Why Bother?

6 12 2009

Here are some current manifestations of my sloth:

-I need to wash my car, but everyone is saying that it is going to rain this weekend.  There is an inverse relationship between the amount of dirt on my car and the percentage that it will actually rain when predicted.

-I went “Christmas shopping” this afternoon, but really just talked to a couple of friends on the phone for an hour and a half.  I perused the standard places, but I just couldn’t bear to buy anything that a store told me would be “a perfect gift for Dad this Christmas!”  I mean, a scarf/remote holder combo?  Not so much.  This is lazy because I should really do my shopping online (enough time for delivery, less expensive, more selection) but I just wanted to feel productive by going to stores.  Delusional laziness!

-I bought “apple cider tea” instead of actual apple cider packets because I couldn’t find the latter.  I looked all over the store for them, but Bigelow Apple Cider Tea was the closest I could find.   It’s not that close at all, turns out.

-I changed my sheets but just tossed the dirty ones in my hamper for the time being.  Who has over an HOUR to do laundry on a Saturday, after all?

-We still have some extra lights to hang outside our house, but I have creatively found Perfectly Legitimate Reasons® not to do so.  They even blink, for crying out loud, but I haven’t forced myself to do them.  (Aside:  I hope Dad beat Brian in getting our lights up this year, despite my lack of help…)

-I am so lazy that I thought it would be easier to sit down and write about sloth than to actually climb into bed.

I guess I was wrong.  Good night.

Cut throat (Machine Gun Post)

11 10 2009

I like finding things out about people.  Knowing something about someone without having to ask them makes me feel smart — probably because I figure no one could ever find anything out about me.  Here I am, in a little cranny, hoping someone looks for me but does not find me.  I have recurring dreams about hiding from people or things, and I never feel that I am hidden enough, and am usually discovered or shot.  Once, stabbed.

I like hiding from people.  I was playing a game (wouldn’t you know?) with some people last night in which there is lots of hiding and lots of searching for the dead.  It is called Cutthroat Mafia, and it is capitalized because it is an official game.  I remember playing it once in youth group growing up, and once in college in the dark and soundproof production center in our school’s film department.  The little sound stage had special walls in it that absorbed all the sound, and it was unbearable to sit in there, in the black, for more than a minute or two.  I guess I don’t like hiding that well.  Or maybe it’s that, without ambient noise, I feel completely exposed.

I don’t know why I like the idea of hiding so much.  I like going places people will not expect me to be, and sort of insulating myself from the sphere of those I know for a time.  I somehow ended up telling a couple kids last week about what I liked to do when I was in jr. high.  One thing I told them was that I would ride my bike down to the Baywood Market, buy some Tart ‘N Tiny candy, and go read in a hidden little grove of trees.  I also told them some lies in hopes of making them into better people.  I don’t think it worked.

I sometimes wonder (in the swallows of my narcissism) if there are people out there that want to find out things about me.  I don’t tell a lot about myself to people, and I often let them think things about me that are not true, just because I like having a “true” self that few have ever had access to.  This seems neurotic, childish and weird to me.  I think I just want to feel special.  Most people do, though.  I felt special today when I ripped a shot into the mesh from 20 yards out on a rolling ball.  I also “one-timed” a pass into the net on a two on one earlier in the day.  It was a good day for soccer.

See?  I just told you about some good things I did while playing soccer today, but I think I’m purposely letting you assume that I take a lot of pride in those.  Well, I do, but not because I think they were something that remotely matters, or that such things will enhance my standing among my peers.  Rather, I let readers think I care a lot about pick up soccer because I want to feel as if I am better than people see me, or something.

I think this might be some perverted form of humility.  It’s certainly very ________.  I have started lots of sentences with “I” in this post (MGP rules), but I don’t care about changing it.  I swing back and forth between obsessing about how I look to those I don’t know and resolving not to care about how I look even around those I am close to.  I don’t care about wearing glasses in pictures, I don’t care if my hair looks good, I don’t care what I am wearing at all.  I simply want to have fun, do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.  I am afraid that I’ve yet to track down a single member of this triumvirate, but hold strong, dear readers.  I do not write for you to know about me, but for you to travel with me.  I share with you not so that you can see into the intricate details (yawn) of my life, but so that I do not feel alone.  Maybe I also just like being esoteric for the sake of feeling pompous.  I suppose pomposity has its advantages, after all.  How much do circus ringmasters make again?

