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The Remnants of Uncertainty...
Happy Stress
07/24/09 at 12:11 PM by cassusriff
Happy stress and anxiety? Is that possible? Iíd say so. There are people out there who work 12 hour days and love their job. There are parents (no really, there are) that spend all day with their kids and love it. So I think itís possible.
But in the end, it is still stress and anxiety. So with a week to go at the company Iíve been with for over 2 years, Iím starting to feel the anxiety and the stress. But Iím happy. Iím cracking jokes at work, smiling most of the day, brushing off minor setbacks. For example, this morning I was late, I spilled my starbucks as I got out of my car, I had to walk through sprinklers to get into the building, and the phones were busy when I got in. I laughed it off and kept going. Thatís very unlike the person I have been in the past.
The whole prospect of going to UC Davis to finish my degree, to give myself the opportunity to get a degree so I can start an actual career instead of working these entry-level jobs, to finally get a shot at being a Ďrealí college student again (and by Ďrealí college student I mean NOT working more than 20 hours a week and actually staying on campus all day as I go to classes that are actually challenging and exciting) has me very excited.
But Iíve been here before, obviously Iíve never been this close, but Iíve been here. I went to Arizona State out of high school and I left after a year for so many reasons. The last two years Iíve been working at Blue Shield and going to the four community colleges in this area. I almost went to UC San Diego, I almost went to University of Washington, I planned on moving to LA, I almost joined the Navy. Iíve had a different goal every few months it seems.
So when I finally got focused and did what was best and most intelligent, I decided to go to UC Davis. I have a great major (Managerial Economics), I got great financial aid (half scholarships and grants, half loans), I figured out a way to graduate in one year instead of two, I found a cheap, efficient, environmentally friendly way to commute (biking and riding the train), and I even managed to find a part time job on campus.
It all fell into place. Itís all there. Itís all done. In a little over a week Iíll start my summer session there.
So why the anxiety and stress? Because EVERYTHING is changing. Iíve been trying to get here for three yearsÖ and now that it is here I donít know what to do. Iíve had a certain comfort level being at Blue Shield the last few years and Iím leaving that. Iím challenging myself with the most difficult classes Iíve ever taken and Iím taking a heavier schedule than most students because Iím trying to graduate in one year. Iím switching from driving to biking and using public transit. Iím holding myself to a much stricter budget because Iím not going to be making the same amount of money. Itís all great, but god dammit it is scary.
I keep waiting for something to fall apart. But it canít. There will be minor setbacks, there always will be. But I got all the major stuff figured out.
I donít know many people whoíve taken as many risks and accepted as many failures and gone through as many changes as I have the last 3 years. This one is major and it is understandable that Iím a bit anxious for it. But shouldnít I be used to this by now?
Iím afraid though. Itís why I havenít bought any school apparel. For every college I almost went to I bought a shot glass, a hoodie, or something with the schoolís name and I always ended up not going. I took my bike in for a major tuneup because I fear that it will fall apart on the first day I ride to school. Iím buying my books as early as I can. Iíve budgeted myself out for a whole year. I havenít officially sent an email to all my friends in the company letting them know that my last day is a week from today (though my notice is in of course). Iím treading carefully. And everyone who is close to me feels the pressure and the anxiety too. They know Iím on the brink of where Iíve wanted to be for years. They know I need this to work and frankly, they do too.
Hereís to hoping. Hereís to futures and changes. Hereís to a new chapter that truly pays the dividends.
Tags: Stress, life, school, work, change, more serious personal blogging
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The Defining Phrase - Chapter 11: Anxiety
07/23/09 at 01:51 AM by cassusriff
Chapter 1: Complacency
Chapter 2: Unexpected
Chapter 3: Breakdown
Chapter 4: Passion
Chapter 5: Ambiguity
Chapter 6: Conflict
Chapter 7: Secrecy
Chapter 8: Familiarity
Chapter 9: Bliss
Chapter 10: Change

I drive.

The road is narrow with doubt. My mind is scattered like the roadkill on the shoulder. I turn on my ignorance. I turn off my head. At the halfway point in between two girls, not knowing what the hell I'm doing.

When I stop to get gas, I call my friend Kyle. I try to explain myself to him without him prompting me to. He's not the one that needs an explanation, I am. I tell him that my past dictates my present. I have to give Lizzy her fair chance because I failed to do it for another girl in the past. It has to be as simple and shallow as first come first served, because there is no possible way for me to make sense of this. His next comment slaps me across the face.

"Dude, that all may be true, but..."
"Well I was talking to her friend and she said that Shelby..."
"Yea what about Shelby?"
"Shelby said you're the best she's ever had. That she connected with you better than anyone."
"That's bullshit, we only knew each other for a week."
"That's what Shelby said man, and it's probably true."

I don't know what to think. The music plays but all I hear is silence. I glance at my phone repeatedly. Nothing from Lizzy. She's already on her damn plane. It's too late to turn back. My stomach turns slowly and deliberately. I hate this. I feel guilt tickle my spine.

I text Shelby. Ask her how she's doing. She gives me a short response. She can't be happy that I've already broken my request that we not talk during this weekend. I can see it. I know her well already and I don't know her at all. I don't know either of these girls that well. I haven't even met one of them. Yet here I am in the middle of two places trying to figure out something I feel is going to affect me for years to come, if not the rest of my life.


