me. The fact of the matter is, I'm going to write like I've written for however long I've written like this. I can adopt any writing style I need to, and that's that. I don't really see why I ever needed to be in a course that "taught" me analytical writing skills; it really just seemed like busy work to me. I'll admit I think I became a much stronger writer in 39A, probably just because I didn't have much confidence in myself as a writer then. And in 39B, I wanted to prove to myself I could do well writing with that newfound confidence, and I did. And 30A (poetry), well... I learned about clichés. Yay? The point is, upper division writing for ICS majors is lame, but super easy. I'm especially glad I took it over summer, 'cause I bet it would've been far more annoying.

ICS 152 was... annoying. My last hardware class for my undergraduate career, it simply taught me about single/multi-cycle implentations of processors and whatnot. Do I care to know these things, especially at the hardware level? No. Not at all. In fact, I went on a rant one day in class instead of typing notes (as I so often do) about how useless the information was. Not because it's not important to a computer scientist-- I'm sure it is--it's more just I've already learned the basics of that class in 151 and 142A. It wasn't necessary to cover it again. On the plus side, I did become better friends with Nitin and made a new friend MJ who was also in my writing class. I'm sure if they weren't there, I would've so easily failed 152. Instead, thanks to our super amazing study habits (leading to me getting over 100% on the midterm), I got an A- in the class. Sweet.

The five weeks themselves... were kinda tame. I spent some time keeping up on schoolwork, since this time around it took a lot of time. I mean, I can BS writing and all, but it still takes time to pump out decent 3-5 or 5-10 page papers, you know? But I got through it. My free time was spent.. well.. I'm not sure. I spent a lot of time at my apartment doing nothing in particular, or nothing I can remember really. I do remember starting a small web project for awhile (Codename: ZooM), but I gave up on it when I found better ways to spend my time. I had brushed up on my PHP, and was working with PHP/MySQL crossover and stuff.. but I never really went anywhere with it. Especially because I also made a trip up to Modesto for a weekend to see the last of Jared for the summer, and to just hang out with the family.

I guess if I had to label what I was doing, it was really just hanging out with Ace usually. And the girls downstairs some. And my own roommates. And my lonesome. There wasn't really a reason to leave Parkwest. I mean, I could've gone to Dartmouth and hung out with Seth/Niko/Nallen, but I could never really speak for my schedule, or have complete confidence in the parking situation at Dartmouth or at Parkwest.. so rather than worry about it, I just didn't bother. It's probably not the best way to handle that, but I got by. So instead, I hung out around Parkwest and had one of the most... uneventful, but amazing summers I've had in awhile. There's just a lot of good things that came out of it, even though nothing really happened. I guess it stands to reason that it was one of the summers I felt the least worthless. Yeah, I still didn't have a job, but I was going to school. And yeah, school didn't occupy all my time, but for that reason I still got to hang out with all my friends. It was definitely worth it, and I had a great time with it. Makes me smile thinking about it, in fact.

The end of session II was wonderful, just 'cause it did achieve one of my longer-running goals of getting Ace to visit Modesto. That whole experience was probably the worst ever given health issues for both of us, but because it was so bad, it made it so good, if that makes sense. I mean, we were both dying. Completely. But even though there was that, and that he spent maybe... 30 hours total in Modesto (probably less?), I can't recall me being unhappy while he was here. In pain, sure, but not unhappy. And I think that's what probably means the most. Just another misadventure, but that kinda defines my life anyway.

For the past week, I've been living here at home in Modesto, and it's been pretty great. It has been equally uneventful (if not moreso considering I've had no social activity other than what I can get online and from family), but this uneventfulness has made it much more relaxing. I'll admit, I get bored easily (possibly why I've been more annoying than usual online?), but I still find things to do. I was reacquainted with satellite TV (a million times better than digital cable. Egh.), and watched plenty of movies on HBO that I wanted to see again (Men of Honor, for example) and plenty of movies I didn't (Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix, for example). I caught up on TV shows I needed to watch and started some new ones just for kicks. I've been keeping things relaxed, and I've had no responsibilities. It's been great.

Of course, I can't live my life with absolutely no responsibilities. It's a good break, but I know there's more out there. In a small, small way, I'm looking forward to going back. Fall quarter is going to be just a little bit of a killer given my project course, but I'm going to do my best, and I do feel just a little bit charged for it. I'm hoping for good things this year, and I'm so excited and relieved that it's my final year. College really has just flown by, but I still have so much to show for it, and that's what really matters.

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August 29th, 2009

08:24 pm - Experience, you, and a little bit about me.
Everyone is tagged in this note, theoretically.

So you know, let's think about some things. By no means am I that adventurous of a person, and I'm sure you all know this. I'm sure you all know me as both this pretty odd kid that is plenty nice, maybe friendly, and generally happy. And I'm sure a lot of you know that I am also sometimes really anti-social, sneaky, but I only have the best intentions. And I know a lot of you know that, if nothing else, I am dependable and loyal, and that I have a pretty great memory sometimes. That being said, I just realized a few things that hadn't really hit me before.

