starving for substance

Rewind…

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 28, 2009

This blog has turned into everything I’d rather it not be.  Instead of a place for me to work on my writing skills and develop a voice, it’s turned into me just ranting and complaining about everything that bothers me.  Intertwined is instances of me seeing my flaws and coming up with retarded justifications for why I don’t have to change them.  Hate to say this but this just became my grown up version of xanga >.<

Shutting up for a while…….

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And It Is What It Is

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 28, 2009

[Disclaimer: I realize I have quite a few “caught between two cultures” posts, but this is more of a solidification of conclusions I came to during high school that I seem to re-remember every time I come home.  Don’t worry, I don’t feel like some misplaced foreigner anymore (unless you take me to Korea, haha)].

My dad’s side of the family always manages to have some sort of memorable story that happens at Thanksgiving time, whether it’s someone making a pie with salt instead of sugar (this happened years ago but manages to get brought up at least once a year) or a distant uncle wandering into the bathroom, puking, then passing out in the hallway (this was a couple days ago *awkward turtle*).

CFC is a [nice(?)] way of experiencing Korean-American culture, or Asian-American culture, but every time I come back home, it’s full immersion back into straight up Korean culture.  And I think one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t have your cake and eat it too (I love that expression).

There’s so many things about Korean culture that I love (the food, filial piety, tough love, discipline, the old-school-I-walked-10-miles-to-school-uphill-in-the-snow-with-no-shoes stuff); so many things that make me queasy (rampant materialism, absurd levels of narcissism, men looking like women, etc); and things that I’m still divided on [K-pop and distant uncles with a predisposition for Johnny Walker and Grey Goose (3 cheers to good taste?) come to mind].

But in the same way you can’t pick your family, you can’t really pick the way your culture is.  America is the home of the free, land of the brave, and the first slave set foot in the colonies in 1660 and was oppressed for the next 300 years or so.  Korea, land of the morning calm, beautiful mountains, perpetual war, and husbands that like to get drunk, beat their wives, then eat the family dog (not necessarily in that order).  Culture, like family, isn’t something that I can take the good while leaving the bad.  While not saying I agree with everything (nor does every Korean drink, beat their wife and dog, then eat the latter), sometimes things are what they are.

Haha in that case, the phrase should be: “You can have your cake, but you have to eat it too…even if it has bbun-deh-gee.”

East meets west, summer of 2004…my first bite of dog.  I also don’t seem to have aged in 5.5 years.

OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 26, 2009

I was reading (okay, fine, skimming) this book called The New Market Wizards, which is basically a compilation of interviews with successful traders.  Most of it is pretty dry (hence the skimming) but I like seeing some of the stories people have of how they got into the markets.

Anyways, I’m skimming along and the author is introducing the next interview, saying the guy is from an unusual background in that before he got into trading, he went to a divinity school in Chicago.  “What the junks?” was my initial response.

For the uninformed, the following videos are the more typical view of traders and will better describe my initial surprise [as always, excuse the profanity]

Oh yeah, the guy’s name is Mark Ritchie.

But anyways, I looked the guy up and it turns out he’s got an M.Div from Trinity, wrote a book about his relationship with God and trading, is on the board of a nonprofit and a seminary, and the fact that he’s interviewed in The New Market Wizards puts him at legendary status in the industry.

I don’t think I’ve ever idolized someone like this since Michael Jordan when I was a 10 year old.  I’ve also only known about this guy’s existence for about an hour.

I’m currently internet stalking him.  Right now I’m hating the fact that the governor of Minnesota is inconveniently named “Mark Ritchie” as well >.<

Spinning

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 24, 2009

Devoured this book over the past couple days.

Probably a bad idea.  With the current state my body is in, reading this is like buying a sports car but having no tires to put on it.

This book is basically a story about the human body and a remote tribe of Mexican Indians called the Tarahumara.  These guys can run for days, covering hundreds of miles.  One enterprising wilderness photographer stuck a few of them in the Leadville Trail 100 (a 100 mile race through the mountains).  The book makes it seem like he just dropped them off at the finish line, where they squared off against competitors who trained throughout the year for this event.  Naturally, these clueless Indians won.  The author goes on to summarize research that suggests the human body was built to run long distances even though years of fatty foods and poor diets have led us to believe otherwise.  He then chronicles his own journey, from being a constantly hurt recreational runner to someone being able to finish a 50 mile ultramarathon.  It’s a really interesting read and I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this book for a while ever since seeing him on the Daily Show near the beginning of the school year.  I found an article he wrote for Men’s Health and tried the suggestions and have been able to run pretty painlessly ever since.

I like fiction because it lets me dream.  When nonfiction makes me dream, it becomes so much more tangible and I like it all the more .  I like books like this.  Books that put stupid ideas in your mind.  Currently, I feel like the only thing stopping me from training for a 100 mile run is my bum leg.  Not the fact that I haven’t even run 10 straight miles before…

‘Tis the Season

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 19, 2009

I think the next couple of posts are going to be about some things I’m thankful for.  This one is going to start with mainly the reason I’m here.  Muh parents.

