Let’s divert a little bit

So back in 2014, a friend and I decided to go and see the premier of “Wish I Was Here”, a comedy/drama written and directed by Zach Braff and his brother Adam Braff. We were HUGE…well still are HUGE “Scrub” fans. I’ve watched the show as many times as I’ve been able to. It’s sort of my comfort show now…I’ll put on if I can’t sleep or I’m just looking for stuff in the background. But ever since getting into that show, I’ve become a big Zach Braff fan…and it’s mainly because of his off screen interactions with fans via Twitter or in interviews: he’s a very emotionally driven person. And it definitely shows in his writing.

I watched Garden State back in high school with one of my Aunts and I remember being immediately entrenched in this loser character he created for himself to play. Also, he dealt with the passing of his mother…I’m hooked already.

But, sadly I fell asleep and never got a chance to watch it further following that night. But, years later I did and it hit me harder then than it did when I initially experienced it. The main reason? Because I faced a similar issue in my own self assessments…in that I felt lost on that path of life. Like Zach Braff’s character, I felt like I was spinning my wheels, just looking for something I didn’t know I would find anywhere. Then of course came the death of his mother and his estranged relationship with his father.

After my mother died my father and I became really close. We did a lot together, and I understood his depression just like he understood mine. But he started dating really soon following my mom’s passing and I don’t think I was prepared for it. I knew it wasn’t my place to be ready for him to move on, because it’s his way of grieving, but I still resented him for it. He searched for pieces of my mother in other women…dating a few here and there, mentioning how they reminded him of her. How they shared personality traits with a ghost…

And that seems insensitive to say, and trust me I know…it’s my own mother I’m talking about. But, in a sense, what dad was doing was just that: he was ghost hunting. Mom wasn’t here anymore, and no matter what he looked for, he would never find her again. But I understood it…because I wanted it too. Not from someone else mind you, but from her…however that had to look. I wanted my mother back. But the thing was, his search put a strain on us because his desperation to fill that void meant that he wouldn’t listen to me or my concerns. Fast forward 5 years and I’m 18/19 dealing with his long term girlfriend who just entered my life at the wrong time. And my dad and I were OK, but in the back of my mind I always felt like I was forced to grieve on my own…and I resented it. My dad wasn’t always my target, but sometimes it was his eventual wife…sometimes it was the people she brought into my life. It took me some years to be truly OK with everything.

I always refused to talk about my dad and I’s relationship, but I think it was something that I always needed to address, because it wasn’t always puppies and rainbows. We became friends eventually, because I couldn’t live at home anymore and I because of the resentment I carried in my heart, couldn’t always be around my stepmother. So…I moved out and visited occasionally.

Which brings me to “Wish I Was Here.” This movie speaks to me in ways that a lot of grief focused movies don’t. It takes my inability to deal with confrontation, my fear of being a disappointment, and my fear of grief and balls them into two separate but equally relatable characters. Zach Braff and Josh Gadd play Aidan and Noah Bloom respectively; two brothers who lost their mother earlier in life and now have to deal with losing their father, both while trying to figure out what kind of people they actually are. Aidan is a failed actor, and Noah runs a blog…

Sounds familiar.

But I watch this movie and I constantly think: yeah, that’s about right. Noah refuses to go see his father. At first it’s because of his resentment towards him…his last conversation with him was about how much of a lost cause he was. Aidan’s relationship with him is more business like: the father pays for his grandkids private Jewish schooling, and Aidan keeps in contact only to ensure it.

Now, this is counter to my relationship with my dad, I know that. He wasn’t unsupportive in the least: in fact he constantly saw greatness in me, no matter what I did. A lot of the issues with us came from me, and my hidden resentment of how my childhood went. But, the other forces that kept me from him added to it as well. I was afraid to get into fights with my stepmother about this or that…and especially about dad in general. When he got really sick, after his brain surgery and subsequent chemo treatments, it got really bad. I felt pushed away and I kind of just…accepted it. I felt like I was a burden to them and just let them handle things however they wanted.

