#32 Sequoia in Winter

01 February 2014 // Sequoia National Park, California

Earlier this week, Deanna and I decided on a whim to visit Sequoia National Park… like, the actual park and not just the forest. We also invited Ben to come along. In the back of my mind I anticipated it to be a little cold, but there turned out to be a lot more powdery snow and mist around the sequoias. We braved it anyways and visited the General Sherman tree. I really enjoy long drives and adventures in nature, so this was an excellent day trip.

#33 The Underwhelming Super Bowl

02 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Since I’d spent most of the recent Super Bowls outside of the country, I was looking forward to the American tradition of an invigorating Super Bowl party. Unfortunately, the lopsided Seahawks victory made the whole game fairly lethargic, but it was still a lovely, restful Sunday with friends, so no complaints there. Beforehand, I got to indulge my tastes for spoken word and to play around on the ukulele– two things I really enjoy that I haven’t gotten to give much attention to recently.

#34 Bakersfield After The Rain

03 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

This isn’t most people’s idea of a clear sky, but the air quality in Bakersfield had been absolutely horrible for about the past month or so. A little bit of rain did wonders in terms of clearing it up. On my way home from work, I decided it would be worth it to go out to Panorama Park and just enjoy the fresh air for a bit, at least while it lasts.

#35 Ben’s Teriyaki

04 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

My first truly busy day in a long time. After I spent some time mentoring, I went over to Ben’s house, where four of us met up to hear each others stories and have dinner. It was the start of a small group we’re hoping to hold every week, which is something I could definitely appreciate right now. Ben also prepared the dinner, which was some really good teriyaki.

#36 Home at the Crossroads

05 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

At first I took this shot because I liked the hinted X formed by the sidewalk right in front of my apartment, then I realized how indicative of the season of life that I’m in– a quiet, simple season in Bakersfield, but one that sits in between an incredible time in Santa Barbara and around the world and whatever lies ahead for me this year after Bakersfield. In the present, there’s simply a lot of peace and a chance to reaffirm my identity apart from the things I do and the places I go.

#37 Letter of Acceptance

06 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

While I was subbing at Hort, I got an email on my phone that I wasn’t expecting… at least for a few months. I found out I got into the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel Institute of International Studies– my dream school and one I wasn’t sure I would even make it into, let alone with a $24K scholarship. Later when I got home, I also found I was accepted by the University of Oregon, who also offered me money in the form of a Graduate Teaching Fellowship. Tough decisions lay ahead, especially if I should get into Portland State. In the meantime, however, its time to just celebrate admission.

#38 Bakersfield First Friday

07 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Finally got a chance to see First Friday in Downtown Bakersfield, the monthly event where artists and vendors sell their crafts on the streets. It was a fun evening, and we got to get drinks with our friends Stephanie and Darrell, exchanging conversations about travels and social work and nonprofits. It was my first “night on the town” in a long time, and I was refreshed to once again be able to feel a city’s energy.

#39 Garages

08 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

A simple Saturday as part of a long weekend was spent relaxing with Deanna, not doing anything that took up a whole lot of energy. It was a good recharge, since life had been getting more eventful lately, and a good part of a longer weekend. The sky over Bakersfield had also been a lot more beautiful than it typically is, so we made sure to take the time to appreciate that.

#40 Songwriting Sunday

09 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

There was a time when I used to write songs every single day… it was a great exercise and something I haven’t really done a whole lot of since that time. I decided to try and reenter the practice by spending my Sunday afternoon with a pen, paper, and ukulele (and pomegranate.) It is a lot harder to get into “the zone” without the regular practice I used to have, but at the same time, it was also fun to get to try and pick up this practice once again.

#41 Day Off at Dagny’s

10 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Having back-to-back long weekends is a really big treat. I had the opportunity to explore around town a little bit, and considering there isn’t a whole lot to Bakersfield, that quickly took me back to one of my favorite coffee spots- Dagny’s, where I ordered a coffee and got some writing done. Simple day, no complaints.

#42 Front Yard Grass

11 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

I’m now mentoring a kid… he’s a great kid and for our session this time, we built some rapport by playing a few games of Trouble out on his front lawn. Lucky for me he’s a board game fan. It’s a new experience for me, and I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I really enjoy spending time with him and being around his life. So far, it’s been a good start.

#43 Saigon Pho

12 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

After work, Deanna asked if I would like to get pho. My answer is a pretty predictable one. We had a good weeknight out. Being in a happy relationship means having her know exactly how I like my pho– small size, with all of the funky meat products present in the soup.

#44 Chuy’s

13 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Chuy’s is good for a well-priced happy hour, and so Deanna and I met with Stephanie and Drew for a double date out to the restaurant on a Thursday night. Lots of eating out this week for me, but I can’t complain. Food is awesome. So is hanging out and meeting new people.

#45 Moonrise Valentine’s

14 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

For Valentine’s Day, Deanna and I went on a little picnic at Riverlakes, a manmade, river-lake combo body of water. The picnic was nice, getting here before the sun set and staying all the way until the moon had risen upwards in the sky. It was a pretty spectacular item in the backdrop to be able to watch.

