Friday, July 31, 2009

People Die From This

As my parents are hanging out with Sean and telling him about the surgery next week, I decided to stay out of the room to breathe. I thought I'd write because I need to get things off my chest. I need to write before going back to Sean's room and put on a happy face. And be ready for the questions he'll be asking, no matter how hard they might be.

And of course, for all those people who knows about Sean and his condition either through real life or this blog or Twitter. Don't think I can thank you all enough for the constant support, putting up with me, and asking about Sean. Thank you all, can't thank you enough.

When I first heard about Sean's diagnoses, I immediately thought "hey people are winning this battle everyday, if it's anyone I know Sean can do it" Maybe is because of my optimistic personalities but really, I never thought about what's ahead. I never thought about the impossible, that Sean just might not make it through this. And as days progressed...the thought changed. Seeing Sean and others crying from cancer pains and pain from the treatment snapped me back into reality. People die from this, every. Single. Day.

Sean does so well to hide his sickness with all the laughs, the smiles, and even the "insults" to his cousin. But at times, it feels as if Sean is older and wiser than I am. Asking me questions I never thought was possible from a 5 year old. And like any other 5 year old, within the next minute, Sean would challenge me to a game of Wii Tennis (and beat me every time)

Just as we all thought he is getting better. The scans did not agree to our thoughts, prayers, and hope. After briefly looking at the scans, I realize something is wrong. Now I may not be a doctor, I may not be a radiologist, and I definitely ain't no genius. But I know it's bad when that scan of Sean's head is mostly dark gray, the lighter grays CANNOT be a good thing.

Before my parents left post, my Mom told me that it will be ok if I don't have to hear what the doctor needs to say. That sometimes, not knowing might be the best thing. I thought about it...and decided to listen in. After all, he is my cousin and though knowing might make this that much more difficult, Sean is my cousin and I care and love him.

Two hours later, I was sitting in a cold room with my parents. (Funny how the temperature in those rooms are always so cold. Maybe they think it might freeze our if...) It brought back hunting memories of doctors coming into my hospital room telling me I wouldn't ever walk again. But this is so different, this wasn't about me, this was about someone I care and love. And worse of all, it's news about a 5 year old little boy.

No one...ESPECIALLY not 5 year-olds should have to go through this.

The doc introduced himself, talked a bit about what he and others doctors at the hospital can do for Sean and showed us the scans.

I fucking hate it when I'm right. Why do I have to be right...

Even with the treatments...the nasty tumor just doesn't want to quit. In fact, it's growing like ticks on a street rat and it just doesn't want to stop. Solution, or one of the things we CAN do at this point is surgery. It just might be the only thing that will save Sean. By then, I've zoned out at what's going to happen. I didn't want to hear the bullshit sympathy he was giving my parents and me. I didn't want to have to think that Sean, my 5 year old cousin, would have to go under the knife. And for that moment, I wish it could have been me.

Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday and the doctor said it might take 4 hours and most of the time, it takes more times it's worse than the scan. (Then why the fuck did they invent the scans in the first place if they can't tell you EVERYTHING?!?) Afterward, Sean will be staying in ICU until he's good going back to the other rooms. Then, the plan is to focus on radiation to make sure the bugger tumor doesn't grow and of course, chemotherapy after that. Just really pray that everything will work out...and soon.

While some of my friends my age are worrying about the summer being almost over and school, I worry about Sean. I see his smile, his pain, and his tears daily and really wish I can take it all away. To make him healthy so HE could go back to school and make new friends, not ME.

And during my time of need...I wonder why I opened my Bible. I looked for the pages the text that would make me feel that much better. I look for texts that can make all this go away, that can help answer the question "Why Sean and not me?" but for some reason...they're not there. But from the experience, I know everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for all of us.

I just hope this plan will be a good one. I really do.
It'd be a great favor, Sean. It'd be great...

I better had back to Sean's room...he'll be wondering where the hell I went and if I wanted to play Wii with him again I'm sure.

Cancer sucks. But I suck more because I keep getting my butt handed to me at Wii Tennis.

Love you Sean, more than you know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is there a reason?

There's many times I've talked to others with SCI and they all say "Oh you're still a youngin'" meaning I'm still young at this whole SCI thing. Ya to some 3 years might be a long time to stay in a chair but compare to others that's been in their chair for 20+ years. I really am a youngin'

So it's not weird for me to still wonder, just sometimes, why me. Why football? How can something I love so dearly did so much damage.

Really it's not every day I think about shit like that. A lot of people say I'm an optimistic. I'm happy most of the time and laugh at things that people joke about. Even words like "Matt you're almost normal!" made me laugh. Even words people think are offensive like "at least I can still walk" I laugh. Because it's not offensive to me and actually quite a laughable matter.

But it's often times when others talk about their life and other matters that got me thinking. It's other people's situation that's got me thinking.

