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.

 

Brooklyn

BrooklynMeasured by blocks, but counted by the multitude of cultures, Brooklyn is what the city left to be untainted by gentrification.

How do I describe Brooklyn? It’s a host of prewar buildings with smaller neighbors in the borough itself. Some residential, some corporate, all connected by the A, D, F, Q, or R trains. I don’t know whether to call the homes houses or brownstones or apartments? A basement is an apartment but also the the private podiatric practice of an NYU alum. The other floors are duplex’s to be done with whatever the landlord pleases. It’s unique in every part, and probably just how you imagined it to be from the movies. Sometimes, when I’m crossing the bridge to Manhattan by train, I really think Spiderman is going to pop out of nowhere and rescue us from a bomb the Green Goblin placed underneath its tracks. But I digress.

In the middle of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood are three young professionals sharing an apartment together; a barista, a sportswear apparel agent and a broadcast associate. Between the Jewish, Chinese, African/Caribbean, Russian, Italian, Muslim, Irish, and Greek communities, a Korean, a Taiwanese and a Mexican live in apartment 3F. I’m told I got lucky moving into a rent controlled building with its own washer and dryer; I guess that’s the deal I made for having the smallest room without a window.

Geographically I don’t understand New York. My roommate explained it to me as “a floating island of trash and the homeless man’s toilet,” but I’m still speculating her observation. She was also the one who told me that I wasn’t a New Yorker until I get robbed.

New York is changing me and I don’t know what it is yet. Everything is moving so fast for me here that I don’t know what to anticipate next. Today is the Fourth of July and it’s hard for me to want to go outside and try to do something. Moving to a city where you don’t know anyone, or having the things that were easily accessible to you before makes even the smallest of tasks daunting. Mentally, I’m back at home but physically I’m on the other side of the United States. It gets lonely to be honest, but I’m trying day by day.

Brooklyn is home now and I’m here to make the best of it. I was so lucky to come to New York when I did, to work for a company that in many ways is a ‘legacy’ in my family. To be promoted within two weeks of starting work and to achieve what I came here to do; it’s unreal. In many ways, I’ve only known journalism; from writing a career report about Editor-in-Chiefs in eighth grade, to writing for my school newspaper in high school and college, to interning at a broadcast station in Los Angeles, to working alongside a senior producer in the number one market for journalism- it has been a journey. A lifetime in the making.

I never wanted to do anything on a smaller scale, I always knew it was either Los Angeles or New York, no in between. And now, these dreams are manifesting to be true. Sometimes I feel like I sacrificed everything to be here, but some steps are meant to be taken just to prove your worth.

New York, what are you doing to me!

Week 1, New York

ManhattanNew York. I sit in a slightly packed train cart, next to someone I’ll probably never see again, wondering which borough of this incredibly huge city they’re from. I sit and I look. I stare at the different forms of life; a business person, a teenager with his skateboard, a pair of friends, myself- from the reflection of the window as each stop zooms by. I think: New York. I finally did it.

I’ve decided to document my experience moving across the country and hopefully give some life back to this little blog. In many ways, the New York state of mind has always been near to me. I fantasized about an education at NYU and a summer at Columbia studying the impact of journalism when I was a teenager. I imagined myself a Carrie Bradshaw in my early twenties and constructed my own relationship with the city before I even met it. I looked, but never touched the big apple albeit the temptation was juicy. At 26, I finally decided to take a bite of the city and put matters into my own hands.

Now one week in New York, I still don’t know what to think of it. It’s rainy and I hate it. But I love it because the clouds clear and the sun shines through the buildings of Manhattan and the sky for a moment reflects a beautiful magenta hue, again I am enamored. The city is overwhelming. Grandiose in its facades and at times overcrowded, but the people of New York know where to go and where to be. They walk faster than I can run and are more focused than I can ever be.

Something about New Yorkers intrigue me. The east coast accent is almost music to my ears, like the hard beat of a hi-hat mixed with the slang of a rap song. The thick accents of a tongue inherited from generations prior fascinates me as much as the Puerto Rican or Dominican Spanish I can barely understand. Words are elongated, syllables are dropped and comes out a tune that I can’t stop listening to.

Someone once told me “There is nothing like New York,” and it stuck with me. Although I don’t quite have my bearings down (or a place to live yet), I’m not worried. I figure I’ll make the best of the city in my time here and eventually I can call one of these closet sized rooms home.

One week in New York and I’m afraid to start missing my friends and family. It is hard not to when your whole life is 2000 miles away but writing and the occasional FaceTime from my boyfriend always helps. Each hour feels long but the days are going by quick. Fortunately work helps the time pass and each day I’m looking for a second job. I try to remind myself that I’m here for the experience and here for the long term goal which is to receive the training I need to become a successful news producer. When the time is right, home is where I’ll go!

 

 

Best of Times, Worst of Times

librascale
(Source: @charmaineolivia)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was a blessing in disguise, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was a sign from God that it’s time for me to move on with my life!

The sign, you ask? I’ve been fired from my part time serving job.

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity!

As only William Shakespeare can best describe my melodramatic life, I continue to act in this play of treachery.

Okay, lets get real.

It’s been two and a half weeks since I wrote the above statement and revisiting the theme of ‘best of times, worst of times’ seems much more easier now.

In the time I was fired as being a waitress, I’ve been flourishing in other aspects of life. To best describe it, I would embodied it as the inanimate object of the balancing scales; not those of the Scales of Justice but more so as the astrological Libra Scale.

Where one side is heavy with grief and uncertainty, the other is loaded with prosperity and happiness. Under this righteous sign everything is balanced, where both negative and positive become equal parts.

It really was a blessing in disguise being fired. At the time of my employment I was harboring negative energy working as a server. I sacrificed sanity for money in a restaurant that only cares about making sales and customers that only care about happy hour. Weekends became a drag and it was affecting my day to day life. I was done with serving and it showed.

In the inception of this piece, reality hit hard and the symbolic door was slammed shut in my face. But to negate and underestimate life and its quirks is my own foolish fault; another door was begging to be opened.

At anytime I choose, I can be a waitress anywhere. But working for one of the nation’s top broadcasting networks has given me so much more, even though it is only part time and even though I’m used as a human traffic cone at times.

But life truly has a funny way of sending you messages and it’s incredible how it works. Just by removing the negative influencers in it you can see the positive impact on everything else.

For me it changed an outlook and it was the push I needed to commit to finding full time employment. Although my search for a career that provides benefits with a living wage is still in the unknown, I can sense it is nearing. But for the time being, I can focus on myself and my relationship and that’s all I really need to be happy.

So as it is I’m here to say that anyone in a position like me should cut out the bad and let the good flow in. Don’t force yourself to be compliant and do what you’ve been meaning to do before it’s too late. And if it’s one thing that everyone tells me, it is to be PATIENT. Oh, how I have much to learn on patience.