Stories by Crazy

A little crazy never hurt anyone…

Forty Days

So, for the last forty-ish days, I volunteered my services to this thing called GLDI, where young men and women are put through rigorous training to become better Christian global leaders and influencers. Being an alumnus from seven years prior, I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of serving a class, but I thought it’d be pretty fun punishing students with morning exercises and filling in occasionally for the staff when needed, to ultimately help guide these students into leadership. A walk in the park as auxiliary staff, I thought.

It wasn’t. Jesus Christ, it was not.

Firstly, it’s hard enough to curate morning exercises to keep them interesting, but having this being the first time doing this sort of thing and to cater for many individuals, I bumbled through it. Then you have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, psych yourself up to be the Soul Cycle instructor that nobody wants to hear at that hour, and push students to doing things that most of them wouldn’t enjoy on a normal day. Basically, how I treat myself at the gym.

While some staff had a problem with students not moving immediately to direction, I had more of a problem with grumbling and bad attitudes. Like I know this is bad, but honestly, you signed up for this. At one point, I did want to tell them that they could just go home and be whiny bitches there, instead of bringing the entire class morale down. You could just go home, subject yourself to your own forty-day training, and moan all you want to yourself – and possibly get the same resultant – without affecting others. For me, select bad apples were making the entire barrel rotten, and I couldn’t just look past it cause the staff was busting so hard to make this work.

Let me go back to the whiny bitches part. Obviously, I couldn’t say that in the open because it’d be unprofessional. (Duh.) And un-Christian, I guess. Would I want to hear it? Of course I would, because I’m some demented human being that enjoys vulgar, slightly de-motivational speech. However, not everyone is like me, and being in a position of leadership, you should lead by example in action and words, and lack thereof. I’m not perfect, and I would definitely say that I didn’t do a good job (cause my personality is so strong that it just bled over into everything I did), but I did try my best to carry out my responsibilities and serve the students.

Then, something happened that just threw professionalism out the window for me, and I lost my damn mind.

If there’s one thing in the world that pisses me off the most to actually not see gender or race but just target of blame, it’s gossip. I’ve had so many instances of gossip burning up bridges and causing so much unnecessary drama (usually to myself), I could fill up an entire Telemundo lineup for years. Seriously, how hard is it that you have nothing going on in your life, that you have to start some shit to make life interesting? And how many kinds of stupid do you have to be to think certain pieces of information are okay to let loose without permission or consent?

I digress. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t nice. I blew up (which is an overstatement, because this is a Christian setting… whatever that means). I bluntly called people out, specifically on indiscretion since what got out was only supposed to be known behind closed doors. (And if you don’t know if what you know is supposed to be need-to-know information, just default to keeping your mouth shut about it.) There was repentance (maybe) and apologies (maybe), but at the time, there was no healing cause I sure as hell let the students feel my wrath.

Now, if I had not blown up and addressed this issue with the right attitude, this probably wouldn’t have happened as bad as it did. I could’ve shown a little more care and consideration – a little more grace – and things could’ve gone more smoothly. Yet, as I’ve been hinted to or told outright by numerous people at church (mainly women), I have the most abrasive personality known to them, and for me personally, I don’t care. I want to extract the poison or deal with the problem immediately in full force, and if people are too vanilla to want to see the truth, then I’d rather be the greater fool sandpapering their candy asses.

With all the focus on leadership at GLDI, I never thought that I would be the one needing some instruction. But God is funny, ironic, and always knows how to humble. (He’s the original Kendrick Lamar, with better rhymes and flow.)

My big lesson: people are people, but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little grace. This is particularly relevant, since one of the students asserted that I didn’t like humanity. I agreed with them because I felt that humanity, despite all of its achievements, was still a group of wretched, conniving, selfish, and self-serving beings that shouldn’t deserve an ounce of mercy. The part I needed to add, though, was that despite all the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things that marked humanity, God still showed grace upon us through His Son.

