Wednesday, December 10, 2008


My time here in Tunisia has now come to an end. I am leaving in 5 days, moving out of my house in 3 and arriving back in America in 6. Talking with people, I have been getting the same question over and over: How do you feel about coming back?

For anyone that has lived overseas, they know that this question is pretty hard to answer. It's not like being asked how you feel about graduating from college or starting a new job. Moving back to America means a complete shift. When you've lived overseas in a culture that is vastly different than America there are so many changes that one goes through that it's quite hard to put it to words. And most do not even hit culture shock until at least a month after they have returned. The best I can say is that I have mixed feelings. I'll miss things, but I'm also looking forward to being back.

Here are a few feelings I've had in the last couple weeks:

-Relief: I'm ready to go home. I'm ready to see family and friends and to eat some In N Out.

-Guilt: I feel guilty leaving all my new friends and the gallery. But I felt the same when I left the States this last January. It's just the reality of living all around the world.

-Excitement: I'm really looking forward to starting my new job and living in San Francisco.

-Stress: I'm stressed with moving, being in LA for just 3 weeks and with having to deal with the whole shift back to American life and money and consumerism and not getting to speak French ever and the list goes on.

-Fear: What if I get back and realize I was supposed to be back in Tunisia? What if I hate my new job? What if I hate SF? What if I never get to use the French I've learned again?

-Lethargy: I haven't been in the mood to do any work or do anything really but read and watch movies.

Well, I'll see some of you very shortly.


Reading: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Watching: Titanic, Baby Mama, and Reservation Road; also "Jizz in my Pants" SNL Digital Short
Listening: Nada Surf, Thrice, Bon Iver, Third Eye Blind

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm moving to San Francisco

I don't know if anyone reads my blog who doesn't also see my facebook status updates but for those that are unaware, I will be moving to San Francisco this coming January upon my return from North Africa.

I will be working for my uncle and his partner at their antique/fine art gallery. My official position is known as "gallery manager," but I will be shadowing them in all parts of the business. I will manage the galleries, the website, learn about all aspects of antiques and fine art, go to antique fairs, and do whatever else they would like me to.

I'm excited. I'll be living in the city. I'll be going to Giants games. I'll be living the dream and saving money to hopefully attend graduate school in the near future.

Check out the website:

That's all.


Listening to: Dustin Kensrue - This Good Night is Still Everywhere
Watching: How I Met Your Mother - All Seasons
Reading: The Lovely Bones and The Irresistible Revolution

Friday, November 7, 2008

5 Reasons I voted for Obama

Top 5 Reasons I Voted for Obama

5. After reading his book, "The Audacity of Hope," I truly understand what Obama means by change. He didn't do a great job of explaining what exactly he meant when he always talked about "change" in his campaign, but in his book I got a better sense of where he comes from with his political agenda.

4. Voting for Obama was a vote for the healing of some of the deep and scarring race issues present within America. It wasn't good enough that he is African-American, but it happened that he also has a clear vision for the future of America and the reshaping of American politics. He will not just be an African-American president, but he will be a GOOD American president who also happens to be African-American.

3. His policies, of course. His ideas about energy, the environment, education, help for the middle and working classes and also his plans for healthcare are what America needs. They aren't perfect, but it's better than the Republican's plan. Again, many of these ideas were not as well presented in the campaign as they were in his book. Such is American politics, right?

2. America's standing in the world. I knew that electing Obama would heal many wounds with other countries but I had no idea how extensively the world would celebrate the election of Obama. I feel the gained respect when I walk around here in Tunisia just from the election. Quite amazing.

1. Sarah Palin was on the other ticket. McCain wasn't the problem except his support of big business, drilling for oil, and his unwillingness to budge on Iraq. It was his choice of VP and the fact that he could quite easily have a heart attack and fall over dead. And guess who takes over? You get the picture.


P.S. To anyone who brings up the abortion issue (The first thing Christians always point out to me like somehow I haven't read up on his voting record) and voting for Obama, you can message me and I can give a detailed explanation of my views on the issue and what we can do to lessen the number of abortions in the country. In short: The end of abortion will not come because Roe v. Wade is overturned through the election of a Republican "pro-life" candidate who appoints conservative Supreme Court Judges, but we need to work at first lessening the number of abortions by supporting the women who have unwanted pregnancies in the first place and giving them options other than aborting their baby (instead of always playing the "moral" card on them), which is not being done to the level it is needed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Critiquing America = UnAmerican...What the??

There has been a lot of talk lately about being a true American. Most of this has been in relation to the presidential election and the ongoing argument between the candidates of who is more "American." Let's get to the point: If you have an American passport, you are an American. You can't be more "American" no matter what you do. You can do more for your country and your neighbors than another citizen, but that doesn't make you any more "American." If anything, that just makes you a more giving and sacrificial person.

My second thought about "Americanism" concerns the accusations of people being unAmerican. Since when did critiquing America make you unAmerican? (In the same way, since when did critiquing the war in Iraq or even being against it mean you don't "support the troops?") Again, let's get to the point: America is not the "shining city on a hill" as Palin so horrendously described the country as. (This isn't even taking into account the Biblical/Christian parallel she is attempting to create with America, which is incredibly dangerous for the church.)

