Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dave Mesic and me

David Mesic and I grew up together on the same street. I can't think of a memory before I met David Mesic, and the same goes for him. Aside from growing up on the same street and being born a few months apart, Dave and I had some other things in common. For one, we were both the youngest siblings in our families, so we were pretty well used to being picked on by our older siblings and their friends. Also, our parents were immigrants. Hence, we both were dressed funny by our moms with their impeccable fashion senses. I still remember wearing dark socks with my shorts and Dave in his blue plaid pants. Yes, we were two wild and crazy guys.

While growing up, Dave and I shared a lot of the same memories. His dog, the ferocious pit-bull named King, chasing me around on a regular basis, while his mom would call it off shouting "Kinga" was one of our more common memories. That dog would scare the living shit out of me and try to kill me, while Dave would stand by and laugh. A-hole! However, I got laughs at his expense too, when his mom used to come outside and berate him with such a fury. It was the funniest thing to watch.

Playing crash up derby with his sisters' Barbie Winnebagos was one of our favorite past times. These Winnebagos were big enough for us to sit on, so often we would fly on down the driveway while trying to knock each other off of these Winnebago go-carts. We also would give his sisters' Barbies new haircuts that would make these Barbies fit into any punk rock crowd or an insane asylum. We learned that using all sorts of pyrotechnics on these Barbies would generally send both of his sisters off into a frenzy, resulting in me being sent home and Dave being berated and grounded for a couple of days by his mom. Poor Dave, his mom could be brutal.

What brings me to speak about him is that while I was looking through some old pictures at my parent's house, one particular memory came through. I still can't erase the sight of Dave's face on that particular day. We were in the second grade and it was still one of the funniest sights I have ever seen. Yet this event also taught me something about being a true and loyal friend.

The day was just like any other day. Dave and I were walking home from school with two of our other classmates: Steve and Pat. Steve and Pat were pretty much like Dave and I. They grew up on the same street and were best friends by default. On this particular day, while walking home, we all noticed the empty school bus coming down the street to pick up the kids who rode the bus from our school. This time was different because it was running late. Also, it was going to pass us while we walked by a rock garden, so we thought it would be a great idea to throw some rocks at the bus as it drove on by. I don't know whose idea it was, but we were all equally guilty of this crime that was just about to take place. As the bus drove by us, Dave, Steve, Pat and I chucked our rocks as hard as we could at the bus. Then the bus did something we really didn't think would happen. It pulled over.

The sight of the bus pulling over scared the squishy stuff out of us, because it meant that our butts were potentially busted. At this frightening sight, three of us took off running as fast as we could. When I looked back, I saw Dave attempting to tie his shoe with one hand and reaching out with his other hand in desperation and horror begging for us to wait for him. That sight is branded into my brain. It was so damn hilarious. He was so programmed not to walk or run with his shoes untied, that he did not see it was in his best interest at that very moment to just run regardless of whether his shoes were tied or not.

When I looked back again, it was like a scene out of a horror film, when Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers would capture their victim. I saw the bus driver coming up behind Dave, and there was no escape for him. The bus driver picked Dave up and pulled him into the bus like a monster taking his pray back to their lair.

That evening, unlike other school evenings, Dave was not around to play. The street seemed empty without Dave. The next morning, unlike the other mornings, Dave did not walk to school with us. The walk to school was a little more silent. Steve, Pat and I were a bit scared of Dave's and our potential fate. When we did get to school, we saw Dave sitting at his desk with his head down. He looked like he got his butt handed to him by everyone he knew. He looked defeated. Before class started, the principal came in with that very same bus driver who we ran from the day before. The bus driver looked around our class, and then he pointed Steve, Pat and me out. We three had to go up to the Principals office for our butts to be handed to us.

The thing I noticed was that Dave never pointed us out. He never ratted us out. The bus driver had to come in and do it, because Dave wouldn't. Even though it meant that he would be in more trouble than us, he still didn't snitch. Yes, I still laugh at the expense of Dave when I think back to him reaching out in utter horror with one hand and trying to tie his shoe with the other. Hell, when I spoke with him about it, he did too. However, I still remember and thank him for his loyalty.

