Following God is hard. Did you hear me? It's hard. I'd say that, oh 34 times an hour or so, I feel like doing the wrong thing. The easy way out. The unethical thing. Cheating a customer on a product. Lying. Stealing. All of it. Granted, even if I wasn't a Christian, I probably wouldn't do these things. But the fact that I call myself a Christian, means that I strive every day and with every action, thought and word (I said TRY, ok people?) to emulate Jesus Christ. It's hard. But it's also freeing. I feel free from a LOT of the things the world tells people. Free from worries. Stress. Frustration. With MOST things.
The ONE thing I AM stressing about and frustrated with is my financial situation. Long complicated story short, (with a LOT of bitching and moaning involved) it sucks. I think some people think that once you become a Christian that God pours down an unlimited amount of blessings and prosperity, all for signing up. But that's not the case. In fact, most times when someone becomes a believer, things actually get harder. There are spiritual reasons for this that for the sake of time, I'll just say that SOMEONE gets very scared and upset when he finds out someone becomes a believer. In fact, this SOMEONE (rhymes with SATAN) does all he can to deter you from continuing down the road that you've decided to walk on. If you don't believe in any of this, you should. Because Satan believes in you.
Anyway, back to the ambiguous nature of this post. What I'm getting at, is that just because you know me as a Christian, doesn't mean I'm perfect, or that life is always grand. I have the same issues as everyone else. But thankfully I have the Lord to fall back on. I can give him my problems, hurts, hangups and everything else, and he's always there. He never turns his back, and he always answers. Even if it takes him FOREVER to answer, as it has for my finances.
Umm, I'm not really sure if this is making any sense whatsoever to anyone but me right now, but I needed to write about it. For me.
This was going to be a reply to a comment left about this post, but after I wrote it, I decided to add it to the post itself:
Believe it or not, I'm not a huge fan of organized religion either. People do horrible things in the name of "organized religion". People crash planes into buildings in the name of organized religion. People sit around and pray to Jesus and wait for their daughters diabetes to heal while refusing to take her to the doctors, resulting in her death, in the name of organized religion.
And I disagree that you don't believe in my idea of who God is. There is only one God. People have distorted his name. People. But the God I believe in is the God of the Bible. The God of love. The God of hope. The God of second, third and 15 millionth chances. Jesus Christ is God's son. It's a historical fact that Jesus Christ died, and rose from the dead 3 days later. That is my God. And I think that's the God you believe in and have been brought up to know. I don't believe in the God that people have made him out to be. People who call themselves Christians and picket in front of concerts damming everyone to hell. The Jesus I know wouldn't do that.
Religion is a personal experience. Very deeply personal. What's right for me, and what God has put on my heart, is not going to be the same for you. So who am I, or is anyone for that matter to call you out and say "You shouldn't be doing that."
If you truly have a personal relationship with Jesus (God) then the Holy Spirit will guide your heart, mind, and judgment. You don't and won't have to answer to anyone. Being a Christian isn't about following a bunch of rules and putting on a happy face. Being a Christian is a journey. A marathon. A daily devotion to the man that endured the worst kind of torture, and died humiliated on a cross. For you. For me. And whether you choose to believe this or not, doesn't matter because one day you will be held accountable for the choices you made on Earth. And the biggest thing you'll be given is the right to go to heaven or hell.
There is only one way to get to heaven. And that is to accept that Jesus Christ is God's son, believe that he died on the cross for your sins, and commit your life to him. You don't have to quit smoking, you don't have to volunteer at the homeless shelter. All you have to do is admit, believe, and commit. ABC. The other end of the stick is eternity in hell. And people often ask me, well if God loves everyone so much, why would he send me to hell for not believing in him? The answer is that God DOESN'T send you to hell. If you choose to live your life on Earth apart from him, then that's exactly what he rewards you with in the afterlife. Eternity without him. In a place unimaginable.
That alone is reason enough to at LEAST research and look into this thing called "Christianity" and a man named Jesus.
