Author Archives: Aaron Arak

Three years ago, on Christmas, I gifted Jenna with a trip back to Berkeley to watch a California home football game. She loves her alma mater and hadn't been back on campus since she graduated in 2007, so she was due for a pilgrimage back to her undergrad roots.

Fast forward to now: we still hadn't been to a game and she was beginning to think I had completely forgotten about her gift. We'd been to the Cal v. UCLA game here in LA at the Rose Bowl, but we still needed to head up north.

Now, as a die-hard Angeleno, I have a strong dislike for all things Bay Area-related when it comes to sports. Cal was no different when we first began dating. Since neither of my universities had football teams (shout out to the CSUN Matadors and Long Beach State 49ers!), I was a casual USC fan at the time, with an allegiance to the school for no other reason than I had a lot of friends who attended the university. When Jenna rightly brought up the fact that she rooted for ALL of my favorite sports teams just to support our relationship and keep her boyfriend happy, the choice was pretty clear: I'll take a size large UC Berkeley shirt and a 7 1/4 fitted Cal hat, please. I was the newest and most passionate California Golden Bears fan.

Another word to the wise: Jenna loves surprises. She also loves when she doesn't have to plan anything (that's not true, she LOVES to plan, but since she's a serial planner about everything...seriously, the girl has TWO 2013 planners she carries with her everywhere...she also enjoys when someone takes the planning over from her). So, a few months ago, I checked our schedules - everything was clear. Then I told her she was busy from November 1st-November 3rd (which also happens to be the weekend after my birthday, causing her to be even more WTF about the timing) and she wasn't allowed to know what we were doing or where we were going. My intentions were to let her know at the last possible second that she was headed to Berkeley for a game. We made it all the way through TSA security at the airport without her finding out. I even (with the help of her mom) packed her bag for her. She had NO clue where we were headed.

I had arranged to stay with our friends in Pleasant Hill (one of which was her favorite sorority sister from Cal and one of her bridesmaids), booked the flights, and we were all set. Even as we got through security, she still had no idea. So we walked over to the flight departures board where I asked her to guess where we were going. It went something like this:

Jenna: Portland!

Aaron: No...

J: Seattle?

A: No...

J: San Francisco!

A: Nope.

J (getting visibly disheartened at this point): Vegas?

A: Nope.

J: Fuck. Idaho?

A: Haha, definitely not.

J: Uhhh, that's all of the places up there...

A (walking away): No, it's not!

J: Where the hell are we going then?!

A: Oakland!

J (wrinkling her face as if someone cut the dirtiest fart in history): Oakland? Really? ...Have you BEEN to Oakland before?!

A: Yes, I have, and it's BEAUTIFUL this time of year.

So the location was out, and after a few more Q&A's she figured out we were going to the game and she was STOKED!

Mission: Accomplished.

What followed was a wonderful weekend with great friends, day drinking at the college bar, reliving glory days, and making new memories in a place that is near and dear to both of our hearts. Cal lost the game, unfortunately, but we'll never remember the score, we'll just remember our first trip back to her beloved campus in what will hopefully become a tradition we practice more than once every three years.

Go Bears!

My mom always used to say: "You better learn to watch what you eat. One day you won't be able to eat like you do now."

The "now" she was referring to was sometime in high school. Back then I was playing volleyball everyday and eating whatever the hell I wanted. When I wasn't playing, I would go to the gym. Chicks liked that sort of thing, right? When I wasn't playing or going to the gym, I was probably eating. During my growth spurts in early high school, I could eat 5 meals a day. No joke. My parents deserve sainthood just for being able to keep the refrigerator full back then.

Now I'm close to 30, and I can feel my metabolism slowing down. These days I'm not a huge fan of the gym so I have to find other ways to keep active, and somehow maintain a demanding work schedule at the same time. I still play hockey, but only once a week (if I'm lucky) and that isn't nearly enough. So, to exercise, I'll take the dog for a walk or go running a few times a week.