It occurs to me, as I started to write about hobbits of all thing, that perhaps I am reticent to “reveal myself” in fear that any disdain or rejection will then reflect upon my actual self, and not just the image of myself that I have, through negligence, perpetuated.

I think I probably just like screwing with people though.

* * * * *



26 08 2009

I am lazy and selfish.

Thankfully, I can usually make myself forget this with some sunflower seeds and a good book.  Is reading selfish?  I often look forward to getting home from work so that I can isolate myself in a corner of The Coffee Shop or the park, reading about dead people.

I guess I should be dedicating more of my time to helping others.

Our church has an Awana program that I think I am going to be helping in this year; I know it is only one night a week, but hopefully it will be a bit of a conscience alleviation for me, as I am apparently becoming prone to alienating people I care about by not making the effort to spend time with them.  Of course, if you can catch me at a good time with a random phone call, I will say yes to almost anything.  I gave up making excuses like twenty girlfriends ago; lying is just too easy to be fun, and too horrible for my heart to endure.  Yes, Corey, I will go eat five hot dogs and hamburgers to watch an ANA/DET match.  Yes, I will randomly drive over to school at 10:30 just to steal a sign.  Yes, I will play soccer even though I would really like to take a nap.

Oh, that’s right, I am incapable of napping.  Except at work.  I am getting dangerously close to old man territory — falling asleep in my chair at work.

I hope that type of thing doesn’t stay on your re-sume!

Anyway, I turned down golfing tomorrow afternoon for the sake of another buddy.  Let’s just hope I get enough work done so that I don’t feel guilty around both of them.

None of what I just wrote makes much sense to me…I can’t imagine having to figure it out if you’re someone else (which you are).

Personality Traitors

15 01 2009

Why is it that I always think of myself as possessing some superior brand of psyche?

No matter the situation, I always envision myself as being uniquely apt to deal with it, especially as compared with others.

I think this is some weird perversion of self esteem…or some weird backlash about insecurities.

Thankfully, I’m getting better at recognizing how much I suck, so this seems to be abating.  (which is another reason I’m awesome)


Dethieving Ourselves

4 11 2008

Of all the clearly egregious sins that permeate society, theft never ceases to sadden me.

While I’m not a recent victim (unless you count taxes and street sweeping), I would vote for anyone who promised to heavily increase the severity of consequences for such actions.  Locke’s views on property are fairly in line with my own, and when I see friends and family lose things to theft, it angers me as much as anything really does.  Taking that which is not yours undercuts all that is fundamentally necessary to sustain society, yet thieves care nothing for this fact.  The temporary need to slake want overpowers any residual thoughts of conscience.

It strikes me now that perhaps it’s the valuing of the temporal above the eternal (the most universal aspect of sin, I think) that causes such a visceral reaction.

While my initial reaction should surely be (and sometimes is) more merciful and forgiving, this is much harder to do when my friends and family are affected as opposed to myself; perhaps it has something to do with the joy of forgiving those who have harmed you — Matthew 5, after all.

I suppose that a better reaction would be one of sadness for the state of the hearts of those who are driven to steal from their brothers, whether by greed or by perceived desperation.  Furthermore, it is a testament to the poor state of the church that people would sooner suffer (or risk suffering, in their minds) the spiritual and earthly consequences of theft.  That the church does not appear a viable option for those in need is as much its fault as it is the world’s. Perhaps this is also why I resent paying taxes to help the poor — the church can (and should!) use that money to much greater effect, simply because it is able to minister to more needs than any government check ever could.

Last year, when my friends’ room was burglarized, we all began talking about what we would like to say or do to those responsible if we were to catch them.  More than a few of us began talking about how undeserving our roommate was of suffering the loss of his valuables, and how good it would feel to reclaim the valuables while also meteing out justice upon the thief.  While our roommate was (for good reason) distraught at the catastrophe, he never seemed to approach our level of outrage.

A few days later, when his car was stolen, he began riding a bike to work a few miles away rather than ask for rides, despite our offers.  He rode to work in the rain rather than let someone skip a class to give him a ride.

It became apparent to me that he was able to withstand these things because of the restoration God promises to his children when we suffer.  Rather than worry (too much) about how he would continue to manage finances and a myriad of other issues that necessitated a computer, he did what he could and accepted the help of others when he needed it.

I hope I can find myself capable of viewing my own trials in such a way; furthermore, I hope that I can recognize when to be angry and when to be trust God when my friends and family suffer at the hands of sin.  We are not our own, much less our ipods or clothes or cars.  Losing those things not only allows us to practice the virtues of forgiveness and humility, but also to experience the love of others in the midst of our trials.

