Friday, April 25, 2008

15 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

2. A shopping cart. Not as obvious a story-starter, but it's a good one.

I had a group of friends, my sophomore and junior year specifically, that included two guys (Matt and Kevin - once humorously referred to as Mevin and Katt by mistake haha) who were one year older than me. We played on the basketball team together and were often seen together on the weekends and any time that we actually would go out and do anything. Cy later joined the group and the four of us formed a pretty solid group of guys that hung out and had each others' backs. It was cool.

Well one night we were hanging out and we were at a Coldstone in Lancaster that was pretty proximal to a combination KFC/Long John Silvers and we wanted to go over there for fun (we were pretty respectable and didn't do anything illegal - this was "fun" for us). As we got closer (we walked since it was so close) we noticed some carts in the parking lot of a Target that sat right next to the aforementioned fast-food place. So we began playing with them (too many viewed episodes of JACKASS, you could say). Being much taller, Matt and Kevin (6' 4'' and 6' 5'' respectively) had Cy and me (both about 5' 8'') get in carts and they started pushing us around the parking lot. Then I got an idea - well, it was really a last-ditch effort to save myself from the pain that would eventually come from the Demolition Derby-like games we were playing.

(Note: I actually had to call Cy about this because I do not remember exactly who was pushing whom, but I am 75% sure that Matt was pushing me and Kevin was pushing Cy - no, it's not that important, but it is part of the story).

You see, we had drifted closer to the KFC/LJS and I mentioned to my driver (pretty sure it was Matt) that we should try to go through the Drive Thru in the shopping cart! Mind you, it was around 2200 or so and there was not a lot of people around, so it was completely doable. Well off we went and into the line we entered. There was one car ahead of us and we were fine. Then a car pulled in behind us! There we are, two high schoolers, one pushing the other in a Target shopping cart, in the Drive Thru of a fast food restaurant. We were stuck. . .

As we got to the Ordering Spot, we were greeted in a normal fashion, and asked what we wanted. We figured that they would just tell us to get out of line, or something to that effect, but there was no such rebuke. Well Matt and I had about 79 cents between us and scanned the menu for anything that we could afford and then we found it: a biscuit! The delicious KFC biscuits could be purchased at something like 50 cents apiece, and that worked for us poor, non-working juveniles. So we ordered a biscuit, were asked if that was all (we assured the lady that yes, that was plenty), and we then pulled around. . .

We were still a car behind the window, but when the girl leaned out to take the payment from the car in front of us, she had to do a double take (and it was the truest form of one ever - she actually went back through her little door and then popped out quick and looked straight out at us, smiling and laughing!). When we pulled up to the window, there was a group of 3 workers at the window, all laughing. One popped out and said (sorry about the language. . . gotta stay true!) "This is the funniest fucking thing I've ever seen!" and the others just continued laughing. . . we had made somebody's night, and we couldn't have been more full of ourselves.

O, and we ended up with two biscuits. . . and we didn't pay them a dime!

So I guess that just goes to show that a little laughter does go a long way and that a lot can be said for high schoolers who just want to have an innocent bit o' fun at the expense of a Drive Thru. So fast food restaurant managers everywhere, listen closely: Just let 'em do it. They aren't hurting anyone. . . and there's much worse things that they could be doing. And just admit that you actually think it's funny, too. It helps the process a bit!

That's good for that one - - see you tomorrow with the thrilling conclusion of this trilogy of stories within a 21-part series of stories. . . not sure what that makes this exactly, but I know that it's outside of my geekdom to decide. . .

Until later (As always!),

Thursday, April 24, 2008

16 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

Ok, enough with the teasing. Let's get right to the stories (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out last night's post). . . After some consideration, I have decided to break this up over three nights since these are all very detailed-oriented stories. So we'll start off with the first one and then the next two will be posted on the next two night successively. I'm posting anyway, so why not drag it a little, right? Enjoy!

1. Not only is that an amazingly funny picture of Heather and I, it leads me to a couple stories.

The first, I guess, will have to describe the picture itself. It's actually really simple. There is this band called the Scissor Sisters (I actually know nothing about them) and way back in September 2006, my good buddy Cy blogged about them and posted that picture on his blog - I simply copied that picture and put it on mine last night. I guess when they were more of a big deal, you could actually go in, put pictures of anyone you knew into their system, and those faces would go onto the bodies of those figures and do a dance to a song of theirs. I tried to do it again by going to their site, but that was to no avail. Kind of a bummer. Still a funny picture though :)

But it also led me to remembering how Heather and I used to take swing dance lessons (if you're wondering how I could ever get there from that picture, I guess it's just the fact that the figures danced. . . or at least that's what I'm going to say!). You see, back during the summer between our junior and senior years (I think. . . yeah, that sounds about right) Heather and I decided to take the aforementioned classes. We had gone to see Aimee's dance recital that spring and there had been some "Swingers" (not the keys-in-a-fish-bowl kind, but the dancing kind. . .in case you were unsure!) and it looked like so much fun! So I said "Hey that looks like so much fun." (I'm pretty consistent, you see.) And that got me into a world I never thought I'd see myself in.

