Friday, July 30, 2004

Breakfast at Perry's

Tom, Little-T, Art, John

I had lunch with Tom and his boy and Art and John today. It was like a little Tecolote Sector reunion. Cute kid!

Ah, sweet mullet!

After breakfast I earned my keep at the ol' workplace. Then it was Changes That Heal, which went really well. I think it was the best session so far, actually — a breakthrough.

Father and son

Afterwards I made good on a promise to Tom that we would see Hellboy together. We got a pretty late start, around 11pm, so I loaded up on Reeses Pieces to try to stay awake. That was probably a bad decision though, because it seems like I was up all night tossing and turning.

Monday, July 26, 2004

New York Times, 2004

Alan's office at MTV

New York was awesome. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Dan, Scott and I arrived at different times at JFK and met up with Alan at his work. Al had to work a bit on a film he had entered into a film festival, so we goofed off (air hockey and such) while he finished up. Later we found out that two of the three films that Alan either wrote or co-wrote made it into the top fifteen. Unfortunately, the one he worked on so diligently this weekend didn't make it. Quite an accomplishment, nevertheless.

Relaxing at Megan's

We ate dinner at this pub called Teddy's near Megan's place, where Alan fell in love with the waitress. Well, not really; he was just overly impressed with how nice she was. I figured that he's just been in New York too long. What I thought was really funny was when Dan's burger came out, it was on an English muffin, which he didn't order. "Here you go. Sorry, we ran out of bread." As if that wasn't enough, Alan didn't think anything of this. Curiouser and curiouser.

Megan plays drums too.

Friday was uncharacteristically wet and muggy. It was going to be an interesting day moving Alan into his new apartment.

Dan does some on-the-fly photo editing

All moved in

Will, Alan's friend, was also helping with the move, which we finished right on time. Afterwards Alan had an improv gig. His group opened for Will's group, Johnny Lunchpail, also an improv group. I was very impressed. Alan's group did a series of improv sketches based on the book 1984. It kind of makes me want to read the book again. Well, maybe I'll just watch the movie. Anyway, improv seems so gutsy. Alan's group was good; Johnny Lunchpail was a bit more experienced — they were hysterical. We did the after-party thing at a bar for a while, then after that we fulfilled one of Scott's goals by trekking to a White Castle and enjoying some bite-size bundles of burger goodness.

Alan's rooftop view is amazing.

Saturday was our big New York tourist day. After Alan's mattress was delivered, we worked out some personality issues, which was good.

Later we ate at Grimaldi's, a supposedly famous pizzeria. The olives were way too salty though.

This is the Promenade, about a block from Alan's apartment. Notice the Statue of Liberty in the background.

We took a nice stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge.

The World Trade Center Path

Visiting Ground Zero and St. Paul's Church next-door was very moving. There was a bell in the church yard which was donated by the city of London after September 11th that I found particularly thought-provoking. The inscription on it read, "Forged in Adversity." It reminded me that as sheltered as we are, a fierce battle rages. It encourages me to make sure that whatever I do with my life, I do what I can to contribute.

We visited the place where John Lennon was shot.

Close by is a section of Central Park named Strawberry Fields. In there is this plaque with the word "IMAGINE". After I saw these, it was pretty clear to me where John got all of his song ideas.

Around 7pm we started on a two-hour tour cruise. The guide was a great orator with a perfect dead-pan. He was also pretty hard-core about people not standing up in the seated section, blocking other peoples' view. Witness the man in the red jacket, a major offender.

Some fun facts:
New York's water pressure can only push water up six floors. All buildings higher than this require pumps and a water tower on the roof.

Touring jazz bands used to call the cities they toured "apples;" of course, New York was the biggest and brightest apple to play in; hence the nickname, the "Big Apple."

Dan with Lady Liberty

Alan relates our adventures to Megan

We dropped by Rockefeller Center and saw the set of the Today Show. We ended the night fulfilling another of Scott's life-long dreams with some authentic New York pizza slices. Unfortunately they also might have been the source of some authentic New York indigestion.

Alan's new address.