Dave was and still is a great friend.

Thanks Dave.


It started like most Saturdays. I couldn’t sleep passed 5:30am. Go figure, on the weekdays all I want to do is sleep 5 more minutes, but on the weekends when I have nowhere to go I can’t sleep in. Oh Well, so I got up, made some coffee and did some dishes. After I did that, I surfed the web a bit, then my phone buzzed. It was a reminder that I made an appointment with the San Diego County Blood Bank to give blood at 11:15 am.

After seeing Janie off to work, I took a shower did a few other things, then off I went to give blood. It was at their facility in Sabre Springs which is just down the road. I went in filled out some paperwork and in about 15 minutes, I was ready to give blood. I was nervous, because needles tend to freak me out a bit. I entered this ward with about 8 chairs built for giving blood. These chairs looked like they could be used for lethal injections. They didn’t calm my nerves. There were a few other people in there wrapping up their sessions. One particular overweight woman who needed help to get out of her chair caught my attention, because they seemed to be a little bit concerned about her.

The people exited the ward and sat at these tables just outside the opening. I could see three roundtables where they all were sitting at having juice and cookies. There were two ladies and a little girl at one table, and the overweight woman and another woman at another table. The little girl seemed to be having a fun time, talking with what looked to be her mom and a friend, while the overweight woman seemed to be trying to get her bearings.

While they were waiting the obligatory 15 minutes after giving blood, I was getting prepped. After putting the needle in me, the nurse took a few vials of blood. She kept adjusting the needle, which really didn’t feel too pleasant. I really wanted her to get it straight and just leave it. She finally got it right, and all of a sudden there was this screech, boom, and an “Oh my!”

The overweight woman collapsed off of the chair. Her chin was on the table, and her knees were on the floor. Then she fell backward onto the ground. The staff rushed over to her to help. The little girl looked somewhat amused by this sudden happening.

The staff got some towels and placed them under her head so she could relax a bit until she had enough strength to get up. When she did have enough strength, they wheeled her back into the ward and helped her on to one of the lethal injection chairs. I overheard her talking with the staff as if this wasn’t the first time this has happened after giving blood. This really didn’t help my nerves any.

After I was done, they gave me some juice and cookies and had me sit in that little area to wait about 15 minutes. When I got there, the other women were in the process of leaving, and they were saying their goodbyes to the little girl. Apparently, her mom was the one who collapsed, and she had just met the other women today at the blood bank. Mira is this skinny little blond girl who was about 4 years old and has no fear.

As soon as those women left, she started talking to me. Her head and eyes were wandering around the waiting area discovering her surroundings as she said it frightens her when her mommy falls like that. She said her mom falls all the time and that she’s building her muscle by helping her stay up. She even flexed for me to prove it. It was a little hard to see her muscles through her well worn red sweater that looked like it may be her favorite. I just took her word for it.

She was downright hilarious, but, contrary to what I thought when her mom first collapsed, she was very concerned about her mom. Mira would every so many moments, cut off our conversation and wonder over to check on her mom to see she was alright. Then she would come back and jump into the conversation right where we left off.

She told me that she wasn’t ready to be her mommy’s mommy. Mira also told me that her mom stores a lot of goodies in her purse. She said those goodies gave her mommy another side to her as she put her hand flat and perpendicular to her waist in a shelf like position. Mira was basically saying that her mom’s hips were like shelves due to her eating habits. I couldn’t help but chuckle. This was very observant for such a young girl.

She then showed me, what used to be a cut underneath her pinkie. It was about the size of a flea. She said it doesn’t hurt anymore, but it still resembles the same color as her butt after her mommy spanks her for not going to bed when she’s supposed to. I can somewhat relate to her mom, because kids sometimes just don’t want to go to sleep. Instead of spanking them, I think it’s a better idea to let them stay up late and then feel really tired the next morning after waking up a little earlier than usual. Do this a few times, and they’ll start to go to bed earlier.

