Archives: Ryan Alvarez

Art and Science

With only a week before the start of finals, I should have expected there to be a string of last minute campus events popping out of nowhere. On the plus side, though, with the approach of final exams I have no more projects or papers to write. Less time in front a computer screen equals more time to enjoy with my friends. That’s why the professors do it, right?

Monday night hosted the most of these fun activities, starting with CREATE. The annual fine arts night allows students to show off any form of visual art, including photographs, paintings, drawings, ceramics, wood sculptures, and even poetry. Paintings and photographs lined one end of Stamps Courtyard with soft incandescent lighting strung across the grass. I walked through the vibrant faces and detailed fruits, but my eyes locked in on a specific portrait of donuts in a store. So simple, yet, so exquisite. I was impressed, too, by how many talented students there are here at CBU. The school should have an art gallery in downtown Riverside (oh wait, they do!).  Tables full of paints and tools allowed passerbys to create their own pieces with take home reusable Starbucks cups. On the other end were tables and a stage for poetry, and then later for amazing cello covers with a loop box. Laying on the grass in the warm night air listening to blend of modern and classical music was very relaxing. No complaints there.   The main event, though, was Propaganda, a spoken word poet and rapper, whose poems about faith and social issues made us both laugh as well as reflect on their meanings. Such a relaxing night appreciating the fine arts.

To complete my true Renaissance man persona, I also attended a viewing of the lunar eclipse that same night. I am a man of science after all, but more importantly my physics professor offered the class extra credit for joining the observing event on the front lawn. I planned on staying up to watch it anyways so I jumped on that opportunity right away. I walked out to the front lawn and found a several other astrologically conscious students lying on blankets and enjoying Milkyways (how appropriate) as a shadow slowly encompassed the shining moon. I also brought a light up frisbee, which meant that I had plenty to do. The lunar eclipse this night was special, too, since it was a blood moon. Once the shadow engulfed the entire moon, the surface turned a dark red and remained in its eerie state for well over an hour. A better description would have been a “peach moon,” but I’m no astrophysicist. Still, it was fun to just talk with my friends and watch the night sky change so drastically. I didn’t even know before that moons could change color, or that extra credit could be so entertaining. Let’s hope for some more before I take that final.

Almost RA

These last few days, I took the next few steps to becoming an official Colony RA for next year. Up to this point, the “responsibility” and “job” aspect of it all wasn’t quite there yet so I’m having a blast.

To start, CBU hosted the annual Christian College Leadership Conference, which all upcoming student leaders from area Christian universities attend. Azusa Pacific, Biola, Concordia, Vangaurd, Fresno Pacific, and even Arizona Christian University all sent busloads of students to CBU campus last Saturday for the event. By 8:30 a.m., students sporting shirts with their university’s logo gathered in a huge pack outside of the gym, and I was excited. At last year’s conference, the keynote speaker Bob Goff, author of Love Does, delivered an amazing message, followed by interesting leadership workshops and  In-N-Out trucks. I also ran into high school friends from other universities that I hadn’t seen in forever. I was hoping for a repeat performance.

I wasn’t disappointed. To kick off the conference, All Sons & Daughters, a Christian Worship Folk band, lead the worship and filled the gym with acoustic energy. Then the keynote speaker, Josh Riebock, author of Heroes and Monsters, took the stage. He is a self-described story teller, and he kept the crowd laughing and focused on the message. The theme of CCLC this year was “Follow,” and he described The Never Ending Story as well as Jesus calming the storm to emphasis how we need to follow Jesus before we can expect others to follow us. That message kept the energy going as we dispersed to attend workshops about how to follow God. Then there was staff and recreation time, which was new this year. I met up with the other new East Colony RAs, which was only our second time doing so. That was great, though, since leading into our recreation we had a group to tag along with. Games and activities filled Stamps Courtyard, which included Kan Jam, slack lining, DJ Icy Ice blasting beats and more. I stuck around the Plinko board since the rules of the game forced random people to hug random strangers. Awkward to experience. Fun to watch. That was also a time for us to socialize with the other schools, whether by unexpected hugging or normal conversation. I even ran into one of my high school friends, Jim Levegood, from Vanguard University. I think I checked off every expectation I hoped for leading up to the conference. So far being an RA has been great.

