Hopes and Desires for the New Year

I would like to start the new year with a positive note. The year of 2007 had its share of painful trials and tribulations, but after some positive reflections… I think I could learn to love life again. I am disappointed from the loss of my friends who flaked on me, but it’s not like they were any good to me. From the flames of my own immolation, I was reborn and rebuilt from my true friends, my mentors, and most of all myself. I know from my debts, I cloistered myself from my friends because I was ashamed to hang out with them from being the worst off. With most of my debts behind and just a more centric focus on my loan repayment, I should be less stressed this time around.

I would like to spend more time being close with my friends and family for 2008 as a token to them for being there for me. I know some people have basically sat through my bouts of word vomit about the pains of my life or trials of my job… To them, words cannot even begin to express my gratitude. Rather than do the things that the younger folks like doing (going to the clubs, getting wasted, etc), I would like to do much more mature things with my dear friends like meeting at a wine parlor for a drink of wine or spirits while conversing. With the lost year due to debt encumbering me, I understand now what my mentors meant by “soon, you’ll see life fly before your eyes.” I have been so out of touch with my friends that it has been shocking throughout this year to hear things like “You know, that person died?” or “She got pregnant and is marrying in 3 months!” was a bit of a blow to me being sheltered from my own existence.

To my dear friends, both distant ones and local ones, if you ever have free time… Give me a call. I’d like to catch up on the times or even catch a meal/drink if possible. Because I know most of you all have had drastic changes or even dropped off the radar! I would like to do my best as a good friend and try to catch up with the times. Be it as simple as catching a burger or sitting down with a glass of merlot wine, all that matters is that I am doing my best to be involved in your lives.

I know that the majority of my family is a “lost cause” because of their stigma of me being the “black sheep” both figuratively and literally; while cousin Sol redeems me as almost like a brother as we seem to lead parallel lives. I am out of touch with my own family due to the fact that I broke out to the “cruel world” and experienced things that opened my mind. I know that my experiences were much like a Pandora’s Box sort of thing so I changed as human person, rather than a naive child. I know I am not the most academic person like my prodigy of a sister or a “genius” like my cousin in Florida, but I do not quite like being thought as just a plain failure. I don’t much like the vanish rewards dangling in front of me bit either, as it makes little to any difference to me. I know my family has been trying to “bribe” me to getting into a bigger school with the reward of having my car note paid and throwing a sizable down payment to getting a brand new car of my choosing, but I don’t see how that will work out if I am still going to be repaying a loan to them. For once, I wish that they would break things down honestly to me and just give me the truth. I could care less about them paying my car note, because with only $8,000 left, I am sure I can handle it. Down payment for a new car, forget it. I would be more than fine if I could just pick up a cheap little Acura Integra GS-R sedan for a couple grand with my own money then have the stigma of “You owe us!” hang over my head. I can always wait for my “new car” after my degree. From my realization that I had evolved away from my own family… I realized that I can’t fight for them, I have to fight for myself and my ideals.

This year, I hope to get into stocks and securities to try making some cash as a next egg. I have some ideas of which stocks to look out for, just the issue is buying in. My mentor has offered to learn me up on stocks, so I have been taking in his wisdom and learning. It doesn’t help that my gym basically has CNBC streaming stock news and the ticker with potentially hot stocks or stocks that are quickly turning into garbage. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to subscribe to some stock analysis sites… so my only other option is to use Google or Yahoo finance to analyze various securities and piece together news reports for determining possible good or bad stocks. If I could get into stocks enough to secure my future assets, I would probably be able to finance my education on my own.

I am honestly surprised with my progress with working out and I hope to step up my intensity harder to gain more results from my effort. My body seems to be adapting quickly to my training, as my arms, legs, and abs are showing the seeds of my progress. A dear friend invited me to be their date for a wedding they were invited to, so I would like to look my best for that event some time in November. I have my 3rd month goal in February (2/11/2008) to try to be slimmed down to 140 lbs mainly to try trimming off my body fat index because I am at about 23% body fat. Hopefully with the incentive that I have set myself that I can reach my goal and bring down my body fat percentage down, then steadily gain muscle mass by November.