I drive through central California, the forgotten part of a state known for its north and south. A perfect metaphor for where my head is. I get closer and closer to the reality I need to face. I receive intermittent texts from Shelby. I ask if she's okay, she gets pissed. I feel stupid.

She tells me she is in Berkeley with her friends, I tell her to enjoy herself and we discontinue communication, presumably, until I come back home.

I hit the grapevine on the 5. The road is twisty and I'm swerving all over the place as I text Eric to let him know I'm getting close. I had left work early that morning so I could surprise Lizzy and be there when her flight arrived instead of meeting her two hours after. I plan to meet Eric at his place and then drive over to the airport. I'm getting closer.

Five exits, four, three, two...

I'm one exit away. My heart is beating fast. I'm still at least an hour away from meeting her. I don't know how I'm going to survive if my blood pressure stays this high. I head towards Eric's apartment. I walk in and I'm giddy, discombobulated, and red in the face.

"Dude, you alright?"
"Yea man, just anxious. I don't know what to expect and I'm all over the place right now."
"Haha, this is the kind of shit that I'm going to tell at your wedding, no matter who you end up with. I'm gonna get up there and talk about how you were in my apartment freaking out over meeting this girl."

He cheers me up, but my breath is getting shorter. With about 30 minutes until the flight lands I finally convince him to go to the airport with me. We get there with about 15 minutes to spare. We park. Nothing is moving fast enough. I look around anxiously for the right terminal. Burbank Airport is set up in a confusing way and I get frustrated. Eric assures me that Lizzy will walk through these doors at any moment. I get a text.

"I landed!"

My heart stops. I'm not ready for this. I tell Eric that I need to buy her flowers or something. I go to the vending machine and get a slightly wilted, small spring bouquet for her. I hold it up nervously. I'm suddenly that guy at the airport waiting for his girl, only in this situation I'm at the airport waiting for a blind date. I start to put pressure on the situation. This has to be perfect. This has to be better than the first time I met Shelby. There is going to be flowers, a hug, and a magical kiss. It's all there waiting to happen.

I tell myself that it will just happen, I don't need to imagine anything. It will just happen the way it is supposed to. Eric tries to calm me down. I see people coming out of the terminal, every few seconds we think we see her but are fooled. The last few stragglers come out. No sign of Lizzy.

I text her, "Where are you?"

She doesn't respond.

I call her. She finally answers and says she's outside. I start running around desperately trying to find where she is. She's terrible at explaining her surroundings. She tells me she is under the sign of the airline she traveled on. There are three signs that say the same airline. I run towards that area. Eric spots her. I walk briskly towards her as she looks the opposite direction from where I'm heading. I get closer and closer. I can see her almost clearly now. I'm pushing people aside and I finally break out into a sprint.

I give her a running hug and startle her. She looks at me and I hand her the flowers. We share a rushed, awkward peck on the lips. Eric catches up with us.

We say hello.

My heart sinks.
Tags: girls, relationships, story, the defining phrase
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A Taste of the Past
07/14/09 at 02:32 AM by cassusriff
I'm not very old, but I was immersed in the 'glory' days of the scene. I had a band in middle school called "Heroes With Helmets" and we rocked our little hearts out playing punk rawk music. I remember going to see MxPx, The Ataris, Further Seems Forever, Good Charlotte before they got big, Blink-182, The Drive-Thru bands... the list goes on.

The highlight of my life as a musician was when we played an event sponsored by my school and got to open for Locale Am. Many people on this site would recognize that the singer in Facing New York was in this band too. They were the class of the East Bay local pop-punk scene. Their first "hit" song was a scrappy pop-punk song about the bearclaw, where they played their first show. My god those were good times. Playing that show, even as the second band in a six band set, was the coolest thing I ever got to do in music.

Anyway, they came up randomly on itunes and I did a quick search for them online and found this video. Enjoy the brilliance and simplicity of the good times.

Tags: Locale Am, past, music, nostalgia, facing new york, east bay, pop punk, memories
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Fear the Fame and Infamy
06/26/09 at 01:01 AM by cassusriff
I look at this whole MJ saga differently than most. Yes, you should celebrate his impact on music. No, you shouldn't necessarily celebrate him as a person. You can talk about the allegations of what he did, how eccentric he is, whatever. But the true sad part of this is how he essentially died alone.

Yea, he had kids and ex wives and family and whatnot. But the man was an enigma and a polarizing figure. He was one of the most influential musicians and performers to ever live, yet his life was and is a constant joke. I liken it to someone like Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote beautiful poetry and stories but was found dead in a gutter. How about Kurt Cobain, who ushered an era of music and had the biggest band in the world only to off himself?

What can I make of these people? I think we all dream of having the kind of impact that these people have on the world. I think we all want to do something that is forever remembered and talked about. We all want our place enshrined in history. But at what cost?

I see fame as a deadly thing. You make your life part of history, but in doing so, you give your life to history. You give your life to your fame and your own life is left in shambles. How else is it that the musicians and actors we love so much seem to divorce so many times, or overdose on drugs, or die alone? Why is it that someone can be so loved by so many, but not loved enough by one? I think a life under constant surveillance is dangerous and unnatural. We have people who are famous (Perez) just for the mere fact that they talk about famous people. Fame or Infamy, it doesn't matter. It's all the same result. Think of it this way: Is Charles Manson really any different from Marilyn Manson in terms of recognition? Sure, they are famous/infamous for different things, but they are talked about in the same capacity. Michael Jackson dies and has his detractors and his worshipers, but either way his legend lives on.