All of what I was taking in did concern me a bit, because aside from the cut and the butt spanking, she kept talking about keeping her mom from falling. She was really preoccupied with it. Sadly, I think that this little bundle of energy may have to start growing up sooner than she would like. Mira’s already in the habit of looking after her mom. Maybe I was reading too deep into this little girl’s situation. I hope I was.

After she told me all about her adventures in keeping her mommy upright, we resorted to making silly faces at each other. She loved my patented Joker Face. It made her laugh hysterically. She sure was a fun little kid. She seemed to have a knack for making everyone smile around her. The staff just loved her, and those women with whom she was talking to before me, also seemed to get a kick out her. My wife Janie would have just loved this little girl.

I ended up staying there a bit past the mandatory 15 minutes. I think it was about a half hour. She was very entertaining. After I said my goodbyes to the staff and Mira, I couldn’t help but think about that child’s future. She has an incredible and infectious spirit. She reminds me a lot of what I picture my wife was like as little girl. I hope she has better parents then my wife did.

Fighting With a Deacon

Theologians, don’t know nothing, about my soul – Jeff Tweedy

You might think that anybody who gets into a fistfight with a deacon must be a bad person. Well, not so. This person, according to my dad, was my Uncle Kees (pronounced case). He like my dad won’t give you the shirt off of his back, because it’s too worn down. He’ll buy you a new one instead. Unlike my dad, if he likes you, he’ll play you up like you’re the best person in the world, and he’ll do anything to help you out. However, if you cross him, you’re the spawn of Satan and he’ll want nothing to do with you.

Last year while my dad was dying, my Uncle Kees was there visiting his little brother almost every day. They went through a lot together, and my dad told me quite a few stories about their times. Sometimes when we would cross paths visiting my dad, I would try to lighten the atmosphere by having my uncle recount some of those stories. Generally, it would work. However, I was a little bit apprehensive about bringing up the story about him getting into a fistfight with a deacon. My uncle can be a bit sensitive when it comes to recounting stories that involve him being less than how he views himself, so I never brought it up.

I guess this sensitivity may come from how hard he had it growing up. My dad had a tough time growing up, but my uncle had a heartbreaking time, so he tends to take himself very seriously. Considering what he went through, I totally understand. I just wish he could understand that it’s not a knock on him. It’s more a story about youthful situational ignorance, which I’m sure everyone has suffered from at one time. Hell, I still do.

Basically, the story goes like this. It was a Sunday afternoon in the early 50s, and my uncle was home on leave, off of the merchant ship which he worked on. He decided that it was a nice day to work in the garden. He really does love working in the garden.

Well, while he was working in the front yard, a deacon happened to walk by. Seeing my Uncle Kees working in the garden, the deacon felt it was necessary to remind Kees that he was not keeping holy the Sabbath Day. Kees told the deacon that he was not working. He was enjoying himself. Working in the garden was fun. It was his hobby. A theological argument ensued, which was later reduced to trading personal insults. Fisticuffs soon followed.

Hearing a racket from outside, my dad went to check it out. He found Kees and the deacon on the ground trading punches, so he did like any other brother would do, he broke up the two bloodied theologians.

From the perspective of my Uncle Kees, he went through hell growing up. My Uncle Kees believed that being able to work in the garden was a freedom and a way to celebrate God. God gave this day to him. Kees wasn’t going to squander it, and he wasn’t about to let some zealot who didn’t come close to going through what he did, tell him that he was wrong about how he felt.

Yes, it was not the right thing to do. But when you think about it, it’s just a microcosm of the world’s religious battles. Religion is at the core of your heart, and when somebody tells you that the core of your heart is wrong, you want to passionately let them know otherwise. This has been going on for years and is still going on. Shouldn’t religion bring people together instead of driving them to conflict with one another? I think this is why Richard Nixon once said, In the long term we can hope that religion will change the nature of man and reduce conflict. But history is not encouraging in this respect. The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.