And that idea continued. Last Tuesday was the official RA inauguration event, Passing the Torch. All of the new RAs for the whole campus met in Yeager to figuratively receive the torch from the RA they are succeeding. I was hoping for literal torch on fire, or at least a glow stick, but still I had a good time. Each living area prepared a funny video to welcome and provide advice for the incoming group. For East Colony, the RAs prepared a bachelor style selection video complete with candles and framed pictures of our faces as they chose their ideal replacement. My frame ended up being a picture of me from middle school that I haven’t seen in years and probably shouldn’t be seen ever again. I’m glad Facebook pictures are around to remind me how far I’ve come. Regardless, we all laughed along with the other videos and even went exploring the Colony to find our new apartments. I’ll be a Global Village RA, too, which means my residents will be mainly international students. I can’t wait to start.

Campus and Color

Last Thursday will always be remembered as  ”the night of too many fun events going on.”  I don’t know why every department on campus voted on March 27th to be their activity day, but that’s exactly what it was. Since I’m the type of guy that needs to check out what’s going on outside, I had a little difficultly choosing where to start.

I left the engineering building by 5 p.m. after a grueling lab involving RLC circuits and filter design that I don’t want to bother explaining (mainly because I don’t understand it either). I planned to attend a campus festival, but that was before I started noticing all of the posters and Conference and Events workers setting up lights and tables. It didn’t quite hit me until I walked over to the caf. The Lancer stood outside announcing a chance to win a $100 In-N-Out gift card at the men’s volleyball game vs UCLA at 7 p.m. I’m all about winning In-N-Out gift cards and trash talking opposing volleyball teams, but I couldn’t pass up an Indian color festival. Then I learned that my roommate was going to downtown Riverside to see a CBU Art Expo in downtown Riverside. Some of his ceramic pieces as well as my other friend’s paintings and drawings would be on display, too. Of course, I wanted to support their work, but the times conflicted with my prior commitments to throw colored powdered paint at my friends.

The Festival of Color was at 7:30 p.m., but right before that, I checked out an East Colony event that conveniently was on the same night as everything else. The Unbirthday event was held out on the basketball courts with free pizza and candy for all to enjoy. The residential director rented a jump house, as well, with giant punching gloves to challenge friends, which I would have been all over if all of my friends weren’t already having a blast at other campus events.  I walked past a West Colony Western event, too.  There, honestly, was a different fun event to attend everywhere I went. Let’s try to space these out a bit for next time.

I finally found my way over to the front lawn. Already, a large group of students all dressed in white stood excited to start the night. The International Center hosted the festival for the first time last year and obviously word spread about how great it was. With such a large group of college students eager to drench themselves in powdered paint, I’m surprised how patient we were to observe the Bollywood dancers and to listen to the cultural traditions of India. At the end of the presentations, the announcer directed us to the lines full of green, blue, red, pink and purple paint bags, and I grabbed as many varieties as I could. We all bunched up close and at the countdown we launched our first fistful of paint into the sky. The paint scattered in the air, and the festival began. I quickly lost track of my group of friends with all of the people running about and throwing paint into each other’s faces. The air was thick with excitement, as well as purple and pink dust. I couldn’t believe how quickly my white shirt and khakis became plastered with every color imaginable.  Still, I wanted to pelt my friends with a healthy dose of green paint, so I maneuvered my way through the color warfare and group pictures, photobombing everywhere I could. I finally found them, and my target quickly became my girlfriend’s clean, unpainted face. I took care of that swiftly. I couldn’t have been more proud of my work, and she couldn’t have been more opposed to my decision. Once all of the paint was scattered on the lawn and ourselves, I finally could see the masterpieces we all became. I had a large red stain across my left eye, which with all of the running around and excitement could have been paint or a massive bruise. Either way, the night was too much fun. I can see now why everyone wants to go to the Holi Festival.

I wish I could say that was the last event, but alas, there was one more. There was a Sophomore Second Breakfast event with a free eggs and bacon, as well as class shirts. We all walked over in our colorful attire and finished the night right. I still can’t believe how many things happened in one day. CBU campus life is the best.

Urban Excursion SF

 

My average spring break experience usually consists of the following: extensive yard work and extensive laying on the floor thinking of what to do with this strange new feeling called free time. To shake things up a bit, I applied to be a part of Urban Excursion San Francisco, a five-day mission trip organized by the Office of Spiritual Life. I only briefly heard about the trip during FOCUS leader training last semester. Leading into this semester, all I could remember was “fun trip over spring break to San Francisco,” and that was enough for me to apply. I was accepted and met the team over a period of three training nights. There were 10 students and two leaders, Julie Dobbins and Kris Huffman, and training consisted mainly of getting to know each other. Strangely enough, I still had no idea what we were going to do in San Francisco by the time we packed up the cars and left. Something about homeless ministry.

