2:47 am

might be my favorite hour of the day. just reminds you Jesus is the same yesterday today and tomorrow that His grace is unchanging 24/7.

just took a nap in my car and now about to go all out.. until my eyes get heavy and anchor the body to rest again.

5:52 quick reminder as I sit in the Tyson’s McDonald’s:

1) they blast the music so people can’t “fall asleep” here. There are a few who have overcome the boombap so I call that a boom…nap.

2) remember Daniel, you’re not alone. There are probably millions of people out there in the world studying and reading books and trusting in God’s providence at a mcdonald’s or maybe a Burger King.

3) that maxim “time is money” is a head scratcher. Do those who want more time want more money? Those with no time to spend with their kids means they don’t have any money to spend on their kids? Do people with a lot of time in their hands have a lot of money in their hands? Where you spend the most time, is that where you spend the most money? But what about those who don’t love money? They don’t love time? Hm.

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DisciPline

give us mercy, please. please.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Hebrews 12:3-6 ESV
who’s ok?

weakened

2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

double socks, wrapped a Vcu dry-fit around my neck to use as a scarf, my suit jacket as a blanket, and dreaming of roasting marshamallows around a campfire.

your Word comforts me.

there’s a lot on my plate but i’d rather keep my eyes focused on Him.

mrs. under stood

whether, it’s writing S’ays or penning a new song
i will
still dot my Ice, and cross my T.ea, raise a glass of oolong
to make a toast, a drink for the ageless, i mean,
a drink for the ages, think with the sages
sip on a chard, swirl the barn with your sharp blade
that cuts the grass, a glass shard, a cold shower
after a hard day
why do i stay up more than my body can take it
if i were in the garden with eve and stood there naked would i be asleep
or close my eyes and fake it
a heart issue that’s what they say,
that’s what they keep telling me
a girl loses her dad overnight
and a boy says he hates his mom’s oversight
yelling three, two, one like if i don’t do what she wants
i’m grounded for seven weeks
why am i losing feeling in my wrists?
what happens when i lose my sight but the vision exists
a magazine in the hospital can be life-changing every page flip
bright smiles of cosmetic surgeons glisten words screaming for you to
listen support our business
money will buy you a new life if you can make its payments
but if i were you, if i were you?
that’s the thing if i tell them, they’ll
misunderstand until she meets her ideal match
and when he trips and falls on his knee and gets a concussion and asks her if his name is mary in the future
she’ll say yes and change her name to mrs. under stood

ex plain

I see that the former life is plain. Ex + plain = explain.

today I ran into a face I’ve not seen since I left my internship at S&L. I asked how she’s doing, etc., went through some generics/specifics.  One thing stuck out to me, one thing that I truly hope they will grow and understand some day.  she said ever since i left, college ministry isn’t the same.  they were “mourning” when I left. and I had to correct her. Like.. don’t exaggerate.  Mourning? No.. she said, “grieving” as if that one degree shift was an improvement.  No.  If I remember where I started, I can never take the credit.  All the times I texted student after student during the afternoons was out of concern for their lives.  No one can tell me I wasted time because I enjoyed every second of it. Because I know that when older people texted me when I was in college, I didn’t think they cared that much. Maybe now I’m eating my words.  Maybe now I’m choking on humble pie.  Maybe now I see how impactful the gospel is.  I’m transformed by its power.  So if you’re going to grieve my departure–it’s been seven months–do something about it.  Do something, like, text your neighbors who are in need of his Word.

My ex.. plain.

my new life in Christ is anything but that. Stay faithful: salt & light things up.

poority

a girl i have gotten to know pretty well, by God’s grace, over a span of two years shared with me, by God’s grace, that she’s attracted to guys who suffer and are innocent. so i went deep see thinking. it’s kind of like deep sea fishing, but instead of fish, it’s casting a line for thoughts. sometimes i’ll reel in understanding, sometimes i’ll catch wisdom. i thank God for revealing what is hidden in the darker waters of my world.  sometimes i’ll leave the ocean empty-handed. thankfully, not today.

i don’t want to be a man who complains and whines to people. venting, sure, who doesn’t? but if i reach out to someone and he or she rebukes me for thoughts i should not keep, i would be grateful. open rebuke to heal an open wound–i’ll take it. but when i’m suffering for Christ, i would hope that whatever i share–where i’m sleeping on the weekends, how many hours i’m up every week, my inabilities and insufficiencies and inadequacies–please, may they never sound like complaints! on the other side of complaints, may they never sound like i desire pity! i’ve endured and overcome a variety of afflictions–but a majority of them were self-inflicted. or were they? i can’t, and won’t doubt that God’s been by my side every step of my times of obedience and disobedience.

what is total depravity? why is man considered “totally” depraved? yes sin has affected all-us, even our thoughts and knowledge. that’s what the noetic effect is. we are incapable of understanding everything, yet God gives us clarity so we don’t lose our sanities. He gives us direction when we feel like we’re walking through clouds, not on them. total depravity is like.. stepping into a don john at 8 pm in the summer. no one hops into an immaculate port-a-potty! haha, it is utter devastation to all five of the senses. every fiber of all-us, our “total” being is taken aback by what happened in the don-john. close your eyes and breathe with your mouth open? nope, i’ve tried that. doesn’t work. (no one wipes off their mis-aimed piss after use.) what Jesus did on the cross was voluntary, voluntarily custodial.

why do we, I, take yourself so seriously? let’s try to take ourselves less seriously, and instead, take ministry seriously. take the gospel seriously, apply seriously the Word of life on your heart. you put face masks on your head to clean your pores, why not read Him during those 15 minutes?

blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the pure in heart. (matthew 5:3 & mt. 5:8)

 

prov3rb:5

“trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding” #true

i dont want to be a hindrance to my friends, enemies, anyone.

everyone’s stumbling block needs to be “Christ crucified” and here i am nottttt trying to get in their way.  me?  obstacle?  no thanks, maybe another time*.  love is patient, love is kind, love is.. read the rest of 1 corinthians 13.  if the Word tells us not to lean on our own understanding, i’m guessing a lot of people do.  when they do, they fail, because the antithesis is to trust in the Lord.  okay.  that’s perpetual, not a case-by-case basis.

so let’s go!  whatever understanding i have of someone’s introspection means nothing.  tighten up, dp.  whatever detroit’s going through, i don’t understand.  trust in God.  whatever orlando’s going through, don’t try to understand!  trust in the Lord.  whatever virginia is thinking, trust in the King.  whatever maryland wants to do, cool.  trust in the Father.

throwing away any of my crutches that say “dp’s understanding” into the garbage.  no point.  always learning something new.  say deuces to the false prophets.

i love God, Jesus, and do me.  prov 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. #true

*there is no other time

p.s. imperfections are imperfections for a reason, no one’s perfect

Shh

Shh-ouldn't have doubted. I leave emptier than I entered. Pd shut my system down for thinking outside of myself. Thank you for that, mentor.

Don't regret. Instead, just kill it.

Prayers are being answered. Dad said yes. This might or might not be my last chance but I am going to pray continually.

A HS student asked me about how he should rebuke someone. And I basically told him I needed that rebuke. Yes. Better is open rebuke than a clothed mouth.

I am broken but Jesus is victorious.

To infinity and beyond

Dear future Daniel,

You already are aware, or should I say, you will never-ever again be oblivious, of how perfect God's timing is, and two, to never cut the line. The latter is more of a troubler for you, but you've healed a lot since the 2000s. Taking shortcuts is the Achilles heel and cause of pain in your life, but that's because, for you, actions are "most hardest" to control versus not bringing your thoughts into life. Right?
For me any..