As for my car, the poor thing needs its 60,000 mile service soon. I would have gotten it done this month, but well repaying the loan sharks for parents seems to cause a fight when I say “I am trying to save up for my 60,000 mile maintenance”. I just hope my car lasts until then. The poor thing needs new rear tires and I know I have been trying to get better wheels… I hope to just save up for some good wheels and tires to do an upgrade on my car, because I think my car needs a wider patch of traction. With the new wheels, I may look into a total brake system upgrade that looks very close to stock. I know that I will probably I will probably be considering a Brembo set of discs with a set of 4-piston calipers. I am going to be seriously considering a brake pad upgrade until I can do a disc and piston upgrade for improved stopping power. Safety wise… I am looking more into rollbars and a stock hardtop as I know family has been voicing more and more concerns about my car. I am not going to itemize my desires, but I will say that safety and chassis strength is my focus this year.

Idea: Getting an Office Phone for the Blog?

I have been debating on the idea of making an office phone line for this blog. This ends up being a sweet thing, as I can pass out the phone number to the public and have them call at their desire. The best part is I can close the phone for the day and just send it all to voice mail to catch up later. This way, it leaves me an open line when I want, but the ability to keep my normal phone from being called at late or odd hours. The cost is pretty much free and that’s the reason that I am playing with the idea.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Excelsior Times with my Cousin Sol

So my cousin Sol has been back in town since a few weeks ago and it has been great to see him. We have had fun when we have met and that is a great thing. This Thursday I had taken him out to Krystal’s out in Carrollton to devour quite the smorgasbord of food. To anyone curious, here was our list of destruction:

  • 18 Krystal Chik’s, plain and dry
  • Krystal Sackful Combo
    • 12 Cheese Krystal burgers
    • 2 Medium Fries
    • 2 Medium Drinks
  • 4 Chili Cheese Pups
  • 4 Corn Pups

The introduction was funny as hell… but as soon as we were getting full, the momentum began to slow. The funny stuff would happen towards the end as we would begin to reflect more on the little things from our childhood as kids. Eventually it would lead to us packing up and calling it a day.

I know that throughout the day, we had discussed about the troubling times in his life and how it somewhat parallels my life. It’s a pile of crap to deal with, but for him, it has lead to him lacking a car. I know that’s one of his main wishes, the ability to drive his own car and finally get self reliance rather than asking for the assistance of others. I am praying for him, because of all the people who deserve a wish, he’s probably the one who could use a car the most right now.

To end this on a happier note, I’d like to link to pictures of the carnage from this Thursday. Enjoy!

A Prayer for my Partner in Her Time of Trials

My partner at the office has had one hell of a crappy run of luck. From a rocky divorce to boyfriend issues, having to find a new home, possibly trying to get a second job to supplement income, and then today… She totaled out her car in an accident. She’s had one hell of a rough time. My assistant manager called seeking me to render her aid as my partner was simply unable to come in to do her shift today. Of course, I bolt out of bed like a secret agent after grooming myself to an acceptable manner to strap into my roadster and make it in as quick as I can.

After tagging in on the time clock… I was plugging away at my tasks while trying to hold the fort down. My assistant manager would ask me to at least call my partner to reassure her that my arrival would mean I could attempt to stabilize things until she could make it in. She would regretfully say that she had no means of transportation which was bad news… The office was under an hour lock-down for all employees and overtime was not permitted to anyone. I knew my time was going to be abruptly short, but I did not know how badly. I found that I was already at 34 hours for the week and coming in at 10:30am would mean I would have to bounce out at 4:30pm while leaving my assistant manager to fend for herself on the final stretch for 1.5 hours. I felt horrid that I couldn’t get anything done effectively as the strain of being short-handed on inventory from my other subordinate failing to order proper supply levels basically stranded us while being bombarded with work from clients all day. The worst was just the thought of leaving my assistant manager by herself, because I have never done that in all the years I have worked with the office… It is not like me to leave my leader to fight alone, because I am one to defend them.

