Monday, May 18, 2015

Losing a Whole Year

Oops I did it again. I ignored this blog.

Actually I'd been meaning to update it, but the thought of uploading pictures from my birthday party and stuff, and the time it takes to do all that, I just. I can't. I didn't.

But here's a little rundown of my last 365 days (367 days to be exact)..

  • May 18, 2014 - Greg and I took Jena on a trip to San Diego for her birthday where we went to a dog park and did lots of dog related fun stuff.
  • May 29 - Jose threw a grand Palm Springs house pool party weekend for his birthday. I made ribs and everyone loved them. And I also made an Olaf-in-a-jacuzzi Kit Kat cake.
  • I did some soul searching on my quest to find out what I wanted to do with my life, career-wise. I spoke with an animator, but it didn't seem like that was the right course. I inquired about being a cook, but culinary school was ridonk.
  • As I pondered my next path, a friend from middle school showed up on my Instagram feed with an opportunity to join her wedding planning workshop. I'd always been good at planning events, so this seemed like a sign. It was expensive, but I decided to go for it. I did the workshop and was able to join her team helping with weddings around Los Angeles. Learned a lot.
  •  Lots of birthday prep during my unemployment. I was able to do endless decorations, hand drawn and painted, for my Club 33 Disney Celebration. It was by far my most ambitious and most amazing party yet. I'll post pictures in my next entry.
  • August 4 - Had reached out to an old manager at Transamerica and a month later received a phone call asking if I would be interested in doing contract work for 2 months. With my unemployment benefits drying up, I jumped at the chance. It was to be software testing for a system I knew well. An interview was set up for this day and I impressed the manager with my knowledge of the product and the software and was offered the contractor gig on the spot. I started the job on August 18, the weekend after my birthday party.
  • Brainstorming commenced for a business. I decided to pursue a partnership with Nichole, my creative partner in crime. Together we launched Fête Together, but slowly set things up.
  • Became closer to my friend Fernando! After realizing we worked really close to each other in downtown, we decided to grab happy hour drinks. 
  • Late October through Early November - Went to EUROPE for the first time! We visited Switzerland, Germany, and a side trip to Salzburg. Pictures to come in an upcoming post.
  • November 15 and 22 - Drove down to San Diego to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame musical; a musical I'd been waiting more than 10 years for! It was worth the wait!
  • Became closer friends with people at the gym. Starting out with this guy Dani, I started to open up to my fellow gym buddies. I guess it was eventual since I saw these same people each and every morning.
  • Spent some time with my nieces on their two visits. Peytan is ever the ball of energy always wanting to build donut castles so she can tear them down. Tanley lights up whenever I walk into the room.
  • January 25, 2015 - Celebrated my second anniversary with Greg, again in Santa Monica. We went to One Pico for a romantic beachside seafood dinner. Everything was great until I started to break out in hives from something at dinner. Rushed into a Whole Foods looking for Benedryl, but they only had holistic bullshit. 7-11 had what I needed. The swelling subsided, but ended our night.
  • Been hanging out with some new friends: Raul, Jason, and Jeremy. Love these guys.
  • March 11 - Ran a personal best at the 4th Annual Hollywood Half Marathon. 2:19. No training, but had been doing more leg weight training. It helped. Kept my legacy status.

Which brings us to today. I'm still at Transamerica. Still a contractor. My gig is now open ended and I'm working directly for Tad. I'm still very much in love with Greg. We fly to Sint Maarten on Saturday. :) I've been so consistent at the gym. Been adding mass here and there. Finally enjoying legs days and seeing results. Looking to drop some body fat for summer. The business is going slowly, but we are planning a fundraising gala in October for a nonprofit. In full planning for my upcoming 34th birthday party. This year it's Back to the Future!

And that about does it! This blog stuff isn't hard! See you next year! 

Jay Kay! Jay Kay!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Glumemployment

It's the middle of May and I only have half a month of severance pay left. I've been applying to places left and right and only two calls back. One, from a Disney recruiter, but I botched the phone interview on account that I was so damn nervous. The second call was from a job that I was way overqualified for and not something I really wanted to do.

