Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I asked the Lord...

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

This is quickly becoming my favorite hymn. It's scary to think how many times I've prayed the beginning prayer in however many words. "I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith, and love, and every grace; might more of His salvation know, and seek, more earnestly, His face." Even this trite, readymade prayer holds such power. God answers prayer. Maybe not how you intended Him to. But he answers. We are, after all, speaking to the creator of the universe.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One is the loneliest number (but not really)

I think I've been getting a little too comfortable by myself. You know you reach this point when you start wondering whether hell really is other people. It's easy to imagine when you reach the point where the smallest things set you off (at least on the inside). Like when someone's laugh is a tiny pitch too high for your liking. Or when people just so happen to press every single floor before your own when they get into the elevator. Or when someone cuts you off on the road and you find yourself repeating that God's grace is sufficient for you to avoid an inevitably disastrous retaliation. Ok, maybe it's not that bad, but in short, I need to force myself to see people. Other than my boss, that is. 3 reasons why.

1. I'm forgetting how to communicate with other homo sapiens.

The other day, I was talking to one of the parking guys for my building and when he asked me how my boss was doing, I couldn't quite make out what he had asked me so I asked for clarification, but instead of saying "Excuse me?" or "I'm sorry?", I uttered some incoherence that can only described as something in between animal yelp and Cro-magnon man. It was literally:

Me: Hahaha too much work sometimes.
Parking guy: [smiling in agreement before asking] How's An?
Me: Huhhl?

I think he just stood there for a few seconds before repeating to me what he'd just said very slowly, sounding out every syllable of the simple two syllable question, like you would to an infant.

2. Nothing I see in the cave that I inhabit called the office holds any bearing on reality.
A few weeks ago I was introduced to the phrase "ftw". I then proceeded to type www.google.com in my address bar before typing "ftw" in the search bar. Google for the win.

3. I have no idea what's going on.
Last week my boss found out it was Columbus Day at 10 in the morning on the day of.

So did I. In fact, I had to google "federal holidays" to figure out when I wouldn't have to come in to work again.

I think for the last few weeks, it's been ok since I have my friends the book, the TV and exercise to keep me company. But I think I'm realizing now that I need to actually make an effort to see other people. This is something I've never had to do before. Strange.

*on an unrelated note, Redeemer.com just posted 150 Tim Keller sermons online for free. Looks like 150 more commutes are taken care of for me. Thanks John for the heads up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Glorious (sorry long entry)

I absolutely relish playing the part of the obnoxious opposing fan. I'm not ashamed to say it's a sort of elementary type of pleasure. Like the kind Nelson from the Simpsons gets whenever he says "HA HA!" (Someone needs to invent a legitimate way of expressing stresses for the English language). If you don't know who Nelson is, it's this kid:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When I think about who I become when my team is thoroughly thrashing another team that I have a deep hatred for, I see this kid. My inner Nelson comes out. And anyone who's ever seen me at a Cal football game can attest to this (Joann, why are you strangely the first person to come to mind?). When I see this picture, I think of all the times I've run over to a losing team/fan and said something that runs along the lines of "HA HA!" while feeling only a subconscious underdeveloped awareness of how annoying I really am to them.

I'm proud of my Cal Bears. Despite two straight Pac-10 losses in their only games against really good teams. I'm proud of them. They played great today. A few mistakes here and there, but I'm not about to get nitpicky with a team that averaged 3 points a game for the past two. Which brings me back to my original motive for writing this entry.

As you can probably deduce from the above title, I decided to name this entry "Glorious". You see my friends, I reserve this word for days like this. If Cal football would ever happen to knock off USC at the Coliseum (or even at home for that matter), I would consider that glorious. Or if Cal were ever to win the Rose Bowl or win the National Championship, that would be glorious. Oh and every so often, I might use it in a praise song, but that's beside the point.

The point is, today's win was glorious. Why you ask? Why does a Pac-10 win against a 3-3 (0-3 in Pac-10 play--my inner Nelson urged me to include that little snippet) UCLA team gain the title of "glorious"? Because Tedford hadn't won a single game in LA during his Cal tenure. Because for the past 6 years, we've shot ourselves in the foot whenever we came to the Rose Bowl. Because while walking through the golf course toward the Rose Bowl, I felt the giddiness of a superficial 15-year old prepubescent girl wondering whether she'd be prettier than all the other girls at her high school.

Let's just say UCLA ended up being the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) and we were the pretty girls around her. UCLA made us look good. REAL GOOD. Same goes for the fans. Now I'm all for verbal jousting amongst fans. I think it's part of what make sports so fun to watch. But honestly, if my team gets dominated like it did last week against USC, I shut my mouth and take whatever they give me. If you're going to identify yourself with a team, you better be able to lose graciously WITH them. Now as I've mentioned, I love being the loud-mouth trash talker to fans of the opposing team. Before I continue with some of the best quotes of the day, I'll only prime you by telling you that we won 45-26, and let's be honest UCLA fans, it wasn't nearly as close as even that score may seem.

