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Month: November 2004

one hell of a weekend

one hell of a weekend

What a week.. Monday through Friday I was going to the bathroom at least five times every day. It would all stop around 4pm though and not bother me during the night. I thought in the beginning that it was caused by having the dish with hot chilies at the Mexican restaurant on Sunday. By Friday I knew I had to do something. I downed a 4 oz. ($5!!) bottle of Pepto Bismol and headed to Amy’s house for dinner. That night it was apparent that the Pepto wasn’t having much effect, so I began taking Immodium AD. I went home and returned the next morning to watch the Michigan game. By Saturday evening things were so bad that I couldn’t drive home. At 3am (Sunday) I had Amy drive me to the emergency room. I was diagnosed with an intestinal infection. I’m going to be on antibiotics for a few days. I’m told if I get into the sunlight I’ll get a rash from this medicine. So…my first thanksgiving in California where it will be sunny and warm…and I can’t go outside. I spent Sunday watching DVDs with Amy and letting her take care of me. I went home early Sunday because I had gotten maybe a few hours of sleep Saturday night. When I got home and was getting ready to go to bed I went to brush my teeth. When I picked up the brush –bzzzap!- the light went out. The electricity in the bathroom and my bedroom had gone out and apparently nowhere else was affected. I looked for the fuse box…and couldn’t find one anywhere. Maybe fuse boxes are an east coast thing… Now, during this sickness, I’ve always felt very cold. It doesn’t get that cold in so-cal, but it can get down to 45 degrees indoors at night if you don’t have central air (which we don’t). Last weekend I bought a space heater to combat this cold. Now, however, the electricity was off, so I was left to shiver under blankets the whole night. So let’s recap: I’m really sick, in terrible pain, feel really cold, and have only slept a few hours in the past two days… I get home to go to sleep, and the power goes out before I can even brush my teeth or begin heating up my room… If there was ever a time for someone to think that god was having a good laugh at your expense…. Speaking of expense..does anybody know how much a trip to the emergency room costs without insurance? They refused to tell me before I left the hospital, that is probably a bad sign.

Goodbye savings account, I’ll miss you.

honeymooners and grunting teenagers

honeymooners and grunting teenagers

On Sunday Amy and I took John and Katie from the airport to Wilshire Boulevard. We took Wilshire all the way down through Westwood and Rodeo Drive and the rich people’s houses. Then we went briefly through Korea town before passing by Echo Lake and driving past where I work. After that we went through downtown to the other side and parked in “little Mexico.” The place was a few blocks of town made up to look and feel like Mexico. We ate at a restaurant called the Paseo Inn (I think), but I’m sure all the restaurants there are the same. They were all the “authentic” type with traveling mariachi bands. Ours was even tilted on the side of a hill. Having been to Tijuana I can say that the feeling of Mexico is fairly authentic, except the wares are not at Mexico prices. After that we took them to Hollywood. They wanted to see the sign, but by the time we got to the mall to look over at it, it was dark. Who knew they didn’t light the Hollywood sign at night? Then it was back to my apartment for lychee (actually coconut chunks with lychee flavoring to be exact) treats. They had never had lychee, so we decided to take them to the nearest bubble tea (or “boba” tea out here in the west) shop. The shop turned out to be completely out of it and the closest one they knew of was in Studio City. So we gave up and took them back to the airport. I think they were probably pretty tired by that time anyway.

Monday I went after work with Amy to the Staples Center for the final match of the WTA tour. It was Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova. When we arrived we found a squatter woman in our seats trying to save four seats “for (her) husband and kids, I been here since 6 o’clock!” (it was only 6:30). We told her to move over out of our seats because we HAD TICKETS for those seats. She reluctantly did and moved further down our row…but the trouble was brewing because eventually everyone else who had tickets for our row showed up to claim their seats…and that is when the battle royal began. By that time the woman had brought in her husband and kids who were not willing to move. Her rude husband even stepped on Amy’s feet while fighting to take two seats that had already been taken by the rightful ticket holders. At the same time, the other two (of the four) ticket holders came for their seats and were trying to figure out why their seats were taken. Amy and I brought them to an usher had the obnoxious family removed. The only problem is that we did it in the middle of the match, and we weren’t allowed back into the stands (as is customary) until the match (or set or whatever) was over. So those freeloaders got to sit there and watch the whole match/set/point because nobody could come in and move them… After that annoyance was over we could concentrate on the game. Towards the end of the whole thing we started to get annoyed by Serena. She left the arena (at least the public part) for about five minutes at one point and left everyone wondering what was going on. Then she started having her trainer do things to her in between each set/match/point/whatever. This was part two of her stage performance. Part one was when she came out to play in what basically amounted to a homemade LA Lakers cheerleader outfit. She played to the “home” (even though she now lives in Palm Beach, Florida) crowd all night. After about five minutes of hearing “you go girl” from all the sistas in the audience every time Serena made a point (most of the time from a Sharapova unforced error) I had to start rooting for Sharapova. The (seemingly) fake injury got worse and worse as the night wore on and Sharapova started to look better and better. This really pissed us off because Serena knew this way she wins whether she actually wins or not.. “oh Serena wuz jus’ hurtn’ girl, you know she woulda smokd dat little Russian girl if she hadn’t been hurtin.’” Which was bullshit, but try telling ten thousand people (total attendance was eleven thousand) that. I felt sorry for Maria, because she is only seventeen and from Russia. And here this cocky African American girl is playing to the crowd (not a very professional move for a tennis player by the way) like it is her home crowd…even though it isn’t. It has to be pretty maddening to come to a tennis match and actually feel like you are the visiting team…even though both players aren’t from there. Serena’s little loser speech at the end was an act as well. She referred to her playing as her “performance” and the court the “stage” and still other words to make it sound like she was accepting an oscar, and not a second place trophy in a sporting event. She made sure to mention to the crowd at least three times how she was jealous that she didn’t win the million dollars. A crowd which included Woody Harrelson, Greg Kinnear, Brandy, and the Olsen twins, by the way.