Anyway. To the point. Two to be exact.

One. I am in love with someone's heart and persona and character. She is XY years old and I will not disclose anything else about her unless you want to know if she's Christian or beautiful because, that…my friend…is what she encapsulates inside and out. I am praying about this and the sloths are training me how to run.

Second. I am not going to guarantee myself anything regarding Ministry. This is God's church. I'm just a pawn. Heaven is my destiny the road is narrow, and I am just a car being operated by the Spirit.

Give Thanks

Not take thanks, but give thanks. 

Cheers to another three-night-stay at Honda  Accord Hotel.  5-star, one bedroom, non-smoking, all accommodations and essentials supplied by God.  

Concerning Ministry

Learning … a lot about what it means to truly love His people.  Wonder if Jesus asked Peter, four, no, 12, maybe even 349 times, “Do you love me?”  if Peter’s response would have stayed the same.  Dang.  This lifetime commitment to picking up the cross, what amazing grace I have received to even carry it another step!  I don’t deserve salvation, yet Jesus said, “It is finished.” 

Lord, I pray for my staff.  Please show them the importance of showing up.  Thank you for their hearts to serve, but may their hearts be in the right place.

Concerning Seminary

God help me get into the Master’s of Divinity program.  I don’t want to graduate with no degree.  But even if I don’t, may Your will be done.  God says, “You don’t need to get straight A’s if you’re busy living for me.”  Sure?  I’m not shooting for an idolatrous score.. It’s just that I didn’t even know what Reformed meant before enrollment.. 

Concerning Life

These past four months never highlighted a “honeymoon” phase.  I can’t even say “honeymoonish.”  Maybe the first day it was okay, but seriously, even now, I’m just…28 about to turn 29, living at Honda Accord Hotel, scraping by to survive, because   you’ll trying to budget.  I’m not ashamed of where I’m at in my faith. 

One or the other

Either my battery will die before my friend gets here or I’ll finish this post before my battery dies. Sitting in a booth at Yard House at SFM. I haven’t seen this guy since January(?), glad I can catch him before he leaves for Cali tomorrow. Good friend. All of my friends live so far away from here. I’m like home base for them. Boo hoo DP cry more.

One down at a time. One play at a time. Just trust the process and keep learning and asking questions. Remember where you started? 

Yeah. It’s one or the other. 

Trusting God with everything, from the next penny I make to the next person I encounter.  I love the students he’s placed in my life.  How I’m doing is up for God to judge.  All I know for certain is that Satan has finite resources.  Jesus already, and keeps, won. 

29 in September but remember age is nothing but a number. 

Good morning

Woke up to something I would complete a Zumba workout to. To the owner of the car parked next to mine, thank you for the wake up call! Got to include some sprints, jogs and push ups into my day! 

Now to church for early morning service. Then prepare, then meeting with JK. Go to Vienna for Elle (Pelican) and Juno’s wedding. Day’s far, far from over. Grind doesn’t stop. Believe in God, trust in His promises! 

“Health over wealth” but you already know, God over everything. Our hope is in Jesus Christ who’s (hurry up please), coming soon! 

11:38 p.m.

Tonight was interesting. 2 nights in a row sleeping in the batmobile. Woke up, brushed my teeth (had water in my Gatorade bottle), & headed to work. 

I really get what the meaning of “age is nothing but a number.”  It has little to do with dating or marriage.  It’s really nothing but a number, literally.  Today I realized God has me going through another trial in which, He’s definitely prepared me for these back seat long nap sessions.  It was the same joy I had in my heart when I was driving around RVA and working as a trashman, the same love in my heart I had when I was walking “with God” in the darkest alleyways and the same peace I had filming two or more hours of a game I had no idea how to play.  All glory to God and again, the humbling never stops, because well, “love never ends.” 
Our arrogance is a fire incapable of becoming fully extinguished. (I’m sure I could word that better.) Who cares. It’s a blog no one reads. Anyways. 

Today I got lunch with pastor Park at Yuraku. Got back, texted JeQuan Lewis and asked him if I could FaceTime him later and asked if he could talk to our students about faith and basketball. He said yes. Then I prepared.. then I picked up DY from school and we grabbed a bowl of pho. Not that good. (phosluscious.)  Then I dropped him off at swim practice, headed back to church, and then tried to take a power nap. Eh.  Didn’t work.  At 7. Dinner. At 7:25, I called Jequan Lewis and by God’s grace he answered!

He told the students God first.

6:36 am

Smart? Nah.

🤝

Really I have a staring problem. I’ll stare at a line on the page so hard but still not understand what it’s saying.

Honestly I am not an “on-paper” person. I look at my personal rap sheet and my resume which leads me to say, “While it does tell you what Daniel Park did and does, it will not reflect who Daniel Park is.”

9:33 Sundays

Am: Korean service ended 24 minutes ago. Seems like the senior pastor’s message and mine are the same. When I listen to the heart of the sermon it’s mysteriously aligned. Ok. I’m now in my education department office, where I spent the night, where I caught three hours of sleep, if you can even call it that. Of the three hours of freeze-to-death my shivering body beat my alarm clock set for 3:50 am in a race. Then I prepped for service until 7. Had a banana, hardboiled egg, and pb&j sandwich for breakfast. There’s a baby crying, a girl trying to get an adult’s attention, and praise team leading the EM service with “River of Life” upstairs. Peace and quiet with God is all heart. It has to be. Thank you Jesus.

Pm: we’ll see if I even make it. 

See ya (either on earth or in heaven).

Twenty 8 going onto twenty nah.. ine

Seldom do I post twice in one day, never in one evening, but when I do, the second time is when I’m relieving my lower back pain sitting against a powerjet inside of a hot tub. Fancy, no, but if you’re really judging, this is my idea of a vacation. 

So I’m sweating my sorrows and stress away, thinking about wow, how did I end up here (God)? I’m not really this contemplative haha (who am I kidding 🤣). 


But I was thinking about how I have so much work to get done in these next two weeks. The cycle doesn’t stop, is one thing I’m beginning to come to grips with. I thought there would be a moment of sliiiide and chiiiil. Nope. God is allergic to laziness. Find rest in me he’ll say. That’s what is so cool about being a slave unto righteousness. Because our sliiiide and chiiil is just that–we fail and fall short of God’s glory. No matter what we try to do, our finitude, our pathetic-ness, shouts, “WE NEED YOU.” 

And I have 19 years of journals in my room. Is that hoarding? Idk. But God.. still Your patience.. and Your love.. may I never, ever forget. 

Remember where you started? 

sharp, quick turn lessons 

My professor said something today worth typing into this box (hopefully) so that I’ll come back later to see if anything’s changed. Obviously, I would’ve jotted it down in my journal but tee bee ayche, it’s not meant to be kept.. private. 

Reading the end of 1 Timothy 6, Paul talks about how we aren’t going to take anything with us. Be content with what God gave you. Humans naturally, want more and we’re always comparing ourselves to xyz forgetting how quickly companies are producing the newest, greatest–thing.

Anyways, before I wander off, I wrote down what Dr. ABC said, based off Dr. John Frame’s tri-perspectival method. Financially…

  1. Tithe 10%. If you don’t practice now you’ll not do it later. Just do it. With a grateful and cheerful heart. 
  2. Give to charity, offering to church, etc. That’s not the same as tithing.
  3. Budget. Buy whatever else is needed. Don’t splurge. Don’t love money.