1. "UCLA...SUCKS!"
That pause after UCLA is crucial. Why? Because you raise your fist in the air and shout "UCLA!!!" as if you're a lowly Bruin fan in order to bait the appropriate response, which is some form of acknowledgment that we belong to the same clan (usually a fist pump and a "YEAH!!!") But little do they know that that "SUCKS!!!" is waiting for them like a fist to the back of the head. BAM!!!! YOU JUST PARTICIPATED IN TRASHING YOUR OWN TEAM!!!! HA HA!!!

2. "Bruins!!! (as a sign of camaraderie), ALL IS NOT LOST!!!...YOU NEVER HAD ANYTHING TO BEGIN WITH!!!
Once again, that pause after "LOST!!!" is absolutely crucial. Why? Because you give them a glimmer of hope for some sort of comfort or consolation after losing (but only for about a second) before slapping them upside the head with the insult that their team had no business hoping for any sort of prize short of a consolation. Oh wait a minute, we don't even give them that. Once again, my inner Nelson. "HA HA!!!"

Now before I move on to my last quote, I'd just like to mention that every so often, a stroke of brilliance comes over me that always leaves me stunned and wondering, "GREAT ODIN'S RAVEN!!!, HOW IN THE WORLD WAS I SO INCREDIBLY...BRILLIANT?!!" (in Ron Burgundy-esque parody). This last quote was produced by one of these moments.

3. Now continuing with the theme of Will Ferrell, imagine me with this look on my face:

What does this face tell you? That's a look of genuine, unmitigated concern. This is the look of a man who has something very important to say and whether or not you believe me, you better listen up because I'm only concerned with your well-being.

Now imagine me running over to the UCLA section with this look on my face after a pick-6 late in the fourth quarter that stuck a dagger through their hearts and shook it all around, tearing apart every single chamber wall of their hearts leaving only a sad, indistinguishable, mutilated pile of human tissue.

Now imagine me shouting "GUYS!!!...GUYS!!!...GUYS!!!" with the above look on my face (Go ahead, scroll up to refresh your memory).

Now imagine me shouting "IT'S OK TO LEAVE NOW!!!...I'M PRETTY SURE!!! IT'S OK TO LEAVE!!! YOU GUYS CAN GO!!!"

Now imagine me shouting "WAIT!!! GUYS!!! WAIT!!!"

before shouting "NEVER MIND!!! IT'S OK TO LEAVE!!! YOU GUYS CAN LEAVE!!!"

I know. I know. My hatred runs deep. But damn it, hatred brings about such great comedy. Now I have one more thing to say before I let you guys go. As I mentioned before, if I'm ever on the losing side of a thrashing like this one, I'll shut up and take what the fans give me. It's common sense really, I mean, what can you really say, right? Your team just lost.

I guess someone in LA didn't get that memo.

Now just like ESPN, I've given you my Top 10, or Top 3 for that matter. Now I give you my 2 worst of the day. As I'm walking out of the Rose Bowl through the tunnel shouting "BACK TO THE BOTTOM BRUINS!!! BACK TO THE BOTTOM!!!" and "I GUESS IT'S NOT THE COACHING HUH?!!!", I hear a sniveling UCLA fan (think Golem from Lord of the Rings) attempt to shout out box scores from the past two weeks in his Peewee herman-like, ring-tone voice.

1. Verbatim, he shouts, "42-0!!! 47-0!!!"
First of all, if you're going to call out box scores, at least get them right. In the words of Jim Calhoun, "GET SOME FACTS AND COME BACK AND SEE ME". I'll reserve my second point for number two since it's overarching.

2. "Well, you guys are like 1-6 in LA"
Do you remember Clueless? You know that movie starring Alicia Silverstone and two other girls that no one knows what happened to? Well, think Clueless when you pronounce that "like" in the above phrase. It was literally just like that. Straight up valley ditz status. Only, it came from a fat, middle-aged, hispanic guy with a full-grown beard. My response to that was: "what does that have anything to do with the fact that you lost today?". Honestly (this is where I address Smigel from Lord of the Rings), anything bad you have to say about the team you just lost to makes your team look even worse. If you're going to shout out box scores from the past two weeks, you're shouting out to the world just how bad your team is, seeing as to how you just got thrashed by a team that lost "42-0, 47-0". If you're going to tell me that we're 1-6 in LA, then you just lost to a team that's 1-6 in LA you pathetic excuse for a college graduate!!! HEY IDIOTS!!! IT DOESN'T TAKE A WHOLE LOT OF BRAIN TO REALIZE THAT THE MORE YOU TRASH TALK, THE LOWER YOU BRING YOUR OWN PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A FOOTBALL TEAM!!!