I don't want that life. I'm content having a small, incremental impact on the world. If I can touch just one person, I am happy. And honestly, I've done that in a lot of ways. I'm sure none of my friends would be the same without me, and I wouldn't be the same without them. I helped two people meet who are now getting married. I broke the hearts of girls and they did the same to me and we all went on to find happiness and learn lessons. I give my parents a difficult, yet rewarding son. I don't need screaming fans, I don't need a million twitter followers, I don't need people taking pictures, I don't need debates about me or wikipedia pages or dedication groups.

I just want a family, happiness, hard work, fulfillment, and fun. That's all that matters to me.

And honestly as I realize that my career is actually beginning now, I'm starting to freak out. I've been working a job and having school as my crutch for the last 3 years. Now suddenly I'm networking and planning for my degree and positioning myself for the career path I will travel down the rest of my life. I have things ahead of me like buying a house, getting married, having kids (all things I want, not things I'm doing because society expects me to). It's a bit daunting. I've always liked to look at myself as being ahead of the game, ready for the next step. But yesterday I found that I was trying to convince myself to stay in college another year. Why? Because I'm actually afraid of this next step. That's okay, I won't falter under this pressure. But it is eye-opening and extremely scary.

I guess that's the next challenge to conquer.
Tags: mj, life, fame, infamy, fear, career, family
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Confidence. Modesty. Ego.
06/14/09 at 01:32 AM by cassusriff
Wow, a double blog! I'm coming back with a vengeance tonight.

I find it interesting to look at the line between confidence and arrogance, bravado, and vanity. Where is that line? Everyone seems to have a different opinion. Many would say that these blogs and my tweets about my life are the ultimate form of vanity. That I am a product of our generation's need for constant attention and simply seeking some adulation, adoration, and attention (ooooh alliteration! Look at me I'm smart!).

And to say that is completely false is a blatant lie. I think of something witty and dammit I want to post it on twitter. I see a cool article and I want to be the one that shares it with everyone. I get into a good school and I want to let people know and see their reactions. It is self-serving. I don't doubt that.

But vain and egotistic? I'm not so sure. I seek praise and attention in some ways, yes. I don't seek it the way I see many others do. I think we all like to feel like what we do has some purpose or validity. I'm just someone who is wiling to admit it. We all like to think that the approval of others isn't important to us. I'm just willing to admit that it is important to me to a degree.

So what does that mean? I just like to communicate online, that's all. I like twitter and facebook and these blogs because it's fun. I like to get different reactions from different sources. I like to be able to tell a mass of people I know something instead of having to call specific people. When I see my friends or others post interesting things, I comment on them. I interact just as much as I like to be interacted with. I find it hilarious when people complain about someone who posts too much. I liken that to someone who talks to much. You either tell them to shut up or you stop listening. I prefer to just ignore what I don't care to read and read what I like. That's pretty simple.

The funny thing is, I like to keep people informed about me and what I do... but when it comes down to it and the praise is actually being focused on me, I completely shy away from it.

Every award I've won, I went on stage and spoke about the others who helped me to get there and shyly talked about how much it meant to me. When I gave away a scholarship, I spoke of hard work and praised the students that applied. When my girlfriend and her parents made me dinner and got me cards and a present for getting my two Associates Degrees, I brushed off the accomplishment as nothing and had no idea how to react to the praise.

I think when it comes down to it, I'm a confident person who is geniunely excited about what I do. I think that easily comes off as egotistical and self-serving, but I don't mean it to be. I blog about my life because it's what I know best and I feel like I can relate to others who maybe don't know how to express it. I'm a struggling college student, millions of people can relate to me. I honestly just like to get my thoughts out there and hope that at least one person doesn't feel alone or feels like someone understands. Or I use these forms of social networking to reccommend something I like to others, or provide commentary on a hot issue, or simply just to write.

In all honesty, I can't really handle when I do succeed. I always expect more of myself and I never get very comfortable or happy with an accomplishment. I barely spent two minutes being proud of getting Associates Degrees, because I want the Bachelor's Degree. And when I get that degree I'll expect to have a good job soon after, and then promotions, and then a Masters Degree, and then more promotions. I don't stop to smell the roses ever and that's why people think I don't have gratitude. I do. Inside I am so deeply grateful anytime someone comments on something I'm excited about or cooks me dinner for an accomplishment or gives me a bday present. I try to show it, but I am just not an over-the-top happy kind of guy. I don't understand how people could be so proud of me when I know I can do better and will do better. I try to respond to every message people send me. In fact, I must have missed the whole trend where NOT responding to emails, tweets, messages was the thing to do. Seriously, people ignore their mentions and wall posts so much it boggles my mind!

I try to be grateful and happy, but I just can't show it the way people expect me to. I'm sorry if I let you all down, but know these things:

1) I truly, truly appreciate any praise you send my way. Any love or pride you express for me sticks with me forever. I cherish when my mom says she's proud of me or when my brother says he wants his kids to be like me. I am fueled by my girlfriend's constant support of me and how her parents always tell me to be proud of what I've done so far before focusing on the next thing. I never forget those things, they keep me going more than any present ever could.