My weekdays have become very depressing and the weeks fly by in the blink of an eye. This is a very discouraging part of my life right now. I'm so thankful that I have my family and friends to lean on. But mostly I am so grateful I have Greg right now. He's been boosting me up every weekend and one or two days during the week. And he's been really fantastic.

I'm recording this because I want a reminder to myself about how miserable it is to be without a job. It was fun for the first couple of weeks, but when the money starts to dry out, it gets stressful and depressing and, I just hate this feeling. I feel like I can't ever find work again.

Hopefully my next entry is a happy one about landing a good job or starting my own business. And then I can look back on this entry and be all like Ha. Ha. Ha. Haha. Ha.

Sigh.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Costa Ricky

At the end of February, I finally parted ways with Transamerica. I won't miss the work or the politics, but the people were hard to say goodbye to. But onward and upward! I'm now officially on funemployment and amping up for the next stage of my professional life.

But before starting that, I took March 2014 off to relax; to detox. And for 9 days, Greg and I took our first trip abroad and visited Costa Rica!

On the first day we drove to Poàs Volcano and looked into it as it spewed smelly sulfuric gas. Then on the way to Arenal National Park, we witnessed how crazy the drivers are in Costa Rica. The SUV in front of us lost control and swerved left and right four times before driving off the road and into a ditch, hitting a tree. We pulled over to see if anyone was hurt. People from the house nearby ran down to help. Other cars pulled over and called for help. But no one spoke English so we weren't much help. As we left the scene, we were surprised to see a quick response from an ambulance. This happened in the middle of a long windy stretch of road in the middle of the mountains!

When we got to Arenal, it was a clear day and we were able to see the entire Arenal Volcano, peak and all. And after that, never again. Clouds came in to stay for the 3 days we were staying there.

We ended up staying in a neighboring town 30 minutes away called El Castillo. The only way to get there is by a bumpy unpaved road of jagged rocks. We had a Yaris that didn't seem equipped for this road, but since we got the full coverage on the rental, we vowed to drive the shit out of that car.. and we did.

While in Arenal, we ziplined in an ecopreserve with a company just out of La Fortuna called Arenal Mundo Adventura. It was amazing zipping over La Fortuna waterfall. Exhilarating!


That night we went to Los Lagos hot springs and resort for a little R&R after getting all greasy gross from ziplining in the rain/rainforest. It was nice just soaking in a warm natural spring pool.

The next day we went white water rafting in class II/III rapids with a company called Desafio. This company was outstanding. The excursion was so well put together. Everything about the adventure had a profound focus on comfort, safety, and fun. The rafting was so much fun and probably my favorite thing we did on the trip.


The next day we drove to Manuel Antonio for the relaxation portion of the trip. But before that, we crossed through San Ramon and stopped at an old abandoned bridge (Old Colorado River bridge) so that I could bungee jump! After seeing photos online, I told myself that if I ever did it it would have to be off this bridge over the river surrounded by rainforest. After the adventures we had leading up to this, I felt fearless and ready. I actually did it! I took the plunge, swan dive style, 265 feet drop! I think skydiving is still scarier, but this was frightening because you're all alone. And my ankle got a little injured, but I would totally do it again.


Then on to our beach portion. In Manuel Antonio, we hung out and ate a lot at Cafe Milagro. Our hotel (Villas el Parque) was perfectly located. We were able to walk to a lot of eateries. We drove a short distance to the national park and hung out on two beaches that were back-to-back from each other. And the water was so warm and nice. We were invaded by monkeys and a raccoon!


The other thing we did in Manuel Antonio was a half day catamaran excursion. It was a nice relaxing boating tour with snorkeling, dolphin watching, water slide, jumping off the top of the catamaran, delicious fish kabob dinner, and sunset viewing. It was amazing. We had seen the sunset the night before from a nice restaurant at La Mariposa hotel. Two stunning sunsets in two nights. Pura vida!


