Though through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, My grace all sufficient will be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee I only design thy dross, to consume, and thy gold to refine.
One of the most important things in my life is my relationship with my parents. They live for me. The best I can do is allocate at least one huge portion of my life for them. Christians have this saying about boasting in the Cross (on which Christ died). It’s this particular focus on life based on the idea that Jesus died for the elect. Anything they do is for a bigger picture of the fame of their one true God whose Son died for them. Death is such a funny thing. We glorify ones who die for a cause. Soldiers - for the cause of a country’s freedom. Firemen - for the cause of safety. Martyrs - for the cause of a religious or cultural movement. Jesus - for the cause of salvation.
My question is: Why do we not give glory to those who live for a cause? Granted, death is a momentous thing in the context of any quantity or quality. Look back to the time the news about Michael Jackson’s death surfaced and perhaps 9/11 as well - one involving a single death and the other involving many. I bet you could recall to some extent where you were and what you were doing. Consider and compare the deaths of Yoda and Obi-wan in Star Wars - one far more dramatic than the other, but both still so memorable and important. Yes. Death is momentous.. but also absolutely momentary. The smallest unit of time could measure someone’s death. But life is much much longer and has so many more constituents. If someone says they’ve lived for something or someone, that bears a big claim. I couldn’t say that it is a claim bigger than “I’ve died for ___________.” But it is still big.. Huge, in fact. Life means a lifetime, and everything we understand is limited to our lifetime and even the moments leading up to death, but not death.
My parents probably never stated that. “I live for my children.” But their lives show it. If anyone had access to some kind of memoir of my father’s life, they’d probably cry, give him a hug, and then bring a knife to my throat and hold it there until I gave some verbal agreement of repaying him with my life. If anyone had a transcribed text message of every prayer my mom prayed for me and my sister or a way to tap into her brain and receive a mobile “push notification” whenever she thinks of us.. well said cell phone would likely malfunction on cue.
The sad thing is that I’ve only recently realized to what extent my parents live and have lived for me. And only recently have I tried hard to grow my relationship with them (because having them in my life makes them happy, and their relationship with my sister isn’t always the best). The sadder thing is that my short streak of great terms with them ended last night.
Until last night, I hadn’t slipped up badly enough for them to resurface their ill-perfect perception of me. I fucked up and missed registration for a class and now I have to withdraw from school so I can avoid paying for two terms of school instead of just one. I’ve tried so hard to make things academically copacetic because I know they care a lot about my education. I fucked up. When this happens, they tend to dive deep into my character and try to dissect why… how… and WHY the fuck am I so prone to mistakes in school.
They pry and pry and eventually start asking me about how I’ve factored faith into my future. At this point I break it to them that I’m not Christian, nor have I been for some time. I don’t think they really understood it. They kept asking me, “Well do you read your Bible?” “Do you pray?” Of course not! I think people are confusing a struggling Christian with a former Christian. But it’s not their fault - it’s a big deal for Christian parents to believe their kids are going to heaven. It’s difficult to grasp the opposite.
The discussion of faith and Christianity went on for a good couple hours, eating into my study time for my Econ final coming up on Saturday. Eventually it gets way too heated, as religious arguments usually do, and I leave the room in the impulse of the moment. My dad said some really stupid shit that I know he didn’t mean. But he still said it and it came from somewhere inside him. I returned later to apologize for having to withdraw from school and for being so flawed, albeit rather harshly. He couldn’t apologize for what he said.
My thoughts at the time?
Why are they so bad at pulling me back into their set of beliefs/my former beliefs? Shouldn’t a Christian be more concerned with showing acceptance and love over being right in a soteriological debate? Isn’t my salvation the bigger picture than their winning of the argument? If anything, I’d say the argument pushed me way further from circling back to any monotheistic faith. What they did is just not what I want to be. Christians claim to be little versions of Christ. Well, if that is what Christ is like, I don’t want to be like him. And if that isn’t what Christ is like, my biggest potential Christian role models don’t really act like him - and I do not want to be that way either.
Because the conversation ended so badly, I can say that they and I are not on good terms. I love them so much, but based on their faith, I don’t trust them a bit on any emotional level right now. I trust them as little as I trust the poisonous pastor at their church who convinced me that a utility of Christianity isn’t about love, rather it is about pride and deviousness. I tried to make it a point to show them that I love them and accept them though they can’t accept me. My dad has been at the new house we are moving into every day to manage the construction and moving. Again, working hard for our family. I made and brought him lunch on the way to school (where I submitted my withdrawal form). Call it a peace offering if you want. I’m not mad at him, but like I said, I can’t trust him.
