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.

 

Sound and the City

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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!

 

 

Weekend With Ricky

brooklynIn between four walls, a memory laid sleeping in my bed. He was long and statuesque, he made my small room look even smaller. He was curled up in between my bed sheets and what I was hoping for for months had finally manifested; my other half joined me across the country.

Albeit it only for a weekend, it was a weekend worth telling.

Perfectly imperfect, is a good way to describe us. A duo that lusts for each other physically as much as we do mentally. A duo that fights the hardships of long distance. In a moment of weakness what was ‘We’ almost became ‘Me’ and our story would have ended on two different coasts. But alas, we did not choose the easy way out.

Together we stand, divided we fall.

On a humid August day in New York my L.A. boyfriend brought his Mexican ass to Brooklyn. Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass we sat alongside the river at an Italian restaurant. “Wine with my Wino,” he said. And I smirked at his remark. It was the first time we had seen each other in two months, the first time being able to feel something tangible; the taste of lips, the smell of cologne, the softness of hair. He accompanied me in all the bars I wanted to visit and we made our way through Downtown.

A pair of lovers found themselves in the heart of Queens at a ballpark of America. His Quest for 30 became my new baseball adventure. A roaring crowd in Citi Field faced what could be a playoff berth and Ricky and I were there to witness the Mets defeat the Nationals. But our love for sports didn’t match our love for food that night so we twirled through the city and ended up in the East Village looking for a burger. Eight out of 10 he gave his professional cheeseburger connoisseur opinion on this “In’n’Out-Shake Shack” mash up. I ordered the Mac n’ Cheese balls.

In the middle of the night, I was overcome with emotions. My sobbing had awaken Ricky and he was holding me in his arms trying to sooth my anxiety. I didn’t want him to let go. In my moment of humility he held onto me until I was asleep again and just like that my protector made me feel like I was home.

He was scheduled to leave me on Saturday, but I coaxed him to stay with me for one more night. On top of my apartment rooftop was the skyline of Manhattan. Where we spent his last night sitting and drinking wine out of two plastic cups, listening to Jay-Z smoking Maryjane. There he was, my Dodgers-loving, Lakers-loving, In-n-Out-loving, Crossfit-loving better half, sitting next to me as if I never left. Under the night sky in Brooklyn a pair of lovers found themselves in, what else? In love.

I said goodbye to him at the airport, and my heart was completely shattered. I felt that I would never see him again even though I knew it wasn’t true. In a moment’s notice he was gone from me, and again he became just another memory.

#MeToo

metoomadrid
Mujeres En Lucha, Madrid

People ask me “since when were you a feminist” and it’s hard for me to give a definite answer. To be honest, I always defied feminism and never really cared for it. It was an ideology for others, but not for me- someone who had her shit under control. It just wasn’t for me; until is was.

Looking back into what seemed as an exceptionally ordinarily 25 years of life, I have always forgot that I’ve been a victim of abuse- not physical, but verbal. For someone who had her shit under control, this was one of it; compartmentalizing abuse in order to put on a facade as the perfect sibling or best friend.

I would first like to state that I can no way in shape or form relate to what victims of sexual abuse feel; I can only carry their burdens upon mine in a sense of solidarity. Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, hate discrimination are the real survivors and I can only try to understand a fraction of what they went through or are continuing to go through.

My story is masked in the fantasy of ‘the Latino boyfriend’.

In what I see now, I see that my type is ‘the prodigal son,’ ‘the baby of the family,’ the one who is protected at all costs; the youngest Mexican male in the household. He is the son to my maternal instincts, but the one who takes advantage of it all.

If you are Latinx, you might understand this complex. But that’s a different story to be told.

My abusers, have verbally told me I wasn’t good enough; That “I’ve been with prettier girls than you” or that “you and your friends are whores” and have been perpetually cheated on with the same girl or lied to me and dropped me off at home early because his parents said so when he really was seeing other people.

I would purposely leave facts out to defend my exes and never give my friends the full stories. Every time my mom would ask how we were doing I would always say “O.K.” but never mention how my ex drank himself into an oblivion and use me as his verbal punching bag. I never told my family or friends that my next ex would introduce me to drugs and have me enabling his addiction while giving him money for other expenses.

I have never experienced an adult, long-term relationship where I was not abused. In my twenty-fifth year of life I have had an awakening, and the truth of the matter is that my two previous relationships have fucked me up so bad that I don’t how to have a normal, healthy relationship. 

My ego, my confidence, has been beaten to the core that I myself am the most insecure when it comes to relationships. I don’t know what it feels to truly trust a man because I am convinced he has other intentions; I don’t know how to fully accept love because I’m afraid I’ll be swindled by instant gratification; I don’t know if I can be emotionally stable through the smallest of things to the largest of things.

I caught myself looking into signs of an abusive relationship when I was stuck in something I thought I couldn’t escape. I’ve ingested those signs but I’ve digested them in the worst way; I became the abuser. I adopted those habits of fragility. I latched onto their traits because it was the only thing that was ever close to me and the only thing closest to ever feeling love. I was young and absorbent, unbeknown to the world.

