Stories by Crazy

A little crazy never hurt anyone…

Category: Non-Fiction

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.)

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…

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.

D-Wars

I will try to remain civil about this, and also explain the title (which may allude to a terrible film because it analogizes well to what I’m about to recount).

I have a professor teacher that teaches the Evolution of Narrative Film. You would think by that course title, I would actually learn about how film has evolved since its first slate. However, since that first day of class, I found that notion to be terribly wrong.

His methodology is to show clips of movies instead of the entire film – because… I honestly don’t know why. He makes us stay the entire two hours and forty-five minutes for a night class, which wouldn’t be so bad if he was actually entertaining. He also throws up terminology that he made up and forces us to use – but are probably never used in the industry, and we never will either – to support his theories. Granted, an educator should have some opinion about some things, because everyone has different tastes. However, his opinions seem more like doctrine at this point (which is Week 11), and only he can lead the students into the promise land of “better filmmaking.”

Actually, it makes you a poor filmmaker - figuratively and literally.

Actually, it makes you a poor filmmaker – figuratively and literally.

Now, one of his course requirements is a midterm paper, which should be a walk in the park for a screenwriter. In the requirements, he wanted us to reiterate his fantastically fun terms and apply it to the film of his choosing. (I will say that he has incredible tenacity to pick a film for each one of the 50+ students in the class, or he’s just simply anal retentive.) He also wanted us to “Get Creative…” because “Your Original Thinking Will Get You Everywhere!!” (That is verbatim from the assignment printout.)

I got Under the Skin, which stars Scarlett Johannson… and that’s about it. Needless to say, I hated the film, but I still tried to defend it and play ball. I talked about the all the stuff he wanted to address, like what did I like, what could be improved, what changes I would make. And I added a little flavor to make it unique – since he wanted “Original Thinking.”

If you listen close, you can just make out Admiral Ackbar about to give him the bad news...

If you listen close, you can just make out Admiral Ackbar about to give him the bad news…

That was a week before it was due. Seriously, I turned it in a week early because I just wanted to be done with the class. As soon as I left, I felt a little better, knowing that I could get back to my usual hysteria of actual screenwriting – which is mostly just scouring YouTube videos – and trying to hustle to stay alive.

Then, tonight happened.

The teacher guy started off with how he graded the midterms (which wasn’t anywhere on the important form that told us exactly what he wanted from the midterm). He expressed that he was impressed by the “Original Thinking” of most of the papers. Inside, I was like, “Oh, he probably got a good ol’ chuckle from a cheeky screenwriter.”

However, things got real raw when he decided to admonish a chunk of the class for grammar mistakes he found in the essays, and subtly/passive-aggressively called out everyone who wasn’t born in the U.S. (and some who were) that they need to get themselves “tutorors” (yup, he said that) and generate “graduate level” material – because it was abhorrent to his sensibilities. He later on butchered the pronunciation of a Chinese name from a film that he assumed that all the Chinese students in the room had seen, but was appalled that almost none of them had. Someone had to tell him it was banned, to which he apologized for his actions.

Also, he may or may not have been wearing this hat.

Also, he may or may not have been wearing this hat.

Now, this is the same guy that has undermined the value of screenwriters because he feels that the progression of “cinema” is heading towards “scenario-based filmmaking” – which is just a uppercrust way of saying a Michael Bay film with a smaller budget. I’ve been letting that slide since he doesn’t actually make films – like actually operate a camera, actually sit down and edit all the footage, actually write some words on a paper.

Basically, he’s just a consultant and a critic, sitting on the sidelines and sipping Haterade. I once called him out on all the sarcasm about screenwriters (in kind) as quietly as I could in writing, to which he replied, “Don’t be so sensitive,” on my weekly think-piece-write-some-thoughts-only-to-have-it-shot-down-in-class-cause-he-can’t-write-the-questions-clearly. At that point, I realized he was just a terrible educator. The problem is that I still have to jump through his hoops.

And that has never been so evident than tonight, because when class ended and I picked up my midterm, I saw in red marker that he gave me a D.

RIP.

RIP

I laughed. I really did, because it was so absurd – in that he was so offended by my “Original Thinking” when he’s been spitting the same venom, and that this was the first time I ever failed so hard in school. I showed my screenwriting colleagues, and their reactions ranged from “oh shit” to “HOLY SHIT.” They offered advice and condolences, but the fact of the matter is that I have to let this hipster-of-an-educator know by the end of this week if I want to redo the paper – because to him, it read as “a nasty film review,” did not feel “like a sincere graduate level paper,” and was not “within the spirit of [you and] your colleagues’ work.” To that affect, I can partially agree since I was blatantly scathing about my movie requirement.

No matter how much I despise this guy as an educator, I definitely despise him more as a person. (This is the same guy that forgets people’s names, including my preference of going by something easier than my legal name. Cause, you know, so it doesn’t cause most people to crash and burn at the pronunciation.) This grade (and this class) essentially stands between me passing and graduating on time, and for most of us taking this required course (which is a mystery we’ll never solve), he’s the tollbooth operator that badly wants his dues – which might be for us to turn into mindless clones of himself.

I apologize for reminding you that this film exists.

I apologize for reminding you that this film exists.

Being Asian-American or an Asian in the U.S., this should seem like an everyday situation with an obvious choice. We’re groomed to just work hard and don’t make too many waves so that we end up successful. It’s the credo of most (or all) immigrants and their second-generation children.

But for me, if this guy is what stands in the way of my dreams because I disagree with him and he can’t take what he’s dishing, then he better be ready to go to war.

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Shout out to my friend who often writes in this style.