2) When I compliment you, it is straight from the heart. I don't fuss around or give away compliments for free. If I see something you've made and say very little, that isn't a good sign. I'll tell you what I don't like about it, but I will also point out every detail that I loved about it. I'm not going to run up to you after a show and scream and tell you how great you were, even if you really were that great. I prefer to take you aside and tell you specifically why I thought you were great, ask you questions about others in the show with you, etc. I like to know the whole story behind something so that I can truly be proud of it.

3) When I am happy, I look miserable a lot of the time. I keep things very internal. I don't like to get too high or low, I messed with that way too much and it scares me to go there. I get silent when I'm sometimes because I don't need words. Sometimes I just like to take it all in. When I graduate next year, I may barely say anything after the ceremony, but my goodness I'll be happier than ever.

That's my self-serving blog for the day. You may now go back to your regulary scheduled program.
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Previous Failed Endevors and Razia's Shadow
06/14/09 at 01:03 AM by cassusriff
It has been a while. I fear that twitter's microblogging has killed the actual blog. That truly is sad to me, as these blogs used to be my soapbox. It was like I was shouting out loud to no one in particular and the occasional listener was always a welcome sign.

I've always tried to take on fun little projects to give myself a recognizable name on the internet, but they have all failed. There was the collaboration with RyanFTW, the video reviews I tried to do, album reviews I could never edit right, the entertainment blogs, and now the Razia's Shadow thing.

To be clear, all of the things I tried to do before Razia's Shadow failed because I had too much on my plate and I didn't have enough dedication to them. My priorities are finishing school, surviving, and spending time with my girlfriend, friends, and famiy when I can. For the last two years I've been doing double time working and going to school. In about a month and a half I will finally be able to just go to school... though even then I'll be taking two years of courses in one year. To clarify:

Right now I have two semester classes (about 15 weeks) that are online and condensed into 6 weeks. I have three chapters of homework EVERY week in both of them. I'm also working full time.

By the end of July, both the classes end and I will likely leave my job (assuming financial aid works itself out). But the first week of August I start four quarter classes (10 weeks) that are condensed to 6 weeks for summer session. Then I have a week off and start fall quarter, then winter quarter, then spring quarter, then graduation which puts me almost exactly a year from now. In that time I'll be taking 75 units.

This is the only way I can get my degree without going too much in debt or taking 6 years. One year off of work, one year of loans, and then I'm done. Hopefully the economy is better and I can find a decent job coming out of college.

Anyway, back to the thing about Razia's Shadow. It isn't my lack of drive this time. In fact, this has everything to do with the others involved. I put this out as a way to raise money for a scholarship. I got the numbers from the venue to see how much it would cost, I got people to help me with set design, I talked to the groups that would help me get this all together, I talked to actors who I wanted to be in it. And truly, I've been ready to get this thing going. Unfortunately, I've had actors being flaky (as they always are), the theatre group taking weeks to get back to my calls and emails, and no one cooperating with anything. Truly, this show could still happen. But the ball isn't in my court anymore. I need actors to respond to me and actually agree to get together. I need the powers that be to sit down and talk with me about marketing strategy and rehearsal logistics. I can only do so much. As anyone could read above, I don't exactly have all the free time in the world, but I'd be able to make this work if people would cooperate. Seems there is no time to try to do something that would be both fun and for a good cause.

Anyway, that's an update on my life and that.
Tags: razia's shadow, performance, frustration, past, life, college, work
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The End of May
05/25/09 at 11:40 PM by cassusriff
Interesting weekend. To recap:

My room underwent a bit of a redesign. My mom got me a new desk and a new bed set. My room has a very distinct contemporary design with black furniture. I also got a bluetooth apple keyboard to go with my bluetooth mouse and MiniDVI to HDMI cable. What all this means? Well, I'm in bed typing this while I stare at my 42" Sharp Aquos TV. I have a nice portable macbook, but I also have a 42" monitor to use while in my awesome room. Of all the living spaces I've ever had, this is definitely my favorite. The house in general is amazing and has really factored into my decision to stay here for school.

During the weekend I saw Terminator (awesome movie), hung out with my girlfriend, smoked hookah with some old friends, watched some sports, went shopping with my mom, and went to my cousin's high school graduation party.

The graduation party was very interesting. I remember when my cousins were freshman in high school and I was a senior. Now I'm three years removed from high school and really beginning my adult life. I keep getting asked if I feel different now that I'm 21. Initially I always say no because I don't drink much more now and I never drank much in general, but when I think about it I do feel different. I feel older now. I feel more removed from everything than ever before. Maybe this has to do with living in this house with my older friends. Maybe this has to do with making the decision about going to UC Davis. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that all my friends are getting to this place too. When we hang out we talk about college majors, careers, graduating from college, moving, jobs, relationships and where they are heading. We talk about our plans for marriage and kids.

It is all very overwhelming, but it is incredibly exciting. I see pragmatism in the decisions the people around me are making. I don't think any of us have really throw away our dreams, I just think we are all growing up and realizing we have to do things to survive and make a decent life for ourselves. Seeing my friends making big decisions and finding happiness makes me very happy.

My family and I are doing well too. It was nice shopping with my mom, good to talk to her again and put the last few months behind us.

The summer is promising. The semester is over and now I'm working to get everything together to go to school this fall. Loans, orientation, registration, paperwork, etc. Of course, I'm still working full time. My girlfriend is leaving to be a counselor at girl scout camp in a week so I won't see her much. Basically my summer is not extremely busy but definitely not a breeze.