That’s the thing. He said – you know those people who want to get married, they’re like–date, date, date around, and then there’s the other class who won’t date at all, hoping Mr/Mrs. Right comes along? Same mentality for those who want to get rich. They’ll save, save, save. And the others will spend, spend, spend. One’s idolizing marriage, one’s idolizing getting rich. There’s so much more to that could be said. Let’s talk more about it. 
Insta: @dperent

pray it forward

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

prayers substitute my thoughts. ideas become petitions. please answer these requests, God.  

remember these times

a night like tonight does its best kobe bryant impression and leaves me no choice but to regard it as one of the greatest memories to ever plant the brain. 

i will remember you as the fourth all-niter in two weeks.  some nail-biting finishes, others landslide embarrassments. 

it’s 5:21 a.m., i’m falling asleep but my thumbs are acting like brats on the loose right now, gliding across the keyboard under the glass screen.. every envious finger’s dream.. to ice skate.. lucky toes they think. 

but toes can’t shoot rock, paper, scissors.. 

i knew (going in) it wouldnt be easy

i still have three points to cover.  i still have two hundro pages to read.  hm, but.. my mind and heart’s friendly, endless (friendless?) game of ping-pong won’t let me concentrate.

neither player wants to let go of their paddles.  there’s only one way to put a stop to this madness.  vent.  forgive me in advance for the ambiguity.  i learned an extra-jumbo-size amount of lessons since 9.2.2015.

… unloading …

eeks, where do i begin.  i am not in this alone.  if i die tonight i’m with God.  if i stay alive tonight God’s with me.  what’s there to stay cooped up about then?

 

you know what actually?
my heart dropped the paddle.

game’s over.

Trust God! K.

Eh, I guess it’s time. 

Can’t believe I’m choosing right now and right here to type this out all out; can’t believe I’m not penning this in my journal; can’t believe a lot of things.

It’s okay to not be okay with what happened back in April.

My professor’s words are ringing the bells of my heart even eight hours after speaking with him about what occurred in my life late April.  I – honestly – didn’t have the light of day to process anything related to that event. For those who don’t know: I had to call off a wedding due to reasons I am able to identify, but I can’t fully blame.  Locking in a wedding date was unacceptable, and human of us in God’s view; actually, complaining about the results isn’t something I never had in my agenda. 

I should have been patient. Am I learning? I think so? Am I growing? I believe so? Am I stupid for doubting God’s timing for my life? Yes. 

So I failed because I lost faith.

I lost faith in a God who cares and loves and is good. Faith slipped on a banana peel and instead of picking up my prayer life I kneeled and sobbed about my unluckiness. The bounce back is crucial for any Christian’s life, we know the standard protocol: attend church service, reach out to the pastor, ask for guidance, read the Word, read the Word, pray to Jesus, and repent.

What I didn’t do (at all), is examine my own heart, not ask Christ to reveal what’s hiding beneath the dark clouds of my guilt and shame. 

So, back to the banana peel. What made me slip? What are my internal struggles? 

Love you Jesus

I love the students in our S&L College Ministry.

But more than them, I love Jesus.  Don’t forget this, Daniel Park.  Always love the Creator.  May He be the reason why you serve, and not the other way around.  It’s not that: “because you love the people, you will love God more.”

Never boast to others about how much you do for the ministry.  No shepherd should be out there, yelling, “Ha! Look at my flock! Look at how diligent I am!”

Please tell those  ministrians, servants, pastors, whoever, to calm down, to remember who called them to serve in the first place.  Certainly there are people using their talents and skills to glorify themselves and talking about how they would die for their callings.  Chill.  I do not doubt that you would, no, but I do question if your heart is still on fire for God (or something else now).

#Reset #prayforthem

 

Rumble, jumbled garbled ramblings

What’s absolute in this life besides Jesus?

Divorces sever marriage vows. Cancer can be conquered. Guarantees don’t fill voids, and friendships, on the contrary to popular belief, end.

Unfortunate yet true, nothing in this world lasts forever. That’s probably why people reject the notion of eternal life. How could there be? It’s a challenge trying to cling onto monogamy for adults – to believe that there’s a God out there who loves and care about me?! Wha?!

There is an unnumerable amount (approximately 1.2 trillion), thoughts ricocheting off the walls of my brain right now. Call it m-indigestion. Mind-full. Mindy, pronounced windy. I want to scream inside a pillow but that’ll wake up my parents and possibly neighbors. I want to go outside and take a walk but it’s 2 degrees and snowing.

Help me, Jesus.

 

 

Remember Where You Started?

Don’t get too hooked on serving tables.

Aside from the social skills you’ll acquire, there’s not much more the restaurant industry can teach you. I’m not joking.

The quick cash, the networking, the free take-home meals: great?

Yea, no. The long hours, goodbye-weekend-nights, the late cuts, the baby’s aftertrash, the frustrating variance of tips, the unrewarding feeling of rolling silver, the two-table sections and a bar top, the neglectful host, the triple-sat-sorry-I-had-to combo, and the list goes on.

Since 2006 through 2015, I have served at 16 restaurants. You don’t believe me? Check my W2s.

Woo Lae Oak. Glory Days Bar and Grill. Silver Diner Tyson’s. Fireside Grill. Silver Diner Innsbrook. Bonchon. Cafe Chocolate. Willow Oaks Country Club. Seasons 52 Wine Bar and Grill. Korshi. Lemaire at the Jefferson Hotel. Sakura. Ichiban. Sushi King. Hayashi. The Boathouse.

Every restaurant, TBH, holds a warm place in my heart. I got fired from Fireside Grill because I told my manager I couldn’t work on Church Sundays. Bonchon had me painting their steroid-injected yet delicious wings in the back of the house for only a week and cut me off the rope … Not long after I obtained Johnny Vy’s (NFL Photographer) and Justin Hathaway’s (then NESN.com’s Digital Media) contact information through some of the chefs in the back of the house. The chefs were brothers of the mean owner-sister. Silver Diner Innsbrook was a tough steak but hey, I only got the job because Dhiraj and Nirmal (my former managers at the Silver Diner at Tyson’s), were running the show in RVA.

So yes, God provides every penny we need to survive. I’m going through some financial struggles right now, and perhaps you, reader, are too.  But hey, I write this with wishes to encourage you:  Jesus will steadfastly hook you, and me, up with exactly (down to the penny), we need. He knows our concerns and cares about us. Seriously. I think, what He needs from us is our hearts, as vulnerable as we are, to trust Him with allllllll of it.

For now, stay diligent with what He’s entrusted you with. It’s kind of like asking your boss for a raise. When He knows you’re ready to handle the more responsibilities, He will promote you and yep, that raise comes, too.

If you’re a student, grind hard and get out of college. I’ve learned to not fall in love with the result, but to fall in love with the process moving towards that result you want to achieve.

I assure you again and again: God got you.

You’re far too kind 12

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God Philippians 4:6

Who knows exactly when we met, as long as our first encounter budded into a friendship burgeoning with laughter and watered by tears. For those moments that we shared I am humbly grateful.

It’s ice raining in Richmond and my thoughts are frozen.

What are you doing? How is it in Oregon?

We don’t talk as often as I’d like, no … but I know.

So why are you on this list? Please. You turned out to be one of my closest friends in RVA over a two-year span. This radical pairing launched in early 2013, when we both worked our first Zero Gravity Basketball event and ha, boy am I glad that you recruited me for the job.

I am thankful for the times that you housed me. You entrusted me with your apartment key for a few days while you left to stay at your parents’. You’ve entrusted me to walk in and out of your place with no splintering doubt that I was holding a malicious intentions. You confided in me with things not often told to people. I learned much more from you than you did from me, believe it or not. Staying at your place last summer initiated me to shave off 20 pounds. From staying at your place last summer, your $60 voucher for City Diner fed me for a week and a half.