In hindsight…I regret all of it.

Obviously that’s the issue with hindsight…we know the end of the story and know what could’ve changed the outcome. Regret eats away at me in those quiet moments…where I wish I had been there for my father more when he needed me around and not sitting in a room afraid to confront the situation.

Fear is a funny thing. There’s a reoccurring daydream that Zach Braff’s character has throughout the movie – a space adventurer on a foreign planet, running from a cloaked figure. He treks across the entire planet and he never loses the cloaked figure…it’s just always right behind him. He’s afraid of confronting the issue at hand: forgiving his father and himself. He knows his father is dying, and he knows he let his life get away from him – he’s mourning the loss of two things: his dad and his dream. He knows and realizes that in order to be the father he needs to be to his own kids…he needs to find his way and forget the things he’s chased. It’s not a death per se though, more of a compromise.

I know I read off that speech I gave that one time about not compromising our dreams, and fighting for them. And you still should…while finding a sustainable living. I have only ever wanted to be a writer for a living, no matter the way I’d have to go about it, that’s the only thing I thought of for myself. But, life comes at you in multiple ways. When my dad died, I knew it was my time to reevaluate what I saw as being an adult. That’s the kicker with loss, it leads to revelations about life. Out of death springs found livelihood I guess. It’s like the sprouting of a tree through the use of compost fertilizer…kind of.

But fear of these revelations, and of course fear of loss and of pain…it can prevent us from beginning to heal. There’s a scene towards the end of the movie that absolutely WRECKS me every time I see it. Aidan (Zach Braff) calls Noah (Josh Gadd) and tells him that his father might pass any minute and that he wants to make amends with Noah before he goes. Noah says no, obviously…until Aidan’s daughter gets on the phone. She asks him to come and Noah admits to being scared. “Losing my mom was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through…I don’t know if I can take it again.”

Man it hits me where I live…it kills me.

But then this little girl Grace (played by Joey King) says “I know you’re sad…but we’re sad too. And we should all be together.” And that right there…man that’s the key to this whole thing. Collective sadness…collective grieving is a powerful thing. I would have been absolutely lost if I didn’t have my family to be sad with after my mom died. My dad helped me, my aunts and uncles and grandparents…cousins. All were there for me, and I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

There’s a sad aspect of life for a lot of people when it comes to familial issues, and that is often they don’t feel they can rely on family members for comfort because of those strained relationships. In the case of Noah, he felt like a disappointment to his father, but he felt hopeful because of his mother. When he lost her, he didn’t feel support from his father, making the grieving process his burden alone.

That scene kills me so much because I hear the pain in his voice and it’s the same pain that came across my mind with my situation.

I got the call my dad was declining fast and only had two weeks when I was headed to work on a Monday after a music theory class. I’ve only ever been too anxious to eat twice in my life: when I got back from a trip with my aunt and went to go see my mother in the hospital just before she passed, and when I had to look my dad in the face after hearing the news he had a short amount of time left. The kicker is though…I didn’t spend all two weeks with him, and instead let my relationship with my stepmother get in the way of spending what little time I did have left with him. I’ve forgiven my father for the way the relationship went…and I’ve forgiven my stepmother because that isn’t something I want to continue to carry with me. But I never really forgave myself for letting it all happen. I make excuses for myself…but I avoid taking the responsibility of letting those moments with him slip away. And this isn’t going to be a post about me forgiving myself…it’s just an acknowledgement.

This movie, “Wish I Was Here”, is such an honest portrayal of losing somebody…and it’s so painfully beautiful to watch. If you ever get some free time, I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a film that captures the true moments of sadness, and how absolutely lost it makes you feel.

