Use the force young Skywalker...

this may go under the 'you had to be there' section of my stories, but there's been a few things that have happened in the last few weeks that have got me cracking up...

first off, i have to preface this story with the fact that i love traveling by plane, because there is always the greatest potential for an awkward moment when a bunch of strangers are enclosed six inches from each other for hours on end. nuff said. anyways, on my trip out to dallas a few weeks ago i was seated on the on the back row of the plane. the two ladies to my left and the three across the aisle were all chinese, which looking back, makes for a funny picture thinking about a massive white guy and a bunch of skinny asian women crammed in a plane together. anyways, i started to doze off as soon as we took off, which was a little more difficult than usual, because i couldn't lean the seat back. so here i am sleeping sitting straight up when we hit a little turbulence that startles me. i open my eyes and there are a pair of jeans about three inches from my face. i was pretty freaked out, but the girl that was trying to step over me was freaked out even more and tried to jump into the aisle, planting her face on the ground. she got up laughing, then i started laughing, then the ladies by us started laughing and saying stuff in chinese. i had no clue what they were saying, but just kind of smiled and laughed along. then they started laughing even more, and i think it's because i was looking like a moron trying to laugh along to jokes made in chinese. ahhh, awkward moments... so much fun.

on the flight back, the plane was pretty empty, and everyone had their own row. talk about a great flight, we even got to watch walk the line, which is climbing up my favorite movie list. here's the funny thing about planes though, when you have to go to the bathroom, everyone knows what you're doing. it's not like you are hiking down the aisle to talk to your neighbor in row 32, so there's no need to really pretend. that, and anyone that's traveled on planes before has been in the same place, having to walk down the middle aisle holding on to seats as you go because the plane rocks a little bit. so as soon as the movie is over a whole group of people head to the back of the plane to use the two lavatories. both doors are locked, so now we have like 5 or 6 people standing in the back galley area. so we start small talking about the movie a little bit while we're waiting for people to filter through. all of the sudden one of the doors open and this horrendous smell fills the air. this lady pokes her head out, sees us, realizes it smells awful and then closes the door immediately. she then hides in the bathroom until the rest of us (who are trying not to laugh so we don't have to breathe in the noxious air) take our turns in the other lavatory. here's the thing though, she kept poking her head out to check and see if we were gone. seriously, we're on a plane, we all know what you did, and there really is nowhere to hide. just walk back to your seat and let that be it. seriously, are you going to hide in the back until we land and everyone has left the plane. the longer you wait the more people are going to worry about you. i had a good laugh over this one. sorry if it doesn't translate well into a story.

last week we had our monthly sr. saints breakfast. a group of 30 or so seniors go out and eat breakfast, and i pretend i'm awake join them. so our preacher lawdog was running about twenty minutes late, so all of the senior saints were looking at me for answers. the nicest, sweetest, little old lady sitting across from me says we should punish lawdog when he gets in, and i mentioned something about a kick to the shins to wake him up. so when lawdog gets there, he makes his way around the table, shaking hands and greeting all of our seniors. when he comes to this lady, she stands up, holds onto his arms for support, then proceeds to continually kick him in the shins. then she stops and switches legs. the expression on lawdog's face was a priceless mix of utter shock and amusement. i almost fell out of my chair laughing at the sight of the sweetest little old lady kicking our 6'3" preacher in the shins while holding on to him for support. once again, a story that prob doesn't translate without having been there, but an image i will hopefully have in my head for a long while.

so what else...

yesterday was a pretty good day. me and some of the youth ministry crew went to see the world baseball classic game between team usa and team korea. aside from the fact that the us got beat soundly at a game we invented, it was pretty exciting to watch. here's some of the highlights:

this was the first time that i have actually been to a sporting event where a team was representing the united states as a whole.

i have never seen that many american flags in one place.

or korean flags.

although there really wasn't a whole lot of baseball to get excited about on our end, the few times where we did get the 'U-S-A, U-S-A' chant going were absolutely amazing. say what you want about our country, but when it comes time for us to be loud, we're loud.