I would like to throw this post up as a prayer for my partner that things will get better. They may take time, but I know that good things will happen along the way and that should hopefully put things towards a better path. Sometimes the path of darkness leads us to a brilliant light, but we cannot be afraid to ask for the help of others. I know that both my superiors are praying for her and I am praying for her as well. Hopefully, someone out there will be merciful on her and bring her a blessing that would be much appreciated right now. To my partner, may God give you grace in a time of trial… because when He can give you strength, you shall be able to overcome your struggles and make it out!

Recovery – I think I tore something…

So my hard session of cardio was great! I just didn’t feel the repercussions until now… My leg muscles are in a bit of uncomfortable pain. Tasks like doing pedal work to throw gears in my car or simply walking just felt a bit agonizing. I haven’t pin-pointed the pain, but my money is on probably my quads or hamstrings. I just need to let my body heal with proper nutrition that’s high in protein and also more sleep. I may just take a break and resume on Monday for the sake of taking care of my body.

UPDATE @ 9:47am: So sleep really revealed that I am actually a little banged up. My legs feel like they did a marathon run and would like not to do any more walking for the next few days. I can say I’ll definitely be taking a break until Monday to facilitate recovery and healing procedures. I haven’t felt this sort of “burn” for a while, it almost takes me back to my old marching band days when my director would say “Feel the burn and love the burn!!!” during our training. I am thankful for the support you all have given me, because it keeps me smiling even if I am a tad banged up.

LifeHack Exercise: 4 Facets of Prosperity

On my RSS feeds this morning, I saw this really good post on LifeHack called “20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year“. It looks more like an exercise on evaluating on how things went in the last year as well as gauge possible things that could be improved upon. I want to put out my thoughts on the past year and possibly leave my life open to readers who wish to add their thoughts and input to the mix.

Material prosperity

  • Did you achieve your desired net worth?

No, I was unable to attain my net worth due to repayment of my debts as well as resolving my financial standing.

  • Did you achieve your desired income level?

No, but my employer has their tiered income level system that I am subject to and I do not have additional certifications to merit me a higher income.

  • Have you built the habit of being able to spend less than you earn?

Slowly, but surely… The only thing hindering my ability to save money has been my family turning into loan sharks rather than a “bank” by demanding a higher repayment rate. I typically end with $100 – $200 left after each month from this, so the ability to grow is hindered. I have been scouring “second chance” deals or Craigslist for any technology items should the “desire” to spend pang away at me.

  • Have you been able to eliminate debt?

As far as debts go, most of it is gone. If you count the last 2 debts I am paying out of pocket for, my parent’s loan, and my car note together, my negative equity would be about $13,000. I plan to resolve most of this for the next 5 – 6 months by sacrificing school to increase repayment to my parents while steadily paying off my other obligations.

  • Have you built the habit of saving?

Saving has been much better towards the end of this year, save for the hindrance of my loan sharks. I can say that it is nice to see $100 – $200 at the end of the month instead of $0 by the end. Hopefully with increasing my work load for the next term I can hold a nest egg for once in my life.

  • Has your career progressed as you wanted to?

l have actually taken a course I never expected to in my career: ascension to a leader. With my seniors gone to their own paths, I had big shoes to fill. I had learned to step up to my actions and take accountability for the results of my actions. I tried to groom one subordinate into a skilled partner for me, but that ended in failure from their lack of aptitude, poor maturity, and lacking desire to be accountable for their actions. One of my new subordinates, their growth is not progressing, but stagnating even with all the push for learning that I have tried to emphasize. The second of my subordinates, they are progressing very well and may possibly be my successor if my wild gamble pays off by June. I never expected to have to take the reins and help assist my superiors, but their guidance has really helped me polish up how I stand in my career.

  • Have you reduced your spending on some unnecessary expenses?

Actually, I have done well in this sector. On moving back home, I have learned the value of a home cooked or hand made meal as eating out really did some damage on me financially. Especially when a simple thing like a burger combo at a fast food joint cost $5 – $6 average versus a hand made sandwich or lunch ran a marginal $1 – $2. Bargain shopping for tech items has considerably saved me from spending much more than I desired. Even bigger savings were found when I would research potential items I wished to purchase only to find the thoughts of other users dissuaded me from dropping lost cash.

Spiritual Prosperity

  • Have you found your life mission?

