Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmastime is Here

And, fortunately, if only for my sanity, Christmastime has gone. Not that it was a bad year, given that my visions of absolute despair and ruin did not in fact come to pass.

The plays at church went well. Small glitches here and there, but I'd say that from both a techie and performance standpoint, they were better than in the past. The mad rush of rehersals is done, the anxiety of the performances is past, and life moves forward from here.

I got up the nerve to call the girl I've been interested in for a while (though only after losing the nerve to call in person). That she didn't scream in terror at the time or make any obvious attempt to avoid me is a good thing. Alas, she was busy and I missed a chance to talk to her today (as I had intended to) as a follow-up ("How was your week, did the things you were doing last weekend get accomplished? [miscellaneous small talk from here]). Disappointed? Sure. But overall, I've had much worse experiences trying to talk to women. I can come away feeling that all is not lost. At least, not yet.

The projectors (or, as it turned out a projector and possibly the computer's video card) died in the midst of our Christmas Morning service. That's more troubleshooting work this week, probably Wednesday and/or Thursday night. But I'm in some ways glad that it was today, because I became noticeably dirty getting the projectors down to examine them, and I didn't feel the ned to stay pristine in order to talk to her later.

Finally, I got what I wanted for Christmas. A couple cheap movies, a pair of slippers, and a llama donated to a family in need in South America. I brought home nothing expensive, and I spent the holidays unconcerned with the things I was about to receive.

After the pressures o the season left me rather ragged, and muttering the occasional "Bah, humbug" under my breath, in the end I think I can honestly wish everyone "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Interesting Blog Entry

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Lest my loyal readers sense nothing but fear and dread in my spirit of late (mostly, but not completely right), I offer something that has helped in the midst of great uncertainty:

"Jesus, I Lift my Eyes" by Jars of Clay, Redemption Songs

When sins and fears prevailing rise
And fainting hope almost expires
Jesus to Thee I lift my eyes
To Thee I breathe my soul's desires
Are you not mine, my living Lord
And can my hope, my comfort die
Fixed on the everlasting word
That word which built the earth and sky

Jesus, I lift my eyes
To Thee I breathe my soul's desires
Jesus, I lift my eyes
To Thee I lift my eyes

Here let my faith unshaken dwell
Immovable the promise stands
Not all the powers of earth or hell
Can e're dissolve the sacred bands

Jesus, I lift my eyes
To Thee I breathe my soul's desires
Jesus, I lift my eyes
To Thee I lift my eyes

Here oh my soul
Thy trust repose
If Jesus is forever mine
Not death itself that last of foes
Can break a union so divine

Jesus, I lift my eyes
To Thee I breathe my soul's desires
Jesus, I lift my eyes
To Thee I breathe my soul's desires

Jars of Clay (Check out the music in the bottom-left corner, should you care to listen)

Friday, December 23, 2005


Please forgive me if I seem rather distant for the immediate future. I have yet to know for sure how she has taken my invitation to go ice skating, but I have no confidence remaining at this point. A week to think about it has been plenty of time to consider how every other girl I've expressed an interest in has reacted, and there's nothing encouraging there. It started the moment she said she couldn't go. Had I some reserve of confidence at that point, I suppose I'd have tried to continue the conversation, if only to be careful to guard how that news really hit me, but looking back, I ended the conversation pretty hastily.

A week also gave me time to reflect on the words that helped give me the confidence to call her in the first place. Normally, I don't believe such things. Dreams don't come true, and at least initially, what you look like on the outside is at least as important, if not much more so, than who you are on the inside. As a veteran "nice guy," I can say that the "it's who you are on the inside that matters" crowd probably has the luxury of being at least passably attractive. I'm not saying they are lying, just probably deluded. But I allowed myself to believe that it might be true. Now it's like those words were a crystal cup holding what confidence I could muster, now shattered and empty, leaving shards of failed hope embedded inside me.

What's left? On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, I see four possible outcomes. One, she avoids going to the services she had initially planned on attending. Interpretation: she's avoiding me. This is a likely and painful result. Being avoided says "the thought of you asking me out is so repugnant that even seeing you at church will make me incredibly uncomfortable." Two, she shows up, but I don't talk to her at all or have any basis to judge how she responds. Possible, but I do intend to try and be friendly so I can see where she stands, so not likely. Three, she is there, and we interact, and it is clear that she is uncomfortable talking to me. Still painful, because it would be the final rejection. Less painful than the first possibility because at least she isn't running and hiding, just uninterested. Four, she goes, we interact, and her reaction is either neutral or positive. Highly unlikely, but I admit that I don't know the future. It could happen, I'm just ocnvinced it won't.

