100 días de soledad

arte

Where do you find strength in yourself when nothing else seems feasible?

I’m angry. I’m upset. I’m hurt.

The past month has been hell for me; teetering between happiness and sadness where the latter most certainly outweighs the former. I’ve been desperately searching for the rainbow after the storm but with the current state of the world I’m in the eye of the hurricane.

It’s so hard doing this alone, in isolation, dealing with a heartbreak amongst other things- I feel so dejected.

I’m hoping and wishing for better days ahead, because right now I am fighting.

***

It’s peculiar how people you’ve known for a lesser amount of time will be the first to ask you if you’re doing O.K., more so than people who’ve known you for quite a while.

Something about the compassion of a stranger makes pain bearable. It shows that feelings of loss and lament are universal. But it will always be difficult for me to respond to someone’s unrecognized kindness because of a natural hindrence to unfamiliarity. However, I will always be grateful for those who go out of their way to do so.

These days have been so challenging, trying to remember who I was and who I ought to be. I can’t but help listen to the inner demons within myself, pulling and pushing between the positive and negative. Every morning is a struggle to find peace but by nightfall I feel I have won the day. What I want to say to myself is that anxiety won’t get the best of me, and in crucial times like now, I will overcome what will one day be just a horrid memory.

I have done it before and I will do it again.

For the first time in my life I am addressing my mental health issues publicly and I don’t really know what to tell you besides to seek help, invest in therapy and open yourself up.

It’s been about a month since I’ve started seeing a psychologist and I’ve never felt so exposed. But sometimes revealing your most inner thoughts can almost feel like a fresh of breath air- you no longer have to have the war within yourself. I realize that I am broken, but I am trying so hard to piece myself back together.

In this journey of self help I couldn’t be more grateful for those who’ve I tried to push away or hide things from. In particular, a set of three friends and my immediate family, who’ve received the worse end of it. Despite my failures, I know that I am truly loved and cared for in the midst of this crisis. I mustn’t project my doubts to those who watch over me, and I shouldn’t be so negative towards those around me.

Everyday is a battle to learn to love life again. The toxic distractions of the world are at halt and I face my true self; I am alive and I am breathing. Sometimes, that feels enough.

 

For the love of Sports

dodgersbaseballThe year the Astros stole the World Series from us was the year I fell in love. He sat at the bartop of our local pub, taking a shot every time Cody Bellinger hit a home run. I was appalled and attracted at the same time.

“Bomb for bomb” he said, and the next thing I know I was chasing Jaeger with Guinness and Irish cream in unison.

We were animated. For the love of our team, for our boys in blue who were going to gives us a title since before we were born. He looked so good in his custom white jersey and his name embroidered on the back with the number 10. I’ll never forget. The Dodgers were hot and our rookie outfielder gave us reason to celebrate. Game after game, we met repeatedly at the bar and every time we went home with each other.

I always think of that one World Cup commercial where couples are shown in the delivery rooms of hospitals expecting their first child. Throwback to nine months earlier and it’s the same couple celebrating their country’s team winning the whole shebang.

I was living it. Sans baby. Sans title.

This post season was truly a special one, not because of Justin Turner’s walk-off homerun against the Cubs nor because of Puig’s bat lick; but because I finally met my match. Someone more theatrical, more exposed to any sport knowledge than I would ever know. The captain-MVP-all star-player to this team of two. The Dodgers became our bonding point.

“He’s so easy to talk to,” I thought and our series opened with a win thanks to our ace. Everything was going right.

His birthday fell on the second leg of the series and what better way to spend it other than in downtown? October is the best month for sports, and I say that as a borrowed statement from my whirlwind lover. We celebrated at the center of it all in LA Live and as fate would have it, the Lakers were tipping off right across the street. The Dodgers were up in the sixth inning and out of drunken confidence we left the restaurant we were at and bought tickets to the basketball game. 