Couple hours ago, I had the chance to talk to my friend (let's call him J, don't really want to name actual names around here) over in the UK. First thing I noticed was his voice, a deep yet tired voice. Then he explained that he got in a car accident and was put on medications.


Then J told me about how it happened. He was racing and a guy came out of the corner. To avoid that car, he acted and end up crashing his car. He walked away fine with slipped disc and broken back and lay in this car for 2 whole hours.

So that got me to wonder. How is it that people who chose to participate in such activities so damn lucky. How is it that anyone, ANYONE, can lay in that car for whole 2 hours and still walk away to tell the tale.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad J is alright and alive. But is that possible. How is it that football, with less danger than racing itself can put a young boy in a chair for life. While that car, that accident didn't?

And football was supposed to be "safer"
Is it?
I'm not sure...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pain and Relieve

I'm not one for complaining and bitching about how much pain I'm going through. Especially when my cousin, Sean, is going through his daily dose of chemotherapy. Hear him going on and cry about how much it hurts, that's just my indication for me to hold in my pain and take care of him.

Now I've never done chemo before so I can't possibly compare this pain to what Sean is going through. But I know what SCI nerve pain is, I know that agony you're going through when you're sitting in your chair or laying in bed wishing the pain would stop. And in your mind you still wonder why you're hurting. Even though the doctor explained it many times why you still get nerve pains after such injury as a Spinal Cord Injury. And why, when you can't move your legs or feel the majority of your body, you still feel pain. Extreme pain.

So you pop pills in your mouth hoping everything would just stop. Dantrium, Flexeril, Baclofen, Neurontin, anything you were told to take and you pop them in your mouth like they're candy. And even though you were told a limit on how many milligrams of the pills you can take a day, your hand can't help itself but move towards the pill bottle wanting to grab another, just hoping that it will finally make this pain stop or at least make it hurt less.

But that's when your brain tells you, "No, you can't take anymore, doc's instructions. What do you want to do, kill yourself?" So you back your hand away...and just try not to cry from this pain.

There's a trick to telling people how much you're NOT hurting when they suspect you are. Especially when that person is just 5 years old...hiding the pain seems easy, but it's not.

While Sean was at radiation, I shut myself in the bathroom, with pill bottles in my lap, my entire body shaking from the spasms and hearing myself breathe in and out as if I'm some sort of drug addict. And before I knew it, Sean popped back in his room and peeked into the bathroom and saw me, a 18 year old "grown" man, sitting on the bathroom floor, crying.

To my surprise, he came up to me and said, "It's ok Cousin Matty, I'll take care of you." before giving me the biggest hug I've ever got from him.

And he's the one going through cancer.
And I'm the one supposed to take care of him.

He may not ever remember that moment when he hugged me and watch me get back in my chair. He may not ever remember that moment when he made me climb in bed with him and held me before he himself fell asleep.

But I will, forever.
Thanks buddy, thanks.

Knuckles Tip #5- Driving to your new Post

Tip #5
For Adults/older teens: Driving to your new Post
For kids/younger teens: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"


By this stage, you should be out on the road and enjoying the view of the great American land. (Don't know how you're reading this but they, thank you iPhones and other smartphones)

Really got nothing much to say here other than if you're driving or helping your parents with the drive...good luck to you. The stress and excitement of the drive to your new post can all turn into one mess for your parents which will most likely end up in yelling, screaming, and the occasional sleeping. So while you still don't have the wheel yet, consider yourself lucky and QUICK pretend you're sleeping so your parents won't ask you to drive the next shift.

But if you're parents are organized freaks like mine is, you know you're time slot so...just drive. Good thing about driving is, you get to control the radio! (If you can find anything that is...either you have XM radio or you're just out of luck)

To the parents:

If your kids are younger, yes the drive can be stressful but please...less yelling, less screaming will most likely equal more fun! I know you get sick of hearing the "Are we there yet?" question about ask us some questions? Or just start talking about something adult-ish and hopefully it'll put us to sleep for hours.

If your kids are young teen/teen: DON'T WORRY! If you trust us enough to squeeze us in this drive schedule then why worry? Ya it's true we might be blasting the radio when you're trying to sleep in the backseat but hey, really don't worry, we'll get you there safe and sound. (And probably half the time too! :D)

Until next time, hug your parents and tell them you love them then get driving. Try to remember those signs on the highway is telling you the fastest you can go, not the slowest. But...just some 5 miles over the limit won't hurt nobody.


Next Tip: Knuckles Tip #5 Part 2- Flying to your new post

Knuckles Tip #5 Part 2- Flying to your new post

Tip #5 Part 2
For Adults/older teens: Flying to your new Post
For kids/younger teens: "COOL! THOSE HOUSES LOOK LIKE ANTS!"


There WILL be chances that you and your parents will be flying to some post overseas like I did when my family and I moved to Germany, it's a huge difference compared to driving (of which I'm sure you know) but mostly it's the same. Well, sort of.