I also got the go-ahead to do Razia's Shadow with the theatre company. I need to talk to my old high school to see if they would let us perform there. I don't know if I can pull this show together during this summer, but I can definitely try. I'll update more on that as it happens.

That should be all for now. Till next time.
Tags: razias shadow, performance, technology, life, personal, school, family, friends
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20x30 (One Year Later)
05/13/09 at 03:35 AM by cassusriff
So last year I put together a list of 20 things I wanted to do before I turned 30. Well, here I am one year later and let's see if I've made any progress.

In honor of turning 20 (and mainly because I need to make this b-day mean something because 20 is a pretty useless age) I'm going to make a list of "20 things I want to do before I'm 30". I call it my 20X30 list. Don't make fun of me, I may not be an aspiring actor like many of friends are, but I still have the dreamer in me. You're about to find out just how motivated I actually am.

Without further ranting, here is my list:

20. Attend all the big Concerts: Bamboozle, Bamboozle Left, whatever else is out there. I used to go to shows all the time and I've recently started going regularly again, but I definitely need to go to these big ones sometime soon.

Haven't gone to ANY shows this year. Though the plan is to head to the east coast for Bamboozle next year.

19. Attend ComicCon and the Sundance Film Festival: Hate to put these into the same category, but talk about the top entertainment festivals. These are events anyone can go to and enjoy, so I want to do it.

Nope, haven't done this either. Though, ComicCon is still a possibility.

18. Run a Marathon: I know it's crazy, but this is a great way to stay healthy and having a goal like this will require months of training and focus. I really want to do it.

Training for this currently, hope to do one by the end of this year.

17. Triathalon: Goes hand in hand with the Marathon. Might as well do one of these too.

This will be the natural progression after my first marathon.

16. Go Bungie Jumping: I've been skydiving, this is naturally something I should try right?
Not yet. :(

15. Go Rock Climbing: I'll probably do a smaller scale climb this summer with my friends, but I want to climb an actual mountain at some point.

Well, I didn't do any rock climbing last summer... but I actually live with three of my friends now so maybe that changes this summer?

14. Go Hang Gliding: I'm quite the thrill seeker aren't I? You only live once, so why not put your life in danger to make it more exciting?

I really want to do this.

13. Shark Diving: Not sure if it's called that, but It's when you get in a cage and lower yourself into a sea with sharks. I hear it's just breathtaking... and again, another risky thing.

Do I think I'm immortal?

12. Go to a Superbowl: Preferably one in which the 49ers are playing, but it's the biggest sport event of the year, I have to go at some point.

I don't expect to do this one until my late 20's.

11. Mardi Gras: It's just one of those events that is made for someone in their 20's. Besides, New Orleans is back and needs people to make it what it used to be!

I was single back then, my desire to go to Mardi Gras is not as great as it was. Though it would still be a fun trip.

10. Casino Hoppin' in Vegas: I'm going to Vegas in a few weeks... but I'm sure it will be a bit better when I go with all the guys after I turn 21. Sports gambling, stay at a fancy hotel, do all the fancy expensive stuff, start drinking at 10am, just live it up.

Well, I'm 21 now so this is possible. Will have to wait until we all have a bit more money. I do think this will happen sooner than later though.

9. Spring Break in Cancun: If I end up going to San Diego, this may happen sooner than I think. This is something I have to do in my early 20's or else I'll just look like a creeper.

Again, not feeling this as much now. But we will see.

Alright, now for the big goals.

8. Study Abroad and Travel: If I end up going to UCSD, I plan on studying abroad my senior year, most likely for two quarters somewhere in West Europe. When I eventually go to grad school I'll probably study somewhere in Asia. I'm not expecting to see all of the world before I'm 30, but seeing as how I've only been to the Phillippines, Mexico, the West and East Coast of the U.S. and Hawaii in my first 20 years, I want to catch up a bit.

Didn't end up at UCSD, but I still see myself heading to Europe either this summer (for a short stay) or next summer probably for a month.

7. Go on a Mission Trip: Those who know me know that I'm not religious. I'm a humanist though, so I believe in helping people. I have the same desire to help as anyone and I want to make a difference and live for someone other than myself.

What sucks is that a person's charity is limited by their money and time. I have neither right now. I've been trying to organize charity events but this is something I want to do when I'm more stable.

6. Get my Undergraduate Degree: It's looking like that will be a B.A in Economics with a minor in Psychology and an International Certification to go with that.

This is THE NUMBER ONE GOAL right now. I am working on cramming two years of classes into the next year so I can get this damn degree. 2010 or bust is my goal.

5. Get an MBA from a top 15 program: Pretty damn lofty goal isn't it? I like a lot of the east coast schools like NYU, Columbia, UPenn, and Chicago, but of course I'll look at Berkeley and UCLA too. This is one of the biggest goals of my life. I want an MBA before I'm 30 and I want to go to a pretty damn good school.

This will definitely happen before I am 30. Count it.

4. Work at a good place: Considering most of my goals have been pretty specific, this one is very vague. The point is that I want to do something I love, which is anyone's dream isn't it? I just don't want to be stuck at Blue Shield the rest of my life.

This is all relative. I just got promoted at Blue Shield. I will likely take the year off to finish my degree, but I wouldn't be against coming back as long as I came back as an analyst or some higher position like that. I'm done with process work and I am getting my degree so I can start to build my business/analytical/financial career.