Yeah, I've been at college for three years now. I've met most of you here, but I've got a great crew from Modesto with whom I love to prosper. My life from high school to now has been filled with about a million great experiences, and I'm so lucky to have most of everyone I've ever enjoyed hanging out with still around me, or at the very least in a place where things can be picked up quickly and easily. I have all of you here as an obvious reminder and testament to myself that I'm really lucky. I've got amazing friends who provide me with the absolute best entertainment. Maybe drama sometimes (high school kids know), but that was entertainment enough too. It's because of all of you that I've had the experiences and opportunities I've had to date.

This LiveJournal is a great thing. It's a great shrine I've built from my high school days, and looking back on it is amazing. You might or might not know, but I'm a sucker for sentiments. Simpsons quote to explain, when Krusty bets his daughter's violin in a poker game: "It's not worth much cash, but it's sentimental value is through the roof!" But the point is, this journal being here reminds me of the GREAT times I had in high school. The great times I had with everyone from Beyer and just how amazing it was that we could connect on such levels doing such random things. We all had our oddities about us, and it was a great group that we had formed. Amazing. Amazing amazing amazing. You high school kids know all the times I'm thinking about. All the times we've had together during high school, and all the times we've had in Irvine, in Santa Barbara, or gone back to Modesto to have. I can't think of better, more respectable people than you kids. Then, I was more adventurous. I was silly. I was young. But I was happy. And I was happy to have you with me.

Today, I'm still happy. I'm happy in a lot of similar ways, but in a lot of different ways too. You college kids are great. I've made lots of friends here. People that I love and would hate to see anything bad happen to. People that have come and gone, maybe just 'cause of phases, maybe just 'cause of circumstances, and in one case maybe across an ocean and some countries. But you kids have all provided me with so many experiences. Unfortunately, I haven't kept up my journal to remind me of the experiences that I've had, but I know of them because of my own memory. I have shoeboxes filled with things most people would consider trash to remind me of the fun from an event, a day, a week.. whatever. What really gets me is the photos on Facebook. It's such a collection of events. One of my most favorite things to do is to reminisce on all the things I've accomplished so far, especially because any normal person wouldn't realize the amount of experiences had to get to any one place. College has been such a great thing, and I'm glad to have experienced what I have so far.

I owe it all to everyone I know, though. My high school friends for pushing me for this, my college friends for trying to get to know me. I can't imagine where I'd be without you all. You're all just the most amazing people I know, and I don't know how else I can express it other than that.

I think what gets me most is that I can't figure out exactly how I've gotten so far with my friendships. I mean, when you really think about it, I'm an especially weird child. Here's a couple of other things you should know about me, though, if you haven't already figured them out.. I guess it's my own version of that whole "25 things" thing that spread like wildfire back in the day. I was tagged in 8 of them, when I was hoping for 25 (or better yet, 27). But I suppose you can't get everything you want, so oh well. But I'm going to do it better than everyone else. I'm going to give you a story.. My life is all about stories, and you should know them to understand me.. Context is better than any one random fact.

1. The first cassette tape I bought ('cause cassettes were the way to go back then) was Weird Al's Dare to Be Stupid. Before my brother got a job and when we had a computer in my room, I would just hang out with him and listen to it. I would listen to that cassette and anything else I could find around the house. In fact, I even had a few blank tapes onto which my brother and I recorded. We'd just be messing around, recording maybe a fake show, us harmonizing on some song, us using vocals to a song with no words.. whatever. This was around the same time that the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy came out, and my bro bought the limited edition soundtrack to Episode V. We recorded from CD to tape, and also sang it ourselves. It's one of my most favorite memories. If I knew where that tape was, I'm sure I'd listen to it every once and again.

2. Before I started school, I was always with my mom. And I guess even during my early years in school, too. Back then we were pretty religious, and my mom loved nothing more than to listen to Christian music all the time. And of course, by extension (especially because it had good moral values), I did too. I know tons of Amy Grant songs. I listened to Carmen. I had my moments with God's Property. I absolutely loved DC Talk's Free at Last album. I still have Amy Grant and DC Talk in my music library. They remind me of a simpler time when all I need to remember was the happiness. And it's not like things aren't great back at home now or anything.. it's just that when I'm so far away, it's hard to go back to it when I visit. I can be a good son while I'm there, but I'm still an individual. Listening to Christian music from the 80's and 90's makes me feel like I'm back in my smaller world, with all the things that made me so happy everyday. Good times.

3. I can quote the Simpsons like it's nobody's business. I've been watching it all my life, and I've seen most episodes at least 2, if not 3 times. For a long time, when there was a full hour of the Simpsons at 5:00pm, my family would gather around and eat dinner and watch it. It was just something we did as togetherness time. I've always loved the Simpsons. No, I haven't been keeping up with recent seasons since I came to college and lost the ability to watch TV conveniently. But when I can watch an episode in Switzerland (in German) and still quote it and laugh on cue, I'd say I'm pretty damn good. Everyday has a Simpsons moment, and I let everyone know of it when I realize it. It's annoying for anyone who doesn't watch it, but I still at least get the chance to laugh at it myself.