I sincerely enjoyed taking those random walks downtown, even the time we were caught by the police slipping out of the Governor’s gates. We were innocent but our photographic head shots were taken anyway.

You’re a good juggler; you’re easily entertained. I wish you the super best, brother, hope our ends meet in the future. Study hard and stay strong, mentally, over there. If you ever do decide to return, make sure you come back a better person.

You’re far too kind 11

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

It’s hard to type right now. My partially-torn heart received a good jerk tonight.

The VCU Rams dropped their third game in less than a two-week span — this evening falling to the La Salle Explorers in double overtime. I am not worried about the record, but I would be lying if I told you that I am not concerned about the team morale. We will get better; I believe in our head coach, coaching staff, players … and nobody — nobody should be — is closing the door on our squad’s chances of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament come March.

Tonight I walked into the locker room and there you were, alone, with your head down. You must have been praying. Or thinking about your grandmother. I wonder what God, or she, was telling you. I stood close by and prayed, too. I could feel your aura — of pain and brokenness, of uncertainty. You weren’t your jaunty self, the combustible personality influential enough to set a forest ablaze wasn’t present.

— to be continued

Romans 12:15

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

You’re far too kind 10

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

The first time was the worst time. From that point on you improved as a poet, as a friend, as a listener. When was it — the fall semester of 2012 — when I persuaded myself to perform at a Slam Poetry Open Mic at the Shafer Street Playhouse. After registering and picking our names out of the hat (I was 10th out of 13), I forcibly sat in the cushioned seats and waited with the rest of the artists.

There you were, standing on the stage with a come-at-me-bro demeanor, a magnitude powerful enough to keep an 8.6 from quaking. When they called my number … let’s just say that my hands would never get that clammy quarterbacking a flag football championship game.

You recited a poem about a job you once had at Bojangles! and I will never forget the punch.

Bam! and my man went slam on the counter. Girl left her hat, would you give it to her?

I didn’t approach you that eye-opening evening, however I won’t forget the time I walked by you, sitting on the bench outside of Cabell Library, in your ugly, brown vest, and your fedora. … God, that fedora. Instant connection, fedoras were my thing.

I introduced myself to you and to my surprise, you said you remembered my performance. Your constructive criticism made me realize that I was more sensitive than I could handle. I wasn’t in this poetry thing to showcase my lyricism. Yes a message was conveyed, but the TRUE reason why I even took this leap …

was to strengthen my vocals. I someday wish to coach. I someday want to analyze a sport. I want to touch lives and through this cathartic, stress-relieving hobby, I knew that I could accomplish this personal goal by standing in front of 10s, 100s, 1,000s of listeners in a dark, crowded room.

You opened up to me and we developed a bond that exists to this day. We don’t talk much, no, but I know you’re out there in North Carolina grinding your buttocks off. I know that your sharpening your talents. We’ll connect later down the road, God-willing, and that lunch bro-date, or wedding, or possibly on a vacation with our wives and children, will be simply glorious.

Some may recognize these nights as an open mic night, but no, those late nights in the studio, or at Emilio’s, or at Addis, or at Kenn Tico’s, or at Aurora, or at VCU, or at your house, or on my balcony until sunrise, were moments that I will forever appreciate and remember.

Your friendship.

You’re far too kind IIIIIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

I guess?

Appreciating an ex is a daunting task, especially if you two broke up on harsh terms. Literally? Yet you spoiled me with love, rotted me with confidence and — ah yes eureka — I know why my heart is eternally grateful for your existence.

Without your prayers and your company, I would, I swear, never have drop-kicked an addiction that I battled for a decade.

You sit there … for how many hours … with nine other guys that … are how old … and lose everything that you work for?

That’s right; those were the words you duct taped, no, stitched my heart with. You were not the first person to persuade me to quit, obviously, but you were the only one to word the phrase in such a mind-blowing way only my stubbornness could grasp. You made my favorite game sound like the most trivial, stupidest  on Earth, which is why I discontinued. …

Anywho.

Thanks for the memories. Thanks for your time. Thanks for making me lunch every morning. Thanks for sharing with me your deepest convictions. Thanks for allowing me help you fight your urges. Thanks for your nakedness. Thanks for your mindfulness. Thanks for your gentleness.

Hope your current antipathy for me will blow over someday. If it does not, I have no complaints.

You’re far too kind IIIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

God’s message is crystal clear. While driving on Interstate 95 South towards Richmond, I merged into the far left lane and pulled up behind this license plate:  

PHIL 4-6. Yes, another friendly reminder from the Father.

I immediately thought of one person, who’ll remain anonymous, to write about before hitting the sack. We met eight months ago. You were bright, giddy, approachable. While we waited for the basketball camp coaches to arrive at the Stu, we started chatting. …

Eventually, you listened to my testimony, of how God helped me land a Game Day Internship alongside the Redskins’ writing staff, and how my passion pushed me to combat the frustrations during times of hopelessness. I told you that, with prayer and faith, anything is plausible. There is a reason why some situations are pitch-black and others aren’t — and difficult or not, there is a time for everything — God will never dangle gifts and dreams above His children’s heads out of mockery, but He blesses us if those desires are according to His will.

Ever since we met, I have wanted to do more to glorify God. Ever since you asked me for my insight, I’ve done my best to provide words of encouragement and wisdom. Only God speaks through me, all I can do is provide the truth. I’m excited you can relate to my life experiences. Remember though, that I am not legally qualified to counsel anybody and that I am expendable. But you keep me posted — seeking mentorship and advice — and that’s a rarity nowadays to maintain a balanced and healthy relationship. From Day 1 I perceived you as a hardworking, God-fearing man. You still are. Although we are four years apart, you are extremely shrewd and self-motivated and highly mature for your age.

You shared your deepest concerns with me. I will not specify, but for that transparency I am eternally grateful. We communicate on a weekly basis, I hope this is a lifelong engagement. I recall promising you to stay in RVA so we could grow closer.

I am still here, still praying.

You’re far too kind IIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

So uh, there’s no other way to word this. When I think of how much you’ve helped, I bawl my eyes out.  Your companionship means a lot to me.

We met at Cafe Chocolate, I served your table — you were with a bunch of Marylanders. That night I was feeling free-spirited. I introduced myself. One thing led to another, and the conversation that tipped the cup over to become the stream we’re canoeing on until this day was on the topic of poetry (others call it rap).

And rap and God was a combination potent enough to ignite a friendship that I hope will last until we’re pushing each other’s wheelchairs. After we exchanged numbers, we collaborated, goofed off, recorded, goofed off some more. All the red wine-induced freestyles in your car and deeeeeeep talks on your front porch steps.

One takes for a reason.

When I needed direction, you were there. Your mom also lent a hand, her guidance, coupled with your support, is the sole reason I got this far.

Early Summer 2014

After getting through the first wave of interviews for GWU’s grad program, the staff deemed that rejecting me was for the best. A last-minute decision due to my lack of classroom experience altered the course of history.

Pause for dramatic effect.

Dr. O referred me to Dr. H and she told me I could gain my “classroom experience” during the summer months at a middle school program in Herndon. I went in to get my badges and yes, due to a misdemeanor charge — reckless speeding ticket — I was ineligible to work in Fairfax County for a year. I could either (A) work at a restaurant for a year in Fairfax County or (B) move to Richmond.

Richmond, from July through October, was an insane ride. Emotionally, mentally, physically, stretched all boundaries. I had contacted everyone to build my network. VCU shooting guard Jordan Burgess’s mother, a principal in Chesterfield, fed me valuable insight. Mr. Earl Mason. Dr. Colleen Thoma. Jill. Jamaal. Becky. Justin. Dr. Kim Hanneman. Corey. Etc.