I might make this an ongoing series…grief fueled movie reviews. Or something like that. I don’t know, we’ll see.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming…

I don’t have anything profound to say today, but I wanted to do a podcast, so here I am. I think I can use some of these “empty” days as days that I can talk about things I’m devoutly interested in.

And maybe that can be a theme going forward – coping episodes. I think a lot of people find coping with grief an all or nothing situation: you’re either upset and thinking about it, or you’re avoiding it altogether…and I gotta say, each of those in isolation is SUPER unhealthy. I’ve had days like the former…woke up, didn’t want to, sat in my room all day and just thought about the things that triggered me the most: mom, dad, personal insecurities. Because let’s address it, the problem with depression is that it’s not about the thing that directly makes you sad.

It’s like driving on a worn-out road, there are the divots that develop overtime that every car eventually sinks into as they traverse that road…you get stuck in those divots and it’s hard to stay out of them. The issue is, all of the gunk on the road ends up in those divots as well, so if there’s extra water or debris, you’re more than likely going to run over it, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Same thing with these bouts of depression. If you can’t find an escape from these ruts, every. single. bit of negativity you can or do feel daily will undoubtedly find you and eat away at you.

My day may start like “I miss my parents”, but after awhile of unchecked idleness, my thoughts often go to “I’m tired of being alone,” or “I’m going to die alone.” Does it make sense? No, of course not. Is it OK to feel? Yes, of course it is. But the problem is, while allowing yourself to experience those feelings is important, it’s also important to recognize when your mind needs an extra dose distraction.

I know this seems counter to my previous statements…that allowing yourself to feel those emotions…to experience those moments of sadness…that doing that is a good thing. And I still think that. Finding “distractions” – and I’ll put those in a quotes for right now – finding those “distractions” that take you away from continuously berating yourself with every negative thought you have isn’t at all invalidating those feelings you’re having. It’s quite literally just distracting yourself from…well…constantly punching yourself in the face metaphorically speaking.

So I know what you’re thinking: that still seems contradictory. And, maybe it is. But these moments of grief are fluid…there’s no rhyme or reason to them. Sometimes they hit and it’s a light sprinkle…a quick sun shower in the middle of the afternoon.

Other times…it’s a monsoon. A continuous thunderstorm in the middle of summer…aggressive and loud.

Taking on the quick rain storm of a mid-afternoon is much different than weathering a hurricane. In those moments…you HAVE to find a way out. Otherwise…it’s flooding season. You’re waist deep in water and your house doesn’t have any exits.

So what do I do? Other than this of course. Writing brings me solace, but sometimes I just want to be mindlessly entertained.

I guess this is going to be just another about me post. You’ll live through it. I’m an interesting person I think.

I love playing video games. I currently go back and forth between Madden and UFC 4…but I also really love a good story. Most recently I got into Assassins Creed Odyssey, and Injustice 2 – although I’m absolute trash at that second one. I tend to enjoy sports games a lot more than other games strictly because you start and it’s right into the action.

I mean, I say that…but I’m constantly replaying stuff like the Final Fantasy 7 remake, or old Assassins Creed games. Story catches my intrigue a lot, so it just depends really.

Speaking of good story, I’ve been getting more and more into the Marvel shows available. Wandavision is awesome…and if you want a good story that centers around grief and the processing, or perhaps misprocessing of it, that’s a show for you. Falcon and the – sorry…Captain America and the Winter Soldier is also a fun time, and addresses some hard to talk about issues such as racial bias and the pressure and scrutiny black men experience in America.

It’s interesting how open that show was about talking about it, but also very much needed. I think these shows give Marvel a perfect platform to address deeper topics. The serial format gives writers a more open playground with which to incorporate more intricate elements into a longer and more elaborate story. It makes me wish these two shows were longer now that I think about it, but they did a great job with what they had, and set up a lot of MCU stories going forward.