Sunday was pretty chill. We ate breakfast at a nice spot near Alan's new apartment where I think I misplaced $20. Alan hooked us up with MTV car-rides to the airport, and we were off. For some reason my flight had a lay-over in Atlanta which was pretty miserable, but eventually I made it home safe and sound. And today it was back to the grind.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Old School

Vic, circa 1980?

Okay, this picture wasn't taken today. Maybe a new picture every day is a little ambitious. The days I don't take a picture, I'll use as an opportunity to dust off the ol' archives.

Faith, if you're reading this, sorry I didn't call; Changes That Heal went waay over and we finished around midnight. It was a great discussion though. I'll give you a call before I leave tomorrow.

The other night I happened to see the show Family Plots. After a little while, I started to get into it; of course the people on there are really wack. I got the distinct feeling that this family had some significant boundary issues. I started to think, "I wonder where this place is?" As they filmed one of the workers driving by the business location, I read the sign: "Poway Bernardo Mortuary." Go figure. I should have known — people that crazy could only be from San Diego.

Today at work we had an interesting meeting discussing the future of our company. I was having flashbacks of Dan proselytizing eAssist and it's rock solid future. Honestly though, these guys seem a lot more down to earth. It does help to have a bit of vision for what I can contribute. And hey, at least they gave us pizza.

Okay, I'm packed and ready to go. Hopefully my next blog will be from New York.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Picture a Day

I've decided that I'm going to bring my camera everywhere I go and try to take at least one picture a day. Unfortunately I forgot about my idea when I was at Irene's house, which would have been a perfect opportunity. So today I'll have to settle for a picture of Carlos on the sofa watching Big Trouble in Little China, which is where I found him when I got home.

Today and tomorrow are the anniversaries of George Gurganus' death and birth, respectively. Every year Irene spends time on these two days reading all of his cards, listening to tapes, and celebrating his life. Tonight she had people over and showed a video of his memorial service in 1992. It was quite an inspiration. I had already known that George and Irene, while in their 70s, had decided to leave the comforts of the United States to help rebuild the church in Japan. That's a pretty amazing example, to me. Tonight I also learned that many years before that they had left their all-white congregation somewhere in Abeline, Texas to join an all-black church nearby, to pave the crossing of racial boundaries. A lot of people thought they were crazy for doing so, but they endeared themselves so much to their new congregation that they were later asked to become elders. Impressive, most impressive.

The video was pretty amusing too in that it demonstrated how long ago 14 years really was. Two words: sweet mullet. Business in the front, party in the back, folks.

I've told a couple people today that I am missing the unemployed life. It's funny that just a few weeks ago I was relishing in the fact that I need to be somewhere every "tomorrow morning," 9am. And now it feels like a chore. Really this is the best of both worlds though — it's a short term commitment and the fact that I can't work more than eight hours a day frees me up at a decent hour everyday and is completely a blessing. One thing that George's video helped galvanize in my mind is my desire to go to school. Apparently he had a bachelor's degree, two masters degrees, and a Ph.D. That would probably be overkill for me but I think a master's would certainly be worthwhile. The only problem is, what to study?

List of Things Vic Could Do When He Grows Up
  • Psychology/Psycho-therapy
  • Medical research
  • Bio-informatics, bio-systems, nursing-informatics
  • Teach English and learn Mandarin in Taiwan
  • Teach computer science (probably save for the last third of my career though)
Any other suggestions out there? Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Simple Pleasures

About a month ago Steve Pietrykoski was over at the house because Joel was in town. When he came over he brought this box full of my stuff that apparently had been left at his place since 1996, when I graduated UCSD. It was quite a rush, going through all that stuff from my early years. It's the feeling of finding a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket of your jeans (before you throw it in the washing machine, of course), combined with the feeling of digging up and opening a time capsule. Of myself, no less. I was just thinking about it here at work because I've been listening to a lot of the CDs that were in there — Teenage Fanclub, Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine. I'm tempted to throw a bunch of my stuff in another box and lose it somewhere. Or maybe I'll just set my clock-radio ahead ten minutes.