4. I am someone who knows the most about one's self, and yet maybe has the least power over one's self. It was during high school when I sought Catherine's counsel frequently... and at one point she told me there was something so weird about my thoughts: somehow, I had the ability to know exactly the phases I was going through, exactly what I'd do, exactly why I was feeling a certain way, and yet I'd still continue on my path. I could pinpoint everything that was having an effect on me, realize the effect, but I couldn't do anything to stop it. I just had to go through with it all and deal with it as it came-- no prevention, no avoidance. And in a way, I'm still like that. I'm getting better, but I can still go through a depression, realize what's bothering me, yet be powerless to change anything about it. It's like a constant cycle in my head of me being too smart for my own good. I know what's wrong, so I'll fix the problem in my head. But my head knows that I'm only fixing that problem to be happy again, which makes me realize that it's not really a solution to any problem.. I'm just covering it up. And so I just can't trick myself, 'cause I know I'm tricking myself.

5. I first started going on the internet when I was in 4th grade, I think. Then, I wanted to be like my brother and all, and since I was always with him when he was on the computer, it only made sense for me to hang out where he did online. Where was it? A Star Wars chat room. And then I was such a fan of Sailor Moon.. me an' my bro watched it everyday after school. And since Tuxedo Mask was the best, my brother adopted the name TuxedoMask9, whereas I decided on Li'ltux. We used the interent so much when we first got it. We thought we were so cool with our second phone line dedicated to our dialup connection. And I remember our mom would get mad sometimes, 'cause our ISP would email us with usage statistics. Whenever we were over 100 hours per month, she was a little upset. I made my first website on Homestead when I was in 5th grade and it was filled with random images and text, and a lot of smiley faces. I was young.

6. Sometimes, it hurts a little when people call me weird. Not because I don't think it's true-- I've known it's true for awhile. But I've embraced it at this point, and I don't really see a point in changing that for anyone. It's who I am and who I wanna be. But it just hurts sometimes when they're saying it as something bad. As if they mean for it to be hurtful. And yeah, I can rationalize it that I'm just this way and that it's what makes me happy.. but it does make me sad to know that someone might have a problem with me because of the way I am. That for some reason I can't be accepted because I'm not normal. It's disappointing, 'cause I really don't ask for much except to have nice company. But what kind of company is it that would wish you were different? It's no good, for sure. But, that's only sometimes. I like who I am, and if it means that I can't be friends with some people because of it.. well, it's just a little sad, but it's probably not worth changing myself over.

7. I have some of the highest levels of tolerance and patience around. I can put up with the most crap and it still wouldn't really affect my mood. For whatever reason, certain levels of pointlessness (in certain aspects of my life) really just don't bug me. My brain thinks slower than others, maybe because I have so much data to sift through considering my memory, or at least that's how I'd like to think of it. Two of my favorite phrases to live my life by are "To each his own" and "If you act like them, you become them." There's no reason for me to get upset with someone else even if they wouldn't give me the same courtesy, 'cause I can be better than that. I have my own morals, and other people don't affect that. I'm the person I wanna be, and that's all there is to it. If they wanna act that way, fine, it's not my place to change them. But of course, that doesn't stop me from giving helpful suggestions on how I think they could be (IMO) a better person.

8. I've taken tons of personality tests, and one of the results I've held in the highest regard is the results of the RHETI test to find out my type of the nine that exist. I'm a type 2. It's a helper type. More specifically, I'm a social two. I focus my time and energy into friendships, and I just want to make everyone else happy by helping in any way I can. In a lot of situations, seeing someone else smile because of something you did is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. It works on things as small as planning a social event and watching everyone have a good time at it. Knowing that you brought these people together and they're enjoying something that you made happen is just so fulfilling to me. It's just great. There were a few years where I tried to do three good deeds per day, just to make the world a better place and feel good about myself. I dunno how long it lasted or if I did anything incredibly meaningful, but I'm sure I was happy enough, and everyone else was probably grateful in some way too.

9. Nine is three squared, but you should really care about three cubed. Twenty-seven is the best number ever, and I'm sure if you know me at all, I've told you this at some point. 27 FOREVER! I've told lots of people the reason, but the main one for a quick explanation is just that I was born on the 27th of December. The number 7 is widely believed to be lucky, and 2 is the most even number you could have (because there's debates as to whether or not zero is a number anyway). And in that case, if you put the most even number together with the luckiest number, you get an EVEN LUCKIER number. That, and it's the same number as my dad's birthday too. Dumb reasons or not, I've lived my life believing nothing but good things come from the number 27, and I've rarely been disappointed.

10. When I was in elementary school, my great-grandma would watch me sometimes when she visited during my off-track times. I would stay up late playing video games, so I wouldn't wake up til 9:30 or so. My great-grandma would make pancakes, and we'd watch The Price is Right together. Afterwards, I'd go play video games in the other room, and she would watch soap operas for the next few hours until it was time to eat again. After she died, I still chose to watch the Price is Right from time to time as sort of respect to her, but I also later learned to appreciate the show on a whole new level. For the first few times I watch it in a long time, I get inspired by all the happiness I see in every contestant. Happiness is contagious, and it's probably impossible to avoid smiling watching it.. even if you have to deal with Drew Carey instead of Bob Barker.