I applied to Henrico County Public Schools. There was a part-time instructional assistant position available, so I submitted all of me. I applied to Faison School For Autism. I’ve applied to 290 jobs after graduating in 2013, two more cover letters was a laughing matter at this point.

I took the job at Godwin High School. I love the students. I worked in the Exceptional Education department and since November, I have been in love being in this field. All because you suggested that I should become a Special Education teacher. I feel as if I’m at home when I clock in. I deployed all the undying patience, and compassion for others I had stored within to good use on a daily basis. The opportunity to perpetually exercise my all-natural personality, what a blessing.

Yesterday, Faison School For Autism called me and extended the full-time position. I took it.

Your words that one night meant a lot to me. Goes to show how, with an open-mind, all things are possible if you have faith in Him.

I live by His grace and am grateful … to have such congenial friends. You’re one of them.

You’re far too kind IIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

You can never have a surfeit of love. Love is (supposed to be) unconditional, an act of forgiveness without justification and an expression more meaningful than mere words. One of the most perplexing concepts to grasp, love is simply fascinating.

Sometimes your glib responses meant the world to me. Never did I impugn your decisions. The imbroglios you put me through, the tribulations were worthier than a diamond ring I never purchased. I didn’t propose, maybe I should have. No regrets–my mentors were right–timing is everything.

Were you marriage material? Ya.

Absolutely. Were you my Joe Montana? I’m not sure. Your impact on my life still rings today.

Do you care? I bet $1 million that you don’t.

That’s why I am thankful for you. Your father loathed me. Your mother, condemning as she was, thought I was a clown. I owe them more gratitude. Their resentment towards me only bolstered my personality, self-awareness. They were implacable, that sparked my motivation.

I’m more grateful for your parents. You went out to explore the world and returned with scarred hands and bruised heart.

I still remember the night that you matured. You came over to seek reconciliation, two years after the mess, with a case of Budweiser and left my apartment with your life changed. I won’t reveal to the public what happened, that’s between us, but you know what?

You broke my heart twice–not once–and drew me closer to God.

That’s why.

You’re far too kind IIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

Summer 2005

We met at a church retreat. You towered over us, puberty-challenged, basketball-loving teens with your six-foot-two frame, and that guaranteed you friends. (That and your personality, of course.)  

Correct me if I’m wrong. You’ve partook in all of my life’s pivotal moments. When I scheduled the NFL Films internship interview, you were there. When NFL.com called to conduct a phone interview, you sat next to me. When VCU Basketball brought me in, we chatted online. When I entered my first serious relationship, you were there to hear me out. I’ve still never been able to win you a Co-Ed FF Championship (next season), but you always believed in my washed-up arm–that it would lead a team full of youngsters to the Promised.

I’ve flirted and danced with retirement more than Brett Favre did. (Remember how much of a vexation that was?) But that didn’t stop you from inviting me to play. As much as I wavered back and forth, not just with football–girls, gambling, and other issues–I am grateful that you were there. I apologize for the times I neglected your caveats, I wish I heeded them all, but hey.

The one thing I will never forget is the time you shared your concerns with me. Normally, you were absorbing my gloom, providing constructive criticism. You opened up to me about your family members. I’ll keep it at that.

Your time is the best gift.

Life of Unluckiest Fantasy Football Owner — Season 2, Episode 1: The Nightmare Continues

Good afternoon all,

Welcome to the Life of the Unluckiest Fantasy Football Owner series. I am your humble, tearful host, Daniel P. Here we will rejoice, cry, exchange advice and (hopefully) win together.

I promised myself that I would draft wisely and cut down on the mistakes I made managing my team last fall.

If I learned anything from 2013, I didn’t. OK, OK, greed is evil.

I am in a Fantasy League with five other Baltimore Beatdown writers and six staff members of The Purple Reign Show. No money is involved (thank God), and the epic battles will be for our souls.(Just kidding.)

I drafted a phenomenal team. Listen to it here.

I selected Eddie Lacy and took his handcuff James Starks late in the draft. I predicted and bet a Chipotle meal against my friend that Robert Griffin III will not compete in all 16 games this season. That explains why I took Kirk Cousins; Captain Kirk has the weapons to flourish if Griffin III goes down.

Tom Brady had to be scooped and runningbacks Toby Gerhart’s (JAC) and Andre Ellington’s (ARI) upside were too glorious for me to see them on someone else’s roster.

Rollouts

I wish God blessed me with the gift of predicting the future. I mean, prophesying is that, kind of, right?Wes Welker is suspended for four games. Boom. Marvin Jones is out for a “few weeks.”

Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion last night in the Packers‘ loss. It’s happening again. Marlon Brown isn’t a surefire start for now, or is he? Andre Ellington, Tom Brady and Sammy Watkins all have either a “P” or a “Q” next to their names as if they need improvement with their “please”s and “thank you”s.

Oh, that’s right, Jordan Reed, my Redskins‘ tight end. Reed is listed as probable for the game against a Texans defense swearing to clown and watt the hell out of Griffin III and Co.

(Swearinger, Clowney, and Watt if that flew over your head.)

Welp, what’s there to say? Yahoo, ESPN, NFL, CBS, XYZ.

Fantasy Football will always be the source of my gloom.

Washington Redskins’ mansion space for improvement

Just like last year, the Washington Redskins are going nowhere this season.

The team on paper is mouth-watering, a piece of rock candy that we swallow whole with our eyes. We build our rosters in Madden like Daniel Snyder and his front office builds his football team. And yet when we try to win in All-Madden mode, we don’t, because the team that we’re trying to manage comes down to this one issue. It revolves around the one thing it shouldn’t: self.

A mansion is awesome to own, but why live in it alone?

Yesterday I watched the Redskins Training Camp live from Richmond, Va., and noticed a few powerful scenarios.

Robert Griffin III’s drop back needs work.

Joe Flacco is working on his footwork this offseason.

Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts will do damage this season. This special unit reminds me of the 2008 Cardinals receiving corps: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston tripod that all surpassed 1,000 yards.

This feat also happened in D.C. in 1989: Art Monk (1,196), Gary Clark (1,229), Ricky Sanders (1,138).

Guys named Mark Rypien and Doug Williams quarterbacked that season.

Kirk Cousins is up there with the the best backup quarterbacks in the league. I’m stamping my prediction that Griffin III doesn’t finish all 16 games this season. Not because I’m a narcissist but because I see Jay Gruden giving Cousins a trial run. Why? Because he deserves a chance.

The Redskins offensive line needs to get lower when they run block. I watched the Patriots defensive line punish them for mistakes.

NFL Analyst Mike Mayock stated that he saw a legitimate starting quarterback in Tom Brady’s backup, Ryan Mallett. He’s a guru so I won’t argue but for the sake of argument, the Redskins secondary is nowhere close to where they should be. If Mallett puts up a 5/6, 39-yard down-field march against the Panthers or Ravens, that’s another story.

The Redskins special teams had Andre Roberts returning a few kicks. Is that safe? Is that smart?

Roy Helu is involved in a lot of their offense’s snaps. It’s not sayanara for Alfred Morris but I would be wamboozled by the head coach if he starts Helu over AM.

Single back formation. Repeat 10 times.

Jordan Reed, Jordan Reed. Blow up or deflate in 2014.

 

Redskins Training Camp Live

Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, Virginia

8:04 AM ET

There’s a calm breeze fighting to cool off the thousands of Patriots and Redskins fans gathered here on this muggy Monday morning.

