Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweater Vests

Walking through this B-class retail store, trying to squeeze through the hodgepodge of ten dollar t-shirts and 90s-styled Levi jeans. It’s busy as all get-out. I hate this.

Some Asian lady wearing a Valentine’s Day sweater-vest shoves her way past me, decides to look at the Clearance blazers right next to where I’m standing. She smells like garlic and bad perfume. Take a deep breath. Dream of the sunset on Crystal Cove, the only shore yet to be hacked by west-coast flocking tourists. Count to ten.

Asian lady’s still there. She glances up at me over her glasses, I’m breathing and counting, and she says excuse me. Ekue mei. It’s endearing. I wonder what my accent sounds like to her.

Move on to Barnes and Nobles, the only place in this God forsaken outdoor shopping mall that doesn’t make me want to take a sledgehammer to my face. Walk to the bargain books. Always books on Ireland for sale. Consider why this is. Maybe people like me always dream of going there, but never get the chance to go. They buy bargain books on the Emerald Isle scenic tour instead.

I’m standing here in this Barnes and Nobles, surrounded by post-holiday shoppers (moms) and unwilling companions (toddlers), trying to breathe, trying to figure this all out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Recap of the Day

Of my life today:

1. Woke up with my lights still on, computer on my lap. Didn’t move apparently after falling asleep to Texts From Last Night.
2. Followed Stadium and Shrines. Re-fell in love with Dave Sutton. http://stadiums-and-shrines.blogspot.com/
3. Listened to Beach House. Seriously evaluated the pros and cons of dropping out of college and becoming an indie rock star.
4. Witnessed a Vietnamese dance-off to the Pokemon theme song. And got paid for it.
5. Thought about running for the whateverth-day in a row. Ate two bowls of cinnamon toast crunch instead.
6. Made it to Political Science. Listened to Santa Clause talk about cockroaches. We’re all gonna suffer. No money. Government hates you. Jacksons rolling in his grave because he’s on paper money.
7. Daydreamt of holding hands with someone down Grafton Street, during the holiday season where all the wreaths are hung up above the cobblestone roads, and where everyone wears peacoats and happy Irish smiles.
8. Worked ten hours. (Didn’t work for eight of those hours at work.)
9. Sat in an office. Played office. Stamped “entered” and “inactive” on my graded essay just to feel like a grown-up.
10. Thought about him. All day long. Can’t get him outta my head. Have no idea why. Such an impossibility. Such a paradox of a situation. Thought about what it is to be in lust. Three months. Realized at the end of the day, I just wanted him to be happy. Couldn’t imagine not wanting him to be happy. Realized, for the first time in a long time, I might be approaching love. I hope he gets here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Christian Conundrums

You always hear about how college changes you. How this time of your life broadens your horizons, forces you out of your box, allows you to see the world from angles you hadn’t anticipated.

I guess I’m one of those people.

I never really thought of myself as ultra-conservative, nor a raging liberal. I’m just…well, a republicat of sorts, weighing each issue as I see fit. I’ve realized (quite dutifully) though that this is no virtue; that in fact, I am easily swayed beyond comfortable admission because of my lack of loyalty to a particular ideology.

For instance. I voted Yes on Prop 8 last year (hold your middle fingers, please), because I felt like I shouldn’t have to change the definition of marriage—one which has remained the same for thousands of years—to appease other’s lifestyles. I thought that even though I voted this, I wasn’t hating on homosexuals. I was just doing what I believed to be right.

Over the summer my mind began to wander, however. I noticed many Christians sporting the equal sign on their backpacks, or unapologetically talking to others about their more…secular, open-minded beliefs. Hmm. I was so used to Christianity being such a rigidly conservative faith—was this changing?

And then, I made a gay friend. One of the most amazing guys you’ll ever meet, really: kind, compassionate, intelligent, and completely self-sacrificing, his homosexuality is just a small facet of what defines him. We were sitting down at lunch a few weeks ago, when I realized. My friend, if actions like mine continued to ensue, would never have a wedding. Would probably never be allowed to adopt children. Would never be married in what I thought were God’s eyes.

It honestly broke my heart. Why would I be entitled to that kind of happiness, while someone who does so much for the world, and loves so much more than I, is not? While I still teeter-totter on the rocks about the religious aspects of homosexuality, I do know this: there are a lot of hetero couples in the world that have abused the right of marriage. And I wonder if it’s so bad to let those who truly live a life of love to have that experience as well.