11. I think it was towards the end of high school that I implemented an open-door policy regarding my life. Basically, if you wanted to know something about me, all you had to do was ask. I didn't see the point in keeping secrets, 'cause all I really wanted was for people to know me and appreciate me, rather than putting on any kind of façade. I can think of a few times when I've lied to someone since then, and only once or twice when it has been kinda big and not entirely forgivable. While I regret it sometimes, other times I can justify the lying just a bit. I'm generally honest, but it's just a matter of asking the right questions. Everything is circumstantial, after all. And that's not to say I don't have any secrets.. It's more that there are things no one knows about me just 'cause it never comes up in conversation, and it's not relevant to my character, so it's not like anyone should really need to know. But if a specific question was to be asked, well..

12. On the subject of honesty, one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn ('cause it's my own personal problem) is that honesty doesn't mean decisiveness. For a good portion of my life, I had the impression that in order to be honest, I had to come to some kind of decision about something. It was either yes or no, on or off, zero or one.. there was little grey area. So when I had to be honest with how I felt about something/someone, I was either all in or all done. I would end up making decisions that I'd instantly regret, or say things I wouldn't 100% mean, just 'cause I forced myself to come to a concrete decision, rather than allowing things to stay in a place in the middle, with the possibility of getting better or worse. It wasn't until later that I realized I probably should expand my gray area a bit. I still sometimes make some pretty harsh decisions or statements that I go back on (part of me being fickle, but we'll get to that later), but I'm getting better, I'd say.

13. By now, most of you should know I'm not one for the party scene. It's not necessarily that I don't like hanging out with people (I give that as an excuse usually just 'cause I don't wanna bother explaining it all), but more that I don't do so well in big groups of people. I can think of only a few times where I've actually been happy initially and stayed happy throughout an event with a large group of people with most of whom I'd associate myself. There's just a certain set of conditions I need before I can actually have a good time, the first of which is rarely ever satisfied anyway: the desire to be in a large-group setting. Usually, I prefer to hang out in smaller numbers, limited to 5 or less. I mean, that's not to say I won't like hanging out with more sometimes, but it's just easier when there's 5 or less. But I do admit, there are times when you just need to hang out with lots of people. It's rare, but there are occasions when I actually want to hang out with a bunch of people, in which case I'll be excited to go to a party. I tend to prefer the backstage to the center stage of most situations (unless, of course, when I'm proactive about hanging out anyway), which is why I'm either really annoying (but entertaining), or almost invisible. If I've ever denied an invitation to party, don't take it personally. I appreciate the invite, but that just wasn't the right night for me. Keep inviting, though. One day I might say yes.

14. I first started building my music library sometime in middle school. I was a big fan of internet radio, and for at least a year, all I listened to was BIGmog Radio. Every time I head a song I liked, I went out to download it later. I soon had a collection of about 150 songs from that. It was only video game & anime music, but it was a start. From there I started listening to more video game and anime soundtracks based on the songs I originally liked and expanding as I was exposed to more.. which is when I started watching FMA. Towards the end of junior year, I had started listening to FMA soundtracks, which is when I discovered Asian Kung-Fu Generation. AKFG led me to Waking Ashland and Ellegarden. Waking Ashland (thanks to Dan) led me to MAE. Waking Ashland, Ellegarden, and MAE (thanks to Pandora) led me to just about all the things I listen to now: Marianas Trench, Young Love, Houston Calls, October Fall, Nevertheless, Every Avenue, and all sorts of other great things. I like for people to listen to my music, just 'cause I feel it's enjoyable and happy-go-lucky sometimes. But my entire life I've gotten crap for my choice of music. I don't really have a defense for it, though.

15. If I really think about it, I suppose I get crap from a lot of people. Criticism seems to find me a lot more often than compliments do. But I'd like to believe that it's made me a stronger person. Emotionally, anyway. My music, my physical weakness, my unusual relationships, my bad luck with adventuring, my preferences in general.. It just seems that people just really seem to enjoy picking at them. I'm not entirely sure why. It used to affect me a tiny bit.. Like I remember a couple times when I kinda blew up about it. But now, not so much. Not unless I'm being emo. And still, I don't really have a defense, other than that I like what I like, and it doesn't matter so much what everyone else thinks.

16. I suppose on the subject of what others think, I care and I don't. It's probably more accurate to say that I care to know, but it doesn't necessarily affect what I do. Yeah, I'm pretty set by social norms of knowing what to do and what not to do, but I believe that social norms exist for a good reason. Politeness is a good idea, as is being a good host and caring about impressions to the point where you make people comfortable. My own appearance, though? That's open to so much interpretation that I can't say I completely care at all what people get from it. If people really want to judge me at such a superficial level, then let them. I know who I am, and their thoughts don't affect me. But at the same time, I really am curious almost all the time to know what kind of impression I'm giving people, just 'cause it's interesting to me. To some extent, it'd affect me 'cause I don't want to give off the wrong impression.. but that's not to say I'm letting them change who I am. I just want to be sure there's at least no misinterpretation, if that makes sense. And on another side of that, I also care to know if I have a problem if it's one I'm unaware of. It's certainly not my intention to have some problems, and when it's genuinely a concern of someone else's, I'd love to try and work on it.