Anticipations are supreme as excited fans stare at the practice field for the legendary Tom Brady and Washington’s third-year face of the franchise, Robert Griffin III.

Fans heckle and kill the buzz of this cheerful Cowboys fan walking the concourse of humiliation to find his seat. Good luck.

Players are making their way out 12 minutes prior to the official start time for practice (8:35 AMT ET).

Tom Brady spotted.

Both teams are out on the field. Patriot quarterbacks are warming up their arms. Griffin III loafing around. He jogs over to where the Patriots are stretching and shakes Josh Boyce’s hand.

A toddler in Patriots gear next to me is wailing … or cheering for Brady.

Redskins defense donning burgundy jerseys. Offense in white. Quarterbacks in red.

Kai Forbath and rookie Zach Hocker taking turns kicking field goals … from the opposition’s 35-yard line.

Andre Roberts takes the opening kick off to the house; nobody pursues the ball carrier after the whistle blows.

Chris Thompson returns kick offs, fast but again, everyone is going through the motions.

Nick Williams takes a few swings returning.

After special teams workout, both teams disperse and the Patriots defense start with feet drills. They wrap up after they go in and out of the half-round bags. Level of intensity is very high. Redskins are still standing around.

Patriots offense are doing lunges on the far end of the field.

Four minutes later, movement! Redskins defensive backs do lateral and backpedaling drills. #workthosefeet

Linebackers are back and forth using cones and finishing by catching passes. Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Gabe Miller, Adrian Robinson, Everette Brown, and Trent Murphy is a solid linebacking corps in my book. Now they’re doing stack and shed drills.

Darryl Sharpton, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Perry Riley Jr., Akeem Jordan, Jeremy Kimbrough, Adam Hayward and Rob Jackson are on another section of the field, doing backpedaling and ballhawking drills. Foot work+Reaction Time are integral factors in a linebacking corps’ success.

I realize I could be Deangelo Hall. He looks like an overgrown 13-year-old.

Wide receivers are aplenty, 11, enough to create a soccer team.

Aldrick Robinson has a tough pill to swallow.

I really don’t like Griffin III’s drop back.

Receivers run routes both ways. Hitches, slants, comebacks and fades. Comebacks were thrown from the shotgun formation. Fades were thrown by Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins from under center.

Griffin III hits Pierre Garcon along the rail. I’m jealous of that spiral and touch.

DeSean Jackson beats Darrelle Revis on a comeback pattern, aggressive and breaks on the ball.

Kirk Cousins throws the first pick of the day. Tavon Wilson on Lee Doss.

Jordan Reed on an out pattern, great pass+catch.

Two incomplete passes in series from Griffin III.

Revis has Jackson’s number. DJax can’t shake him off.

Garcon owns Brandon Browner on a slant pattern.

Santana Moss gets owned by Devin McCourty.

Some guy from the crowd with the “they’ll keep him as a mentor” proclamation. Never heard that one before. …

A. Robinson fries defensive back No. 27 T. Wilson, courtesy of Kaptain Cousins.

Griffin’s passes are sailing high, #PERTURBED.

Lee Doss beats rookie defensive back Justin Green–great ball placement by Kirk Cousins.

11 on 11 dreills. morris takes first carry for a gain of six.

On the flip side:

Brady heaves a perfect pass to a wide open receiver. Who I can’t really see from here but the lesson to be learned here is that the Redskins may blow their assignment.

Griffin III’s pass attempt to DJax sails right … Excellent coverage by Revis. Redskins offensive line is struggling to create holes for Alfred Morris.

Defensively the Patriots let a few deep balls get by them. Robinson burned the secondary for a score. …

The Pats’ O looked sharp? Or are the Redskins O still rusty?

Special teams unit working on squib kicks and surprise onside kick offs. too necessary. Not.

7-7 drills:

1. DJax vs Revis, Jax short hitch route complete.

2. Moss in the slot runs an inside drag — pass complete.

Kind man says “will you sit down if I give you a chair?

I turn around and there’s at least 40 people standing behind me.

Ted Bolser, Niles Paul both running with the 2s. Led by Kirk Cousins.

RGIII holds ball too long. Completes pass to Garcon on a broken play.

Jordan Reed hauls in a poorly placed ball (behind him).

Learn baby learn…

1st: Morris, Jackson, Griffin III, Reed, Logan Paulsen

2s: Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Reed, Moss

Colt McCoy completes a nice pass to Niles Paul — takes 3 seconds to get the ball out of his hands.

McCoy pumps right, double guesses himself and the pass sails. … much better option than backups Rex Grossman and Pat White though from 2013.

11 on 11:

1st pass too high. Brady’s in, 2nd pass to Julian Edelman on an inside drag route. Huge gain. 3rd pass complete to No. 80 Danny Amendola wide open in the flat. 4th pass complete to Edelman again, gets a nice pop from safety Ryan Clark. Fifth completion same pass complete this time to the left side. 5/6 on the opening drive.

Ryan Mallett … Derrick Johnson (rookie) burns Phillip Thomas on an out pattern. Rookie Justin Jones is wide open on a post route and connects between the safeties. Stevan Ridley blazes past the defense gain of 17.

Brady: Kenbrill Thompkins “beats” defense, wide open near the goal line. Brady floats one up for him but the defensive line stopped pursuit after Brady stepped up into the pocket. #PLAYitTHROUGH

Griffin III to Garcon, batted away by Darrelle Revis.

Roy Helu is in, while is trips left. … shotgun Griffin III, Roberts/DJax on his right. … pass complete to Reed on the weak side.

Redskins offense marches down field. Revis locks up Jackson. Revis locks up Garcon. Staring down Griffin III’s drop backs. … so far so OK.

Pass to Reed on a corner route perfect between Revis. Revis on left side.

Bon Secours Training Center

IMG_1317 IMG_1288 IMG_1289 IMG_1292 IMG_1293 IMG_1294

Where is my journal

You might never read this post.

That’s fine. You asked if I logged journal entries daily. I don’t. I used to.

I write every four days, give or take, something’s bound to happen every Thursday or by Monday.

I asked a friend if her current boyfriend beat around the bush before confessing his true feelings or if he told her right away. She said he conducted the latter and it worked like a charm–they’ve been together longer than you’ve been allowed to purchase cigarettes.

Ah heck, you won’t ever read this post, who am I kidding.

Catch Anthony Ragos on the Tiffin Saints

The man I once watched destroy rainbow rolls will now be smashing home runs for the Tiffin Saints.

Anthony Ragos is in Ohio living the dream, a dream that he’s chased even before I interviewed him in February. Call it relentless pursuit. Call it divine appointment. Ragos set this goal–to make an Independent Baseball League club team–and achieved. With the odds stacked up high against him, Ragos thanks God for His help.

What I respect about the Dumfries native is that he promised to accomplish a feat three months ago and delivered .

“Ball out.”

He tackled the challenge within a year span.

“Make an IBL roster.”

He silenced the naysayers–pools of them–with his loud work ethic, and cut out the distractions with his razor-blade focus. I recall what he said a week before the Super Bowl, “I respect that the doubters don’t know yet.”

Recently, he updated me with news that he’s the second fastest player on the team. I knew what he was insinuating. Guess who holds the school record for stealing bases at Chesapeake Junior College? This guy.

Inspiration is effortless, people. We are not supposed to press somebody or beg them to change. Our actions should relay the message because when hearts are ready, they will naturally follow suit.

Ragos’ success has once again refined my focus, boosted my esteem levels again to pursue what I love doing the most. It’s not about being grateful about what we have and coveting things that we don’t–all in all, we must make the most of what we’ve got.

Time flies, why not hit a home run?