And let me say this, unrelated to my reply comment or the comment itself. If you do call yourself a Christian, and do believe in God, but continue to act in a manner that goes against everything Jesus stood for, and the Bible teaches, then now is as good a time as any to get yourself back on track with God. Jesus said that you can either love him or hate him, but if you're lukewarm he will spit you out. Speaking from experience, the toughest times in my life were the times that I turned my back on God and thought I could "handle things myself". I've lost jobs, hurt people, and delayed good things in my life because I thought I knew better than God did. Well guess what. I didn't. If you think you know better than the creator of the Universe where you should take your life, then you must be God himself. Seriously, what do you have to lose by getting back in a relationship with God? Everything on this Earth is temporary. None of it matters when you die anyway, so why do you care what people think about you or things of that nature. All you have to do is let God know you're ready to get things going again, and he'll do the rest.
LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.
The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
I had to go back to work tonight at 7pm after I got to leave early for Good Friday. I had to make a DVD for a customer, and with the amount of information on the DVD, it took almost 4 hours to render and burn it. I started it at 11am, so it would be done by 3pm, which was when I was allowed to leave early for the day. As my current luck would have it, the computer rendering and burning the DVD crashed at like 2:30 with only a half hour left to go on the whole process. Short story short, I called the customer and said "Sorry for the inconvenience, but can you come by tonight around 7? The computer crashed and I have to start the whole process over again." He agreed.
Fast forward to 7pm. Edgar (the customer) comes back to get his "Horse Ranch DVD". But unfortunately, it still had about 45 minutes to go before it was done. Quick backstory on Edgar, he owns a horse ranch here in Lincoln. He breeds horses for a living. The end.
So for 45 minutes, in his Swedish accent, he told me all about horse breeding. You should thank me for sparing you the details. Anyway, during the last part of our conversation, this is what transpired:
Edgar: Yeah you have to be kind of an odd duck in order to live, breed, sell and raise horses your whole life. I understand that. I get it. I realize people probably think I'm a little weird.
Me: Naaaaah. You're normal. I had a lady who owned a horse, come in a couple weeks ago to burn a similar DVD of her horse. She was really pretty, but really really chubby, I mean really chubby, and wore really weird clothes both times she came in. The only thing she talked about the whole time she was here was her horse. Now SHE was an odd duck.
Edgar: Yeah. That's my daughter. Sarah. She's the one who told me to use this place to make my DVD.
True story. He was totally cool about it, and even agreed with me that his daughter was really really chubby. He seemed annoyed with her. I finished it up with "I did say she was really pretty though Edgar."
I'm bored, so I'm just going to post some random things about me.
Most fun I've ever had: Probably Star Wars Celebration II with my sister, wife and best friend.
Least amount of fun I've ever had: 3 day stay in the hospital when I was 20 for stomach cramps. Finally on the third day, this old, crabby doctor came into my room and said "What's a matter with you?" I said, "I don't know." He stuck his two fingers up my butt, I farted really loud and long, and immediately felt better. I was released two hours later.
Favorite Movie without Star Wars in the title: Rushmore. But I'm not thrilled with that answer, even though I'm the one making up the questions and answers.
Favorite thing about Kayla: Her voice and when she randomly wants a kiss or a hug.
Favorite thing about Brielle: Her soft skin and her smile.
Favorite thing about Nicki: Her heart and her beauty.
Most annoying thing in the world right now: That "I need you boo" song. And ANY song that has voice synthesization going on. Think "Only God Knows Why"by Kid Rock, and ANY song by Maroon 5.
Profession I'd least like to do that's a fairly common career: Salesman.
Thing that I just cannot seem to get on top of: Your mom, and keeping our house clean.
Things I'd like to accomplish fairly soon: Getting my black belt, learning Spanish and reading all the way through the Bible.
Websites I visit daily, sometimes hourly: digg.com, espn.com, cnn.com
Times I feel it's necessary to update my blog per week: 3
People I've murdered in the continental United States: 6
Things I can't understand no matter how hard I try: Horses, and the love of. Letting money rule your life. Pursuing a career that you have no interest in, just to make good money. Refusing to eat junk food and drink soda once in a while. Fathers' who leave their kids and family. Thrash Metal. Wanting to camp. Eating sushi.
Things about me that others probably make fun of when I'm not around and sometimes when I'm standing in front of them: My love of Star Wars. My ears. My wardrobe. Why I refuse to work somewhere or in a career that I have no desire for, just to make good money. My love for Little Smokie burritos. The Ford Taurus I own. My religious beliefs.
Minutes I am from leaving work: 11
Names of my siblings(that I know of): Steve, Danny, Amy, Cydney.
How many stocks I own: 0
How many video games I own: Over 1000.