Then we drove through Tarcoles to see some crocodiles to, what Greg called, hell.. aka San Jose. It wasn't that it was that bad, but it was city life with lots of traffic and not paradise. We stayed in a very bad neighborhood in a resort that felt like a locked down prison with security gate and high walls. But it was actually rather nice inside. For our one day stay, we took a day tour to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Sea side. It included a horribly long drive on rough unpaved road through a banana plantation. Once we got to the national park, we took a speedy boat along the river to view animals and visit a small town within the park. It felt very much like the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. We saw a lot of monkeys and a lot of birds. The exciting thing for us was we got to dip our feet in the Caribbean Sea. The drive back to San Jose was horrendous. I don't think I'll be doing this tour again.


Then it was beers back at the hotel and we woke up super early for our early flight home. I had such an amazing adventure with my boyfriend and can't wait till our next trip. I'm ready for Europe!




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Milestone

It's been a while since I blogged. This has become the starter of all my entries. But I wanted to take a quick minute to reflect.

Greg and I celebrated our first anniversary last Saturday.

We went to dinner in Santa Monica at a place we had spotted on our Valentine's date nearly a year ago. Hillstone. And now it's one of my favorite restaurants! Beautiful inside. Trendy modern. And the food was so delicious. Everything we had was so tasty.

After dinner, Greg handed me a card and surprised me with two tickets to see Cirque du Soleil: Totem which was playing on the pier!

We watched the show, which was amazing.

Afterward, I was feeling like dessert. I was a little sad that our original plan didn't happen. We had talked about returning to Susina Bakery on our anniversary, where we had our first date. We would have recreated it by sharing tiramisu. Alas, the show ended close to 11PM and that's when Susina closed.

We skipped dessert and headed home. But when we got home, Greg told me that he had one more surprise. He opened the fridge and revealed tiramisu from Susina! He said that he knew we weren't going to make it in time so he got it in advance.

I'm such a lucky lucky guy.

:-)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Birth Days

It's hard to pick out when I should write one of these. I suppose I can give a brief update right now since I'm feeling lazy about preparing dinner for date night with Greg. So here goes!

My birthday came and went last month and this year I had a celebration of the internet of sorts. It was called "It's All About Meme: Ricky Mar's 32nd 'Constant Facebook Notification Day' Party." I was trying to cut back on having to decorate my place so much since I don't have the time I used to have in previous years. So I decided to make my guests the decoration! My costume was the ERMAHGERD GERSBERMS girl. It's the first time I've ever worn a girl's wig and I honestly did not like it. Long hair is just not for me. I also created a retainer out of a paperclip and orthodontic wax and wore that all evening. The big thing about the party was my drink challenge. It was called the Stumblr BuzzedFeed challenge and required guests to drink six themed drinks. They were 1) ERMAHGERD!! PERNK DRERNK!! 2) Sugar Crush 3) #FML 4) YOLO (You Obviously Love Oreos) 5) The Duck Face 6) 2 Girls 1 Cup. Finishing each drink unlocked a badge that I designed and once guests were done with all six, they unlocked the coveted stumblr badge! Fun times!



Also in the past few weeks Tim and I completed the Dumbo Double Dare runDisney challenge. We ran the Disneyland 10K on Saturday and the Disneyland Half Marathon on the following day. It was tough, but a lot of fun. I dressed as Paperman for the 10K and a Pink Elephant on Parade for the half marathon. Long sleeves for the sake of a costume in a blazingly dry heat sucked! Greg came out to support me for the half marathon and we got to play in the parks for the rest of the day!



At the end of July I joined the family in Long Island to welcome baby Tanley Isla Mar to the family! She was born on July 30, 2013. Super cute! I'm a little embarrassed I didn't give her a dedicated blog entry heralding her birth like I did for Peytan. She's fantastic though and I can't wait to get to know her!




On the trip I finally gave Peytan her birthday gift. I wrote a children's book for her starring her and her dog! It's called Peytan and the Green Gibbon. She loved it and reads it often! I can't wait to do the same for Tanley. Took a lot of time to complete, but so worth all the hard work.



Things at work are bad right now. It's very much like being in hell. I need to get out sooner rather than later. I've been looking around for careers and decided to start at Disney first because they are my dream company. Hopefully I'll be able to provide an update on my professional life soon.

In the meantime, my personal life is great! Things with Greg are fantastic and I'm so happy with him. He's blending into my family and friends quite well. :) This is us in Monterey, CA.



