Category Archives: Life

For now…

I’ll be back, but for now, you can find me on my personal blog: Conta[GIO]us.


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Missing: Nancy Salas

Glendale Police are looking for missing UCLA student, Nancy Salas. I don’t think I knew her personally, but apparently, I’ve been in school clubs wit her when I was at UCLA. I pray for her safe return and for God to strengthen her family during this time.

Anyone with information can call the Glendale Police Department at 818-548-4911


Filed under College, Issues/Causes, Life

The Name Game–Because I Can’t Say Yours

When I usually meet someone for the first time, I say, “Hello. My name is Giovanny. What’s yours?” No pick up lines. No game. Just a straight out greeting. I don’t often have the convenience of a name tag, but it usually is a good opening to talk to someone new. There’s an idea that when you give a little of something, the other person will give something back. So when I give someone my name, I’d expect the other person to give me theirs.

Names. I love my name, although it wasn’t always so. Imagine being the Indonesian kid with an Italian name where every other Indonesian kid had American names or Indonesian ones. So I got names on my mind.

It was just 45 years ago that Shirley Ellis released her hit, “The Name Game,” an addictive fun naming rhyme song.

It was just 10 years ago that Destiny’s Child released their hit, “Say My Name,” a song about a cheating boyfriend.

It was just 5 years ago that Eminem released his hit, “My Name is,” a song about  introducing himself to the world.

It was just last year that the Ting Tings release their hit, “That’s Not My Name,” a song about a guy who can’t remember the girlfriend’s name, probably because he’s been cheating on her.

Whatever the case, names are important. It’s part of your identity–it can say a lot about who you are and where you are from or how interesting your parents are. For example, some celebrities give their children the most bizarre names. I mean who names their child Kal-El? Apple? Tu? And gives an Italian name to their Indonesian son? *Sigh* My mom.

Names can help put your name in the door, especially when they’re unique. Or, they can be as common as “John” (I apologize if I’ve offended anyone by that name). Names have important meaning, often what your parents hope that you will aspire to be or what you already are. For example, my name means, “God is gracious.” My mom decided on “Giovanny” because I was born on her birthday. Thus, God is gracious because I was her birthday present.

And for the rest who hate their names, there’s always the choice of changing it. Just ask Sean Combs. Sean Puff Daddy Combs. Puff Daddy. P. Diddy. Sean John Combs. I forgot what he’s going by now. Or you can be as unique as adding a dollar sign to your name, lie KE$HA. Or, you can go ridiculous as that UK teenager who legally changed his name to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined or the guy named Lord Jesus Christ.  We do strange things sometimes.

What’s the story of your name? What does it mean?

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Filed under Entertainment, Life

Oh 24

 I’ve been trying to prevent myself from turning 24, trying to tell the sun not to shine tomorrow, to be locked in an infinite loop or at least skip the 8th of May. Birthdays used to be fun, but since my sister died, it’s a painful reminder that I celebrate one more year without her. God, has it really been almost 3 complete years?

People say that time heals all wounds. I don’t think that’s how it works. Sure, the wound may get closed, but I think it can easily open up again and get infected. And if it doesn’t open up again, then it heals into a scar. And scars remind you about where you’ve been, what you’ve survived. I think I’m at this scar stage. I know my sister’s in a better place, but it still doesn’t cover up the fact that there are events I feel I’ve missed out on: her prom, her graduation, etc. How selfish of me to use the word “I.”

So now, the 8th of May has finally arrived. It marks the 3rd year without her. And I am now 24. I’ve gained another year of life, of experience, and hopefully, of wisdom—I’m thankful to God.

Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I’m not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

There’s an exercise that I do whenever I get so emo. At least, I try to remember to do it. I think about all the thinks God has blessed me with and so it makes this birthday much more bearable. It’s not a complete list—I don’t think I can count ALL God’s blessings—He blesses us abundantly.

  1. I’m thankful for my parents who continue to support me in all that I do, especially through prayer.
  2. I’m thankful that I graduated from my dream school-UCLA.
  3. I’m thankful that God provided me with an awesome accountability partner who has quickly become my best friend.
  4. I’m thankful for amazing friends.
  5. I’m thankful that I’m able to use my talents.
  6. I’m thankful for church and fellowship.
  7. I’m thankful that I’m part of a group that wants to defeat the horrors of human and sex trafficking.

There’s so much to be thankful for…


Filed under Life

The Art of Seduction Is A Piece of Cake

You know, you can learn a lot about life from watching a Season 8 episode of  NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” You’re rolling your eyes saying, “Thank you Captain Obvious. The moral of the show is that we have an obesity problem in America.” And I would respond kindly, “Yep, there’s that, but that’s just the fat of it. Forgive the pun. You need to go deeper to get to the meat of the problem.”