few things

few things

On Monday I brought my car to the Glendale dealership to have a check engine light looked at. It turned out to be nothing important. I had to leave it there for a day and get a rental car. I ended up with a Buick Regal Custom (brand new). Yikes… I can’t imagine why anyone would actually buy one of those. I felt really unsafe driving home on the freeway, and the car only had 7,000 miles on it.

On Wednesday Amy invited me to go with her to the Staples Center. She had two tickets to the private sections (skybox?) of the center. There was a lot of free food and an open bar. The event was the opening of the WTA championships. We had a good time, but left early because my car had to be left at Athena parking…not a safe place to leave a new car after the sun goes down.

Tonight we went to another set of matches for the WTA. It was entertaining, but we didn’t have the great seats that we had Wednesday. We did however get to meet Wolfgang Puck and get an autographed copy of his new book….for free! We also got free Lindsay Davenport bobble heads, tote bags, and a free trip to San Francisco (minus airfare). Tomorrow attendees get a free racquet worth over $100.

Tomorrow Amy is going to another three matches, but with her brother this time. I’m going to be watching the Purdue game and doing laundry instead.

Sunday John and Katie are going to be here on layover from their honeymoon in New Zealand…I wonder where I’ll take them…

Here are some other things of note…

I found this wednesday night: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=1919246#

And last night I stayed up late (felt like I was in college again) and made some new pieces for the gallery. They are already there…so go check it out.

weekend

weekend

On Friday I took Amy to Hollywood Park. My employer had reserved boxes in the “players club.” Hollywood Park is in Inglewood. It took us an hour and a half to get there, and the traffic wasn’t half as bad as last Friday. We stayed for two races and then left. Not very many people from work showed up, mostly just the people that I know on a first name basis. Everyone wanted us to bet, but we didn’t. It was interesting, but I can’t say I’d get excited about going again. I guess it was a similar experience to gambling in the Vegas casino/s.

Saturday afternoon Amy and I went to the Getty Center. We had planned to visit Griffith Park, and then discovered that it will be closed for the next THREE YEARS. So we jumped to the next destination on our list – Getty. The center has very interesting architecture. J. Paul Getty must have been a billionaire. The entire complex is made of marble; the floors, the walls, the benches, even the fountains have giant raw marble boulders in them. The art collection was good, but it was obvious it was a building built around a personal collection, rather than a wide ranging museum type of collection. There was virtually no art made later than Monet. There were a few famous pieces in the collection like El Greco’s crucifixion, but most of it was standard 16th century still life’s or rich people portraits. I appreciate the workmanship in that kind of art, but it all gets a little stale after awhile, and you need a modern master work (like say a Chuck Close) to break it up, but there weren’t any. The complex looks giant on the map, but we walked through virtually every building and every room in under 45 minutes. We probably spent the longest time at the view area by the cactus garden. To the east you can see UCLA, downtown, and beyond, and to the west you can see out into the ocean.

Speaking of the ocean, we didn’t end up going to the beach on Sunday because it rained. Instead we went to Costco (Amy’s fun shopping place) and then Frye’s Electronics (my fun shopping place). The Burbank Frye’s theme was Mars Attacks and had interesting installations everywhere. The whole place seemed a little dirty and cramped though. I did some price checking, and they still can’t rival the deals you can get online.