By now, I've come to believe that every family have a Monk. Meaning, there is always one (excuse my language here) anal person in the family. And yes, especially doing a PCS, you can tell who that person usually is. Between the "you need to go to bed now or else we'll miss our flight" and the "WE GOT TO GO! WE'RE GOING TO MISS OUR FLIGHT!" you can pretty much tell who is extremely anal and/or stress about this entire flying situation.

You're the kid, tell them to relax. (And if YOU'RE the anal person, chill out, alright?) Come on it's just flying...really, it's not that bad.

The important thing is to listen to your parents. Unless you are like me with more "knowledge" than your parents when it comes to flying, then listen to what they're telling you. Listen to what they got to say about what you can and can't pack on your carry on and when they tell you to "watch the bags, please" do so. Last thing you need at this point is miss your flight AND get your bag taken by the airport police simply because it was "unattended".

If you're parents got no idea what they're doing (which I'm sure they will, hopefully) then stay calm and take over for them. Grab your stuff and head on over to the check-in counter and give the person there your ticket information. They'll ask you some simple questions or even carry on a small conversation with you.

If there's nothing wrong (as in you missed your flight or they over-booked, then leave the talking to your parents.) then you're good to go, grab your ticket and go on over to the security check point. Which bring me to another point. Yes, we all know those security people can be stupid but they're just trying to do their job. Ever since 9-11 I don't think I need to tell you what the consequences are for "messing" around with the security. So act smart alright?

After the security check point, you're pretty much free to do what you want till the people tell you it's time to board the aircraft. Simple, right? Get in the plane, find your seat and buckle that seat-belt. And you're pretty much gold. :D

If it's your first time flying, it's ok, nothing to worry about. There are plenty of people on board you can either chat with or just read your book or something. Keep in mind the things that the flight attendant wants you to do and you'll be fine.

Just keep in mind because of the altitude, your ears might pop and if that's the case, ask your parents for tips on making you feel better. (What I do is hold my nose then blow through my mouth, you'll feel your ears pop and it'll make you feel better, trust me.)

And of course, if you do decide to take off your shoes, because of the temperature and pressure your shoes will "shrink" and it'll feel tighter when you try to put them on once you landed. Don't worry, your shoes just didn't shrink, just the temperature and pressure changes during flight is all. Just put your shoes on and it'll be all good after a couple minutes.

After you land, just grab everything you took on the plane with you, then get ready to go and pick up your luggage at the luggage claim. See that wasn't so bad, right? Now you just got to listen to your parents on where to go and so on. Not bad for a first timer! :D

To the parents:

If your kids are younger, flying can be both exciting and scary for us especially when we don't know why our ears feel strange and why the plane is moving up and down so much. Keep in mind the toys and games we like to play and use it as a diversion from all the changes during a flight. And of course, there's always a good time for cool lessons like how to pop your ears during an altitude.

If your kids are young teen/teen: By now we've probably done this a million times. So relax, put us in charge for once and just try and enjoy the flight. Things can go a lot smoother if you just let us check in and let us do all the work. Plus, flying is supposed to be relaxing, not crazy, right?

Until next time, hug your parents and tell them you love them and have a nice flight! Maybe if you ask nicely the captain might even let you peek in the cockpit, who knows? Or at least try and remember those call buttons are only for when you need something. Or when you want to check out that hot flight attendant, right? :D


If you're a disabled traveler like me or going to travel with someone who needs wheelchair to get around, it's pretty much the same. Only a few tips to remind you and watch this video for more. (I'd be glad to answer more questions if you have them)

1. At the check-in make sure you ask the person to tag your chair. It'll be a lot easier when your chair is right next to the plane once you've landed.
2. Ask if possible for an isle seat. It'll make a getting in/out of the seat before, during, and after the flight a whole lot easier.
3. Frisking at the security check point is ok! I know it's more fun to go through the security gate but the chair will set them off. I know, bummer.

And here's the video in more details:
Have a safe trip!

Next Tip: Knuckles Tip #6- Hotel Life

True Social Networking

After reading the new Twitter Status regarding their yet another attempt to fix the follower and following counts and talking with my good friend Erica over Twitter, I began to wonder, what is social network exactly?

Course, we all know of the social network sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and even Bebo. But what does true social network actually mean?

Thinking that my friends over at Common Craft never have let me down before. I went on over to their YouTube page hoping to find an answer to my social network question. (Common Craft are the awesome people who take complex subjects like RSS feed and the US presidential election and turn them into three-minute videos in a language that anyone can understand)

And sure enough, Mr. Lee LeFever already thought of putting up a social network video on YouTube:

But really...somehow that still don't tell me what TRUE social network brings to the people that I don't know and whether or not that brings people closer together.

