Archive for July, 2012

23 July 2012

Tonight, I spent one of my last full days at work at Legoland, California.  What I have recognized most during my time there is that: I CANNOT STAND IN ONE PLACE!

Physically, I have been known for moving, traveling, uprooting, dreaming, and beginning anew.

In Christ, we take communion and are made clean, new in the Spirit of Christ and the love of a Father.

During the last long hour at work, I found myself walking back and forth between the loading and unloading zones of “Sky Cruiser” and in the glimpse of my eye, I spotted a larger spider stringing down from the tent above.  Just one hour after I had asked the present Breaker to swipe away all the cobwebs, but this one snuck in, quickly. In that short while, he relocated. He found his home, without our approval.

Are we not like this spider?

We keep fighting the judgements of all the world around us, but in the end we say we are bigger, better than what they say–we continue to live our own life.  However, we are left defeated unless we recognize the Truth that we are not alone. 

This spider was alone, he knew it.  He was fast to set up home.  And we are too often setting up camp, finding a temporary home here on earth.  But God says DON’T! He tells us that the world has nothing to offer us, but that in Him we are guaranteed the most perfect shelter in His Kingdom, above.

Why do we keep mending webs? Why are we comfortable here? Why do we fight minority groups?

We should welcome discomfort as a testament to the Lord’s great promise, as a means of discipleship and evangelism.  It is in our discomfort that we gain great measures of mercy, compassion, and grace (Jude 1:22-23).


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13 July 2012

Although I have not always had fond memories with my parents, my mother warned me to be surprised by the car that awaited me this past return to the states.  For, parallel to my first experience, my father had my car waiting, unexpectedly, in the parking lot.  Therefore, luggage in hand, I did not know the immediate destination for transportation home.  He did it again! I was surprised, but this time it was different.  The first time, I was 16 1/2 and wanting my license finally.  This time, I was nearly 21 years old, and after a full year without driving behind a steering wheel, I was not trusted to drive what they pronounced my own. 

Needless to say, when I finally started driving, I noticed a change in me.  I was no longer the fastest driver on the road, but I did love distance just as much.  In my month home, I have filled my 12-gallon tank between one and three times a week (due to school, work, and social commitments).

Although gas prices dropped since I last filled my tank, I was discouraged in the road conduct of California.

I was unable to fill my own tank with the handy automatic release trigger–rather I had to manually hold the gas gun in my car the whole time it took to fill… because I didn’t remember the right angle for the device.

Upon leaving Europe, I knew all would be okay while I had the California coastal sunsets to experience.  However, my work and school schedule has prohibited my dream summer schedule, distracting my priority of spending evenings on the beach.  Rather I observe the color change higher in the sky, while loading the last crowds of families at Legoland, or am driving around in traffic up north.

Oh well…

However,  in my attempt to relax ASAP after work, I tend to take the route home where I never stop at lights.  And in doing so, I have found many new additions of stop signs.  WHY? The best route–all my life–was blocked off this past week for construction.  And on Friday, they replaced the stop sign with a lighted intersection.  WHY?

I know California has a reputation for “The California stop” and all, but is this any better?  Weren’t we merging and practicing polite drivers’ etiquette?

Will this prevent us from aggressive driving?  Will this prevent us from speeding? From driving through a stop signal?  Will this prevent anything?  Or is it more an annoyance?  Did someone report too many incidents of speeding or running stop signs, and this is their response?

What drives the government to create such policies?  What makes the people obey such demands? Is there a global language in terms of driving?

Imagine if every time we sped through a day, an authority figure enforced boundaries.  Would you adhere?  Is driving any different?

Driving: the metaphor of life, as we drive right past the majority of it…

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Friday, June 22nd- Monday, July 8, 2012

Upon arrival back in the states,  I was presented my new car (2010 Volvo C70 convertible in white), an iPhone 4, and many opportunities to shop.  I am spoiled.  Why?  I understand that my parents have gone a long time without the physical ability to present something to me, but at the same time, I have been viewing my entire 11-months in Europe as a gift, a HUGE blessing.

I do not require all of these expensive, material things.  However, I am still enjoying them…

For instance, it is because of my iPhone that I have been able to record all of my thoughts while driving, and now I have the time to transcribe them to you.

Just now, as I was driving on the freeway a truck was driving on the on ramp and gave me a little whistle. And I just started thinking back to Italy, when I got the same smirk.  It was never a form of flattery.

However, the honking here, there isn’t too much of it.  But it means something completely different: a cry out for worry, for help.  That something may or has already gone wrong.  I miss it just being a gesture, a welcome.