Saturday night Mr. Machine spent the better part of an hour trying to get me to go to a party thrown by someone who knows the bass tech for Mars Volta. As much as I’d like to hang with that crowd, schmoozing from 11pm-1am just isn’t going to work for me anymore. All I really care about is just getting a rehearsal space when Mr. Machine gets his drum set. Mr. Machine went to his parents’ place in Palm Springs yesterday and traded in his Volvo for his sister’s car (until he gets something else). It was a little jarring this morning because it turns out his sister has the exact same car as my brother.

Last Thursday the check engine light came on in my car on the way to work, so I have to take it to a dealership after work today. Fun fun fun. They need to keep it for at least a day, so I have to drive a rental car tomorrow.

I think I had dinner at Byron’s house with this dude…

I think I had dinner at Byron’s house with this dude…

I received a forwarded email from Byron today that he received from one of his OU buddies. I think this is his former roommate Mark, which I’ve met a few times, but it could be some other Mark I’ve never met…not sure. I don’t agree with everything in here, but damn well most of it. This is how a lot of “liberals” feel. Everyone I know that considers themself a republican (or maybe just siding with Bush) should read this to realize that there is a lot more heart and concern in the “liberal” than what BushCheney04 would have you think. The most common liberal is the political agnostic, not the athiest…and if the republican masses would have known that before last Tuesday, maybe we would have had a different outcome.

Anyway, without further posturing, here ya go:

Dear friends,

I’m not normally one to send out mass emails. Though, I’ve received a
few from close friends and family recently, that along with the help
of my girlfriend, Carey, and our shared ideas, have been some of the
only reassurance I’ve found in the past few long days. I’ve
appreciated hearing from others who are as upset about this as I am –
hearing their ideas and knowing that Carey and myself are not
completely alone.

I’ve staggered around the past few days, half over-tired from
sleepness nights such as Tuesday, half in a state of alarm, confusion,
panic, frustration, and most of all, helplessness. It is, to say the
least, a feeling that I’ve never quite felt before. Perhaps I am just
young, or perhaps this has been the greatest turning point our young
generation has seen. I believe George W. Bush is correct with his
“other side of the mountain” anology. Unfortunately, I feel as if
we’re tumbling down the backside of a steep cliff into a George Orwell
novel.

Growing up it was always the “1984”s and “Harrison Bergeron”s that
scared me. They seemed to discuss an inevitable future. The kind of
future where everyone was forced to think the same. The kind of future
where our actions were monitored and our freedoms limited. A world
where Big Brother or that giant mechanical spider from Farenheit kept
us in check. Today, I think that I feel so strangely, because I no
longer see these ideas, these worlds, existing in a far away future.
Before last Tuesday, I felt as if I was living in the present. Today,
I feel as if I’ve fallen into some unimagineable, surreal alternate
universe. I do feel as if we’re “on the other side of the mountain,”
though now, we’re tumbling quickly towards George Orwell’s prophesized
future (only 20 years behind schedule).

Carey (my girlfriend, not the former presidential hopeful) and I have
spent hours trying to make sense of this outcome, attempting to find
the shreds of positivity that we can pull from this. I’d be lying if I
told you that we had found much. But the hope we were looking for in
the world, we’re trying to discover in ourselves – sometimes I feel
that’s the only place that I can trust to find it.

This week, I finally understood a lot about why people’s political
views change, or soften over time. A friend of mine has a quote up
from Winston Churchill in his profile that says, “If you’re not a
liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart, but if you’re not a
conservative when you’re 40, you have no brain.” He’s also had other
quotes up suggesting that Liberalism is like a fad; popular with the
kids before they realize how the world really works and see the light.

I disagree with half of that quotation, and if you know me, I
shouldn’t have to tell you which half. I believe that as people grow
older they do indeed shift away from liberalism. One could assume it
was because they were older and wiser, but I have my doubts.

As Carey and I have found this week, humbling isn’t the right word to
describe the feeling that results from the time, concern, energy, and
effort we’ve exserted in the last four years praying for and trying to
influence change. Getting punched in the face, as Carey put it, would
more accurately describe what it feels like, and with our political
system you can’t just bounce right back up and mount a Rocky Balboa
comeback in the twelfth round. You have to sit on the ground for the
next four years and think long and hard about it.

This four year wait, stewing in anger, and frustration is not the
outcome that I deserve for having cared so passionately. What am I
fighting for anyway? A world where I don’t have to constantly be
fighting for something, right? As I continue to fight and lose,
wouldn’t it just be easier if I didn’t care? If I looked for the
positive in all of this? If I just shrugged it off like it were a
sporting event and my team just lost? Now I understand why all of
those 20 year old’s lose heart as Winston Churchill (may or may not
have) suggested. Not because they are older and wiser, but because
they want to be happy. No one wants to have to fight their whole life,
that’s why we’re fighting in the first place.