Okay that's the quick update. Till next time.

Friday, July 12, 2013

At Chapter's End

This week was a toughy. After a few months of being told that the floor we work on was being dropped from the lease, we were all ushered into a meeting with the Chief Product Officer last Tuesday morning and told that our positions in the company were being eliminated. The job duties will be shipped to Plano, TX and we are free to apply for them if we want. Otherwise we would be still employed until closer to the end of 2013 where we will be transitioning our work to the new team before being given the official boot from the company.

So ends my nearly 10 year stint with Transamerica. The company has changed dramatically from the time I first joined. Whereas we used to be very appreciated as employees and genuinely felt that it was the people who made the company great.. nowadays the focus has shifted to a purely numbers drive. Let's meet goals goals goals. They told us that the decision was a purely business decision and nothing personal. Wow, so thank you for reaffirming that we the people mean absolutely nothing to you. No matter if we did the best job a department could ever do, we would have been cut anyway. And two weeks right after "Employee Appreciation Week" to boot.

To be honest, this company was never my true passion. The work was fine and I loved the people I worked with, but it was never my intention to jump into the life insurance business. My mom originally pulled me in to help in her area and suddenly I got roped into an amazing department with the best bosses a guy could ask for. The work was challenging at times and rewarding as well, but lately I've felt that there's no role in this industry that I want to advance towards. But the pay being great and the people being amazing, I found it near impossible to leave on my own accord. So this layoff might be a blessing in disguise. I just wish everyone else in the department didn't have to lose their jobs as well. :(

I was just rereading the blog entry from when I first started with the company. It was way back when I first started this blog. Here and here. I talked about losing my free time and getting my first paycheck and being content with how much I was earning. It was like peanuts back then, but I was young. I bought an iPod with that first paycheck! Sigh. Makes me kind of sad that this part of my life is coming to an end.

Also at the beginning of this year, if you remember, I told Jose that 2013 would be our year; that great things were upon us. And right off the bat I met Greg. We are still together nearing 6 months and I could not be more happy to be with him. I think about him constantly. Everything was moving along just fine until this axe came crashing down on me. But maybe this is 2013's plan; a plan that's being set into motion for the best career change possible for me and my future. I'm excited to see what comes of this, but scared all the same.

I still can't spill the beans yet on my niece's birthday gift that I worked on for over 8 months. I can say that I finished it and am ready to give it to Peytan when we all visit New York this month to welcome the new baby. But I can also say that while working on this gift, I had an epiphany that I could do this for a living. This is what I loved. I felt the passion in the work that I did. And I think I want to follow this feeling.

And I feel like with the support of my amazing parents and family and friends and a caring/sweet boyfriend, I can do anything. I'm excited to close this chapter and start a new one all my own.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I Won't Say

The question on your minds is most likely: Where the hell have you been???????? Followed by several thousand more question marks, I'm sure.

Well here's the thing. I met someone!

Right at the beginning of the year, Jose and I got to talking and we said to each other that 2013 was our year. Our year to find success and romance and an all around great time.

I had no idea at the time the power of those words.

On January 15, I was pinged by OKCupid regarding someone liking my profile. I responded to the "poke" and on January 25 I went on my first date with Greg.

I'll just say that the first date was pretty amazing. We talked the entire time and closed the coffee shop down. And it wasn't long before we met again for our second date (the next night to be exact).

We've been together ever since. On March 6 we became official boyfriends and we just recently hit our 3rd monthaversary.

I don't want to jinx anything, so I won't say much. But I will say that I am very happy with Greg. He makes me feel like I'm floating on air. I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time with him in the coming year and beyond.

So that's why I haven't chimed in recently. I didn't know if it was safe to write about my first true relationship. But now that enough time has passed and I am very comfortably in this, I decided to break the silence.

I also ran my 4th half marathon on April 6. It was the 2nd Annual Hollywood Half Marathon and I got a personal best time at 2:22! For the race I wore a hat with the Hollywood sign on it and a replica of the radio tower that sits atop that hill (and of course it glowed with the help of an LED lightbulb).