17. If you haven't figured it out yet, I have a pretty amazing memory sometimes. I have the ability to remember the most intricate detail, though I can't say I have very much control over what exactly it is. I remember a lot of things mostly when I think about it in story-mode. I give a story to everything to explain why something is. For whatever reason, I happen to remember details about things that don't really have much relevance, and it just so happens that it's sometimes useful information. I don't forget when things happen (usually), and I'm almost always relating events to my current schedule. There's just a certain added benefit of application in that sense, and I'm really good at it. If we've ever hung out on more than a few occaisions, I'm sure you'll have noticed it.

18. I really love scary movies. Not because they actually scare me (I don't think I've gotten legitimately scared by a movie since I was in middle school), but because I love their attempt to do so. I don't know why, but I do love the rush of shit hitting the fan, and seeing people react to it. I do point out stupidity sometimes, but I'm not completely confident that I wouldn't be as stupid in a similar situation. I've never been scared enough to even have to think about things like that. It's interesting to me to see what other people (or what movie producers/writers think people) find scary. I suppose that has a lot to do with this next thing...

19. I grew up without much of an imagination. I was more often in the real world, thinking about the real world as opposed to living in any kind of fantasy place. I didn't fall for any superheroes, I didn't read books to take me to a magical storybook land, and I certainly didn't imagine what life would be like with anything supernatural occuring. I was happy with the real world, and I understood from a very young age that everything I saw on TV or in video games was just a hypothetical situation. It was all purely for your own entertainment, and there was no reason to take it any step further than that. It might seem a little sad if you think about it, that a child grew up with a weak imagination, but I'm happier that way. I'm not as creative as a lot of people I know, but I also feel like I'm a little more realistic. I understand what could and what couldn't happen, and I can be happy knowing that I know where I'm headed. It's better than not knowing where I could end up, IMO.

20. I also worried a lot when I was a kid. I was really concerned with my family's financial status, and I'd always ask my mom how we were doing as far as bills and income were concerned. My mom thought it was funny, but I was genuinely concerned. I understand that I come from a low-income family (the government says so), and I'm fine with that. I'm proud of what my family has accomplished given that we haven't always had money to make our lives easier. I know though, that without fail, my parents will provide for us somehow. When I was growing up, I just didn't want my parents to ever have to worry about that. I suppose in a way, that's why I'd prefer to be self-sufficient. I know my parents have given me plenty of money and pay some bills for me, but I'm at least doing my part at this point to remain a little independent as far as everyday expenditures are concerned. I rely a lot on financial aid 'cause I just couldn't do it otherwise.. but I mean, at least I know that these loans are under my name, and they'll be my responsibility very soon. It's better than nothing, right?

21. I was raised with my siblings' generation. I started out with them on the NES. A lot of kids I know now started out in the SNES days, and that just seems strange to me. And it's really weird to think that some people started on the Gamecube or PS2. It makes me sad. I know that everyone doesn't like the fact that I really only ever play classic games (which are now considered to be anything before the turn of the century or so), but I can't help it. There's a certain level of enjoyment that those games have... And I just can't get the same level of enjoyment from any modern game. It's really disappointing, but I dunno what I can do about it so much. I've gotten older, and my tastes have changed. I still love a strategy RPG, but they just need to make one that doesn't waste time. I guess I'm probably just being picky, though. Games are just less interesting to me now. I was always under the impression that you kinda had to grow out of it at some point.. but I guess seeing how my friends have kept with it, I suppose you don't really. Or they're just lucky enough to not have done it yet.

22. For three years of my life, I had blue hair. Starting in sophomore year of high school til the very end of senior year, I bleached and dyed my hair blue, pretty much just for kicks. One summer, my sister told me to do it, and I thought it was a good idea. I'm not gonna lie, I mostly used it as a chance to reinvent myself after some unpleasantness from freshman year, but it did a great job of providing me that. I made so many friends because my hair was an ice-breaker. I was never good at initiating conversation, but with blue hair, that initial barrier seemed to kinda just melt away. It made making friends so much easier, and a lot of people initially liked me because they figured I was cool enough to do something that would make me stand out rather than fit in. It gave me a confidence boost I really needed, and it was around that time that I started making bigger life decisions regarding how I should run my life. It was probably one of the better decisions I've made, and I guess I owe it to my sister. Why, I even had Mr. Richards announce my name at graduation as Benjamin "Blue" Tristan, since I also lack an official middle name.

23. When I was a lot younger, I wanted to be a chef. I remember the holidays being my favorite time of the year because of how much we got to cook for all the events. I really enjoyed all the different smells and tastes that I thought I wanted to be surrounded by it later. That kinda went away when I met the Internet, but I still helped out where I could. I suppose it's a little ironic that now me and food aren't friends sometimes.

24. For being moderately content throughout most of my day, there's about once a week when I just think about leaving far away for a little while. I haven't any clue where I'd go, but I'd just like to think that there was somewhere. Not because I don't like where I am-- I really am genuinely happy most of the time.. but it's just sometimes I'd like to be somewhere else too. I suppose what usually stops me is either money, time, and/or company. I'd like to experience some things I'm not used to, or just go out and see something new.. but I'd also like to be able to share that experience with someone. And rarely is there a time when it's convenient for someone else to go too.

