Category Archives: Old Journal Entries

Journal entries imported from LiveJournal and others.

Vanity, All is Vanity

My Facebook Page now has over 1,000 followers.  I feel validated.  It’s certainly better than just 44 of my Catholic friends and family.  Then again, they’re not friends and family.  What’s the point of having a thousand followers on Facebook?  Does that help me get closer to God?  Does it help my Page followers?  How are we any holier because of it?

The honest answer is that my soul is in danger of being distracted from focusing on God.  The more followers I get, the greater the temptation towards vanity.  As I reach greater milestones, I will trick myself into believing that I’m engaging in the New Evangelization when in reality I’m sculpting an idol to worship with my own hands.  How do I fight pride when the Page has more than 5,000 followers? 10,000?  The temptation would be strong to commit more time and resources to support my vanity.  This will take away time from prayer, from my vocation as a husband, father and a U.S. diplomat.  Instead of being more active in my parish, I will exalt myself in my own virtual congregation.  Instead of helping U.S. companies, I will use my work time to maintain the Page.

So, what do I do?  Delete it?  That’s a possibility.  Can I somehow give glory to God?

My spiritual friend suggested I be a genuine voice in curating Catholic content.  How am I living out my Catholic faith?  How am I growing in prayer, growing within the Church?  There is tremendous value in faith-sharing within a spiritual friendship.  Can it be translated into a social media environment?  I do not know.  The authenticity of my soul combined with a personal reach to my fellow pilgrims would be a generous act, worthy of God because it requires sacrifice.  It’s a lot of work to reach out personally to each Page follower.

The goal now is not to get more followers, but to get to know each one as a son or daughter of God.  Each one has an immortal soul.  Seen that way, how awesome is that?  Each person deserves to be known for who they are and not just to be used as a number to boost my pride.

This means I will have to make myself vulnerable.  Scott Hahn showcases his life like a Catholic billboard; he can be a model.  I will have to use my personal account to “friend” these Facebook followers.  And I think AgoraPulse is just the right tool to help me determine who to reach out to first.

Glory be to God!  Dear Lord, may my activities only be pleasing to you.  Teach me if they displease you.  If my blog or Facebook Page or anything takes me away from you, correct me.  I’ll delete my blog and Page if that is your will.  My desire is to love you more and more is greater than these tools.  Save me, keep me from making these tools into idols.  I humbly ask this in Jesus name, together with you and the Holy Spirit, one God.  Amen.

Remember the Blue Worms

17 – 27 January 2006

GIVING UP

Sadly, I will be giving up two things that I had hoped to do during my time here in Guatemala. The first is taking salsa lessons. For those of you who didn’t know, I was taking intensive lessons for three hours each month in Antigua. My goal was to reach a competitive level, but without a steady partner with whom to practice, I was forgetting a lot of what I was learning. Finding a dance partner has been, for me, as difficult as finding a life partner: some like to dance to a different rhythm; others don’t like my style or are scared off by my sense of commitment; and still, with others, there isn’t that natural ease in communication. I shall be content with being able to twirl a girl without spraining her wrist. The time will come when the dancing machine in me will be on again.

The second thing that I will give up is washing my clothes by hand. I know this may come as a disappointment to my parents, who enjoy the irony of their son doing what they worked so hard to escape in rural Vietnam. But, I want to use those extra two hours each day to learn other things – like mastering some recipes from all those cookbooks I brought from the States. My little cousin is studying to be a chef. I have nightmares where he and I are squaring off in “Iron Chef: San Gabriel,” and he has this Chinese-fusion-thing going and I can’t compete. So, he wins and instead of shaking my hand, he says “BAAM!” and throws a dash of ground pepper into my face.

I will be learning other things as well. From the money that I would be using for my dance lessons, I’m going to start taking art classes! Yes, I will be able to draw more than just stick figures. It would be quite a treat to paint some of the beautiful things I see in life. Photography is one thing, but transferring the image in one’s mind to a canvas is a whole different experience altogether. I don’t expect I will become the next Picasso or Waterhouse. If I can just paint a portrait of someone without it looking like some carnival horror show, I’ll be happy.