How many hours I've played video games since January: 2
Times I make myself laugh during the day: At least 5.
Worst attribute: Tie between my sense of direction and not being mechanically inclined.
It's like Street Fighter 2, but with Bible Characters. You can play it for free. Problem is, I'm not sure whether or not I think it's funny and ok, or if I just bought myself a one way ticket to hell for playing it.
I got me a "Dear California Driver" letter from the DMV!!!
Last year, in May and December, I got a speeding ticket. Both were for going 10 miles per hour over the speeding limit. K? It's not like I was going down interstate 580 at 120 mph like SOME PEOPLE I KNOW. I paid both my fines and life went on. Until today. IN ALL CAPS, this letter is written. But I'll spare you the annoyance. DEAR CALIFORNIA DRIVER:
Drivers with crashes and traffic convictions on their records are at a greater risk of those causing future crashes.
Please notice that because of my horrible driving record, that the DMV is accusing me of causing future crashES. Plural. Keep in mind I've never been in ONE crash. I'm preparing my defamation of character suit as I type this.
Your recent record of bad driving places you at increased risk of causing crashes, injury and death. We do not want you to suffer consequences and want to help you avoid them.
Great. Then give me the money back that I paid for the tickets, and I'll buy myself a radar. And did you notice that they said I'm going to die?
We understand that you may believe you are a good driver, and yet your driving record is much worse than the average California driver.
Well, my name is eerily similar to Ricky Bobby. Get off my back. And really, two speeding tickets over for 10mph over the speed limit is actually worse than the average California driver? REALLY? Have you been to Los Angeles?
While you may be a good and safe driver most of the time, your record reflects at least momentary lapses in driving judgment. At highway speeds, a moment of carelessness can become a tragedy. Good, caring people who make careless decisions while driving can cause injury or death. In our effort to urge you to drive safer, we are offering you a choice. You can choose to prevent further action from DMV by avoiding additional traffic convictions and by not causing any crashes.
Wait. What's my choice? I was expecting something like "There are two cases left. One of them has $500,000 and the other one has $25. Do you want to trade cases?" And now that I'm thinking about it, Out of 365 days in a year, I got dinged twice. That's 0.54 percent of the year. I could see the validity of this letter if I got a hundred speeding tickets, but not two. Cob on.
However, if you choose to continue your unsafe driving, the penalties will increase and eventually lead to probation, suspension or revocation of your driving privilege. We believe you are capable of making a change to become a safer driver, but it is up to you to do so.
They don't even know me. So how can the believe I'm capable of making a change to become a better driver? For all they know, I could be part of some underground anarchist driving ring, who is hell-bent on taking over the world one speeding ticket at a time.
If you do not want to change, your driving will continue to present a risk to yourself and other road users. If you want to change and become a safer, more responsible driver, you can. We hope that you will decide to change, but the choice is yours.
This last paragraph sounds like Yoda wrote it. Look at all of the reverse english. Ending sentences with "you can", and saying things like "the choice is yours". Actually, it sounds like the mid-point of a hero movie. "Ricky, you can defeat Godzilla. If you want to. The choice is yours. By the way, you have some alfredo sauce on your chin." That's all. If you've read the entire post up to this point, I'm proud of you. Go to Cold Stone and tell them that Ricky Borba said to give you a free sample of ANY ice cream they have.
You'll notice that in the little white and blue "radio blog" box on the left has quite a few new songs. Some old, some new. But as of right now, the songs in there are what you could call the soundtrack to my life in various stages. When I was younger, I listened to a lot of hardcore rap. When I got older, it was more dance and trance, and now that I'm older than your grandma, I'm listening to more alternative rock and experimental. Anyway, all you have to do is click on one of the songs, and it will start playing. Go ahead and give it a try. You'll be glad you did.
And here's a short list of current things that are getting on my nerves:
1. People who drive with their tops down at 8 in the morning. I know it's Sacramento and I know it's hot here, but not in March and not at 8 in the morning. LOCK IT UP.
By the way, my grandfather turns 80 today. Which, if I did my math right, means he was 50 when I was born. Which again, if I did my math right, that means that Kayla or Brielle will be making me a proud grandfather in exactly 20 years. Ya. Right. About the only thing I want Kayla and Brielle making me in 20 years is a lot of money. Because at the rate my job is going, I'm going to need to start pimping them out. Yeah, I just said I'm going to start pimping my 22 month-old and 5 month-old out. Maybe they could find a mayor of a major US city and get paid $4000 for "deep and thoughtful conversation".