Some say they do bring people closer together...but how, with more than 100k followers on Twitter, do you really know all of them? You can't possibility know ALL of them on a personal basis. And if it's impersonal, what's the point of bringing people closer of they're not "closer" and you don't know them as a person, rather than just a number on your follower chart? Then, in turn, what is the point of having social networks?

Like I told Erica, balancing between true social network, keeping people closer AND know them on a personal level can be a hard thing to do. If that's the case, I don't want to be part of the social network anymore. In fact, I think I already zoned myself away from the "social network" trend.

Just another social network

As you can see from this screen shot of this other social network I belong to, I "only" have 72 friends. I've even been laughed at and scolded at by others how many friends I DON'T have and now much of a "loner" I am. And my natural response is...

"I know all 72 friends by a first name basis, where they live, what grade their in, and even how many pets they have. Tell me, can you do that with your 4000 'friends'?"

Their response:


So after all this, I think those who wish to start "social networking" should ask themselves one question. Do you want to join social network or do you want to join a TRUE social networking?

And you, the one who already are part of the Tweetaholics Anonymous, what's YOUR response to that question?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Because when that happens...

What do you do...when you don't feel like you belong?

What do you do, when you feel as you're stuck in the mist of non-existence?

What do you do when you're not intelligent enough to be with the ones twice or three times as old as you but in the same time you feel as if you don't belong with people around your age?

What do you do when the people around your age are all thinking of "getting a piece of ass" when you are worrying about the survival of yourself, of the ones you hold close to your heart and arms?

The result of all this is not something I can explain. Adults see me as someone who is "intelligent yet not wise". Young adults see me as "putting up a show, trying to act smart." Teens my age see me as "stupid, weird, strange".

So where do I belong...

When you feel as if there is something of true importance you wish to address, people of the same age put you down. They stare at you, questioning your beliefs and wondering what is wrong with you. People older than you tell you "don't worry about it, you're still young."

What do I do...

When the people you see are typing "I think all horses have ADD" I sit here wondering if Sean would ever make it through the night let along make it through the week, month, or years. When they are "LMAO" at random topics I wonder if they know what someone with the same age is living under a bridge, is starving for food, or just wishing someone would stop and listen.

I don't know what to do. So I sit in the darkness and the silence of these words and just read. I hold in the tears and pain to put on a smile for Sean, for my parents, and even for strangers like the nurses.

So deep inside, I put the sorrow, the pain, the tears all in a box. And I can only hope and pray that the tears won't soak the box wet, making it weak and let the pain and sorrow lose.

Because when that happens...

There will be no wheelies.
There will be no laughs.
There will be no Matt.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Got to blog about tennis because really, I had a blast :D (Plus the Thai food I brought for dinner is still too hot lol)

Before I got hurt, I laughed at the sight of the tennis player. To me, somehow, it was one of those luxury sports like golf. The site of people wearing those short shorts playing tennis, cracks me up. So needless to say I never had the thought of playing tennis myself.

After I got hurt, looking at other people playing tennis, I still laugh. Really, who doesn't laugh at the short shorts. I've seen wheelchair tennis before I got hurt and always somehow thought you just have full hand function to play it. Needless to say I was wrong. There's a division just for quadriplegic players! (Of course still under the ITF and USTA- US Tennis Association) Boy did I get excited.

So I did research, I read about tennis and wheelchair tennis in general just to find that they belong under the same league! Standing tennis and wheelchair tennis are both under the International Tennis Foundation. (And only difference is the two bounces rule. Though many professionals only need one bounce!) Meaning that anything from US Open to French Open to Wimbledon have the same qualifications for both stand up and wheelchair players. (Of course same goes with USTA and more) Really, how many organizations out there have the "integrated" league?

By the time I finish reading ITF's wheelchair tennis section and finish watching some videos like this one on YouTube, I was in love. I had to try this out myself.

So I did. Considering I'm chilling with Sean for now, I found an open tennis every Monday just a 30 some minute drive away. Really, I'd drive hours just to try it out. So, I contacted the person in charge and he said if I bring in myself and some tennis balls on Mondays, he's be glad to introduce me to tennis.

And before I knew it, I was on the court. I was sitting in my own chair looking at other players play. Moments later I transferred into a tennis chair and strapped myself in one of these baby:

Ain't she something?

I have to say, the feeling was just amazing. To warm up I went around the court twice and boy the speed and movement of the chair was just amazing! Now since I'm a quadriplegic and have no grip in my hands. The volunteers there helped me taped my hand to the racket (similar to how Mr. David Wagner- US Paralympian- taped his hands to the racket) and I was on my way to become a tennis star!

Mr. David Wagner

Ok maybe not, since I'm new to all this, I just rallied back and forth to get the feel of the chair and the game. I even manage to try out a match (don't ask about the score, I just knew I lost, bad. HAHA!)