HERE’S TO YOU SRA. ROBINSON? Continue reading Remember the Blue Worms

Naked Hobo

I saw the most disturbing thing today. A homeless man was lying on his back on the sidewalk with his pants down to his thights. He is dark of skin, but poor in life. His pubic fuzz stood merrily in a bushel, like a dust-bunny. And the scene was made weirder as he was doing crunches.

I’ve seen him around. He’s known to show his Peter brazenly. I think he might be mentally-disturbed for he spits at people sometimes who walk too close to where he lies. Should I feel sorry? Should I offer food, money, clothes? My ego certainly would love that pat on the back.

Falling in Love; Navel Fuzz #3

FALLING IN LOVE. AGAIN.

I’m now back in Guatemala, but I spent Christmas and New Year’s in the States with my family. And I fell in love, again. With everybody.

How can you not fall in love with the dad who walks out into the rain, oblivious to how silly he looked with mother’s bright purple sweatpants worn up to the middle of his pot-belly, and his left pant leg hiked up his calf? Even more so because he was rushing to find that can of tar before his son froze to death waiting on top of the roof, in the storm, to repair the roof?

How can you not fall in love with the aunt who has a knack for raising a fuss in a restaurant, making everyone wonder whether the sauce in our food was thickened with cornstarch or the waiter’s spit?

How can you not fall in love with the little cousins who can now sit with interest, watching the Food Network, instead of fighting to change the channel to Yu-gi-oh or the Power Rangers?

As much drama as there can be in one’s family, there are those quirks that make its members uniquely our own family. As often as I want to scream at them, I laugh with them many times more. Trying to get some of my little cousins out of the house makes negotiating a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine look easy at times, but that just makes those moments more precious.

The days went by fast. And, I look forward to seeing my family again in the summer, when most of my little cousins are either graduating from elementary, middle, or high school. For now, I am recharged and ready to be back in Guatemala and help Ecoquetzal get into a Fair Trade Organization.

NAVEL FUZZ #3: NO TRY, NO DO. YODA WAS WRONG. Continue reading Falling in Love; Navel Fuzz #3

Felíz Día de Gracias

¡Felíz Día de Gracias! Happy Thanksgiving! This isn’t the first time that I’ve spent a holiday away from family and friends, but it is the first Thanksgiving in a long time where I’ve felt incredibly thankful. Not to say that I wasn’t thankful in years past, but being in Guatemala really puts a contrast to how good we all have it back in the States.

Pardon my sentimentality:

I am extremely thankful for my parents. The threads of their being truly make up who I am. Also, they aren’t exactly thrilled with how far I’ve flown from the nest. Considering how close most Chinese parents hold onto their children, I’m grateful that I have been able to travel this far. Guilt trips have been kept to a minimum.

I am thankful for my big family and the ritual get-togethers that we have. Who needs to join a gang when you have regular outings to dim-sum and Vietnamese pho to look forward to? Who needs to terrorize a neighborhood when you can just as easily terrorize your little cousins? Speaking of my younger cousins… I miss them more than they know. (I hope you guys have been drinking your milk and taking your calcium supplements. The hugs that I’m going to give ya’ll when I come back in December may break your bones.)

I am thankful for my friends, in the States, abroad, and here in Guatemala. Parents and family have to care, but friends have no such obligation. It’s a blessing to have people who want to share and maintain a bond that’s not expected from any familial ties. And to the handful of those close friends in my life, you all have a special place in my heart. There you are cherished daily; although we may not communicate regularly, the burdens we all carry are made lighter knowing that we are around when we need to “unload.”

I am most grateful for Life. I could be dead, but I wouldn’t know any better.

There are many other things that I am thankful for, but the above is what I thought I should share. Besides, I’m afraid I may be giving ya’ll cavities or diabetic shock from all this saccharine sentimentality.

Take care. Be safe. Friends don’t let friends eat tons of turkey and drive. Wouldn’t want them to fall asleep at the wheel.