In my summer History of Modern Art class, during discussion on Viennese art, I hinted of my recent presence in Vienna, and no one seemed to really care.  It was strange to me.  I’ve been so used to other travelers telling me, encouraging me that I have accomplished so much.  And yet, my pride is not in the fact that I accomplished those things, but in the fact that I was in those places.  And I can’t seem to learn about those places on a screen, in a textbook, or from lecture.  I crave the in-person experience.  I have it in me to go back, a grand return.  I miss it.

I forgot about the homeless people.  As I was entering the freeway, there was a man holding a sign on the on-ramp corner.  He may have been a veteran, lost his home in escrow, or wasted away his money on drugs and is now in recovery.  Whatever it was, homelessness is different here.  I am used to homeless people having a gift: sharing their musical abilities or showing their need for amputation, their ailment.  Never necessarily asking for money, but encouraging you to give for what you see.

But here, it is their job.  Homeless people carrying signs here make more money than businessmen in some cases.  And that, I cannot support.  I will give food, but the money doesn’t go to the same place as it does in Europe or in the Middle East.  There it is to the talent or skill, they are really working for what you give.  I don’t feel that way here.  Here I fear supporting their drug or alcohol addiction.  And deny myself the ability to act as Scripture says is right.

Even the border crossings are different.  In Europe you are stopped only when entering into specific countries (i.e. Switzerland), but in California, as you drive north into Camp Pendleton, you may be stopped completely based off of a racial profile.  The goal is to stop illegal  immigration from Mexico, so they are trying to see if you may be smuggling any aliens.  But if they see you are caucasian, driving a nice car without any extra space in the vehicle they just wave you on by.  But without registration, or something like that, they stop and search.  The funny parts of America; it wasn’t even that bad in crossing from Jordan to Israel.

I remember driving around Israel, in proximity to the Dead Sea.  It is not necessarily a lonely dessert, but it is still: just sand dunes under a dark sky.  Driving through Camp Pendleton at 4am, it felt just like that.  The only place where you can’t see anything off the road.  It made me think, I remember America as a place that is independent from the rest of the world.  Although other country rely on our ability to give, our ability to aid in disaster, and to produce, and to adopt, it is different.  For me, now, I see America as this place with a facade.  Right now, Obama in the G8, has no influence, for no one cares for what he is able to provide.  A leader can’t be a leader without any followers.  It is the followers who define a leader. Right now it doesn’t seem like America has a leader.  However, with the rest of the world breaking, economically, it isn’t the worst timing for such a political disaster.   Italy, Spain, and Greece are even worse off.  However, I do want to consider the fact that I feel isolated in America.  We are isolated in America.  Not only does the United States almost cover the entire North America continent, but we share it with another country that is also very much independent.  Therefore, we are not tiny countries like the states, sharing borders with Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, and the rest of Europe.  Instead, we share borders with two countries.  And even then so, we reject Mexico, as we are controlling the border.

And I am left wondering: where is the relationship?  where is the trade? where is the respect and the knowledge of what goes on around us and how that influences our daily living?  I can’t even see that China has an economic influence in America. Yes, nearly everything we buy here is labeled, “made in China,” “made in Japan,” “made in India,” “made in Thailand,” or “made in Philippines,” but it stands the same.  You can’t identify the fact that America chooses these partnerships.  We don’t give credit.  We don’t allow for a true partnership,but a power-striving, influential gesture from the kindness of our dear ole’ hearts.  That America in my eyes.

I forgot that while you are driving in the morning, or just walking around waking up.  Sunrise doesn’t really exist here.  During June gloom it is gloomy all throughout the day in “Sunny California”.  But in the morning, there is a marine layer.  The ocean literally causes it to feel like you are driving through the rain in the morning: a think haze. But it remains only along the coast.  When you are driving inland, in San Bernardino or L.A., it is really foggy and then all the sudden the light appears. Within an instance, the sun rises above the ridges to your right and there is no more light to bare, it is all there.

The palm trees, they’re everywhere.  We even began disguising our antennas in plastic palm trees.  Right now I’m looking at one: a bunch of speaker-box looking things hidden in a fake palm tree.  Yup, we really care about image here.  We even use palm trees to make us look prettier, or at least, our location prettier.

Driving along i-5 to orange county, it smelled like rotten cheese.  Like the pre-sliced, packaged Gouda I purchased at a grocery store in Austria. Rotten, poor-quality Gouda.  It wasn’t until that moment that I remembered the distinct smell of dog food as you are driving on i-25 in Denver.