At the end of time, how infinitely more will these graces be relished by our souls than the sheen of our laptop!

But if you must go, then please don’t come back

2 08 2008

The entropy in the world has become incredibly palpable in the last couple of weeks; I was recounting some of the moments of my childhood with one of my friends, Nathaniel, and we came to a supposition:

The good has to pass away lest we become enamored with it at the expense of the great.

For the great is rarely seen at will; it reveals itself in the most unexpected instances. When it does, our response to it is unfettered and instinctive: it reveals our souls.

I have often been criticized for refusing to let my heart/soul/gut react without first filtering my response.

But I really hope that what some perceive as a reticence to be emotionally honest might actually be a desire to be truly honest. A desire to react to what is real, and not to what is fleeting. It is not difficult to act upon the whims of the body; it is extremely difficult to discern between whims and desires. For God does not instill in us whims, but yearning for the Good, the True and the Beautiful. I want to see those yearnings for what they are. Stumbling blindly among my desires until my flesh happens to coincide with my soul is as undesirable a thing as I can imagine; the disagreement from the more impulsive types rings loudly in my ears, but I pay it little heed. To risk a bit of asceticism for the sake of righteousness seems a far better fate than to steep myself in desire while my sinful body rules my actions.

Y’know, because it’s a simple dichotomy. Right?

Blogosphere, Shmogosphere

25 06 2008

It has become apparent to me that despite the diversity found in the world of web logging, most people usually have one of the following styles running through their little corner of the internet:

The Look Ma, it’s a real website! blog. This often begins as a running commentary on some issue or group of people or tv show that you care way too much about. Once enough readers are visiting the site, the blogger then treats the blog as he would a business. Comments are limited and/or blocked, posts are very regular and curiously oriented advertising starts to show up. If the site doesn’t soon after lose its webhost in the URL, the blogger is a cheapskate who takes himself too seriously. Basically the super-niche magazines for enthusiasts. Subscribe at your own risk.

The Oh no, don’t read my diary! blog. Despite the “Web” part of “Web Log,” these people still put up their relationship problems and familial issues for everyone to read. It has something to do with the desire to pour out one’s feelings coupled with the desire for sympathy. Basically, it’s emotional prostitution online. No normal person wants to hear about your deep inner struggles with some old girlfriend’s comments on your Myspace page. We just don’t care, so stop putting it out there. These are essentially the unedited letters to the editor in any issue of Seventeen magazine, except with more grammatical errors.

The Everything and everyone is stupid (except me) blog. Basically an unending string of “the stupid @#($!*@ gas companies are $#!#*@!$ me over because I can’t buy my !@#*!@& case of Corona and drive out to Newport every day anymore in my raised Silverado, man.” There’s also the “I was at the grocery store today, and the $@*! checker totally overcharged me like those #$*!$@*# always do at the !#@$))(()((( grocery store, wtf its like u no i jus wanna buy food not pay like 50 bux for your stupid mistake you !$@*$!@.” Read solely by your loser friends, these blogs are like the smelly homeless people of the internet.

The I may not be cool but you’re even lamer blogs. These are generally run by egomaniacal people with just enough intelligence to occasionally say something interesting. Unfortunately, this is much more of the exception than the rule — everything else is just pointless tripe that is both self-deprecatingly and bitingly sarcastic. You might get a chuckle out of these on occasion but beware of complimenting the author, as it often gives his already unhealthily-sized ego reason to grow. These are like the yuppies who drink their Kopi Luwak coffee and talk about how America should be burnt to the ground and rebuilt like Switzerland, except with less freedom and more coffee. Everyone in the world is an idiot, but the author not-so-secretly hints at how much less of an idiot he is when compared to the masses of idiots around him. Kind of like the Michael Moore of blogs, except they hate America more.

The I write what I want, please care about it blogs. These guys are usually a little pretentious but it’s only because they don’t value their readers enough to filter themselves more. Kind of like Newsweek in that they are written because the authors think they need to be written, but no one really thinks of them as anything more than a mildly interesting place to get headlines from. People that know the author personally will visit every now and again, but the blog could die a quick death and nobody would be terribly disappointed. They’re usually started simply because the author thinks highly enough of himself to dole out his work upon the unsuspecting public in hopes that they’ll be enlightened by his infinite wisdom and debonair good looks. They should also send this author money whenenver they get the chance, because then he’ll buy stuff that will lead to more wisdom for them to read.