One day I discovered a small black magnet smaller than the size of a dollar bill. In it, in thin but bold pink writing were small bullet points that showed signs of an aggressive partner. I looked to it and said to myself, “I am in an abusive relationship.” And in that moment, I moved forward with my life. Those bullet points became literary, and somewhat, a set of ten commandments.

Someone needed to see that magnet- someone like me. I sit here and think: What were the chances of me seeing that magnet? Sitting at that specific person’s desk where it was placed? Interning at that place 40 miles from home? Applying to that internship I thought I would never get into?

It was the smallest of things that I put my whole life into.


I have since saved a picture of that magnet and below are the bullet points that helped guide me towards ending a very detrimental relationship. It didn’t happen fast and it definitely wasn’t easy, but these were the facts were worth fighting for.

10 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

  1. Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  2. Constantly putting you down
  3. Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  4. Explosive temper
  5. Isolating you from family or friends
  6. Making false accusations
  7. Mood swings
  8. Physically hurting you in any way
  9. Possessivness
  10. Telling you what to do

*These warning signs are provided by loveisrespect.org

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.

Left vs Right

newyorker
Source: @newyorkercartoons

In 2016 I voted in my first presidential election; albeit I had voter eligibility since Obama’s administration. I didn’t have an opinion, I was naive living in a bubble, and I intentionally chose not to vote in those years prior. Then in the election race heading into November of 2016, my bubble popped. My Mexican heritage, my life as a student journalist, and my female gender were infamously threatened by the now President of the United States.

I voted for a cause but lost to a country that cared more about an egocentric man. And the worst part of it is, is that I know people, my friends, who didn’t care about any of that. They didn’t vote left nor right, they did absolutely nothing; and its been eating at me ever since.

If my mother could leave her country and become a United States citizen at 25, and if my father could serve in the Vietnam War as a 18 year old Mexican immigrant, then what is stopping my peers who were born and raised American and who also had similar stories like myself, from voting?

With a heavy heart, I cannot give you an answer. In my inner circle there are some who are adamant about not voting and I just cannot comprehend it. They say “it doesn’t affect them” or “it doesn’t matter because whoever has the most money will win,” and every excuse is just another blow to my ego and maybe, even my heart. Sometimes I feel dumb for being passionate about changing their mind to vote because in the end I feel like I’m speaking to a brick wall. I’m lost in frustration and have an overwhelming feeling to forfeiting the fight.

In recent days this issue has been resting in the back of my mind like a trigger waiting to be pulled. It nests in a cushion of anxiety and I find myself distancing myself away from those trigger warnings. I feel scattered and at times just don’t know what to do.

How can I influence those around me to change there ideals and work towards something for the better good? The task has been difficult, especially when it comes to convincing my own friends and family. At times, cutting off ties with these people seems like the best idea but is it worth it ending friendships or relationships over the affairs of the state?

They say you aren’t supposed to mix friends with politics but the pushing and pulling won’t cease to end. So this is my call for help, how do I keep my sanity when those closest to me make me want to give up? How do I reach these people!

The Future is Near

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The one and only, Jillian

Summer 2018 almost went down in a spiraling hole down the shitter.

My professional life at a stagnant low had me waking up in the middle of the night fearing the same question everybody keeps asking me, “When are you doing with your life?” I awoke without an answer. I felt adrift, neither here nor there, nor close to anywhere. The anxiety spread and I felt that my career as a journalist had come to an end, that what I studied for all these years didn’t want me as much as I wanted it. I turned into a dejected, moody ball of bad energy. It was a fear that bled into my relationship and had me thinking that I have nothing to offer for the future of this relationship. My summer turned into a cycle of working as a server three days a week so I can go out two days a week and spend as much time with my love in between.

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

Alas in my summer daze of unworthiness, I received a call that I’ve always wanted but never received- a job interview. In a month’s long process I drove back and forth from Los Angeles for a series of interviews and rescheduled appointments. I waited weeks in between each meeting, unaware of my standings with the company. My night terrors became worse as I put all my cards on the table. The anticipation killed me. And then in front of my eyes, there it was- a job offer. An email that sent me flying. The beginning of my career.

Albeit the profession is a part-time job in the entertainment industry, it is just an arms length away from their news broadcast center. This is what I’ve been waiting for, at foot inside the door of a media corporation that I could hopefully test my skills into screenwriting as well. For now my mid-20’s angst is on hold but the new chapter of my life, is to be continued.

——

Just when I thought Summer 2018 was going to be a dud, another small gesture tugged at

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My wonderful boyfriend and I at the Dodger game

the strings that connect my heart. One day my boyfriend and his dad were changing the taillight to my car and when my keys were handed back to me there was a new addition; a small Dodger Blue key with the LA logo printed on its sides was now in my possession. And just like that, I had my own key to their house.

Another recurring theme in my life, besides the typical “What do you want do with your life?” is the other constant repetition of the question, “Jill, how are you and your man?” I mean, ask me again because quite frankly I love talking about my relationship. Still, it has me thinking- What is it exactly do the people want to hear?

