starving for substance

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 27, 2010

After a few months of soul searching, I’ve finally arrived at the decision that accounting is not my cup of tea (I’ll probably elaborate more on what this means later). Unfortunately, I’m scheduled to take a section of the CPA on Thursday. The sunk cost logical fallacy would say that I should immediately move on to the next step but I’m not a logical person, just an exceedingly stubborn one.

I’m going to pass this effing test even if it kills me. Then once my debts are paid I’m on to other things.

Thanks for all the well wishers and encouragement I’ve gotten along the way, it really does make a difference.

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Draft Day

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 24, 2010

Watching the drafts of professional sports leagues is always pretty depressing. The steady procession of newly minted millionaires without college degrees always make me wonder if I did something wrong.

Sincerity

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 21, 2010

Sincerity is wonderful and usually taken for granted. Lately I’ve been gaining a greater appreciation for it.

Killed by a Glance

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 19, 2010

The power of a glance is one of the more underestimated aspects of human interaction, in my opinion. It’s in those glances that we sometimes see what a person really feels inside, when the eyes really do prove to be a window to the soul. Two distinct memories come to mind, both which rocked me to my core.

One
The first is Evita. I met her at the orphanage she lived at in Chilpancingo, a moderate sized Mexican city. For some reason, we just gravitated to each other. When my mission’s team got to that orphanage, we started playing games with the kids and Evita grabbed my hand from the beginning and never left my side till our team had to leave. Her life was a difficult one filled with abuse, abandonment, loss, and shattered dreams. A girl half my age with thrice the life lessons. That day we played some games, shared some laughs, and shed some tears and when the end of our stay came, I was positively busted up inside. As I was saying goodbye to her, she asked me when we would come back. I managed to choke out a halfhearted “no sé” and left it at that. We both knew that meant “never.” Her reaction rocked me. She didn’t get emotional, her tears simply stopped, her eyes hardened, she nodded and I felt my heart rip in my chest. The look that was meant to show nothing ended up saying everything. “This is what I’ve come to expect in life. The people who get close always just leave. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again, and I’m used to it.” We hugged and said goodbye and two years later there are very few weeks that go by where the thought of Evita doesn’t cross my mind at least once. From that moment on, I resolved that if I were ever to participate in a function of ministering to hurting people, it would be for life.  Anything less would not make any sense.

Mexican Duck Duck Goose

Two
I attempted to create a food blog last year called “Stuffed Steve.” I still link to the site but haven’t touched it in over a year. The last post I left on it details a rather strange quirk (if you could call it that) of mine. I’ll post it here so you don’t have to leave the page.

I like to watch people eat alone.  Call it creepy, but there’s just something about watching someone eat food they like when they’re by themselves.  There’s just a look of comfort on their face that really makes you feel for them.

The moment I remember my brother most for was when we were still probably in grade school.  I got really mad at him for some reason, so before he went to tennis lessons, I poured salt in his water.  I tagged along to watch him drink it, and after working up a sweat in the hot sun, he comes for a water break.  When the water hit his lips, he looked startled, spit it out, shook his head, and tried again.  Same effect.  There’s something heartbreaking about seeing that innocence, someone simply wanting a cup of water, and having it be saltwater that can make you pity a serial-killer, nevermind your own brother.  I promptly grabbed his water bottle, ran home, and got him some good water (we lived close).

So it’s the same feeling when I see someone eat, though instead of having their food turn out to be saltwater, it ends up being what they needed.  And there’s a look that comes across their face that words just can’t describe.  Watch someone eat a bowl of soup by themselves on a cold day and know what I mean.

I recently watched the movie “Crossing.”  It’s about a North Korean family and it’s supposed to be really sad.  It really did nothing to me.  However, the scene I remember is a girl in a marketplace eating food that had dropped into the dirt.  This vividly brought to mind a news-piece that ran on some Korean news station about North Korea.  In it was a man eating noodles in a similar marketplace.  And at his feet, picking up his scraps, was a small, emaciated boy.  It’s hard to shake something like that.  The relationship we have with a necessity of life might change in the cultural context, but it’s an intensely personal relationship with very real consequences.

It’s nice to see my writing has improved over the past year, or at least that I’m getting a little more comfortable with my own personal style. But that’s the background, now here comes the look.

During spring break a couple months ago, I went to the Vending Room at the Union to meet up with my roommate to do some studying. I got there before he did so I sat at a table and figured people watching would be a fun way to kill time while I waited. At the microwaves in the room, there was an older gentleman heating up a Hungry Man frozen dinner and it was on him I focused my attention. The microwave beeped, he removed his food, and walked to a nearby table where his Pepsi One was waiting. He must have brought both the dinner and the drink from home as the UofI only vends Coke products. He picked up a piece of chicken with his wrinkled hands while bending his white haired head over the plate to take his first bite.