Overall, it was an awesome experience. Getting the wind in your face and hitting the tennis ball (like hitting a home-run LMAO!) was just awesome. I can most definitely do this more often.

So people out there with SCI or other forms of "disability" don't be afraid to try out different sports or activities to find your favorite. You won't regret it!

Next sport: Wheelchair Rugby and Sledge Hockey! HOOAH!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm in a chair but I'm not dumb.

I got to rant because if I don't, I'll probably end up breaking down in front of Sean or worse, hurt someone.

After a big injury like Spinal Cord Injury, there will be a lot of changes in your life. From the paralysis to the medical situations, things change. From going to the bathroom to say getting in your car, things change. But hey we made due and we all do what we can to do things just a bit differently.

I'm never a fan of hiding, I like transparency as much as I can and especially online, I try not to hide who I am, my wheelchair, my life, my world. It's not something I'm ashamed of so in turn I try not to hide it. I try to let those who have questions ask, who wonder about my life ask anything they want and really, anything. And though people still say "I didn't want to offend you" or "I'm sorry" I'd tell them that I would get offended if they don't ask and there's nothing to be sorry of because they didn't cause the injury and plus, I'm proud of my "second life".

Society have a funny way of showing what's the majority and when you don't stand under the majority grid, they'll judge you, speak of you, stare, or worse, ignore you. I'm sure the thousands of people who have SCI know how I feel. The staring from people when you first get out of rehab hospital and back into your own life. The way people just look, may not be curiosity but most of the time, questioning. They look at you like they're playing bad cop with you, interrogating you with their eyes and make you feel so vulnerable and weak.

Then there's the people that ignore you when you're with a group of people. Say you go out to grab a bite to eat with your friends and there always is a waiter that tends to ignore you when they take your order. I'm not sure what they're afraid of but most of the time, they ask the people/friends you're with what YOU want to order. They ask like you can't order for yourself simply because they see the chair. Really...that pisses me off the most. Yes I'm in a wheelchair and I may be shorter than most people but I'm not dumb, I'm not deaf or blind, I can see what you're doing. I can see you ignoring me and asking my parents what I want to order. Now how does that make sense.

Maybe that's why I get online so often. People ask me why do you spend so much time chatting online. Because really, it's a place I don't have to deal with people staring at me, ignoring me, or look right through me like I don't even exist.

But there always tend to have a person online that ignores you, it probably isn't for the same reason but really, sure make me feel like I don't exist. It brings back the horrible memories of the people that have ignored me, see through me like I'm nothing, like I'm not even there.

That scares me, to think that I'd be gone and people wouldn't even care or know.

People out there with SCI or other "disabilities" what do you think? I'd love to hear about how you deal with this. Or rant if you wish, we all need it.

Cuz there's just ignorant people out there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I feel selfish...Because I am.

Laying in bed with Sean last night, comforting him from the pain of cancer, reading him books after books just try to make him feel better, I realized something. The distance between my friends and I are getting wider and wider. The words spoken are getting fewer and fewer. And I just don't know what to do.

I have Skype I've had Skype since I learned about it awhile back. It's a great program when you move around so much and so many of your friends are all over the world. It's a great feeling to sit down and be able to hear the person's voice and even see their faces that you haven't seen in awhile.

Even the friends I met online, talking on Skype make them closer than reading plain text on a screen. Make them feel more like a person, like I can relate to each of them.

But reading stories after stories last night, I wonder why I haven't thought of this before. This distance is getting bigger, this awkwardness, this bubble.

I now am lost between juggling friends, school, and keeping up and caring for Sean. I feel selfish, to sometimes wish that I can get away for a week, just to hang out with my friends or talk to them on Skype without Sean crying and begging for the pain to stop. I feel selfish when my friends on Skype have to watch what they say because Sean is around. I feel selfish when I have to repeat asking them to stop over and over again. I feel extremely selfish.

He's my cousin, he's the man I'll never be, he's the warrior fighting this cancer, this "dull" Medulloblastoma and yet I'm sitting in my chair wishing for all this to stop, wishing to hang and chill with friends or even time to myself. His parents are deployed and when he needs someone the most, it feels like I can't provide it for him.

And still, I feel the extreme selfishness to be thinking of myself. To wish that my parents would be less busy with everything and just watch Sean for awhile. Or even, leave Sean here in the hospital by himself, just so I can try and talk to my old friends, try making new friends, or even just go around town and get used to the place.

I feel selfish...
Because I am.

Forgive me Sean.
Forgive me Aunt Becca and Uncle Josh.
Forgive me everyone I've hurt and left behind in the process.
Forgive me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

They're Our Heroes.

I think...

Often times, we don't think enough. Often times people don't realize the words they say can majorly affect the people around them. Sometimes people don't realize things doesn't need to be said and people just know.

This is a rant and a personal opinion, I hope no one will get offended by it.