Telling me that, “it’s not the end of the world,” My dad was quick to
remind me of a similar situation. In 1972, his first chance to vote,
Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern by a healthy margin in a
similar campaign. My generation certainly is not the first to
experience a demoralizing defeat (or victory, I suppose, if that’s
your thing) in this manner. This time around it certainly isn’t as
tough for our parents’ generation than it is for us. For most of them,
they’re used to this disappointment, they’re grounded in the reality
that we’re destined to discover sooner or later, or else, maybe they
just settled with George.

I’ve thought about my options, wanting so desperately to just be
happy. Maybe ignorance, as they say, truely is bliss, and I should
just slip into the red with the rest of the gun-toting biggots in the
middle of the country. Maybe I should just be “patriotic” and crack
jokes about those wimpy socialists in Europe. Why not stop being
“un-american” and questioning my government? After all, deep down we
all know that Hillary Clinton is probably responsible for the poor
economy… and gay people.

But I can’t do that.

I’ve decided that I’m not letting this blow knock all of the air out
of me. I’ve decided all of this pent up frustration and anger has to
go somewhere, and since I don’t think I’d last long in prison, I best
start finding ways to vent it in a positive manner. Carey and myself
have decided to find as many positive outlets for our frustration as
possible in the next four years (and beyond). The question is where to
find them.

I’ve been realizing lately how lucky and blessed I am. I know that
there have been times in my life where I let others do my thinking for
me, didn’t have much of an opinion and didn’t care to. I’m very
grateful to have known some of the people I’ve known, had access to
the education and resources that I’ve had access to, and the ability
to experience so many different cross-sections of America (Vermont,
Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Ohio, and Chicago) firsthand. My
thought process has certainly come along way, constantly growing and
changing, constantly realizing how little I really knew, and thinking
I knew everything there is to know every step of the way.

To my friends, you all have helped me become who I am. You may not
have realized it, or thought you were making an impact on anyone.
Maybe you felt like I do most of the time, as if no one gives a damn
about anything or that everyone is too stubborn to listen to common
sense. Maybe you question why you’re doing what you’re doing sometimes
if no one cares. But whether you know it or not, sometimes people DO
listen to you, and you may not ever realize it.

My life has been a long journey comprised of many little life-changing
moments. Many of my friends are responsible for those moments, and
without them, I’d certainly still be spiraling down the dark staircase
towards ignorance, conservatism, and complacency. Isaac, though I’m
sure I cluelessly tried to debate you at the time, you always brought
to attention questions and issues that challenged the small world I
was growing up in. Kevin, you always manage to get me fired up, and
I’m glad that someone is so inspired to and devoted to seeking out
truth. Dan, you’ve encouraged and helped me find a voice, if i hadn’t
met you at film school, I’m not sure I would have been encouraged to
start down the path that I’ve begun, or ever tried to find that voice
or medium to get out what’s inside. Carey, you’ve helped me strive to
become a better person, helping me search for more accountability in
myself and others. You motivate me and you’ve helped me learn perhaps
my greatest lesson, that the journey to make the world better starts
with making ourselves better – and then maybe the rest of the world
can get caught in our slipstream.

The one thing I can say for certain in all of my uncertainty, is that
I am extremely lucky to have experienced and learned everythign that I
have. So often, I forget that most people don’t spend the time
thinking about current issues or politics. Most people don’t have
access to the resources I do, or even care to find them. Most people
haven’t been as lucky to receive the education I’ve received, let
alone go to college (for five years no less). Most people haven’t left
the walls of the town they grow up in, or been able to grow beyond
just who they were in high school. Most people haven’t ran with as
diverse of a crowd, minus their token gay or black friend.

I don’t say this to put myself above anyone else, as I know most of
you whom I am writing to can say the same of yourselves. What I am
saying is that I… we, have been given a gift. We’re the ones who can
walk between the red AND the blue states. I’ve been struggling greatly
to define the purpose of my existence here. I believe that I am
beginning to find it.

In the grand scheme of things, (and some who know me may laugh) I am a
rich, white kid. Sure, I’m defering my student loans for a year. Sure,
I’m living paycheck to paycheck. Sure, I’ve been telling myself that I
can afford more luxuries in a few months, once i’ve saved up some more
money. Ya know… luxuries like…. food. But in many ways I am rich.
Though my college education may not have yet landed me a job where I
don’t have to wear a name tag, it has landed me a wealth of knowledge
that most don’t have access to. Being raised in the family I was
raised in, and amongst the friends I’ve met, I’ve had access to a
great sense of morals and values. Though I may not have much money
now, I have much more than many, dependable resources who would bail
me out if I ever got into trouble, and the glass ceiling for me as a
white male is virtually as high as can be.

The positivity I have to take from this, is all of the things that I
do have. Just as accountable as George W. Bush must be for his
actions, I too am just accountable for mine. Having the knowledge that
I do, the experiences I have, I shoulder an extra sense of
accountability now to use all of the weapons I’ve been blessed with to
fight back. Being able-minded, and not doing anything right now, for
me, is just as bad as being on the other side.

