#022 – Honest and Self-revealing

Listen on iTunes!               Listen on Stitcher!                   Download

Slade and I have been spending quite a bit of time attempting to read at our local coffee shop, but we just end up talking whenever we run into each other. We decided to talk for the podcast about some of the Christian books we’ve read—or more specifically, just me ranting about an “honest and self-revealing” book I read. Enjoy!

This episode contains some explicit language.

This was our new set up! How does it sound (and look)?

Making a decision

We make decisions all the time: spending five more minutes in bed (or 30, who knows), taking a shower, putting off shaving one more day, heating up a slice of pizza instead of making an omelette, listening to On The Media rather than The Axe Files. I think you get the point.

Some decisions matter more than others, of course. Whether you decide to have pancakes or cereal—or both—for breakfast will be probably less consequential than marrying the struggling freelance musician—just talking about me here—or the Ivy League-educated, med school-bound white boy coming back from a year of self-discovery in Italy.

It’s difficult to know exactly where a decision will take you. You can make all the plans you want and take care of your part just fine. I didn’t know my resolution to apply for OPT—basically a limited work permit for those with F1 status—would result in the worst six months of my life.

All situations, though, come with myriad opportunities to make choices. Not the kind that will necessarily turn out good or change anything at all, but sometimes it’s not so bad to delude yourself into thinking something can be done—because sometimes, something, in fact, can be done.

My daydreaming has inspired many stupid ideas, and the idealist in me has forced me to put them into action before their novelty wears off. That’s how this and my new podcast startedThat’s also the way one of my top 10 “Stupid ideas I should not pursue but will anyway” came to happen: I decided that without a single political science course in my college transcript—one with a 3.9 GPA, mind you—I’d apply to several top-notch Ph.D. programs in political science.

In a turn of events I cannot quite comprehend, I was offered admission with fellowship to the program at Rice University in Houston, Tex. Maybe someone decided to see where one of their top “Stupid ideas I should not pursue but will anyway” would lead: what happens if we let a music major into our Ph.D. program?

Thanks to one decision, the steps I took to follow through, and who knows what kind of other weird factors,* I will be answering that hypothetical professor’s question for—hopefully—the next five years (unless I fail before then).

Lastly, I made a choice to go to Target and get some milk. I guess that choice will lead me to have cereal for breakfast tomorrow.


*God, too, of course. Hold your horses!

#021 – A Farewell

Listen on iTunes!               Listen on Stitcher!                   Download

After a few months without coming back to the studio, Slade and I return to say goodbye … kind of. Since the last episode, we have both been working on new projects: he’s launched a new blog called “The Obsessionist,” and I’m about to release a new podcast on Mexican politics, society, and culture titled “Independientemente.”

We hope to soon be back with new episodes for this podcast. So, as my English idioms fail me at the moment I turn to Spanish now: esto no es un adiós, es un hasta luego.

I worry

I worry a lot and I worry often. It’s like the exercise I’m supposed to do but put aside because, well, I need time to worry about life—always so general, always so specific. Worrying takes up most of my time, a full-time job with not benefits. And because there is always more time to worry, I’m worried about how much I worry.

Worrying is easy, at the beginning at least, before it’s all-consuming. It then becomes necessary. The natural response to uncertainty creates anxiety and finds its way into your regular life, and it disrupts it. When you realized you haven’t eaten a proper meal, with some greens, because it just didn’t seem that important, you worry. Or you worry about still not caring about your diet.

Taking a break seems like a healthy thing to do, right? Except, if you take a break you don’t make progress on those things you’ve been anxious about. So, you go back to worrying.

Netflix, The New York Times, and a Schubert piano sonata are all wonderful ways to relieve your worrying self. But you finish the new season of Narcos, read your healthy dose of David Brooks and Frank Bruni, and listen to the piano come to rest on a G major chord, and you’re back to worrying—if you were lucky enough to forget about it in the first place.

Im okay, I tell myself, and I believe it. I may worry a lot, but it’s just that: worry. I know it’s unhealthy, but it’s the one coping mechanism I have at my disposal. I don’t want it, in case you’re wondering.

When will I stop worrying? I might have to worry about that later.

Blogging, honest sharing

I have not written in a while. Usually, every Sabbath I would make time to write. For some months, I had been quite consistent I was even surprising myself I had been able to keep up with the blog and the podcast. All that fell apart in the last month, though.

As grad school applications deadlines got closer and the end of the semester approached, I was overwhelmed with all the work that needed to get done. Every week when Sabbath came, I didn’t feel like writing. I was burned out, both physically and emotionally.

I definitely thought about writing, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything that wasn’t about all the work I had. Sure, I started some drafts on some interesting thoughts I still plan to share, but at the moment it felt like to much work. I first had to work some things out in my life before I could write about these other topics.

Even now that the semester is over, I still feel like finishing those drafts require a little bit of lying to myself. It doesn’t make a lot of sense since I still think about those things quite often. Yet, it makes sense when I open my computer and try typing. It feels dishonest.

All this talk leads me to the purpose of this blog. I want to be honest, but how honest can I be? On his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King wrote, “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

Is that really the condition for truthful writing? I’m not ready to give up my membership for the polite society, but I do want honesty.

I don’t want to talk about myself, but I sometimes need to before I can move on to things that are worth your time.

I want to question love in a serious way. I want to ask whether we lie to ourselves and other when we say we can do whatever we put our minds to. I want to point out the shortcomings of the groups I consider myself part of (at least kind of sympathize with) such as Christianity, Seventh-day Adventism, and the left with all its oft-petty activism.

I want to call you ignorant and close-minded when you behave like a jerk, asshole, or prick—depends on which one offends you the most.

And I want you to hold me to the same standards, because, as anyone who knows me knows, I can be all those things thanks to a superiority complex I can’t seem to get rid of.

If this doesn’t make much sense, I’m sorry. I guess I’m recovering from a tough semester.