In the meantime, I'll probably stay in bed most of the day. I took it off, even though I already knew she would be too busy to do something with me because I knew I'd be brooding all day. I'd much rather be able to do so in private. I'll probably mark the time with what I had intended to do all day if things went the way I'd hoped (this is when I intended to get ready, this is when I would have left to pick her up, this is when we'd be skating, this is when we'd hit a coffee shop for something warm to drink afterwards, this is when I'd drop her off and thank her for a wonderful day).

I just remembered Valentine's day is coming up reasonably soon. I suppose I won't be sending her flowers this year. I did so twice in the past, anonymously, hoping to encourage her and let her know she's special on a day when singles can easily feel anything but. Bad idea? Probably, and I don't need you to tell me so. It's amazing how something that seems so romantic in a movie seems like such a bad idea in real life. After the first time, I overheard her asking a friend who could have sent them. A lady from the church? Another girl her age? "It must have been a guy," she concluded. I sometimes wonder if she ever got close to the truth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Does it Matter?

I wonder: do girls know how gut-wrenchingly difficult it can be to approach them? Does it matter that a guy tries dialing her number 5 times, only to clear it instead of putting the call through before finally getting the nerve and hitting "Talk" (and promptly fighting the urge to hang up as soon as he hears dial tone and realizes the call is about to go through?

Does it matter that he's feeling physically ill with nervousness, that he paces about the house trying to get up the nerve to talk to her, that his palms go cold and he's trying desperately hard to breate normally so he doesn't sound like an idiot gasping for breath into the phone?

Does it matter that trying to approach someone you so admire feels like jumping from a plane hoping you can learn to fly - impossible, but oh so sweet if it works? That hearing the phone ring, and knowing that the phone was ringing in her her house was full of that no-going-back-now fear? That hearing her voice on the other end of the phone made the rest of the world go silent? That stumbling through an invitation to go ice skating is hard to do when your heart has suddenly stopped beating? That hearing that she had other plans deflated him like a worn-out parade float?

Or in the end, is it just an inconvinience? A possibly flattering but otherwise unwelcome intrusion into the evening? An uncomfortable moment to be dismissively laughed about among friends later? A sweet,if simple, thought like an old friend sending you a letter?

Having to let someone down is hard. I've been there (believe it or not), and envy no one who has to do it. Asking, not knowing whether such a let down awaits you is infinitely harder.

Monday, December 19, 2005

End of the World?

Hardly. When talking to a girl, and getting neither a firm yes or no when inviting her to go do something, it can be hard to know just what to think. So you'll probably see me fluctuate between tentative, if reserved hope and abject frustration over the next few weeks.

You are forewarned (ominous background sounds go here).

Sunday, December 18, 2005

8 days

Last week, I thought I saw her with another guy. That hurt bad. Then I learned I was wrong, told that if it affected me the way it did, I should express it. I admit, I allowed more hope in my heart this past week than I had in a while. It seemed like the time was right for things to change.

In the end, the best part of the affair was that I lost the nerve to ask in person. I managed to be pleasant and polite on the phone, however brief the conversation was. Whatever the record for akward pauses on the phone was in under 2 minutes, I think the record was shattered tonight.

How ironic is it that one reason she's too busy is that she's handing out toys to sick children with her family (I think... I was losing focus by then). What sort of horrible person could fault someone for that? I don't even get an excuse that allows me a chance to get all upset about it without feeling like a Scrooge.

By the numbers:
4 - years I've had a crush on her
8 - days I spent in the last attempt to strike up the nerve to ask her to go do something with me
2 - minutes it took for it all to come crashing back down to sqaure 1.

She was, to her credit, as kind about the way she let me down as anyone could be. I hope that the guy that finds her not too busy realizes just how special she is.

Thesaurus Addition

Another phrase for the "you're a nice guy but..." Thesaurus:

Logistics: Having to do with the allotment of scarce resources, eg, time. As in:
"...logistically, I don't know if I can." Girl's response to an invitation to go ice skating, during an admittedly busy time of the year. Synonym: "I'm just really busy." Antonym: "I'd love to."

Friday, December 16, 2005


Sam asking Rosie Cotton to marry him is recounted by Frodo as "the bravest thing he ever did," and this was after going into Mordor, single-handedly rescuing Frodo from the orcs, and fighting Shelob.

I'd have to agree. Trying to get up the nerve to ask for a date is hard enough. I think you could put a blender in my stomach, ice in my hands, a watermelon in my mouth, a kangaroo on my chest and give me the voice box of a boy hitting puberty and you'd know about how I feel.

There is, alas, no backing down. Despite the dread fear I know it is something I have to do, for good or ill. I've never quite got up the nerve before. I always lose heart and shoot off an ill-advised e-mail, but no more. It must be face-to-face.