In the last four years, I wonder if I talked to as many people as I
could/should have about the things that are important to me. How many
times did I wimp away from topics just to avoid uncomfortable
confrontations? How many times did I keep my mouth shut to avoid
losing friends or maintain relationships? How many times did I humor
people by letting them talk about last night’s episode of the “Real
World”, when we should have been talking about the REAL world and all
of the messed up things that go on each day.

Every day that goes by, I’m now learning, I’m doing a great disservice
to the world by sitting quiet. Some people will tell you it’s not
worth losing friends over. I think if I don’t tell people what I
believe, I’ve lost a lot more.

I’ve decided to double my efforts using the gifts and tools that I’ve
been fortunate to have. Some of these gifts I take for granted,
forgetting how important simple things like sharing my opinion with
someone may really be. Rather than wallow in defeat, I want to search
for ways to use my talents and gifts to make a change. My mind has
been racing through potential ways I can apply them, from writing a
book, to talking to more people, to getting involved in some sort of
campaign, to writing emails, to writing screenplays, to punching
republican’s in the face… I’m feeling the urgency to prevent this
country from moving any further away from the ideals that it was
founded on.

Certainly some of my ideas are more productive than others. On
Wednesday, Carey and I felt like taking to the streets to slash tires
of car’s with “W”s on them. In reality, we all need to find better
ways to approach and engage with our conservative neighbors. It has
always been my first reaction to get furious with people and want to
yell at them for not looking at the bigger picture. Sometimes I want
to use four-lettered words that even Dick Cheney would shy away from,
but I know that’s not condusive.

Nor could I help but chuckle as I passed the local RNC office where I
live on Wednesday morning to see that all of the front windows had
been smashed out and replaced with makeshift boards. A republican
office in one of the countries gayest and most liberal
neighborhoods… what did they expect? But really, what good is it
doing to smash out their windows? They won the election – we smashed
their windows. It’s not quite a gratifying trade off. We’re only
perpetuating the stereotype of angry liberals.

The Republican parties greatest problem, perhaps we could all agree,
is that they are dividing the country. We could all agree that they
are taking citizens for granted and not listening to and addressing
the concerns of all the people. What most dems DON’T see however, is
that democrats are guilty of the same thing. By screaming bloody
murder, and fighting with people who opress others, we’re not changing
a thing. We need to find common ground, understand their different
value system, just as we want them to understand ours.

I know many a liberal who just don’t get it. They don’t understand how
people could be so selfish or hateful. What they don’t understand is
that most conservative people are just scared. Conservatives have been
taught they are under attack, and though it is indirectly selfish that
they are thinking of themselves as opressed (imagine the irony…
hundreds of thousands of well-off, white, christian people in our
country thinking that they are a threatened minority group…), they
are a well-intentioned group of people. The majority of them don’t
hate gay people or associate with people who think all gay people
should be dead. There are just different shades of conservatives and
most of them aren’t as malicious as one may think.

Sadly, many of them don’t think about the consequences of their
actions. They let themselves believe that their rights and freedoms
are under attack, without understanding the boundaries of their
personal rights. As my high school history proffesor taught us, “my
freedom stops at your nose.” Unfortunately today, many christian
people (as we’ve seen with what force they swarmed to the elections to
vote to ban gay marraige — and inadvertently re-elect President Bush
with their united strength of numbers rallied to the polls) Christians
have expanded their personal rights well past the reach of their own
arms and right across the noses of a disputable several percent of the
entire population.

What many liberals will fail to remember is that they ARE NOT going to
change most people’s minds regarding the issue of homosexuality. This
is a fact that liberals will just have to conceed. What needs to be
sought, to influence minds and votes, is common ground – from both
sides. Conceed the idea that homosexuality is right or wrong. People
are typically going to be dead set on this issue regardless, so
there’s little sense in arguing it. What discussion we need to be
having is, regardless of ethical issues, is it right for us to impose
beliefs on others? Does gay marriage really threaten heterosexual
marriage? Are legal ammendments really going to make people stop being
gay? Doesn’t God want all people to live their lives and makes
decisions for themselves?

Next time someone tells you that they vote against gay marriage
because the Bible says its wrong, don’t critisize the Bible. Just ask
them why we dont vote to make divorce, lying, cheating on one’s
spouse, taking the Lord’s name in vein, and disrespecting one’s
parents all illegal. If they tell you we should – now you’ve got them
by the throat. You’re speaking their language now, and you don’t even
have to contest their belief system. We need to go after this group of
people with logic… not sticks and stones, because they already think
that everyone is out to get THEM. Befriend them, kill them with
compassion and help them see the common ground.