We began taking a once-a-week class at Desert Stars, the studio that Aimee calls home so often during the week. Our teachers were a middle-aged hip couple named Paul and Lynette. For one, I have to say that Paul looked like a cool, buff version of Uncle Rico from the god-forsaken movie NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (o yeah, I don't like that movie. . .). I think that helps with the story, but I'm not sure why. . . Either way, we started this class as one of probably 6 couples. It obviously started off extremely rocky, seeing that I was born with two left feet. O, and I have no rhythm. Turns out you need some of that to get good, so I worked hard at not making myself look like a complete idiot. Over time, we got better (Heather was a natural - it was really just about getting me comfortable with doing any form of movement in front of people that did not include a basketball) and eventually we were one of only 3 couples who went consistently. We got good. Then we got even better. And then we even entered into a Swing Contest (I'm not kidding) at this place in Palmdale. We took honorable mention, if I remember correctly, just because we were so nervous about what we were doing. But it was all leading up to our most public display of dancing and one that I swore would never occur. . .

During our senior year, Cy and I hosted an annual talent show called the ToKnight Show (get it? our mascot was a Knight. . .). Usually the hosts just kinda strung along some banter in between the "acts" and tried not to cause the show to drag on too long. But Cy and I had wanted to host it since our freshman year and when we got our opportunity, we jumped at it and ran with it all the way. We wrote an entire script (with the help of our friend Justin, who also acted in our play-of-sorts) for a time-traveling adventure starring two scientists (Dr. Brown - me - and Dr. White - Cy, a Filipino. . . pause for laughter. . .) who had created such a machine. We went to all sorts of eras and associated the acts that we had with the time periods we were in (Example: a Rock band during the Prehistoric age. . . give us a break, we were high schoolers!). Well after the intermission, I claimed that I had just taken a trip to the 1950's and learned how to dance, invited my "assistant" (that would be Heather, who played the lovely Sandra Dee) out, and cued up the swing music (a song entitled "Nosey Jose" by Bull Moose Jackson) that we had listened to hundreds of times, practicing our routine. We then danced in front of several hundred on-lookers and. . . it went amazing. We nailed almost every step right on the beat and got a great big hand upon completion. What was special about it was that no one knew we were gonna do it and no one even knew we had been taking lessons, so it was a huge surprise! Great fun all around!

I do miss being good at something like swing dancing, and Heather often brings up the fact that we should go back and take lessons again, but it's too difficult since we live so far apart. Maybe one day. . . I'm serious. I would love to get back out there and be as good as we once were. I fear that I would not be nearly as good and would struggle with that, but I think we would pick it right up. . . just like riding a bicycle!

And that's about it for tonight. . . check back in tomorrow night for the story starring a shopping cart! Let the guessing begin!!!

Until later,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

17 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

Not much in the area of energy this evening. Or desire to blog, for that matter. But I'm not gonna quit that fast (but I do have to admit, it's really difficult to do this every night). . .

And since I'm not really all here tonight (and the fact that it is now after 0130. . .) I wanted to just post a couple pictures that brought back some memories that I will share with you tomorrow night. Call it a teaser post tonight. . . Kind of like the number up there (17). You can go see R rated movies but you can't do all the stuff 18-year-olds can do, like, you know, be an adult. . .

Anyway, here are three pictures that will hopefully make you laugh after I divulge the stories about them tomorrow night. . . Enjoy!!!




Until later,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

18 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

Sigh. . .

Another SUNS loss tonight. We're two losses away from going home for the summer. But I'm not worried yet. The Spurs did what they were supposed to do - they took care of their home court. Now we go home for two games, and we take care of business there, and it's all of a sudden a best-of-three series. I never give up on my team. Ever.

But now I'm a little low and I need to blog to pick myself up, I guess. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. . .

The only thing that I can think about right now is high school. I stopped by my high school today to lead an ex-teacher of mine and his wife over to my house to watch the game (he's a Spurs fan - plus, he's a really cool guy). As I was there (I've been there more than just today as of late, but it's on my mind nonetheless) I got to thinking about some of my memories from my time there. And the funniest thing about it all is that a couple of them are available on YOUTUBE. Yes, the video capital of the world contains videos featuring yours truly. One, for example, shows several of us seniors sitting around in the gym during some routine thing for us as soon-to-be-graduates.

(Go to the 1:07 mark for the classic "Justin thinks you sound stupid" face)

That one is not as funny, but it is interesting to see us all back when we were high schoolers. I know it wasn't that long ago and all, but I still find it funny. I feel like I have changed quite a bit over the last 3 years, and I'm sure all of the people in the video would agree they have too.