Living a life, you know people and things all die. You know that when it comes our time, people die. And being in the military, unfortunately it's one of those "occupational hazard" that comes with the job. Here's what I pisses me off. The people who repeatedly tell you how many troops died on what day. The people who repeatedly tell you what branch they're from and where the unit was.

Do they not consider the fact that some of us have deployed parents and family even friends over there? Do they not consider the worry, the thoughts and more that a simple "7 troops killed in Afghan" can do to the rest of us? Do they not realize how many hearts were stopped for that minute hoping and praying that it's not someone they know. Do they not realize that some of us don't get the news and hearing it on fucking Twitter isn't exactly a fun day at the beach.

That, pisses me off.

Yes it's true we should always remember the fallen, the ones that are willing to sacrifice their life so we at home can get the rights and freedom we all deserve. It's true that we should remember them but by repeating it, it does more harm, more hurt, and more worries than you think it does.

Maybe this is why I don't watch the news. To hear the people say it once and fucking forget it. To hear the people who say it once and move onto something else. But when it's right in your face, it fucking pisses you off and make you want to beat the shit out of someone. Maybe that's why I don't watch the news and try not to let Sean read what's going on Twitter. He may be 5 but he's smart and having him ask me, "Did Mommy or Daddy die?" that breaks my heart.

That brings me to another thing, the people who say they support our troops. They show it online, show it to others but deep inside they don't mean shit. The people that get on Twitter and type in a simple #militarymon or #honorvets and don't even think twice. It's just Monday and we'll just fucking copy and paste the hash mark and some name after it. The people who flood Twitter just to get their point across.

True honor, true support, comes from the heart. True support comes from simple task, saying that gets the message across. True support only need to be say once and it'll be remembered forever. Thank the people who served and who are serving, shake their hand, write a letter, say a true thank you and know it in your heart and thoughts.

It's like my grandfather always say, "You say enough 'sorry' then it's just another word. Don't use any word too often or else it loses its meaning." Think about what you're saying online and what you say in person. There's a major difference.

And fucking please think of the families that are truly suffering because they lost someone they love and know. Honor them through your hearts and don't advise them like they're an item.

Because they're not.
They're a person, they're our siblings, parents, children, friends.
They're our heroes.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Now THIS is what it's all about.

They said Independence Day is all about celebrating our country's independence, to enjoy our freedom and of course, spend time enjoying the food, beer/drinks, and fireworks. Some of us do more than hold the excitement of fireworks and the drool from the smell of burgers coming off the grill. We think about our family, siblings, and friends both past and present that make all this freedom possible.

So before I go on about my 4th of July, let's remember and think of all those who made of this all possible.

The men that stood up to well trained British troops despite others criticism for being "untrained".

The men who are willing to fight their own brothers just to stand up for what they believe in.

The men who are willing to fight for those oppressed by Spanish rule. So, they can feel the freedom we feel. So they can have the freedom they deserve.

The men who fought for what their country believe in, even if it's on foreign soil.

The men who stood weeks and even months in ankle deep trench waters so their wives, children, sisters, brothers, and more would be safe at home.

The men who remembered their brothers lost at sea and who believed in standing up for freedom and more.

The men who fought to keep the line of freedom strong and firm.

The men who fought along side their brothers. And when it seems like the whole country is against them, they stood by each other, in arms and hearts.

Those who stood in the sand and saw the smoke filled sky but stood their ground.

The men who hold their love ones close but their battle buddies closer. Who have no idea when they will be rescued but hold their faith above ground.

Those who set out to a country with heated weather to fight for what's right.

Those who fight but most of the time forgotten. We remember their strength and will to fight on.

And now, we remember and hold forever in our thoughts and prayers those that are on the new offensive. May they stay strong and safe.

Now, my 4th. I'm glad that Dad is home and hope that others will return home safely. Though our tradition is to sit around the backyard grilling, playing, and eventually watch the fireworks. This year, we got a different plan. Since Sean can not leave the hospital, my parents and I decided to bring the party to him. We sat around playing board games, watching movies, and even laugh at jokes. And it's as of it all were just right, Dad found out there's a Fourth of July Spectacular just short 4 miles away from the hospital. Another good thing was, it was sponsored by the Children's Hospital and from Sean's window, you could see it all.

So while we sat around with Chinese food (sneaked in by my parents, courtesy of the nurses pretending they didn't see a thing) we looked out the window for a "private" viewing of the fireworks. To see that look in Sean's eyes and hear the "cool!" coming out of his mouth, it's a good day indeed.

It was expected that Sean fell asleep before the fireworks end so the three of us went out to the garden and talked. I think we talked about anything from school to Sean to the new baby. And somehow, I couldn't remember last time the three of us sat down to talk and maybe when it happens next, there will be four of us. It was a plain 4th of July but it was also a great 4th of July. I couldn't ask for more.

