#1 Game Night at IKEA

01 January 2014 // Carson, California

A quieter life isn’t always a boring one. Last year was so full of adventures that it was often a challenge to take it all in. 2014 begins with no set travel plans, and a plan to move somewhere I don’t know yet.
But I kind of like it this way. Adventures aren’t necessarily about exotic locations or grand accomplishments, but they have more to do with a spirit of wonder.
So, on the first night of the year, I invited Chi and Andrew to join Deanna and I for a simple game night… In an IKEA display living room.

#2 We Bought a Zoo-11769917313.jpg

#2 We Bought a Zoo

02 January 2014 // Rancho Cucamonga, California

Deanna and I made it to Upland from Carson after a doctors visit and meandering around Burbank. It’s always an eventful time around her Aunt Sue and Uncle Mike’s family, and that was especially true this week.
First of all, it was Uncle Mike’s birthday, so we celebrated at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor with an order of “The Zoo,” a bowl of ice cream so heavy it needs to be brought out on a gurney.

#3 Congrats, Colin and Judy

03 January 2014 // Upland, California

Life has had echoes of transition all around lately. Not many have happened to me, but at the same time I feel like I’m surrounded by so many changes in other people’s lives that I realize I’m moving on to another stage.
Sometimes those echoes are very happy events, like this morning, when Deanna’s cousin Colin proposed to Judy.

#4 The Majestic Oak

04 January 2014 // Rancho Buena Vista, California

In the morning we visited the arboretum, a park in Rancho Buena Vista with trees and flora from all over California. My personal favorite was the majestic oak. One consistently beautiful sight anywhere in the world is the look of light leaking through openings in trees to illuminate the fog.

#5 Geocaching at Night

05 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Deanna and I went geocaching for the first time after we arrived back in Bakersfield. It was night, but there was a park right by her house that had one, so we went and found this cache hidden. I think this is the start of a new hobby for us, something to add to the repertoire of things we do for fun together. It’s pretty neat that, despite living in a place where every inch of geographical space seems to be overly managed or controlled, there can still be room for hidden treasures and a community activity that transcends all of that and reintroduces adventure and exploration. I think we’ll have some fun with this.

#6 Rhythm

06 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

This shot is actually a reflection off my car window while doing errands, and not a double or triple exposure. I went back to work today, and afterwards, ran a bunch of errands. I still had time to admire the clouds around the setting sun, though. Break was nice, as I’m a fan of breaking up a monotonous life. I do think we need some rhythm to life, though, and so it also feels good to be back in the swing of things. I’m happy to have a life that I don’t have much of a desire to escape from.

#7 Writing at Covenant

07 January 2014 // Oildale, California

In college, I would write up my papers on a laptop, then email it to my school account to print. Unfortunately, when a grad school application asked for a ten page writing sample, mine were nowhere to be found. I sold my main laptop from college to help pay for my trip to Africa. I donated my backup computer to the center in Africa where I worked. And the email address? Well, UCSB lets school email accounts self destruct seven months after graduation. So, I had no choice but to write out the best academic paper I could. I’m determined! Lets see how this goes.

#8 YouTube Videos With Dee

08 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

After making a pasta together, Deanna and I just hung out for the rest of the night doing nothing too extreme– we just watched YouTube videos and read Buzzfeed articles. These are such simple, mundane nights, but I consider them to be one of the highlights of my week because of their simplicity.

#9 Working Days

09 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

I’m still thankful to have this job that I’ve been enjoying very much. I know one day, I’ll probably look back at that one random year I spent as a substitute teacher as such an anomaly, so different from the career I hope have built. But I’ll remember the parts I enjoyed, helping the kids, and developing my own skills. In the meantime, I’ll just take in being in the middle of it. I liked the way the school’s field looked through the grates of a classroom window.

#10 Tapang

10 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Finished my first painting of the year. Tapang is a Filipino word that means something along the lines of “strength,” or “valor.” I pieced together some of my favorite parts of Filipino imagery and symbolism to craft something reminiscent of the Philippine Spirit– enduring yet vibrant, sunny, strong in community. This piece is one I’ll be contributing to my friend Frisca’s art auction coming soon to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

#11 Airplanes and Stomp Rockets

11 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Aunt Val brings some of the best toys for Simon whenever she comes to visit. We spent the noontime playing in Deanna’s front yard with foam airplanes and his new stomp rocket. One of the coolest parts of having spent this year in Bakersfield has been seeing this kid grow up. It’s been a pretty big year for him.