My Big, Fat Guatemalan Wedding; Strange Food

MY BIG, FAT GUATEMALAN WEDDING

Don’t worry. It wasn’t my wedding. I was invited by my host father, Carlos, to his youngest brother’s big day (back on 29-Oct). It was my first one while being here in Guatemala, and there was no lack of intrigue. For one, the ceremony was not held in the Church even though my host family and their relatives are all devoutly Catholic. So, surely, something was amiss. Being the incorrigible gossip that I am, I asked various family members why the wedding was not being held in a church. Continue reading My Big, Fat Guatemalan Wedding; Strange Food

Navel Fuzz Observations #1 and #2

NAVEL FUZZ OBSERVATIONS #1 AND #2

The empty hours that Peace Corps volunteers have after the sun goes down leaves ample time for us to think about the fuzz on our navels. The night can be lonely. With only agitated dogs barking, disoriented roosters crowing, and hungry rats scurrying to keep us company, a volunteer either finds God or insanity – what have I found, I wonder?

Humor aside, I see that my time here in Guatemala will be more than just helping a troubled company, adapting to a different culture, and expanding my worldview. I find myself growing spiritually. My preconceptions of the world around me and my perceptions of reality are changing. (Don’t worry Mom & Dad. I’m not taking any drugs or participating in any “mind-expanding” rituals. I’ve just been thinking a lot lately.)

At the risk of sounding like a typical Ganja-worshiping Humboldt student, I would like to share these thoughts that I’ve been having. When I return to the States, the length of my hair may neither be down my back nor may I have six-month’s growth of a beard, but I would still be different inside. It would be nice if my friends and family knew what these differences are. Navel Fuzz Observation #1 is my reflection on the differences between love and attachment after reading Anthony De Mello’s The Way to Love. Navel Fuzz Observation #2 is my thoughts on the concept of self after reading a chapter in Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching.

Your opinions would be greatly appreciated. Continue reading Navel Fuzz Observations #1 and #2

On Chickens and Morality; and other subjects

ON CHICKENS AND MORALITY

I want to know how to properly kill a chicken. If I am to eat so many chickens in my lifetime, I might as well be able to stomach the slaughter of one. I figured that if I can’t stand the sight of killing a chicken (or any other animal) then I ought not eat them and be a vegetarian. A moral thing, I guess.

I don’t know about that anymore. You see, there are these chickens that congregate for mass outside my window. At four-thirty every morning, without fail, these chickens would begin to sing their hymnals. And, I’m sure that they sound very pious to their own ears, but I can’t sleep for their harmony. They are a flock of hens laying their eggs – and I’m guessing that they’re crying out to their fowl god for blessings.

Why are these hens right outside my window, you ask? I didn’t quite understand it myself at first. Then I realized that underneath my window is a nice little corner, hidden behind some bushes. If I had to choose a place to lay my eggs, I would also choose that spot. Then, it would be tough for those greedy humans to steal my precious eggs.

Four-thirty in the morning is early, though. And their crying is not like a rooster’s morning cuckold. The sound is like a higher-pitched version of a deflating balloon when you pinch the neck. Eeeee-aaaawwwk! And this happens every morning.

So, now, I feel like I want to kill those damn chickens out of spite. And, that isn’t very moral.

I may not butcher chickens for the time being, but I’ll still eat them. It’s passive-aggressive, I know, but at least that’s better than twisting their heads off with a blood-lusty smile.

THRESHOLD OF FEAR Continue reading On Chickens and Morality; and other subjects

My New Home; Work Life; Social Life; and more…

Over a month has gone by without so much as a word about what has been going on with me. Have no fear, I have not gone AWOL. Nor have I forsaken my clothes to fry up mountains of donuts. As with many of my stateside friends and family, work has been keeping me busy. There have been many new experiences as well. I would like to share them all, but I will stick to the highlights. Let me begin with…

MY NEW HOME Continue reading My New Home; Work Life; Social Life; and more…