Yesterday was cool; Sara showed me her snakeboard that she bought on eBay from overseas. Man, I wish I had brought my camera. That thing is so funny. It was pretty fun too; I think I was getting the hang of it. She spent like $160 on it. There's a part of me that always wanted to be a skater. We had a good talk about her life issues and stuff too. I should start charging by the hour.

Alan's just got his apartment, so it will coincide nicely with our New York 2004 trip. Woohoo!

Hm, I guess work is pretty slow right now.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Yosemite Rocks!

Yosemite was so much fun. It's good to be back home though. I'm mostly grateful that I wasn't sick. I was feeling pretty crummy on the drive up, so as soon as we arrived, around 2pm on Wednesday, I slept most of the afternoon. I figured the high altitude had an effect on me too. What was interesting was that I ended up laying in bed for a few hours unable to sleep for all except the last night there. I think I was thinking too much too.

The Enyarts (and Nikki): Steve, Nikki, Sandy, Shelly, Jared

The biggest gripe that Nikki had about the trip was that there are no feats of strength in Yosemite — well, at least, not the kind that have the kind of return on investment that he's used to. The closest thing we came to was horseback riding, which was actually mule-back riding. The most difficult thing about that was filtering out the over-achieving comments of the kid on the mule behind me all the way up. "Don't let your mule eat! Keep your helmet on!" Um, thanks kid. Can you take a really close look at my mule's rear leg?

Our cabin; note Nikki's possibly illegal pocket-racer

I had met the Enyarts before (Jared's parents), but this time I got a little more time to spend with them. I met Jennifer, Jared's sister, her husband Darren, their child Spencer, and Darren's dad (I think) Sam too. Super cool family.

Our typical morning view of half-dome, thanks to the (controlled) fires going on during our stay

Anyway, I ended up thinking a lot about where my life is at with respect to my bible-talk, my household, and my leadership group. I am finding that I tend to really rant a lot about these things, especially when left to the solitude of my thoughts. The thought that kept lingering in my mind is, if I am so smart/wise/loving, why isn't my intelligence/wisdom/love speaking for itself? Why do I feel like I need to explain myself all the time? If I was really leading the way, wouldn't people just feel the results of my decisions through my life, instead of me having to preach it? It brings to mind Matthew 11:19. And, the other thought that formed after a lot of tossing and turning was, Who is the common denominator in all of these relationship circles? *sigh*

Jared's secret map to a secret cave for secret spelunking (P.S. don't tell anyone)

The revelation in all this, I believe, is that I am not a very merciful person. I tend to evaluate people and situations in terms of whether they deserve things — my attention, my praise, my investment. Undoubtedly everything and everyone in creation will eventually fail me or be flawed in some way; therein lies my excuse to deem them undeserving of investment. And that is the way I have felt about nearly all of my relationships — these people don't deserve my praise, my appreciation, my admiration. It feels awful to actually say that, but there it is.

There was a bad fire on the way home, near Magic Mountain

I began to think about the definition of grace — unmerited favor. Man. And I start to realize that here is where the rubber meets the road with regards to real love, real Christianity. Because what all this line of thinking leads to is the fact that deep down, I really feel like I do deserve praise and appreciation and admiration. Double *sigh*.

Another interesting sight on the way home. Probably not a good day for this guy

Anyway, I guess that's what some time away from the typical distractions of life gets me. Next week: New Yawk. Time to hit the sack.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Bad Burger?

I don't appreciate my health enough until I get sick. Then I'm really grateful. I think I ate a bad burger at the Fouts' BBQ. I remember it being really raw, so much so that Sara wanted to know if I wanted to microwave it. I figured, nah, I'm tough.

Of course I felt fine on Sunday, the next day. So maybe it was the lasagna I had at Giovanni's. At any rate, I felt pretty bad on Monday as soon as I woke up. I stumbled through the work-day, took a nap over lunch, and when I got home I went straight to bed. I didn't go to work today, and instead slept and sweated it off. I feel a lot better now, which is good since Nikki and I are leaving for Yosemite bright and early tomorrow morning. Ben decided to come down tonight so we met at TGIF for a late night snack, along with James, Sarah, Kathy, Roderick, Alicia, and some of the teens: Martin, Eric, and Curtis. Martin is driving now, hard to believe. It was cool to see him driving the other teens around.