All of Staples Center were watching the Astros come back from a two run deficit. You either saw the game from the televisions in the suites or on the apps of others’ phones. For a moment you almost forgot that you were at the Lakers game because the crowd was cheering for base hits during regular timeouts. Nothing was greater than seeing fellow Angelenos share the love for both teams and seeing my own love develop for this  fascinating man. As I sat beside him in the stadium, I felt my heart growing three sizes that day.

I blamed the Game 7 loss in the World Series on him. He is notoriously known for bringing bad luck to our teams every time he’s in attendance, and he was at Dodger Stadium that day.

Turns out, it was just the no good-dirty-rotten- sign-stealing Astros fault. I have since forgiven him.

The day that Lebron James became a Laker we playfully then aggressively bantered over LBJ and Kobe Bryant. Don’t get me wrong, I am loyal to the purple and gold but Lebron was my guy after he rebuked “shut up and dribble.” He bought me my own white jersey and took me back to downtown where it started.

With a last name like Figueroa, how can he not be attached to Staples Center?

I learnt of Kobe’s passing through him and we shared an unrecognizable grief together. Time stopped, traffic remained frozen, and the heart of the city was gone.

Soon enough we stopped arguing over who was the greatest of all time and started arguing over who was spending less time with who. I said to him, “you don’t care about me” and he said “that’s all that I do.”

At our best we were perfect, but at our worst we were a disease.

The last day I saw him I knew the relationship was over. I had gone to his house after a soul cleansing hike through Griffith Park. I needed air, my mind losing touch with reality. He stood there somber in his hallway and my gut already sank to the bottom of the floor.

I cried until the tears couldn’t pour out any longer as he painfully told me that he was unhappy. For the first time in two years we couldn’t look each other in the eye and somehow our match made accord wasn’t enough anymore.

It wasn’t a perfect relationship but he was easy to love. Together we never shared a winning season but had a good run. In retrospect, it was great while it lasted, but I hope the Dodgers and Lakers will see better days than us. For the love of the team.

Greatest of All Time

kobe-giannaBorn from the stars, he graced us with his presence in the form of basketball. An entity that transpired between worlds of what was ordinary and what was extraordinary. A figure that defined life inside the paint and outside the three-point line. When Kobe Bryant died alongside his daughter in the most unforgiving way, it was a cruel reminder that this God sent creature, was in fact, human like the rest of us.

It was a measure of immortality and in the twisted theatrical comedy of life, he reached his eternal marker through his death.

Tens of thousands gathered, and continued to gather, around Staples Center and across the south land to mourn and grieve his passing. The House that Kobe Built.What he accomplished in his career as a NBA athlete had posterized already him but what is left to come will forever be in the remembrance of his name; a bronze statue, an induction to the Hall of Fame, a myriad of post-humous murals- anything to remind us that this legend will never die.

My relation to Kobe was small, but significant to say the least.

I followed him in the golden years of his career- after the NBA titles, after the torn achilles, after the 80-point game; rather, I saw him when he once clocked in a total of nine minutes of playtime and was seen more in designer suits than in the beloved purple and gold jersey. I spent a short while at a sports blog as an intern, really learning the game of basketball for the first time. It was no longer a game of who can make the most baskets but a matter of who got the lob and how many fast breaks or turnovers occurred in a single game. In his golden years, I saw him as a mentor to our once young core.

Before I really got into sports the Lakers and Dodgers games were just something played as background television noise while I helped my mom with dinner. I knew who Kobe Bryant was because the way he played would affect whether or not it was ok to talk to my dad at the dinner table. If I heard profanity, it was a warning sign but if I heard clapping and the “there you go!” peace was in the household. The same way Eric Gagné would pitch a successful or unsuccessful inning. I was a child, and I remember seeing my dad so excited and so angry over these games that I somehow out of his three children ended up being just like him when it comes to the matter. So in love with a team, so loyal and hurt over these wins and losses.