One thing we got to do as seniors was participate in Senior Celebration at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It was just ok, but it did allow for a group of us to get together and ride the Log Jammer. . . what follows is a practically only-Cy video of 5 of us on the Log Jammer. The absolute funniest thing about the following video is that it has been viewed almost 1700 times! Who has watched this video!?!?!

And the final video from Senior Celebration featured our friend Justin (not me) creeping up on some ducks (or geese. . . can't remember) that were making this weird hissing noise. Look, I'm not promising awesome material here - I'm just sharing with you some high school memories (that also happen to be on YOUTUBE):

I really wish that more stuff like this could have been taped and put on YOUTUBE. I wish I could re-live some of those high school memories that I can only do my best to describe. . .

But not tonight. I'll leave you with just the videos tonight for two reasons. One is that it is late and I have a long day tomorrow. Two is that I'm still reeling from the loss earlier. . . I can't help it. I'm a die-hard fan. It's what I do. . .

Until later,

Monday, April 21, 2008

19 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

As I walked into work this morning, I noticed a small note next to the computer where I clock in. It read "Justin and Jim: You need to clean the men's bathroom today." There might have been a smiley face after that, and if there was, I didn't see it. And if I would have seen it, I would definitely have erased it. My statement in my head was "I stopped cleaning bathrooms the day I stopped cleaning tables." Which had been true. Until today.

Jim and I tackled the rather gross men's bathroom (I took the sink and mirror; Jim got toilet duty) and finished in under 10 minutes, but it was the nature of the job that frustrated me. I'm there to sell suits, not clean bathrooms. I don't get paid nearly enough money per hour to scrub anything. Plus, wouldn't you figure that a company like the MW would be able to hire some sort of cleaning/janitorial service to clean their bathrooms. I don't know. . . it was just frustrating, and quite gross, and that coupled with the fact that I had no sales in the five hours I was there, well, I considered today a bit of a waste.

But that scrubbing got me thinking about my past jobs. You know, the ones that actually required me to clean up after people. . .

So I figured I would provide you a couple stories from my time at JC (Johnny Carino's, for those not in the know) that make me glad I no longer call that restaurant my place of work:

- One night at JC, we had a large birthday party, complete with many kids, in the one large room we often had parties in (did I mention it was large?) and it was finished off with cake for the guest of honor. This cake was provided by the guests, but it was not really eaten per se. I would say that it was more smeared and smashed into crevices of booths, left under tables, and not enjoyed, as evidenced by the plentiful amount of leftovers on our small bread plates throughout the room. When this party left, it took two of us table tenders (wow. . . haven't made that reference in a great while) a good 15 minutes to completely restore the room somewhat back to its original state, although that was futile, as cake stuck into booth crevices is just too ridiculous. . . The moral of the story: Don't have kids.

- Another night at JC gave my buddy Chris the opportunity to clean up after a toddler who could not make it to the bathroom in time. Now usually, this would mean some form of vomit or spit-up, depending on the age of the child. Well, this was a special event, and I thank God that I was not there, or else I probably would not have had a job after. You see, this child could not make it to the bathroom in time before an explosion that no diaper could have contained. I remember hearing that story the next day and laughing so hard and telling Chris that I would have never cleaned it up. Poor guy never thought of that angle. . . And I'm afraid, that might have been another one of those booth crevice situations, too. . . The moral of that story: Again, don't have kids.

- On the whole, the job was rather thankless. Cleaning tables, that is. In my time picking up after messy eaters, I accidentally stuck my fingers in tomato sauce, spilled beverages of all kinds over myself, had plates shatter at my feet (both my fault and others), was blamed for all sorts of evil that only a customer awaiting a table could create, and even was left to discover some rather unfortunate materials in the bathroom. . .

- Which reminds me. . . There was once a time when I entered the men's bathroom to do my hourly clean-up and as I entered the larger stall, I smelled something awful. Now, it's a bathroom, so I continued to walk towards the toilet and noticed several toilet seat covers on the ground to the right of the toilet. As I got closer, the smell got worse. I wrapped my hand in toilet paper and lifted the edge of one of the papers on the floor. What I discovered was more throw-up than I think I have ever seen at one time (at the time, that is - I do believe that I have seen more at other times since then). The thing that I thought as I covered my mouth and backed away was "How in the world did this person miss the toilet?" It was literally over all the tile to the right of the toilet and nothing in the toilet. . . Either way, I was the lucky buck who got to wheel the mop over to the bathroom and clean up after this person (never did see the culprit. . .). This was not even the only time that I had to clean-up throw-up (are both of those hyphenated? I say yes.) either. . . Another time, it was in the girl's bathroom, and it was almost the same situation. Lucky for me, I got to mop that one up too.