I'll be offline until after Yosemite. Let's see how long I can last.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

One Crazy Summer (Weekend)

This weekend was full of engagements, holy moley. Joel, my friend up in Richmond asked Joanne, and Richard, my roommate, asked Remy. Unbelievable.

I was on the phone with Joel today as he told me a great story about how Joanne's dad sort of spilled the beans with her and then she was totally expecting it at a perfectly orchestrated moment but he didn't ask and she kept pestering him to ask but he wouldn't. And then the next weekend he managed to setup a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge but played as if he really didn't want to be there so she wouldn't suspect and then popped the question there. But he couldn't get on his knee because he was afraid of dropping the ring. Oh man, good stuff.

Richard told us earlier about how he asked Remy's father for her hand and I guess he (her dad) started to cry. I'll get the whole scoop tomorrow night I think; the engagement party at Island's tonight was way too crowded.

Mark and Norma get married (we threw a disc up for them at ultimate frisbee), Jon and Dung's have their bridal shower, my best friend and my roommate both get engaged. It's almost more joy a guy can handle. Of course I'm so excited for all of them but there's always that little pang of envy mixed in with a bit of wistful hopelessness. There, I said it.

The weekend, reader's digest version: Friday - singles devo by Kai and Denny's afterwards with Faith, Sarah, James, Mashanda, et. al; Saturday - household quiet-time, ultimate frisbee, Jon & Dung's shower, lunch with Carly, nap, BBQ and Catch-Phrase at the Fouts' with Shannon, Sara and Aimee; Sunday - Guillermo's last sermon as paid staff, lunch with Kris Easterling, a visit to Eddy Chung at the hospital, BBQ and bible-talk leaders' meeting at the Bergems', roommates engagement party, time to blog. TOO MUCH STUFF.

More specifically, there were some pretty dramatic highs and lows:

Russ led the household QT on Saturday, reading from Messy Spirituality. In it was a great story about how graciously a certain dating couple was treated in the church they attended. They lived together but at some point decided to submit to "do things right" and get married. They got pregnant though, and so the money they had saved for the wedding went instead to the new baby and they had only a legal marriage with the Justice of the Peace. Their married friends in church decided to surprise them by throwing them the wedding they never had -- they kidnapped each of them, had them write down everything they loved about their spouse, and later brought them back to their house where some 60 more friends and family were waiting to be a part of the wedding ceremony and celebrate. It was a very touching story of how deep love and grace can really go, without judgement. I know I don't have that kind of depth of love.

Ultimate frisbee was another story. A homeless man had set up his camp near where we usually play. He was pretty ornery and foul-mouthed but we managed to agree on an arrangement of the field. Unfortunately, while we were playing one of the guys ran for a catch off the field (as typically happens) and into his "territory" and he pretty much went ballistic. He was being very unreasonable and threatening and cursed very loudly, all the while with children present. We felt like something needed to be done so Pete called the cops. They came and talked to him and searched him for quite a while. By the time we were leaving he had started cleaning up his stuff, much more humbled. It was sad to me that we had to resort to that, and there was a certain helplessness I felt in our inability to do anything more constructive. I felt pretty bad too when the police officer asked, "Did he shake that stick at you when he was threatening you? If he did, we can get him." He hadn't, and so they couldn't/didn't bring him in; I felt so powerless and unable to do something good for someone in genuine need.

At the "Jack 'n' Jill" bridal shower, Jenn Dominelli was there and we spent most of the time there catching up with her. Turns out she's headed to Nashville, Tennessee early next year with Stacey to pursue their careers in music. You go, girls. I'm so impressed.