Hi. I'm Ricky Borba. I'll be your storyteller for the next few minutes. So sit back, relax, grab yourself a nice warm glass of milk, snuggle up tight with the kiddies. I left Lincoln on Friday morning to fly out of Oakland. Yeah. Not exactly fun times. What WAS fun, was the crazy woman on BART that I met IMMEDIATELY upon my entrance to the train. I was in the Pleasanton station, and as soon as I walked on BART, this woman in her 50's, wearing a pink jumpsuit looked up at me before my first step on the train even completed, and said "Is this train going to the airport?" I said "Yes." She said "Does it go to San Francisco airport?" Again, I said "Yes." Then she said "Does it go to Oakland airport?" I said "Yeah, it goes to both." She then said "I'm flying out of San Francisco. Which airport are you flying out of?" I replied, "Oh, I'm flying out of Oakland." (Crisis averted, right? WRONG.) She says "Oh, I think I'll go to Oakland airport and fly out with you then." Long story short, she ends up telling me "The feds dropped me off in Pleasanton, and I'm flying to LAX. I just got out. It's been a long time." I was like "........" And in conclusion, she DID get off BART in Oakland. And went to the airport with me. I don't know if her flight was from Oakland or SFO, but she definitely had a boarding pass for somewhere.
I arrived in Phoenix, and Steve Masters (of Gottgame.com) and I drove to Scottsdale. Steve emceed the Home Run derby, which had about 50 players from every team that has spring training in Arizona. I interviewed all the players, and filmed the event. And now I have for you the most awkward conversation I had all evening. It was with National League Champion, and Colorado Rockie, Todd Helton, who as you can see below, looks exactly like Josh Brolin of "No Country For Old Men".
Me: Hey Todd. Nice to meet you. Since "No Country For Old Men" came out and won the Oscar last week for best picture, EVERYONE has got to be telling you that you look just like the lead actor, Josh Brolin.
Todd Helton: Who?
Me: Uhhh, you know, the main character in "No Country For Old Men". It just won Best Picture, Tommy Lee Jones???
Todd Helton: No Corn Trees for Oldman? (I swear on my mothers grave he said that)
Me: He's just this actor that looks a lot like you. Especially in that movie. Try and remember this conversation when you finally see "No Country For Old Men".
Todd was a good sport about it, and eventually did a really funny interview with me that you'll all see tomorrow. Some other highlights of the MLB 2K8 Home Run Derby were:
1. Getting to sit at the same table as Bobby Crosby, Jason Kendall, Huston Street, Jack Cust, and Chad Gaudin during the dinner and auction that followed the Home Run Derby.
2. Getting to witness first hand some rookie hazing by some members of Kansas City Royals.
3. Having the room cleaning guy open my door halfway while I was lying naked in bed with my ass sticking halfway out, talking to Nicki. I SWEAR these people are trained to ONLY look for the "Do Not Disturb" sign. Nevermind that I shouted 3 times at the top of my lungs "I DON'T NEED MY ROOM CLEANED RIGHT NOW THANK YOU."
4. Having my first steak from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. A butterflied cut Filet Mignon. It was the best steak I've ever had. And I didn't even have to pay for it.
Nicki and I had our second date in as many nights last night. We went back to the same comedy club we were at the night before, but last night we saw Dat Phan. For those of you who don't know who Dat Phan is, shame on. Check out his website here. He won the first season of Last Comic Standing, and since then has been in a few films and stuffed in my closet with a red ball in his mouth. Nicki and I pull him out on "special nights".
Dat was really funny. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't really that lively last night. The club was half full, it was a Wednesday night, and there was a lady that kept talking really loud when she was ordering her drinks and when she wasn't ordering her drinks. Dat rolled with it, and in his Vietnamese accent said "Dis is not TV, I can hear you"! As if being at a small club in Sacramento on a Wednesday night wasn't bad enough, the fact that you have drunk gal interrupting your set every 10 minutes probably made Dat want to chuck the mic at her forhead.
After the set, Dat was outside the club shaking hands and selling various items. He was in Cellular, so he was selling the DVD of that. He was selling his comedy CD, which we bought and had autographed, and since he is Vietnamese, he was also selling clothes, furniture and toys with too much lead in them. Now he's my mypsace buddy, and we've emailed a few times back and forth. We're basically like family now. More than family. Best friends. Forever.