That's good for now, but I would like to make a point as to why I think my time spent at JC was worth it. Not only did I make some good money for awhile (some weeks, looking back on it, were more profitable than some at the MW) but I began my journey to where I am now. At the time, I had been searching for a job for months on end, not able to beg for a job with anyone. But a new restaurant in town gave me an opportunity to begin anew. I started as a Host, performed well, eventually moved to Table Tending, became a certified trainer, gave them everything for almost 1.5 years and then left when they weren't willing to be flexible with my hours when I wanted to coach basketball. I had trouble leaving because I had no set income if I left, but I asked a friend to get me in at his job (that would be the FL) and I interviewed there, earning a job there only two days after my last at JC. I worked hard there too, putting my time in for 6 months and when an opening occurred, I took over as the Assistant Manager, running a relevant retail store for hours on end at times. It was there that two women came in and I did my thing and I was offered a position at the MW as a paid salesman. The real deal. The Show. And it's through this job that I will be able to begin my future. No matter what it is. . .

Back tomorrow night after GAME TWO. . . Just remember friends, if the SUNS win, it will be a happy post. If not, well, then go ahead and expect the worst of times. . .

Until later,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

20 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

Here's the thing. . . I am in no mood to blog. I just finished watching Game 1 of the SUNS/SPURS series from last night. That should be enough to get my point across. . .

But it got me thinking. I knew the outcome of the game. There was no way that I could avoid finding that one out (actually, there probably was - - but I couldn't do it to myself). Instead, I put myself through the misery of a double overtime game that I knew would end with my team on the losing end when all was said and done.

So what does that say?

It says I'm a fan (and maybe a little bit of a masochist. .). And that is how you can describe me and who I have become. If you have visited this site even once before, it is likely that you saw a post that discussed something about my beloved Phoenix Suns. I truly do live and die by the fate of my team. And it is that strong commitment to my team that leads me to the next step on the road to my 21st birthday. . .

20 to 21:

There are many stories that I could bring forth via my fandom, but the one that sticks out to me the most is the one that is providing me with hope as I struggle with the loss in Game One.

It was the 2006 NBA Playoffs. My SUNS were in the first round against the 7th seed Los Angeles Lakers as the 2nd seed and had just come off of losing the "home court advantage" (for those not in the know, these playoff series are a best-of-seven with the team with the better regular season record getting 4 games at home in a 2-2-1-1-1 fashion. . . follow?) by losing Game Two after a Game One victory. My best friend George (as big of a Laker fan as I am a Suns fan) and I decided we had to go to Game Three in Los Angeles as we were only an hour from the stadium and it's not every day that our favorite teams battled it out in the playoffs so close to home. So we found tickets on EBAY and made our way to the Staples Center on April 28 for what would be one memorable evening.

I was one of maybe a handful of SUNS fans in the entire stadium. Imagine 20,000 fans worshiping at the altar of the purple and gold, and there's me, just trying to make that gold a more orange color! I bravely draped myself in my Steve Nash jersey and George (donning his Kobe "The Rapist" Bryant jersey - - no, he will never live that one down from my standpoint) and I took the game in from the upper deck, but the front row of said nose-bleed section. It was an exciting game that ended in a Lakers victory, 99-92. Within the first minute of the game, an already feisty series got a bit more physical as a skirmish broke out. Later in the game, former Laker Kwame Brown knocked Suns player Boris Diaw down and decided it was best to stand over him in a taunting manner. This only added to the animosity that the two teams (and fans, apparently) had for each other.

Every now and again, I would feel something hit my back. I assumed popcorn, candy, or something like that, and as long as it wasn't gum, I was ok with it. However, once the game ended, I was introduced into a world of Suns-hating that I had never visited before, and looking back, quite possibly could have gotten ugly.

As George and I tried to exit the unsafely crowded stadium, people began squeezing ever closer together to get to the escalator down to the main level. When a couple people (it's a safe bet that these wonderful individuals were mildly intoxicated) noticed my jersey, a fun chant of "Phoenix Sucks" began to break out. Mind you, the series was now 2-1 in favor of the Lakers, giving them the inside track to winning the series and sending the Suns home for the summer. As the chant got louder, I felt closer shoving and more direct forms of abuse as more food items were thrown in my direction and I sensed that things might get out of hand.

I was not the only one. A security guard pushed his way towards me and asked me if I would like an escort out of the stadium. I declined, thanking him for his offer, as I assumed it would be just fine getting to my car. Boy, was I ever wrong (in retrospect, I wonder what would have happened if I had agreed - would George and I have been taken out a secret way? Or would I just have received a worse case of vocal abuse with a security guard on my hip?). . .