So my reflection ends here. Christianity has seriously put a shit-shaped dent on my relationship with my parents. MY hard earned good terms with them. MY chances to show maturity and cooperation. MY process of learning to live for them the way they lived for me. It’s all been torn to fucking bits because of the stigmata of the former Christian, made by the believer.
Being a 5th year has been super lonely. I honestly don’t mind being alone because I’m kind of an introvert anyway. I love being in my room by myself while listening to music, editing photos from my last trip, and sipping on a beer (or perhaps hitting a piece, in another life). But man my social life this year has really been different from every other year of school. 99.8735% of my graduating class… Gone. A new, annoying, hiply-dressed freshman class… Successfully infiltrating the void footsteps left by my graduated peers. I’m speaking of a visceral loneliness. It’s weird walking around campus and not having people to say hi to left and right. I’m starting to feel like one of those creepy older people on campus who never leave for some reason. (Although I barely look my age so I probably pass).
I figure it might be all in my head. There are plenty of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years I know and I don’t have a problem meeting people each day, but everyone has become either a haircut client or someone “with whom”I did campus involvement. I didn’t apply for ASUCI this year and it’s a very different vibe watching events happen instead of helping run them. Even people I call my “closer friends” have too much on their plates. Today I saw one of them for like 30 minutes before she had to rush to a bunch of exec meetings. I think that’ll be the last I see of her for a couple weeks. Aaaaaannnnd that was the high point of my social life this week. Regardless. I love you, B! (or R?)
I don’t live near campus anymore and still don’t have the apartment locked down for haircuts… so i just mosey around on campus whenever I don’t have work or class just because that’s what I’ve been used to doing but formerly with other people. Eventually, once I’ve realized I’m being in no way productive, I make my 20min trek back to A’s house where I study or watch Netflix alone until I get sleepy (which is around 11pm latest by the way). Then I wake up at 6 and repeat.
When I look through my phone, the message inbox consists almost purely of random numbers asking for haircuts. Don’t get me wrong. I love that my business grows literally each day, but most of those aren’t friends. I don’t even know the names associated with some of these phone numbers. To me, they’re just clients. To them, I’m just a means of looking good for a frat dinner. Folks, money isn’t the one key to happiness. I just looked through the inbox again. I forgot to mention the many times I try to hang out with certain persons and fail at making it happen. Does that seem pathetic? I hope not.. Because it happens to me. It feels pathetic.
So visceral loneliness. For the past 4 years, I’ve been surrounded by so many superficial (but still great!) friends that I barely noticed how few solid Rock-of-Gibraltar friends I have. Now that many of them are gone, it’s hit me. It’s kind of sad but I have this theory about being punished. Call it karma. Call it the good lord’s wrath. Call it the tides of the universe. But whichever way, I see loneliness, and anything sad for that matter, to be the lonely man’s fault. I looked back at my past actions. The way I’ve undervalued friends and the way I’ve mistreated girls led me to the conclusion that I deserve this visceral loneliness. It kinda sucks… But whatever. This too shall pass and it will always end the same.
One thing I’ve learned from living with my parents:
Always do for your loved ones even when they don’t tell you, “thank you.” I’ve never thanked ma and dad enough over the years.
Muscle to muscle toe to toe. The fear has gripped me but here I go.
I came back from JP’s goodbye dinner to study. Everyone else went out to DTF. I was feeling productive at first, but then got super sidetracked with Business Insider articles and videos. Link by link, I wound up watching a video of a young mother pushing her eight-month-old baby in a stroller get hit by a car. I’ll spare you the suspense. They both survive with minor injuries. Here are some thoughts that transpired.
Thought 1) What idiot on the road was so bad at driving and/or inattentive to the point of driving onto a sidewalk at full speed? Driving is such a high risk activity we do every day. Killing (coming close to killing) an infant, or anyone for that matter, shouldn’t be necessary for learning that lesson. So who was this idiot? Turns out it was some super old fart who fell unconscious at the wheel.
Thought 2) Old people can be bad drivers. They’re cute and all, but they can suck at driving sometimes. I try to keep my cool when I see a slow, old driver obstructing the flow of traffic. It’s a lot easier to let that slide than a dumb ass texting and driving. So why was this particular old person driving? Especially if he (although the article didn’t give an actual pronoun) was susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel in broad day light? The car was a livery car. That made me angry at the company that hired the driver and namely the owner named Martinez.
