New Year’s Eve
Lacy Walker (and her friend Jasmine), Natalie McCurdy, and Ian McCurdy (all three former youth kids) came out to visit for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Lacy and Jasmine are in the US Navy and took the Amtrak from San Diego, where they are stationed. Sadly, it rained and rained and rained, so we ended up watching the parade on TV, but we did walk near the floats afterwards at the post-parade location.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (The State of Independence)
Kyle‘s sister Kristyn and her hubby Derek showed us around Philadelphia today. We got to visit the Liberty Bell, I got an authenthic Philly cheesesteak from Pat’s King of Steaks, and I got to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as depicted in the movie Rocky.
Newark, Delaware (It’s Good Being First)
My good friend Kyle Megginson picked me up as I transferred households. A fellow seminary student, he happens to live within 20-30 minutes of the Relli. Kyle’s family welcomed me, and sarcastic comments ensued between Kyle and myself, a time-honored tradition.
Elkton, Maryland (no state slogan)
I flew from Los Angeles LAX (thanks to Nancy Eckardt for the dropoff!) to Philadelphia PHA (thanks to Dan for the pick-up!) to visit Dan and Carey Rellis. I love their new house and I felt immediately at home. Cooper T is a ton larger than when I last saw him and substantially more coherant as well. Carey’s parents, Tom and Diane Buczwinski, were also there, so the house was indeed full of guests (and presents!). Carey is also slightly showing her new bun in the oven. An ultrasound revealed all was well, but not the gender…yet.
"The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round…"
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
"He’s a beaver! He shouldn’t be saying anything!" —Susan Pevensie
Rachael and I organized about 30 Fuller students to get together to see this movie on its opening night, and we took up three rows! It was an incredible movie, and I may have even teared up a couple times…
Alexia Rises Again
Finals week was ironically a breeze for me. I had overcompensated while studying ahead, so I had many projects finished early. Hence, it was time to ressurect my alter-ego. Don’t know what I am talking about? Why I’m deeply immersed in the World of Warcraft, of course.
California Driver’s License
Arguably one of my toughest exams this week was the written California driver’s license test. Yours truly studied by taking practice exams on the official CA DMV website. I passed with flying colors (thank you, Ann!). Out of 36 questions, you may only miss 6 and still pass; I got all 36 correct! A 100%! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that score on an exam I’ve taken. Like high school.
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
Fuller students know how to have fun. A few (40-ish) of us gathered around and "gussied" ourselves up for a festive party with a white elephant gift exchange. A mistletoe was hung up, but sadly…sigh…oh well.
Don’t Mess with Texas
I flew to Dallas to have Thanksgiving with my brother Tony and his new family. I got to see my nephews and nieces "-in-law, n-times removed" as well (see below: July 14, 2005).
I came to learn from them that the saying "Don’t Mess with Texas" is a slogan for their anti-litter campaign! Who knew? Certainly not the 49 other states in the union!
They really treated me like family. Good times, nummy food. Gobble, gobble!
Sigh, another milestone in my life. An uneventful one at that, since I studied all day for a New Testament exam the next day. What did the exam consist of? We were given fifty verses from the books Acts through Revelation, and we were required to name the book the verse came from. Ouch.
A shout-out to the Riesterer’s, my old church youth kids, and Elizabeth Abbott for sending me birthday cards. It was really appreciated!
Happy birthday to me!
Periplaneta americana Linnaeus
There are approximately 3,500 species of cockroaches, but only 55 species are known to live in the United States. Apparently, all 55 species have decided to infest my apartment, and Samson and Mojo aren’t doing a @#$% thing about it. Stupid cats.
To make matters worse, the infestation is being led by a multinational coalition:
Since when did Germany, America, and Asia ever team up to do anything?!
The Sky is Falling!
After a long day of working on my Christian Ethics project on capital punishment, I get an invite to go to the Monrovia street fair from my friend Johnny, along with his girlfriend Jenna and his roomie Rich. Johnny’s in my Youth Ministry class and is currently the junior high youth pastor of Sierra Madre Congregation Church. Somewhere. I guess it’s close by.
Anyway, the street fair is a cool place to hang; it reminds me of the Appleton Octoberfest, just on a smaller scale. The most significant find of the night, however, is when Johnny intoduces me to tri-tip, the small roast cut from the bottom of the sirloin primal. Oh my goodness . . . NUMMERS!
Welcome to Kahlifornia. My gov’ner is Ah-nold "I will terminate taxes" Schwarzenegger.
My fellow classmate Tim Cress is big into the game of Mafia, and a Mafia Masquerade party was planned the night before Halloween, graciously hosted by Brian, Melinda, and Amy.
