Monday, September 24, 2012

Looking Forward

Last week I was blessed with a new “first.” For the first time in my life I had a surprise birthday party! In truth, I was the first to show up—but I was still surprised, and it was still a party, so hah!

Now that I’m 30 I feel pretty much the same as I did at 29. But since I have a view from the third floor I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a second to look forward. While making plans for life can be intimidating, the thought of having no plan at all is even scarier. No, this is NOT a bucket list—there’s plenty more I that I want to get into before I call it quits. Instead, I hope these can serve as landmarks or milestones for the next decade, which I expect and hope will still be as full of surprises as the last three. So, without further ado, I present…

“10 Things I Want to Do in the Next 10 Years

1. Peace Corps Colombia
For me, it’s always been important to balance looking forward with living in the present. With that in mind, I thought the first thing on this list should be what I’m working on right now. In addition to my work with Fútbol Con Corazón, I've gotten to help out a little with the Pre-Service Training of the new batch of future volunteers that arrived in country last month. I still have a full nine months left in my service in Colombia and I’m looking to squeeze all the juice out of this experience and finish it in style next summer.

I recently started studying to take the GRE, and will be taking the test at the end of November in Bogotá. It’s been six years since I finished undergrad, and I’m feeling ready to hit the books again. 

3. Get A Jobby Job
I’ve always loved my independence and mobility, especially in the work world. Still, I’ll be looking for an opportunity to contribute to an organization over a "longer" term. I want the next job that I take to be one where I stay for at least three to five years.

4. Visit 10 New Countries
I don’t look at the map of the world like a checklist to be run through. I’m more like a chubby kid with a sweet tooth standing in front of the candy wall at Sweet Dreams. If you asked me if I would rather have jelly beans or sour patch kids, I would answer “yes.” That’s pretty much how I feel about getting to see and experience new places. The number ten is a little arbitrary, but I’m thinking that one new country per year is doable. Here’s a snapshot of the possible destinations at the top of my list*: Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel & Palestine, Jamaica, Morocco, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Turkey.

5. Visit 10 New Cities in USA
The more I travel, the more I appreciate just how huge and beautifully diverse the United States is. I’ve seen a lot of it, but there is still so much more left. Here’s the short list of American cities I would love to visit: Anchorage, Austin, Cary,  Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, New OrleansSan Antonio

6. Learn a New Language
French? Arabic? Cantonese? Swahili?

8. Coaching Badges
I started my coaching “career” at a relatively young age, getting my first job at age 19. Since then, I’ve completed hundreds of hours of professional training and gotten years of experience in different settings. Looking forward, my goal is to continue to upgrade my coaching badges, aiming for a UEFA A License and the NCSAA Premier Diploma.

7. Financials
Money isn’t everything, but it damn sure helps. One of my goals for the next ten is to keep doing what I need to do to live good. Specifically, this means taking my credit score from "not bad" to "good," and saving a little piece of every paycheck, whether it comes in pennies or pesos.

9. Stay Healthy
This one needs the least explanation—basically, I want to stick around to make another one of these lists in ten years. Stay active… limit the stress… everything in moderation (including moderation).

10. Become a Daddy
Obviously, this is the big one. No specific plans yet, but I know that I'll be needing some juniors and/or juniorettes in my life. Now accepting applications for suitable candidates. In the meantime, I'll settle for being Uncle Drew.

And just in case you're worried that I'm all grown up now, I leave you with this final picture to put your mind at ease.

Pura Vida,


*I did not include France, Germany or Portugal on this list because, technically speaking, I’ve been there before. But in each case I spent less than one day in the country and did not stay overnight, so they hardly count. I would jump at the chance to get to really experience these places, just like I’d love to return to almost every country I’ve ever visited.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lethal Weapon

Disclaimer: this blog post does not refer to the Bay-Area based Hip Hop duo known as "Lethal Weapon" (Bumbalo & Menace Meat), but I do really like their music.

Next Tuesday marks a couple of important milestones in my life. First, I will be hitting the 3-month mark of my service in Colombia. So far I feel really good about how I’ve spent my time so far here, professionally and otherwise. It’s a big contrast from my service in Cape Verde, where I was a “regular” Peace Corps Volunteer. Nine out my first thirteen weeks in Cape Verde were spent in training. Then I relocated to a whole new island, city, and community, so I spent most of the next month settling in. As I approach the 3-month landmark as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, I am completely settled in my community, at work and at play. I've got a great group of friends—whether I'm looking to kick the ball around, go out dancing, or play some music.

The second milestone that approaches is my 30th birthday—or as my Colombian friend calls it, “the third floor.” As Tuesday approaches, I find myself quoting Lethal Weapon more and more, even when it’s not completely appropriate. What can I say? There are times in life—especially life in the Peace Corps—when the only thing you can say is, “I’m getting to old for this sh*t.”

I’m not complaining—in fact, I’ve never wanted to be any age other than what I am. Granted, some birthdays are a little more exciting than others. On my twenty-first birthday I got kicked out of Ben Nick’s for peeing in a bucket—not my finest moment, but I still maintain that the management overreacted. After all, it was a mop bucket in the supply closet, and the line for the traditional bathroom was exceptionally long.

In 2004 we threw the first “Official Virgo Birthday Party” at Club Q in San Francisco. The turnout was poor that year, but it laid the ground work for an annual event that would produce some very memorable evenings for me (and others). I spent my Birthday in 2005 DJ’ing the Sol Rebelz album release party at the Shattuck Down Low with J. Espinoza, Lunar Heights and The Attik

2006 was both the high- and low-point for the “Official Virgo Birthday Party.” That year I co-hosted a party with Bumbalo and Asa at 111 Minna Gallery—a sold-out affair billed as "Hella Fun Guaranteed" that ended a little prematurely and unfortunately. Ultimately, nobody was arrested—only temporarily detained—and nobody was (permanently) injured. Suffice it to say, it is NOT a good idea to pick a fight with a person or persons when everyone at the club has that person's back.

But, like I said: I’m too old for [that] sh*t. Since then, my life and my birthday parties have been a lot more peaceful. The 2007 edition was a nice little show with Bumbalo and Live Audio Explosion (L.A.E.) in Berkeley.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I did for my birthday in 2008, but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed myself. 2009 was dinner for thirty and cocktails at Vo’s Restaurant in Uptown Oakland. In 2010, Lita treated me to tickets to see “Fela” on Broadway. In 2011, I turned 29 at midnight, just hours after I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde. That was the night I adopted my doggy-daughter, Mia, whom we smuggled onto the plane the next day for our flight to São Vicente.

I may be getting too old for some things, but I’m still not too old to celebrate. The plans for this year are still in the works, but they should involve some combination of bongos, Club Colombia, salsa dancing, and friends. Pray for me!