As I made my to the top of the escalator, George and I began to look around. This escalator is essentially the center of attention in the area of the stadium with people standing around on three levels awaiting their turn (waves of people would be allowed to go, and then a period of nothing, as to alleviate the amount of people leaving at the same time). Once again, my jersey stood out (some of you may be saying, "Justin, just take off the jersey!" No thanks. I don't give in that easily. I would be so embarrassed to this day if I had succumbed to the pressure.) and a new chant of "Phoenix Sucks" began to echo through the corridor surrounding the escalator. I was essentially standing on an escalator surrounded by hundreds of Laker fans, singling me out as the anti-everything they stood for. I was the only Suns fan within vocal range, and they made sure that I was aware who won the game. I cannot explain to you what that felt like. There very well could have been 500 people standing in that vicinity that night and every single one of them (Except for George - he kept saying "Shut up! He's my ride home!") was yelling at me because of the team I support. I was worried, but not really, as I assumed once I got outside, everything would be better. . . Not so much.

Unfortunately, we had exited the side of Staples Center exactly opposite of the side we entered, thus causing us to walk around the entire stadium and then down a couple blocks to reach our parking garage. As we exited the stadium, I was approached by a guy who was approximately 30 years old. This man had 2 small children in tow and was also clearly filled with magical liquids that made him act a little obnoxious. He came right up to me, got in my face, and said "It's over! It's over! Phoenix sucks!" Now, if you know me, you know that I am a smart ass. Up until then, I had kept my mouth shut, but I just could not take it anymore. I said to him "You've gotta win 4" as he walked away from me. . . Mistake. He stopped, spun, and immediately was in my face once more, saying loudly "What did you say, boy? I'll beat your ass!" Quickly, I responded with "Dude, you've got kids with you!" and walked away with George. . . Crisis One averted.

George and I were talking and laughing, trying to show that I had no desire to stir any trouble (Which was true) and it did work for the most part. One woman walking the opposite direction as me came right up to me and began lifting my jersey, saying "Take that shit off." I grabbed her arms, moved them away from me, and politely said "Get the hell off of me!" (No, that's not true. . . I did say something to the effect of "Ok. . ."). We made it to my car, but not before I witnessed another Suns fan walking the other direction who was being slapped around with those awful "Thunder Sticks" as he walked. George and I exchanged quick glances and booked it to my car as to avoid any actual assault and battery, which we both were pleased to find did not occur.

Now why does this story bring me hope? Well two days later on April 30, a dagger was inserted into my heart when Kobe Bryant hit a jumper as time expired to win Game Four in overtime, giving the Lakers a commanding 3-1 series lead. It was all but over. My "You've gotta win 4" statement was still true, but it was looking grim for our chances, as we had to win three games in a row after we had just LOST three in a row. I never gave up though, and neither did my beloved SUNS, as they came back to win Game Five and then the thrilling Game Six in Los Angeles thanks to Tim Thomas of all people. This of course gives me the opportunity to post this video so all my Lakers fans friends can enjoy it:

After that, we won in overtime and took that momentum and destroyed the Lakers in Game Seven in Phoenix and went on to later lose in the Western Conference Finals, but it was an amazing playoffs that displayed resiliency and perseverance in my team.

And that's what we now need, down 1-0 to the Spurs, which, in comparison, is nothing. All we need to do is win Tuesday night and home court is ours. . . so here's to that happening!!!

And now I retire to my bed for the evening. . . Hope you enjoyed the recap of one of the most memorable night of my life and I hope you return tomorrow night for the continued journey towards my big 2-1. . .

Thanks again and as always -

Until later,

Saturday, April 19, 2008

21 to 21: A Birthday Countdown

So here we are, the beginning of a journey to my 21st birthday, which lies just a mere 21 days away. Some may say I am making too big a deal out of it, but I say I'm not making ENOUGH out of it. So there. . .

When I was at lunch the other day with my sister Aimee, I asked her what she thought I should fill these stories up with, seeing that I had 10 ideas, tops, and that I gotten myself into something maybe I couldn't accomplish. But helpful sister that she is, she gave me a few more ideas and created new ideas in my head that I then decided to lay claim to. So all in all, I feel ready to embark on this trek towards the big 2-1 with you, as I give you a true collection of stories about the years that I have lived and the times that I've had:

21 to 21:

I think the most logical place to start something like this is at the beginning. I was born on May 10, 1987 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale Memorial North Hospital was the first building that tried to contain me in any way, shape or form (that is, if you don't include my dear mother's womb). Around the time that my mom began heading into the labor period, she was given a bowl of tomato soup. Almost immediately after completing said soup, my mom threw it all up, giving one very unfortunate nurse the scare of a lifetime as the red tomato soup came up completely undigested (do I need to explain. . . I don't think so). I now believe that this traumatic event caused a rift and has led to my complete dislike for tomatoes by themselves and in most situations (no, I don't want ketchup, tomato soup - obviously - or tomato on my sandwich; but I have grown to like tomato sauce with Italian food, and most mild salsas do me just fine!).

As I was on my way out of my watery home, the doctor began letting everyone know that I was nearly there (everyone being all three sets of my grandparents, my mom's sister, and both my parents, naturally). My parents did not know the sex that I would be, but the doctor seemed to have an idea. He began saying "Here she comes, here she comes!" (inside, I'm sure I was not amused). My dad insisted, however, that I was a boy and there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it. "It's a boy" I imagine he claimed. "Here HE comes!"