3. Start a Business: I'm not looking for it to be very successful before I'm 30, but I want to get it rolling. I have many ideas: A Record Label, a Publishing Firm, some sort of internet company, a Venue, a Restaurant, etc. I just want to start something, what's the point of an MBA if you aren't going to do your own thing one day?

Ideas are constantly floating in my head. I do not possess any capital to begin this, but I do have contacts that I know will be useful in the future. In this economy now though? Not likely. This is years down the road.

2. Publish a Book: One of the greatest goals of my life. I have three stories I'm working on that are in my head. I don't care if they are best-sellers or if they appeal to a very small market. I just want to see one of my books on the shelves and online before I'm 30.

I got closer to finishing a story this year than I ever have. The main thing is that I need to sit and take some time to really make it good. My writing needs some work and I need a story that I can really make into something great. But this dream is nowhere near dead and will get done.

1. Live Well: Notice how I don't have marriage or kids as a goal? There are certain things in life that you can't force or plan. If I plan to be married before I'm 30, I'm just setting myself up. I don't want to rush myself into anything as serious as marriage just because of my age. My number one goal for the next decade is to just live. To not settle or fall into anything because it's easy.

I like how profound I was. What is funny is how one person changes your perspective. I am in a relationship now and of course I always think optimistically, so now I see myself getting married before 30 and having kids after.

My priorities have definitely been adjusted a bit in the last year. My top 8 goals were pretty right on. I find that the ones before that are interchangeable. Also, I do not fret that I haven't really completed any of the goals in the last year. I've set the framework for many of them and I can see 2 or 3 being done by next year.

So what have I done in the last year?

Amazing trips to LA, finding the girl I've always wanted, moving into a place that actually feels like home, getting a promotion, 49ers game, Giants game, drinking with my friends, fall outs with family and reconciliations, growing up, maturing, enjoying the holidays again, making great friends, losing other friends, listening to great music and watching great shows, discovering new likes and dislikes, life-changing experiences.

So, list or not... it's been a great year.

Oh and btw, I'm 21 now... so uh, I can imagine things are gonna get better.
Tags: 20x30, 21, goals, life, bucket list, year, personal
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Older But Still Young
05/06/09 at 01:18 AM by cassusriff
Oh shit. I'm almost 21. You know what that means? Well aside from the copious amounts of alcohol I will consume next week, it is time for introspection galore.

Last year I remember I was gasping for some clarity. I needed a win, somewhere in my life. I felt lost, hopeless, lonely, worthless. My birthday changed all that. I started dating randomly, going out more, developing a plan to get out of here, having fun, feeling good. In July I left for San Diego. I felt alive. I was the quintessential adult/college student. I was free and in control of everything.

But I wasn't.

The rest of that story has been well-documented. I can't exactly see how I got here, but here I am. I find that the person I am now is much different. I feel like I finally just decided to grow the fuck up, for lack of a better phrase. The unrealistic expectations and dreams haven't faded, but they have evolved into realism. In the last year, I've finally seen enough of the many people who wander aimlessly chasing things that are ideal but not real. I kept trying to find my ideal world while trying to mask it as a hybrid between that and realism. I was kidding myself.

There are two lessons I've learned in the last year.

1) Life isn't going to wait for you. You have to take opportunities where you can get them. You take risks and you take hits but if the investments work out even half the time, it is well worth it. Starting over is fine, but eventually you have to run some sort of course or else you'll never be on track to anything. Life is a marathon, not a race. There is a long road to travel and altering the course too much just proves counterproductive.

2) As short and unpredictable as things are, there is no need to rush. I get it, the two lessons are a bit of a contradiction. But hear me out. I think the main reason I've been able to adapt some realism into my life finally is because I realized that I don't need to have everything I've ever wanted at the age of 21.

Yea, I'll admit that getting a degree is such a priority that I've dropped the notion of trying to recreate a college dorm life with no responsibility in a bustling city with culture and prestige in favor of a college that I can just simply fucking graduate from. But there is nothing wrong with that. I don't need to go to Europe right now. I don't need to go to a fancy university for my undergrad degree. I don't need to be thinking about graduate school yet. Nope. The truth is that I sold that out 2 years ago. I just kept thinking that I was still a college kid when I've really been a full-time working-class citizen. The fact that I've even continued school full time is impressive.

I was at a college, living poor and free, accumulating debt and making good and bad memories. I came home for the summer, took a temp job in a corporate setting and a month later I was vying for a permanent position and opting out of the college life. I conceded to community college and kept myself happy with the notion that I would return to that life eventually.

But that idealism led me to costly mistakes. Fortunately for me, it also led me to the best situation I've ever been in. The truth is, I held out in the sell-out world I kept trying to get out of and found myself an amazing girlfriend, 3 awesome friends that I share the sickest bachelor pad with, a new found independence, a jump-start on my career that very few people have, and a general happiness.

I still work my ass off, and I still want better for myself. I haven't completely sold out. I'm not putting any dreams on hold, instead I am adapting. Why go to a college for the college experience when I'm not that person? No matter where I go I'll have to work or take a loan and power through anyway. I've never nor will I ever have the ability to just sit in an apartment eating pizza all day while decided whether I should go to class or not. No, I do my homework early because I know I'll be busy all week with other things.

The point is, there is still a fancy college out there for me. My undergrad degree will hopefully come sooner than I think. I'm positioning myself to have a steady place to live, a good education, and be an viable candidate in what will be an (hopefully) emerging job market. I've done all of this while throwing out the bad in my life and keeping the good. Tonight, I am happy. I got a new start without having to skip across the country and uproot my entire life. What's even better is that option will be there in a few years from now. And how old will I be then? 23? 24?