When I found out about the passing of Gianna Bryant, I was gutted. In some ways her relationship with her dad reminded me of my own. I felt a strange connection with the father daughter duo going to basketball games and watching their favorite players. As I got older attending these live sporting events with my own father became the bond that only him and I share in the family. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow a connection with him through the Lakers and through the Dodgers and through the Rams. When his coworkers ask if he’s taking his son to the game he responds, “No, my daughter.”

Kobe said he was proud to be the father of four girls and said he was a girl dad. I found comfort in knowing this. Sharing a love for the game with your child is a treasure that any parent would ask for. It’s been five days since their deaths and I still find myself with an unrecognizable grief. I ache in thought of what Gigi could have shown the world in women’s basketball and how her fadeaway jumper mimicked that of her father’s. To lose a soul so young.. it will never make sense.

This one is for you Mambacita.

 

Sports Culture

No one asked for my opinion on sports but here it is anyways.

FOR ME recreational activity that included any type of ball movement or hand eye coordination was something only posterized in U-12 AYSO action shots. Athleticism was never a describing characteristic nor a passion. But in the past four to five years, having not played a sport since I was 15 (I’m 26), I became a spectator and ultimately, a consumer in sports capitalism.

In the first half of my twentieth century decade I admit I was only interested in sports because I was day drinking at live events with ex boyfriends. But now in my middle aged twenties I can truly affirm that I love the Rams, I love the Dodgers, I love the Lakers, I am torn between Real Madrid and Juventus; I hate the Angels, I hate the Warriors, and I absolutely hate with all my heart FC Barcelona.

Now its hard to break away from that “she only likes that team because that’s her boyfriend’s team” thing BUT a girl is trying.

I would like to say however Los Angeles teams are very near and dear to my heart, refer to Los Angeles, I love you.


In the beginning, God created man. Man in return, created football. Yes, American football and yes, fútbol. Man then became obsessed and confrontational in pop warner and then in high school and especially in college. When that wasn’t enough, man gave us the NFL to help every other grown man express their emotions by crying, laughing, hollering, and even degrading their professional football team or becoming a professional athlete.

As you know, in many ways the National Football League is problematic. 1) It turned peaceful protesting of police brutality into messy ass drama that has since been misconstrued indefinitely. 2) It has a very lenient protocol on misogyny and harsh punishments on cannabis. 3) It has proven brain damage in its athletes across the board and now is endangering retired professionals into obesity.

The list is mini but also mighty. Oh and lets not exclude how NFL cheerleaders are also underpaid and overworked. If dancing/cheering has always been side by side with football, then why don’t cheerleaders earn a living income when they go professional?

But the game must go on. For the people. For those who believe in faith, family, and football. But I digress. Once the Rams made it to the Super Bowl, I was the first to post on my my story about how we deserved this after a brutal call in last year’s playoff game against the Saints. I was also the first to to be the “WooHoo” girl in Denver against the Broncos when my boyfriend’s family didn’t know what they were getting into when they invited me. Not to mention, I was also on the cusp of kicking some Eagles’ fan ass when she kept yelling WHOSE HOUSE after they beat us at home when they weren’t even nearing the postseason.

***

The NBA, however has treated me differently. When the Lakers starting five once consisted of Tarik Black, Jordan Clarkson, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Jeremy Lin, I was writing game recaps for an internship I don’t even know how I got. For the most part it was written word vomit as I didn’t quite know how to organize my thoughts just yet. But I became very decent at writing briefs on player’s haircuts. When I worked at a restaurant during Kobe’s last game, my tables and I bonded over what essentially became his Yard House retirement party. The shots were ordered, the 60-points were dropped, the tears were flowing from the bar patrons. Is was the ending of one era and the soon to be beginning of anew. The day we drafted Lebron James, most of Los Angeles was torn down the middle but I was ecstatic. Thank you LeBron James for exposing America for what it is. Athletes are citizens of this world and have every right to express their views, so please continue to negate how players should just “shut up and dribble.” LBJ has provided more opportunities for students in Akron, Ohio than the president has to this country, i.e. Betsy Devos. And dare I say, he’s even reigniting showtime in the purple and gold?

