The 2017 Year in Review

Love and loss. Travel and food. Heartburn and indigestion. Weather. These are a few words that stand out and define the past year.

2015 involved Matt interviewing and exploring different options for graduate school.

2016 was the year of moving to Texas and beginning school.

2017 is the year of completion, seeing Matt finish his classes in what is the culmination of nearly 20 years of school. It’s possible that he could have done something else worthwhile in that time such as cultivating a small forest or raising a teenager, but it is nevertheless a proud accomplishment. He has accepted an administrative residency with Texas Health Resources hospital system in Fort Worth and will relocate and begin work in January. This company has consistently ranked on Fortunes list of top places to work for diversity, so he should fit right in. Unfortunately, he now has to start his search over for the best taquerias.

Having fully embraced the Texas food scene this year, I’ve experienced both positives and negatives. There is a Filipino word, “umay,” which doesn’t directly translate to English, but indicates having eaten so much of a particular food that you grow to entirely loathe that food. My umay list has grown exponentially to include the following:

  • Fried butter
  • Fried turkey legs
  • Fried deserts
  • Anything fried really…
  • Trashy Trailer Park tacos from Torchy’s Tacos
  • Whataburger (only ate once)
  • Eating more than 2 lbs. of brisket at a time
  • Eating more than 2 lbs. of most food at a time
  • Anything from Buc-ee’s
  • The 4-pack of guacamole from Costco

Luckily with 2018 looming near, this list may be wiped clean and I’ll continue as if my metabolism isn’t actually slowing down.

In March, Matt was hitting those reps at the gym when he experienced a sudden pop in his upper back. After various doctors poked his back and professionally asked if it hurt (it did), he was prescribed a foam roller, with which he entered into a deep and committed relationship with. Every night and morning, that roller was there for him. In addition to physical relief, the roller also provided relief from neighbors back home who continued to ask if he was dating anyone. Some continued to prod and ask insensitive questions such as “why would a parent name their child “foam roller”?” Funny, coming from parents who give their children names such as “Rexalyn*” or “Roczek.”

By the summer, my back was feeling better and our relationship ended amicably. However, there was another relationship that perhaps did not end as well. This was difficult to deal with the rest of the year, as it is never easy when someone you care about exits your life, but was also a source for self-improvement. Love and loss is a part of the game of life. Additionally, I happened to lose my jacket in London and a pair of gloves in Italy recently. Loss is never easy.

I had the opportunity to visit 8 countries this year, drove to Canada twice, drove back and forth from Texas, and spent countless hours in airports and on planes through Europe. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Everyone in Europe is overdressed and you WILL stand out in khakis
  • Netflix has a much better selection outside the US.
  • Chocolate is much better outside the US
  • Europeans like you more if you pretend you’re not American
  • Making friends with airport staff overnight gets you good food and better places to sleep
  • When driving from Utah to Texas, most of your drive is across Texas
  • Jim Dale is essential to any road trip
  • It is possible to drive 19 hours straight
  • Americans love singing the Canadian National Anthem “O Canada”, but only know the first two words (which happen to be the title)

May your holidays be merry and your cheer be many. I truly wish the best to anyone reading this (but only to those reading this).


*Ask your doctor if Rexalyn is right for you

Who Are the People in your Neighborhood?

As my time in San Antonio begins to draw to an end, I reflect back on the individuals who have made my time here memorable, forgettable, and regrettable. I won’t be speaking about the primary characters who I normally interact with at school and church. Rather, this post focuses more on the secondary characters found around our apartment complex we have grudgingly referred to as “house” (not to be confused with “home,” which is where the heart is) for the past year and a half.

In the beginning, transitioning from a college-town apartment setting was difficult. I discovered that people here REALLY don’t appreciate it when you walk into their house unannounced as I did so often previously. Even with my winning personality, I couldn’t prevent them from threatening me with management or the police. So I would have to take my search for 2 eggs elsewhere. Eventually, our nights became resigned to staying inside. We couldn’t even play on the apartment playground. Apparently you need children of your own to play, otherwise the other residents jump to conclusions when you respond to them that none of these children are yours.

There are a number of other frequent encounters between management and neighbors we experience here that, while providing great material to write about, will not be missed in the least when we move in 3 weeks.