Yea, I have a lot of time left.
Tags: personal, life, 21, job, college
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Waking Up In A New Beginning
04/26/09 at 05:34 PM by cassusriff
I'm sitting in Starbucks paying for a few hours of internet so I can do some homework and take care of a few other things while I wait for the internet to get set up at my new place.

It's been a crazy journey to this point. A lot has changed and I have to say it is all for the better. I already feel at home in my new place after one day. I am excited about a new start. I've been accepted to 3 colleges so far (UC Davis, UC San Diego, Univ of Oregon) and I am waiting to hear from Univ of Washington. My initial response is to lean toward attending UC Davis because of the stability I have established in this area. I have a job (which is more than a lot of people can say these days), I have friends here, I know the area, I wouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg to attend, and I would come out relatively strong financially and with a degree accompanied with 4 years of business experience.

Yes, the draw of going to Oregon or Washington is there. I love Eugene and I love Seattle. The areas and the colleges are magnificent. But the costs are huge, and it also involves uprooting my entire life for the 5 time in the last 3 years. To be honest, after the move this weekend, I am a bit tired of all the change. I've also come to realize that I have always yearned for something different but never really took the time to enjoy what I have. I think my family has made me want to leave this area for so long, but the truth is that with this move I have more distance from them. I don't live with my brother anymore, my mom doesn't know where I live anymore, no one does. The house is a refuge of sorts. I feel like there is no pressure when I'm there.

The move was exhausting in every way. My family fought and argued throughout it all. I was disowned by both parents repeatedly only to have them call again to yell at me. I had my brother, who just needed some guidance, getting tugged around every which way. Finally, my common sense prevailed and he went to the only certain living situation that he had at this time. His car got repossessed, but I think he has a stable environment now that will allow him to work himself back up. I can honestly say that even with the less than favorable living situation we had, I really looked out for his best interests and mine when we moved, even if it meant going against my parents and having them come down on me pretty hard.

Throughout the process, my girlfriend was amazing. I've never had anyone in my life like her. She helped more than anyone in my family ever could, and kept me going when I was breaking down due to the pressure. I couldn't even begin to repay her for what she's done for me, but I will do my best. She truly is one of a kind, not letting her go.

My friends that I have moved in with are also one of a kind. They had the help of their families and knew that I didn't, but they went to bat for me and have come through in every way. I couldn't be in a better living situation than the one I am in now.

All of this makes me want to stay. Why go and pursue change when what you have is so good? If I've distanced myself from the one thing that is difficult, my family, then why do I need to run any further? I've got the perfect combination of a house with guys I can watch sports and play pool and drink beer with and a girlfriend who is always there for me and will also want to watch sports, play pool, and drink beer. I have a good job, an acceptance letter from a great school in the area, and a fantastic place to live. Sorry if I don't really feel the pressure to leave that all behind right now.

I'm sore and tired. But I am damn happy.
Tags: moving, life, school, friends, family, girlfriend, personal
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Look Past the Past to the Future
04/18/09 at 07:28 PM by cassusriff
Business is an interesting thing. It is a mix of old tricks and new ideas. An ever-changing medium that one can never get comfortable with.

I'm thinking about this today because the world of journalism is changing so much. With that, the world of business, technology and everything else changes. I see many reactions across generations. Older generations are mostly stubborn, insistent on doing it the way they know how. They don't want to give up what they've grown up with. They write off the new ideas as unnecessary and harken back to 'better' times. This may be true in some aspects. Newspapers, for example, have a timeless quality to them. There is no news medium more historical and prominent throughout history. But that alone should not be a reason to stay stuck in our old ways. If a person has nothing to do with the world of journalism and just prefers to read a newspaper on his lap until the day he or the newspaper industry dies, then no problem.

The problem comes when you have people involved in the business or teaching it continuing to be stubborn. There is only so much history can teach us until we eventually need to rewrite it and make new history. A professor talking about the history of newspapers may be interesting (not to me), but how will it help those students get jobs in a world that will likely be devoid of newspapers in the next decade?

The same goes for business. Why preach the same old processes that don't work? The world of advertising has never been more confusing or exciting. Television commercials aren't as effective as they used to be due to DVR's and short attention spans. Staying power is extremely difficult these days. So instead of spending 3 quarters learning about the history of advertising, maybe make one of those classes into a brainstorm seminar on the future of advertising. After all, those who go to college now are supposed to be the innovators of the future right?

I'm not trying to blast the older generation by any means. In fact, I think the current generation's lack or respect or knowledge on the older generation's accomplishments is nothing short of a travesty. However, the older generation better get with some of the new ways or they will find that they will get flushed out, no matter how innovative and masterful they used to be. There is a time for pride and a time for survival. I don't know how you could survive in the world as it is now without knowing at least the basics of computers.

For that reason, I keep up with all the trends. Call me a sellout, call me a self-involved kid, call me a follower, but for all that I am also someone who won't be out of touch. That's one thing I hope never happens to me. At some point I will have my ways that I prefer (I already do), but everytime I see a new website, new technology, and new ways of doing things, I check them out. Why be stubborn and get left behind? Many will find this hard because they get sentimental attachment to certain ways things work, and I understand that. But I like change. I like seeing the new ways of the world. I see good business as a model that constantly improves on itself, constantly looks for ways to get better, constantly looks at competition and tries to take the good and the bad and improve.