For me, it sucks that I am equally deserving of His grace as the person aforementioned that I pretty much would like to put my fist through their face or 깡패 kick through a window. Yet, sin is still sin, is still sin, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the big stuff or small granules because God finds sin repugnant. (Like, it doesn’t matter if you have a fly in your soup or an entire colony of ants crawling on your buffet tray. You ain’t gonna eat that.) And yet, God extended grace by sacrificing Jesus to take all sin, large and little, and reclaim our sorry, pitiful souls. (This is a basic understanding, by the way, and in no ways a showcase of theological prowess. I’m pretty stupid, as my well-versed pastor friends would gladly point out.)

What does this mean for me? Well, I think it means that some people are good at some things, while others are good at other things. And sometimes, unqualified people are put into positions – and qualified people in objectively demeaning positions – so that they can be taught something, even if the lesson isn’t learned until way after their tenure. Also, sometimes, you can’t shove medicine down people’s throats, but rather leave it out like cookies for Santa (terrible analogy). You can’t change the world, and moreover, you can’t change the hearts and minds of people, but you can still be a beacon pointing the way to hope even when people would rather have you shut the hell up or sit your ass down.

If by chance you are a GLDI alumni reading this, I hope my comments don’t dishearten you, especially if you’re a recent alumnus. (I do have a tendency to be a bit harsh, as mentioned. And vulgar, if you haven’t noticed.) As much as I expressed my disappointment to the most recent class, I was very much proud of their work performed and effort exhibited, just as much as the staff’s. And though I don’t mention it in public, anytime someone asks me if it was worth it, I admit that it was with an analogy. Participating in GLDI, whether as a student or volunteer, is like exercising: sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but it’s ultimately for your benefit, whether or not you can see the results. (I guess now it’s public knowledge.)

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Mother-Lover

Private Ryan: Tell me about your wife and those rosebushes?
Captain Miller: No… no, that one I save just for me.
– Saving Private Ryan

I probably should’ve picked a different title for this post, but not only do I thoroughly enjoy the same song from The Lonely Island, I think this whole rumination was brought on by thoughts of my own mother.

And if you’re thinking naughty thoughts because of the song, please stop them for a moment.

I love my mother. Absolutely, and without a doubt. Do I say it enough? Probably not. Did I always feel that way? No, because I was a pretty selfish, terrible kid/teenager/college student/young adult. Fortunately, more sovereign forces intervened to help me mature, to think less of myself and more on others.

Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day (and even Parents’ Day, for all you pure Korean readers out there), are really difficult for me for two reasons: my parents live pretty far away, and I never know how to truly express my thanks to them. Flowers and “World’s Best Dad” mugs don’t cut it, but some would say that something is better than nothing, right?

Wrong. That’s like bringing a wild gopher to a dog show. Although, I should admit that I did send my mother flowers last year.

This year, I was very much tempted to repeat the same, but as it turns out, when you’re in film school or in a master’s program (or both), you forget to check your peripherals. Or, if you’re like me, you struggle to remember what your mother’s favorite flowers are. So, I sent a family group message to wish my mother a Happy Mother’s Day.

Even now, I’m shaking my head at myself. What kind of turd of a son just relegates to sending a text message on Mother’s Day?

This past Sunday, I got to catch up with my sister, who asked if I had sent a card to my mother. Probably should’ve done that. She also asked if I was going to send one in Korean. For me, as a writer, if I can’t curate my thoughts in a persuasive manner in my language of choice, it’s really embarrassing. Like right now, if I didn’t have enough vocabulary to let you know that I’m cultured but also a complete idiot, I’d rail my head into the wall.

And then, my sister said that I should still write my mother a card – even with my apprehension about my 7th 4th 1st grade reading-writing comprehension of the Korean language (and even if it’s late, cause apparently she’s expecting one) – because she’d appreciate the hilarity of my struggle and thoughtfulness.

That led me to this. Every year (or everyday, for that matter), I see posts of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Sibling Day, Woman Crush Man Day, all over social media. It’s gotten to the point where it’s just mind-numbing, but it makes me wonder… Who cares? I mean, if your parents or sibling or your significant other miniature toy poodle is on social media, then great. I guess they really appreciate public displays of affection.