25. Lastly, for a bit of introspection, I don't believe I'm really as great as I always say I am. I know that I don't deliver the highest caliber of work all the time, that I don't understand some concepts, that my mind works a little bit slower than others, that I don't make sense to some people, that I can be close-minded sometimes, that I'm stubborn, that I don't know everything all the time.. but I like to believe more than anything that, if I am nothing else.. if I am NOT helpful, if I'm NOT friendly enough, if I'm NOT honest, if I'm NOT the least bit intelligent, I AM, at the very least, reliable. I do my best to make sure that I am prepared for a lot of situations, that I know what people might need me to know (to make their lives easier), and that I'm just about always accessible. Having a missed call on my phone always just makes me feel the slightest bit of guilt, and I do my best to follow-up on everything to make sure whatever happened went smoothly. I want people to be able to count on me, 'cause I know the world doesn't have enough reliable people. I do my best with it, and I want to call it my best quality, and surely the one that I'm the most proud of.

And there you have it. If you didn't know these things about me, I guess you learned a thing or two.. and if you had some idea of some of these things, I hope I provided you with enough insight to clear up any confusion you had about me. I'm a more complicated person than I originally thought several years ago, but I'm also pretty easy to please and get along with. I'd like to thank everyone again for all the experiences I've had, and more imporantly for all those that continue to associate with me. I'm sure we've all had our great moments, and I'd like you all to know that it means something to me. I do wish that just about everyone I've had the pleasure of knowing would have a great future.

I request that those that haven't yet fill out a simple survey on my behalf, just because like I mentioned in number 16, I like to know what people think, just because it gives me feedback that I'm always interested in.
And for those of who you would rather attack me head on (not many of you have done it), go for my Nohari and attack the worst of my qualities.
All I really ask is that you actually use your name. I don't get offended about these things, and if anything it'll help me understand who perceives me how, so I can better focus my efforts to change it if it's not my intention. Thanks.
Current Music: Houston Calls - You Can't Simi

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July 26th, 2009

12:06 pm - Session I: Done.
First session is over and done with, leaving me with just a bit of free time to give an update on life.

As a follow-up from last time, my grades last quarter sucked. Majorly sucked. But I passed everything, including compilers, and that's just a huge weight off my shoulders. I would've liked an A in databases, but it's my fault for screwing up that midterm. Tough. The point is, I'm just that much closer to getting my degree and being done with jumping through these stupid hurdles.

Summer started off pretty great; I wasn't exactly super social, but I did do my part to be really productive. I spent a lot of time doing schoolwork; 2-3 hours of school everyday, plus an hour of independent studying of Spanish, followed by maybe another hour of actual schoolwork or something. I was getting off to a great start-- so great that I thought I'd also utilize my daylight a bit more wisely by visiting the pool everyday. On the side, I was still able to finish up the most recent season of 24, watch a few movies, and keep up my RO binge.

Unfortunately, as quarters do so often, school started requiring a bit more of my attention. Combine that with needing to work ahead to go home or San Diego for a weekend, or, say, preparing for a certain Swiss child to visit Irvine, I kinda had my plate full during the week that I had to sacrifice some of my more recreational activities. In fact, I'll say that I was really just unable to do anything except schoolwork. After a little while, I got better at it, and I would estimate that I was a little more social by the end of week 3, and back on target with some things. The past two weeks are a bit of a blur, 'cause I guess academically, statistics got harder and informatics got easier. Both are going to end up just fine, but I'd like to never work with stats again.

There are a few things I would like to mention about the past 5 weeks or so, though:

Not having a job. It's a really interesting feeling, but I don't know if I like it still. I appreciate having free time-- I really do feel I can do more with my day considering how much less I have to worry about my schedule conflicting with random activities. I still haven't completely gotten over the guilt of leaving campus so early 'cause I end up thinking about if there's something with which DBH might need help. I imagine, though, that once I get it through my head that I don't work for them anymore, I'll enjoy leaving campus just as much as any normal college student. On the other hand, you have different fingers. (hahahahah.) No, but seriously, on the other side of the argument, I really do hate not having a source of income. I really preferred having some confidence that if I was spending money, it at least wasn't so bad since I was getting something back eventually. Things aren't working out like that anymore, and I find myself just craving a (technical) job so I can do some relatively easy work for a higher wage than my non-technical job at DBH. Working also provided some structure that I've tried to imitate with my various activities throughout the day. I live for daily schedules 'cause humans are creatures of habit, and I appreciate the consistency. It's been a little harder without it, just 'cause again, I'm not getting money back, so it's like I'm doing everything for no reward. Personal enjoyment seems to be on a lesser level of fulfillment than doing a good job and getting paid for it, I'm finding out. I wouldn't go as far as saying I'm wasting my life; I would instead say that I'm not being productive to a noticeable level. My daily life isn't improving anyone else's situation, and that's upsetting.