Because honestly... it's just good business.
Tags: thoughts, business, journalism, future, past, history, innovation, technology
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04/12/09 at 10:49 PM by cassusriff
I'm unsettled.

I move in 10 days. I've moved so much the last few years, but I'm leaving this apartment after being here for a year and a half. In my life as it is now, that is a long time. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stressed out about everything right now. The last month has shown me, more than ever before, that my parents aren't there to back me up anymore. My mom and I are barely talking if at all. My dad is ignoring me. I'm going to barely scrape by with this move. I'll have to pack everything up myself and figure out which pieces of furniture to sell.

My brother has no idea where he's going. As much as I'd like to set him up at a new place, I can't. I already paid out of the lease. I'll have to pay the remaining utilities. I'll have to pay any additional charges after we move out of the apartment. I'm barely going to get by on my own in that sense. No one in my family seems to be willing to take him in. I don't know how I ended up being responsible for both of us, but I am. I can't believe the weight on my shoulders. I have to do what's best for me.

I don't know anymore. I still have homework to do. I'm working on a business proposal. I have bills to pay. I have a whole apartment to pack and move. I still have work five days a week. I may need a second job. I might need to ask for a raise. I think I'll be fine, but it's going to be tight. I don't know. I wish I could be a slumdog millionaire. But life doesn't work that way. Suddenly all my dreams are becoming hazy. College is becoming less likely. The Navy thing doesn't seem to be worth it unless I can do college. I feel like I'll never get out of this area, out of my current job, into a higher education and better situation.

I feel so alone. I think I'll read the poem my girlfriend wrote for me. That makes me feel like someone is there for me at least.
Tags: stress, moving, money, life, disappointment
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Clarity (2009)
04/08/09 at 12:56 AM by cassusriff
I'm using my REAL headphones to listen to Jimmy Eat World's Clarity Live right now. This album is incredible and really takes me back.

I didn't get this album when it came out 10 years ago. In all honesty, I got Bleed American and then bought Static Prevails and Clarity shortly after because I loved the band so much. I did that with a lot of bands because I always love to review all of a band's work. But that's not the point. This album brings me back to a much simpler time that wasn't really much simpler in retrospect. Every song on this album means something special to me. This is one of those few albums that I can enjoy every minute of. I know people jump on it because it is their masterpiece and it's become the popular go-to album, but I wouldn't care if everyone hated it... it means that much to me.

I remember when I flew into Arizona for the first time and said "Goodbye Sky Harbor", or a dark night the day before Xmas Eve listening to "12 23 95". I remember on New Years Eve when I would "Just Watch the Fireworks" or 5 months ago when I finally found "Clarity". Point is, this album has stayed with me for years. I can't begin to say how grateful I am for that kind of connection to music.

Listening to it tonight makes me feel calm. Things haven't been easier, I've been unable to control my emotions well lately. I'm at the same place I have been the last two years and I'm looking for some clarity of my own. I can't rinse and repeat again this year. One way or another, I have to find my new place and my new purpose. Whether that is Washington or Oregon or someone else... it just doesn't seem to be here anymore. The last two years I've had something to stay for. But all my friends are gone now, they are moving on. My family is moving on. I can't go to this school anymore now that I'm getting two degrees. I'm going nowhere at work until I get a Bachelor's Degree. It's just time for some progress.

So here we go.
Tags: clarity, nostalgia, life, jimmy eat world
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Calm Before The Storm
04/05/09 at 11:41 PM by cassusriff
I am really doing nothing right now. That feels good in a way. It hasn't been the easiest few weeks. I've had a ton of stuff to take care of and though there is still a lot ahead. The applications are all done and my failed attempt to post my personal statement caused some family drama. Despite that, it feels good to be done with all that. Now I have the unfortunate task of waiting for decisions. I won't know when I'm going until June and the financial stuff won't be figured out until August probably. For now I'm shifting my focus to putting together Razia's Shadow. The semester will be over by the end of May. I'll probably take a week to enjoy my 21st birthday in about a month. I move into my friend's house in about 3 weeks. So yes, big events but more spaced out and not as crazy as the last month has been.

I haven't been getting along well with my parents lately. I'd write more about it but it seems that they read this blog. My personal statement garnered some angry response. Whatever. My dad is ignoring me because he owes me money and my mom and step-dad are just mad at me. I think it's best if we keep distance right now.

I miss my friends. Haven't talked to Eric much since he's been in Paris. Kyle works weekends and I work during the week. Jason is still at UCLA being awesome. The guys I'm moving in with are all up to their own things and I'll be spending enough time with them in the coming months. It was nice to see a movie with Kyle and Lauren and Shelby even though it was Knowing, which was the worst movie I've seen in a while. I also had fun working the Pancake breakfast with Shelby. It felt good to do some manual work for some reason. I hope to work out more this summer.

I'm burnt out on this semester. I'm ready for summer. I'm in a productive, but content state of mind right now. I'm planning and securing for the future, but relaxing a bit for once. We'll see what the future holds, but this calm won't last for long... that's for sure.
Tags: life
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04/03/09 at 12:07 AM by cassusriff
I know you got my message. I am done. I am taking care of Josh who is so sick right now. I hope you enjoy the public humiliation you started. Sleep well and I wish you the best in your life.

Thanks mom. Love you too.
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