Friday, September 25, 2009

headaches and heartaches

We are willing to endure headaches over what our hearts ache for.

Some things are worth the trouble. Some are not.

It is necessary to evaluate what is important and what isn't, and trim the fat.

This is not a quarter-life crisis.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i've moved

First night in the new place. 5 miles south of UCLA. Smells like paint. Come visit!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

bear and racoon

The original by Taking Back Sunday:

Monday, September 14, 2009

after my heart

"Paul left New Orleans and made it, on his own, as far as Houston, which is where he ran out of money. He got a job at an oil refinery, walking along the top of tanker cars, checking valves to make sure they were closed securely, climbing the ladders of vertical pipe at the end of the evening to look out over the landscape of smokestacks and yellow light, to breathe the sulfur and salt and humidity as a way of noting its human beauty, but all this was done in a longing for his home, the way a man will hold the woman he has while thinking of the woman he loves."

"Charles Dickens tells us every heart is a profound mystery to the heart beating nearest it, and I am starting to understand him. Watching the dark towns pass gives them a new significance. During the day the roads are clustered with cars at stoplights, but tonight the thick, dark lines simply separate one neighborhood from another, one socioeconomic group from the one it once was. And it is odd for me to consider the thousands of sleeping people, quiet in their homes, their clocks ticking on the walls, the dogs breathing at the feet of their masters' beds, and to realize there are six billion people living in six billion settings. These homes house families we dont know. So many sleeping people, all of them spirit, bound by flesh, held up by bone and trapped in time."

"I confess I wanted to believe life was bigger, larger than my presuppositions. Out there under the cosmos, out in the desert of Texas, beneath those billion stars and the umbrella of pitch-black eons of nothingness, on top of that hill, I started wondering if life was something different than I thought it was, if there was some kind of raging beauty a person could find, that he could get caught up in the why of life. And I needed to believe beauty meant something, and I needed God to step off His self-help soapbox and be willing to say something eternally significant and intelligent and meaningful, more meaningful than the parroted lines from detergent commercials. I needed God to be larger than our free-market economy, larger than our two-for-one coupons, larger than our religious ideas... The temperature has dropped and a layer of moisture soaks the ground. Brainless june bugs make loud, fast dives at a light on the wall of the rest area. One broken-winged bug struggles on the sidewalk. I squash him under my boot and say softly, as if to myself, "All your questions are now answered."

-Donald Miller, "Through Painted Deserts"

Friday, September 11, 2009


I had to write an essay for an application, describing a cross-cultural experience. I hope it's alright to post it...
In 2005, I spent the summer between my third and fourth years of college in China and Mongolia. VSET brings American college students to teach conversational English to high school and college students in several Asian countries. Much of the focus is on building relationships that last beyond the two months of the program. My team of eight had two teaching sessions in addition to a week of training and a week of debriefing with the other teams.

Our first session was spent in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaan Bataar. Other than some basic language and culture lessons, I knew nothing about the isolated land we were flying into. Adjusting was difficult at first, but I quickly fell in love with my students. Their strong cultural identity and warmth as a people was inspiring. I spent almost every waking hour with my students, doing what they enjoyed doing, eating what they ate, and even seeing some of their homes and meeting their families. A tearful goodbye at the train station sent us to Bejing.

I am ethnically Chinese though I was born and raised in California. This was my first time in China, but I expected the culture shock to be less jarring. In many ways it was more comfortable, but I felt no connection to the people. I had assumed that because I understood the culture, I would be able to integrate easily and connect naturally. But I realized that I identified more with the American side of my upbringing than I did with the Chinese side. I felt superior.

One afternoon, we struck up a conversation with a graduate student who had spent a semester studying abroad in Ohio. After talking for a while, he started opening up about his battle with loneliness. He complained about having incessant pain in his hand and would clench his forearm constantly. At one point in the conversation he removed his watch and revealed four lines across his wrist that had been hidden by the wristband. My expression must have betrayed my confusion because my teammate leaned over to me and whispered, “He tried to kill himself.” At that moment, my pride melted. I had never met anyone who attempted suicide. All of a sudden, it was no longer about me. I wished that I had some magical solution for him, but I could do nothing but be a friend. We met a few more times before we had to leave Beijing and I haven’t heard from him since. I will never forget him.

The remainder of the Beijing session was much easier. I was no longer hindered by my identity crisis and I was able to see the students for who they were on the inside. I left the States thinking I would see how different the rest of the world was. I returned realizing that walls of culture and language and wealth divide hearts that have the same fears, struggles, ambitions, and joys. We are one world.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

ok pics

My faves. (click to enlarge)



thermal activity

another sky picture

More here.