As far as my “mission” in life, it is to be a healer of others and to repay the world for giving me a second chance to live. My profession has given me small chances to impact the lives of others and that has only encouraged me to chase that mission until the end. I have been thankful for being able help render aid to others in my own way at the office and I hope to ascend higher for much more responsibility.

  • Do you feel fulfilled?

Fulfillment is still a distant journey for me. After taking a journey into the bowels of Hell while being cast out of Heaven… I know the extremes of being pure and being a sinner. After that powerful journey, I realized that being a devil or angel was not for me… but I needed to refine myself as human being before I can say that I am ready to ascend to the ideals of an angel. I am honored by people saying that I have polished out into a saint, but I can’t accept that until I am fully able to live up to that title. Until then, I will try to seek fulfillment of myself until I can understand my own humanity.

  • Could you honestly say that you are happy?

That’s a question that is hard to pen down in stone. With the burden of debt and being known as the black sheep of the family, it really puts a barrier to the limits of my happiness. I know that things are turning around for me in my life, but it is the physical and material that seem to bar me from true happiness. I have been confiding in dear friends for guidance and that has softened the pain that it is not as intense anymore. Learning happiness is one value that I know I need to work on for the up-coming year.

  • Have you built the necessary habits for spiritual growth?

Meditation is something I have learned to combine into my life with things like listening to music, shaving or working out. From my meditations, I have learned a little more about myself and what I need to polish up to complete myself as a human. I should do some more dedicated meditation with music as it ends up being rather therapeutic and usually inspires great thought.

Physical Prosperity

  • Have you built the habit of exercising?

Since December 10th, I got a gym membership to the community run gym in my city and I have been working to tone up myself. I had very little chance this year to step up my physical training this year, but my hope is that this will help me better my health as well as myself.

  • Have you built the habit of consuming nutritious food?

I have changed my diet since moving back home with my parents. My metabolism has regained its speed again with a clean diet of home made meals that are low in preservatives and processed fats. With trying to better my financial status, I have minimized take-out or fast food meals to only social hang-outs only.

  • Have you had good rest?

This is one facet I am lacking on. I have been doing battle with insomnia and well, I just can’t seem to win. I am just too panicked on my finances and as well as the state of my office being a potential damage radius zone from one of my poorly performing subordinates taxing my great partner’s patience. I do need to relax and forget the world on my off days… I will probably be looking to trying to sleep more and not beat myself so hard on working out that it taxes my sleep.

  • Do you feel physically fit doing your daily work?

With as much running and dashing I do at the office just to make sure everything is done, I believe I am in fit shape. My mind, however is probably taxed to hell with the constant concerns racing through it ever day. Once I shut out my mind, I am sure everything will unlock itself and be well again.

Social Prosperity

  • Has your relationship with your spouse/girlfriend been as good as you wanted?

To be honest, when the ex broke things off… I was disappointed as I was never given a “fair” chance to try resolving things. Sometimes failure only means a battle has only begun. I can’t always win, but I have finally found what I wanted in a person. Hopefully my expectations will take my future relationships to a direction that I would like to progress to.

  • Has your relationship with your family been as good as you wanted?

This part is one that is really odd. Ever since the loan to get me out of debt… my relationship with family has become one more of business rather than family. We speak less and less like members of a family unit and more like a loan shark hassling me for repayment. My sister Alice, her opinion is hazy on me. Some days she sees me as “the enemy” antagonizing her to keep up her prodigal work. Then there are the days where she sees me as one of the infantry with her on the battlefield. My cousin Sol, we have been bonding closely as comrades in arms. He is basically living an “alternate reality” of my life and it freaks me out, really. He’s been the one family member I have come to rely on greatly as a confidant on family related issues.

  • Has your relationship with your friends been as good as you wanted?

Friends, I had another thinning of who are my true friends versus who were acquaintances after the break-up. I learned the true value of friendship and learned who to separate out of my life. I have been trying to develop better relationships with my friends so that I can be a better friend to them. As far as I know, things seem to be going well.

  • Did you make a lot of new friends?

From the Ubuntu Linux folks in Dallas, I made friends with them from being the former assistant leader to the group. This led me to making quite a few friends with other groups. One of the ex’s friend-of-a-friend’s really stood out as a very classy, stand-up woman and I was glad to have met her. To her, I would like to express my thanks to you for being there for me when I though I was insane. It is something that cannot be valued with a price because it is simply that valuable to me. My new found friends have become a strong support net to hold me up when I fell and I am very thankful for them.

  • Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds?

Mainly from my elderly clients and listening to the experiences they faced. I have found some of my friends to be saints with regard to what they fought. It has opened my mind that life can be intensely complex but at the same time… we all struggle with our demons.

One Month of Zen, Blades, and Grooming.

Some people have noticed the cuts and scars from my face. I can say that embracing the principles of Zen and the mantra of “Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword” with straight razor shaving has been quite a journey. I walked the path of a razor edge because I was sick of my skin panicking from cartridge shaving with products like the Gillette Mach 3, Schick Quattro, or Gillette Fusion. Not only did these products freak out my skin, the aerosol gels and foams numbed my flesh to the poor shave that I got from them. Razor burn and ingrown hairs were things I did not really enjoy. Shaving became more of a chore than a male grooming ritual.

Places like Straight Razor Place had testimony from people with sensitive skin saying that using premium shaving creams, a straight razor and other shaving gear really made shaving tolerable. Some claimed that ingrown hairs became a thing of the past or that razor burn just plain disappeared. I had to give it a shot and see if it could give me a chance to learn proper grooming. I got a Dovo shavette as my entry level tool and it has worked well for its use. In the beginning, rushing would get me cut up and marred. The scars are a painful lesson that patience is a virtue.

From one month, my technique is rough but I am getting better results. I haven’t had razor burn, acne, or ingrown hairs from the experience. Using cheap shaving soap was a bad mistake and I will be going back to the Bath and Body Works rebranded Proraso shaving cream. I do personally feel that I need to look into buying a Feather Artist Club RG razor and truly learn how to shave with a full sized blade as the Dovo shavette has a smaller blade. When money is more plentiful, I will definitely invest in Feather’s complete set-up (pre-shave, shave gel, aftershave) and maybe some nicer shave creams for more formal events.

Taking up straight razor shaving has been like a meditation ritual for me. I feel at ease to put my trust in a blade that could fatally hurt me in order to look my best. Some days after a hard day of work and getting no peace from my family… Nothing seems more relaxing than to just whip up the lather and let the blade slide down to remove the hairs from my face. To become one with that steel edge, it just ends up being therapeutic in some way.

Presents, Booze, and Hookers – Comedy and Fun

With cases of pneumonia going around and the same with strep, I hope everyone stays warm and tries to keep inside today. Most establishments are closed today so there’s not much to do anyhow. For those late risers, wake up and open your presents already! To those who had a late night 😉 I hope you didn’t have too much fun with drinking and having sex. If some of you are “trapped” with family, try to make the most of a “day of forgiveness” and spend time with your loved ones. To those who unfortunately must spend this holiday alone, find a friend to hang with to try to enjoy today. (A little alcohol and Christmas spirit never hurt anyone!)

As for me, today will probably be spent talking and laughing with my cousin Sol, playing online games, possibly calling distant friends, writing, and hanging out with family. Family’s “truce” with me is a bit short lived, so I do wish I had some good whiskey or amaretto to sip on the rocks while having a blast with Sol. I don’t have a strong PC anymore, so PC gaming is a bit limited on my scope. My portable games are pretty close to completion, I just have to buckle down and get the games completed.

I hope that those of you who got presents got pretty sweet ones, ’cause I didn’t get anything. Not that I “need” anything, but today is more a day of reflection for me. To be mostly out of debt is a thing that has a value that cannot be compared and I thank my family’s charity for that. Purchasing this domain is somewhat a gift to myself, as I had been meaning to purchase my own site and make a more “professional” looking web address but things kept setting me back. I know that Merinda helped me with the purchase, so I can’t take all the credit for gifting myself.

To those who got a lump of coal in their stocking, feel free to comment and go reflect on this year while doing a shot of liquor or a bottle of beer/ale. With 2008 on the horizon, you can recover and amend things for the new year. I look forward to a new year of opportunities, hopes, and dreams… Most of all, I hope that my wild gamble of a plan works… because if it does, then I will have redeemed myself.