16 06 2008

I actually don’t like this one at all. It kept getting muddled and I kept having to make compromises, and I didn’t care enough about it to cut where I should have. Nevertheless, I’m putting it up here for my benefit, hoping to fix it someday. Or not.

– – –

Crouching in fear as the leaves crack

Only by hiding can she survive

Once seen by him she must go back

She has vowed not to return alive.

Coiled legs prepare to spring up

His breath penetrates this hallowed ground

Seeking to end her, most abrupt

To show her death’s mysteries profound.

Shall some saviour appear? Shall none?

Unless one does she is undone.

The grey-black beast him overcomes;

Saved from death by death’s old son.

– –

Looking out for numbered ones

13 06 2008

I was telling some friends tonight about how I used to be a fanatic baseball card collector. My brother and I would go up to the same card store all the time and buy cards (I always loved Fleer best) and Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers, then rush back home to methodically open our packs. It never seemed weird to me that John bankrolled most of these trips, although I began to help with the funds as my paper route career began to take off.

Anyway, we always hoped to find “inserts” within the packs — these were special cards that were part of some series of usually only a dozen or so star players. The cards had cool designs and were often holographic or die-cut.

However, the most sought-after cards were the ones with their own serial numbers. I still remember my Frank Thomas insert that was one of only 500 like it in the world. I was ecstatic to pull it, and even got some decent money out of it later on when John decided to sell high (an incredibly wise and gutsy move at the time) and got something like $80 for that particular card. (I think I later used that money, along with some other funds, to buy my paintball gun setup — good times)

Nowadays, however, numbered cards only hold significance if they are one of, like, five of their kind. The baseball card market was running on a lot of inflation in the 90s apparently, and it has been crashing in the last ten years or so. I think John and I finally decided our card-buying days were mostly over when a pack of Fleer hit $5. That’s just insane.

Of course, this was all fueled by the fact that my dad had collected baseball cards right around the time of their inception. He would routinely browse through our Beckett card value guide and point out old cards with way too many numbers left of the decimal point under the “value” category. We suspect that Grandma threw them out in some random box without realizing it, as a couple of separate forays into the depths of her house have yielded nothing to speak of aside from cobwebs and old portraits.

I’m still susceptible to buying a random pack of cards now and then, however. Old habits die hard.

Especially when they’re selling Fleer in the grocery store check out lines for $4.50.

Gratitude Adjustment

8 06 2008

Today was hard.

One of my good friends gave me a Nintendo Wii for my birthday.

I gave him a t-shirt.

Sure, it was a cool shirt (obviously), but it doesn’t let you play virtual bowling with Ryan when he’s in Castro Valley.

The problem, I quickly realized, is that I am just terrible at accepting gifts. Part of this comes from having been raised in a pretty frugal environment, in which anything nice was usually paid for very visibly. As in, “We’re eating at Carl’s Jr. tonight so we’re not buying dessert this week.”

Straying from this mentality is painful for me. I am so conscious of the sacrifices that are usually associated with gifts that I would almost prefer to just do away with large-scale giving so that I wouldn’t feel guilty when I see the cost. This probably unhealthy extreme is in contrast to that of a few people I know, who both enjoy gifts and expect them at the “appropriate” times, even budgeting the money they know they will receive from friends and family weeks before their birthdays or Christmas, usually oblivious to the idea behind the gift itself.

Obviously, the mean is somewhere between these two mindsets. I know that most every person who gives me something does so because they want to, not merely because they feel any sort of obligation. It’s wrong for me to cringe in the face of their gifts because I fear their resenting me when they later feel the effects of their gift. In fact, it’s probably downright arrogant of me to think I know what they can afford to give better than they do. Even if their gift does end up costing them more than they anticipated somewhere down the road, that’s their issue, not mine. As the one receving the gift, my job is simply to be grateful and to enjoy what I am given. Being conscious of their sacrifice is fine, for it can certainly enhance our appreciation of the gift; when I become so conscious of their sacrifice that it starts to take away from the gift, however, I am judging their actions as wrong. Essentially, I am saying that they were wrong to give me something, that I don’t deserve it and that I resent them for putting me in such an awkward spot.

How perverted is that?

For now, I’ll keep trying to assume a demeanor of unadulterated joy when opening presents until the time comes when I don’t quite have to fake it any more, even when the gift itself makes me want to crawl in a hole and denounce my self-worth.

And, unless Christian subculture has lied to me, there is a pretty clear parallel here to the grace of God. Romans 6:1 pretty clearly denounces the second extreme of thankless expectation; I don’t have to look any farther than common courtesy to find a reason to abhor the first.

Defense, Defense

5 06 2008

Moving last weekend was surprising for two reasons:

1. We were not up past 2 in the morning.

2. I am much more content than I was before we moved.

To clarify, I don’t like change. I like being settled, I like having my needs met and I like knowing my routine and being able to fit any odd situation into the parameters of what I am familiar with. (That sentence might not make sense to me either)

But now, despite having no car, little money and lots of questions from two different insurance companies, I feel at home. My friend John asked me yesterday if, having graduated, Southern California was finally feeling like home for me. I told him that I wasn’t really sure; some days make me yearn for home, but my hope for the future is that I will find what I want apart from my location. Home, for me, is not where I am comfortable. It is where I have to be. Knowing full well that I will only ever think of Los Osos as “home” in the fullest sense of the word, I think I am comfortable with appropriating that term for Gagely Manor for the next year or two.

Song of the Week: Jimmy Eat World, Firefight