This blog has now reached it's end. The American Adventure has finished. Will there be a sequel in the near future? One will never know, but for now let's let the credits roll...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chapter 1- Here we go again.

This is it. The very last stint. It's incredible to know that I've gone 5 quarters now - 5 sets of 3 month stints. Yes, that much time has gone by ladies and gentlemen.

And now it's time to do it all over again for the final stint.

15 months I've lived in Hollywood. 15 months I've lived in the middle of pure unadulterated madness. And so far it seems I've kept my sanity.

Bullet point thoughts ready to fire cap'n!

- My hands and feet are in constant wear and tear from all the practicing. Let's put it this way, this will be like a stint of powerful extreme workouts to achieve a level where I can sit back and cruise on my own skill level.
- Speaking of skill level, as some of you have heard from my emails that it's hard to guesstimate your own skill level amidst all the classes and stuff. But looking back at where I started, I can say what a vast difference it has really made.
- The vending machine is my friend. I would not have survived last quarter without it, what with two days in a week going straight through from morning till evening with no lunch break. And it looks like my trusty friend will be needed to help me through the rest of this quarter too.
- I am a jazz musician. Nothing can stop that. But I play the crap out of anything else too. Which makes me leaps ahead of the others. Though there may be some things others do better than I, I take rest in knowing that my jazz skills are well developed.
- I look forward to graduating in 3 months. We'll see what the world has in store for the plucky Malaysian drummer who remains unknown to the world. For now.
- I'll admit. I do truly miss malaysian food. Sri Melaka trips with my family... oh the Nyonya fantastibulousness. And also durians. How I miss durians. No cuisine is better than Malaysian hands down. Too much diversity. Can't compare.
- If there is one place in the church that I know I belong it's behind the drums. Sure I do all sorts of other things too and I'm pretty capable of handling them, but there is no greater joy in my heart than playing my soul out on those drums for Heavenly Daddy to hear. No greater joy. It's taken more than a year of not playing to come to terms with that fact again. I do belong in the church playing drums. Nothing will ever stop me from doing so, wherever I may be.
- Due to my personality and my laziness, I've stayed away from temptations to splurge on certain things. I spend my money where it's most needed. Although the occasional vending machine treat is necessary for those late nights when I forget to pack my sandwich, I have stayed well away from pies, oversized pancake batter which could last me a decade, cakes, donuts, drinks other than water, posh seafood like shrimp and salmon, steaks etc. While all these may be tempting, my typical thought to self goes 'Eh.. maybe not.'
- There is NOTHING that cannot be done on the drums. NOTHING.
- My attempt to buff up at the gym has not worked. After almost a year of constant workouts (increased to 3 times a week lately) I am still as skinny as ever. The concept of lifting weights and eating proteins to build muscle does not seem to apply to my body. Maybe I should be studied by scientists. I can gain no fat nor muscle. I wonder what my weight consists of then - grey matter?
- I've cracked 3 cymbals, broken dozens of sticks, almost broken my pedal and created two distinct ripped patches on my jeans at the knees.
- I've bought 2 white hats. I haven't bought any other clothes. I want to buy a pair of orange sneakers. Why? Because the type that I want doesn't exist in my size back home. Here, I have relatively small feet. Should make finding exotic shoes easier.
- In all honesty, if I were to play the way I do now at the church back home, people would kill me. That is if they don't go deaf first. I don't hit harder. I've just learned to maximise the amount of sound I'm getting from the drums.
- My menu has grown to where it is no longer boring. For the chefs of the home, I know what it's like trying to figure out what to cook each and every meal. It's no easy feat.

- There has been much spiritual feeding in my life. While God's holiness never changes and our sinful nature never improves, my realisation of the wide gap that spans God's holiness and me constantly increases. Daily I preach to myself the Gospel - the fact that I may continue to sin each and every day but God still accepts me into His family. My brain has worked out everything. He loves me. Why? Because He made me. He named me. He gave me life.
He loves me. How? Because He sent his Son to die for me.
Because I am a sinner. And God's perfect holiness cannot accept sin. There was no way I could have done anything to change that fact - I could not have reached the standard of God. But God's love for me meant He wanted to be with me. He wanted to connect with me. While He could not tolerate my sin, He still loved me. The only solution is grace. His Son, Jesus, paid for my sin. And now, clothed in His righteousness, I can have fellowship with God.
I have faith in Jesus Christ my saviour. I believe in all my heart that He died for me and that by that very act of love, I am free from sin.
That sounds too easy.
It's easy for me, but a huge price was paid. I paid nothing, but Jesus paid it all.
Salvation by grace through faith. I know what that means.

There is much now that I would do differently from the way I grew up doing them. Things in my spiritual life that seemed so redundant and meaningless back then - I know what they are now and I cherish every bit of it. There is much 'tradition' and 'religion' and plain repetitive rituals left in me still. But now I look at all I do and see if my heart is right.
Why do we worship? Because He deserves it. Worship isn't singing songs or clapping hands. Worship is a heart of total thankfulness in response to God for who He is and what He's done.
He gave His life for me. There can only be one response. Just as how there is a proper response to eating a delicious burger or a proper response to riding a rollercoaster, there is only one response to what God has done for me - God, I give You my all. I want to tell the world about what You've done.
There is a lot more that I've learned to do.
Social justice.
Serve the city.
Gospel neighbouring.
Living in community.

Woah wait. I wasn't really intending on writing that. Super sidetracked. Back to bullet points.

- I should probably print some business cards. I need to make a name for myself.
- Is it weird that I have a 'welcome home' look prepared in my mind in the event I get to holiday home? You'd be surprised what it looks like.
- If nothing else, my visit to the states is totally vindicated by my exposure to music. That's what I came here for. To see and hear the pros at work. We don't get that many back home, but here they come in abundance. It's amazing. I've also caught some of my favourite Christian bands in action. Nothing beats David Crowder live in concert. Best worship leader ever.
- I haven't had a haircut in 15 months. Mumsies hasn't stop complaining.
- The shiny bit on my sneakers (refer first blog post on blogsome) is still shiny. Amazing. Even Yosemite has not destroyed it.
- 22 and still single. Tis a travesty. God, please don't intend celibacy for me. Please? (AAHAHAHAHAHAH I actually laughed at myself for typing that.)
- I have a faint thought in the back of my head when the time comes for me to do some teaching which will eventually happen. I didn't enjoy teaching back home because it was always with little kids who practiced close to nothing every week and they remained complete amateurs. Should I end up teaching some slightly advanced kids, I might enjoy myself. I have a whole lot of material to work with thanks to this MI curriculum.

I've run out of things to say.

This has been KJ's thoughts radio channel.



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