But even running once or twice a week seems daunting. I'm out of the house by 7am, drive an hour+ to and from work and by the time I'm home, it's 7pm and I haven't even changed out of my slacks yet. It seems my only reasonable choices are to go running or cook dinner. Often, the latter wins just because eating at 9 or 10pm, though very European, doesn't exactly work on a regular basis.

My point is that exercise is a priority that's not often high on a lot of people's to-do list (or doesn't seem to fit into their schedule), especially for Jenna and I. Which means my mom was right all those years ago: Now, more than ever, I am going to have to watch what I eat.

Heart disease actually runs in my family, but I also love all that is holy in this world in edible form: burritos, pizza, pasta, burgers, beer, cheese, beer, wine and beer. I know I can't live a long and fruitful life and also have a steady diet of all the above so it's time to make some changes.

I'm the cook at home and I'm always looking for new and exciting things to eat that also won't kill you when you take a bite. Cooking to me is relaxing, so while I like to cook the comfort food, I've been trying to cook on the healthier side for some time now. I don't have specific goals, like losing weight. My goal is just to not die or have a heart attack in the next 30 years.

Jenna is a goals-oriented person, which means she needs action steps and follow through like whoa, but she also struggles with eating healthily. So she put me in charge of the "eating healthy and exercising more" program at the Arak household. This week I've made a variety of healthy meals without bread or carbs, and made enough portions to include leftovers in lunches the following day. It helps knowing that my wife's not eating mac and cheese for lunch every day (because she will), but it also helps the wallet because eating out every day is expensive as shit.

I've also gotten plenty of veggies and fresh herbs to cook with. It's really amazing how much better food tastes when it's fresh and not from a can or jar. In addition to cooking with fresh veggies, snack time has taken on a whole new meaning recently. I've made "snack packs" for each of us whenever we get hungry throughout the work day and it's not quite a meal time yet. A snack pack is made up of cucumbers, bell peppers, and baby carrots all mixed together in a sandwich bag that's packed as tight as a sardine can. Put a snack pack together with some leftover healthy dinner from the night before and you've got yourself a healthy, pretty cheap set of food for the day.

Snack Packs

That's the easy part.

The hard part is actually doing it. The harder part is making a schedule and sticking to it. And the hardest part is eating what's good for you and not that Domino's Pizza that can be at your door in 30 mins because you're exhausted. I'll be the first to admit, sometimes I just don't feel like cooking or doing something active. The trick is to try and not have that happen too often.

I'd like to run at least 3 times per week, but that's a pretty aggressive goal so I'd settle for two or even once a week right now. But fitness isn't just for me, it's for Jenna as well, and especially for both of us to do together. Jenna hates running. I'm fairly certain she'll never enjoy it as much as I do. So running together isn't an option because, when we do, I'm always going to be faster than her, so we really aren't doing it together. Enter Teigen Jane Arak. This adorable puppy has tons of energy and happens to love walks. So we'll walk her together after work. Since she's only five pounds, she gets tired pretty quickly so we have a cool little shoulder harness we can put her in so we can keep walking.

The goal is to walk for 30 minutes, at a minimum. This gives us a couple things: 1) Exercise 2) Quality time 3) Quality conversation. Some of the best conversations we've had as a couple have been taking walks and just unplugging for a few minutes after work.

In a perfect world, healthy eating and exercise are easy. But in the real world, we have beer, burritos, and cheese, so it's easier said than done. If you know of any delicious, healthy recipes, please feel free to share!

Until then, if someone could come up with the "Beer & Burrito Diet" that would make our lives a whole hell of a lot easier.

AaronOffice

I'm not a writer. At least I don't think I am.

I generally leave my writing for my Fantasy Football shit talking or my tweets, but peer pressure goes a long way, especially if that pressure-er is your wife. That's why I'm now also writing here.