Something you’ll learn about me over time…I can get overly interested in a topic SUPER quick. And I can talk about said topics for DAYS if prompted. Here’s the kicker about finding these microbits of pleasure within hobbies or interests…once you get in and you find out they do a bang up job in keeping your mind away from whatever negative thoughts you could possibly be having…they then become your past time.

I have hundreds of interests that I know I can rely on to pull me out of debilitating funks. And that’s the name of the game with grief. You can experience the pain you need to…the want to hear them again, laugh with them, hug them. But don’t let that pain drag you further away from the person they wanted you to be. There was a beautiful quote about the nature of grief in Wandavision, and it’s such a good one. Wanda had lost her parents at a young age…had just lost her brother and now felt excruciatingly alone. She sat in her room grieving the way she knew how to grieve…by herself watching the same shows she did as a kid. And at that moment Vision walks in to comfort her. An android who has no idea what loss is like…no way to fathom the heartache Wanda was feeling. But Vision…in his inhumane glory spouts off the line that millions of people will quote forever when talking about the loss of a loved one: “What is grief, if not love persevering?”

That love is ever present in our lives, and if we don’t take time to pull ourselves out of harmful funks, we’ll forget what it’s like. We’ll forget that it is love, and become angry and cynical. The only emotion associated with them will be negative…and that’s far from what they would ever want.

So “empty” days that are neither sad or incredible are always just what the doctor ordered. Healing happens second by second, minute by minute…hour by – you get it. It happens at it’s own pace, there’s no need to rush it and run head on into a seven hour session of tears…and there’s no need to avoid it altogether. You find a happy medium, and distract yourself when it gets to be too much.

There’s no right or wrong, there’s just…you. And how you want to do it.

I waste my time reading about MMA stats and comic book characters. You might pick something much more interesting…it’s up to you.

Maybe in the future I’ll talk about some of these interests more in depth…like do an entire episode on them or something. We’ll see. Until then…I hope you have a good day.


So a lot has changed for me since beginning my original blog.

First off…I turned 30. So, that sucks. My back hurts all the time and I’m perpetually wondering what death will be like. But honestly, I did that when I was 16 too…so, nothing changed there.

I used to think that turning 30 would lead to downward slide…like my life would snowball in excitement…going from interesting to “I enjoy watching Jeopardy and reading books before bed.” But it hasn’t been like that at all…mainly just flat. Like a day old soda you forgot in your car. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s definitely not as fresh.

But the next big thing that has happened since turning 30 has been that I found out that I’m unhappy. Well…let me rephrase. I started to realize that I’m unhappy and that I lack something that brings me joy on a consistent basis. It used to be music…and I think that still helps me, but it also lost it’s shine over the course of the pandemic. And I say that only because I didn’t miss it that much, which helped me realize that maybe I’m missing something else a lot more.

And that something else is writing.

Before I get too far into this part of me, let me re-introduce myself to anyone new here: I’m Justin, and I initially started using this website as a place to share all of the random thoughts I had about the random interests that take up my day to day life. But…like most things, it fell off and just became a dumping ground for my depression and writing I didn’t want to show off. Which honestly…isn’t fair to me.

Because if there’s something I’m happy with myself about…it’s my writing. I found out after my mom died that I could funnel thoughts onto paper in semi-coherent ways…a pen acting like a translator of sorts, allowing me ways to voice my frustrations with life, with family, myself…with God. I don’t say that often, but what person loses a mother and DOESN’T get mad at God? It seems only natural, and I know God doesn’t blame me for it. I think in a way, He opened up my passion for writing because of those frustrations. Imagine not having a space to vent and having to find different ways to take out my anger…what kind of person would I have become if not for writing? If not for words?

I don’t know, and frankly…I don’t have to. I’m the person I am because I do what I do. I come to this website and write my thoughts out onto a blank canvas…the clicking of the keyboard my defining opus. I write with conviction because these are my thoughts, and my thoughts aren’t wrong or worded incorrectly…I don’t have to cite my sources or back up my thoughts with quotes from scientists…I can just write them down. There’s a peace of mind that comes with that…a soft comfort in watching a blank webpage fill up with words and a lot of ellipsis.