Thought 3) I don’t know who is actually to blame. The old-timer? Martinez? The DMV? Law makers? I kept reading through the 3 sentence paragraphs and found out that the driver had a heart attack. So it wasn’t really anyone’s fault was it? You can’t blame the American diet on a driving accident and trying to predict a heart attack on a daily basis isn’t exactly practical. How then does one find a right to balance this wrong? Perhaps this is something the driver should answer to. The end of the article revealed that the heart attack, unfortunately, did kill the driver.
Thought 4) So if you actually want to think about it this way, the driver paid for almost killing two people by actually being killed. You can also detach the two events and just say that he simply died after almost killing a lady and her infant. My natural response was to feel bad 1) for the driver and 2) that I considered blaming him. As far as #2 goes, why should I feel bad? Yes, he died from the heart attack. But no. Prior to reading about the heart attack, it is so reasonable to blame the driver in a freak, rolled-onto-the-sidewalk accident.
Now, to be clear, I don’t think it was his fault. But it is funny how death affects our opinions. Up until the point I discovered the driver’s death, I was set on finding who was responsible for almost killing an infant (much more for thought’s sake than justice’s sake). But as soon as I read the word “died” I figured it’d be okay if there were no more questions asked. Death is inevitable and even necessary. So why do we let it or the idea of it boss our minds around?
Anyway. I won’t be seeing JP for a while because she’s moving to DC to fight for gay rights. I still remember the first time we met freshman year of college! Seeing the end of an era is really bittersweet. And considering the inevitability of death, saying goodbye always warrants some capacity of finality.
I had a bunch of random things I wanted to blog last night but I just got too tired. I’m going to take my keyboard and sense of self back in time real quick. Some thoughts:
1) I clip/cut/trim my nails a lot. I think almost on a once every 1.5 weeks basis. That actually might not be a long time but I never remembered having to bust out the ol’ keratin killer so frequently in the past.
2) I just finished two seasons of a show I used to watch as a kid called Digimon. I stopped watching the show prematurely 13 years ago so I decided to rectify my Saturday cartoon ritual (every day lol). The preliminary context makes this an incredibly tragic story.
This man spends his childhood searching for this magical world with his best and only friend. The friend dies and he is sad. His sadness is exploited by a villain and he becomes an evil puppet to the villain for taking over said magical world.
In short, the finale is about how the villain is defeated. This in turn kills the lonely man who since the death of his BFF hasn’t had a day of happiness. Because the show follows the story of these kids who defeat the villain, the narrative abandons the plot for this sad man and he gets a cop-out, “he sacrificed himself for everyone else” ending. That’s a big piece of philosophic cake for you. Actually, I take that back. That’s a f*ckin three-tier wedding cake of philosophy. Indulge.
3) I hung out with two of my friends from Irvine today. We all went to church together a couple years back. It was cool, but something about it was not a great time. Not to sound like a pretentious prick, but I think I outgrew them. Perhaps they outgrew me. But their outlooks on things and interests just seemed so depthless. I realized I’m kind of like my sister. We have a rather narrow threshold for people who can relate to us because of our interests and perspective. People call us hipsters for that. Uh okay. Go on and leave another condescending comment.
4) Know who your friends are early on but don’t trust them so quick. I don’t think most the people around me have any malicious intent, but everyone is incredibly ignorant and naive (me too). Some consequences of ignorance and naiveté go further than those of bad intent because they’re detected by no one.
5) Portlandia season 3 came out on Netflix. It’s funny (as funny as Portlandia gets) so far. But I’m sad they didn’t kick off the season with the “Dream of the 90’s” song. Tangent: The show has this one segment/sketch in which Fred Armisen plays the girlfriend while Carrie Brownstein plays the boyfriend. Whenever they get sexual, I think that a conservative homophobe would pry out his/her eyes at the scene of a dude wearing a bra in bed with a woman wearing fake facial hair and a “pseudohermaphroditically” deep voice. (I’m not actually sure if that’s a real word lol.) But wait.. Fred Armisen kissing Carrie Brownstein is legalistically acceptable and so is a masculine girlfriend kissing a petite-framed boyfriend. I’d like to experiment and sit someone from church down to watch this sketch with me!
This took way too much time. But it was fun. Deuces.
Doses doses doses