I'm currently hard at work on Peytan's 2nd birthday gift. It's a lot of time consuming work, but the end result and reaction will definitely be worth it!! I can't wait to give it to her, but that'll have to wait till August when we see the new baby!!!

Lots of exciting things happening this year. Also some scary things. We might be facing layoffs at work. But we shall see. So far 2013 has been living up to its promise!

Monday, December 31, 2012

The All-Inclusive 2012 Year End Wrapathon

Due to my inability to sit down and actually blog about my life as I had promised a year ago, I figured the least I could do is do a year end wrap up. That's better than nothing right?

So let's begin where I left off:

In August, I held my Hunger Games Birthday Battle Royale! Oh it was amazing! This year I actually hired help, but I still had to handle much of the game. Luckily Nichole wasn't picked to play, so she was able to help me and Naqi run it. All my food was themed to game and guests had to use "arrows" to kill and eat. The game was a huge success with a minor hiccup. The game consisted of 16 players and four rounds: The Bloodbath (game cards scattered around the arena that determined Tributes' fates), The Careers (a ruthless game of Rock Paper Scissors), The Feast (a dice game to win what was needed most), and The Parachute Finale (Remaining Tributes picked from parachutes hung around the room that revealed either a helpful item or a bomb which eliminated them until one victor remained). The coolest part was after each round, I actually projected the player profiles of those who were eliminated followed by canon blasts! In the end, Kevin (dressed as Peeta) and his girlfriend (dressed as Katniss) remained and they attempted to eat some berries so that they could both be saved, but as the Gamemaker I forced them to continue till only one won! Kevin took home the grand prize.

In September, I completed 3 runs: The 80's Run 5K, Disneyland Half Marathon (back to back), and then the inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I ran my best half marathon at just under 2 and a half hours (2:28). I also got a good time on the 10 Miler, but running in Florida (even at night) was miserable! It was so hot and humid that it was hard to breathe at times and my clothes were soaked with sweat the entire run. I don't think I'll be running another race in Walt Disney World.

Speaking of Walt Disney World, at the end of September was my umpteenth trip. This time it was with Eric, Arthur, Karla, and Arthur's friends Kevin and Angie (who are awesome!). The trip did not provide rest and relaxation, but I love spending time with these people!

In this time past, I went from being Secretary of my HOA to President when Raj stepped down. It completely sucks and I've already given my notice that I will not be seeking another term after my term ends. I am also helping to establish the Neighborhood Watch for my street.

Book of Mormon blew through the Pantages for three months and while it was here I saw it 3 times! Love this show. Twice I won the lottery for front row seats.

I won a new Kindle Fire HD tablet from the ECHO campaign at work. The device satisfies my craving for an iPad for now, but it is in no way a recommendable device. It's got a lot of issues, but it was free, so whatever. Next year... iPAD!

I bought a Universal Studios pass (well I bought a day and it came with a year free) and used it to get cheap tickets to the Halloween Horror Nights, which was awesome! I went with Tim, Josh, and Seanethon. The main event this year was The Walking Dead. We were on the last tram tour for the night and found ourselves alone with a swarm of zombies! It was crazy!

Speaking of Halloween, this year I dressed as Glenn from The Walking Dead. It was from the scene in the first season where they chop up zombie and drape blood and guts and organs on themselves to sneak passed a zombie herd. It was also my first time going to the West Hollywood Halloween Parade in the slutty version of my costume. I went with Lindsey!

This Thanksgiving, my three year membership to 24 Hour Fitness expired and instead of keeping me as a member and offering me a good deal, they wanted to charge me nearly $50 a month. So I told them to shove it and went to LA Fitness with a really sweet deal. I prepaid for 3 years (~$22/month) and then after that it's only $16/month. They gave me a fitness assessment and pretty much told me I was doing everything wrong even though I've been seeing great results. So I told them to shove it and I'm just doing what I've been doing.