Temptation. The word basically means the quality of seduction. I find the Temptation Challenges on “The Biggest Loser” quite entertaining and down-right educating. The first Temptation Challenge changes the weight loss competition into a all-out strategy game. The contestants stood behind silver platters. When they open the platters, a single cupcake is revealed containing 100 calories. Whoever eats the most cupcakes gets to manipulate which team would fall below the yellow line at final weigh in. However, the team who wins the challenge still has to work hard to not fall bellow the yellow line, or it would be a waste of strategy. Oh, and whoever wins the challenge would not receive any help from trainers to lose weight. To put it simply, to eat the cupcake, or not eat the cupcake? That is the question. Only two gave in to the temptation as piles of cupcake are added to each contestant’s silver platter- Antoine from the red team ate one cupcake, while Tracey ate four. She “wins” the temptation.

When I saw this, I had to laugh. This is ridiculous? Tempting people with cupcakes? That’s so easy to resist. But it isn’t. I forgot the context of the situation, and who is being tempted. For someone who enjoys food and eats cupcakes like breathing air, this was quite a challenge. Addiction is challenging. I remembered my own addiction to Starbucks frappes and how I tried so hard to give it up for 40 days, only to fail on the 20th day. When the temptation was presented to me, the smell of a Chai frappe floating through the air, floating towards me–I remembered the fun times I had sipping on my Starbucks frappes. And my body remembered too, craving it. That’s what temptation is, right? Seduction. Reminds you of what you’re missing out on, what you can’t have, what you had, and essentially, what you could have for the taking. It’s right there in front of you, welcoming you, calling out your name. It messes with your mind. Temptation is easy; withstanding it is the hard part.

Lately, I’ve been craving cupcakes, but not just any cupcake. RED VELVET CUPCAKES! My mouth is watering just typing the words down. I can taste it now, the vanilla cream cheese with a dash of red sprinkles touching my taste buds. And I’m not the only one. Everyone and their mother have been wanting cupcakes, whether it be red velvet cupcakes, I do not know.  In this down economy, the cupcake industry has been steadily growing between 2006 and 2008 and still growing now. Gee, that’s about time the economy started going down. But why the increase when the economy isn’t tasting good? Apparently, cupcakes are nostalgic foods and comfort foods. Cupcakes bring people back to when life was much simpler and better (nostalgia) and when they eat the cupcake, it makes them feel a whole lot better about themselves and their situation (comfort). It’s as if all the stresses of the world disappear while you’re eating a cupcake.

Living in Los Angeles, I love Sprinkles Cupcakes (located in Beverly Hills). They sell about 5,000 cupcakes a day. And though the cupcakes may be a bit pricey (hey, they got to pay the Beverly Hills rent somehow), their cupcakes are worth it! Not only are they delicious, but you can also customize it if you want–find a cupcake that matches your nostalgia and comfort.

So with that, I send you off with a Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe located via Martha Stewart, the Queen of Conventional Cooking and Arts and Crafts. And send a cupcake or two my way. I’m great at testing food.
What’s your favorite cupcake? What’s your favorite cupcake bakery?


Filed under Entertainment, Food, Issues/Causes, Life, Movies/TV

Strokes Are Spelled With S-T-R

I don’t normally do public service announcements, but now that I’m also a nursing major and self conscious about my own health identity, I thought featuring a short bit on strokes was important. You may be thinking that I’m too young to be worried about strokes. Oh the contrary, the youngest stroke victim was 13.

A stroke is a “brain attack” which can occur as a result of a blood clot blocking an artery or a blood vessel bursting and effecting blood flow to the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are the third leading cause of death in America. The American Heart Association also reports that across America, there are about 700,000 cases of strokes per year.

Here’s a 3-part test that can help indicate if someone is suffering a stroke and needs to go to the ER ASAP.  It’s commonly referred to as the “S-T-R” Test, but is officially called Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS).

S – Smile. Ask the person to smile. If he or she can’t or the smile is uneven, that may mean paralysis.

T – Talk. Ask the person to talk. If  you hear slurred speech or an incoherent sentence, that means something is wrong.

R – Raise. Ask the person to raise both arms. If he or she can’t, that may mean paralysis.

If the person in question has trouble with any of these tasks or exhibits any of the symptoms, call 9-1-1! You may save a life and decrease the likelihood of disability.

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Ladies Call Me…

Tiger Woods inspired me. There’s nothing wrong with your eyes. Tiger. Woods. Inspired. Me. Sure, he’s a recovering sex addict, but when he got up on that stage on Friday and admitted to his affairs with God knows how many women (including former porn star Joslyn James), the crickets in my mind hopped away. Then a news channel displayed the mia culpa (“I am guilty of”) moments of other famous men. You know, guys like Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Kobe Bryant, etc. Author Brandon Root of “Spiteful Critic” wrote a great list. Oooh, idea time. Mia culpa. And believe you me, I’ve got a lot of mia culpas.