America's history, both centuries old and contemporary, is full of many unAmerican instances. (Slaves, stealing of entire nation from native americans, torture, espionage debacles, etc.) We are still a country trying to deal with race, our empirical/imperialistic tendencies, the wealth gap, consumerism, intolerance, and simple ignorance just to name a few. We have done many things well (Marshall Plan, The New Deal, protecting Kuwait in the early 90s, pushing for democracy, etc.). There is no doubt that the American ideal has some good and even great areas. But let's not just pat ourselves on the back, blow our American egos up and not care anymore. Let's take some time to examine ourselves and our actions and aim to improve as a nation because that is what we truly need right now. Obama (the likely winner) nor McCain are going to truly change the country without taking a long look at the country itself and its actions and critiquing the good and the ugly that we are as a nation.

But what does this look like?

I don't know. And I think most of our leaders don't know either but here are some things to start with:

-We need a re-imagining of the "American Dream" away from a dream of economic and material status. America = $. How sad is that? America should be a place where you have a greater sense of freedom and equality, where your neighbors will pick you up when you fall, where you can truly build something that you can call your own and learn to live sacrificially, just and tolerant. It shouldn't be about buying that house and new car and living comfortably (not that those things are evil or something).

-We need to look at our imperialistic tendencies with how we deal with the rest of the world. We have our hands in too many cookie jars. This includes reflecting on the answer to this question: Why were we attacked on 9/11? Our influence has not always been for the better.

-We need to look at the consumerism that has saturated the mindset of our society and the "Me Me Me" mentality.

-Race. This is still a painful area for the country because there are still many, many deep scars and embarrassing stereotypes, and the big issue of immigration is upon us as well. I don't know how we address this issue but it needs addressing.

-America is not the moral leader of the world. In fact, far from it. We need to take the plank out of our own eyes before we can do the same for others. Setting a standard against torture would be a start.

-Education needs to be revamped, made more challenging and we need to work on a solution to solve the issues within failing schools and districts. This will make America more appealing to the rest of the world and also make it competitive for the next wave of new technology.

-If America wants to consider itself a leader in the world, it needs to lead in environmental standards and renewable, clean energy production. This will require a great deal of sacrifice but has the possibility of creating a huge number of jobs and making the economy boom like never before.

That's all I've got for now.

Go ahead. Be "unAmerican" and critique away.


Reading List: The Meaning of Jesus - Two Visions by Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright (Currently reading this), Democracy Matters by Cornel West, and Introduction to Marx

Listening to: Dear Science - TV on the Radio, For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver, Only by the Night - Kings of Leon, Funeral and Neon Bible - Arcade Fire, Cease to Begin - Band of Horses and Appeal to Reason - Rise Against

Watching: Dexter, Entourage, The Office, Grey's Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, Chuck - all current seasons. And I'm catching up on 30 Rock and going to start Battlestar Galactica soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2 Months from Today...

...I come home from Tunisia. Well, actually I leave Tunisia and then have to spend the night in London but the point is I leave in 2 months. It's kind of strange thinking that my time here is almost up but I guess that's to be expected. But now I move back home where I don't know what I'll be doing but will hopefully somehow become gainfully employed.



Reading list:  Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Children of the Mind
Watching:  The Office, Chuck, Grey's Anatomy, Entourage, Dexter and Damages
Listening:  Kings of Leon - Only by the Night and Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Monday, September 22, 2008

America and the Pakistan Problem

All I can say is what the hell America? Do you want to start a war with a country that has nuclear weapons?  Yes, they have terrorists in their country but you don't fight terrorists by breaking the sovereignty of another nation just because they have not been particularly cooperative with America's (not the world's) mission. The country is on the verge of civil war. That means things could be a bit tricky to negotiate with them right now, you know? Oh and haven't you learned your lesson yet about not starting civil wars in countries?

Can we please use some common sense? Quit unilaterally trying to rid the world of terrorists. You're only creating more problems. How do you fight an enemy that has no nation? Tell me that!!

Unfortunately, America forgets the wise words of Jesus:  "Put your sword back in its place...for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."


Reading:  "Xenocide" by Orson Scott Card and just finished "Myth of a Christian Nation" by Dr. Gregory Boyd
Listening to:  "Lost in the Sound of Seperation" - underOath, Russell Brand Podcasts, SoulSurvivor USA
Watching:  Chuck, Entourage, The Dark Knight

Friday, September 19, 2008

Favorite Time of Year

Starting about October and lasting until January, my favorite time of the year is officially here. It's not Christmas, it's not Thanksgiving.

It's prestige movie season!!!

I love this time of year because for the most part the quality of movies is astounding. The films offer something for the mind to chew on instead of the simple entertainment of the summer films. Generally, more than 70% of my favorite movies of any given year come out around this time of year. I will admit that I probably sink too much money into going to the movies but I love it. But here's a list of some of the movies I'm looking forward to seeing:

-Revolutionary Road
-Quantum of Solace
-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
-Crossing Over
-Yes Man
-Seven Pounds
-The Day the Earth Stood Still
-The Brother's Bloom
-Body of Lies
-The Changeling

That's all I can think of right now. I'm sure there are others.


P.S. I think The Dark Knight is probably going to end up being my favorite movie of the year. It's pretty amazing even if it's not necessarily the most "fun" movie.