I've always wondered what it would be like to write, just to write. I guess I'm the kind of person who, if I don't have a definitive topic to write about, I won't. I've never been a "creative writing" kind of person; more of a practical writing kind of person. In college, I always loathed English essays, but straight murdered business memos and business writing (Truth: I was nominated for an award for business writing). I identified with putting all the important shit first and then all the fluff at the end; writing as if an executive who had less than five minutes of spare time could skim the first paragraph and know exactly what the rest of the memo said. I could never do the fluff in English essays and I always struggled with meeting the minimum page requirement.

I guess all that doesn't matter now because here I am, writing just to...write.

Enter my beautiful wife, Jenna. All the girl does is read and write. I'm amazed that she can do it...just for fun. They say opposites attract. She and I couldn't be more different in our ideas of awesome things to do during down time. She's always got her nose in a book or she's in front of her laptop writing about something. Me, on the other hand, I can often be found in front of the TV watching anything that has to do with a bunch of dudes on a team trying to beat another bunch of dudes on a different team.

My life is sports. I used to  partake in sports just for relaxation, exercise, and fun; now it's not only my hobby, but it's my job. About four years ago, I was working a dead end job at a massive financial institution. I thought finance was what I wanted to do. My family is in the stock business and I thought that was my destiny...to follow in the family footsteps and do what they did. I worked at several banks; they're all the same and they're all shitty to work for. I decided to make a really big change and transition careers completely. I decided to pursue a career in sports.

Time out. When I said I was a sports fan, I wasn't fucking around. These are the sports I'm into: Hockey, Football, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Golf, Tennis, and even Rugby. How many American guys do you know that are into Rugby? I decided to turn my passion for sports into a career. I'd always heard if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. So I made the decision to go back to school and get my Master's in Sport Management at Long Beach State (Go Beach!) here in Southern California.

Coincidentally, this is the exact time I met my now wife, Mrs. Team Awesome. I got my first internship with the LA Galaxy soccer team when we first started dating and I haven't looked back. It's weird how great things come in pairs...or threes or whatever that rule is. In this case, I met the woman of my dreams and started on my career path at the exact same time.

Fast forward three and a half years. I've since quit my job at the bank and have been hired full time with the Galaxy, and am engaged to marry Jenna in August. My manager at the Galaxy approaches me and says the Director of Ticket Sales & Service position at the Ontario Reign is available and they think I'd be a great fit (the Galaxy and the Reign are part of the same ownership group). That's how you get the jobs you want in the industry (and I imagine other industries as well).

I grew up a hockey nut. My dad is a massive Los Angeles Kings fan, and thus brainwashed me into a life of torment and disappointment...that is, until 2012 when both my dad and I were at Game 6, crying happy tears along with 18,000 of our closest friends doing the same. I've cried happy tears three times in my life: 1. When I proposed to Jenna 2. The day my beloved Kings finally won the Stanley Cup 3. Almost exactly a month ago when I married the woman of my dreams. Needless to say, I'm really into hockey.

I've always wanted to work in hockey, and this was my chance. I went in for the interview and felt pretty confident, but you never truly can get a read during an interview. So I crossed my fingers and wished for the best. A week later I got the call:

"Hi Aaron, this is the President of the Ontario Reign...we really didn't know what to expect when you came in, and we were blown away. You impressed us on all levels and we're glad you came in..."

Pause. This is the moment in the conversation I'm expecting: "BUT, we decided to go with another candidate. Soooooooo, good luck in the future!"

This conversation did not end that way.

"...soooo we'd like to offer you the position!"

Cue simultaneous vomiting and shitting in my pants.

The next day I accept a job with the Ontario Reign professional hockey team and am one step closer to my dream of being a Team President of a professional sports team. Oh, and I get married in a little over two weeks.

When it Reigns, it pours.

It's now twice that these huge moments in my personal and professional lives have intersected. I have no idea if this will ever happen to me again, but if it does it's going to be pretty fucking awesome.

[Note from Jenna: Time to have a baby?!]

Thanks for reading my first venture into blogging and writing just to write. I guess I'm not so bad at this fluff thing after all.