goooood mooorning vietnaaaaaam! if that’s not funny to you, then you need to be watching the office on thursday nights.
so it’s been a few weeks since my last post so i figured it was time to update the world, or at least mi madre and my handful of other readers to what’s been going on lately.
yesterday was one of those unplanned days that ended up being pretty chill. one of the kiddos from san diego came up to visit and get out of the house for a couple of days while on spring break. he’s a photography buff, and wanted to come take some pics in l.a. and along the pch. the plan was to head down the coast and loop up back north through the valley and get a bunch of rolls of film used up. well, the weather didn’t exactly cooperate, so we ended up cruising down one of the nicest drives in the world in the middle of a torrential downpour. needless to say we didn’t take near as many pics as we wanted, and just ended up driving around los angeles kinda aimlessly, just talking. it’s kinda cool when you can have those days where you don’t really do a whole lot, but it still ends up being a busy day, and one where you had fun. we ended up meeting the cuz and mucho risas chica for dinner at chili’s and by the time we got back we were all pretty wiped out. something about rainy days kinda makes the world seem like its moving a little slower.
one of the things we talked about was how over-hyped stuff can become. here we are cruising down hollywood blvd, sunset blvd, rodeo drive, and bel air, and we really weren’t all that impressed. we felt bad for all of the tourists that were braving the rain to find these ‘famous spots’ in l.a. don’t get me wrong, l.a. is a great place to visit, and there are a million things to do here, but hollywood and beverly hills?… we really don’t see the hype. for example, graumanns chinese theater where all of the starts put their hands in concrete, and where they reveal people’s starts for the walk of fame (by the way, we missed destiny’s child getting their star by about two hours…. dang) is actually really tiny, and it’s in the middle of a block of some random star maps stores, fast food dives, and some other unmentionable shops. not exactly the glamourous setting you would expect.
my favorite part of the hollywood is the star walk of fame. sure they reveal the stars in front of graumann’s, but most stars end up being three miles down the road in front of a popeye’s chicken. for example, if tony danza wanted to see his star he would have to find the pawn shop it was in front of, and move the person sleeping on it. for me it’s a great reminder of priorities, and helps throw things into perspective.
and it’s not just l.a. i remember a while ago i thought it would be really cool to see graceland when i was out visiting my grandparents in memphis. at the very least, i wanted to see some hardcore elvis fans crying in front of the gate. so we went to find graceland, and it was kinda in the middle of the hood, had graffiti all over the walls, and the house was about the same size as some of my friends’ back home. i really couldn’t imagine that being the main destination for a vacation. i think this is why my parents never really took us on a whole lot of vacations to see things or places, but people. i know we stopped at the grand canyon a few times, but it was always on the way to or from visiting family in texas. unless it was somewhere really exotic, or a place where there were many things to see in one area, i can’t really remember taking a vacation to see a destination. hmmm, never really thought about that…
on monday, i was down in san diego to visit my second family and help dantheman get his old car up to murrietta. talk about a comedy of errors. so dantheman’s dad restored an old mg years ago, and let dantheman have it as his first car. when college came around the mg went back in the garage because it wasn’t really going to work in oklahoma. so as far as i know, the mg ha been sitting in the garage for about seven years. now that dantheman and futuremom have a house, more specifically a garage, dantheman inherited his car back. anyways, watching us try and push this thing out of the driveway and out on to the trailer must have been a sight to see. we came about a half an inch from ruining a classic car on several occasions. fortunately the car needs restoring, otherwise it would have been a really bad day. so after the longest drive up to murrietta, we finally get the car to the house, when we start trying to back the car dolly in to the driveway. the problem here is that the car dolly’s are not meant to go in reverse, and we had both missed the giant DO NOT BACK UP sticker on the arm of the trailer. so we park the trailer across the street, dan steers the car, and i have to push it off of the trailer myself while dan guides it towards the driveway, which has a huge slope to it. we get in the driveway, then dan starts to work on trying get the garage door working. we finally get it open, then start pushing the car up the driveway, when dan yells stop again. now the goofball decides that he doesn’t want to wash the car in the garage, so he hoses it off in the driveway, which means we now have to push a wet car. so i protest, and we wait for the car and the driveway to dry off, then we push it, yet again, up into the garage. after days like that i can see why we are friends, we have the same way of planning.
then we go return the car dolly to the uhaul place where we had a great lesson in customer service. so on the way up from san diego the strap on the right tire popped off twice, making us stop and check and redo the lockdown on the freeway. this is not a good thing because teeth on the clamp are worn don a bit, and there is a very real likeliness that the straps will continue to fly off. not to mention there is a classic car in tow, and i’m right behind it on the freeway for an hour drive. so we tell the lady at uhaul what happened, and she starts yelling at us, saying we tied it down wrong, making us feel incompetent. here’s a lesson in customer service: the customer is always right. i don’t care if i come in saying purple balloons started flying out of the tires, you apologize to the customer for anything out of the ordinary and you smooth things over, you never make the customer feel stupid. then the lady puts the strap in and starts tugging on it herself, looking at us saying ‘it works now’. i gladly mentioned that there was huge difference between a lady tugging on the strap and a two ton car on the freeway pulling on the strap. here’s the thing, we weren’t looking to get money back or trying to start a ruckus, we just wanted them to know for future references, so that it didn’t happen someone else. when we mentioned this she got even more mad at us. seriously, not big on uhaul right now in murrietta. me and dantheman just had to laugh though, not a whole lot of stuff you can do about idiot people.
