Wednesday, December 6, 2023

17. The One w The Best Friend.

 As I was going through the blog and making some little updates, I realized that, even though I have mentioned her in a few posts, I haven't really posted our story... and she deserves one. Especially because of how much she means to me. I might just being mushy here, a little sentimental as I put together my immigration application, but it just made me appreciate her even more for everything she has done for me, even when she didn't know she was. She's been with me thru thick and thin (literally!). And I can only hope I was there for her when she needed someone. 

Sometime in 2004
Flor and I met in high school, and even though I swear it was our freshman year, she says it was our sophomore year in 2004. Either way, we have been in each other's life for almost twenty years! 

I was first introduced to Valerie during my P.E. class. She was friendly and she made me feel comfortable so I pursued the friendship. A few months later I would meet Flor through Valerie; they had been friends for a few years. Anyway! 
Somehow someway someone asked to use their locker because it was on their way to their class in that side of the building; either I asked Valerie if I could use hers, or she asked me if this friend of hers could use mine. This friend happened to be Flor, and I managed to trick her into being my friend after Valerie moved away. I guess Flor didn't have a choice, she was stuck with me =)
I'm not sure how Flor managed to deal with me, or even to stick around. I admit I was a little obnoxious seventeen year old to her short tiny shy self. She was so quiet that this one time, I didn't know she was in a three-way call with me and Valerie until twenty minutes after.
I don't remember how it came about, but Flor and I started writing to each other in a notebook that we left in the locker for the other to read and reply. To this time I still have these notebooks, and I keep saying that I will give them to her son when he turns sixteen, the age she was when they were written. To be honest, the notebook is probably more of notes from me ranting about who knows what!

June 2023
Back to me and Flor!
From high school and classes to help us take the ACT test, going to her church, and many notes later; to becoming of legal age, going out clubbing and being random twenty year olds, but still dealing with social anxiety; to babysitting her abovementioned son that will turn sixteen next year, to helping me through one of the toughest times in my life; and going to concerts and random trips in our thirties now, I am glad she's still my friend...for many more years to come. 
Once again, she has no choice =)

Recently, I started the process for my immigration case, for which she has been a great support since day one, and I was going through pictures that sent me down memory lane. I have to admit on top of the first world advantages I have in this country, I also got the privilege to meet and still have as friends this woman that no matter how long we have not seen each other, we pick up right where we left off. 

So this is it. The story of a friendship that I plan to make last for more years to come. I also plan to sneak her out of the nursing home so we can go see Mumford & Sons in Colorado one last time.

But in the meantime... we will enjoy the rest of our mid-twenties for another couple of decades.

                                                                                                                      [...Relax. Take It Easy. ]

Friday, June 30, 2023

16. No Homo... But Yes Homo.

                                                            HAPPY PRIDE!!!!!! , y'all.

I know, I know, I am a little late for that, but I think (as a very wise person said, Ms Tracy Turner) every day should be Homosexuals Day! (well, Tracy said something else, but you get the gist.

I just didn't want to pass up the chance to talk about how important it is for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible and represented everywhere, given the awful times we are going through. Let me clarify that: given the awful times our Trans brothers and sisters are experiencing. As a gay man, I think my only fear is (aside from unexpected/unforeseen hate crime) the repeal of Marriage Equality.
Then we have the drag ban controversy which I think is ridiculous, as many others do. It's like this country is going backwards, and the ones that were oppressed at some point in the past are now oppressing the people whose civil rights are on the verge of being taken away. I don't know how this is going to end and I fear for the worst.

But let's stay positive.

Today I want to spread love and show love to the people that were key as I went through changes.
I talked about and name them in this post because I think they deserve the spotlight as well. They played a role at some point in my Life and helped shape who I am today, one way or another. Also, shout out to the Beards! Thank you for your service. What would some gays do without y'all!  

In all seriousness though, even I was the one with the courage to come out, stand up against whatever Life threw my way, these people made it somewhat easier; I mean, it's not like I had a traumatizing coming out, but there were times that  made me reconsider... and I won the argument as you can tell since I am here sharing my story with you. Now, the only gay agenda in my Life is to write and vlog and do public speaking, and so much more! And that's all I'll do.

Please remember to speak up against homophobia every chance you get.
Please do not support those who who blatantly support anti-LGBTQ+ organizations (ahem!-Chik-fil-A-ahem!). They can do whatever they want with their money, I just think we should not benefit their income when part of it will go to support those working to keep the gay away.
Please be mindful and open minded. You don't have to 'agree' with everything (especially the whole pronouns situation), but I think just letting them be is the way to go. They're not hurting anyone. Sure it might be too much work, but a little humor will not hurt nobody :) but I'll speak more about this in a mini-vlog in the Instagram so make sure to check it out!

In the meantime, Be happy! Be gay! and #FindTheAndy within yourself.

[ ...Relax. Take it Easy. ]

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

15. Not to Toot my Own Horn.

On my birthday, while waiting for my cousins to show up, my BFF was browsing through my bookshelf which I had recently re-organized and logged into an app to make sure I didn't have any duplicates (and I did have quite a few! *sigh*). Then she reached for a couple of things I had carefully placed away from my clumsy self to avoid breaking them. She excitedly asked why I hadn't told her about them; it's something to be proud of, she said.

She was referring to the glass awards given to me - one by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands for winning 'Big of the Year 2020', and the other from Mentor Nebraska for 'Excellence in Mentoring 2021'. It's not that I'm not proud of it, I told her, I just didn't do it for the recognition. I did it because I wanted to pay it forward. 