Without the encouragement of a friend, I don't think I'd ever do it. I read what he wrote after we spoke about it on a daily basis, because I feel myself losing heart on... a daily basis. I appreciate that he's given me a nudge in the right direction while not forcing me to do anything, and offered advice and assistance as needed, which even if I don't avail myself of it lets me know he really is behind me on it, and that is greatly appreciated.

What should I wear? How should I initiate the conversation? When do I remember to breathe? How do I avoid wringing my hands, or staring at my feet? How do I remember to blink and not stare her down? When's the best time to do it? What do I say if she declines? If the answer is noncommital, how hard do I push? What in the world do I say if she agrees?

Ten thousand questions fly through my mind every instant, with each possibility spawning ten thousand more. At least with the spider, you have two basic goals: kill it, and don't die. There is not much nuance to try to determine there.

Anyone have a monster to be slain, or an evil artifact to be destroyed? A great quest, perhaps? I could use the warm up. God, help me.

More Useful Link

I still don't want anything for Christmas, at least nothing you can buy in a store (despite the admittedly tempting Duck Tales and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers DVDs that were recently released). I still prefer that people inclined to spend money on me during this season to give it to charity. They are welcome to take time to consider the things that matter to me (homelessness and hungry folks) and make donations appropriately.

I found this site, which ranks charities and nonprofits by their efficiency with donated money. I find it interesting to see how much the CEO makes, how much money is spent fundraising, and the like. Y ou can also look up regional charities, which led me to The Shade Tree, a full-time shelter for women and children escaping abuse or just trying to get off the streets. Not only are they very efficient with their money, serving a worthy cause, and regional (well, Vegas, but I can't really hold that against them), but the chief administrator makes less than $70K per year.

I have found that it is surprisingly difficult to ask people not to give me presents. Most people seem to think that I'm crazy. And I know that people like to give gifts. I just always wish that Christmas was about more than what I'm about to get. I still get giddy like a child and unable to sleep the night before, and that's okay. But It distracts me from more important things, and I'd like to avoid that.

Things You Can Survive Not Knowing

I was a late bloomer as far as being a sports fan goes. The first time I remember watching a football game that I cared in the least about was the '94 Superbowl. Not because I actually cared, but because the Youth Group was having a Superbowl party, and I figured I'd go.

I started watching UNR football for free as a student during my second year in school. I followed it the year before, but a 9am-noon Economics 101 class kept me from being too into the games. It happens that the year before was the last Bowl Game the team went to, and we won, thanks in part to quarterback John Dutton. UNR went downhill from there, but I remained a fan, went to games, got season tickets when I graduated, and did the alumni thing.

I was interested to see when EA Games made a Arena Football game, that UNR product John Dutton was chosen as the cover athlete. It's more obscure than the NFL, but Nevada has hardly been a major causeway in the athletic world.

In other news, Nevada basketball suffered their first loss last Saturday, to higher-ranked UCLA. Good news: they played poorly in the game, yet remained competitive. Bad news: they still lost. I was still pleased to see this article on CBS Sports.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sucker Punch

Only once before have I deleted a previous post. It was a picture I tried embedding, and it was ugly. I have said some things that left me feeling vulnerable, but let's just say I made some very hasty generalizations earlier. I ain't perfect. Things involving women are a hot button for me, and my supreme exhaustion the past couple weeks (fighting a bit of a cold and a LOT of rehersals for various Christmastime productions).

Excuses, yes, but not so far as to say that I'm therefore faultless. I was really just angry at God, and it looks like I may well have had no good reason to be, meaning, I saw things that didn't happen, or didn't happen how I saw them. My bad.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Things You Ought to Know [but wish you didn't]

Slavery, in the classic sense. Going on. Right now.

From Philip Yancey's Reaching for the Invisible God:
"I cannot learn from Jesus why bad things occur - why an avalanche or flood decimates one town and not its neighbor, why lukemia strikes one child and not another - but I can surely learn how God feels about such tragedies. I simply look at how Jesus responds to the sisters of his good friend Lazarus, to a widow who has just lost her son, or a leprosy victim banned outside the town gates. Jesus gives God a face, and that face is streaked with tears."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


In case you were wondering, the 5-0 Wolf Pack (not Wolfpack) has solidly moved to #17 in the AP poll and made it back on the ESPN/USA Today poll at #22. 4-0 against postseason-caliber (3 NCAA, 1 NIT) opponents on the road, including Kansas's Allen Fieldhouse, where in the last 11 years Kansas is now151-9. This Saturday, Nevada plays the first team on their schedule with a higher ranking than they have: UCLA (In the AP, this is a #16/#17 matchup, in Southern California).


I hate it.

100th post!