When we moved into the complex, we were required to visit the office to get our lease signed. I went in a few weeks after my friend Adam to sign my part. As they dabbled in small talk (I hate small talk), they asked how the neighbors were. I responded that my corner room was fine, but Adam was constantly bothered in his room by the neighbor’s daytime noises and nighttime noises. Ignoring these complaints, the office lady formed a quizzical look on her face and asked “Both ya’ll don’t sleep in the same room?” Realizing where her assumption had taken her, I responded in a deadpan voice “We’re not gay.” Quickly trying to backtrack, she inquired about our current work as Mormon missionaries (which was actually a pretty good guess). But apparently outside of Utah or a college campus, two white men can’t live together if they’re not gay or Mormon missionaries.

We usually tried to avoid the management. But they would usually get us to come in by placing an eviction notice on our door telling us to vacate the premises within 24 hours or it would be done forcibly. We received no less than four of these throughout the year for “missed rent” which we had really paid. When we confronted them about it, they would cheerfully look up our account and magically find our paid rent. “Sorry about that, here’s a fig newton” they would happily say as I was shepherded towards the door, not having a chance to express the unnecessary stress I had felt.

On our walks between the office, to get the mail, or to our cars, we would usually pass by Nick. Nick is an older gentleman usually found on his porch at any given time of the day smoking a cigarette. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can never get him to talk about anything other than the weather with me. Our conversations usually go like this:

M: Good morning/afternoon/evening!

N: Beautiful day (said regardless of the weather)

M: It sure is….

I’ll usually follow up with any type of question, but all that I get in reply is a toothless grin as Nick laughs and ignores the question. What baffles me even more is usually if someone is behind us, Nick will engage them in conversation and ask about some specific detail of their life. I guess I’ll just stick to the weather.

When we round the corner to our apartment, I’ll usually glance up at the building across from ours to see if business is open. Meaning, if the door of a specific apartment is open and there is someone sitting in the doorway, a number of Andrew Jacksons will score you a bag of pot. Occasionally we’ll notice random people climb the stairs, make the exchange and leave without a word being said. So, if you need a guy…ask someone else because I don’t know the guy.

However, our neighbors above us either know that guy or a different guy very well because most days when we come home, the neighbors upstairs have lit up and the poor ventilation pushes the smell down and into our apartment. All the candles we’ve gone through to get rid of the smell have gotten way too expensive.

The person we probably know the most (which isn’t saying much) is a 10-year-old kid whose name I still can’t pronounce. I threw a football back to him one time and from that point on, he frequently shows up at our door to play. When we answered the door one day, he started coming in our apartment when he saw our PlayStation and we had to tactfully get him back outside because he probably wouldn’t have understood if we tried to explain that his parents probably wouldn’t like him going into a strangers house.

But the boy is relentless. Another time, I was home alone watching TV when there’s a knock on the door. I immediately know it’s him because no one else has ever come over. Not wanting to answer the door, I quickly turn out the lights as the knocking turns into him kicking our door. As I go into my room, I hear our gate door open and the see the silhouette of someone peering through our glass door appears. As the silhouette disappears, I breathe a sigh of relief right as the front door opens and I hear a voice yell “HELLO?!” Figuring I have no choice at this point, I run my hand through my hair to give the appearance of bedhead and squint as if just waking up from a nap and walk out. It takes another 5 minutes, but I he eventually leaves after I tell him how tired I am among some other lies.

Now, those of you who may be judging me for lying to a little kid, I was simply doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. You had to be there.

There were also gunshots in the neighborhood. But I’m not familiar with those neighbors.

Neighbors are a part of life’s experiences to be embraced for better or worse. I’m moving to Fort Worth, TX in January. We’ll see what uncomfortable experiences await me there.

Part III – There and Back Again: The Desolation of Bobcat

Where were we? Oh yes, if you recall, at the end of Part II, our heroes were finishing up from a long day of hurricane cleanup in the small town of Ingleside Texas. The work had gone well besides a close encounter with a crowbar and getting dumped on by hurricane water and cockroaches. Crazy, right? But now it’s time to return back home and let Bobcat come back from the sidelines and taken center stage again. Got it? Good. Let’s get started!

Before we got back into the car to depart, our older leader who had joined us told us to meet at Sonic on the way home for ice cream. This was about at the halfway point and would be a good place to stop, stretch, and exceed the daily calorie recommendations.