when they played the korean national anthem, everyone was very respectful. the best part of their anthem for me was listening to the old man behind us sing. talk about pride, this man was amazing. from the looks of it he was a granddad there with his whole family. when they started playing the korean anthem, he started singing in one of the most powerful voices i've ever heard. it was one of those voices where you know the guy believes in what he is saying. very honest. and when i start to think about what this man had probably been through in his life, i was pretty moved.

team korea fans. simply amazing. they were relentless and absolutely awesome baseball fans. if team usa doesn't win, i'll be glad to see team korea take the prize. although, there were a small group of fans not doing much for dismissing stereotypes by banging on pots and pans whenever team korea scored.

the team that the us fielded was absolutely awesome. jeter, rodriguez, griffey... all on the same field. but that does lead me to some other points:

the low-lights of the game...

next time team usa puts together a lineup, we better have our best on the field. none of this 'whoever shows up' business. it may end up being a good thing having our team lose in the world baseball tournament, maybe it will spur on some pride in our players. i guarantee that there wouldn't be a whole lot of college or AAA ballplayers turning down invites.

our fans. there will always be those ignorant few raider fans that give us a bad name. all night our fans were pretty respectful, until a korean guy named bum ho lee came up to bat. i know there are plenty of jokes there, and trust me, i kinda chuckled when i first heard the name, but that's no excuse to be an ignorant jerk. one guy starts yelling out some jokes, and gets all of the korean fans riled up. good job guy, it the korean fans didn't shut you up, i'm sure the american fans would have.

that being said, there were a couple of fans from both sides that started some trouble, and were promptly escorted out of angel stadium.

all in all, it was a fun game though. we had some good laughs, and there were two things i noticed that have completely sold me on the world baseball classic: first, i love being able to pull for team usa. i love seeing american flags, and i love chanting 'U-S-A' at the top of my lungs. my patriotism is pretty high today, and there's a good chance of me and the cuz watching rocky 4 tonight. secondly, i like being able to pull for player that i don't normally get to root for. i.e. the boston red sox and atlanta braves. it was nice to finally be able to pull for guys like chipper jones and jason varitek. best of luck to big papi and all those other guys i won't like in a few weeks.

oh yeah, i also had my first stadium dog of the season, always a reason to celebrate.

random thoughts...

i'm cold. that may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me. it's been in the 40's and 50's around here lately during the day, and dropping down to the high 30's at night. when i lived in oklahoma this wasn't a big deal, and i would laugh at people that complained about the weather. now that i am a californian again, i find myself taking pride in the fact that anything below 70 is freezing cold. and before anyone comments about how weak we are when it comes to weather, i know. i am perfectly willing to accept this as fact. i am also going to go to the beach on christmas day. nuff said.

there are certain movies that help you relate with any generation. if i want to relate to my kids, i pull out some anchorman, or dodgeball quotes. and before they got killed, i was using a bunch of napoleon dynamite quotes. if i want to get my friends laughing, dumb and dumber, happy gilmore and billy madison do the job. for people my parents age, blazing saddles is golden. anyone older than that, just go straight for the three stooges. i know there are plenty more to choose from, but these are my go-to movies.

albums. this may be me officially turning into one of those 'old music guys', but i don't really care. i kind of miss actual albums. i feel like too many artists are gearing their songs towards the single, and not really focusing on creating a cohesive album. and i miss album artwork. i miss the days of opening up a new album and sitting there and reading the lyrics to the songs while staring at the cover art. i say this being part of the problem as much as anyone else. i pretty much buy all of my music off of itunes now mainly for availability and price. you really can't beat 9.99 for whole albums. i also know that as soon as i save up enough money to get an ipod, i'm going to pretty much eliminate any need for a tangible collection of music. all digital. it's kind of like when you know your favorite baseball player is going to retire, you know you'll still like baseball, but it's going to be hard to root for that team the same way as you did before. all of this comes from the fact that my friend valleygirl bought me some actual records the other day at the thrift store. big props to her and anyone that still collects vinyl.

speaking of gifts, risas mucho chica was out shopping the other day and got me a set of bowls that made me crack up. i now own a set of dodger and raider bowls. now if only i could find something worthy of putting in those bowls, like used kleenex... maybe some of lil stizz's dirty diapers...

oh yeah, i now have three copies of walk the line. thank you to my friends and family that know i love johnny cash.

not so random thoughts...

in the past few weeks i've kind of checked out of my typical routine and thought process. actually, we're going on a couple of months at this point. regardless, i'm doing a lot of introspective thinking and here are some of the things that i've been doing/ thinking lately:

the big thing right now is figuring out the big thing. i've been doing a lot of narrowing down and thinking through my priorities, and trying to focus on the top few. sounds simple but believe me, i've been losing sleep over this. but i have been able to narrow down my list of priorities to these top five:

1. spend time with God. sounds easy, makes sense, def needs to be number one if any of these other things are going to fall in line. it's funny how the biggest thing can be the easiest to forget.