But I lose my place from time to time. I forget that I have this space…designated just for me. So I leave, and I come back when I remember to unload all of the burdens my heart feels. I don’t talk about them often…or at least not like this because I never know how my friends or family will respond. I mean…I know how they’ll respond. By telling me that things aren’t that bad, that my life is full of blessings. And they’re right, it’s not and it is. Granted they don’t ever really say those words out loud…but they act as reminders that I shouldn’t be taking the time to write out these thoughts because maybe they aren’t valid.

And I know I said it before…but I need to know that they are valid. If there’s something I’m wholeheartedly an advocate for, it’s that how you feel is always valid. Emotions are tricky, and sometimes they don’t make sense. What you feel is what you feel, and allowing yourself to feel however you feel is OK. It’s even healthy. At times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an expert by any means…I just have my own life experiences to draw from. I know there are very dangerous thoughts and feelings that could lead people to do harmful things…and what I’m saying about allowing yourself to feel those might be counterproductive. Again…not an expert. BUT, I know that by invalidating feelings or gaslighting yourself and in turn suppressing those emotions can lead to more extreme cases in the future. It’s a cause and effect thing really.

I’ve realized lately that talking about my own mental health is good for me. Well…writing about my own mental health. But yeah…in turn through the podcast, talking about this stuff is good because it helps me put into word then to voice the thoughts that constantly run through my head. And lately, dealing with loss has had me become largely introspective again, asking the questions that have always plagued me: what do I want to do with my life? Why am I settling for this or for that? How can I incorporate things that I’m passionate about into other things I’m passionate about? Or…simplifying it: how can I turn the things I enjoy into a platform that people will want to connect with? And honestly, I had no answers to any of those questions. And I still don’t…I think? Or maybe I do? Maybe I thought of it while writing this. Talking mental health and sob stories and being emotional…all of that speaks to me in ways that I feel could be helpful to others…and maybe that’s my purpose with this new podcast. Which…you are currently listening to. I hope.

All of my life…or rather adult life…I have reveled in being the one friend out of all of my friends that can help people get through grief. I don’t know why, I just like it. It’s a pride thing probably…that they feel that I somehow traversed the way through those dark moments of life and came out healthy enough to give them advice. That maybe I didn’t lose my way and didn’t get damaged…and I’m happy to help them. I may think they’re nuts for thinking that, but they don’t see me in this place often. I used to think that I was broken…that if people saw the true side of me that I kept locked in the dark they would realize that I’m not the person they should go to for advice.

But then I thought…maybe that they SHOULD see that side. If I can present myself as normal to them, then my time in this place is the remedy others could use to find their own light out.

I don’t know…I could be suffering from delusions of grandeur…thinking I’ve figured out some hidden secret in dealing with the cold parts of life. But at the end of the day…we’re all just trying to figure it out. The secrets I figured out might work for you, or they might not. Or maybe they help you find your own secrets that help you through whatever it is you are looking to get through. This time on earth is limited…out of the billions years that existence has been or will be a thing…we’re here for 80 of them. Not all 80 will be good…but we can work to make the majority of them ones worth remembering.

So, I’m going to keep doing this podcast because I think in a way it’s necessary. If not for you listening, then maybe for someone else you know. Again, I’m not an expert in any thing other than my own thoughts and emotions…but maybe something I say in the coming episodes can help however it can.

Or at the very least you can make fun of me for mispronouncing words and stuttering every once in a while.

So I started a Podcast

Hi everybody. It’s me…Justin.


Anyways, for those of you who have been checking my page constantly, here is a new link for you:

It’s my podcast. Now granted…it’s a podcast I make out of posts I put on here, but it’s still something. I like using it for mental health checks…and think I’ll start doing that more often. I’ll talk openly about my thoughts and what not, and hopefully help others along the way.