#12 Luke’s Christening

12 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

A lot of Deanna’s family came into town for Luke’s baptism today. It’s been fun getting to know her family a lot better lately. Luke’s been a blast to be around, since he is the happiest baby ever and finds everything funny.

#13 The Pack

13 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

On a typical day, here’s what comes with me in my backpack– my laptop in case I get the chance to get some work done, my external hard drive, the current book I’m reading, my journal, my glasses, a few pens, antacids (since I have the worst digestion ever) and my passport… just in case. Not pictured is my camera, which often also comes along.

#14 Dorothy Donnahue Hall

14 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Deanna and I suspected that Cal State Bakersfield would hold a lot of geocaching spots, and we were somewhat correct. After Deanna had gotten out of class, I showed up to help her hunt for some around campus and we found a couple. Our interest in geocaching is kind of sudden, but I’ve got to admit, I love the feeling of being able to go on a treasure hunt anywhere and at anytime.

#15 Preemptive Love

15 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Over the past few days I’ve been reading the backstory behind how Jeremy Courtney founded a group to provide life-saving heart surgeries to children in Iraq. I go crazy for any story of a person who chases a compelling calling, and I find these sorts of books encouraging as I get further with pursuing my own. I also love the idea of showing Love first, asking questions later.

#16 Brazilian Movie Night

16 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Had the chance to watch City of God with Ben. Even though I haven’t seen this movie in years, it’s one of my favorites. It took us a long time to figure out how to set up the movie, but when we did, this movie held up to be just as good as when I first saw it. I also noticed more of how beautifully it’s shot. It’s warm sixties and seventies film qualities were amazing, and way ahead of when the trend would take off about ten years later.

#17 Something’s Fishy with Holly and Derek

17 January 2014 // Santa Barbara, California

Getting to visit Santa Barbara is always a treat. So is Something’s Fishy. So is being able to spend time with Holly and Derek whenever we visit. It’s been encouraging to keep up with them after they’ve gotten married and to bounce around plans and ideas.

#18 Winchester Bridge

18 January 2014 // Goleta, California

Deanna and I spent a very restful and relaxing day in Santa Barbara. Between seeing old friends, swapping stories, and catching up with life updates, we also got in a lot of geocaching. We had six successful finds today. Unfortunately this location was not one of our successful finds, but it was the most gorgeous location where we looked.

#19 Santa Barbara Skies

19 January 2014 // Santa Barbara, California

Return trips to Santa Barbara are always great, but the golden sunset this time around was especially epic and made this visit extra nostalgic. Still, it’s not a sad sense of loss, but more of an awareness that times have changed and an overwhelming gratitude for having gotten to spend four amazing years here. It’s good to see that my old ventures, Hope Community Church, UCSB, and other things are still going strong, with a whole new cast of characters.

#20 R.I.P. Russo’s

20 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

It continues to be sad when independent bookstores are shutting their doors down all over the country, and Bakersfield just lost one of it’s best institutions when Russo’s shut its doors this week. When Borders went out of business, I went a little overboard buying a bunch of discounted books, to the point where I only finished the last of them about a week ago. Russo’s spared me, since by the time I was able to get to their clearance books, any title I would have been remotely interested in was already snatched up.

#21 Wild Salmon Jerky

21 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Deanna grabbed a pack of these as an impulse buy when we were in Santa Barbara and Trader Joe’s salmon jerky turned out to be surprisingly amazing. They’re glazed in a maple marinade, so they’ve got a really good sweet/salty blend going on. Plus, it tastes quite a bit like smoked salmon which is one of my favorite meals hands down. When going grocery shopping this week, I decided to pick up a pack for myself.

#22 Grey Shoes

22 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

I don’t know if it’s because I do a lot of walking (I really don’t feel like I do), but for whatever reason, I always seem to wear down shoes way too fast. I’ve started breaking in this new pair this week, and I already had to do a repair to one of the sides. Here’s hoping that these have a pretty decent lifespan. It’s hard to keep up.