2. get organized. i'm making so many lists right now of things to do it's unreal. this also includes time management which has never been something i've attempted working on, much less making it a priority in life. this one is the tough one of the bunch.

3. free time. as much as i love vegging out, i am making sure that my free time is actually spent dong something i want to do, instead of what i always feel like doing.

4. follow through. this goes right behind getting organized on things that are going to be tough to do. i never really understood why i had to do homework until recently. (this is the part where my parents insert an 'i told you so' in here) but homework was simply a means of getting used to getting things done. ouch. i should have done more homework. not having deadlines has been kicking my butt. back when i did have deadlines, if i didn't do something, the time would pass, i would take the consequences and move on. not so much anymore. now things don't simply pass by with time.

5. going back to my roots. i have always been an unconventional person. this is one of those things that i have known, but have been reminded of recently. i've lost this. i have always had rules and expectations to abide by that i have always found my own way through and around. now that i am on my own, i don't really have any person's rules to follow except mine (obviously God's rules are a separate issue). a big way this has changed me has been my approach to youth ministry. i started looking at what my goals have become, and they have started to look like everyone else's. that in and of itself is not that bad, because there are some awesome youth ministers that i work with, but i am not them. i got into youth ministry by going down a unique path, and i've stopped walking down that same path. i've started to break my own rules, and not the ones that are associated with youth ministry. last friday i spent the day hanging out with some kids skating and painting, and then finished the day at a punk show. that was a great reminder of where my direction is in ministry.

another thing i ran across a while ago was the 'life satisfaction index'. it's a simple equation, assign your reality a number from 1-10, then assign your expectations a number from 1-10. now subtract your expectations from your reality (reality of 8 - expectations of 6 = satisfaction of +2) if the answer is above 5, then your expectations are too low for your reality. if the answer is below -5, then your expectations are much too high. the goal is to aim for a +2, where your reality is slightly better than your expectations. my problem as of late is that things have either been a +9 or a -9, without much middle ground. so now i go back to re-examining my expectations, which is an interesting trip. more on this as i start to get the hang of it.

something else that hit the other day, was the way i am handling dealing with my dad. i have focused so much of my attention on the fact that mi padre is a great man, and i have no doubt about where he will be spending eternity, but i have neglected the fact that i am dealing with a natural part of life much sooner than most people do (hmmmm, an unconventional experience, this kind of rings a bell..). the best comparison i could come up with is that of luke skywalker. he went to train with yoda, but had his training cut short before he could fully become a jedi. he had to go a roundabout way of completing his training. i'm kind of like luke skywalker in that i'm going to have go about my growing up in an unconventional way. now if only i had a lightsaber....

well, that's enough head shrinking for now, my guitar is calling out my name, as is my porch overlooking a little league game. thanks to everyone that reads this and encourages me. the swell is coming, and look for me to be riding some serious waves in the near future. till then,

one love, one heart.


lindsy said...

your stories made me laugh.

Lailah Rafik said...

so i laughed out loud for approximately ten minutes upon reading about Bum Ho Lee. i mean, thats funny. it might be even funnier to me cause i have the tendency to actually call people bumhole, like, all the time. amazing.

Barefoot in Memphis said...

Hey friend! I've just spent the past 30 minutes or so catching up on your novel...uh, I mean blog:) I was listening to The Last DJ CD the other day & thought of our fun trip to the CD store the night before it came out to buy it. You are truly one of the few people I can say stuck with me throughout all of college which was a HUGE rollercoaster for me. I will always love you for that & hope that we always know where the other one is in this world. It sounds like you're doing amazing things which doesn't surprise me at all. Keep being you - I miss you tons!