Speaking of lives of love. As a Christian, I am constantly bombarded with this question (from myself, really): with so many other cultures and faith and deeply-engraved histories in the world, would someone who was born into another religion really be condemned for following it in the end of days? I would certainly not convert to Islam if a Muslim came over to my house and compelled me to see differently; partially because I know in my heart what I believe to be the truth, and also…this is how I’ve always been. How could I possibly believe something that I don’t even remotely understand? I wonder about this and how we can expect those who live in culturally-rich areas to forget all they’ve ever known and convert to Christianity. Of course, you always hear the stories like “once you spread the news, it’s like they’ve known the truth all the long but were just waiting for someone to tell them” kind of stuff. Maybe I really don’t give God enough credit. Or maybe I just believe in a completely loving God; maybe I have faith in humanity, and a sort of transcendental idea that we all need to love one another, as Jesus came to teach us; and that concept in itself is a life God wants from us.

I guess I’ve just truly started seeing people who are completely content with their lives; people who love others with all that they are, and give back more than they would ever dream of receiving. And these are people that think differently from me, worship differently than me…love differently than me. I am a Christian because Jesus has changed my very perception of the world—that there is more to it than these walls I build up around myself. That life is about serving others and glorifying His name, and knowing that each second of our time here is a blessing. Jesus has brought me peace. But if someone were to theoretically find these principles elsewhere…is that faux-peace or something? Or is it what we have been created and compelled to find these ideologies, in one way or another?

I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever know.

But if someone has the answers to these…that’d be awesome.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Obama's Speech on Tuesday

Alright, so if you know me, you know that I'm no naysayer. I'm not that person that waylays you some Hebrew scripture at every opportunity. In fact, above most things, I am a pacifist.

Which is why I am going to write this note.

Sitting here in a bedroom of old Picasso posters, photography of the world, a cornucopia of antiques collected from who-knows-where off of Craigslist, and a plethora of used novels and Purpose-driven self-help books....I'm happy. I'm content with my place in life, my sense of purpose (whatever it might be), and the world around me. I like that old Goodwill scarf lazily hanging over the corner of my vanity. I love the wilting daisies sitting in a vase next to my bedside. I sort of even care for the bruised and bloody toes stretching out from my too-short twin size bed. Yeah, sure, nothings perfect; but it's livable. In fact, it's wonderful, in countless ways.

To my point.

Y'all need to chill out. I had to turn off the television today because of the constant buzzing of protest from Obama's planned speech to the schools on Monday. Really guys? Out of all the things to fight for in the world, all the travesties to stand against, all the people to protest, you're going after this? Really? We must really be bored, or uneducated, or completely ignorant to believe that taking our children out of school for a day is going to scream to the world what we stand for.

So, I'll let you in on a little primitive, transcendental secret us humanists have discovered. Wait for it, take a breath...

it's love.

Cliche, you say? Perhaps. But ponder on that word as you show a deeply engraved sense of disrespect towards the man we put in office. Think about where you'll stand when this life ends; will you go knowing you fought the pointless? Or will you have loved incomparably, served completely, and have found compassion for the least of those amongst us? I hope we all take a look at our lives. In a time of economic downturn, of moral failures, and of heartless relationships...I hope we decide not to hate those who do no harm.

I hope we love.

So I made a list to things to fight for instead. Find a little faith in humanity. Find a little sense of happiness in yourself.

1. Fight for Uganda. Currently over 1 million people are still living in Internationally Deplaced Persons camps. While the majority desires to return home since the crisis in Uganda over a decade ago, the issues surrounding their return are complex. Some have been displaced for more years, and their former way of life is all but gone. Access to clean water, economic opportunities, health centers, and education are a pressing concern for all, and even more so for the many who contemplate returning to resource-barren villages. www.invisiblechildren.com

2. Fight for education. 75 million children are out of school around the world, a figure equivalent to the entire primary school-aged population in Europe and North America. By donating our time, talents, and funds we can help support governments who commit to the goal of expanding access to education. At the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, donors and developing countries set forth the goals of Education for All (EFA) and established 2015 as a target date for achieving Universal Primary Education. They also made a commitment: if developing countries committed the political and financial resources to providing free and compulsory primary education by 2015 and created credible and achievable education plans, donors would provide the technical know-how and extra funding needed to make it happen.

3. Fight for trade. Long story short: trade that creates economic growth and opportunities for the poorest people is key to ending poverty in the long-term. In 1980, sub-Saharan Africa had a 6% share of world trade. By 1998, this share had dropped to just 2%. Although Africa's share of global trade has since increased to 3.5% in 2008, its share remains the smallest of any region in the world. Similarly, although foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to sub-Saharan Africa grew 78% between 2005 and 2007, FDI to the region remains a small fraction of global FDI flows (1.67%). Sub-Saharan Africa faces the world's greatest challenges in accessing local, regional, and global markets. A lack of infrastructure and reliance on the export of raw materials (such as minerals and agricultural products) present significant challenges to expanding trade within the continent and with the world, and attracting investments into the country. Sub-Saharan African countries also face trade barriers such as taxes on imports, or tariffs, which make it difficult for their products to compete in important markets like the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Making matters worse, wealthy nations pay subsidies to their farmers, giving them an unfair advantage to selling agricultural products into developing country markets.