But which of my guilts should I share? I found the answer after reading on of my favorite blogs. You see, I don’t have older brothers, so I take any lessons I can get from older wiser men. Enter Matt. He’s in his late twenties, happily married, and a pastor. He’s also the writer of “The Church of No People.” I have never actually met him, but after reading post after post he’s written and following him on Twitter, I feel like I know him. He’s like a big bro–someone you want to hang out with, someone you learn from about life and how it works. Yup, that’s what I do with my favorite writers–invent a fictive kin identity. Check out his blog, and tell him Gio sent you.

Well, one of Matt’s posts was about his quest to find bromance. And that’s exactly what I’m guilty of. No, not finding bromance, but rather having several. Yah, I’m not a two-timer–I’m just good at juggling bromances. It’s a skill I’ve acquired over the last three years. Just a couple days ago, a bro I hadn’t seen in half a year met up with me. I would lie if I said I didn’t miss hanging out with him. I know what you’re thinking, Gio, you should just get a girlfriend. You talk about marriage a lot. Why not? True, very true. But women are an investment–not just financial, but also an emotional investment. I don’t think I have enough energy or time either with school. So the next best thing, while I’m still young, is to hang out with my best buds. That’s every little kid’s dream. Grow up Gio! Hey, I’m not the only one delaying my adulthood–there are practically several books written about guys like me. But it’s not all bad. According to Geoffrey Grief, a Maryland-based psychologist and author of The Buddy System, “men who are comfortable sharing their feelings with other men may actually make better partners.” See? I have healthy bromantic relationships, which means I make one potentially great boyfriend. Ladies, call me.

I do have to admit that Matt’s post scared me because it also reminded me how the comedy movie, “Bromance” was practically a horror movie to me. Don’t get me wrong–I love that movie. I’m a huge fan of Paul Rudd (also another guy I wouldn’t mind being in a bromance with). But the movie and Matt’s real life situation–it was a wake-up call. Was that a vision of my own impending future when I reach my late twenties? It’s looking more and more likely. Is this how the post grad life is for men? Oh the horror.

You see, we men don’t do friendships as women do them. At times that’s a good thing, and at times that’s a bad thing. How do we ever figure each other out? We just do:

1. We don’t reveal our emotions.

All that emotion crap is for women, right? I think that’s the biggest lie. We reveal our emotions all the time, just not the way women do it. Emotions make us human. One way we men reveal our emotions is with our FISTS! Anger is a pretty common and visible emotion for guys–the classic Hulk mode–You don’t want to see me angry. You wouldn’t like it when I’m angry.

2. We are extremely competitive.

We constantly try to one-up each other. We compete for dominance and status to display that we’re the better man and the better mate. How many times do we talk about who has the better job, the better car, etc.? And that’s why the world of sports speaks to us. It nurtures our competitive drives.

3. We love to insult each other.

It’s another classic display of dominance, another way to one-up another, to see who can come up with the better insult. For guys who are strangers, it can cause a fight as egos are bruised. However, amongst old friends, that’s how we bond–how we display our affection for each other. It supposedly makes us tougher. We don’t say insults to be mean, we insult because we care.  Just watch Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino” where he teaches the Asian kid man-speech in the barbershop and you’ll know what I mean.

4. We have “shoulder-to-shoulder” relationships with each other.

Whereas most women find joy in face-to-face relationships with other women, such as, talking with another woman over coffee, men converse shoulder-to-shoulder. This means that we tend to talk to other men while doing another activity, not necessarily having to see the other guy face-to-face. Take for example the activity of fishing. Guys can talk all they want about life without having to look at the other guy in the eye because they’re simultaneously concentrating on capturing fish.  Or go to a gym with a workout partner and you’ll talk while lifting weights or at a sporting event when nothing exciting is going on.

5. We engage in “report talk.”

Georgetown University linguistics professor Deborah Tannen first coined the term in the 1990s with her book, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. She calls men’s conversation “report talk” because our conversations are short and to the point. Women’s conversations are called “rapport talk” because their conversations are used to create connections. In short, men are about the facts, while women are about the personal details. However, because men have short conversations, they tend not to know a lot about other details about their male friends.

But do all these things affect how men maintain and keep their friendships with other men when they’re older? Could how we interact with each other be to blame? And what’s the deal with the rise of bromances? Do women in relationships feel threatened by their man’s bromances?

Well, all I know is that with my success at bromances, the ladies call me a “Bromanizer.” That’s my identity revealed for now, but for how long, I just don’t know. After all, I don’t want to find bromance in all the wrong places. In the mean time, ladies, call me.


Filed under Life, Masculinity