After five years of employment, I was granted a 4 week sabbatical to which we can add a certain number of vacation days. I stretched mine to five weeks and enjoyed it immensely. Leading up to this, I experienced feelings of inadequacy and believed myself to be under-skilled in my role. It may be part of a “mid-life” crisis that I think began at the beginning of this year. I wondered truly if this is what I wanted to be doing with my life, all the while battling addictions to a lifestyle long since left behind.
I needed a break from life and the grind so badly. During the trip, I resolved to do my best to smile and be kind to those around me and to continue to do so when I returned.
I started off visiting my parents and taking the train from the beautiful downtown Los Angeles Grand Central Station.
I traveled by train and sleeper car (best way to travel IMO) to my hometown, El Paso, Texas, a month before a racist would target my people and murder too many before he was stopped. Let me tell you, that affected me and made me feel that no matter what we do or how much we could accomplish or contribute to the United States, we’d never be loved or appreciated.
After that I went to San Antonio for the first time and stayed in the company of two of my beautiful cousins who graciously hosted and treated me like the utmost welcome visitor. We went to Paper Tiger and caught some live music by Haunted Like Human and the John Glenn Experiment.
The San Antonio Museum of Art was exhibiting “Men of Steel / Women of Wonder” like they knew I was coming. As a huge DC Comics fan, I was a Charley Bucket in the Chocolate Factory. So much to see, so much to wrap my eyes around, and all of it challenged the dominant narrative of what a superhero is and the form they take.
This is when the world wide heatwave of 2019 struck and I had to spend some extended time in my hotel room reading, sleeping, and watching TV. Didn’t mind a bit. That’s what vacation is fucking for.
I moved on to Austin and suffered the outdoors just enough to get a taste of the city and live music.
Next was Houston, one of the hottest parts of the trip. Exploring during the day would have been unbearable so, equipped with a flash on my camera and no fear of the dark, I wandered. I got to catch my favorite pitcher throw a great game in Minute Maid park.
I loved it. I caught a ballgame at SunTrust Field and smoked some of the best cigars I’ve ever had in my life. Visited the MLK Jr. National Historic Park.
Being on the road for a few weeks really made me miss my chosen home of San Jose and I came back happy. Went and saw a San Jose Earthquakes match and I also ventured to a part of Oakland that I’d never seen and was taken by.
After rooting for and watching them win year after year, I finally got my opportunity to see the United States Women’s National Soccer Team live before they head to the World Cup in France. The game was part of the Send Off Series and this was the first one.
‘Reluctance’ would mischaracterize how I felt about going stag to this match, but the feeling was akin to it. Since it was Mother’s Day, my friends had prior commimtments and I had just visited my family in Texas.
I bicycled to Levi Stadium and donned my San Jose Earthquakes t-shirt only to find no one else was repping anything except the Team USA gear. Among a sea of women (and a few male significant others) clad in white jerseys or other patriotic attire, I stuck out a little.
Sure I possibly exacerbated the feeling when I got caught lecherously staring at some fine ass ladies who then avoided eye contact, I admit it.
But I didn’t allow myself to feel self-conscious and enjoyed the game from start to finish!
The South African team was outmatched. Their opportunities downfield were few and the game was mostly played on their side of the field, with them defending against constant pressure by the US. When they did manage to cross the 50 yard line (what is it called in soccer?), they failed to do much more than take weak shots on goal.
I was surprised with how much hard contact I saw. With the cameras as far away as they are, it’s hard to appreciate just how physical the women’s game is. An American got her head checked after taking what looked like a shoulder right in her temple and two different South African players required either a stretcher or multiple trainers / doctors.
Holy smokes! Pay them already!
These dried, little mackerels (I think?) are one of my favorite snacks. They remind me of the harder parts of a salmon steak in texture, which I love. Not too salty, I was expecting more of that, and with a teriyaki flavor.
This is something I can only describe as fish bacon roast. It does not have any fishy taste to it, but not as brittle as bacon nor as dry as jerky. A perfect in-between. Same great teriyaki flavor as the mackerels. All three of them have this and it’s pretty damn good.
Fish jerky for sure. The equivalent of the moist, boutique premium beef jerkys except made of fish. The texture reminds me of sashimi. No fishy taste in this either. A light teriyaki glaze that doesn’t stay on the fingers. Very delicious and tasty.
One of my friends from college has struggled to make lasting and meaningful connections with people all her life. She suffers from loneliness while living out of her car. She gets passed up for promotions at Wal-Mart, despite having a four year degree and never missing a shift.
Some people get kicked while they’re down and have decades of encumbrances to ensure they never get back up.
For those individuals, Hallmark holidays can put an exclamation mark on what they don’t have. While the average happy human is flexing their logistical savvy to make Valentine’s Day a perfect experience, others say this:
Just another day, but with more reminders of love all around us, more than usual. Making Valentine’s Day inherently un-usual. And even moreso for those of us who’ve yet to obtain anything even remotely close to love. It rubs it in our faces, like salt to a wound.
Makes us long to feel what love must feel like. A fairytale dream that would be so wonderful, but it never comes true. And just when you think u’re close to obtaining it, your heart gets shattered into a million pieces. As though it’s no big deal, you’ll just get over it. But it is a big deal.
And it just sucks.
I’m glad it’s over.
2019 Bakersfield Banditos
|1||9||Aaron Judge (NYY – OF)|
|2||12||Manny Machado (SD – 3B,SS)|
|3||29||Khris Davis (Oak – OF)|
|4||32||Cody Bellinger (LAD – 1B,OF)|
|5||49||Andrew Benintendi (Bos – OF)|
|6||52||Lorenzo Cain (Mil – OF)|
|7||69||Zack Greinke (Ari – SP)|
|8||72||Blake Treinen (Oak – RP)|
|9||89||Masahiro Tanaka (NYY – SP)|
|10||92||Jonathan Villar (Bal – 2B,SS)|
|11||109||Wil Myers (SD – 3B,OF)|
|12||112||Dee Gordon (Sea – 2B,SS,OF)|
|13||129||Edwin Encarnación (Sea – 1B)|
|14||132||Kyle Hendricks (ChC – SP)|
|15||149||Eduardo Rodriguez (Bos – SP)|
|16||152||Yadier Molina (StL – C)|
|17||169||Tim Anderson (CWS – SS)|
|18||172||Cody Allen (LAA – RP)|
|19||189||Max Kepler (Min – OF)|
|20||192||Justin Smoak (Tor – 1B)|
|21||209||Adam Eaton (Was – OF)|
|22||212||Jon Gray (Col – SP)|
|23||229||Randal Grichuk (Tor – OF)|
|24||232||Marcus Semien (Oak – SS)|
|25||249||Shohei Ohtani (Pitcher) (LAA – SP)|
I have a tailor-made lifestyle I spent a long time figuring out. It’s not healthy and I’m not reliable, but I’m not in jail and I’m not dead.
Every challenge has made me better. Or worse in bizarre, humbling ways.
And while the pursuit of purpose or meaning in life is absurd, it is beautiful that we spend our lives finding it.