Go to http://www.agoa.gov/ to find out how you can help end poverty in Africa.

4. Fight for clean water. Do you know that diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in developing countries, due to sever dehydration and lack of proper nutrition? Across the world, 884 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation facilities could transform the lives of millions in the world's poorest countries. Universal access to water and sanitation could prevent thousands of child deaths and free up hours each day for women and children to go to work or school. This is especially true for girls -- studies show that girls are 12% more likely to go to school if water is available within a 15-minute walk rather than a one hour's walk.

Investing in water and sanitation is also smart economically. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates the equivalent of $8 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health care costs.

Go to www.water.org to find out how you can help provide the simplest of necessities to those without it.

5. Fight for truth. Alas, more often then not we need to come to terms with the issues that are closer to home. We live in a society that tells us that the brand of clothing, the clarity of our skin, the car in our driveway, and title on our business card is what defines our worth. And yet, on the inside of our cookie-cutter homes, we're direly lonely. We're in debt. We're self-loathing. So: fight for the simplistic truth that resides within ourselves. Fight for time with our families. Fight for an un-blinded perspective on our money, our credit cards, our mortgages. Fight for a new appreciation and respect for our natural surroundings. Fight for personal health, for unpreserved food, for able feet beneath our legs. Fight for something that matters.

And then, after you fight for all that, and you still feel the undying need to stand against our President....then by all means: tell your kids to sit and watch the Disney channel for six hours. I’m sure the rest of the world will be so proud of you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Persuit of Love

I don’t think pursuing love, although it is usually blatantly unrequited, qualifies as masochism. Yes, at times it hurts as though someone just slammed their foot into your chest, and you’re still expected to breathe like nothing happened. Yes, sometimes the pain creeps up slowly, until one morning you wake up and realize you’re paralyzed with inexorable fear of putting yourself out in the world.

But the lottery-like success: the success of finding love is like a million euphoric moments squeezed into a time/space vortex, where nothing else matters, and nothing else ever will. The usual fatalist end-of-the-world notions are sucked into a black hole, not to be seen within this moment in time. The lover’s words, the long kisses, the assurance of self-affirmation…

It’s bliss. Pure, unadulterated, undeniable bliss.

So what I don’t understand is why everyone goes through the concepts of love like class registration.

Oh, I’ll try this one just to see if I like it.
Eh, this one seems nice and I could use the units, so, why not.
I’ll probably drop this one after three weeks, but that’s not my problem.

I hate serial dating. And I’m so sick of people who commit within a week, and change their mind in a month. No more hook-ups, no more short-term fixes, no more indecisive absurdity.

People need to pursue love again. They need to quit their addiction to instant gratification, and rekindle the days of chivalry and commitment. They need to get their heads out of media’s choice-laden society, and stay on the honest and noble path.

Because love never had to hurt so much, and so often.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Electric City

The man’s lyin’ there,
The chances of lightning strikin’ him twice
Rare these things just go an’decide to happen.
He thinks,
Well, bullocks. I should just lay here.
I’ve been struck by lightning.
If I could stay here long enough,
The earth, the saprotrophs, should finish the job.

But the dirt didn’t consume him like it should’ve.
The micro things crawled, but he didn’t decompose.
Death lost its wonder, its novelty;
Grotesque monotony was the only thing that did.

So he gets up. He gets up,
And he runs his hands over the charcoaled skin,
Rubbing off the dry ground and burnt remains.
Oh, oh,
The pain, he thinks, this pumpin’, writhin’ pain
Is gonna linger a while.

He ain’t no hero, this man.
He sought a six foot hole before the
Sunrise. This man was the man who searched
For God in a monastery
The man who went a runnin’ cause it was good for him.
He’s just now a realizin’, that there’s no other
Choice than to keep on movin’.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Professor Obstfeld

She pushes her glasses up with her index finger--for the twenty-first time circa 10:15 this morning--and she strethces her lips away from her teeth. I think she's trying to smile. It's one of those faces someone makes when making ligh of an awkward situation, or when they acknowledge some asinine mistake. But I have no clue as to why she's smiling like that right now.

I also don't understand how she can still sport Doc Martins ten years after the new millenium, why she doesn't put more make-up on her tiny, beady eyes, or how she can be married to someone other than a chick.

But as she digs her hands awkwardly into her boyfriend-fit Levis, I do understand something: I'd kill to be her. I spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars trying to get people to like me, or at least what I'm covered with. This woman is undoubtedly lovable. She cracks an uncomfortable colloqialism, and we all laugh. She makes an expressive insight on a seemingly simple plot, and we all listen. People like this woman. I have this weird thing for her--not in that way--and I'm pretty sure she knows more about things I wish I knew about more than I ever will.