I guess my Uncle Kees just did what most of the world does when somebody questions their belief. Next time you get into a theological argument, remember the person you’re arguing with believes just as strongly as you do, and also like you, wants the world to be a better place, so make it a better place and agree to disagree.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kendall Chow

I grew up in a fairly mixed community.  Mostly though, it was white and Hispanic.  We had some Asians and blacks sprinkled in, but whites and Hispanics had the majority.  There was this one kid who was a mix of Asian and Hispanic, so he had a little trouble fitting in. His name was Kendall Chow.  Kendall was a very emotional kid.  It was rather easy to make him cry, which made him easy prey for the little assholes that we could be. I am not proud of that and I don’t think my then ignorance of sensitive kids is a good excuse.  My parents taught me better than that.

He had this monster pompadour that seemed to be the gateway to his feelings.  When it was up and groomed, he was doing well.  When it fell down into this thick curly cue, he was sad.  His hair was so freaking thick too, which made it a natural pompadour that could probably repel water.  I don’t think he could wear his hair another way, unless he buzzed it.  

One of my all-time favorite ways to pick on Kendall was to sing a parody of a Puppy Chow commercial to him.  We would substitute the word “puppy” with his name.  He really hated it.  That being said, I never picked a fight with him or threatened him, but I didn’t defend him when I could have either.  I mostly serenaded him with “....feed him Kendall Chow!”

Kendall was genuine and a fairly pleasant person.  Aside from occasionally prodding him to make him cry, I actually enjoyed him as a friend.  I would often hang out with him after school at his house, because he had more deadly toys than me.  We used to shoot his beebee gun all the time.  When we ran out of beebees, we would load the gun with cut up nails.  Those were fun and destroyed coke cans quite thoroughly. We also would throw darts at each other on his front lawn.  That wasn’t too smart.  When one of us would get hit with the dart, we would both laugh our asses off.  It was just boneheaded fun.

When we were in the 6th grade, Kendall got into it with his neighbor Ronnie.  Ronnie delivered some blows Kendall’s way, and Kendall, right on cue, cried.  However, something was different.  Instead of cowering, Kendall pursued Ronnie.  Kendall actually got a few punches in.  I don’t know which had the greater effect,  the punches or the staredown pursuit.  Maybe both had an equal effect.

Ronnie kept backing up and looked very scared of Kendall.  Nobody was scared of Kendall, but then nobody ever got pursued by Kendall like Ronnie was getting pursued.  Ronnie kept on punching and backing up. With waterworks and punches, Kendall kept pursuing.  He was like some sort of laser-focused pompadoured robot.  There was fear in Ronnie’s eyes.

Their scuffle was soon broken up by the teachers and of course, they both got in trouble.  However, Kendall really gained my and Ronnie’s respect after that fight.  Even though his crying was in full blast, he didn’t back down.  He focused all of those emotions and gave Ronnie a full serving of Kendall Chow.   I never messed with Kendall after that.  I am very sure Ronnie didn’t either.

02/19/2017 - To Aero Club

Derrick - He is a huge basketball fan from Philly.  He kept talking about Rosie O’Gradys and how great their breakfast is. I might have to check it out.  He did confuse me a little while he talked about Rosie’s.  He kept saying it was a really cool Bear bar.  Considering the area and where it is located, I kept thinking it was in reference to large hairy gay guys.  I thought he might be indicating that he was into that and that he was very comfortable in talking to strangers about his preferences.  That being said, his demeanor was that of a very straight man. I have been wrong before, but he really did not fit the bill.  But then, he is African American who had 90s metal music coming out of the stereo, so he really didn’t fit any type of bill at that particular moment.  After talking about Rosie’s even more and that Charger fans go there too, it turns out it is a Chicago Bear’s bar.  I admit it.  I profiled somebody.  We all do it in some form or another, but at least I keep my mind open when I do. That being said, I wonder if he knows what a bear in the gay community stands for.

