I enjoyed my 2016. Like any other year, it was comprised of certain highs and certain lows: tragedy, death, prosperity, failure, pain, regret, success, growth, fatigue, and newness. However, I was in no way ever bored. In fact, I have never been bored in my life. My mom even commented on this once. “Sabes, mijo, que nunca te a oÍdo decir que estabas aburrido. Es una cosa impresionante. De hecho, yo te ha comentado cuando estabas chico que yo estaba aburrida, y tu me decias, ‘Como puedes estar aburrida? Hay tanto que hacer. Leer un libro. Ve por una caminada. Ve andar por bicicleta.’” I immediately thought back on my life when she told me this, and it was true. I was always involved in something.
Anyway, back to 2016. My cousin Pablo died. He passed exactly one-year after opening his own barber shop in South El Monte where we grew up. It was his dream, and he made it happen. He called it “Whoski’s!” It was the nickname given to him by his parents. He was Japanese-Mexican, and he was all pure heart. I was over the moon for him when he opened for business, and when I was in town, I always got a chop at his shop. He was like a little brother to me, and I loved him exactly like a brother. His death was the lowest point of my year. I miss him immensely. He now joins my cousins Jimmy and Hago. They were both young, too, and I miss them immensely, as well.
I have regrets. I regret not spending more time with my family in Los Angeles. They’re five-hours away, but life is relentless in wedging itself into every crevice of time, and so I’m left with the regret of not seeing them as often as I’d like. I will try harder this year, for sure. I need to see my niece way, way more! At some point, I’m going to have to be her soccer coach. I need to see my cousins, too. I’ve become too predictable in their absence. I need to regain the insanity they once provided for me. Good times!
I regret not seeing the other many people who are important to me. There’s Robert, Mario, Roy, Joe, Mando, Dr. Koon, Maggie, Susan, and Julie. I always say I will. I will not make any more excuses for myself. Again, I will do my best.
I have seen my daughters grow, and it has been wondrous. You could erase every part of my life before them, and I wouldn’t care. They are my life, now, and they keep me on my toes. Every thing I do is for them and through them. This will not change.
My wife Guen is the fine wine of our household. She has become better at everything she does, and she does it all with a positive attitude. I am lucky to have her, as are my girls Xaria and Iris.
My job is as good as a job can get. If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t, but since I do, Alisal High School is where I want to be. I love my students, and I know they love me. We need each other. They keep my young and up-to-date on all the latest slang, drugs, music, and curse words. I owe them a lot for this.
My soccer team has also been a constant for me in 2016. They have enjoyed relative success, and they have remained mostly happy and driven. There are always setbacks, but this is essential when coaching any team. In fact, it’s necessary. As always, we learn a great deal from every loss and failure. Fortunately, this hasn’t been a patter for us. We will continue our success well into 2017. I will do my best to see that they are successful in as many facets of their lives as I can. I love my boys!
My mom and her health has been a godsend. She continues to run and hike every day, and she has implemented Cross Fit into her regiment. I feel small around her, as she has the physique and health of a lioness. I both envy and admire here drive. I hope to inherit more of this as I age. She is graceful in this regard.
I’ve gained a few pounds this year, too. It’s only temporary, as I will, again, get back into shape. It’s just a matter of time (I hate time).
My brother and sister are doing very well, too. Juan continues to climb his personal ladder of success at warp speed. He’s great at every task he commits to, and he is humble with praise. Erica continues to be a great mother to little Siggy. She has embraced motherhood and committed herself to raising an upright girl. She is experiencing the challenges of raising a kid, and she is doing very well. I am proud of her. Of course, she has a great partner in my brother-in-law Michael. He’s a beast of a father, and Siggy is incredibly luck to have him as her father. I love Mike, too! He’s super cool.
I won’t eye-roll you with much more, but I should acknowledge that 2016 is ending for me on high note. As some of you know, we took our Alisal team to L.A., and we had an incredibly successful soccer tour there, beating some of the nations top teams. We did not concede a goal while we were there. But the high note comes from the rallying support of so many people that invested in my boys and donated the funds we needed to get our team there. It was breathtaking in every sense of the word. There was help from family, alumni, lawyers, doctors, teachers, friends, and radio stations, and strangers. It was remarkable to see so many people come together and invest in our cause.
A special thank you goes to Marcia Bonilla, who got the OC Blues to donate thousands of dollars worth of professional soccer gear and uniforms to our boys. I will be sharing some of it with Alisal girls’ team, too. Thank you, Marcia! Another special shout out has to go to NPR’s Krista Almazan. Krista’ All Things Considered aired a piece on the boys, and the response was amazing. Because of Krista and her show, the boys raised nearly $18,000, in three days! This has caused us to pleasantly redirect our philosophy when it comes to helping our soccer players with their SAT and ACT fees, as well as with college application fees. In short, the good people that helped my boys have opened new doors for them, and now it seems that most anything is possible for them.
I will forever be thankful to every person that donated to the team. I wish I could personally thank every one of you. Maybe 2017 will allow me this.
Anyway, thank you, 2016! You were everything I expected and then some. I look forward to meeting 2017. I’m sure she’s (I don’t know why she’s female) got a few tricks up her sleeve, as well.
Peace and Prosperity to all of you who! Be good!
El Poeta de la Gente