If you guys can read this, Uncle Josh and Aunt Becca, Sean's doing ok, going strong like you both are. Be safe, say hi to the guys for us, and can't wait till you both come home.

P.S. If you can name which era the pictures are from, props to you!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Knuckles Tip #4 Part 2- Moving Day Cont.

Hopefully by now, you’re done packing. If not, why are you here reading this tip, go back. Oh a break…seeing what’s next? Ah I see, fine then, read on.

Tip #4 Part 2
For Adults/older teens: Moving Day Cont.
For kids/younger teens: Before the "Are we there yet?"


Since your parents have decided to tackle this move by themselves (the adults call it DITY/Personally Procured Move) that's going to mean a lot of time to either tone up on your muscles or make your arms and shoulders sore for the next day or more. In that case, remember, ice is your friend. Now, hopefully you did a fair job at packing, your boxes are labeled and the room is pretty much ready to go.

So what now? Listen to your parents, if you got a pair of arms (or a lap like me) most likely your parents will want you to help one way or another. Because like my Mom used to say "Those boxes don't move themselves!" but wouldn't that be great? So listen to your parents on which boxes needs to be in the U-Haul trucks and which needs to be going either along the ride with you or in the U-Haul later. They're your parents, think, by now they got enough experience to know how to pack things and which order would be important. So while they might be nagging at you to get the boxes and items out of the house, they know what they're doing, trust me.

So do the packing, listen to your parents and yes, it's ok to ask for breaks. But hey think about this, by the time you're done with all this stuff, you can show off your guns to the ladies. (Or...not? haha)

To the parents: The typical move can be really stressful even though you probably don't want to show it to us. Let us help out a little or a lot, just not going nuts with the nagging and yelling, right?

If your kids are younger, let us help. The "oh that might be too heavy for you" might be true but even the simplest boxes can excite us, after all, it's our move right?

If your kids are young teen/teen: Like I said before, there's work done and a lot more can be done with less talk, right? Let us work our muscles and things will turn out fine, don't worry, no stress. It'll all be good. All good.

Until next time, hug your parents and tell them you love them then get moving, get the boxes in the truck means less yelling, nagging or whatever your parents do when they're stressed. Have fun gaining those muscles and remember, ice are your friends.

Next Tip: Knuckles Tip #5- Driving to your new Post or Knuckles Tip #5 Part 2- Flying to your new post

"Nightmares are dreams gone sour."

The day I saw that Honda commercial, I laughed. They talked about dreams and nightmares about how each of us can use the power of dreams to envision the world and how they at Honda all dream that what they do will make the future generations a better place. Some doctor and author named Deepak Chopra, M.D. said, "Dream by in large are the expression of the human spirit for creativity and imagination. Nightmares are dreams that have gone sour."

When I heard it the first time, I laugh, chuckled and said out loud. "No shit, Sherlock!" And this morning, waking up short breathed, cold head, and small amount of sweat on my head, I'm starting to think about my sour dream. Of which, I might add, have been getting for years now. In fact there's a lot of things that's been happening for awhile but that's for me to keep secret, for now.

I like dreams, I like to dream about the what ifs and a lot of the times, the dreams make me a lot happier before I went to bed. But even a good dream can make waking up a dread and make the morning coffee smell like a piece of ass. When I was a kid, I'd used to dream of being a firefighter, putting out fires like my uncles would do. I even dream of being just like my dad, jumping out of airplanes and fight the bad guys.

As I got older, I started to visualize what I'd want to do. Playing football for Ohio State or even Florida and even who knows, the Cowboys. In my dreams I'd be catching a big one and score that key winning touchdown.

And without knowing it, my dreams gone sour, real fast.

The dream I remember wasn't just a dream, it was also my past. (So call it whatever you want, but I'll just call it a nightmare) Dream started out great, the sun was shining and it was another day of my life. My life of putting the pads on my shoulders and get out on the field to do what I do best. Dad was home on his leave and for once, this was going to be a great day. And boom, like that, it turned sour.

I could hear the crowd gasping, I could hear my teammates calling my name and I could hear the loud-speakers notifying that unless you are family, you need to remain in your seat. And like a recording, I can hear my trainer yelling repeatedly, "squeeze my hand" but like a dead weight I lay there, nothing.

I woke up to my hearing my own heavy breathing, my eyes staring at the ceiling of Sean's room, my arms shaking. "Nightmares are dreams gone sour." Dr. Chopra said, and I believe that now, strongly.

Faith have a funny way of working things out. Just a year after my injury, Buffalo Bills' Kevin Everett was hurt on the field. I remember sitting in my chair thinking, "Oh no" while staring at this

Everett on September 9th, 2007

and a year later, looking at the same Everett, I wonder if this nightmare turn sweet again, ever. I wonder if people realize not all of us are as lucky as Everett but still, we live on because we're lucky. We're lucky to be alive.

