Walden: Life In The Woods

“Chased the good life my whole life long. Look back on my life and my life gone.” — Yeezy in Welcome To Heartbreak

Today is weird. A giant snow blizzard sweeping across the north delayed my #NYCSpringBreak2k17 trip an entire day. So I’ve spent this extra day of down time self-reflecting. In summary, life is crazy.

While giving my website a face lift, I stumbled across my old site. There’s not much to see, but it’s a small capsule of my state of mind as a 19-year-old. The page’s theme layout hasn’t aged well, but screams CM Punk-y to me, which makes sense because this was at the height of my fandom. Moreover, there are three articles on there I wrote in my JOUR 207 class with Ben Holden — still one of my GOAT professors.

I was actually blown away how good the articles were. To preface, I was 100-percent dialed in on writing during this period. My focus was laser-like. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been zoned in on a goal as much as I was then. A career in sports journalism felt like my destiny and my work reflected that.  The Ken Shamrock piece is probably one of the best stories I’ve ever penned — and if I remember correctly, was the only 100 percent Holden gave out to a student that semester (even the video I made for it has north of 10k views). The other two articles, while lacking some key sources, are pretty well-written, too.

When looking at my writing career arc, late 2012 to early 2013 was my peak. It’s weird, though. I kept writing long after and still do to this day. But why was I at my best so early? The only explanation I have is that focus I had. I mean, I dedicated my whole life to writing during that stretch — skipping parties and everything. My passion for writing was at a fever pitch.

That passion is what I’m missing nowadays. I’m doing a lot of dope shit — MBA classes, running two social media accounts for large organizations, writing on the side, trying to open a shoe-selling business, etc. But none of them give me a fire like writing did at the time. Will I ever replicate that burning passion?

I hope so, but I don’t know. In my Management course, we took a Big Five personality test. Unlike the DISC or Myers Briggs test, the former test is more supported by data. The test measures you on five key traits — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. I received scores on all five, but my highest — perfect score, actually — came in openness. This trait measures how inventive and curious you are, which apparently I am to the max.

Some key characteristics of people that score high on openness is non-conforming, playful, philosophical, creative, less religious, more liberal, cope well with change. I check each one of those boxes.  I’m 24 years old now, but I feel I’m barely getting a good grasp of who I am. I still have ways to go, but my self awareness has definitely gone up recently.

Above all, I’m passionately curious about life. That dead-set personality I had as a 19-year-old is buried in the back of my mind. Nowadays, the thought of finding one career, one chick, one city to chase for the rest of my life saps my energy. The only thing worth pursuing is new experiences to help me understand life and myself more.

With that, my focus is like a rollercoaster. One day I’ll be glued in on figuring out how to use a bot to buy Yeezys, the next I’m digging through research on moon landing conspiracy theories. I don’t know if my lack of focus is a curse or blessing. On one hand, I know how beneficial it is to truly be a master at something. But that’s just not me. I hate being boxed in. I want to know a little bit about everything.

If I can back track a bit, it’s crazy how much my life has changed in the five years between my old website and now. I look back on 19-year-old me and I don’t even recognize that dude. My taste in clothes, chicks, music has changed ten-fold. I live across the country. My outlook on the life has totally flipped. I look back at the old Eric and all I have to say is kill self.

I guess that’s what we call progress, though. Seeing the 180-degree changes excites me about the future. In another five years, I’m going to be looking at this blog post and probably think the same thing. The future is so exciting, dude. Bring it!

 

 

 

Yeezy Season

I’ve experienced four euphoric highs in my lifetime. Twice from witnessing WrestleMania live and the other two from Kanye live. And the latest experience may have been the greatest.

The Saint Pablo Tour rolled into Tampa on Sept. 14 and there was no way I was missing it.

Last time I saw Ye was at the iHeart Music Festival in Las Vegas back in 2015. Great lineup that included Kenny Chesney, Lil Wayne, The Killers, Coldplay, and more. However, Yeezy’s set was only like 40 minutes.

But nothing beats a Kanye tour. Seriously nothing else like it.

No opener. Yeezy merch (and long lines for it). Waiting two-and-a-half hours after the doors opened. And a flying “stage” jetting through Amalie Arena for two hours.

Praise Yeezus that I had floor “seats.” The ground was filled with nothing but mosh pits, a few snuck-in joints, and pure pandemonium.

Once Yeezus rose, it was banger after banger. The performance covered the full scope of his discography — from The College Dropout to The Life of Pablo.

