In Addition to Writing My Advancement Document…

Once upon a time, I promised God that if he gave me an interesting life, I’d write about it. Man, I owe God so many blog posts. The goal this summer is to write less descriptively about each story to get more out. In addition to writing blogposts. I have to finish my advancement document for my PhD. The goal is to have 30 pages by the time my adviser get’s back. Besides getting distracted by trying to video chat with myself on my phone and laptop (see featured image.. haha), my music life has matured significantly, I’m seeing church function in the most amazing ways, and I think I want to write an autobiography. As a friend recently said, nothing is hard or burdensome when we realize who we do this for and why we do it. We get to do this, we don’t have to.

My living room, My band 🙂

It all started when I got an email from my department about playing music for the open house. You see, back in 2009, I had 2 friends who wanted to play music– Kenn and Ben (Guitar and Trumpet). When it came to music, I was really only willing to play jazz, and for some reason, I was the most equipped to be the band leader. We did coffee shops and worked our way into playing for free at University events. I mean, we were all scientists and engineers who were just happy to play music.

Every year, we get 1 or 2 calls from departments hosting annual University events. Since most of us were PhD students, we called ourselves the “Terminal Degree Jazz Band.” This spring, we’ve achieved a new level of awesome.

I get the request and I secure a pianist. Then I call my bass player, Yu, who’s doing a PhD in EE. “Yu,what are you doing tomorrow at noon?… Bring your bass to the courtyard– We’re gonna jam.” As our trio plays out of the Real Book for a lunch time event, one student that I TA for walks by and gets REALLY EXCITED. After that gig, he emails us and “seriously” wants to get together.

It seemed almost effortless, as people came together and gigs started rolling in. We did the School of Engineering Open House, the Vietnamese Student Association charity show, a charity tea party, we did the Graduate Student Research Symposium, and finally, we got asked to play for the Sammy Video Game Award Show.

Not only have I grown musically, I’ve grown so much as a leader, just in time to meet some of the most creative and intelligent musicians. We arranged 10 tunes for the games gig. I championed Zelda and Mario 2 with the help of my band mates. The best was Yu’s arrangement of Super Mario and when we played selections from the local games. Last week, we played outside in the park. I’m so blessed to be able to play with talented and easy going musicians on cello, violin, piano, bass, trumpet, sax, drums, harmonica, guitar, etc.


In church, I’m doing so much worship. It’s been a worship explosion… haha. Before this year, I never did worship. At least, not one of the prime movers of worship. Honestly, no one ever knows what to do with the saxophone. I’d say my worship kick off was when Ethan asked me to play at the Grad Retreat and that was just this past Feb. Since then, I’ve worked closely with all sorts of worship leaders. I play for the Firestarters church group, I sing for Progressive Baptist, I got to participate in the larger gatherings like the Celebration, Global Day of Prayer, the Young Adult Revival, Weelai’s going away jam, the Healing Encounters, and the School of Supernatural Outreach. All those events were from the last two months. For the last one, I brought Terminal Degree to play on the sides, more conveniently co-located rather than part of the outreach. The Healing Encounters were unbelievable, especially with 3 jazzy Christians on stage. There was even another gig at the Abbey with my friend Jewl and company– 3 of my bluesy christian friends. I’m getting so much amazing feedback from my music, and I don’t even know what I’m doing!

I mean, I told you that I have backlog of too much the write about, but these last two months were packed full of ministry. I got to REALLY lead worship for the first time at the Young Adult Revival. I think I’ve fallen in love with leading worship, although, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m helping out with a local school of ministry and had 2 amazing outings just ministering to people. The stories from the outreaches still blow me away. I was able to support and participate in Global Day of Prayer, a massive unity event all over the world. Santa Cruz has reopened its healing rooms and people are totally being blessed. I was on stage playing music the whole time, and a week later, a woman comes up to me, in tears, grateful for my sax playing, because she felt healed from her relationship with her father. He played the sax, and every time she heard a saxophone, it’d bring her pain. “Healed!” she said. “What? Really? Me?”… it’s not me, the only thing I know how to do is to be willing to play.

Anyhow, that’s just the recent stuff, I wanna list the blog posts that I’m determined to write before the summer ends. It’s gonna be a writing fest! The only thing I have going on this summer is that I’m coordinating the volunteers for the Christian Game Developers Conference ( I haven’t even written about last year’s CGDC. I’ll start with selected blog posts sitting in my drafts folder:

  • Church FAIL! – it’s no secret that I carry much church angst… It’s time to hear my side of the story.
  • Ronnee Curry Needs More Exposure – I want to write about my friend, Ronnee Curry… She’s pretty amazing.
  • Why I Blog – I blog b/c I want to steward my experiences. It’s like the parable of the talents.
  • The Stackhouse Talk – John Stackhouse gave a really great academic talk on faith
  • The Young Adult Revival – There’s been 3 of them… Pretty awesome events.
  • My First Time at the IHOP HQ – I was only there for  3 days, and blown away
  • The Beginnings of Physical Manifestations – Yea, it gets weird
  • Is Pikachu Demonic? – This is a fun one about my pikachu hat
  • What are you doing for break?… Joining a cult – Hehehe
  • The Worst of onething 2010 – another IHOP post
  • So this is passion – This is about my endeavors with local PhD students
  • Winter Retreat hijacked! – I was rocked at the PhD retreat in Feb
  • Stealing Cable – stealing cable
  • Behind the Call, Sacramento – hahahah, great stories
  • Game Developers Conference – what an unbelievable week
  • First Trip to Bethel –  yup, I went
  • APEST! like Bingo of People – too complicated to explain.
  • Knoxville – I met Heidi Baker et al.
  • Jubilee with Georgian and Lance
  • I Got Hustled – I have never been changed by one person in such a short period of time
  • Treasure Hunts
  • Prophecy
  • My favorite wordpress widgets
  • Global Game Jam
  • The difference between pocky and pepero
  • Faith, fears, and queers
  • Eargasms and electronics
  • Blue Like Jazz Makes Me Mad

That’s all I can think of for now. In the mean time, I’ve been listening to audio books. I just finished Shane Claiborn’s “Irresistable Revolution.” Prior to that I had gotten the audio book for “Blue Like Jazz.” I thought I ordered the book, but CD’s came instead. Definitely, a divine miscommunication– listening to it, was much better than trying to read it the first time. Mostly, I couldn’t get over the fact that some guy names a book “…Like Jazz” with less than a page of it being actually about Jazz. If anyone’s going to write a book about Jazz and faith, it will be me. My book is gonna be called “Video Games, Jazz, and Jesus.” Props to Donald Miller for inspiring me.

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