And at 9:57 p.m. local time, I did. There I was, a bundle of joy, I'm sure. Wrapped in the traditional blue blanket and passed around the room to all the family, I'm sure (only after the pros made sure I was all good).

And so began my journey into the world.


My mom posted a comment here and it gave some added details to the eventful weekend of my birth and I figured I would give it its due and put it after all of my words:

"The fact that I had been there all weekend and that it was Mother's Day -- and that my doctor was a Mom too helped make it all the more profound when you finally appeared to make my first Mother's Day memorable -- along with your grandmothers. Actually everybody was waiting outside the "delivery" room in anticipation except for Grandpa Bruce & Grandma Pam -- they were actually there for the "event", if you will. Minutes later -- and only minutes -- the rest were ushered in to welcome you into our family. The funniest memory I have though is when they wheeled me to my room, at midnight, there was an entourage with balloons, video cameras and it was like there was a movie star or something - we all watched you get your first bath -- no privacy there -- thankfully Dr. Haas made it in time though - arriving with wet hair from her shower she just made it :) I love these memories. Hope you don't mind me adding to them. Love, Mom "

- - -

Come back tomorrow for the stirring continuation :)

Until then,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

There Can Only Be One

All season the NBA has been showing commercials with their new slogan, "Where Amazing Happens" and they have all been very good. . .

But now that it's playoff time, they have put into motion a series of commercials featuring 2 NBA players saying the same lines at the same time in a half-screen type thing.

The combinations of young stars like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul

and title-contenders Kevin Garnett and Lebron James

are good, but my favorites are the ones featuring my guys (of course).

Here is the first one of those two, which features two future Hall of Fame point guards, Jason Kidd, and my man, Steve Nash:

And this one will go down as one of the greatest commercials ever as it pairs one-time teammates, and now rivals, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal:

- - - -

Check back in tonight for my NBA Playoff Predictions!

Until later,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Playoff Time!!!

Today is my second favorite day of the year (I think - I'm not making a blanket statement here. . . I'm just saying it right now. My first favorite day would be the first day of the NBA's regular season. . .). . . and today is the last day of the NBA's regular season. Why is this such a big day? Because it signals the beginning of the playoffs! The playoffs begin on Saturday and I could not be more excited about this year. The road to the championship is a tough one for my beloved SUNS but I'm always hopeful, like a good fan should be.

I had get to my initial thoughts (go ahead and expect 2 posts about the NBA playoffs before they begin on Saturday - this one and another one more focused on exact predictions) and also needed to post the bracket for what would have occurred had the NBA switched over to a format like the NCAA. I talked about this last year, and I still think that is not a bad idea, especially since if it was this way, every playoff team would be at least .500 instead of having an awful team like Atlanta sneak into the awful Eastern Conference Playoffs. It would certainly provide an interesting several rounds. . . Check out the first round:

1. Boston
16. Portland

8. Utah
9. Orlando

5. San Antonio
12. Golden State

4. New Orleans
13. Cleveland

6. Houston
11. Denver

3. Los Angeles
14. Washington

7. Phoenix
10. Dallas

2. Detroit
15. Toronto

- - -

If all of the top seeds won, we would be looking at this for the second round:

1. Boston
8. Utah

5. San Antonio
4. New Orleans

6. Houston
3. Los Angeles

7. Phoenix
2. Detroit

- - -

Holy crap! And the "Final Four" would be:

1. Boston
4. New Orleans

3. Los Angeles
2. Detroit

- - -

Not that this year's playoffs are gonna be bad (it's actually going to be one of the greatest ever!) or anything, but that would be incredibly entertaining - - -

But in the end, it's all about what is set up and for that reason, I'll leave you with this thought about the playoffs before my post in a night or two:


Until later,

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'll Be Brief (For Now)

So here's the plan, Stan. . .

My goal here starting on Saturday is a post every night leading up to my birthday on May 10. The reason I will be starting on Saturday is that it is 21 days before my 21st birthday, and I will be doing a post called "21 til 21" on that day and so on ("20 til 21," etc.). Each day I'm gonna re-live a story that I may or may not have shared on this site in the past through my 21 years alive. I know it's not much, but I think it could be fun. If anything, it will get me to posting again, and it will be more about the past and not about my present and/or future. . .

Which is completely and utterly up in the air.

As an "Update" of sorts to my previous post this past week, I have to say one more thing about "Who I Am":

- I am starting to realize that I just might be depressed. The distance between Heather and I (the 95 miles, that is) is starting to really take its toll on our relationship. Our rare moments together are amazing and are everything to each of us, but the moments apart are much more prevalent and much more difficult. It's tough. And I know it sounds so. . . sad. But guess what? It is! We're working hard at something that every day seems less and less likely to succeed. Which is exactly the opposite of what we want - -but the lows are so low. . .