–  – – –  –

I’m sure I missed one or two, but if you think your blog doesn’t fit into any of these categories, let me know and I’ll be sure to prove you wrong. Pretentiously, of course.

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.

…To break a sweat over a dying race

29 05 2008

One of my friends was surprised this morning to discover that he had actually passed his online Spanish 103 class; this meant that he had officially finished his college credits and was now a graduate. After a little bit of friendly ribbing and a mock graduation ceremony (I knew I saved that lei for a reason), he proceeded to talk about how little effort he had put into the class, even deciding not to do some of his homework and a test or two. In fact, he wrote a whole note about how proud he was of having finished college in general without putting in any sort of extraordinary effort whatsoever. Now, while his apparent apathy should be taken with a grain of salt, the fact remains that he sees finishing something like college as a mere footnote; in fact, the whole thing is kind of a joke to him. He sees his success as something to brag about (albeit in a half-joking sort of way) to those that have expended much more effort but might have little more (if anything) to show for it, other than some nebulous idea of self-satisfaction.

Now, this is in no way intended to disparage my friend. He would be one of the first people to recognize the value in hard work and self-discipline, but he simply doesn’t care enough about academics to apply those ideas to his education. He openly admits his apathy for expending effort in what he sees as the inconsequential areas of life, and it is more of a souce of amusement to him and others than anything else.

I simply have to ask myself, though, why such apathy in life is so attractive. In every single class I ever took, I never failed to encounter students who aimed to do the minimal amount of work in order to pass the class. Understanding that you can only put so much time and effort into each class, I still cringed each time someone would ask the professor to describe the lowest level of success they would need to attain, even when I was the one desperate to know the answer. In my classes, I inevitably made a choice about how hard was going to try. In Spanish, for instance, I made up my mind from day one that I was going to do my best on every project. Of course I let myself down at times, but I can trace a very distinct line of thought in my Spanish efforts in comparison to my work in a few journalism classes. For some reason, that sense of apathy just permeates my thought process if I don’t make up my mind to guard against it right off the bat.

Why is it so cool not to care about doing well? I’ve called plently of people nerds, both to their face and behind their back, simply because they were trying a lot harder than I was. Obviously this label might be appropriate at times, since there are always going to be clear instances in which one only needs to try so hard to get the job done well (See Exhibit A: Principles of Advertising). I’ll recognize that this might be more true for some people than others, since I know that we’re all gifted differently, but there is a marked difference between striving hard to do well in class so that you can get those honors or that high grade and trying hard in life in general.

One of my other friends always competed with me (and I with them) in classes that we shared to see who could get the better grade. I always fancied myself better than them because I would expend only as much effort as it took to threaten beating their score. Part of that, I’ll admit, is because I felt myself to be superior to them. I only played the grades game because I had no excuse not to; a C would be acceptable for some people, but to me, an A simply meant that I had not slacked off in the class too much. I know I could have gotten B’s and C’s all throughout school with almost no effort. I say this not because I’m proud of it, but because I can see how the system is really geared to make people like me succeed with ease while pushing those who are not very intellectually endowed. The problem, however, is that people in the former category are rarely pushed at all, and that people in the latter one usually recognize how much harder they have to work to pull a B than those that easily get an A-. Hence, they simply aim to get a B or a C and assume that they simply cannot get an A without expending more energy than it is worth.

You know what? They aren’t always wrong, either. Perhaps that’s just a testament to how flawed our grading system is. Dr. Tarpley always started off his classes talking about how much he hated having to grade students on such an impersonal level. He almost never gave tests in his class, preferring to make students read and talk and give presentations to others about what they learned. Guess what? This pushed me just as much, I think, as it pushed the C students. I dreaded most of those presentation days just as much, if not more, than they did because I knew how well I should be doing. Dr. Tarpley would have been able to tell if I had just phoned it in on presentation days, and this knowledge kept me honest in my work way more than any test or paper ever did. Is it a coincidence that public speaking is so greatly feared by this generation? When you are forced to talk openly about what you have learned and what you think, you have no excuses. I wish I could say that this worked to my advantage all the time, but it took me until my fourth semester (thanks Donna) to realize that I couldn’t coast through college and be happy, much less make my professors happy. After talking to Dr. Thoennes on Friday, I realized that I could have done so much better during my college years but that, like the workers in Matthew 20, I’d rather have come two years late than not at all.

Song of the Week: Apathetic Way to Be (Relient K)