Here's to celebrating meaningless milestones! [raises another dose of Nyquil] Cheers!

Monday, December 05, 2005


I like C.S. Lewis. I rather enjoy reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Having discovered that they are short enough to read cover-to-cover in a long bath, I have read them often. I am intrigued by the imagery he uses, and enjoy the allegorical ties to my faith.
I am looking forward to the upcoming The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It looks to be done alright, though I know it is another Hollywood follow-another-movie's-proven track: we're getting a movie based on a book in a series writen by one of the Inklings with a fantasy background and fat Hollywood budget. I am often disinclined to be led like cattle to every movie that follows a formula, but I will tread loyally to the theaters to see the movie this weekend.

I like the books so much, that it was hard for me to comprehend what the writter of this article so despised. The teaser gives you a sense for where she is coming from:
'Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion'
How could she not like the story? Surely the banner of "everything most hateful about religion" is a bit much?

I read the article closely, because I like to understand why people don't see the same world as me.
Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart.
I think this helps to explain where she is coming from. It is a strange feeling for me to see the cross as a wretched thing, but it is a blessed insight. Having lived my life in the confines of my "church world," I struggle to see the cross as anything but the most supreme example of love. "Did we ask him to?" NO!

I am aware to an incomplete extent of the evils that lurk within me. Anger, jealousy, lust, pride, duplicity - these are just part of my extensive repitoire. I stand condemned before God, a very scary, dark place - the scariest and darkest in creation - but for that unrequested love of Christ for me. The cross is an unspeakable evil, well worth weeping over, a point the author of this article does not even go far enough in expressing. But through this great evil, God reveals the great surprise. It has been said that because evil exists, God cannot be both all-good or all-powerful - that any pain proves the world is less than it should have been. The idea that greater good must come through evil is dismissed by a circular approach to the original question - that a truly all-powerful God could have achieved that greater good without the evil. I cannot imagine this. The love of God is manifest so much more supremely in the reconciliation on the cross than by anything else that ever has been or ever shall be.

God does not just love His friends, He loves the rebellious enemies that we became, and we are then called to do the same. As God loved me, so must I love others, for that is what God is like. To the extent that the church conveys this message, we succeed. To the extent that we muddle this message, we fail.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


'Tis the season. I went into a non-grocery store for the first time since Thanksgiving, needing more than just food. It was late and thankfully mostly non-crowded. As I was finishing the loop that brought me back to the front, I slowed down in the "seasonal" aisle. There was a cheap ceramic cookie jar. The scene? The nativity. You actually grab the angel (carrying the banner "Peace on Earth" and lift the roof off to access the treats inside.

It depressed me. Not my typical "Boo hoo, me so lonely" Christmas funk, but the glossly crass abuse of the Holy Incarnation for profit. And yet, by the time I had made my way home, I found myself thinking of the pretty gifts and nifty electronics out this time of year. "Maybe I should ask for movies, books, toys and games. There's nothing wrong with that, after all." I found myself wanting pretty things, and not using this time to reflect on the gifts already given, both earthly and divine.

American society depends on ever-increasing wants. If everyone suddenly became content with what they have, the market would die. We have the need to have, to consume, to increase our holdings thrust upon us from our childhood. The giving of gifts becomes a ritual, a time of expecting things from others.

It is a difficult experiment, asking people not to give me things. I don't want to look as disappointed as I might feel when everyone else is opening their new toys, and I get cards saying that $10 was donated to Habitat for Humanity for me. But I want to refocus on the things that are more important than me this season. And toys, as much as I enjoy them, and as much as my family enjoys giving them, get in the way. I want to enjoy the time with my family, to reflect on what the Son gave up to become the Christ, and to put others before myself, not expecting reciprocity, but to follow the example of one who gave so much for me.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The World is Fallen

In Reaching for the Invisible God, Philip Yancey often hits a recurring theme: The world is good. The world is fallen. The world can be redeemed. This is meant as a rhythm to give a cohesive thought to the message of salvation. I am reminded of the second statement when I read this letter. It was written by an 8-year-old girl whose father, a police officer, was recently shot in the head, and died a day or so later.


Recent events have also had me considering afresh the death penalty. I believe that the death penalty is a legitimate tool of the government. I believe that such authority is ceded to governments by God. However, in a democracy the power of decision-making, of "shall we or shall we not use this power" falls to the people. Given the chance to vote, I would abolish the death penalty in all but a very few cases where the crime was both heinous and proven with absolute, 100% incontrovertible evidence. Sadly, innocent people have been executed by the state, and this is to me absolutely inexcusable. Better life in prison for horrible offenders than death for an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I do not believe it to be immoral that the government may take the life of a person for certain crimes. For my part, I support tight limits on the exercise of that power.