#46 Holly’s Tour

15 February 2014 // Goleta, California

For this trip to Santa Barbara, Miranda organized a quadruple date of doing a costal fund walk around the Devreaux slough. Holly, our tour guide, taught us quite a bit about Santa Barbara’s native plants. I didn’t realize I would be so interested in the information. It’s great being back in Santa Barbara, as usual. We also came to see Holly and Derek one more time before they moved away to Dallas.

#47 Santa Barbara Scenes

16 February 2014 // Santa Barbara, California

In the middle of a busy Santa Barbara visit, Deanna and I found ourselves able to climb up to the top of the courthouse and take in the view. I miss living in a place with the character of Santa Barbara, and feeling connected to the soul of a city. I suppose that time is coming soon, and it’s something to look forward to. In the meantime, I’m thankful I’ve maintained my ties to Santa Barbara and that we get to go back quite often.

#48 Guthrie’s Alley

17 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

One of the more interesting nooks around town is Guthrie’s Alley, a colorful corner of Downtown, which offers a few good photo ops. I spent most of my day off in Dagny’s once again, working on some photo editing and writing projects. A refreshing day off indeed.

#49 Olive & Airport

18 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

One of my most familiar sights, this intersection is the gateway in between home and work. It’s usually a chaotic crossroads, but it’s a portal to adventures these days. One thing I’m trying not to take for granted is the groove I’ve been in with some of the smaller details of my life in Bakersfield.

#50 Behind The Beautiful Forevers

19 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Finished Katharine Boo’s book, which had a bit of a clunky flow, but overall offered a really good look into some real life stories from Mumbai’s airport slums. The book read a lot like fiction, but it covered real, gritty stories. I got to spend a lot of the evening reading, turning my room into a mini-sanctuary.

#51 BCSD

20 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

I’ve been enjoying the perks of my job lately, namely it’s laid-backness at times. Today I was surprised to find that it was a late start day, not to mention that I had a pre-K class that got out around noon. In what was probably the easiest day of my year working so far, I got to enjoy a lot of peaceful moments that were very much needed in the week to come.

#52 Chris & Katie Are Engaged

21 February 2014 // Goleta, California

My dear friend Chris proposed to his girl Katie, making him the second of my housemates to cross the line. It’s crazy and fun to see how we’ve been growing up. Fortunately, I was able to make it to their engagement party by swinging by Santa Barbara for a couple of hours before picking up Matt to head for the Justice Conference in LA.

#53 Bernice King

22 February 2014 // Los Angeles, California

MLK’s daughter gave an amazing talk, drawing from her father’s legacy. She was one of several amazing speakers at the 2014 Justice Conference in L.A., which was a sweet event. Matt and I befriended a couple of coffee dealers seeking to revive the coffee industry of Haiti. The conference was definitely an inspiring weekend and I’m glad we went.

#54 The Arts District

23 February 2014 // Los Angeles, California

One of my favorite parts of L.A., and probably my favorite in terms of places to eat, is the Arts District. Matt and I came by on Sunday to grab lunch with Susie. Turns out everybody and their mother was out in the Arts District on this particular Sunday. We went to get lunch at Wurstküche, and happened to run into a video shoot of a Mini Cooper commercial right in front of the restaurant. It was a good time catching up, and Wurstküche is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. (As is the Pie Hole, which is actually photographed.)

#55 Honey Bunches

24 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Matt came to spend a few days with me in Bakersfield. We spent Monday night stocking up on groceries for the week– unfortunately for Matt, I have work this week, leaving him to fend for himself during the day. Then again, with all that we’re doing on the weekends surrounding this week, having a few days to chill around the house might not be such a terrible thing.

#56 Elementary Reading Selection

25 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

The titles of kids’ books always amuse me, but even more so with elementary level books from the 90’s. It’s partly because they’re so cheesy it’s hard not to get a kick out of their titles, but also in part because I grew up with similar books, and tacky as they were, triggered my interest in reading for good. Anyways, this was my source of entertainment for another day of subbing.

#57 An Evening At Moo

26 February 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Deanna, Matt, and I got to join Deanna’s old friend David at my favorite Bakersfield eatery, Moo Creamery. Good as usual, and their pickled tongue burrito hit it out of the park. Afterwards we went back to my place for some Settlers of Catan. To my surprise, and Deanna’s surprise, she actually kind of enjoyed the game after expecting to hate it. Sometimes, things work out amazingly in the end.

#58 Pho 22

27 February 2014 // Northridge, California

On our way to San Diego via L.A., Matt and I found a pho restaurant to get dinner. It had been a little while since my last pho run, and since I’ve been nursing a sore throat the past week, I figured the cure I needed was to have some hot soup and load it up with as much sriracha as anyone could handle. I’m still a bit sick, but I’d like to credit the pho with a significant percentage of my improvement, at least.

#59 Storyline Conference

28 February 2014 // Point Loma, California

I’ve been to a few good conferences, but I will say that the Storyline Conference was probably the most well executed of them all. It made a big crowd feel intimate, and rather than hosting an explosion of speakers painting big picture ideals, it paired the hype of a rally with some very practical elements to help attendees live better stories. Not to mention there wasn’t a bad speaker in the bunch. Hats off in particular to Jon Acuff, for making me laugh the hardest.

Philippe Lazaro365