I don’t, which comes off as really ironic since I was such a huge romantic back in the day. (And by back in the day, I mean a few weeks prior.) For me, my relationship with my family is sacred, second only to my relationship with God. Of course, I’ll occasionally post a photo, but largely, I want those moments for myself, and myself only.

With each day that passes, I realize that not only do I not have a lot of time left, but neither do my parents. Not that we’re overcome with disease, but it’s the reality that someday, I will lose them. Each and every moment is fleeting, and holding onto them is like grasping a breeze. For me to share them with the public, I feel as if it dilutes the essence and risks the sanctity of my memories. (I apologize if you have lost a parent and are still grieving, for it is not my intention to prod or satirize your own experience.)

I’m not saying to stop posting photos and memories of your parents and loved ones (maybe if your loved one is a dog, in which you should tone it down), or that I wish people would stop harping on me for not being more public about things like my birthday. In fact, this post is completely unprovoked, which does beg the question why I even wrote it in the first place. My point is that though I don’t show it, I do think dearly about my parents and my loved ones, so much so that if you cracked me open, memories would come flooding out like the Chestbursters from the Alien franchise.

(For the sake of the children and those with sensitive constitutions, I will not post a photo of said Chestburster.)

Even with such zeal and amour, I always remind myself that these moments and memories are for me, and as such are so precious that I will defend them from everyone. Which is why, even as I try to write my mother a card in Korean with four-year-old vocabulary, the most you’ll ever hear me say is this: I love my mom.

Good

“You’re a good man.”
– worst thing anyone has said about me that was also a bold-faced lie

It’s true. This is worse than when people make fun of my name, although that’s pretty biting as well. Some just say that they do that just because they respect me – which is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard in my life. There’s no respect when you dishonor someone, especially their name. You might as well spit in their face and their mother’s face, then dance on their grandparents’ grave. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, everyone who’s ever done that. Jerks.)

I digress. I don’t consider myself a good man. Okay at best, but never good. Apostle Paul was a good man. Gandhi was a good man. Jesus was the goodest man that ever gooded in the history of goodness. The bar is very high in my book to be good, and for someone to say it even as an innocent compliment, well…

Fairly speaking, I’m a pretty rotten guy (if you can’t tell by the tone of this post). I hate a lot of things, and that’s compounded by my utter disregard for people that choose to do these things. For example, lack of responsibility. I grew up being responsible and upright, so when someone messes up, it’s really irritating. Of course, you should forgive, but if you’re going to keep making that mistake and not really learn, then you deserve whatever you reap.

While I do want to help the disenfranchised, it’s annoying millennials that post outfits of the day and hop on the most fiery bandwagon trend, that really really make me hate humanity altogether. This is a pretty large net that I’m casting, but if they are the future, then the future be damned. Instead of doing something beneficial for your local community or spending time on someone other than yourself (or your friend that has the same doctor for lip collagen implants), you decided to take the human race back a step.

With all this evidence, I should probably just let the world burn. I should backstab as much as the next guy, and focus on myself being… “awesome,” as they say. (I think I vomited a little…) The problem is that with all this malice and discontent inside me, there’s still a moral compass that still points me away from retribution, hatred, and maybe even anger. And when I mean moral compass, I mean Jesus.

And this is where my turmoil boils over. No matter how much I would just like to flip the table and call it a day, I just can’t. I have to give second, fifth, ninth chances (within reason) to people, cause I would want someone to do the same for me, even if I were some sniveling, snide, sneaky, snarky snake in the grass. It’s extremely difficult, and if you think it’s bad, try adding the fact that I’m an idealistic advocate (according to some personality test I took on the Internet – which is also probably a load crap). If I were me, I would not give myself any extra chances.

You’re probably thinking, “You’re blowing this out of proportion.” In a sense, I am, but only because I choose to look at the deeper meanings. Maybe I’m crazy, or maybe everyone else is too dense to think about these things. Maybe I should give some connotation to this statement that started this entire post, but that’s for another day…

Billy Bombs

Like most foreign exchange students, Kyung was a fish out of water, taking everything in for the first time. And while his homestay parents were kind people, his portly homestay brother Billy gave him the same disregard most would discover from an incompetent politician. If he had a choice, Kyung would probably trade Billy for the politician – or any other creature less despicable than Billy.