***

Honestly, I don’t even want to talk about the Dodgers.

***

Last but not least, the sport I love most, soccer. Or maybe just Cristiano Ronaldo. And maybe just European soccer after-the-fact.

I lived a good life being a Real Madrid fan. Things were simple and easy-going, los merengues were winning back to back to back Champions League, and hey, even threw in a Liga title before Zidane made his debut. I attended a live game at the Bernebau and did the Ronaldo “SIUUUUUUU” when a last minute header saw the back of the net. I was in Spain when Portugal won the Euros against France. I had bragging rights over PSG, Juventus and Barcelona. But most importantly, I saw Ronaldo win his fifth Ballon d’Or.. rejected Messi’s quest for his sixth. I was happy. Enlightened. Euphoric.

Then like a soccer ball to the nuts, Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid to join Juventus… only months after scoring a bicycle kick against their beloved Buffon. But I can’t hate. The Italians were in the stands giving the GOAT a standing ovation. A spectacle and contender for UEFA’s Goal of the Season. I was at a bar in Universal Studios with my Messi-loving boyfriend, I was losing my sh*t.

Now we (me) are Forza Juve, but still wish the best for Madrid. Still have no luck with my Mexican national team. But things are looking up in L.A., considering what LAFC has cooking up next season….


What is a true fan? What separates a know-it-all “name me five players” from someone who genuinely cares about a team’s advancement towards a championship? The answer is class. Sometimes fans aren’t born into families where sports were practiced every weekend or had parties for the Super Bowl. Sometimes we tag along a little later in life and we learn by watching, listening, and even reading if we never had those opportunities to physically play growing up.

I love sports. I love it so much that sometimes I still cant believe that I actually give my money to these people. It

Below is an actual video of how it feels like to talk to me when discussing sports.

 

Down in Louisiana

From the still bayous to the red clay farms of Louisiana, from the end of the Mississippi River to the nearby edge of Texas, down in New Orleans and up to Shreveport- the south is undeniably.. a paradise.

Not for its obsession of Chick-fil-A or football, nor for it’s love of the onslaught of innocent animals, but for its simplicity of life in the sweet state of Louisiana.

After a weeks worth of time in the two polar cities, the south had confirmed what I already knew, that I am and always will be, a city girl.

But in retrospect, I am thankful to have gotten so far away from all the noise of New York.

 

Shreveport was the city to wake up to. Late October rain fell throughout the neighborhoods in ready preparation for the town’s upcoming Halloween festivities. Overnight you somehow knew that the deer were traveling back to their nests and the other furry critters were curled up in a hole somewhere. An early morning sunlight broke through whatever clouds were left over and exposed the precipitation hanging onto splinters of grass. The roads were long, the streets were empty and all the lifted trucks slept through the night before rattling their engines again in the morning. It was a place for comfort.

What I learned in Shreveport was the importance, and necessity, of valuing your family. And in this particular experience, the bigger the better. Nothing was better than spending time with your loved ones in an intimate setting… even if it was at an ax throwing bar… or Deja Vu. Nonetheless, the four-generation of the Figueroa bloodline was enough entertainment already. 

In the Big Easy however, I died and resurrected again night after night thanks to Bourbon Street. When in Louisiana, you must do as the Louisianians do and that is drink copious amount of daiquiris until you see your shrimp and grits regurgitated in the bathroom. But one must go on if you were to go to the Superdome the next day, which we did. As on honorary Saints fan for 2.5 hours, I lost myself in the creole accent and you know I had to yell WHO DAT with the lady sitting next to me.

I was there for a good time, not a long time.

And if it was anything these ragin’ Cajuns knew, it was how to properly deep fry a gator. It was a blessing to taste food from where it originated. Nothing was better than the stuffed catfish and charbroiled oysters. A cup of jambalaya, a crawfish pie, a crab cake here and there washed down with a light beer of your choice- that was my paradise.  I would go back to Louisiana just for the food.