So we're working through things. And I know that posting that here is probably not the right move, per se, but it's what is going on for me at this time. It weighs on me every day. And it keeps me from putting my best foot forward (Except, of course, for those moments that we are actually together - no one brings out the best in me like her!). . .

So look for those posts starting on Saturday and enjoy the trip down memory lane as I near a milestone birthday!

Thanks as always :)

Until later,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who I Am

In honor of my first post in nearly a month (hopefully a sign that much more is to come in the near future), I decided to provide you with a little insight into who it is that you wanted to post all this time. Recently, I have decided where it is I think I'm headed on this life-trek and in doing so, discovered a little bit about myself in the process. This is partly for me - when you put something into print, you mean it a bit more than if you just think it - but it's also for you, my readers. I know all of you (I assume, of course, but I deep-down hope that there are hundreds of people out there with no idea who I am save for this here website) but you may not be aware of who I actually am or what I think about different things. And what I have to say may not be what you want to hear, but it's just the way the ball bounces, I guess. It's not a confessional period, but you might learn a thing or two. And you can judge. It's ok. Just know that I wouldn't judge you if you said any of the following to me. The rest is up to you. . .

So without further ado, I give you. . . Me:

- I am Justin David Gott, but while you are here, you may call me the Rambler.

- I am a mere thirty-eight days short of my 21st birthday (but don't tell anyone, I've had a drink or two already).

- I am white and please don't call me Caucasian until you can point out the country of Caucasia on a map and prove to me that my ancestors came from there. I'm serious.

- I am engaged to be married to Heather Lynn Acuff, my girlfriend of over four years, but because of our individual career aspirations, family influences, and overall goals for the future, may never actually go through with the process of joining in holy matrimony. Only time will tell if our love will stand the test of distance and scholastic endeavors. Either way, one thing is certainly true: I love that woman more than you can imagine.

- I am an alumni of Desert Christian High School (Class of 2005) and Antelope Valley College (Class of 2007) and currently attend California State University, Northridge, where I am majoring in Family Studies Education and minoring in Human Sexuality.

- I am planning on using that degree and the teachers credential that I will attain a year or two after I graduate to become a high school teacher, but more importantly, a basketball coach. My goal is to teach either a Health-type class, a Sex Education class, or even Physical Education, with the main focus on being the best coach that I can be. My aspirations continue beyond a high school, as I hope to, once a Masters Degree has been achieved, coach in college.

- I am at my best when people doubt me and tell me that I can't do something.

- I am severely addicted to basketball. Whether it's playing, watching, or (eventually) coaching, the rush that I get when around the game invented by Dr. James Naismith cannot be expressed with words that I know. I bring the ball up the court at the park in a 5-on-5 bloodbath and pull up for the game-winning three, and I feel alive. I watch Steve Nash, the point guard of my beloved Phoenix Suns, do amazing things and create opportunities to be victorious, and I feel the highest highs when good happens and the lowest lows when the unfortunate occurs. And when a player on a team that I'm coaching follows an instruction that I gave, performs the act perfectly, and is elated at their newfound ability (it happened several times when I was an Assistant Coach last season at Desert Christian), there are absolutely no words to express the pride and joy that I feel. That orange ball has brought to me a love that I didn't know existed. I have sacrificed my body by diving on a wood floor to attain a possession. I have sprained both of my ankles so many times playing basketball, that occasionally, they just give out and I fall to the floor. I wept bitterly as my high school career came to a close at the hands of Yeshiva High School, knowing that I would never again play in front of a crowded arena. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat. There is no other way to describe how much that game means to me, and that is why I need to be around it for the rest of my life. I cannot live without it.

- I am a person who respects those who have faith, whether it be in Jesus Christ or Mohammed, because they are able to go out on a limb that I am presently too petrified to venture out onto. I cannot be considered a "Young Man of God" (has been said of me, to be honest) because I don't know what to think anymore and I don't want to let anyone down at the same time. I'm sorry, but I don't pray and I have seen the inside of a church no more than 3 times in the last year (Christmas Eve being one of those times). I struggle because I can't stand "religion" and how it stops people from being a normal human being and creates all sorts of problems.

- I am open-minded and accepting instead of intolerant and hypocritical. Call me crazy.

- I am 5'8'' but my driver's license says that I am 5'9''. No, I didn't shrink. I lied. I wish I was taller.

- I am grateful for my height (yes, I realize what I just said) because as a wise man has told me, we short people have been challenged by bigger people our entire lives, so there is never a reason to be afraid of them. Been there, defeated that. Thanks. Now bring it on.

- I am a natural cynic, believing that the worst possible thing is most likely to occur. It makes it a lot better when fantastic things occur.

- I am a big brother. I have an almost-16-year-old sister (a brilliant, beautiful young woman who can dance circles around any other girl, literally) and a nearly-7-year-old brother (hard-headed, hilarious, and bound to be a millionaire one day). They are a part of me, so don't even think about messing with them. That little endeavor, my friend, will end in pain.