After the morning’s journey, no one was inclined to sit in the front. So that designation fell upon myself again. I optimistically opened my book and found the passage I had struggled to get past that entire day:

“Do you want us all to die?” I asked her sarc…

My elation at having read an additional 3 1/2 words ended promptly as Bobcat yelled to no one in particular “HOW DO WE GET HOME??” I point out that the cars in front of us are the rest of the people in our group and are going the same direction as us.  We fall in line at a stop light and as a gap in traffic ensues, the cars in front of us begin making their right-hand turns without pause. 3 cars. 2 cars. 1 car. Then it’s our turn. It may have been my inability to turn off my backseat driver persona, but more likely that this trip had given me a heightened sense of paranoia, I’m constantly looking around all angles of the car looking for an impending accident.

Rather than looking both ways before pulling out into the road. Bobcat proceeds to pull out in order to keep the convoy intact. This road happens to be onto a freeway with a speed limit of approximately 65 mph. There happens to be an oncoming truck headed straight for us as we begin to pull into its path. Thinking Bobcat will stop once he’s aware of the danger, I calmly, yet urgently say “car.” We continue. I raise my voice: “Car.” We proceed. At this point I yell “CAR” with the same angry enthusiasm as the 1980-something space guy from the Lego Movie:


Sensing the urgency in my voice, Bobcat stops.

Nah, not really. This story wouldn’t be worth telling if it was that boring.

Bobcat steps on the gas and attempts to take the 30-year-old Suburban from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds to beat the truck. We’re halfway into the road now and since it’s a 30-year-old Suburban, it takes 2.5 seconds for the car to even recognize the gas pedal has been pressed down. Still maintaining an speed of 5 mph and with everyone in the car yelling, the truck reaches our position.

The driver of the other car has had his horn blaring for at least 5 seconds now. He understands now that we’re not going to stop. In a sudden act of heroism I will never forget, this brave driver swerves off the road and into the brush to avoid a collision. As he steers back onto the road and drives away, I catch his silhouetted raised fist in what I like to think was a thumbs up to himself for avoiding an accident, but what was most likely the middle finger to us for nearly causing an accident.

The inside of our car descends like vultures on Bobcat and nearly in unison tell him to be  more careful, to which he responds with a subdued “ok ok ok geez.” As if loss of life was no big deal. Feeling rattled, everyone begins to settle back in. I open my book again with my finger marking my spot. With the pretense of pretending to read, my eyes remain peeled to the road for the next hour.

Similar to the trip earlier in the morning, our car continues to cut other cars off as we veer in and out of lanes. I keep my eye on the speedometer: 80. 85. 90. 95. If you look at any car’s speedometer, just because it goes up to 120-140, does not mean you should actually drive that quickly. In the case of the Suburban, it maxed out at 100, which we were nearly driving. I felt the internal vibrations of the vehicle as it strained to maintain the speed and sensing subtle speed wobbles from the car.  I quickly tell Bobcat to keep his speed under 80 and notice his grip on the wheel and consternation tighten as he slows down without a word.

As Sonic comes into view after an hour, the car collectively breathes a sigh of relief. As we pull in and quickly exit, I take Bobcat aside and tell him I would like to drive the rest of the way. He reluctantly concedes and walks away.

We proceed to order from their more than 30 delicious shakes which are half-priced after 5 (I was not paid to say this) and I enjoy a delicious Oreo Cheesecake flavor. After 30 minutes, we get ready to go. With a satisfied stomach, bladder, and reestablished fortitude at the thought of a safer drive home, I head towards the car. My resolve begins to crumble as I see Bobcat sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands gripping the wheel. As I approach, he rolls the window down and without looking at me asks:

“It’s a straight shot home, right? No turns?”

“I believe so.” I respond.

“Then I’ll drive.”

Even as I begin to protest diplomatically and petition for the safety of others, I can tell he has no intention to give up his seat and rolls up the window while I am in mid-sentence. The other cars have left at this point, so I cannot petition their help. As the rest of the passengers in our car realize what is happening, they begin raising their voice in protest as well, but to no avail. With trepidations, we climb back in the car.