To start things off right, we left in two Chevy Suburbans with plenty of room and sour gummy worms to keep us happy during the eight-hour journey to the Bay Area. I still didn’t know the team that well so this was perfect time to ask random questions and laugh with each other. The good vibes carried us through the drive, as did the promise of an In-n-out stop for dinner. The team stayed at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which is conveniently located just across the bridge out of the city. The campus sits on forested hills with a beautiful view of the water and city in the distance. We explored the hills the first night and felt excited to finally get in the city.

The next day we drove to Golden Gate Park where large numbers of homeless people congregate in the day. We pair up and walked around the park talking to and praying for anyone who would let us. I paired up with Kris, and we ended up talking to one man for the entire three hours. We met him on a street corner, where he held a cardboard sign asking for cigarettes and beer. He was friendly and talkative, but right away he began with his ideas of spiritual energies and chakras and what not. His traveling name was even Taro because he was a tarot card reader. We bought him lunch at McDonald’s and talked for hours about our understanding of God and the scriptures, but he always jumped back to his idea of feeling for the answers and mixing various religions into one. I’ve never met someone so spiritual in the wrong way. He was open, however, to what we had to say, and we at least prayed for him that he would find the truth. The whole thing was a bit discouraging at first but also revealed how lost people can be. Other groups had similar experiences in the park, which was a great challenge for our own faith.

The following days we met all kinds of people, those choosing to live on the streets and those recently unemployed or recovering from addictions.  I could write pages about the people we met, but I’ll at least highlight the ministries being done there to help out. We visited Interface SF on Sunday. Interface is a new church plant involving CBU graduates, which is planning to officially launch a community center in Golden Gate Park by September. The next day we partnered with them to volunteer at Family Home, an organization that provides free housing for families with terminally ill children who need care in the local hospitals. The final day we worked in one of the poorest districts, the Tenderloin, with City Impact, which offers multiple services for the homeless and needy. When we arrived, there were already teams from Vangaurd, Oklahoma Christian University and Colorado State University, all volunteering for the week. We helped prepare food, set up and tear down for services, and spoke to and prayed for those in need. In the afternoon, we packed lunches and handed them out from door to door at a low-income apartment building. The organization does these kinds of things every day, which is incredible. There is always someone else around that needs help, too.

Those five days went by fast, and our team grew close together in those shared experiences. We saw a lot of the city, as well, which made it even harder to leave.

There is so much need in the city. Still, we left with a new understanding of just how important it is to be involved in these programs. Urban Excursion was an eye opener for me as to what I can do to help. I’m definitely getting involved in trips to come.

IC in LA

I’m not the type of guy who goes out to museums for the day to appreciate classical or obscure art, but when the International Center hosts a day trip to Los Angeles for only $5, I cannot resist. Last Saturday I visited the Getty Museum and walked around Holly Boulevard along with 40 other CBU students. I wasn’t sure what a “Getty” even was leading up to it. All I heard was “Los Angeles,” “day trip” and “international students” which drew my attention fairly quickly. I’ve been on trips and events with the International Center before, and they never disappoint. These events are based around connecting international students with California culture and American students, so of course I wanted to go.

The group met up by noon out in front of the International Center, and due to more people joining (including my roommate Jon, literally minutes before), we loaded onto a bus and two extra vans. The trip over to the Getty was an adventure in itself driving through LA traffic and sightseeing around the skyscrapers. The museum is located on a hill that overlooks the city with a view of Santa Monica to the west and urban life to the east. Art and history aside, the Getty Center as a building was impressive enough. The white stone blocks along the exterior mixed with the fountains and gardens below plus that view again makes for an impressive structure. I didn’t mind just hanging outside, but with paintings by Rembrandt and Monet inside, I guess I had to check it out. I didn’t realize before that the Getty Center houses several pre-20th century European paintings and sculptures, which really isn’t one of my passions, but I appreciated the historical aspect. With nothing in California being more than 100- to 200 years old, I enjoyed seeing a little more history. There was an 18th century French Planisphere which had dials that displayed the time of day, month of the years with their zodiac signs, days of the lunar month, and local times of various cities. As an aspiring engineer, I could only appreciate the complexities involved in creating such a timepiece hundreds of years ago. Then I looked at my phone and felt frustrated when the signal died.