Personality wise, I had a lot of potential to be a very messed up kid.  I have little-to-no respect for authority figures, hate being told what to do, hate correction, hate self-control, love doing my own things, and have problems following directions.  I’m also reasonably good at thinking on my feet which can make me incredibly good at talking back and pissing people off, which I love(d) to do.

This is basically what my mom and dad had to work with.

My parents were both immigrants, my mom coming over because her dad started attending seminary in the states and my dad came over to escape the political turmoil going on in Korea during the late 70s/early 80s.  I’m just going to sum up their lives and then conclude with some feel good sayings.

My Mom
My mom is an anomaly for most Korean parents in that she speaks English like a native and majored in cello performance.  Her father was actually the one that signed her up for cello and piano lessons and her parents supported her music education.  This is extraordinarily rare for Korean parents to do, especially for ones that came over here from Korea to give their kids a better life.  Music majors typically don’t have better lives.  However, that side of the family does have like 4 PhDs, 1 CEO, 4 CPAs, 2 missionaries, and the equivalent of jipsanim.  So maybe since my mom was the youngest, they figured they could let my mom be weird.

But either way, my mom was a pretty sick cellist.  She went to Lane Tech, which was back then, a school where you had to pick a concentration, which is what you would go on to study in college.  She picked music because of her piano background, then picked up the cello her freshman year.  By her senior year, she was her section leader.  People in that section would skip college and go play in professional symphonies around the country.  It just took her four years to get better than those kids.  Because of her, my siblings and myself all have some sort of undeveloped musical ability.  Like for real.  In Illinois, there’s this thing called “Illinois Music Educators Association” that selects some of the top high school orchestra players every year for an annual performance.  I auditioned as a joke with my orchestra director, so because it was a joke I never practiced.  I almost made it anyways.  I still feel guilty for not practicing the violin more regularly, I feel like I wasted all the talent my mom gave me.  My brother and sister are currently making the same mistake.  My brother is currently section leader of the top orchestra at probably one of the best high school music programs in the country.  If my parents let him, he would quit the cello without a second thought.  As of now, my mom went back to school to get her music educator’s certificate because she wants to go into teaching.  She’s at DePaul right now, which means she’s still got the chops to compete with kids my age.

She’s also insanely holy.  Like insanely so.  She’s the kind of person who always has this giant, falling-apart, study Bible in her bag.  At every spare moment she’s reading it.  Like even when we’re at a movie theater waiting for the previews to start.  It’s embarrassing, really.  Every week I call home and she asks me what my prayer requests are.  Haha this is also the reason why I don’t turn in prayer requests to Pastor Jung, there’s just no way he can pray for me like my mom can 😀 (plus I always forget anyways).  I remember asking her as a kid “do you love God more than dad?” Yes.  “What about me?”  Yes…

…Oh Lord, I’m so pagan……..

My Dad
My dad pretty much grew up in poverty.  Kind of like his dad, he has this idea of trying to give me and my siblings the life he was never able to have.  He’s the typical Korean dad who will work himself like a dog just so he can see his kids have nice things.  However, he always knew what was best for us and beat any notions of being spoiled out of us.  Like literally.  When I speak in Korean it sounds like I have special needs, but I’m fluent in “discipline-Korean.”  Yet his discipline was always mixed with love, and even when he beat the crap out of me, there really was no doubt in my mind that he was the same person I could go to whenever I needed anything.

This is the main reason why I never told my parents about me getting hit by a truck while riding my bike (this will be elaborated on in a later entry).   This is an email he sent me a couple days ago:

Hi Steve,

I have been praying about your car.
I have been looking into used car, new car, even temporary  rental car.
I just can’t stand you riding a bike in cold weather.

Well, God answered prayer.

Your grandfather quitted driving and they were about to donate the car.
It’s 97 Altima.

I will pick it up and service it and get it ready for you when you come down.

Dad

Like honestly, if that’s how he reacts when he hears I’m biking to Parkland twice a week, I’m not going to tell him how close I was to dying.  He’ll like come down every Monday and Wednesday to personally drive me to class.  I kinda said that facetiously, but I actually don’t think that’s a joke, hahaha.  My family is beyond ridiculous.

Why I’m Thankful
-My parents are real, personal, examples of Christ-like character.  Haha because of this, if I ever want to fake it, I know what to look like.

-Both my parents grew up poor.  Our family has fallen on some hard times over the past few years but it never changed them.  I think it’s because they grew up knowing how to live with nothing that when it’s time to be poor again, it’s really no problem.  The more I think about this in our materialistic society, the more mind boggling this becomes.

– Spare the rod, spoil the child.  I’d like to think I’m not spoiled based on how many times they had to use the dreaded “mem-meh”

-Deuteronomy 6.