The next incident catches us by surprise, as we have been in the car less than 1 minute. As we make a left-hand turn out of sonic, rather than wait in the safety of the median between both sides of traffic, Bobcat makes a straight shot for it and pulls in front of a car heading our direction. For the second time, we are the recipients of a blaring horn as the oncoming car swerves out of our way. 

The rest of the ride home is completely silent.  No secondary conversations in the back. Not even a text conversation. Everyone was concerned with making it out of this trip alive. So there were now five additional pairs of eyes fixated on the road. If only everyone else could have driven as attentively and aware as we were, the world would be a much safer place. Unfortunately, this didn’t apply to the driver.

We enter the San Antonio city limits around 8 pm. Bobcat drives past our turnoff. Ok, maybe he just made a mistake and knows to get off at the next exit. He drives past that one as well. 

“Uh Bobcat, that’s where we were supposed to turn off.”

“I know.” He replies curtly.

He keeps going.

Where are we going? Worst case scenarios begin filling my mind. I want to pull out my phone and see if we are near any landfills he could be taking us to. A voice from the back reminds Bobcat again of the missed turnoffs. 

“I know. I’m getting gas.” 

He responds as he continues to drive past multiple gas stations along the side of the road. The tension in the car at this point is so thick that you could stuff it into a Bavarian Cream donut and then cut that with a knife and eat it. Unfortunately, it would probably taste like a combination of panic, fear, and two-week old standing water. He finally pulls into a Shell station at the edge of the city which has what looks like the most expensive gas from anything we’ve passed. I tell Bobcat I have a code that gets him 5¢ off/gallon. He doesn’t want it and gets out of the car to begin filling up. 

I turn around and begin offering words of encouragement and to hang in there for 10 more minutes. I can tell that some people are close to breaking down.

10 minutes later, we pull into the church parking lot where our cars are gathered. Earlier that morning (although it seems like much longer), the lot was full and we had all parked in the back. The lot was empty now, and rather than drive to where our cars are for us to easily transfer our equipment, here pulls into the farthest spot from our cars, turns off the car and says bluntly:

“I’m parking here.”

It feels like he’s ending our trip with a swift kick to the groin as I get out of the car and waddle around to the back (more due to the fact that I was chafing terribly at that point and it was quite painful). I get out the my tools, bottled water, cooler, and bags I had brought and begin carting them over the last expense of space between where Bobcat had parked and where my car was.

 I throw my stuff in the backseat of the car and drive away, hoping to repress this event, forget about it, and put Bobcat out of my mind for a long time.
It has been nearly a month since the events of this story transpired. The author is doing well and has vowed never to drive a Suburban, even if that means driving a minivan.

He sees Bobcat every week at church.


Boots on the Ground, Roaches in the Ceiling

Please keep in mind that this blog is written as an outlet of satire and humor. My experiences presented here are insignificant when compared to those who were in the direct path of Hurricane Harvey.

Part II

Eager to let Bobcat take the sideline in this part of the story, I made my escape from the car which had been my all-encompassing prison for the past 3 hours. Ingleside is a sleepy coastal town just under 10,000 people. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Harvey, debris litters the side of the road, half-destroyed buildings stand, mangled and deserted, and residents are out early on this Saturday morning, doing what they can to assist in cleanup.  Speaking with many of the residents, it is apparent that their incomes are fixed, many have no insurance, and it will be months before FEMA offers any assistance, if at all.

We pull up to our job for the day and introduce ourselves to the homeowner. Our job for the day is as the “muck-out” crew – a term I originally thought to be made up, but really means “the strangers who are here to gut your house and then leave as fast as we arrived.” She takes us inside her house and immediately a musty smell fills the air. It is a small house, but every room had been flooded during the storm and is now showing remnants in the form of thick mold spreading up the walls.

As our eyes moved up from the floor, we see that the ceiling is in the same state. Black and green blotches cover the once-white plywood ceiling. Realizing I am about to fulfill my childhood “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” dream of being able to demolish a home, I ecstatically put a glove on and punched the wall to kick off our day of service. A sudden throbbing sensation in my hand and realization that I just punched a stud causes me to grab a crowbar instead and throw it at the wall in anger. Not wanting my enthusiasm to diminish, I quickly grab the nearest tool, wincingly yell “yeeeeeaaaah!” and get to work.