so what else is going on…
i had another big realization over the past few weeks. i am unconventional. this should not surprise anyone that knows me at all, but it’s something i’ve lost sight of over the past year or so. here’s the thing, i’ve always had a bunch of rules to live by, parents, high school, college… and now, i don’t really have those rules. when i was a kid, i had my parents rules to work around (note i’m not saying breaking). if my parents told me to do something, i would get it done my own way. in school as a kid i always did my own thing as well, esp when it came to expectations of work load and grades. i got to the same place that they wanted me to go, but i went according to my own directions. in college, i had probably the most rules i’ve ever had in life, and that’s the happiest i’ve ever been, mainly doing things that were a little outside of the conventional rules of oc. now that i am out on my own, i only have God’s rules and my own. over the past year i’ve started to do things that go against my own rules. nothing bad, but things like trying to copy other youth ministers, take up hobbies other people have, and spending most of my day in the office. here’s the thing, i took an unconventional way into youth ministry, and i never intended on being an average youth minister. so why am i trying to act like one? i went from looking to others for ideas, to trying to be like others. i lost my outside perspective. also, i started off my ministry with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder that i used to use as motivation. i don’t have a youth ministry degree, i’m single, and i did not have any experience when i started looking for a job. a lot of places passed on me because of any combination of those three things, and as a result i developed a motivation to prove to myself and the rest of the world that God could use me for youth ministry. having that conventional youth minister image really helped me define my approach to ministry, and had lost sight of that. i started going against my own rules and i wasn’t as happy as i wanted to be. so in the past few weeks i’ve gone back to getting that image of the typical youth minister in my head, and making sure that i am paving my own path to the same destination. i want to reiterate that this does not mean i am breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules, this just means that i approach my classes differently, and i spend my time differently. in no way shape or form do i condone breaking God’s rules, but i do recommend that we all look at the path that God has intended us to travel to the same destination.
this has been a fun revelation though. i feel like i did back in my punk ska days in high school. i feel like it’s me and God walking through the woods vs. us taking the park trail. there’s also a part of me that wants to get a mohawk, a couple more tattoos and find my old spiked jacket. that might have to wait, but one of my friends put it pretty well, “d.j., you don’t need a mohawk, you have one on your heart”. very true. man, the freedom that comes from knowing that you have your own path to walk is amazing. just thinking about it gets me charged up. it’s a great testimony of God’s good will too, we were never designed to fit into the mold of another person. i am on of a kind, uniquely and wonderfully designed by the same God that put the stars in the sky. why should i try and change that?
other random thoughts…
the cuz had this quote at dinner last night: “your nickname was trucker, maybe you’ll know. why do they call it a semi truck? if anything a regular truck should be called a semi truck cause it’s not near as big.”
my oldest guitar ras, is about to become artwork, or a decoration. we bought her back in 94 for something like forty bucks, and we’ve traveled all over this country together. she’s always had a great sound, almost like a ukulele, but as of late the neck has started to warp, making it tougher to actually get her to sound good. it’s going to be a tough day finally hanging her on the wall for display purposes only. she’s been good to me though, covered in stickers, with a wide, worn down neck that was really easy to learn on. we’ve played a lot of songs together, gone through a lot of strings, campfires, beach trips, plane rides, camps, jam sessions, and i think a few trips down the river. so far anyone that remembers my guitar and the good times she brought with her, just thought you’d like to know.
speaking of guitars, i bought a bass guitar last week at a pawn shop. let me tell you, my neighbors really love me now. so now i’m teaching myself to play bass. actually, i figured it was easier to buy a bass and learn how to play, then trying to program something that sounds like a bass on garageband. for a cheap beat up bass it’s pretty sweet. it won’t be long until i dress up a little, but for now the key is teaching myself how to play. chalk this up as me doing things my own way. either way, i was able to record a bunch of stuff last weekend, and hopefully i’ll have some stuff posted on myspace before the summer starts. we’ll see.
my other purchases of note lately def send out a nerd alert, but i really don’t care. i’m going to put a spiritual spin on this so don’t make fun, but lately i’ve been buying legos. talk about a cathartic hobby, legos are awesome. there’s something very calming about putting together legos. maybe it’s the hour or two of focus that it takes to put them together, the ability to create and sort out a mess into something constructive, or just the reminiscing on fond childhood memories, but i’m all about legos as of late. and to double the nerdiness, i’ve been buying star wars lego sets. don’t expect me to dress up and go to any conventions any time soon, but i have told a few of my friends about this, and i have gotten some jealous responses. so here’s the spiritual stuff i can draw from legos. first, there’s the all important part of following directions. if you want your creation to look anything like the picture on the box you better follow all of the steps. then there are the specific pieces that make every lego creation unique. you know those parts that you would never use again on another creation that work only for that one thing, which is why you keep the directions, you can rebuild it again later. speaking of the pieces, you could draw a lot from the way the pieces are designed to fit together, and how you can take so many different colors and shapes to create something. then there is the sheer creativity it takes to design lego sets. forget getting a man in space, how long did it take for the lego guys to figure out how to build the millennium falcon? and finally, there is the ability to sit quietly and dive into your own world for a while that is awesome. i know this may sound a little juvenile, but i recommend the next time you are stressed, or just want some quiet time, go pick up some legos.
well, it’s about time for me to be a grown up and get to work. some of the kiddos are coming up to skate the church before ROOTS so i better move my car.
by the way, thanks for all the positive responses to my past several posts, both written and spoken. it means a lot to know that my ranting and raving can bring you laughter and encouragement.
one love, one heart.