Health stuff. So, I guess my cure wasn't a silver bullet, so to speak.. but it has helped. And while I've gotten sick twice so far (once was for a few hours, the other was for a few days, but I don't attribute to anything that supplement could've fixed anyway), I still believe it does some good. There's not too much harm in taking supplements, provided I don't OD. Not much weight gain, and in fact, because of the last time I got sick, I've technically lost weight. BUT, I'm attempting to commit to eating more, so maybe I'll get lucky there. Unfortunately, recently my ability to sleep has been compromised somehow. There haven't been many changes to my lifestyle, but I somehow can't really sleep for more than six hours more recently. I'm hoping it'll pass within the next week, but I can never be sure. We'll keep an eye on that.

Some highlights of session one include 4th of July, wedding in San Diego, and the almighty Swiss Week 2009.

Fourth of July was fun, I'm not gonna lie. My cousin came with me to Modesto which proved entertaining. I was so busy all the time running around from house to house, but I also did have a bit of down time towards the end of the day. I got to have lunch with Jared and Melissa; that was exciting enough because this was the first time I'd seen him since Spring Break. I had a pretty great time with all my family as is often the case, but I can't say I appreciated the lack of time involved with the visit. If I had another day there, I would've loved it so much more, but unfortunately, lacking sleep and traveling great distances seems to be something that I can't so often avoid. Ethan finally paid attention to fireworks (first time he was a baby and didn't care, second time he fell asleep while watching), and he couldn't keep quiet about them. "Woooow, mommy! Look!!" he'd say to my sister. Good times. Little kids are great. And even better when they get to their helper (slave) mode. :)

The next weekend was a wedding in San Diego for Ethan's dad's sister. I came because it was more-less in my neck of the woods (moreso than any NorCal wedding would've been), and I figure almost all wedding food has to be delicious. To be honest it was one of the more quick and painless weddings I've been to. It was a really beautiful place-- on the naval base in front of the ocean and everything. The ceremony was quick, everything went smoothly, and food was served quickly (which is more than I can say for some weddings). Considering I didn't know most people (except my family and the immediate family of the bride), I guess I didn't have the best possible time, but it was still nice. I suppose the only issue is drunk people are usually funny, and we were fortunate enough not to have any problems until the after-party. All in all, it was pleasant.

Ah, yes. Swiss Week. Now, I'd started this entry before Swiss Week was officially over; I decided to wait on actually talking about it and posting it, just 'cause I strive for accuracy. The "week" (term used loosely, which is funny and contradictory considering I just said I strive for accuracy) started on Wednesday when I went to pick dear Christian up from LAX. Swiss' visit was supposed to be a surprise, and I suppose I ruined that a long time ago when I bothered telling Ace (before Swiss had confirmed he wanted to be a surprise), and later when I told Amanda because I was just so excited and she half guessed it and I didn't feel like being a good liar. I had to tell my roommates 'cause he'd be staying with us, and that kinda took out half the people he'd hang out with here anyway... I guess just as it got closer, more people found out, and just about everyone had when he showed up anyway. Point is, I picked him up on Wednesday. Having landed at 4:18pm (earlier than anticipated), and considering traffic wasn't looking so bad, I was pretty excited to be home sooner than I had estimated. Then the problems happened: Swiss didn't read the fine print on his green card (so to speak), and he ran into immigration problems when he got back, causing him to wait in a room 4 hours. He landed at 4:18pm. We didn't leave LAX til 9 or 10. Ridiculous. Worse for him, of course, 'cause he'd been awake for so much longer than I had, which probably just magnified the annoyance by a million. Got home, visited Ace, surprised Seaver and Francis. The world was a better place.

We did a lot of things that week, and they happened more-less in this order: Swiss came to class with me, we hung out on campus, ate delicious lunch, watched interesting shows/movies, swam at the pool, partied, got delicious breakfast, swam at the beach, played in the sand, watched more movies, visited a freshly state-side Weheb, ate more breakfast, and eventually said our goodbyes as he left to NorCal on Sunday afternoon. He got back on Friday afternoon, and we hung out a bit more until it was time to pick up Punam form LAX. She'd been off in China not knowing that Swiss was here, and while happenstance had made her miss Swiss' initial visit, fate brought her back when he came back too. Being out of the internet loop (thanks, China!), we were able to surprise her, which (so far has always) proved absolutely memorable. Came back, ate, went to the beach at midnight, watched a classic movie, and ended the day. Went to our ceremonial Harbor House Café, and after getting a little sick (both me an' Swiss), we all (Ace, Swiss, and I) went off to LAX to see him off.

As far as reflections go, there really isn't a time when I'm not happy to see that kid. I'm, of course, so glad he visited, and I'll always value whatever interaction we have. It was really great seeing people come together on his account, and I hope he realizes just how easy it was to make time for him-- not necessarily because we don't do much during the day, but more likely that we're absolutely happy to do this because of what a great person we know he is.

Anyway, with the exception of the stats final I have to take on Wednesday, session I is over, and it has been pretty great. I'm really looking forward to session II. If I had to change anything, I'd really just like to have a job for a substantial income. That, and now I've got another Switzerland trip to save up for, if things work out as planned.

High hopes.