One thing I want to just touch up on but will blog about in more depth on a dedicated entry is my physique. This past year I've dieted like mad; extreme even. My eating turned to more healthy snacking verses actual meals. And once I dropped more than 20 pounds (from 158 to 137), I decided to really step up my workouts and go for big. So on October 21, I started taking Jack3d, a preworkout supplement and immediately saw amazing results. It helps that I've been at the gym 6-7 days a week really pushing myself. And I've been on it ever since. I can't wait to see how 2013 goes for my body.

Two other small notes that I just want to document. I went to my first Clipper game this year and they're having a hell of a season right now. And I saw the Cirque du Soleil show IRIS 3 times (will be 4 in January when I watch the final performance). I'm sad that it's closing.

I hope to blog more in 2013, but I always say that. I thought I might blog more after getting my Kindle Fire HD, but that thing and that OS suck to type with.

Anyway, good transformative year this year. Hoping to reap the benefits of 2012 in 2013! Invite me to a gay pool party!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Shape of My Life to Come

Looking back on my year 30, I can't help but be astounded at what I've accomplished in a short year. A year ago, I was planning an amazing party that would ignite in me something I'd never really known: a passion to throw themed parties. It would also help bring me closer to a coworker than ever before. Sharing this same knack for party planning, I now consider her to be one of my best friends.. one I hope to actually start a business with someday.

A year ago I used the planning of my huge party as an excuse not to train for my first looming half marathon. I had also let my gym routine slide and was in what I even at the time considered my worst shape ever. Flash forward to today, I completed that half marathon and another one seven months later. It may have been the catalyst for my obsessive gym behavior. Beginning in January I overhauled my diet and began a morning workout schedule that I've maintained remarkably through this day. And now I am in what I would consider to be the best shape of my life. And I'm loving all the clothes I can now fit into. I've got another half marathon in less than two weeks and then a 10 mile run in Florida less than a month after that. And then another half marathon planned for early next year. I don't think I've just gotten the runner's bug. I think I was hit with the fitness for life bug. And it feels so good.

Things did go a bit sour when I lost my phone for the second time, but it did guilt me into a month of sobriety which helped to carve out my six pack. Still not entirely there yet I think, but it surely deserves its own blog entry when I get there.

I originally had more blog points to hit but I didn't want to turn this into a year end recap. So I'll just end by saying that my 30th year was pretty darn amazing. An amazing start to what will be, when I look back, the greatest time of my life.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Stuff Happening!

Thus far this hasn't been a successful year of blogging. But I'm doing what I can. I'm currently taking a break from everything I've been doing to write about everything that I've been doing.

First and foremost there's this little thing called my birthday party coming up in just two weeks. Next year I gotta pick something with less of a theme or possibly no theme. These preparations are killing me! This year's party is The 31st Hunger Games Birthday Battle Royale. I've been planning this since October and it has proven thus far tougher than the Harry Potter party. Things just aren't as cool in the Hunger Games universe, but I am doing some things for decor. Parachutes everywhere, cool themed drink menu, mockingjay sound effects to name a few. But the main star of the night is the Hunger Games game I'm planning. The winner gets $50! Basically through 4 rounds of luck/chance games, players will get "eliminated" until a victor is named. Should be a blast. I have Naqi playing Caesar Flickerman and conducting the games. Sam is bartending again. And I might have an Avox helping out with the food. Standby for pictures.

Three runs coming up. The 80's 5k, The Disneyland Half Marathon again, and The Tower of Terror 10 Miler in Walt Disney World. Yes, I have a major vacation coming up that I desperately NEED. Should be nice even if I am running.

Work has been so frantic. Projects Projects Projects. I'm hoping things will begin to ease a bit. I thought it would after we launched our LTC Rider, but that hasn't been the case. I needs me a little breather!

Then with family stuff, I'm trying to bring together a Kwan Family Cookbook. The ideal time of distribution would be Xmas, but I don't really think that'll happen. If I want it to be really nice that is. But who knows! After my WDW vacation I don't know what else I have besides preparing a Halloween costume. It might come together after all.

Meanwhile I'm still cutting back on the alcohol after I lost my second iPhone. I'm working out like mad. Been eating right since the end of January and I'm the lightest I've been since high school! I dipped down to 137 pounds.

Is that vacation here yet? First things first. Breathe. Keep assembling parachutes. Go out clubbing tonight... ;)