In my mind, an image of a tomato lives so loudly and vividly. I saw it painted on a square ceramic tile in a gift shop outside of the French Quarter. I stared at the image of the red little vegetable and its green leave stemming from its navel. I wanted it, I wanted to hang it up on my kitchen with the other hand painted tiles I’ve collected from Barcelona, Solvang and Olvera Street. I wanted it for inspiration to cook new meals and use the fruit introduced by my ancestors. The ‘creole tomato’ the only souvenir I wanted from New Orleans besides a beignet from Cafe Du Monde, the souvenir I never bought- now grows in my head rooting for my return.

 

Sound and the City

facetune_25-09-2019-23-20-24

I learned a new sound today. It was that between myself and the city.

The steps it took to march out of the subway into a new world;

The noise of a an unfamiliar chatter in a foreign tongue;

The music spilling out of each headphone setting the tone of my story.

A star crossed path in every corner,

I was impartial to its commotion.

 

Santa Barbara

I’ve been thinking about traveling lately and it came to my surprise I never divulged about my weekend in Santa Barbara.

For some reason those few days I spent in the central coast have been so vivid to me that California has been on my mind for days. Albeit I am already predisposed to yearn for my native west coast.

If it’s not for its rolling hills of green grass and sparkling beachfront views, then it’s definitely the laid back organic vibes that makes Santa Barbara, a paradise.

In the middle of February a storm was passing through Southern California, but we managed to dodge the raining bullets. Away from the traffic of the city, away from the commotion at home, away from work and everybody we know. We spent a weekend to ourselves, a staycation for our first anniversary.

In its fine detail of what is old and what is new, a Spanish town once thrived in the missions and avenidas that make up Santa Barbara’s etymology. The American Riviera of scenic landscapes that is too rich to describe but alluring in its night and day aura in an area that overlooks the Pacific ocean.

In comparison to it’s beautiful seaside housing, its downtown is just as refreshing as the crispy ocean air that glides through its corridors. Our simple night began with a bottle of wine bought from the Santa Barbara Winery, a Cabernet or Pinot Noir as our weapon of choice. For me, nothing is more intimate than sharing a moment with someone over a glass of wine; in any quiet space, in any outdoor setting, over a plate of food, whatever it is- wine is always a must. Of course however, one must transition to from red to white when seafood is involved, and seafood for me, is also always a must.

For quality and reasonably priced seafood, The Santa Barbara Fish House was our destination for dinner. We couldn’t resist the calamari nor the clam chowder, I mean come on, on beachfront cities you know you have to indulge in the ‘catch of the day.’ Cioppino for me, and spicy seafood pasta for him, a glass of wine each, all for under $100. I would definitely come here again. As I get older and become more bougie, $100 starts to seem like the adult $1. But I digress.

To retreat back to our 20-something crowd, we entered the Funk Zone, literally. It’s an area mixed with college students of nearby universities and locals who’ve never left after graduation but have managed to plant roots either through craft business or some other kind of work. This is where you come to bar hop on the weekends and eat greasy truffle fries when you’ve had one too many. We went to Figueroa Mountain Brewery, hopefully (or not) I didn’t drop too many hints there of taking that last name.

The next day we went to Solvang, the Danish Town. Ah, I was so pleased to come here on a cloudy weekend morning. To start my day off at a cute cafe drinking a vanilla latte, I was already in love with the little european town just outside of SB. Solvang is just so charming. It’s as if you were Denmark but in Central California. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours taking pictures of its giant windmills or buying little trinkets of nordic mythology and mosaic tiles of it’s quaint cottages. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Santa Barbara was just to see the American Danish Town in person.

The only way to send off our weekend was to have bottomless mimosas at a Mexican restaurant, which are plentiful in this city. And if you’re every in the next door town of Montecito, be sure to go to Lucky’s- a steakhouse of fine dining that makes you feel as if you were in a 1920’s Hollywood lounge.

Until next time!