We also were subject to one of Kanye’s infamous stream-of-conscious rambles, however, this one was pointed at Kid Cudi. Before the show, Cudi had called out Kanye and Drake on Twitter (which I was unaware of at the time).

To my chagrin, Kanye started throwing barbs at Cudi, including “I birthed you.” I was spazzing out. As for as I knew, Cudi and Kanye were homies and had produced so much greatness together. “What the hell is going on?” I kept asking around. What a mindfuck at the time.

While the rant caught the headlines after the show, it was really a surreal show. Linked below is a few highlights of the show from my iPhone — which I mostly recorded vertically. I suck, I know.

My favorite songs from the night were Waves (which Kanye played twice), Famous (repeated three times), and Ultralight Beam, which ended the show. I swear we sounded like a gospel at the end. Church on a Wednesday night is dope.

Harry Dunn, Lloyd Christmas

2,500-plus miles across the country

Road tripping across the United States has always been a dream of mine, likely planted by two of my favorite comedies ever — Dumb and Dumber and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Naturally, when I decided to take my talents to Florida, I ditched a short 5-hour flight to Orlando in favor of a 2,500-mile and 40-hour expedition on the road instead. Fuck conventional wisdom, man.

The entire trek was worth it and more. Here are some highlights and random tidbits:

  • Shoutout to my main dog, Surg Nunez, for joining me on the trip. Road tripping alone would’ve sucked. But with one of my best friends? That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, bro.
  • The entire trip spanned from Monday 9 am PST to Friday 4 am EST — a whopping total of 88 hours. We traveled through 11 states (Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida). Seven of those states were completely new to me.
  • I tried Chick-Fil-A for the first time in Salt Lake City. Miss me with that KFC and Popeyes shit for the rest of my life. Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries, sauce, and customer service all day!
  • Wyoming blows. That is all.
  • I almost died in Denver. While walking around 16th Street Mall — at 11 pm, mind you — I almost got my ass taken out by a public bus while I was glued to my phone. That’s right, a got damn bus was still chugging along at 11 FUCKIN’ PM along the outdoor mall, which is closed to all other traffic by the way. It was some Final Destination-esque shit, but I can proudly say I avoided death.
  • I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than that. That John Denver is full of shit, man.
  • The 8-hour drive through Kansas was the most boring part of the trip. There’s a whole lot of nothing in that shithole. I feel bad that Superman grew up there.
  • St. Louis’ Gateway Arch is an amazing piece of architecture. Words don’t do it justice. Look at my pics below for a view from the ground level and 630-feet above.
  • Nashville was my favorite stop along the trip. Music City USA, as it’s nicknamed, is sneaky cool. For one, it’s incredibly scenic. Lots of hills and mountains — some of the last ones you’ll see before going any further south. The Cumberland River flows through downtown and right outside the Tennessee Titan’s stadium. Two, it’s popping as hell. Downtown features a few blocks with bar after bar, all equipped with live music or karaoke. Of course, Nashville is the hub for country music, so you’ll hear a lot of that redneck shit. Cool nonetheless.
  • Speaking of country music, I had to stop by the Country Music Hall of Fame while there. I use to like country music a lot, while I don’t fuck it much anymore, I still consider Johnny Cash the GOAT. Seeing the Man in Black’s exhibits and pictures was so cool.
  • Also in Nashville, we decided to play The Escape Game. Room escape games seem to be catching fire across the country as a team-building activity, but it was the first I played. It won’t be my last, either, because this was so fuckin’ fun. Our game was themed The Heist, tasking me and my teammates with solving riddles, finding clues, stealing a sacred painting, and escaping a locked room, all in under 60 minutes. Surg and I were teamed up with four randoms — two couples who were friends with each other. One of those dudes was cool AF. He was rocking a Led Zeppelin shirt, a graduate of Morehead State (who lost to my alma matter in the 2016 CBI Finals), openly dabbled in recreational drugs (according to his girlfriend), liked reading Malcolm Gladwell books like me, and he was missing a couple of screws… While playing the game, this guy was a man possessed — breaking objects in the room, connecting clues seemingly out of no where, and just doing random shit. Great guy, man! We ended up hitting our time limit with one step away from solving the entire mystery and escaping the room. So we lost, but fuck it, we were close enough that the workers gave us a ‘W.
  • Kentucky was one giant letdown. For one, Colonel Sanders was no where to be found and you know the blue grass that the state is famous for? Well, guess what, it’s not even fuckin’ blue! IT’S DARK GREEN! WTF, man?!?
  • Atlanta really bent us over, bro. They close all the tourist-y shit at 5 pm. So we were shit out of luck hitting up World of Coca Cola and the College Football Hall of Fame AND Chick-Fil-A Experience (great sponsorship, by the way). Centennial Olympic Park is awesome, though. They have a mural with all the medal-earning athletes from the 1996 Olympics, which they hosted. We saw Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a bronze winner, the only loss of his career (which was a complete screwjob).
  • Daytona Beach at 2 am is kinda sketchy, but Surg got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time — and it completely shits on the Pacific Ocean.