Even parking lots are strange to me.  Not only is their land marked for the storage of cars EVERYWHERE in America, but even our transportation routes look like parking structures.  Whereas in Europe, most cities are viewed on foot or by public transportation, here every single person is driving their own vehicle.  We even made a Carpool lane to applaud those who drive in twos.

The L.A. freeways remind me of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, where he described Venice through indirect imagery, I see freeway on-ramps tangled as a spider’s web, not a mess of freeway bridges.  Everyone is stopped, not moving an inch.  It is a multiple layered parking lot.  There I was taking trains, not worrying about time constraints in traffic or anything like it, and now, I sit in the worst of it: L.A. traffic hour–from 8am thru 1pm all the way to late evening.  It never seems to clear.

I am not used kids missing the toilet, to toilet seat covers, to people not honking out of impatience, to kids not having responsibility, I’m not used to hearing English everywhere.  It was so intriguing to hear an Australian accent come from an oriental family at Legoland.  Meeting people from Montreal and knowing that their French isn’t from France, but from French Canada.  The ability I have to identity people’s heritage, and the joy accents, new languages, and world travelers: families traveling together, these are the joys that make me appreciate my work at Legoland, but these are the things that continue to make me feel as if I do belong somewhere else, I know something from somewhere else.

I forgot about one-liners.  It has been a while since someone has tried to get my attention through a stupid little line.  A pick-up line, if you will.  I got used to the flattery, the truth, the depth of a conversation, or a particular eye look.  But it is definitely different.

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Luis Arenal Bastar                                    Woman Carrying a Coffin (Mujer cargando un ataud), 1936

Monday, July 9, 2012

After a 3-hour drive to downtown LA, I scurried around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, searching for my Modern Art class.  We were assigned a chapter within the text-book–a year of art history (1921)–and were to present on the pieces in the museum that represented such artists’ work.

I was late. My mind: lost. My presentation time: immediately.

However, by the grace of God, I made it through. And afterwards, I enjoyed strolling through the hallways, exhibits, and a Latin festival all on the museum grounds.

I had the unique opportunity of being escorted by a museum facilitator all the way to the museum gift shop and around the entire Religious/Medieval art sector.  The conversation was brilliant, challenging, and hopeful.  He suggested I see a few pieces, and educated me on the history of the museum as well as my deep interest in impressionism–which I already knew of, but he identified such qualities in my favorite pieces of the 1400-1600’s as well.

We parted at the store, but I continued with my day by visiting his recommended galleries, as well as the store clerks. See, what happened was the cashier was able to categorize my palate for art by the two postcards I purchased.

“The America’s” Level 4: the permanent display of Luis Arenal Bastar’s Woman Carrying a Coffin.  This 1936 piece from Mexico was created during the New York experiments.  Meaning, Bastar was challenged as an artist to depict controlled accidents on his canvas.

The museum narrated the piece by mentioning, “Woman Carrying a Coffin shows an indigenous woman seemingly walking into infinity with a coffin on her head; the right side depicts an eerie sky created with a dripping technique…” but what was most important to me was the stark contrast of colors and use of space.

To me, Woman Carrying a Coffin symbolizes the weight of sin or the fear of death that we all carry on our shoulders.  No one dares touch such a topic in conversation so it is by this fear that we stand alone in darkness, lingering towards the unknown.  But through the love of a Father and the sacrifice of a Son, there is light in each of us.  A life that is worth living for.  The path is not to be feared, for a bright light that shines through all darkness is within you and me, as well as, in the distance, directing the way, always.

In the same way, as I drove home in the early morning (1am), I could not see the road ahead of me, but was comfortable with the stars shinning brightly above.  Then, with a gloomy haze, still the moon shone through.

God lights the world, it is because of Him that we are able to turn corners without hesitation.

No matter our past mistakes, no matter the hurt we feel, no matter the loneliness we fear…we have an objective to life.

Stop the “what if” ‘s and get walking.  Even a stumble won’t knock you down.

Bastar may not have seen his own being in the light of Life, but he created a subject bright as can be.  We are his subject.  We are the means of a greater masterpiece: the masterpiece of an eternity!

Let us determine the difference.  Infinite: limitless or endless in space; whereas, God promises us, eternity in Him.  Eternity is defined by dictionary.com as, a state of which time has no application.

Does mankind walk while measuring the distance, or is it time that we count most valuable?

With the answer, you will find your own perspective of Bastar’s illustration.

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