#23 Breakfast Foods and Burma

23 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

I wanted to do some more research on Burma, a place where I may potentially try to visit later in the year. I found the documentary Road of Resistance on YouTube which was a really good learning tool and a really well made movie, albeit very sad and rather graphic at some points. I’d still recommend watching it. It may be difficult to stomach, but it’s a reality to a lot of people. As I watched and ate my breakfast for dinner, I kept wondering what opportunities there may be in store for me to work with Burmese refugees.

#24 Lil’ Luke

24 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Luke is one of the most fun kids to play with and has one of the most enjoyable laughs and smiles. I spent my Friday night playing with him and his brother Simon. Simon and I role played with his toy car and track set, and our scenario ended with the imaginary town deciding to outlaw trash cans and simply pile up their garbage. It’s fun being close to these kids while I get to live in Bakersfield.

#25 Lengthwise Pub

25 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

One of my favorite things about Deanna is that I can, and do, talk to her for hours without it getting old. We went out to Lengthwise tonight and had a really good conversation that hit on all sorts of things. We also got to play around with my new fisheye lens, although Lengthwise was dark and chaotic. I tried an IPA named after Deanna’s high school. My high school definitely does not have a beer named after it, so I thought that was interesting. The verdict? I’m not a very big IPA fan to begin with, but this one was pretty good. We also had a big bowl of very spicy fries.

#26 Some Good Halo-Halo

26 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

The second piece in my Paintings for the Philippines set… I would have also auctioned off at THOR to help Typhoon Victims, except I just wasn’t able to finish it in time. I turned out to like the way it looks. Halo-halo is a favorite Filipino treat. The name literally translates to “mix-mix” and the image of a halo-halo serves as a vivid representation of what community can be. Each member retains his or her identity, but contributes a new texture or flavor for a rich community. The flavor of the Philippines is exemplified in its diversity… thousands of languages and islands, each with its own culture.

#27 Mentoring Time

27 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

After months of trying to get matched to mentor somebody around town, I was finally paired up with somebody, and he was way different from what I was expecting. Without wanting to give too much away, I’ll simply say that he was an interesting kid who could definitely use a positive male role model in his life. To think about the fact that I’m supposed to be that guy can be a bit intimidating sometimes. Thankfully, one of the things God has been really teaching me lately that faithfulness is the road that leads to big things.

#28 Mentor Appreciation Night

28 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Since, I suppose I’m officially a mentor now, I was able to go to a Mentor Appreciation Night put on by Garden Pathways, the organization through which I was paired up with the kid I mentor. I’m a strong believer in the idea of serving through presence and of the importance of mentors and positive role models in kids’ lives.

#29 Nomadic Spirit

29 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Lately, I’ve been remembering that this time last year, I was in South Africa, learning how slowly time can pass at times, especially when you’re out of your element. This is kind of important, because these days, I’ve been feeling like life has been quiet- really, really quiet. I have few activities beyond work and writing, and no big adventures on the immediate horizon to anticipate. It’s been kind of a test of my own self-identity. It’s also, however, been an incredible season of being able to root my identity in God’s Love, and the fact that, although Bakersfield might still be just a temporary home in spite of my longing for roots that last, in a spiritual sense I’ll always be nomadic. The journey continues with recognizing each day with a pilgrim’s mentality, giving thanks, and remembering that God journey’s with me, making any place I go paradise.

#30 Coffee on the Couch

30 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

It finally rained in Bakersfield, which not only clears the air of the horrible stuff that’s really accumulated, but it gave me a chance to take it easy under a blanket, make myself some coffee, and enjoy a book. While I really value my practice of taking an unplugged Sabbath every Sunday to refocus, I’m also finding that it’s important to keep up that restful spirit throughout the week.

#31 Lassen’s Drink Browsing

31 January 2014 // Bakersfield, California

Deanna and I showed up way too early for Captain Phillips (or as we’ve gotten in the habit of saying, Captain Phillip Phillips) and rather than drive all over the place, we decided to kill some time by lurking around Lassen’s to find some neat drinks. We ended up not getting anything, but we did have a good conversation in the car while waiting. I really liked Captain Phillips. I really appreciate that they didn’t go for a formulaic action flick plot, but they actually understood nuances, like how there are reasons why an ordinary Somali fisherman would resort to piracy and terrorism for a living, or how you can’t go through an ordeal like that without experiencing some PTSD.

Philippe Lazaro365