Here are some photos I took. Don’t you hate when you take a bunch of dope pics, but they’re all on Snapchat? Either they’re lost in the Snapchat vortex forever or they’re blemished with filters. In 20 years when we’re reminiscing about our youth and uploading throwback pics, they’re going to be covered in geofilters, big ass emojis, and colorful drawings…

Upward Bound lessons

I spent five weeks — my last living in Reno — working at a summer academy with 88 high schoolers and 10 resident advisers. It was insanely fun.

Here’s “truths” I learned from the experience, originally posted on their blog.

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You can learn a lot in five weeks. A ton, actually. Upward Bound summer academy taught me these cold-hard truths:

Argenta Hall is haunted. The past-curfew howls, door knocks and scratches, tape over peepholes — all of it really happened. Maybe it’s because Argenta was built over an Indian graveyard or an ouija board spirit is running loose on the hallways. It could be anything really. Well, anything aside from RA’s playing tricks on us…

If you’re sprinting full speed toward a tree, make sure there’s no branches in your path.

Never agree to a bet where you can’t say your two favorite words. Ever. It’s a no-win scenario. You’ll just end up in UB buck debt — $600-plus in debt to be exact.

If you’re pod wins any activity, be prepared to be accused of cheating relentlessly.

RA Andrea will give you a reason to hate your favorite brand.

Never turn your back on a bucket full of water. Some one will end up dumping it all over you when you’re not looking and will nearly ruin your iPhone. #ThankYouAppleCare

Sleep before and after summer academy because you won’t be getting much during it.

Don’t dub yourself the Face of the Program or any other nickname unless you can back it up.

Food from the Downunder Cafe during the normal school year is tough to stomach. DC food during the summer is even worse.

I don’t care what anyone says about the RA’s, they’re really cool once you get to know them.

Popular to contrary belief, white boys can dance. Hitting the Quan is their specialty.

I’ve raved at EDC for 36 hours, starred in a Hollywood movie trailer, and joined a college fraternity. But the most fun I ever had was playing hide and seek at Cain Hall with the lights dimmed.

When playing Sardines (reverse hide and seek), check the computer lab first.

In a shocking revelation, Sparks High School was not the first high school founded in Reno. Thanks, Mykiel.

High school students don’t understand how fly wearing short shorts is yet. They won’t understand until they go to college. #TFM

The counselors aren’t as old as they appear. One of them can even do the splits — only he’ll be sore for an entire week afterward.

Wash your tie dye shirts properly or else they’ll come out a hot pink color and you’ll never dare wear it in public.

Kanye West is a better musician than Drake any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The merry-go-round is the most dangerous ride at the park. There are only two outcomes from riding the carousel: you’ll end up in a dizzy haze or you’ll fall and hit the ground. Really hard.

Having your face on make-believe blue money is the coolest thing in the world. “They trying to censor me, no saying Gucci or chill… but I’m too ill, my face on the five-dollar UB bill.” #Bars #ImTheNextKanye

The freshest, most life-changing haircuts come courtesy of Eric — the wannabe Eric to be specific.

Don’t tell a student that an RA is 40 years old. They’ll actually believe it.

Even if you don’t have a “talent” per se, sign up for the talent show anyways. You’ll receive a thunderous ovation regardless.

Falling face- or butt-first at the roller-skating rink doesn’t hurt that bad. The first time, at least. Now the fifth time…

Don’t fall asleep on the bus ride to Tahoe. You’ll just end on Snapchat and the butt of too many jokes.

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So dead-tired that on our second-to-last-day of the academy I knocked out for three hours during our trip to Tahoe.

I would rather work with high schoolers than any other students. They somehow roll themselves out of bed and are ready for class by 7 am daily. They put up with the most rules. They have swag for days. They are super ambitious and are eager to chase their dreams. They support each other selflessly without fail.