So, if you get some time…check it out.

Want and Needs

Well hello there.

I’m back already. I figure I can work on myself the more I allow myself to sit behind a computer and write about things. It clears my head, reminds me why I enjoy it so much. Why I like feeling this way…this disconnected from life but somewhat connected to things outside of myself.

None of that may make sense, and I think that’s OK. At least…maybe it is. I couldn’t tell you what’s OK or not OK, or if I’m even OK to begin with. I work to be…strive to be. But, it’s all relative really. I feel fine but maybe I’m not, and I feel like it’s honestly OK to not be right now. This past weekend we celebrated the life of another family member lost way too soon…a woman who acted as another mother to me, watching over me during the times in my life that I most needed guidance. And I didn’t always listen to her, or seek her guidance out…but she was there. Through every holiday, every family event…she showed up and let me know I didn’t have to be alone. Ever.

And honestly…I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I have a large collection of people who never let me feel alone, or unloved. And that’s such a blessing.


Sometimes it feels like a curse. And this is where I start to sound ridiculous: as if having a backing of friends and family who allow me to feel needed and wanted and constantly loved is at all a burden. And yeah, writing out that way does make me seem ridiculous, but it also needed to be said, because I invalidate my feelings so often because of it. Because I recognize the areas that don’t make sense in my head and stop myself from feeling things even though I do need to feel things in order to outgrown them…to leave them behind. Instead they sit bottled up and I say to myself “why do you feel like this when you could call literally any person in your phone and have them around to not let you feel this way?”

And that kind of thought process is what hurts me the most. It hurts true understanding and growth I think. Like, have you ever been mad for no reason? Or sad for no reason? You sit back and ask yourself “why? Why do I feel like this?” And the more you ask, the more you realize it’s for no reason and you shut it down. And you could say “yeah, that’s good. You shouldn’t be upset for no reason.” And sure…I guess that is only logical.

But we’re not logical all the time; sometimes we experience emotions we don’t quite understand…no rhyme, no reason…just emotion. And man…sometimes I just revel in those. I NEED those moments. I feel so numb all the time, so disconnected from the world at large…but those moments of raw emotion untethered to any real experiences remind me that I have the capacity to feel things.

And maybe I shouldn’t say “untethered”…because there is that one law of thermodynamics right? That energy is constant…that it can’t be created or destroyed but rather just transferred in it’s original state. If we think about it that way, maybe these random spurts of emotional baggage are transferences of previously stored emotion…things we need to transfer away from us in order to syphon new and healthier energy into our minds.

You could kind of say this is the same as confessing sins…the stain of which remains constant, stored in our souls until we transfer that burden to a priest, who then transfers that to God who converts that energy into grace.

We carry these sort of burdens with us as we move through life, and we just hope that when that stored energy returns to us, it’s returned in ways that we can handle. The comeback is inevitable, and I just hope these spurts of depression or anger aren’t meant to be anything but spurts of energy just seeking a transfer.

So, what’s the point of all of this? I don’t know. I say it often, I’m never sure what my points are when I start writing…I just write. I let myself explore my thoughts as they come to me in order to hopefully make sense of them as they are written down and processed onto this website…and now podcast I guess. I find that speaking the words I write make me sound so much more intelligent at times. I mean…I think everyone feels that way when they actually plan out what it is they are going to say. But, honestly at the end of the day…I do this stuff to help myself remember how things are, so that if and when they are the same in the future I can read or listen to these posts and remember that I’ll get through the next thing too.

My whole life has felt like a wasted opportunity…I look back on so much regret and just wish I had started this process of giving my thoughts a true voice sooner. Talking, even though I’m decently introverted, brings me contentment…maybe even makes me happy. I enjoy this process…I wish I could speak on other things…but lately these types of entries are all that speak to me. And you know what? That’s OK. I want to do it…and frankly…I need to as well.