If someone wants to believe it wrong – let them! It’s equally their
right to believe that homosexuality is wrong, as it is someone else’s
right to practice their homosexaul lifestyle if they chose. It is
issues like this and abortion that are deciding elections. All of the
money, the wars, the deaths, the scandals, the social issues, the
eductation system, social security, health care… this is all taking
a backseat to abortion and gay marriage, and we can’t let Republican’s
get away with it anymore.

There is a far more malicious and dangerous initiative getting passed
right through the halls of decision making as they talk about values
and morals as a big distraction. Christians fail to recognize that as
they rush to the polls to vote on gay marriage, the republicans are
stringing together a 3 percent lead in the polls and a sweep through
the house and senate that will be far more agressive on foreign
policy, and much less attentive to domestic and social issues.

As many of you may be aware, and many may be surprised to discover, I
grew up in an extremely conservative christian family and church. In
fact, it’s in my blood – both my grandfather’s were Baptist ministers
in Philadelphia. As a christian, two things really scare me. 1) is
that so many christians are allowing themselves to be fooled in the
name of God. I have no reason to believe that George W. Bush is a
sincere christian – only that he is a selfish, rich politician who is
devisively manipulating sincere religious voters by campaigning
against their fears and allowing them to inadvertandly deliver him a
second term and a distraction from the real issues. 2) George W.
Bush’s blatant misrepresentation of christianity (turning it into a
tool of division and opression rather than unification and charity) is
perhaps the single-most reason in the last four years that people
would turn away from christianity and in fact find negative
associations with it. Is the God christians want the world to know
about an imperialistic threat? a dividing force of disclusion?

I’m saddened that so many christians forget about the poor, the weak,
the outcasts of society. They taught us since we were little in my
conservative Baptist church, that the world hated God and hated us for
loving God. Of course they do!!! How do we expect people NOT to hate
God when so many rush to the polls to discriminate against others in
God’s name? Democrats and Liberals need to work extra hard in the next
four years to court christian voters, make people stop voting on dead
issues like abortion, exploit the republican parties manipulation of
said voters, and remind christians of all the morals that the Dem’s
party was founded on.

The Republicans would love for Americans to think that they are the
party of God. But this is far from the case. If Christians were able
to stop focusing on a half dozen words in the Bible that push for the
Republican agenda, and on the thousands of pages that push a
democratic agenda (with real concerns, such as poverty, the
environment, etc) then the Christian vote would not swing so
drastically in favor of the Republicans. Over the next four years, and
beyond it should be democrats agenda to remind the Christian voter of
the truth. Christianity and Liberalism should be two words that go
hand-in-hand. We’ve let the republicans butcher the good names of
both.

The overwhelming christian turnout at the polls makes me think to a
christian favorite; the phrase, “WWJD?” And I have to ask whom the
Jesus in the Bible would have voted for on November, 2. I don’t think
Jesus would be too big of a Dubya fan, nor do I think he’d be part of
the vote-for-Nader-based-on-principal crowd. I think from what the
Bible says, Jesus would have sided with the poor over the rich, the
outcasts over the opressors, the pacifists over the war-mongers, the
forgotten over the famous. Just as Jesus sacrificed himself for the
masses – and as the Bible suggests our lives should be molded after
his, I would think that God would want his people to stop worrying
about themselves, and worry about the real people who are opressed,
the REAL minorities and outcasts.

It is ironic that the very people who killed Jesus were the
politicians and religious leaders. The very people who were said to
believe in God were terrified of Jesus because he did not further
their political interests. They were afraid of his ideas because he
believed in helping everyone. The right-wing, religious, political
zealots… were the very people who killed Jesus. (Or did you not make
it that far into “The Passion”?)

As many Christians believe in the Bible – in the book of Revelations,
it discusses the end times. Perhaps this is a reason so many
Christians are frightened and so easily scared that they’re losing
their rights, because it is foretold in the last book of the Bible.
The popularity of the book series, “Left Behind” will show you just
how many people believe this. Whether one believes it or not, I find
it interesting that this is perhaps the basis of so many Christians
fears. That one day, God will be gone and forgotten from this world,
and Satan will be all that is left to rule.

With so much blind faith floating around, why haven’t Christians
suspected that Satan would try to mislead and divert God’s people from
the truth? Shouldn’t Christians be more suspicious of a Wolf in
Sheep’s clothing? After all Jesus was killed by the right-wing
religious leaders of his time… Why shouldn’t Satan take the same
form to bring the end times to this world, and steal God’s people away
from him? Wouldn’t he be crafty and sneaky and manipulative? I believe
that any fall from grace that christians may fear, will come from
within… blindsided by their leaders who exploit the masses religious
beliefs for their own political purposes. The Bible speaks of false
prophets and the Anti-christ in the end times as well… Now, I’m not
trying to make any suggestions or comparisons… but perhaps we all
need to help people place their faith in things other than politicians
with shady promises. Perhaps we need to encourage people to discover
morals in their own lives, not to just accept a president who tosses
around a couple of catch phrases and supports unrealistic moral
programs like promoting abstinence rather than dealing with the
realistic consequences of teens having sex.