Poetry Portray

It never matters to me what you have on, you can bet that
I love all of your outfits whether you’re in the tank top, sweat pants
Or a button-down, heels with the matching Mets hat,
You’re a Lost Angel, heaven sent you to Cali, ready, set, laugh
(if you want),
by any chance did you catch that?

Updated Dinner Table Etiquette Guide

Sad but true: technology is taking over our dining experience one click at a time.

1. Elbows should NEVER be on the table unless you’re taking pictures of your food
2. Your FRIEND is taking pictures of his/er dish, make sure your shadow doesn’t cast over one’s plate.
3. PLEASE remove your cellular devices off the dinner table when your server is coming to replenish your sodas, wines or waters.
4. This SAVES everyone a trip to their carrier’s store (liquid spillage).
5. Do not take VAIN SELFIES while chewing your steak.
6. Nobody wants to eat to a soundtrack, please leave your iPhone on vibrate.
7. Sit next to your date and stop TEXTING each other.
8. A steak knife in your right hand, and a fork in your left hand, your Galaxy S4 in your lap, please Lord.
9. Your parents raised you and loved you until you started giggling about what Will Ferrell tweeted 4m ago.
10. Your mother and father deserve your undivided attention, no?
11. Remember to clean your oily touch screens with those hand wipes. Lick the Glory sauce off your fingers. Touch phone. Repeat.
12. Nobody’s counting how many characters you use. Speak up and talk like a man. (Or a woman.)

Comment with more below.

Change isn’t bad

With my back against the ropes, my adversary delivers his blows and lands a few solid jabs to my lower stomach and chest.  I look down and there it is, a pair of shears with blades sharp enough to slice the rope and escape. I take my gloves off, grab them and cut my limitations, exiting the confines that I put myself in.

Chai 3.

I keep my composure after she attempts to hold my hand. I tuck my fingers in my pocket and let out an awkward laugh.

“Sorry, I don’t hold hand with strangers, but how’s life?” I shoot the elephant down.

She picks up her pace and walks towards a black pickup truck. She cups her hands around her eyes and peers inside the driver’s side window.

“Andrew Grey, Andrew Grey,” she murmurs, “Andrew Grey.”
“Who’s Andrew Grey?” I ask.

She glares at me, a piercing look as though I am incapable of comprehending her response. We settle down on the edge of a sidewalk.

“Andrew Grey,” she  wades into the conversation, “raped me and the last thing I heard of him was his head being blown off in a black pickup truck.”

I feel so utterly shocked I think my face is burning. I am only 18, what did I know about rape and murder? The only person I’ve counseled and listened to was an irregularly-scheduled and informal meetup with my best friend who cried about her ex-boyfriends. I was unqualified for this chat, and too naive to back out.

God what should I say?!?! I prayed silently in my head while this lady continued to become transparent with a stranger and share her gloom.
Tell her that God loves her.

“Hey, I want to let you know,” I said, “that God loves you.”
“Who’s God?” she retorted. Her breath smelled like a motley crew of dark liquors,  red wines and cheap beers.
“Do you know the Good News?”
“No, what’s that?”

Chai 2.

I arrive at the Kona International Airport. Jason Smedley is waiting in his van for me and two beautiful Norwegian sisters, Camila and Michaela. Smedley chauffeurs us to the campus.

My roommates are from Texas, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada. Great group of guys.

After two weeks of classes, a few of my classmates plan a trip to explore downtown Kona on Saturday night. There is a shaved ice cream parlor that everyone should try once and a sandy spot by a hill to get some volleyball games in. We play a few matches against each other before walking to the nearby convenience store for some drinks.

My indecisiveness makes me the last to purchase, a Coke. When I walk out, that’s when she is standing there. A woman, in a grey tank top, hooded sweater tied around her waist right above her khaki shorts. I begin to walk down the steps but heel after noticing that this stranger is glaring at me. My wimpish tolerance for awkward moments forces me to turn around and head back inside the store.

Immediately I hide, duck between the Ramen and candy aisle. She spots me. I say hello.

“Hi,” she breathes.
“May I help you?” I ask calmly, smiling.
“I want food,” she orders.
“I am on a strict budget,” I say truthfully, “you may have this drink.”

I hand her the Coke, she takes a sip, gives it back and I drink out of the same straw with no hesitation. (Clearly I am not a germaphobe) and this shows her that I am the last person on Earth to judge her.

“Alright well take care,” I whisper, and make a beeline for the door. She sticks like a shadow and follows me out like a trail of M&Ms falling out of my busted Chuck Taylors.

“Who’s that? What happened?” my curious classmates ask.
“I don’t know, I gave her some of my Coke though,” I say with a nervous chuckle.
“She’s still there, man.”

I’ll take care of this. “Never leave beef unsettled” was my M.O.

“Can you give me a ride?” she utters quietly.
“I flew from Virginia, sorry I’m just a student here.” I keep myself honest.
“I need you right now,” the stranger threatens.

OK before I go on, I am a stickler for suspense. I considered myself the male version of Sarah Michelle Gellar in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“Wait a second, I’ll be right back,” I tell her. My classmates are wondering what is going on, why I even bother to loiter around.
“Guys I’ll talk to her for a few minutes, could you accompany me and pray for our conversation?”
“Sure, we’ll have an eye out and keep our distance,” they go.

I approach her again this time and say, “Let’s take a walk, I love walks.”

I do love walks.

To be continued…

fragile: handle with care | a short poem

Who. … in here is not emotionally damaged?
You.
See, blanketed by his anguish,
I’m only trying to speak his language
Hoping that
in nine years I’m someone he can hang with,
Right. Cramped between his older brother and his parents
Outward appearance? Candid
but deep inside his soul’s dirtier than the New York sewers, rancid
Thinking highly of himself we’re waiting to say that he just landed
Trust me I swear that he’s no bandit
Time is now measured by the bandwidths
All the advice that I have handed,
Cats live nine lives and he’s jogging out of chances
Maybe it is my fault, the respect that I demanded
Who in here is not emotionally damaged?

Chai.

I stay up and wonder how she is doing, if she’s alright. No, I do not practice this often but when I do, I try to recount the events that occurred and analyse them. Until I shudder. That is when God tells me to go to sleep, to give my wonderment a rest.

God works in powerful and mysterious ways. In 2006, during my fall semester, my mother revealed to me an opportunity to go and study abroad in Kona, Hawaii. Every season, The University of the Nations located on the Big Island, holds classes for students from various parts of the world. She suggests that I apply.

An eighteen-year-old with a lot of time on his hands I thought, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Come to think, I wasn’t happy with my life. That’s a story for another day. Soon enough, by His grace, I was accepted. The Classic Discipleship Training School, from January to the first week of June.

I was–didn’t know this word until after my DTS experience–stoked.

A handful of my close friends dropped me off at the airport and we exchanged our see-y’all-laters.

To be continued…

Gripping Images on the NY Metro

Thank you, Boredom, for inspiring me to do this.

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Paper in his right hand, pole in his left.

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The watch on his wrist says it all.

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I call that the Wood Instrument Grip.

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Two grips in this scene. The hand in the back looks a little creepy.

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Beautiful elegant fingers of. … my brother’s.

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One’s playing games, the other’s reading.

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Smartphones are taking over the world one tap at a time.

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You can tell by his relaxed knuckles he’s not holding on too tight.

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Two strangers. One pole.

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And the Loosest Grip Award goes to…

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Pink iPhone case. Pink nails. Makes sense.

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How does one read on a shaky, obnoxious metro bus?

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Mr. Tattoo wrist band has huge knucks.

