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2009: In The Rearview Mirror

(originally written 12/26/09)

2009—It’s the year that is about to draw to a close—and also the number of times during 2009 that I declared “Man, this year’s flying by!”


And now it’s gone.

2009, for Skillz, sure ended a hell of a lot better than it started.

Of course, I could have spent the entire month of December in traction, with ants crawling under my casts and Carrot Top as my only visitor, and it would have been a better ending.


Prepare yourselves—for once, I am going to talk about the past.





When 2009 began, I was living in Stockton, about two months from having broken up with my boo, erroneously believing it was in both of our best interests. At the outset, life in the 209 slammed! Every night was about drinking, kicking it with buddies, watching the game, and other jock-themed stereotypes.


It got old fast, as did living with a guy whose fuse was so short, we once got in a serious argument over Slumdog Millionaire—which I hadn’t even seen at the time.


Aldo and I got to meet and shake the hands of Dave Righetti and Dave Roberts of the S.F. Giants at Fanfest in January, which you MUST attend at least once if you call yourself a Giants fan.


My grandmother, who helped raise me, passed away peacefully on February 9. She spent the last four years of her life suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and had been hospitalized after hip surgery. Complications arose from there, and soon we were informed that in 10 days, she would no longer be alive.


She made it to Day #8, and was gone. 
As one might expect, my mom (her daughter/caretaker) grieved deeply. The double-team of my grandma’s passing and my tenuous living situation made the decision to quit my job and move temporarily back to the 707 as easy as scoring 120 points against the Golden State Warriors. I did so March 1.


By this time, my boo and I had reunited somehow. Why did she take me back? I can recite the entire periodic table in ascending order of Scrabble value before I can successfully answer that question.

I’d sort of tried to replace her in the 209. First with a spiritual Mexican trainee who turned out to be engaged, then a chubby blonde I met at the gym, then with a tiny assistant of mine who has yet to believe anything that has ever happened isn’t worthy of a giggle.
All nice, lovely girls, but none of them my boo.

Against friends’ advice and my own instincts, I called her in January and the next thing I knew, we were in love all over again.
Do YOU believe in miracles?





To say it was an adjustment living in Vallejo again would be accurate.
In ways good and bad.

On the plus side, it was SWEET having a majority of my good friends a short drive away for the first time in my adult life. We got to kick it a lot, the highlight being Raff’s unforgettable 30th b-day bash at Dan Foley Cultural Center. Juan made adjustments himself and had fresh insults ready for all our meetings—except when he thought his car had been stolen and needed my help. Good times, good times.


On the minus side…with my grandma dead, our days owning 1250 Tuolumne Street became numbered. Even if it were financially feasible, nobody wanted to be in that place without her. We undertook a huge mission to empty and renovate my hoarding grandma’s house in preparation for a sale, and move the surviving occupants into an apartment. Without Nicey Nash’s expert help, the job was a whole lotta difficult and still isn’t completely finished.


Still a full-fledged member of BAD ASS Baseball, I was unable to convince the league that moving its games from San Jose to Vallejo would benefit anyone in the league besides myself. 
Meaning if I was to fulfill my pledge to play in every game this season, I’d have to either commute or create a clone with no place to live.

I was quite delighted when my boo and myself found a new place in June, symbolically erasing the previous seven months we’d spent apart. Still needed in the 707, I spent June as a nomad, spending my nights at either my mom’s new place, the old place, or in San Jose. Given all the travel and fatigue endured, it is surprising I didn’t walk in the wrong house in a sleep-deprived state and climb in bed with some burly plumber by mistake.



This one caught me by surprise…in July we had a yard sale that netted $200+ for my family’s cause. Driving through the area, the sale caught the eye of an ex-girlfriend who I hadn’t seen in six years and parted with on bad terms. Both of us older, we had a civil conversation and reached some long overdue closure.


On July 12, Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants no-hit the Padres, and I barely cared at all, because that very night Richard Thompson died. He was my best friend Chicken’s dad, a great guy and role model for anyone. 

Whoever you are, I feel confident in saying Richard was cooler than you. 
Probably smarter and tougher, too…


August spelled the end of one era and the beginning of another. After five years with BAD ASS Baseball, for a litany of reasons I won’t detail here, I came to the realization that my time in that league was over. I hadn’t gone back to work yet, and though finances weren’t a serious problem, killing time WAS, especially without baseball duties.


That’s when I hooked up with a pickup softball league not far from my hood that played every Friday night. Talk about FUN. I began to look forward to Fridays like a Jehovah’s Witness looks forward to his honeymoon.
Unlike my former baseball teammates, these people were supportive and clique-free. I bonded with many of them immediately and today am proud to call them friends and, in some cases, pals. Without that league, Skillz may have simply evaporated.


And towards August’s end, I finally re-joined the ranks of the employed, as a local printing company took a flier. It was a TOTAL fluke—but I'm not complaining and neither are they.



Sit down for this part, my friends.

I spent October working by day, and taking care of my boo by night, and on the weekends I joined a fledgling baseball league that I hoped could replace BAB. Perhaps if 50% of our players owned a watch and/or possessed even rudimentary talent—or could go more than three minutes without discussing their genitals—it would have.

But it didn’t. After about a month, softball officially replaced hardball as my weekend outdoor recreation of choice.


“Taking care of my boo by night”? 
What did he mean by that, you may be wondering.

That phrasing was not to suggest she was ill.
That phrasing was not to suggest any sexual innuendo.
That phrasing was not to suggest I was killing her. Besides, this ain’t South Park; you can’t kill someone over and over again.


What that phrasing DID refer to was her 8½ months of pregnancy.
Which was completed on November 13 when our baby daughter Jozanah Shaye “Josie” was born at Kaiser Santa Clara, nine pounds, four ounces.

(If you have fainted, or your eyeballs have popped out and gotten dirty, or you’ve expectorated all over your keyboard, my apologies.)


I know, I know, why didn’t I tell anyone, etc.
Nevermind that. Now it is public knowledge. I reproduced, guys, and so far I’m having fun except for the four hours of sleep a night I am now allowed.

Throw out the $250 I had to shell out to replace my alternator early in the month, and a scary ass dream I had where Reggie Jackson and Queen Latifah carjacked me and left me in the streets naked, and December 2009 wasn't all that bad.




My friends Armando, Ryan and (very soon) Arnell also fathered baby girls this year, another friend Aldo became engaged, while yet another friend Dave gained a lovely bride. Raff and Nate became homeowners, and after 18 years of trying, Chicken FINALLY completed college. A collective “way to go”, blues.




⦁    Michael Jackson. When I heard you were gone, I wept as if I actually knew you. IRREPLACEABLE. Not just the King of Pop—the King of MUSIC in my humble opinion.
⦁    Patrick Swayze. Only two movies have ever made me cry, and Ghost was one of them. His one hit song “She’s Like the Wind” is timeless; still as sexy as it was 22 years ago.
⦁    Ted Kennedy. When seemingly every politician on Capitol Hill was corrupt, philandering, or both, we could sleep easier knowing at least one man was fighting for what was right.
⦁    Brittany Murphy. King of the Hill wouldn’t have been the same without Luann Platter’s ditzy squeals.
⦁    Ed McMahon. For years we hoped you’d show up at our door with a giant PCH check. One time we thought you had. Until we saw the PGE uniform and you asked where the meter was.
⦁    Steve McNair. Let his story be a lesson to anyone planning to commit adultery. If you’re going to, fine, but try not to do it with a nut. No matter how much fun they are under the covers.
⦁    Ricardo Montalban. My oldest friends will understand the reference (wink).

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