Dolls: (L-R) Melinda, Jessica, Amy, Julie, Danielle, Jenn, Michelle, Enrique, Andrea.
Guys: (L-R) Josh, me, Tim (kneeling), Adam, Khalid, Brian, Eric, Tim, Kyle.
Yours truly was taken out early the first game. But hey, I was hungry and got to hang out at the food table. Nummy. So much for citizens.
“A corrupt town on the brink of a hostile Mafia takeover…will you survive?”
No Matter How Loud I Shout
In his book No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of the Juvenile Court, Edward Humes presents a sobering view of our nation’s juvenile courts. Humes’s depiction seems remarkably objective and unbiased, with no one person portrayed too positively or negatively, in either the civil servant or the adolescent offender realms. This book is on the required reading list for my Christian Ethics class.
Humes begins by retelling the now infamous 1964 Gerald Francis Gault case in which a fifteen-year-old ultimately received a six-year prison sentence (later reduced to three years by the Supreme Court) for what essentially amounted to an obscene phone call. Consequently, the nation’s highest court ordered an overhaul of the juvenile court system to be more in line with our adult courts. Thirty years later, in addition to recording the numerous trials and triumphs of the new structure, Humes’s book largely chronicles the lives of seven adolescents caught up in the juvenile court system, from their initial arrest to final disposition.
Humes’s interviews with nearly all levels of the court system reveal a frightening dichotomy: while nearly everyone agrees that focusing on prevention is better than punishment, budgets are continually cut and programs pared down or eliminated altogether that would otherwise help our adolescents break the vicious cycle.
Why am I writing about this? If you’ve made it this far, then consider this article in the Pasadena Star News, in which a 14-year-old may be tried as an adult.
The location of this shooting is one block from where I live.
We are a broken lot. Seminary students. We don’t have it all together. We are not better than others. We are not more holy than others. We stand before God . . . sinful, crushed, dispirited, broken.
Today was our Day of Prayer ("Lifting Our Souls to God as One"), and I think that hit home for a lot of us, this brokenness. It serves only to further remind us of who our Lord and Savior is and what He did for us. Our scripture reading was Psalm 25 (NRSV, the apparent academic translation of choice here), which I will repeat in its entirety here. Take some time to truly read and digest it. It could change your life.
Psalm 25 (Of David)
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
6 Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the LORD?
He will teach them the way that they should choose.
13 They will abide in prosperity,
and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all its troubles.
Santa Monica Pier
Back-to-back fun! Jennifer Moore invited me to go to Santa Monica with a big group. After a bit of a detour trying to get down there (driving in LA at night when it’s raining is an interesting experience; I nearly lost bladder control several times), we had dinner at the Mariasol Cocina Mexicana on the Santa Monica Pier:
Um, I was also the only guy among five other lovely ladies. Heh. Here is a picture of them on the well-known and very touristy Third Street Promende:
And of course, the obligatory picture of the Apple Store Third Street Promenade:
Manhattan Beach: Bump, Set, OOPS, Net!
So today we (Kyle Megginson, Laine Jullian, Todd Wyrick, Chuck Williams, and I) hit the beach in my Honda. Manhattan Beach, to be more precise. Interestingly, I have been here a month and this is the first time I’ve done anything remotely touristy. I have been studying nearly non-stop, so this is a welcome break. It takes us 30 minutes to get there (hooray for carpool lanes!), and we start playing volleyball almost immediately. The beach is surprisingly deserted; it’s explained to me that it’s October, and that the locals don’t come out anymore. Most of us did not grow up in California, so we are eager to take advantage of this.
While temperatures back in Appleton struggle to reach the 60′s, it was another typical beautiful day in the non-humid 90′s. Manhattan beach is just west of LAX, so it was cool to see large jets taking off toward the Pacific Ocean (which is surprisingly cold) every minute or so.
We hit rush hour traffic on the way back, so it takes us an hour to get home. Todd, sitting shotgun, carefully selects painful country music for us to "enjoy." The others protest vehemently, but I stand firm explaining the rules of shotgun as dictated to me by my own youth kids. Indeed, the tradition carries on.
"The person riding shotgun has complete control over the radio."
A Few of My Favorite Things…
Here’s something that I need to get used to: helicopter chases. Every other night you can hear/see a helicopter circling around with a huge spotlight shining on the ground. I want to say to the punk, "Just give up, man! They’ve GOT you. I’m trying to sleep!!!" Gah.
Oh, and the pleasant smell of stale urine around my apartment complex. Yeah, I need to get used to that, too. Why can’t we get some fresh urine in here? Why God . . . WHY??
How YOU Doin’ ?
There are some REALLY cute grad students here… Wow. And Christian to boot. Who knew?