I was talking to Carly about teen-camp and I remembered something about it that is worth mentioning. Before the kids arrived the counselors were together for a meeting and Hannah, the coordinator for the facility spoke to us about how excited she was to work with us. Apparently 85% of their clientele claim to be Christian, and yet she could tell right away that our group was "serious." The fact that we are not only multi-racial, but that people of different races actually talk to each other, was very impressive to her. She was even amazed when we were going over ground rules such as consequences for sexual misconduct, stealing, and such. Other groups apparently don't talk openly about those things, though they happen frequently. She was so excited to work with us that she specifically requested to be on this contract -- she was literally jumping up and down when she was telling us this. It was really encouraging to see her heart and to feel so noticed and appreciated.

Meanwhile, at the BBQ -- the Fouts sisters are so funny. It was cool to hang out with them and get to know each of them individually a little better.

This is getting really long.

Guillermo's sermon was great today; he got a bit emotional right in the beginning of his sermon as he was acknowledging all the people that had come to service to support him. It was very touching. At lunch Kris said it was the "end of an era." The Adame family certainly has given a lot the shaping the west region and the San Diego church as a whole, for which I am grateful. I was my usual nervous before church, also knowing that I was going to be the only lead song-leader today. I wonder if the day was especially emotional for me because of that fact -- I feel so alone sometimes in my role with the music ministry. Jana just left for China, Susan went to Pomerado and probably will continue to go so that Brian can attend their earlier service, Richard goes there now too, Zack is so hit-or-miss. Guillermo expressed the kind of loneliness that comes with a lack of support from the congregation. I think I could relate.

Okay, enough for now, sheesh.

Friday, July 9, 2004

A Week in the Life

Man, things just get busier and busier. And I'm still finishing up my week in review.

On Tuesday morning I had coffee with Guillermo over at Starbucks. We met at 7:30am, which gave us about an hour. At first I figured that we wouldn't have enough to talk about for a whole hour, but as it turned out we were walking out at 8:45am and there was still stuff we hadn't really gotten to yet. Guillermo picked my brain about teen camp and the singles and work and such, and I got a feel for how he was feeling with the transition. It was a really great time. I think I'm going to see if I can get with him on a regular basis. I'm so glad to hear (often) that his desire is to stay in University City.

Speaking of Starbucks, Slashdot has an article about a guy's website detailing his mission to patronize every single Starbucks in the world. I thought it was kind of goofy at first, but then I started looking up the San Diego area and I was blown away by how many there are. And he didn't even get to all of them. It's neat seeing the locations that I recognize. I even saw the one Guillermo and I were just at.

Wednesday night I went over to Irene's to help her out with her computer. Sara B. was over there actually so I had a good time tinkering around and hanging out and getting Sara to sing. On my way out Linda had me read aloud an email that Amber had just sent her. Amber just arrived in China with the Bresendens and already wanted to keep her mom updated. It was a really sweet email.

Today at work we found out the one of the consultants just quit, probably late yesterday or maybe even this morning. She had started after I did, which was like last week. I guess she felt neglected and didn't feel the need to be pro-active in finding something to do. Charlie let Devin and me know that he appreciated our professionalism in sticking through some down-time with good attitudes. That was encouraging.

And tonight we had Changes That Heal, which went really well for those who were there. I would give the details about what we talked about tonight but then I'd have to kill all one of you reading this. Afterwards I dropped by Juan's to help him with his laptop. And I still have to give the Muniz' back their desktop. Man I should start a business.

Okay, I'm caught up to present time. Ready...go.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

July 4th Weekend

It was a great weekend of mostly relaxing. I watched Spiderman 2 on Saturday with Nikki, Steve Tripe and Sarah. Faith joined us for dinner afterwards at Mimi's Cafe. Good stuff.

On Sunday, since we were meeting in house-church, and I was planning on going up to Long Beach in the afternoon to join the singles and their communion service, I decided to check out the First Baptist church right by the house.

Overall I the general feeling I got was that it was very similar to our own service, but maybe a little more boring. Most of the people there were white and old. They had quite a bit of special stuff to celebrate the Fourth of July -- we gave the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag posted there; one lady sang the Star Spangled Banner; four kids dressed in red, white and blue did a tap routine to a recorded song; a special choir song. Their hymnal is quite thick too, and there were a lot of songs for special occasions, a few of which we sang in the spirit of the Fourth. One song was actually sung to commemorate people that served in each of the armed forces -- one verse for navy, another for the army, another for the air force. At each verse the song-leader had those who had served come to the front. The last verse was actually all three lumped together, but the song-leader used it for the marines/coast guard/etc. That was kind of funny.