Everett on September 7, 2008

Dreams, my friends, are creativity and imagination. So dream on, people, dream on.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Knuckles Tip #4- Moving Day

Hopefully by now, you're done packing. If not, why are you here reading this tip, go back. Oh a break...seeing what's next? Ah I see, fine then, read on.

Tip #4
For Adults/older teens: Moving Day Part 1
For kids/younger teens: Movers are here! Cool big truck!


Since your parents have decided to have movers help with this move, there really isn't anything much you can do other than try to do whatever your parents tell you at this point. If you did a good job packing, your boxes are labeled and the room is pretty much empty and clean.

So what now? While your parents are busy making sure the movers are doing everything they want them to do, try to help out your parents. There might be last minute errands they need you to run or things to do around the house. Or even watch your little siblings for awhile so they won't be a distraction. Really no matter what, do your best to stay out of the movers way.

Friendly movers!

Another thing, ya they're movers and strangers but they're there to help you, so really, try and be nice to them alright? It's ok to look or laugh or talk to them once awhile but remember their job is to put everything in the house onto those huge movers truck. They're people too, be nice to them don't taught them that much or maybe buy them some coffee or something, ice tea would be good too.

Key is to stay away and don't get in the way. If you get hit by the couch or something...don't blame it on them, it's your fault.

To the parents: Yes, you're probably going nuts watching the movers but remember we want to feel somewhat important so...give us a job or two eh? It'd be something to keep us occupied and not to mention staying out of your way.

If your kids are younger, encourage them to try and help with the little things like "help" watch the movers or even help you check off that long check list you have. Anything to make us feel important, remember, but as soon as we get that annoyed look on our eyes. Let us go play with our friends for awhile, come on, we're moving, loosen up.

If your kids are young teen/teen: We might seem annoyed and want to text our friends all day but it won't hurt have us to some things around the house. Just not too many things alright, that annoys a lot of us. And breathe, parents, it'll be alright, remember you got a teen in the house? Ha, yes you probably don't think that was funny. Really though, have us run errands or I don't know coffee, anything to get us in the car and away from the house and movers for awhile. Simple right?

Until next time, hug your parents and tell them you love them then get out of the way, there are movers moving in and out of the house constantly. Go watch your little siblings or something. run! You're parents will be thankful, hopefully.

Next tip: Knuckles Tip #4 Part 2- Moving Day Cont.

Think of them. Pray for them. Thank them.

Starting off this blog with something nerdy. The "real" Independence Day was actually on the 2nd when the Second Continental Congress approve of the independence from England. And to those who believe that the Declaration was signed on the 4th, think again, it was actually signed by most of the delegates on the 2nd of August. Bet you didn't know that.

Now onto more serious stuff.

After reading my friend Tucker's blog, I can feel her pain, her anger, and even that antsy feeling. Just a couple days ago, if you didn't know, US troops were pulled out of major Iraqi cities. And all of the sudden, it seems like everyone is celebrating. All of the sudden, it feels like the civilian friends and people I meet online are asking me, "Does that mean the troops will be coming home?" And just like Tucker said, no it doesn't. So please, stop asking.

Right now, at this moment, there are family, friends, and more doing what they do and proud of what they do. I think a lot of the people out there need to step back and truly look at the big picture. Like years ago, when I tell people "My Dad's deployed" first thing they ask is, "Iraq?" The ignorance, sometimes angers me and pisses me off but sometimes make me laugh, how could people be so stupid. Step back and think, step back and acknowledge the troops fighting beyond Iraq and especially right now, with the new offensive to Afghanistan, think about the troops world wide.

As I finish up Tucker's blog, really I feel what she feel because that's what I used to feel just weeks ago. I know, that even though my Dad's home right now laughing and joking around with us, he could be gone the next minute and I would probably never know it. I know right now, there are parents wishing they can be with their children, husband wishing they could be with their wives, and so much more. Think of them when you see the fireworks this weekend and really think of them. That much you can do.

Late night last night, Sean woke up from a nightmare. He immediately climbed up on my lap, looked me sharply in the eyes and yelled. "Daddy's ok right right?!?" I have never heard him yell like that before. I have never seen him that serious before. And though I reassured him it was only a nightmare, it scares me. His action made me think of my uncle and the plenty of Marines/Soldiers going out on this offensive in Afghanistan. And all of the sudden, I feel helpless, scared, and everything all together.

The news scares me, the unknown scares me and even the report of that KIA soldier from 10th Mountain Division scares me. Every song I'm listening to on Pandora reminds me of our troops out there, every show on TV (even the Wiggles) reminds me of that KIA Marine. I pray for everyone's safety, the safety of my friends, my family, and every pair of boots out there.

Think of all of them this Independence Day. Keep them in your thoughts/prayers.

For the troops over the pond: Keep your head down. We are all thinking of you this 4th.

God Speed.
Good Luck and Good Huntin'