- I am a good listener. People come to me with problems and I give advice. Take that Dr. Phil!

- I am a lover of all types of music (except techno - sorry Moby). If you randomized my iPod, you could get the following 5 recording artists: Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Linkin Park, Alabama, Weezer. Do it again and you could get: Eminem, Michael Buble, Jimmy Eat World, Confederate Railroad, and Coldplay. I have seen Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Maroon 5, and Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert. I'm going again this summer to see Lynyrd Skynyrd, but this time with Hank Williams Jr. Country is at my heart (I just bought the new Alan Jackson CD and love it) but I will never abandon good ol' rock-and-roll. O, and that rap stuff? Yeah, I can't get enough and I have been known to bust a move from time to time. . . It's true.

- I am a non-smoker and will be until the day I die. All kinds. I have been around marijuana but have never used it. Don't want to. No interest whatsoever. The person I marry will also be a non-smoker. No questions asked.

- I am a Wardrobe Consultant at the Men's Wearhouse, which is a fancy way of saying that I'm a salesman. And I can bullshit with the best of 'em. But unfortunately, the United States' economy has decided to drop like a lead weight in the ocean, and I have been left scratching and clawing at every retail customer who walks through our door. But I'm good at what I do, and I've only been there five months. And I will get you to like what you're wearing. And yes, I do guarantee it (Sorry Mr. Zimmer!).

- I am just like 99.999% of the men out in the world today: I have seen/viewed pornographic material.

- I am a boxer-briefs type of guy, converted in the past year from the baggy boxers. That was a dumb high-school phase. But the BB are here to stay. Trust me.

- I am jealous of those living the "College Lifestyle" if only because my closest friends live so far away from me. My best friend lives in Georgia. Two of my other close friends live in Thousand Oaks and Ventura. Heather lives in Pomona. I live in Lancaster. I lose.

- I am the proud owner of Marty, my 2008 Scion xD, who I purchased in January. I make a payment of $296 a month and happily at that. Marty is everything that I have wanted and more and I am happier every day that I decided to take the plunge and buy him.

- I am one of maybe 10 Americans who does not have a credit card. But that will be changing. Very soon.

- I am emotional. I have been known to cry at many things, namely movies (not all of them, of course, but I don't deny it happening from time to time) and congratulatory moments. You know, like the time when your mom says she is proud of you over the phone while you're driving and you're thankful that no one can see you break down as you listen to her tell you how great she thinks you are. No? Didn't happen to you? Sorry, must have been just me who was blessed like that. . .

- I am the son of a hard-working perfectionist who has taught me how to care for a family and run a household correctly. He is the son of a hard-working perfectionist who taught him how to care for a family and run a household correctly. Those are Numbers 1 and 2 on my Heroes list, and I love and respect them both immensely. I hope to one day be half the men they are, but at the same time, will not settle for half. They wouldn't want that.

- I am dedicated to several television shows: House, Scrubs, The Office, anything with Chef Gordon Ramsey, and the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert combo.

- I am completely against and cannot stand the following television shows: Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Everybody Loves Raymond (I have my reasons!), and American Idol.

- I enjoy reading good books about all sorts of topics. Books are the original form of escape for those seeking it. And they never go out of style, that's for sure.

- I am a registered Independent. I don't know who I want to vote for in the presidential election in November. On personal levels, I like Barack Obama's age, confidence, and suavity; I like Hillary Clinton's tenacity, perseverance, and stubbornness; I like John Mccain's. . . umm. . . nothing! I don't know why, but I can't stand him. But guess what? He's the one I'm leaning towards just because he doesn't support Universal Health Care and is Pro-Life. . . Dammit!

- I am frugal, but when I want something that I feel like I can afford, I usually buy it. Hence, my massive DVD collection. And my ever-expanding work wardrobe. But it is my belief that there will always be ways to make money and that will never change, regardless of the state of the economy.

- I am a frustrated consumer who cannot stand paying almost $4 a gallon for gasoline. I think it's fishy that since President Bush has been in office, gas prices have risen from $1.60/gallon to nearly $4. It can't all be blamed on 09/11, sir.

- Ultimately, I am a never-say-die, hard-working, steadfast and immovable, dedicated, content but always striving for more, witty, genuine, and relatively simple individual. I am never afraid to succeed, and will always be a winner (that's not some happy Fortune Cookie telling me that, either - that's my other hero, who I know as "T").

And now I am heading to bed to prepare for another twelve hour day. I hope you learned something, or at least found something interesting about yours truly. If you did just that, then come back and see what else I have to say or am up to in the weeks, months, and even years to come (no plans of stopping A RAMBLER'S RAMBLING here).

And as always, take care of yourselves. And just remember:

"You will miss 100% of the shots that you don't take."
- - - Devin Thomas

Until later,