Friday, March 17, 2017

03/04/2017. -To the Aero Club

Abadol -  He was an old guy.  His accent wasn’t thick at all and he seemed to really know his way around San Diego. I assume he immigrated from somewhere in the Middle East. I asked the usual questions that normally open people up, but I just got short friendly responses.  I was getting nothing.  It was a very quiet ride for about 10 minutes.  Then, out of nowhere, he started talking about an eye stigma he was suffering from and that it suddenly disappeared a couple of days ago. He has no idea why it happened and he wants to know why.  If he knew, then he could offer his advice to someone else suffering from this annoying affliction.  He recently spent $300 on glasses from Costco and now he doesn't need them.  He mentioned also that his wife wasn’t really happy that he spent $300 on these glasses.  I asked him if he was going to wear those glasses when driving her around.  He responded, “Of course!” We both laughed.  After that, silence for the remainder of the drive.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Uber Adventures 12/18/2016

To the Aero Club

Elias - He is a young guy in a relationship with a woman who has a child.  At times, he has been struggling a little with playing second fiddle to the child.  He knows his place.  It’s just that sometimes it can be a tough adjustment for him.  I gave him some pointers from my own experience with that.  I also mentioned some of the benefits to being second fiddle. I hope the advice helps him.

Back home from the Aero Club

John - Massachusetts all the way! He is a big time Pats fan and Celtics fan, so I guess you can say we had our differences. He was very fun to chat with about sports.  We both agreed that the NBA finals do not feel right unless the Lakers or the Celtics are in it.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Uber Adventure - 02/26/2017

Minh - He’s lived in San Diego since 1995. He is an engineer, whose kids are all in college now, so he enjoys driving people around for fun on his free time.  He likes that he can meet different people from all walks of life through Uber.  He and his family left Vietnam a short time after his father was released from prison. His father was imprisoned in Vietnam a few years after The Vietnam War ended, because he was a reporter for the Voice of America.  Once his father was released, his family took advantage of a US program offering Vietnamese in their predicament asylum in the States.   He hasn’t looked back since.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Uber Adventure 02/12/2017 Part 2

02/12/2017 - Back from the Aero Club

Damir - He’s from Bosnia, and he holds no animosity towards the Serbians and the Croatians.  He doesn’t have time for that type of shit.  That’s in the past for him. Damir avoids picking people up from the Old Town train station and Mira Mesa Blvd.  The train station has too many places to pick somebody up, which makes it a bit confusing.  Mira Mesa Blvd has way too many traffic signals. It takes forever to get down that damn road, and he doesn’t have time for that type of shit.  Apparently, he does not have time for a lot of types of shit.  Fast and easy is his motto.   I like Damir.  I had a blast talking with him.

Uber Adventure 02/12/2017

02/12/2017 - To the Aero Club.

Michael -  He grew up in El Centro. Now he lives in Poway. I cannot blame him. Poway is several steps up from El Centro. Walmart isn’t the largest employer in Poway, so there is a chance to actually make money there. We also talked about how Poway has the most efficient parade every year in early September.  It always starts at 9 am, and by like 10:30 or 11 am, you would never have known there was a Parade on Poway Rd.  

Uber Advendture 02/11/2017

02/11/2017 - To the South Beach Grill.

Reggie - He grew up an Army brat.  He had a handicap parking placard, but it wasn't obvious what his affliction was.  I think he may have been a pack rat too, because the front seat was full of fast food bags. Hence,  I had to get into the back seat. The pockets behind the front seat were stuffed with papers, food wrappers and what looked to be a plastic food tray from McDonald’s.  The floor and seats looked freshly vacuumed and there was no smell.  That all being said, Reggie was very talkative and a nice guy.  He also really hated guns.  He believes that all convicted felons of gun violence should have their trigger fingers amputated. I asked him what would stop them from using their middle finger.  That threw him for a loop.  I enjoyed his conversation.  

Uber Adventure 12/04/2016

12/04/2016 - To the Aero Club
Ricardo  - He is from Mexico.  He wasn’t planning on staying here for too long, but after a couple of years, he realized that he was staying longer.  From that realization, he thought it would be in his best interest to focus more on learning English.  He did a good job, because his English is solid.

12/04/2016 - Back home from the Aero Club
Ali - He is from Turkey.  He has a web design business, but since one of his clients did not pay on time, he needed to do some overtime with Uber.  His parents are still in Turkey and he speaks with them quite regularly.  However, he does not let them know when he get’s into little financial struggles, because he does not want them to worry about him.