First Day of Classes
Yee haw! You know, there is something romantic about being a graduate student, but I am finding a hard time explaining it. I don’t mean the romantic love connotation that we commonly think of. The second definition of romantic in the dictionary is: "of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality." Yeah, perfect.
We are all here on purpose. We all want to be here. It’s very different than college where many students go because it’s either the thing to do after high school or else their parents want them to attend. All of us here are here to learn about Jesus Christ, in one incarnation or another. The people are here are friendly and loving. My classes open up in prayer. Sweet! Yup, the professors are awesome. Some of them even do a short devotional before the lecture starts. I could get used to it here.
My stuff finally arrived. Sweet, sweet, bed. I assembled the cat tower and the computer desk as well. My place is starting to feel like home! Cat puke is even starting to appear again. Ah, home, sweet, home.
I also went to the Fuller bookstore to buy my books. Holy cow! Sixteen books and $320 later, I cannot believe that I have to read all of these over the course of 10 short weeks. And what’s with this 8.25% CA sales tax? 8.25% ?! Can’t my new gov’ner, Ah-nold, do something about that? OUCH!
The days are typically beautiful. They are warm (90° -ish) but there is very little humidity, so it typically feels 8-10° cooler than the same temperature back in Appleton. It’s weird walking in such warm weather and not sweating.
I miss my Jenny-pie.
What an incredibly awesome day. Today was the start of orientation week. I finally met some other students, and I am feeling better about my decision to come here. It’s been lonely as of late, and as an extrovert, it’s been all that much more difficult. The cats are still basically hanging out in the closet all day. They come out to eat/drink and poop/pee, but that’s about it.
God Has a Plan
I’ve made friends with the onsite super’s five kids, especially the oldest, Juan. He has shown me around Pasadena a bit, so that has helped. My apartment complex is smack dab in the middle of a Hispanic community, and I think I’m the only Asian for miles around. This is what you get for getting a place sight (location) unseen. Sigh. When I am walking, I regularly get asked for money, and there are all types of unsavories all around. I try to dress down to appear that I don’t have any money, which is the truth since my money is going straight to Fuller. My youth kids would argue that I dress down normally, but what do they know about fashion? Wait…
But I can’t shake this feeling that God has me specifically here for a purpose. A stranger in a strange land. (yes, that’s a Robert Heinlein reference)
I miss my youth kids.
The Eagle Has Landed
A long, stressful day! I flew to Pasadena (well, Burbank) to start my new life as a seminary student. I woke up at 4 AM, and Dan Dolezal took Samson, Mojo, and me to the Appleton airport. Thanks, Dan! He is such a trooper. He stayed with me at the check-in counter to make sure all the animal transport stuff ended up being ok. The made me put "Live Animal" stickers all over, plus "This End Up" stickers. "This End Up" stickers? Really? I’d like to meet the chump who can’t figure out the right end of a pet carrier. There’s a handle on the carrier for gosh sakes.
Samson traveled with me in the cabin in a nice Sherpa bag, while Mojo unfortunately had to be shipped underneath in a hard case as luggage. Contrary to what people may think, I was truly heartbroken and I did feel badly for her. Meow.
Let me tell you, I did not realize that cats were such people magnets in airports. I received a lot of attention as I was lugging Samson around through the terminals and on the flights themselves. Perhaps I need to take Samson for a "walk" through the park once I settle in. What cutie can’t resist my Samson-pie?
The cats survived, although they were freaked out by the new surroundings. My crappy apartment makes me long for home, which is a palace by comparison. I immediately bought the cheapest fridge I could find at Best Buy and got the rest of my household items at Target. I have no furniture, so I am sleeping in a sleeping bag and air mattress. It’s cold at nights, I’m lonely, the surroundings are unfamilar, and I am anxious for school to start. Cats aren’t themselves either; they continually hide in the closets all day.
Here is my den (note the laptop on top of the luggage), bedroom (note the sleeping bed, air matress, and luggage), and living room (note the two cat carriers and cat litter), respectfully:
High speed internet access (à la SBC DSL) was already avaiable, so that helped me feel a little better. It’s not too bad of a walk to school, though, and it’s an even closer bike ride. Weather is about on par with Appleton, surprisingly. But it IS weird seeing palm trees lining the streets. And you can see the beautiful mountains to the north. When there’s no smog, I mean. Pasadena is terribly overcrowded, and parking is always an issue, even at the school apparently.
Wuv, Tru Wuv
Lil bro got married on Lake Tahoe. No really, ON the lake. We chartered a boat (Tahoe Gal) out to the middle of the lake where the capt’n performed the ceremony. Here is a shot of my new step-nephews and step-nieces "-in-law, n-times removed," where n is a number greater than I can count. Probably like 6. Or 423,678.