It’s now the liberals job to suck it up, and bring the christians back
to the middle. We have to remember that many christians have a very
strong belief system. For them to take back their vote on gay
marriage, many would feel as if it were to admit that their entire
belief system were flawed. You have to show them that their belief
system, and tolerance, and liberalism can coexist. This can only be
accomplished if the Christian belief system is NOT attacked… but
married with the correct ideas.

I’m sorry to rant to you all. Hopefully some of you don’t mind. Feel
free to forward this to whomever you want, or to just delete it.
Hopefully the venting I’ve been able to share with a few friends in
this email kept a few tires from being slashed today. I’m fighting a
sense of hopelessness tooth and nail and struggling for outlets and
ways to remain positive. I think our generation takes for granted the
wealth of knowledge we have at our disposal, the passion we have in
our ideas and the many resources we have access too. I’m tired of
watching from the sidelines. I’m tired of trying to talk around
politics. I’m tired of not talking about current events because it
depresses people.

Tupac Shakur said before he died, “I may not change the world, but I
will set the spark off in the mind that does.” I think that’s the best
philosophy for those of us who feel like no one’s listening. I know
how much I’ve listened to people in the past. I can remember specific
moments where I disagreed with people at the time, but later in life,
realizied that something someone said to me was actually right. It
doesn’t happen overnight, but small things you say or do can chisel
away at people’s close-minds. I know I wouldn’t have arrived at many
of the conclusions I’m at today if not for the help of many of my
friends and acquintances to dig me out of a small world.

The next election is four years away – but there’s a lot to be done.
I’m looking for anything I can do to vent my frustration into
something positive, just shy of running for office myself. I’m curious
to hear anyone’s suggestions, and I encourage everyone who has made a
difference in my life and how I perceive the world, to not give up in
demanding more from ourselves, our friends, our politicians, and our
fellow countrypeople.

– Mark

last weekend

last weekend

Through all this election hoopla I completely forgot to detail my trip to the swinging state of Ohio. Friday after work I rushed home and then rushed to the gym to get a quick workout. I thought if I worked out, it would help me sleep on the plane. Bad idea. It took me an hour and a half to drive 20 miles on the 405 freeway. When I got to the airport I couldn’t find Parking Lot B (the cheapest one). Turns out I needed to go farther south of where I was, and I had been looking for it by going back and forth east and west. So I finally found it, took the tram, and made my way through check in and security with maybe a half hour to spare before boarding the plane. It was dark when the plane took off. We flew up and out over the ocean before doing a U turn and heading northeast. The lights of L.A. looked spectacular. From my window seat in the very last row of the plane I could look all the way up the coast to Malibu and beyond. When we started flying over the land though I couldn’t recognize anything, try as I might. The in-flight movie was Around the World in 180 Days with Jackie Chan. I didn’t have headphones, and I didn’t want them. I tried and tried to sleep, but I could not.

We touched down in Cincinnati around 3 am PST. The airport was deserted at that hour. I tried to sleep on the chairs at the terminal (think the scene with Tom Hanks in Terminal when he screws the chairs together for a bed….except turn on all the lights and CNN at full blast) as I waited for my connecting flight. I hadn’t realized earlier though that the layover would be a full THREE HOURS. So, still not getting any sleep, I boarded a flight to Akron at 6am PST. We only spent 33 minutes in the air, and we were above heavy clouds the whole time. The weather up there was perfect though and the sunrise coming through the clouds made it look like we were flying over icebergs in the pacific in Alaska. I punched myself for forgetting my camera. The whole thing was like a dream also because I’d been up over 23 hours at that point. When we landed and I got off the plane I was supposed to meet my family at the baggage claim. In my zombie-like stupor I circled the security check-point for boarding passengers maybe 3 or 4 times wondering where my family was (and seeing all my fellow passengers being greeted by friends and family) before I realized I was not at baggage claim. When I finally found my family we proceeded to the car, mom’s cramped Mercury Cougar. From there it was another hour’s drive to the hotel. However, once we got the hotel, we couldn’t check in until 9am PST, so we went out to eat. At this point I just felt dead and didn’t really care about hunger or anything (even though it had been almost 15 hours since I last ate). At 10am PST when we reached the hotel again, I laid down on the bed and I was out.