The wife and I went and saw Dana Carvey last night...
Since the end of January, I'd had last night planned. Part of my actual day job is looking for events in the Sacramento area, and low and behold at the end of January, I saw that Dana Carvey was going to be at the Punchline in Sacramento on March 3rd and 4th. So I called my mom way back in January and asked if she could take the girls to her house for a few days in the beginning of March. Fast forward to Sunday night, my mom and I met halfway in Elk Grove and did the kid swap.
I'd kept last night (well, that we were going to a comedy club to see Dana Carvey) a secret from Nicki the whole time. All she knew was that I was taking her on a date. Trouble was, I didn't have the Robert DeNiro, Johnny Cash or Eddie Money to buy the tickets when I first saw them listed, and by the time I got paid and was able to buy the tickets, Dana had been sold out. I called the punchline a few times and asked them what I could do, and they said that they usually have about 10 extra tickets from people canceling or not showing up, and that I would have to wait in the "stand by" line the night of the event. The show started at 8pm, and just to be sure I was first in the stand by line, I arrived at 5:15. It was agonizing seeing the official line get deeper and deeper, and by the time they opened the doors at 7pm, I swore that the entire population of Sacramento had gone through the doors.
I was getting pretty discouraged, then around 7:15 the "I guess I'll be a bouncer because I'm a huge out of shape" guy let Nicki and I in to buy our ticket. The house was packed. I wasn't amused, especially since I'd been there well before any of those people arrived. But I was prepared to sit in the back, and just be happy we got in. Sure enough, the host took us to the far back corner. But right before we sat down, the club owner said "No no no Ryan, fill em in." So Ryan turned around and took Nicki and I to the 2nd row, dead center. Unbelievable. I was going to be sitting less than 10 feet away from Garth.
The first comic came up for about 20 minutes. He was funny, but I'm glad his set was only 20 minutes. I felt like he was the guy that the club calls at the last minute if the real opening act gets a case of the "fuck-it's". (Dana Carvey spent about 10 minutes talking about the "fuck-it's. Hilarious.) And as it turned out, I was right. The actual opening act did flake. Anyway, back to the opening act, when he came on he said "I'm sorry you have to endure me for 20 minutes before Dana Carvey gets on". Nicki's face lit up. She got really giddy because Dana Carvey is one of her favorite SNL cast-members. I earned like 30,000 points at that moment.
Dana came on, and for more than an hour, made us laugh so hard that our faces are sore this morning. He spent the first 20 minutes talking about politics, doing his impressions of Barack, Hillary, and John McCain. And although I don't follow politics, it didn't matter. It was hilarious. And surreal. Sitting 10 feet away from someone you watched on SNL and in movies your whole life, was really cool. He did Garth, Hans, Arnold Schwarzenegger, grumpy old man, various political people, and The Church Lady. (There was a drunk woman who would NOT shut up at one point, so Dana slipped into the church lady and called her a "Tuesday Night Whore".) At the end of his set, he took a few questions from the audience. He picked me, and I asked him how grueling the schedule for Saturday Night Live was during the week when they had to write sketches and stuff. He said it was madness, and then did a really funny impression of Lorne Michaels. I think Dana and I are best friends now. He really seemed to appreciate my question.
So now we're going back to the Punchline tonight to see Dat Phan. If you don't know who that is, shame on you.
Why they're not allowed to have cats. While the list is extensive, here are a few of the highlights:
1. It's a scientific fact that cats steal your breath while you sleep. 2. They suck. 3. What good are they for anyway? 4. The only people who love cats are crazy people who eat crayons. 5. If you get scratched by a cat, you're pretty mucha gone-er. Say hello to a stay at the hospital. Have fun with that. 6. Cat urine is impossible to clean. So if your new wife's cat urinates on your honeymoon suitcase (the day of your wedding) full of all of the brand new clothes you bought and were going to wear on said honeymoon, do what I did. Call your brother while honeymooning and ask him to have the cat put to sleep. YOU PISS ON MY CLOTHES, YOU TAKE A PERMANENT NAP.
And perhaps the most damming reason Kayla and Brielle will never own a cat is THIS VIDEO. Creepiest thing I've ever seen.