Everyday, Billy would taunt Kyung from the school bus stop all the way to the lunch room, upon which he would steal his foreign exchange student’s meal. If he could get away from Billy, it was usually in the bathroom – which was seldom – or after being shoved into the locker by Billy. Any friends that Kyung made, Billy would drive them away faster than a pied piper.

It was a miserable two years, seven months, and ten days for Kyung. But soon, he would graduate and return home to his motherland, and he prayed for the strength everyday to simply survive his host brother.

One particular day, Billy was in a fouler mood than usual. As such, he took out his frustration on Kyung by locking him out of his own room for enjoyment. It took nearly four hours to get it unlocked, by then which his host parents were upset that, according to Billy, Kyung had neglectfully, or intentionally, locked himself out of his room. That, Kyung decided, would be the last straw.

Kyung contemplated – no conspired – to take his own righteous and furious anger out on Billy. However, unlike his fat housemate, he bided his time, hoping to unleash his justice at the appropriate time: his last day to stay at the house. Yet, as long as he persevered under Billy’s abuse, Kyung could not formulate adequate retribution.

Until one day at lunch, when Kyung’s class took a field trip out of school. It was largely a forgettable trip involving a university campus tour, but it was the lunch break at a particular burrito restaurant that left an impression with Kyung. While ordering his meaty burrito, the line cook asked if he would like the special hot sauce. Accustomed to things of spicy nature, he decided to give it a shot, and the cook brushed a simple toothpick dab’s worth of special sauce onto Kyung’s burrito.

What he ended up tasting was the hottest ghost pepper sauce he had ever tasted. Enough so that it took an entire carton of milk and a bland bowl of rice to dull the pain. As he fanned his aching tongue, inspiration struck Kyung with so much clarity that he knew precisely what his mission and the necessary steps were to accomplish his revenge.

A bottle of DA BOMB sauce in hand, Kyung gleefully returned home, hid the explosive diarrhea inducer, and counted down the days. Twelve. Nine. Six. Four. Then, the day of Billy’s reckoning.

Packed and ready to move out, Kyung prepared a last meal for his host family as a measure of his thankfulness. While his host parents received delicious plates of teriyaki beef, Billy chowed on a special plate of spicy chicken, claiming he was man enough to take the heat. And he sure was, not only eating one serving but three.

As the family retired for a moment before Kyung’s departure, Billy began to feel a certain bubbling that most would find unmistakable. He thought it was nothing, but as the minutes ticked by in front of the television, Billy realized that the reactor in his stomach was reaching a critical mass. If proper measures were not taken soon, he would have a meltdown – and Kyung watched in devious anticipation.

Billy rushed to the toilet, slamming the door shut and immediately taking his seat on the porcelain throne. What proceeded next was the most violent, bombastic, Jackson-Pollock-esque, painful waves of spray diarrhea ever to occur in the household. Billy clutched the walls, the toilet seat, anything that would give him enough brace to withstand the strength of the terror that continued to escape him.

While Billy was lost in his euphoric expulsion, a CLICK came from the door. Billy jerked his head to see that the doorknob had been flipped the other way, and was now locked from the outside – with the now interior knob sealed with crazy glue to prevent keyed unlocking. On the other side of the bathroom door, Kyung smiled to himself, holding the last and only roll of toilet paper in the entire house.

Panic began to overtake Billy, as all the towels and all other suitable replacements to wipe his now tarnished backside were unavailable. What he did not realize was that the water to the house had been shut off after the meal, and any attempt to flush would be halted, and any attempt to clean oneself was impossible.

It was also time for Kyung to leave. Still in the middle of his overflow, Billy could not respond to his parents’ calls, and seeing as he would be late for his flight, Kyung and his host parents left to depart and say final goodbyes. Billy, however, painfully remained alone in the house with no access to cleanse himself or escape the stench of his own contemptuous misgivings until many hours later.