I was woke around 2 (PST) and told that I had missed the wedding. Mom said she woke me up before they left and asked me if I wanted to sleep through it. I was so out of it that I don’t remember that at all. After those few hours of sleep I felt good enough to go to the reception. The reception was very big, very expensive, and very nice. It was at “the Flats” a new trendy spot near downtown Cleveland. However, for some reason, the Long/Rhoades family was outnumbered by the Shriner family (the bride’s) by over 25 to 1. My brother and I were seated not with our family, but with cousins of the bride. All of my relatives (except John – the groom’s immediate family) started feeling increasingly like we were intruding on someone else’s party, and didn’t stay long after the meal was over. After returning to the hotel I got back into bed and slept for about 13 hours. The next morning we ate a big brunch at the “356th Fighter Squadron Restaurant” next to the airport. The food on the breakfast buffet was kind of sub-standard (at least for Los Angeles standards), it reminded me of the weekend brunches in the OSU cafeterias. It had one saving grace though, a fresh made omelet chef who would put whatever you wanted on/in them. I forgot how good a good omelet is…time to buy some eggs. I realized that I regularly purchase all the veggies in the omelet at the Armenian store already anyway and I always have cheese around for Amy’s grilled cheese sandwich fetish, so I should add omelet to my diet and spice things up a bit. The plane out of Akron got delayed and the man sitting next to me (I had been alone on both flights in) was about 6 foot 5. I looked out the window the whole time only to realize that the plane would fly over unpopulated areas of the state. I was still searching for signs of Columbus when the intercom said “and now we’ll begin our initial approach into Cincinnati.” The flight to LAX was about the same. The majority of the time the entire outside view was the inside of a big grey cloud. I did see some ski resorts in the Rockies at one point though. When we started flying over LA proper it was night again. I strained and strained to recognize anything as we got closer and closer to the ground. Then I looked out the other side of the plane and saw downtown and realized that I was looking towards Long Beach and southern LA, an area which I’ve really not been to yet, and has few visual landmarks that can be seen from the air anyway (North LA has the Hollywood hills, downtown, Santa Monica Pier, etc.). Oh well, I’m sure this is hardly my last flight out of LAX.

I was so hungry (the in-flight meal is no longer free) after getting out of the airport (about 8pm) that I stopped at a ghetto Burger King in Inglewood. How was I in Inglewood you may ask… well I missed the 405 entrance and just kept going down Century… When I finally did get to the 405 and connected to the 101…I was so out of it that I went the wrong way and didn’t realize it until I was all the way into Canoga Park.

Mom bought me four new shirts and ties, so thank you mom!

John and Katie went to New Zealand and have a whole day layover in L.A. on the way back next weekend, so I signed up to be their tour guide. Where should I take them?

Tomorrow will be only the 2nd game all season that is broadcast on regular cable tv out here in SC so I can sleep in, stumble out of bed, and watch my buckeyes from the (relative) comfort of my own living room.

all over

all over

I’m not sure how to feel this morning other than bad. The prospect of four more years of Bush makes me physically ill. I wish I could be more like my loser peers and bask in apathetic ignorance. I have yet to hear a single person give an ethical reason to vote for Bush. Some vote because of their pocketbook, they like tax cuts. That equals greed. Others vote because they feel they will be “safer.” That equals ignorance, how can you feel safer with someone that let the attacks happen in the first place. Look at it this way: if Lego makes a new product line and 3000 children die when they touch it….would anybody give the president of the Lego company a second chance (even if the president had nothing to do with the development of the new toy)? Even Osama Bin Ladin told the world that he didn’t care who was in the white house, they would attack us anyway. Some people vote for Bush because they don’t like the idea that Kerry “betrayed” his fellow servicemen in Vietnam. Kerry went to Vietnam…Bush didn’t. Which is worse, speaking your mind about something you were going to give your life for…or using your daddy’s connections to get out of it in the first place? I love how four years ago the republican mantra was “the past doesn’t mean a thing”….. If it didn’t matter that George got a DUI (when he was NOT still a young man) with his wife in the car why does it matter that Kerry was a war protester when he WAS a young man? And if you think Kerry had less than genuine reasons for protesting that is fine too…I suppose you are going to tell me Bush was drinking that night (of his arrest) “for a good cause,” and when he sold all his stock right before his oil company ran into the ground I suppose he was helping out the other investors somehow… Another reason to vote for Bush is because he represents the christian ideology (if we just overlook that arcane “thou shalt not kill” commandment…I guess these people think god was a little iffy when he decided that one…). This thinking is wrong too. True, Bush will represent that idea of morality (outlawing abortion, stem cell research, etc.), but the whole concept of saying that a whole country should be run with the laws of one specific religion is wrong. After all, wasn’t that another excuse for us invading Afganistan…the Taliban kept women out of school and out of sight in accordance with their religious beliefs. If we are behind giving people the freedom of religion, why are we willingly taking it away from ourselves in our own country? Oh right, I forgot, because OUR religion is the RIGHT one!