In Present Time, my brothers joke as to why I didn't do the things I'm doing with my mentee, and they have a point. The only answer I have is the fact that there was (technically there still is) a ten-year age gap between us making it hard to connect with one another. Also, I was a sixteen-year-old boy trying to find my place in a foreign country, trying to assimilate and adapt. I joke back that they can buy the book I am writing about (for legal reasons I should say, loosely based on) our life as immigrants; then they will have more insight into other factors that led me to where I am today. Now, as grown men leading different paths, I can't help feeling guilty when (hopefully joking) they call me out for not doing things with them when we were younger. 

Of course, as we grew older, we found things in common and our unique upbringing brought us closer together. There is this post from a Blog I wrote years ago that tells you about the moment when the bond between us three brothers was born. I guess trauma is a way to bond, we laugh it off.

So yeah, there are other things that I am proud of, to circle back to the beginning. 
     -I graduated from High School, and I made a couple good friends that still linger in my life and I appreciate them.
     -I had the chance to participate in different activities close to my heart while in High School thanks to some faculty members that saw something in me and took me under their wing.
     -I got a full ride scholarship to college (you can read about it in my book pretty soon!).
     -I worked my way up to management in a restaurant.
     -I qualified to become part of the staff at this Leadership camp that shaped me, and introduced me to many people I look up to. Those were two years of my life that I hold dear to my heart.
     -I was lucky to have a partner who supported me while I searched for the type of job I wanted and I got it. Almost a decade later, I'm still at that job, but moved up positions.
     -Volunteering for BBBS has gotten me interviews for news channels (KETV) (KMTV), and radio stations; I have been on their information pamphlets; I spoke at a dinner for potential donors. 
     -I want to believe my Little and his mom like me as time goes by.
     -I have what I have because of my hard work.
     -I have friends and family that support me. What else could I ask for? (I mean, the lottery would be nice).

     Anyway, let's send this post and get this blogging business a reboot.

And don't forget to check out the podcast that (going forward) will go along with every blog post.
This comeback I am talking about accomplishments and one of the things that sometimes have held me back from doing things, or discourages me, my accent. More of that, in this week's "All Over The Place".


In the meantime, 

[  ...Relax. Take it Easy... ]

Friday, January 27, 2023



                                                       WELCOME BACK!

Okay so I know we all have our traumas and we also deal with them differently. I get it, but can't we be functional fucked-up individuals? Let me tell you a story: 
In March 2011 some family members and I drove to Maryland to see my Grandma who had been hospitalized. I can't remember if there was a possibility she wouldn't make it and that's why we went, but she ended up being discharged that same afternoon we got to town. She was in good spirits during the time we stayed, but she passed away a couple of weeks after our visit. It had been one hell of a month for me and I am glad I had the chance to see her one last time. Still, it does not make it any easier not being able to attend the funeral and burial; that's the one thing my heart and I still struggled with for years, but I have acquired the skills to acknowledge the facts, accept the reality, and move forward. 
Here's the kicker - I was at work when I received the call for me to say my goodbyes. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I locked myself in my office, I sobbed, I cried, I said what I needed to say, I wiped my tears and I went back out to keep working. The show must go on. I had a responsibility as the manager, and only other staff on duty, to keep the store running. No time to mope around telling others your business. I had a job to do; that's what I'm getting paid for. I did go back to the office a few times when I started to choke up, but I composed myself and put on a smile until the end of the shift. If I was able to get through something like that, why can't anyone else get through a normal rough day at work? Where is their motivation or their drive? Or do they even have one? What's their purpose in life? Where are they headed?

In twenty years of working in the real world, I have encountered many types of people and their reasons for holding a job - from college students paying for school, single parents, immigrants, court order halfway house residents, minor students,etc. You name it, I'm sure I have met them and they all had a reason to keep going. Sure they had their bad days, we all do, but never let them blur with the good days. Needless to say they are in a better position now and they are striving for more. No rest for the wicked.
I also met some unfortunate souls such as dead-ends, lack of education, lost in their path, and others still figuring their lives as they go - and that's OK. We just have to either accept the reality we live in and make the best of it because we are going nowhere, or we die trying to get ourselves out of that position. No day but today. 

The thoughts above mentioned came from my recent inner analysis, a judgmental view I wanted to write about and get it out of my system. It is toxic and I cannot have it in my life. In all honesty, I am being judgemental of certain people who float through the day doing the bare minimum and get upset when their management provides them with feedback; certain people who wears their emotions in their sleeves and allow their emotions to run (and possibly ruin) their day. Again, it is my judgement and I will continue to work on this, but I thought I can't be the only bitchy bitter person in an office setting trying to do your best while others keep getting their feelings hurt because they are not getting what they want - which for them it means "I'll do what I want whenever I want to, if I even feel like it, while I have fun with my newfound friends". Like, you're pushing forty with young children, no further education, and lack of initiative and accountability! GET IT TOGETHER. You are in no position to be this picky. It's not cute at this stage in your life. 
And just like any other therapy session - this reaction to that trigger is always about me. I might be just talking about me! Who knows! I am hard on myself and I think that mindset has taken me places I didn't think I could get. So why can't bitches do the same? I'm talking from experience. I was 'bitches' at some point in my life so I know what it's like, but I have not let my circumstances define my life. I still have A LOT to learn and to apologize for. It's hard work, but not impossible. You just gotta keep on going...

[ ...Relax. Take It Easy. ]