Well as an update to my relationship chisme, a few weeks ago I found myself in the midst of a wine drinking party that I unexpectedly arrived late to. In the backyard of my boyfriend’s house his mother and sister-in-law were three maybe four bottles of wine deep and I was there to polish off a fifth.

In a drunken spell his mother shared the secrets of her son’s past relationships that I was too afraid to ask him myself. In what could have been gut wrenching awkward conversation, the ghosts of my lover’s past turned into a heart-felt moment between his mother and I. Behind a broken voice and tearful eyes she told me everything I wanted to hear from my significant other’s mother.

Sometimes when I feel down or insecure I think back on the moment to remind myself that in a jungle of scavengers, be a lioness. Be the hunter, and the killer.

 

Wino Forever

If there are some things I really love in life it’s my boyfriend and our mini weekend/weekday getaways, a smooth glass of Cabernet, and an even better meal accompanied with it.

This past weekend my boyfriend’s parents treated us to a staycation in Wine Country, Temecula. It was a complete bacchanal of varietel wine consumption and other gluttonous indulgences including a spontaneous visit to a rec clinic (sans parents) and death by overeating.

As a connoisseur for wine and charcuterie I’m surprised it took me this long to finally go wine tasting. But alas in the desert valley that is Temecula, I sipped my wine as bougie as I could be.

As anyone’s first time wine tasting, my boyfriend and I were more than satisfied from the first winery, Europa Village. His family and myself became members after the delightful server gave us more than she should have. She navigated our way through the different types of wine and gave us a tour from sweets and sparking, to whites and reds catering to our pallets. The men were hooked on a Port made partly with cognac while us women splurged a little on gifts.

We walked through the harvested vineyards and found ourselves in the spa area hours before our scheduled couples massage. In an instant we were already having dinner at The Gambling Cowboy and definitely overdid it with the medium rare steaks, baked potatoes, creamy mac and cheese and fried appetizers. Back at our own hotel room we unwound to Netflix and resinous extract of cannabis that ultimately paired better than the food and wine we were consuming all day. It was a perfect weekend away from life. Away from our normal surroundings, away from people.

In my 4-month old relationship things continue to change for the better. We are so malleable with each other it might seem a little excessive that we try to see one another every day; but when you feel that parts of you literally feel empty when they’re gone, then you could understand where I come from.

Even around his parents I always hope that I stand out from the others that have been in his life before. I hope they can see what I can feel and ultimately that we need each other. This trip I was able to really show my overdramatic yet humorous satirical side because I would rather show them who I am than be someone who blends in.

Again being hopeful, I can see this developing into something beautiful in the future.

25 and Alive

I’ve always considered turning 25 a midlife crisis. In my not so overdramatic state of life (sarcasm) I’ve been considering all the different routes it can take: I could pack up my bags and move to Spain and teach English. I could get my Masters degree. I could still be jobless. I could land my first career job. Or I could be engaged, who knows!

Alas, the road less travelled by could be my only option and whatever it is, hopefully it makes the difference.

On my 25th birthday this past 15th of May, I lived one of the best celebrations of turning a quarter of a century. My agenda was set and clear and my friends, family, boyfriend and his family all contributed to it. It was a perfect day catered to my needs in contrast to the organized chaos that was my Vegas trip ten days prior.

I worked out at 6 a.m., made blueberry banana pancakes and chilaquiles, experienced my first massage therapy session, laid out by the pool with my favorite sour beer, grilled burgers with my boyfriend, had wine and charcuterie with my girlfriends, shared an Italian dinner with my love, and finally came home to a cookies and cream ice cream cake with my boyfriend’s family. It could have been the bottle of Malbec we had at dinner, but I was definitely drunk in love. In love with the entire day and how bittersweet it was finally coming to an end. In love with the setting of being surrounded by people who really went out of their way to celebrate with me on a Tuesday. In love with feeling a part of a family other than my own.

As I age and notice a few differences here and there mentally and physically, the one right decision I’ve made so far was starting anew in the journey for love.

To be quite honest really, the only thing keeping me sane from the uncertainty of my life post-grad purgatory is the growing relationship between my boyfriend and I. Although my days are consumed by him I admit, my weakness is an inability to say no to him but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part of it I think is because we are both are learning how to communicate feelings with each other for the first time in a serious relationship. In our romantic growth I see parts of me in him and vice versa. In Vegas we had our first fight and it was a result of neither of us being on the same page. Standing in front of him, bawling my eyes out and trying to explain myself to him stripped me down to pure emotional nudity. But in that moment I knew how much this person would mean to me in my life because I knew I truly loved him, even in the midst of it all. I was hurting because I wanted to make him happy and he was hurting because he was trying to do the same for me, but mixed up in the emotional mess we both did something we didn’t want to do and that was fight each other. Finally, the conclusion we both needed to hear; that the problem is not between us two, the problem is only in itself.

Sometimes there are things I want to say to him that I don’t know how to articulate in the correct manner. So I come here and say the things I want to knowing he will read them later.  Everything I write, everything I think about somehow always goes back to him but in the most soothing of ways. In my twenty-fifth year of life I think I found the person who will change this life forever.