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Dear Light Bulb, please don’t burn his hand…

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Idle hands are the devil’s playground.

A trip to New York is always a good one.

Anthony Ragos: Playing for the love of the game

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Ragos hopes to hit the ultimate home run and score a deal with an independent team soon.

Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl. Yawn.

FOR DUMFRIES NATIVE Anthony Ragos, whichever team wins the upcoming, frigid contest in New York is the last thing on his mind.

Ceaseless updates, too many to count, and compelling features sizing up the Big Game are powerless in their attempts to capture the unapologetic interest of this young man. Whether he’s munching on sushi rolls by himself at the Japanese restaurant I serve at or being inspired by Roberto Clemente’s biography, the recent Davis and Elkins College graduate is following a stricter-than-usual, six-second distance rule from the distractions that could veer his chances from reaching the ultimate destination.

Ragos’ dream, as astronomical as the vision sounds for some, is to sign a deal with an independent minor league baseball squad by the conclusion of the Florida Minor League Training Camp being held from February 1-13 down in St. Petersburg.

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” he smiled, admitting, “Everything I do is geared towards baseball … from eating, lifting, reading. I never had a Plan B.”

Undaunted by the idea of failure, Ragos believes this is the year he’ll sign the dotted line after a series of rejections. It took a while to control his emotions but he now extinguishes the fire-packed questions concerning the disadvantages that come packaged with his 5-foot-6 frame. Doubters kindle his drive. Nothing stirs up his fury more than the demeaning words, “you’re not tall enough.”

So Ragos decided that he’ll shut the world out, and do what he does best. Ball out. He possesses a medley of intangibles no man-made monitoring equipment can detect. Ragos’ competitive nature and undervalued athleticism is something scouts miscalculated for years. His niche — stealing bases — has been lost on potential buyers. Who doesn’t want a player with an impressive, blazing 6.6 second 60-yard dash sprint? That speed put him on the map, ranking 8th in the nation in 2010 with 40 stolen bases. The jets on Ragos’ cleats broke Chesapeake Junior College’s record of 38, registered by Brad Brainer during the 2007 spring season.

“Height shouldn’t be a factor when a player is putting up the numbers that they’re [scouts] looking for,” Ragos told me. “I’m producing, and I want them to notice my work ethic.”

More times than not, work ethic will cover the spread. Desirable traits – willingness to learn, determination to get better, humility – trump statistics. Numbers don’t lie, so after graduating from Davis and Elkins in West Virginia, Ragos beefed up, gaining 15 pounds of pure muscle to get the managers to take notice.

His message is simple, “I respect that the doubters don’t know yet.”

Ragos is grateful after realizing that all his flaws of the past served as stepping stones for his journey. Throughout the adversities, he never lost hope, which is a challenge in itself. He recalls being depressed for a while, after suffering a vicious thumb injury and a herniated disc. He contemplated the decision to enlist into the army, and is glad that he talked himself out of quitting baseball. Ragos has no intentions of throwing in the towel. After failed tryouts with the Royals and the Braves, he’s gained much more confidence from those experiences – invaluable self-assurance that will give him the upper-hand in St. Petersburg.

Ragos also spent some time reconstructing himself off the field as he has in a uniform. He and his friend John Commins started the Hits for Hunger fund raiser at Elkins after being moved by the poignant narrative of Roberto Clemente, a Hall of Fame baseball player who volunteered his love and efforts towards charitable causes in Puerto Rico. Ragos someday hopes to hoist the Roberto Clemente award, given to an MLB player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”

That would be something else for Ragos, whose love for the game goes so far back he can’t recall their first meeting.

“I can still remember it, I don’t know how old I was, I just remember watching a game on TV and telling my parents I want to do that.”

Their response drives him to his day. His mother told him to work hard at it.

With tremendous support from his parents and both his older sisters, Anthony Ragos hopes all his hard work will result in him taking his final swings … as a free agent.

13 Types of Servers Working at Your Favorite Restaurants

I can honestly say that I learned more from my coworkers than my guests.

Here’s why. …

1. The College Graduate
When I was still in high school, I looked up to you. You were here, grinding your tail off, saving up and paying back your school loans (noble and respectable). The Liberal Arts or Psychology degree may have utterly failed you, but hey, look on the bright side.

Wait… You’re how old?

2. Mr/s. Professional
Your work uniform sits in the trunk, dry cleaned and ironed. You speed on over after you get off your 9-5 shift. Extra cash doesn’t hurt, but aren’t you tired?!

3. Mr/s. Smoke-too-much
Smoke: cigarettes, weed. I once worked with a girl who drank wine and smoked for breakfast. She extolled that it helped her stay awake. An excellent server, her communication skills were off the charts (said the bud helped), and yet … she struggled with short-term memory loss. (Of course she was fired.)

4. Mr/s. In the Weeds
Managers must do a better job emphasizing “high volume, fast-paced restaurant” during the interview process. There’s a guy (or gal) that can’t follow the current and it usually affects the entire wait staff. Basically the servers with the sincerest personalities are found in the weeds, because they’re in the back of the house mixing the perfect Shirley Temple that takes an extra 18.42 seconds off the clock. Hint: Guests, bring your own bottle of grenadine and order a Sprite, please (and thank you).

5. Mr/s. Trying to Help the World
If you don’t have tables, I’d understand but homie/honey, your six-top section is full. Either they’re your regulars, or you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Don’t get me wrong – some of these servers are so awesome at what they do, they can’t help it but to assist you. Ask them to refill your empty glasses.

6. Mr/s. Schemer
Beware of these wolves, argh. They feel the vibration in their pants and ask you to watch their section so … they can hide in the bathroom and text their friends. They secretly pay the host/hostess extra cash to ensure themselves 5-6 tops in their sections all night.

7. Mr/s. Can’t Save a Dime
There’s always one. Or two. These servers cash out with $200 at the end of the night and … dump it at the local bar.

8. Mr/s. Textbook
“Good evening, my name is ____, welcome to ____, is this your first time dining here with us?”

“It is? Welcome! Let me tell you a little about our menu…”

These spiels are rehearsed from Day 1. If you haven’t snapped out of Robot Land yet, hurry.

9. Mr/s. Nervous Wreck
Your trembling voice gives it away. It’s OK, they understand it’s your first job. Heck, sometimes that timidness pulls in more tips. Try it (on purpose.)

9. Mr/s. Overconfident
“I don’t need to write anything down because I know that you want your steak cooked medium-rare, no mashed potatoes, sub-carrots, extra dressing, no ranch, sub-French, cheese on the side, sub-Parm, and the soup with your meal.”

Then you get to the computer and you’re like … Did he want the asparagus?!?!?!?!

10. Mr/s. Hilarious
“Rebuttals” is the name of the game, and if this type of server can make you laugh, appreciate it all the more. They could care less about their tip percentages; they just want to make sure you have a fun night.

11. Mr/s. One More Round?
We’re trained to “read our tables.” Some do it better than others. Watch out for these lame-os, and make sure they’re not getting carried away with that pesky, “one more beer sir/glass of wine ma’am?”

12. Mr/s. Complain All Day
This is the most annoying type of server. S/he is sobbing or throwing a pity party — cursing the “Restaurant gods” for the lousy tip Table 8 left behind.
“Why dine in at a place their budgets can barely afford?!” s/he asks, crying. There’s no law to tipping.

13. Mr/s. Awesome
After dropping off the check, these amazing butte balls let their guests know hey, it was my pleasure serving you — and if you enjoyed me bringing your food and drinks, feel free and request me the next time you dine in.

They’ll most likely request you again. And that… is how you build regulars.

Comment below with your best experiences!