And so it was, that after all the mean things that he imparted onto Kyung, Billy was left with nothing but the flatulent bomb of his discontent.

The Last One Before Thirty

Usually I do this every year, but last year, I can’t remember why, but I decided to put it on hold. I think it may have something to do with film school. I should probably finish that draft…

Birthdays are pretty much personal New Year’s resolutions, except all the attention is on you for the day.

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Like most birthdays, I try to keep a low profile and hold off on broadcasting the information. I like the idea of people acting normally and uncoerced, so that any gracious act they do is genuine and unsolicited. However, as per an idealistic personality, I was always disappointed at how few remember – and how many need an external push in the form of my sister posting something on Instagram or Facebook.

This year, however, as I was trying to keep my yearly routine, I decided to just tell people as subtly as possible. Surprisingly, people responded positively, and some showed that they really cared. I think they always cared, but I expected so little from a disappointing humanity, that I never gave them the opportunity.

Since last year, I think I have been giving people the benefit of the doubt more often, even that one lecturer that I refuse to see or converse with or even mention because the very thought of this person makes me want to punch something. (Okay, maybe not that one…) As I lowered expectations, it became easier to just be myself. I still had this attitude of pretentiousness that came with knowing too much about too many things, and with it comes the permanent face-palm and groans when smelling ignorance, annoyance, and other pretentious things.

Still, even with people arguing for Armenian theology or how you don’t need a script to make a movie – both of which I think are incredibly stupid when you really think about it – it’s nice to know that people are still human, and we all make mistakes. We all fall, we all don’t know the entire picture. Yet, if you truly believe in Easter, you know that we don’t just accept, but also forgive, because damn it, we’re all pretty flawed and are nowhere near perfect to have the power to condemn or pass judgment. (Note: this doesn’t mean go out and be self-indulgent under the pretense that you can’t be perfect and no one should pass judgment. That’s dumb. Also, forgive me if that’s a pretty gut-shot representation of Christianity. Everyone has to start somewhere…)

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Somebody asked how I look so young. Honestly, I don’t know. It may be genetics, diet and exercise, or a combination of both. Perhaps it’s because I don’t smile that often, or, as I told this somebody, I feed off the energy of children. In any case, I don’t feel my age, and I guess I don’t look my age – even though mentally, I feel seventy-nine.

In fact, as cynical as I may be, I like to think I’m still very open-minded (within reason) and opportunistic. I still dream of one day rebuilding a car from the chassis up – because Skynet will probably take over my car’s electronics, so I might as well go analog. I still want to learn things outside of my desired profession, which is basically everything and anything. And as a flag football coach once said, there’s always room for improvement to get a little bit better everyday.

In a sense, I feel like a kid again. The whole world is waiting with adventure. New possibilities, new experiences, new people. However, I don’t think this is just reserved for me. It’s everyone anywhere – even if it may be some hipster trip to Iceland because it’s awesome (which, in reality, it probably is) or Coachella (which I still don’t understand the appeal). This does sound a bit first-world privilege, and I don’t deny it. I lament it. If you can read this, you’re probably in the same boat to a degree.

But the fact that you wasted time to read this probably means you could be doing something else. Read a book. Go on a walk. Lift some weights. Sit on the couch watching Coachella (but don’t). Write a novel. Do something. If you’re Christian, you should be doing something – whether or not you fully know it’s purpose (but it’s probably for the glory of God).

If you’re my friend or just a passerby reading some stupid guy’s blog, fulfill my birthday wish by doing something positive for the world. Spread less hate. Be less stupid. Help a brother or sister out. Be a better friend. Plant a tree. Just do something for the betterment of every man, woman, and child instead of living for yourself. And if you can actively spread the Gospel, that’d be nice too. (Or don’t – I’m not your mom.)

Because I’ll tell you what I’ll be doing tomorrow: getting better, making things happen, and meeting people. And if I can put a smile on someone’s face by deprecating myself, you can bet your ass I’ll do that too.