We begin working on the walls first. With a combination of crowbars and power-saws, drywall and insulation begins to litter the ground and a few people are assigned a wheelbarrow to carry it out and dump it in the front yard. As I begin working on a sidewall that connects to another room, I faintly hear people in the other room discussing a particularly difficult portion of the wall. At that moment, I am bending down next to the wall to remove some lower insulation. I suddenly hear Bobcat yell out “WATCH OUT I’LL DO IT!” Without warning, a crowbar bursts from the wall to the left of me, inches from my head.

I slowly turn my head and look at the crowbar as I hear Bobcat grunting and struggle to pull it out, not having contributed to the solution of the wall. I half expect him to stick his head out from behind the wall and with a menacing grin on his face, yell “Heeeeeeere’s Bobcat!” I walk to the other room and talk about safety first, common sense, and assign him a broom instead.

As we get to work on the ceiling, I developed a strategy for removing the panels. I would use the crowbar to begin creating large, square-shapes in the panels, and when three sides had been completed, the panel would easily come away by pulling it down on the fourth, unfinished side. About an hour into working on the ceiling, I am nearly through cutting through the third side when the entire ceiling comes down unexpectedly on top of me.

Now normally, if a big piece of plywood comes down on your head, you’d call it a day and go get an x-ray. But since this piece was saturated with mold, it merely broke to pieces over my head. However, I quickly discovered the reason it collapsed was that water from the hurricane had been trapped in the ceiling and made its way into the insulation. Furthermore, this area was where a number of large cockroaches had decided to nest.

So allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush of the situation. I have a moldy ceiling break apart on my head while 2-week old standing water pours down on top of me with waterlogged and moldy insulation. Due to my intrusiveness, the serenity of what was once the home of a happy cluster of cockroaches has been destroyed as they come crashing down above me in a torrential downpour of filth. In their confusion, they crawl in fury over the first thing they can find, which happens to be my body.

It was only 10:30 AM. We were there till 5.

Back to work.

The rest of the day went by rather uneventfully, except most people kept a greater distance from me than before. But by the end of the day, everyone had the same dank stench with a thin layer of dust and mold covering their clothing.


When we finished, we gathered outside by the cars. I took my shoes off to remove my socks and burn them. I put my chacos on and not 2 minutes later was stung by a bee on both feet. I was ready to head home. As I climbed in the car, I apprehensively opened my book and found my place:

Do you want us all to die?

I wanted to believe the car ride home would be better than the car ride here, but that was just me being naive. How could I have known that it was going to be worse. So much worse.

When Your Roadtrip is not Hecka Awesome

Do you want us all to die?

My finger had been under this line in the book in front of me for the past hour and a half. For a week, I had been looking forward to some valuable time away from school to enjoy some personal reading from a book that had captivated me from the opening pages. *

Do you want us all to die?

My mind wondered as I attempted to proceed to the next words on the pages. My eyes darted up as they had so frequently during the car ride I was currently in. The long, flat landscape of Texas loomed in front of me as the road passed beneath. Ironically, the line of words in the book are precisely what I wanted to yell at our driver sitting next to me. A quick glance back to the other wide-eyed and white-knuckled passengers tells me that they are thinking the same thing, which is a coincidence since none of them have read my book. I stare forward again.

Do you want us all to die?

My mind wonders again. I thought back to the start of the day. How had such a well-intentioned day to do service deteriorated into a state of constant fear for our lives? It all started with a bad choice at 6 A.M. **

In light of Hurricane Harvey, relief efforts were quickly underway by a number of organizations, including the LDS church in Texas and the surrounding states. On September 9th, I was a team leader over seven other individuals going to the Gulf Coast to assist in cleanup. We were a small part of the church’s larger effort of volunteers assisting. In San Antonio, there were over 1000 people going down that day.

Six members of my team I already knew. But the seventh, who I shall refer to as Bobcat, I knew not. As we prepared to embark with our assignments, Bobcat spoke up, and said he had a suburban which could seat us all. In an effort to save gas and create unity (really?), but not really knowing this fellow, I made that fateful decision which would weigh on me from that day forward, and agreed to the suburban.

Since the rest of the group knew each other already, they stuck together…in the back of the car. Leaving the passenger seat open. I climbed in, thinking it as an opportunity to briefly get to know Bobcat, then absorb myself in the pages of the novel I was bringing with me.