We left the Getty Center by 5 p.m. and then headed over to Hollywood Boulevard. I’ve been living in California for almost five years now, and this was the first time I’d ever seen the stars on the sidewalk. The bus dropped us off, and we walked down the street, watching out for familiar names and avoiding the overwhelming number of celebrity look-a-likes wearing Halloween costumes trying to get some money from you. This is when my friend, Isaac De Guzman, shined in his knowledge of the city. He pointed out famous sites during the drive over and then led us over to the Hollywood & Highland Center mall next to the TLC Chinese Theater. There were two huge elephant statues sitting above the shopping center where we ate a quick dinner before heading back into the streets. We passed by El Capitan Theater and checked out more shops. I grew up in a big city like this, so I felt great walking around under the nighttime lights. It’s strange how familiar an unfamiliar place can feel. We ended up playing cards in a frozen yogurt shop and only afterwards learned how close we were to Korea Town and the Griffith Observatory. We all had fun exploring the city and already have ideas for new places to visit the next time around.

All About an Email

Last Friday was the big reveal for student leadership applicants. By 5 p.m., all of the university offices offering positions sent out emails either congratulating you on your new job or thanking you for your interest. I had been waiting for this email for a long time, and each day leading up to that Friday added a little more doubt in my mind. I had to know, but at the same time I just wanted to forget about it.

Now I am not the kind of guy who stresses about homework assignments or worries about what they’re serving in the caf for dinner. If I have a week booked with projects, lab reports, ADC hours, blogs and intramural soccer games, I tend not to freak out. It’s not that I am immune to anxiety or naive about my time commitments. I just know that I need to do, plan out what I should accomplish each day, and get it done. That may involve some skipped meals and late night studying, but at this point I can push myself without thinking too much about it.

With my apparent lack of nerves or ability to feel stress, it doesn’t make sense why I would worry about receiving an email. There are a few things, however, that could explain it. The first was how much I had been talking with my friends about becoming an RA next year. I’ve been looking at the job ever since my freshman year when I met my dorm RA, Mike Teruel, almost two years ago. It was crazy how one night he could keep the hall laughing with the funniest stories and then the next convict us with a solid Bible study. He was the RA, but everyone saw him as a solid friend and role model. I respected him so much for that, and I knew that I wanted to do the same. I applied for and accepted the FOCUS Leader position for last fall and really enjoyed that experience, but now I felt ready for the next step. Again, though, I talked it up with my friends leading up to the reveal day as if I already had the job which only made me want it even more. The second reason I felt worried was from the group processing night. I wrote about this before, but to review I ended up missing the first series of RA group interviews due to the fact that I caught the flu and threw up all over the parking lot as I was walking to said interviews. That set me back right from the beginning. Luckily enough, my immune system pulled through the week after during my individual interview. The interview ran smoothly, and I felt good about it, but I still couldn’t believe that I missed essentially half of the interview process. I just knew that would come back to haunt me.

Friday finally came around, and for once I was quiet about any RA talk. I just needed to wait for that email and feel good about whatever it might say. Unfortunately, I served food in the ADC that evening and wouldn’t be able to check my email until my 10 minute break, which could be early or late into my shift. I served up meatball gyros and watched for anyone I knew who applied for leadership, as well, to ask if they received the email yet. Then I learned that it was sent out early, and I couldn’t handle not knowing. My friends came up to me to say how they got FOCUS Leader and RA and Community Life Intern, but all I could respond with was, “Do you want extra tzatziki sauce?”  Finally, my manager let me take my break, and I rushed over to a table and pulled out my phone. Some of my friends saw me, too, and came over to see the result. The pressure was on, and my phone kept failing to connect to the internet. My 10 minute break was moving fast, too, but luckily my girlfriend’s phone was equipped to deliver the results. I found the email from Res Life and scrolled through it without reading any of the text. For those first few seconds, I didn’t want to know. My eyes glazed over, and I was content with that. I had come this far, however, so I refocused and read the words. The email welcomed me to the Residence Life staff as a new North Colony RA, and I was speechless. My friends thought I was disappointed that I didn’t get Smith Hall, but I was quite the opposite. I honestly didn’t think I would get RA of anything. I walked back to my station still shocked, and then the excitement started creeping in. I would be an RA next year, and now I can talk about it with full certainty. Next year is going to awesome.