My love-affair with the caps lock continues.

I can only imagine just how Nelson-like I'll become when we beat USC. Maybe I'll wear a denim vest to the game. I leave you with this.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts (from this past week)

I spent 10 minutes trying to think of a clever, witty title for this entry, but I can't. So, here are some thoughts from this past week. I'll try to think of a better title next time.

The long-awaited grudge match between USC and Cal happened this past week. All I can say is, we got dominated. That's all I'll say about that. But right before the game, before entering the stadium, I got the rare opportunity to watch Peter Carroll and the USC players walk into our stadium to get ready for the game. Now for all you nons, Pete Carroll could potentially go down as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. And the Trojans are chock-full of future NFL Pro-Bowl talent. I literally thanked God for the opportunity to witness such an event. I was straight up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory status as I ran up to that bus. This was my golden wrapper.

So what did I do?

I started shouting near-obscenities non-stop at the top of my lungs with hands cupped over my mouth for added volume and emphasis. I've always said, "to USC, we're just another team to beat, but to us, USC is the devil". I think the mic man put it best when he said, "THOSE PLAYERS, THOSE FANS, THAT SCHOOL... REPRESENT EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN THIS WORLD!!!". That pretty much sums up how strongly I feel about USC.

So what am I getting at? In between my shouts of "LET'S GO HUSKIES!", "WE WANT CORP!" and "WE WANT A SALARY CAP", all I could hear was myself. Now people have always told me that I have a notoriously loud outdoor voice. So I knew everyone could hear me. In fact, I could have been deaf and their eyes alone would have told me that. When all the players walked in after giving me the dirtiest glares a football team named after a condom could seriously give, a fellow Cal fan walked up to me cracking up and shook my hand while telling me "That was awesome man".

But why was I the only one? What the hell? This program's done everything short of getting on a loudspeaker to tell the world that they cheat and pay their athletes and not a word? No one hates Florida the way people hate SC. PEOPLE HATE SC FOR A REASON. Give me a break. Save professionalism for the NFL. This is college football. Not golf.

On a completely unrelated note, I was with my boss deciding where to eat lunch when we stumbled upon this Korean restaurant in where else but K-town. As we sat down, she suggested I order the "Soh muhlee gook bap" which could literally be translated into cow head soup with rice. But I didn't care, I was hungry so I assumed that cow head soup could be translated into something else that my ignorant, barely korean and far too American upbringing never taught me.

So the food comes out and I try some of the soup before I begin to add my salt and other "accoutrement" (I know, I just jumped on the friend ladder) and I realize that this tastes just like suhlungtang. So I'm super happy seeing as to how I haven't been able to have suhlungtang for what feels like ages. Halfway through the meal, I reach down to the bottom of the bowl for my clear suhlungtang noodles and there aren't any. Any of you who have ever had suhlungtang know what these noodles are. They're like the the top to a muffin. Sometimes they're the only reason I order suhlungtang. YOU CAN'T EFFING HAVE AN EFFING MUFFIN WITHOUT THE EFFING TOP!!! AND YOU CAN'T EFFING HAVE EFFING SUHLUNGTANG WITHOUT THE EFFING CLEAR EFFING NOODLES!!!

Allow me to digress for the sake of better expressing my disappointment in that moment. I remember when I was a little kid, maybe four years old, I saw two older kids getting into an argument. As their words got more and more heated, I remember thinking that this could turn ugly real quick. Suddenly, one kid (the fat one, because there's always a fat kid in fight memories that turn funny at the end) shouts at the top of his lungs and says "YOU'RE F****** LUCKY I'M A CHRISTIAN, CAUSE IF I WASN'T, I WOULD BEAT THE S*** OUT OF YOU!!!". People say I remember EVERYTHING. There's a reason I remember so much. Usually it's because whatever it is was so hilarious to me at the time that it made an indelible impression on my sense of humor and self that would never leave me. THIS was one of those moments.

But I digress (whoever was the first one to say this needs to be punched). When I brought my spoon up from the bottom of that bowl with only rice and soup, I felt what that aforementioned fat kid felt. My anger was straight up feral, primal, call it what you want. Gluttony had nothing to do with it. It was an anger stemming from the fact that THE WORLD SHOULD NEVER ALLOW THINGS TO COME TO THIS. I was about to knock my table over in front of everyone during a busy lunch hour, walk to the manager and shout "YOU'RE F****** LUCKY I'M A CHRISTIAN, CAUSE IF I WASN'T, I WOULD BEAT THE S*** OUT OF YOU!!!!" No joke. I was angry. So angry in fact, I felt this injustice needed to be rectified through this blog that no one ever reads. Lesson of the day? I don't know if there is one, just don't ever give me suhlungtang without clear noodles or I'll turn into a fat kid and give you some great comedy.