I asked the basic questions for the first 30 minutes of the drive: general upbringing, what his life story was, and whether he thought pineapple belonged on pizza or not***. It was a decent enough conversation, although I had to tell him a few times to keep his eyes on the road as he drifted out the lane a few times and took some corners a bit quickly. When I considered my job finished, I decided to wind the conversation down and told him I’d like to start reading my book and opened it up to the earmarked page. I found my spot:

Do you want us all to die?


Bobcat had spoken. I glanced up.

“What kind of cars do you like?”

I guess he wasn’t ready for the conversation to end. I responded with Toyotas, but I’d take a Subaru if a Toyota wasn’t available, and went back to my book.

Do you want us all to die?


I paused again. Waiting for it.

“What kind of shows do you like?

Only somewhat chagrined, I listed off a few of my favorites: Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, Master of None, and the first two seasons of Law and Order: SVU (because who has time to watch all 18 seasons). He hadn’t seen any of them. So I asked about some of his favorites. His first response was Power Rangers. Thinking he must have TV confused with movies, I told him I hadn’t seen the film yet. Neither had he. Realization dawned on me that he must mean the Saturday morning Power Rangers I was forbidden to watch as a child.

I listened with my mouth slightly ajar as this twenty-something man proceeded to tell me about the different Power Rangers series on TV. Did you know there are 20 different themed rangers? Jungle Fury, Dino Thunder, Ninja Storm, Time Force, Wild Force, in Space, Megaforce, SUPER Megaforce, etc. I just listed those off the top of my mind. I shouldn’t have remembered all those, but for some reason they’ve been ingrained. And why does each season sound like the year they jumped the shark?

I have absolutely nothing to add to this conversation so I just keep quiet and nod. Like when someone speaks to you in a foreign language (or an organic chemistry class) and you can’t understand but you still nod your head anyways like you do.

Without skipping a beat, Bobcat transitions into Web series’ he watches such as PragerU, Stephen Crowder, and Fox News. Getting a better idea of who this guy is, I silently make a bet with myself and ask if his favorite talk show host is Sean Hannity. I’m wrong. It’s Rush Limbaugh (I owe myself $10 now). Before I can stop it, the Trump-Train toots its horn and is full steam ahead now. Bobcat begins listing off Trump’s accomplishments, particularly that Trump visited Houston quicker than it took President Obama to visit New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (which happened in 2005…so you tell me what’s wrong with that statement).

At this point, morning traffic fills the roads and rather than slowing down, Bobcat is maintaining a constant 85 mph, weaving in and out of lanes and unknowingly (knowingly?) cutting off cars. I quickly spot a McDonalds 20 miles away on my GPS and signal a break. Although disagreeing with everything political being said, I say nothing since my life is in the hands of the driver. I don’t want him to get any ideas that he can MAGA by crashing the car and ridding the world of a non-supporter.

The golden arches looming ahead of me bring an overwhelming sense of joy, such that a McDonalds has never brought me before. As I quickly exit the car, I burst through the doors, order a McMuffin, and soon remember why my McDonalds never brings me any lasting joy. As I return apprehensively to the car, I realize to my dismay that once again, the front seat is mine.

Do you want us all to die?

I quickly realize that my silence may be taken as an interpretation for Bobcat to continue his monologue. I abruptly turn around and interject myself into the conversations occurring behind me. For 30 minutes, a kinked back and strained neck provides me with a normal interaction. A small price to pay until we arrive at the small town of Ingleside. As we pull up to the house we’ll be helping, the car doors burst open before the car comes to a stop. The people in back clamber out and away from the car. Safe for now.

If only we knew what the rest of the day held in store.

Part II coming soon involving mold, cockroaches, pants, and Subway sandwiches

*Red Rising – The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game meets Game of Thrones

** Actually, the first bad choice was deciding to wake up at 5:30 A.M. on a Saturday

**Pineapple should never go on pizza

Is a Cruise for You?


If in your future are exotic locations,
Such as Cancun or Mexico, assuming existing US relations.
Unlimited food, tasting mediocre at best,
That’ll send you straight to the toilet if it hasn’t been blessed.
A week away from your children at home,
Or bring them along and allow them to roam.
Does any of this sound too good to be true?
Then a cruise may be for you.