The message was actually preached by an Asian guy, which I thought was interesting. It was mainly about striving towards unity rather than unanimity. Apparently the church is looking for a pastor to lead their congregation, perhaps has been for a while.

Towards the end of the first service I found out they had a second, more "contemporary" service at 11am, so I decided to check it out too. As I was waiting, they were setting up a band and such, so it looked interesting. When they started up, I thought they started too early because there were only like 12 people in the room. Anyway, the main difference was they had the band and displayed the words on the wall with a projector. It was your typical "contemporary Christian" worship music. And, everyone in the band and worship team was white. Then the same preacher got up to speak, so I took off at that point.

Later that afternoon I was to meet up with Eddy and his crew (Dawny, Steve Tripe, Chris Gabler, and Kim Lamie) to go to Long Beach. Little did I know what I was in for. We left at like 2:45pm and arrived at like 5:30pm after what should have been an hour and a half ride. Note to the wise: don't talk to Eddy while he's driving.

Anyway, we finally made it, and from there it was a great time. I saw pretty much everyone I know from Metro-Heights: Sara, Sam, Bosco, Tanya, Rey, Anna, Vince. Nick too, although I just met him. I also saw Candace, Kris' girlfriend, now ex-, I found out. We all had a lot of fun hanging out and watching the fireworks.

On the way home it was five in the car and I had to sit in the back-middle, which was too warm and pretty blah. So I zonked out, and we got home at like 1:30 in the morning. And it was back to work the next day, bleh. I need FREEDOM!!!

Teen Camp

The boys: Marcus, John, Ryan, Johnny, Eli

More: Kyle, Ryan

Me, Hannah, the camp coordinator

Frank, Lisa, me

Here are some more photos.

Whew. So much stuff, so little time. I think I will try to catch up to today in chunks. Starting with teen camp...

Teen Camp was held at Highland Resort. It was from Sunday, June 27th to Thursday, July 1st, and totally cool. At first, at the end of the second day, I was like, I am not going to survive. But by the end of it, I was feeling sad that it was almost over. Lynn and I drove up on Sunday morning -- we had a meeting at 8:30am and I practically slept half-way up there and was still groggy by the time we arrived. The first day was basically a hit-the-ground-running introduction to what we would be doing with the kids as far as group activities and such. At 2pm the kids started arriving. I think Jeff Wadstrom was in charge of the whole thing, but a sister named Lisa Nichols pretty much ran most of the workshops. She's an inspirational speaker for teens and high-school students all over the country. I was pretty impressed overall because it was such a departure from our tradition retreat style (tons of preaching and not much discussion). There was a lot of group work and processing feelings and stuff, which I thought was so good. I think all of our ministries need this actually. In fact, it was a lot like a suggestion I made to Kai Foster about something I would like to do with our singles ministry. Anyway. Of course, some of the kids weren't so into it, which was totally understandable too.

We played a lot of ultimate frisbee too, which was a blast. It was really fun just being out there with the kids giving my whole heart to whatever we were doing.

The guys in my cabin were really cool. One night they had a wrestling match. I was really tempted to join in but didn't in the end. I figured I would get a chance the next night, but I was too wiped out. One of my only regrets.

Other random memories: Jackie Hodge pestering me to do a Sheryl Crow song for the talent show; Kia asking Lisa how she dealt with being a black woman in predominantly white San Diego; Allison Smith's quarter-trick and monologue at the talent show; Scott Yohner getting baring his heart and soul in front of everyone during the discussion sessions.

Highlights: doing the high-ropes course, and being able to encourage Lisa to make it to the top, and her sharing about it; Nacho (one of the kids) telling me that I sing with all my heart; being able to tell Tara that she had a lot to be proud of; Brandon telling me he appreciated how I built up the team on the ultimate field; grabbing the flag at the last game of Capture the Flag (I eventually got tagged, but Tyler picked up the flag and won the game). Fun fun fun.