The family-esque bond between Upward Bound students and staff is second to none. Even during the worst of moments, that unity rises above. UB will be there when you need a shoulder to cry on. UB will be there when you need your spirits lifted. UB will be there whenever, wherever, forever.

Yosemite vibes

When I decided to launch this website, I knew I needed dope content and action shots. So being the natural salesman that I am, I convinced my cousin and best friends to take a weekend trip to Yosemite National Park to kickoff Summer Sixteen. All Summer Sixteen. All Summer Sixteen.

I got the dope pics, as you’ll see below, but this was also one of my first nature-y adventures. I’ve recently gotten more into the outdoors and few things top Yosemite on the west coast.

The distance between Reno and Yosemite is under 200 miles. Somehow, someway I convinced my boys to take the much longer, but “scenic” route through the mountains, instead of the California highways. Welp, I almost puked my guts out on the way due to the insane amount of curves. It was awful, but indeed, very scenic.

Before adventuring through the wilderness, the fellas and I Stone-Cold-Steve-Austin chugged a couple of Steveweisers to get the blood pumping. My then-roommate Edgar promptly embarrASSed himself with a piss-poor chug and lost the little respect I had left for him.

Once we found a parking spot after an hour of desperate searching, we explored the great outdoors. It was also here I realized I left my GoPro SD card in Reno… I thought long and hard about feeding myself to a bear, but thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. Good thing, too, because my cousin Vero lent me her Samsung Galaxy’s SD card and we were rocking from then on.

Eventually, we ventured through hell and highwater to the top of Glacier Point — which has an elevation of 7,500 feet or so. Along the hike, I could’ve sworn I was about to reenact the Leo DiCaprio-flick The Revenant. But apparently there’s no grizzly bears out in California. I also drank random water on the ground after running out of my own. Three hours and many “positive vibes” later, we fuckin’ made it. The view at the top was insane, truly gratifying.

In an attempt to stage the most awesome picture ever, Alex and I climbed on a steep ledge and I all but shit my pants. Looking below from that rock was the scariest moment of my life. My legs felt like spaghetti, sweat starting dripping from my ass, and my mind was racing. Welp, near-death moment aside, the picture ended up being totally worth it as I proceeded to rack up Facebook likes out the ass and even use the same picture on this site.

After the hike up and back down the mountain, we gained back the weight we lost by downing my favorite Round Table pizza at the Airbnb crib we rented in the nearby town of Bass Lake. Bonus footage, originally broadcasted live on Periscope — inside the Airbnb crib, we check out the haunted ass attic, then Edgar and I remake our junior high days and fight 1-on-1.

All in all, it was a bad ass weekend, man. I’m excited to do more adrenaline-pumping nature stuff in the near future. Bet your ass I’m going 1-on-1 with a bear next time.

 

Sex, Drugs, Vengeance

Today — June 1, 2016 — is the five-year anniversary of the release of Sex, Drugs, Vengeance movie trailer.

Five years ago, as a high school senior, my friends and I created this over-the-top video for a Journalism class advertisement project.

The movie was eerily inspired by one of my favorite Quentin Tarantino flicks — Kill Bill. Protagonist gets shot point blank in the head, miraculously survives, and comes back to kill the wrongdoers a la Uma Thurman.

I play the main villain “El Flaco,” where I mock myself at the end of the movie by wearing a poncho and sombrero.

To this day, this is one of the coolest shits I’ve ever done. On top of being a cinematic masterpiece, it was tons of fun to pull off with some of my really good friends.

Give it watch, or two, or three, and let me know how bad ass it is.

 

Disney World vibes

Back in mid-March, I trekked to Orlando to interview for my graduate program. After killing the interview, I explored Disney World — the most-visited theme park in the world — all by my lonesome self (it was a business trip, assholes).

Now, besides Lagoon in Salt Lake City, I’ve never been to any amusement parks. My parents are super old-school Mexicans, who only like going to Mexico for family vacations, so I was shit out of luck growing up.

To make up for my shitty, theme-park-less childhood, I bought my ass a two-day, all-park pass. And let me tell you, this shit was insane.

The sheer size of Disney World absolutely blowed my mind. Between the four different theme parks, Disney World is easily double the size of home town.

Second, the melting pot of culture there was insane. It was culture galore, bro, I think I saw a person/family from every continent there besides Antartica.

Third, it was fun AF. My favorites rides were the classics, Splash and Space Mountain. Moreover, Epcot was my favorite park (you can’t beat traveling the world and tequila shots).

Checkout a few of the pics I took on my GoPro.