Let us first visit my favorite location, the buffet.
Where I heard there was food forever, that’s totally cray!
Failing to heed Admiral Ackbar’s advice:
“It’s a trap!” Limited hours. I’ve paid the ultimate price.
There is one item unlimited, no cause for alarm,
It’s the melted soft-serve, constantly running down your arm.
When there was food available, it wasn’t so great,
But it’s better than starving, so don’t arrive late.
If food’s not your thing, there’s plenty to do,
A cruise may still be for you.

Your cruise director always has something to say
Ours was named Alex, he would not go away.
Nothing he said was of interest of me,
No sir, even at 25% off, I will not buy new jewelry.
The ship deck was a great place to get sun,
Until the hairy chest contest (for ALL participants) sent me on the run.
Many ship staff and visitors were Filipino, no way!
Imagine my dismay to learn they were all from LA.
Supposedly the price of the cruise was all inclusive,
However the $82 WiFi charge was very elusive.
Perhaps I got bored because I don’t drink,
But who’s laughing now with the bill printed in ink.
The activities I’ve listed are only a few,
But do you know now if a cruise is for you?

Our shore excursions were quite a delight,
At least Catalina. Ensenada not quite.
Shirt off and snorkeling with the fishes below,
Yes ma’am the water is cold.  How did you know?
Sunscreen was one amenity I forgot,
Which will not bode well for interviews with skin in mid rot.
Ensenada we drove around in a rented van,
Yes I’ll buy your tamales. You think I can’t eat 20? Watch me, I can!
If anything you must come for the gorgeous view,
How about now, is a cruise for you?

And so concludes the end of our trip,
It was an interesting time aboard this ship.
This has by no means been a comprehensive review,
But you should know now, if a cruise is for you.

2016 Year-End Review

2016 was a big year full of changes: new school, new state, and new socks.  In a year full of ups and downs, heartbreak and breakfast tacos, I always look forward to writing this year-end review, written in first and third person.  If you were hoping for a physical Christmas card to decorate your fridge with, click here to find a local Kinkos to do it yourself.

The beginning of the year found Matt frequently traveling for graduate school interviews.  In Seattle at the University of Washington, he quickly discovered this was not the place for him after being deceived by a delicious organic beet-and carrot-filled quesadilla.  Those things shouldn’t go together, but why was it delicious?  Matt decided it was just best to stay away from that confusing lifestyle.

Outside of Disneyland, traveling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham was one of the few instances where I have felt like a minority.  BYU always told me that I AM diverse for being a white guy who lived in a foreign land and speaks an obscure language.  But Alabama made me remember: I’m still just a white guy.

In the end, the desire to further understand Texas pride overcame my need to be pampered by southern hospitality.  I live in Texas now and have discovered it is a culture of its own.  Texas cities are like family members.  I live in San Antonio, which could be compared to your old, conservative grandpa who is unintentionally racist.  Sometimes I go through Austin, which is like your brother who is going through that weird phase; we don’t talk about him at family gatherings.

Over the summer, Matt traveled to Glacier National Park with a few friends.  On a separate but related note, he has also entertained the idea of running for public office later on in life.  Since most politicians tend to have compromising photos of themselves, Matt created his own on the trip.  This way, it comes as no surprise during election time.  The voters need to understand what kind of candidate they’re getting:


I successfully completed my first semester of graduate school.  I am also happy to report that I received straight A’s in all courses.  Something I was never able to accomplish during my undergraduate courses.  This accomplishment has been offset by the repeated emphasis of the professors that “grades don’t matter!”  Oh well, at least I can still get free doughnuts for every A at Krispy Kreme.  Wait, what do you mean it’s only for grade school…?

In November, Matt decided to grow a mustache.  He doesn’t want to talk about it.

The new face of men’s health? Or poster boy for chocolate “got milk” commercials?

Since it is the holiday season, it seems fitting to mention that Matt wasn’t invited to a single Christmas party this year.  This is only mentioned to make you feel guilty in case you had a Christmas party and failed to invite him.  He’s been free every weekend in December and most in November.  One friend was kind enough to invite him to a party for married people, but it was more of a pity thing.

So far, 2017 is looking to be promisingly boring.  Thank heavens.

Wishing you all the best,