Seeing him eat that first bite made me want to cry. He looked so helpless and by the way he savored that first morsel of Hungry Man chicken had me convinced he was hungry (eat a Hungry Man dinner and you will understand what I mean: pure salt and a textural nightmare). This perfect portrayal of loneliness and hunger that made him seem to be in such a sad sorry state found me swallowing a lump in my throat and a ridiculous desire to end world hunger (now I’m back to trying to solve my own hunger…in terms of life impact Evita is the clear winner haha). Man was made for a relationship and sometimes you can glimpse overwhelming proof if you just keep your eyes open.

I didn't want to take a picture of the guy so here's a picture of what he was eating...(this is a picture from the internet, not what he was actually eating that day)

The Point
I wish I had one, I wish I understood why memory “One” impacted me so much and what it means, I wish I didn’t always use repetition and lists of three in my writing. Sometimes I feel like I’m on divergent paths, other times I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be, most of the time I don’t know up from down, and all of this is while time is running out.
Those glances matter, what they mean is just more food for thought.

Irreconcilable Differences

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 9, 2010

Companies do not exist for the public. They exist to increase shareholder equity. While we might want BP to be blown off the face of the earth, they still need to protect their bottom line for the sake of their stakeholders. That’s who they have a responsibility to, more so than the environment, the people of New Orleans, or tree huggers everywhere. That’s just a simple fact of the free market economy we have here. So while we might get angry at their response and want to hold them accountable to our own set of rules, we need to know that they’re playing a totally different game.

Still, this brings back the debate of corporate responsibility. The accounting scandals of the early 2000’s brought about massive accounting reform to the public sector in the form of Sarbanes-Oxley and the outrage over what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico might lead to increased regulation in the energy sector. Corporations should be more responsible for their actions and I think they need to feel a responsibility for the communities in which they are allowed to exist (kind of like a social contract thing) but there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. But where to draw that line leads to all sorts of issues, and so ends this meandering post about nothing.

Every New Day

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 9, 2010

I’ve been running a lot lately, and after a couple weeks I can say quite honestly that it’s getting pretty fun. It’s nice just to run and let the impact of your feet hitting the ground loosen your body and relieve the tension hidden around in the nooks and crannies up in the rest of your body. However, sometimes when I do running workouts at faster speeds, I get to a point where my lungs and legs hurt a lot but there’s still a couple more sets I have to do…but things hurt so much…but there’s still a couple more sets I have to do…but there’s so much pain…you get the picture. After I run, I usually end up feeling one of two things. 1)I gave the best I could, it hurt, I got over the hurt, and I am better for it. 2)I could have gone harder. The pain was too much for me to handle and instead of pushing through it, I gave up. I quit.

One thing I’ve noticed about myself over the past couple years is that I’ve become much more lukewarm about everything. I have no hobbies that I care intensely about, I have no opinions that I will defend to the point of my own humiliation, I’m just “meh” about everything and am whatever is comfortable for me to be. This is in stark contrast to the ranting Steve of old that would crusade against injustice, racism, and whatever else pissed me off in the world. One friend, after reading one of my old blogs, called me “the Reverend Steve Ok.” The fire in my belly is gone.

I went on a run today and realized this. Passion, like effort in running, is a choice. Obviously there are things that tug at our heart and that set us off more than other things but in the end, we can either act on those things or we can just sit and wallow in apathy. But at the end of the day, the feeling is the same. Did I use this day as best as I could or did I waste a moment? So is there a switch inside of us that we can just turn on? To just all of a sudden live with intensity?

Well it’s time for another anecdote.

I remember one swim practice my senior year of high school where I was just finally starting to turn the corner from mediocre swimmer to passable swimmer. I was leading the second fastest lane and the lane next to me was filled with guys who would ultimately move up to the varsity squad. The guy leading that lane was a distance swimmer like myself (we’ll call him “D”) and I had told him at the beginning of practice that I would beat him at some point in the season. He reacted in a way that surprised me. He simply said “you want to beat me? Then keep up with me.” And so began practice. Practice that day was pretty tough, it was early in the season and I wasn’t in shape, but I doggedly slogged on, content to barely make the intervals. At least I was content. So some of the previous details might have been embellished or changed but this part I remember vividly. I tagged the wall, barely making my interval and I was wiped out. Everyone else in my lane was late, there was no way I could make the next interval on time, I was just gonna sit at the wall and take a quick breather. D leans over into my lane just before he pushes off the wall and yells “C’MON STEVE, LET’S GO!” And it was that moment where I realized why D was so much faster than me. He could go when everyone else would be resting. It’s not like D loved swimming so much and felt so blessed by the sport that he gave his all at every opportunity, he just knew when to keep going. I think that’s what passion and intensity boil down to. When it’s time to quit but you find that will to keep going somewhere within you. The boxer wobbling off the stool to enter the 10th round. The marathon runner running so hard that he soils himself at the finish. Abraham Lincoln in the American Civil War (pre Battle of Atlanta). Winston Churchill and England during WW2.

So yes, it can be turned on. It comes down to choices. And I choose to stop being so lukewarm. So there. Bahaha if only it was that easy….

And yes, I did end up beating D. He was DQ’d for a false start and I would go on to win the heat 😀

eh?

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 7, 2010

when things start to click but make no logical sense, does that mean you’ve made any progress?