-Everyday when dropping me off at middle school, my mom would say Numbers 6:24-26 to me as I was getting out of the car.

-They are supportive to a fault.  Their mentality now is “you’re old enough to make your own decisions.”  Here are a series of conversation excerpts.

Keep in mind in high school I had a 12am curfew.
Mom: When did you come home last night?
Me: Like 4 or something.
Mom: Oh, well maybe you shouldn’t wake up at 2 in the afternoon.

I’m drinking a gin and tonic.
Cousin [to my mom]: So are you okay with Steve drinking that?
Mom: Oh, I thought it was just Sprite.  What is it?
Me: Gin and tonic.
Mom: Oh [Smiles and resumes conversation she was previously having with my cousin].
(I was 21, don’t worry.  If I wasn’t she probably would have beat me up right there)

A better example:
Me [after getting some really bad grades for the semester]:Mom, don’t worry about my grades, I’m just going to go to seminary anyways [this is supposed to be the scare card!!!!].
Mom: Oh, nothing would make me happier than my children serving the Lord!
Me: Uh so that doesn’t scare you?
Mom: Nope, I gave up all my children to the Lord when you guys were born.
Me [in my mind]: WTF? Who does this? [outloud] What?! Uh, well I was joking anyways, but I did pretty horribly.
Mom [sounding disappointed]: Oh so you’re not going to seminary?

And finally:
Me:  Mom, with a business degree, that can really open up doors into closed countries.
Mom: What’s closed mean?
Me: Like countries where they don’t allow Christians.
Mom: Oh, so like North Korea!
Me: …yeah
Mom: Wonderful!
A few weeks later…
Dad: If you go to missions, you have to become one after you leave CFC. [that was the wisest and shortest “be wary of CFC culture comment I’ve ever heard]

I mean it all just boils down to the fact that they’re such loving, supportive, and holy parents and have demonstrated it again and again.  At home, I feel no pressure to succeed, to be some doctor or high powered businessman, I know I can always come home and be Steve and that’s all they care about.  It don’t get much better than that, and I’m pretty thankful God was gracious enough to let them have me.

More to come! 🙂

Fa Sho

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 16, 2009

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald.  Imagine yourself as a living house.  God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.  He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense.  What on earth is He up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.  You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.  He intends to come and live in it Himself.

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Knowledge is Knerdy

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 16, 2009

Preparing for a presentation, I realize I can read discussion papers for proposals in changes of accounting laws and understand them and the significance they will have on current rulings.  I also find it mildly interesting to think of the consequences.

I’m really tired >.<

Whoa There

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 12, 2009

It’s dating seminar time at CFC again…I still remember the first one I went to when my freshman year, a small group member dragged me out to one instead of letting me study for a test.  I then slept through the test I was supposed to take, setting the tone for that semester and the rest of my college career.

But, after this past week’s seminar, I have this to say:

If marriage is your only motivation for developing character or growing in your relationship with God then you should be the last person someone wants to marry.  I hesitate to put it in terms like that, but think about it.

Since I’m a guy and we’re such chauvinist troglodyte pigs, I’ll put it in the following analogy that only guys would understand.  There’s a really hot girl with a really hot body spent from all this time in the gym.  She finally meets me and immediately falls in love.  Luckily for her, a hot body is the thing I value most.  After we get married, she stops working out and becomes Jabba the Hutt.  I commit suicide.

Don’t delude yourself.  We’re human.  We have this irritating tendency to stop doing something once we get what we want.  Don’t think you’re above using your relationship with God in the same way.

When we work out to look hot so we can attract the opposite gender, or go to church and prayer meetings and small group to do the same (because your social context values spirituality), I think that’s just straight up lying.  I’m not saying God can’t redeem that, but that’s just some jacked up motives right there.  I’m also not saying that I’m above this line of thought either but the only reason why I’m writing this is because facebook statuses exploded with dreams of building character and increasing Holy Spirit powers.

So yeah, love God, become holy, but do it because you’re cultivating a relationship with the most amazing being this universe has to offer, not because you want to put a ring on your finger.  And once you’ve become holy by this way, come back and help me out…permanently (if you’re a girl.  If you’re a guy then we’ll have to go to Massachusetts first).

I Think?

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 9, 2009

True friends tell you your new glasses make you look ugly.

Then yell at you when you don’t wear them.

I think…

In My Own Skin

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 8, 2009

It’s taken years of trying but I still don’t feel comfortable being in front of other people.  I can fake it but I don’t like it.

In high school, I had to give a presentation where I had to impersonate Malcolm X.  Content was amazing, delivery can only be described as “epic fail.”  A friend later came up and said “I’ve never seen someone who looked so unsure of themselves hold an audience captive.”

I hate having eyes on me.  I hate public speaking.  I hate presentations.  When I lead praise for small group, I usually don’t stop sweating until it’s time to play the closing song…when it all starts again.

I really miss some people.

Blech.