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June 18th, 2009

05:42 pm - Cure --> Rebirth.
I didn't exactly make a follow-up entry right away like I intended to, but I suppose better late than never. This is the last part of Spring Quarter, plus this week of break. The reason for cure, though, is that I may have just found a way to stop dying. :)

First things first.. Spring Quarter. I basically discussed my classes in a broad sense, but that was before my cruise. I was doing fairly well in all my classes before my cruise; I understood the material, I was doing average-well on course work, and everything was pretty dull and boring. Then week 5 came. I went on my cruise, which was a week of absolute heaven. I had the most amazing time I ever could've hoped for, and I was so glad for that break considering how hard I was working on my courses anyway. I don't have much else to say about the cruise, just 'cause I have so many pictures that can remind me of everything about it. The point is, things kinda fell apart when I got back.

I had two midterms the Tuesday I got back, plus a project due Thursday, and a quiz on Friday. I completely bombed one midterm and did averagely on the second. The project got done just fine (thanks to my partner), and Friday's quiz was no good. I had lost a lot of knowledge of the material in my courses, which in turn discouraged me from motivating myself to learn anything. It took me about two weeks before I started really trying to get back on top of things, but unfortunately it was too late considering midterms were over and everything. I effectively ruined two of my Classics quizzes, possibly mortally wounded my compilers grade, but my other two classes were safe to an extent. I spent the rest of the quarter being consistent with study habits and homework (which, even though I didn't do for very long, it was at least still consistent).

In an attempt to pick up the slack from all the consequences of my cruise, I started studying for finals at the beginning of week 10. That week, I read a few chapters here and there, I did great work on my projects and homeworks still due, and still had time to do laundry and relax watching TV. Finals weekend/week, I intensely studied and did a pretty good job on all of my finals, I'd say. Classics was saved, and databases is fine (I imagine). I did average-well on the final for compilers, but I have yet to find out if that saves my grade considering how badly I've been doing all quarter. Operating systems has ended up all right considering the final was 90% of my grade, which I'm most proud of since I didn't really pay attention all quarter. Looking at the notes I took in that class, I'm really glad I did as well as I did.

Anyway, point is, that job well done on finals set me up to go back to Modesto for some super relaxing before summer school starts and I'm put through some sort of hell. I've spent this week watching the last seasons of Smallville because of a recent obsession with the story line and figuring out what happens with Lana, since she's too pretty to just disappear. I've picked up RO with my apartment, which has probably just dwindled down to me in the matter of one week, but I'm still having a good time. I'm hoping to join a guild and fight in WoE, 'cause I want more than anything to own a castle.

Being at home has been pretty great also because Ethan has advanced quite a bit since week 5 of spring quarter. He's repeating a lot more now. He follows along with those kids' shows like Go, Diego, Go!, and he's always talking, pointing out what things are and everything. He's pretty entertaining. Makes me smile.

I plan to leave Saturday to head back to Irvine since I've got to prepare for the next 5 weeks. I've got to plan out transportation a little more, as well as figure out my own independent study with Spanish, and see if I can fit in a job (and find one, if I can). There's a lot of things to look forward to this summer, 'cause July is a party month, and August holds some promise too. I've got weddings to go to, family parties, and a visit to/from friends. I'm excited for it. More importantly, though, I'm pretty determined at this moment to make sure everything goes smoothly over summer academically.

To address one last thing, there's the matter of my health..

So, for those of you who hang around me on a weekly basis, you've probably seen me die once or twice. If you haven't, then short and simply, I get sick a lot. Sick to my stomach, for no apparent reason. Doesn't matter if I eat, if I don't eat, what I eat, or what I don't eat. It's completely random, and it's really not cool. Stomach pain, leads to twitching and numbness, and it's just a big mess. I rarely throw up, though. I've seen doctors about it, and they all do tests that all come back normal. Nothing is wrong with me, according to them, and I've just kinda learned to accept it. I mean, I've been getting sick to my stomach easily since 4 years ago or so, but it wasn't until 2 years ago that it started getting serious. Point is, I had learned to deal with it, so I wasn't exactly actively looking for a solution.

When I came home over summer, I noticed something peculiar about when I got sick and noticed a little bit of a trend, so I added some symptoms to my list. By doing so, I got a potential treatment, and immediately went to Walgreens to check if there was something available to test out my theory. Considering I was feeling sick when I left, and within an hour of taking the pill I was feeling great, I would say it's likely that I found a solution, or that I'm really psychologically involved :-P

So here it is: Lactobacillus Acidophilus. One of three lactic acids that exist in your stomach to help digestion, especially dairy products. When you are deficient in this particular chemical, you have issues with digestion. Partial lactose intolerance, stomach aches (amplified by anxiety), improper nutrition absorbance (maybe causing weight loss), lack of appetite, and maybe some other things I never got. The cure, so simply, is acidophilus supplements. It's not approved by the FDA because there aren't enough trials to effectively prove it's a treatment/cure; the data shows some promising results, but it can also be seen more random than conclusive. However, there are no dangerous side effects reported, so I figured it was fine to try out. And since I've been taking the supplements, I haven't felt sick. At all. It's really interesting. And really relieving.

So there you go. There's a good chance that I'm no longer suffering from health issues, and I guess that I've effectively beat death again. But who's keeping score? :)

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