Smith vs Smith

            With the arrival of spring semester comes the one men’s freshman dorm event that the whole school can be a part of: Smith vs Smith. No event quite focuses around the competitive fervor of freshman males battling in a series of challenges quite like Smith vs Smith. The premise of the competition is simple: CBU’s Smith Hall vs APU’s Smith Hall in a contest of five events that determines the who is best. In the last four years, hundreds of CBU freshman males have faced the trials that await the brave of heart. I stood among the chosen to represent the rightful Smith Hall only a year ago, and from my experiences competing, I knew that I would have to be there to cheer our boys on.

Every year the location switches, with last year falling on APU’s side. I remember the bus ride over with many of the guys rocking blue and white face paint and a number of freshly cut mohawks. Leading up to my year, APU held the winning record of 3-0, which increased our drive to win even more. I can’t describe how much built up anticipation resonated through the halls leading up to that fateful day. Our slogan became “All Streaks Must End” and we rallied behind those words with every event. To keep the focus on this year’s Smith vs Smith, I’ll keep my heroic war stories to a minimum and just say that after several hard fought battles the CBU Smith team finally added a victory to our record. We hoisted the cup and celebrated throughout the night, psyched to know that our year finally added a number to the score.

It’s not hard to believe, then, why I needed to watch the Smith Hall team compete at home. All five of the events this year (Dodgeball, Buck Buck, Spike Ball, Nintendo 64 Super Smash Bros, Soccer) were played out on the front lawn which gave us fans plenty of room to watch. I wore my Smith Hall Champions shirt from last year and joined the group of veterans on the sidelines for the first event. Dodgeball is every man’s sport, and this year’s action did not disappoint. Five teams from each side played against each other and after countless quick dodges and bullet throws, the APU side took the early lead winning three of the games. Buck Buck followed, which is all about technique. Ten bases lock on to each other in a line while the rest of the team takes turns running and jumping to stack on top. My experience with it left my head and lungs feeling crushed beneath the weight of too many freshmen, but for the victory I endured the hardships. Watching was a different feeling entirely, more of pity than pain. Surprisingly enough, the traditionally strong Buck Buck team from APU did not pull through this year giving CBU the win. Spikeball replaced ping pong from last year which worked out better since the game is meant to be played outside. Unfortunately, even with our shouts and chants, APU took the win after several drawn out rounds. The Super Smash Bros competition took place on two inflatable projectors at the far end of the field which doubled as a pizza break for many of the competitors. Smith Vs Smith wouldn’t be a freshman dorm competition without the inclusion of a video game, and Super Smash Bros delivered. Again, though, even with several great KO’s by a CBU Kirby, APU added to their increasing lead.

At this point it would all come down to the last event: Soccer. I couldn’t help but analyze every detail of the match and, of course, wish that I was playing, too. APU scored early and CBU couldn’t mount a strong attack. The CBU Smith team put up a great fight, and the fans faithfully supported them throughout the games. The purpose of Smith vs Smith, however, is bring the two universities’ freshman together in healthy competition, and that’s exactly what happened. Winning is great, but just being there to experience the excitement of it all its just as good. Well done CBU Smith Hall.

Goals for a Goal

Intramural Co-ed Competitive Soccer. It’s strange to think that I’ve actually been anticipating this 2014 season ever since my first exposure to the league last year. Growing up in a third world Latino culture where every young boy is brainwashed to believe that they will lead their national team to the next FIFA World Cup, I can confidently say that soccer has always been a huge part of my life. I joined a team my freshman year with that same drive to represent Peruvian soccer to my best ability and bring glory to its name. After the first couple games, I realized just how unprepared I was to achieve such a dream. My classes conflicted with the game times, my team did not share my competitive vision and my “freshman 15” literally held me back from my peak performance. Now I made some great friendships through the team and had a blast playing each game and watching the finals, but I knew that next year would be different.

I started recruiting for intramurals early on, starting with my good friend Derek Kouns, who was the doubles ping pong partner I mentioned a few posts ago. He’s a solid defender and, with his helpful study sessions and late-night donut runs, easily became my co-captain. The rest of the team came together through the fall semester as I randomly brought up the idea to individuals who looked like they could kick a soccer ball. My main goal as a captain was to avoid becoming the annoying, ultra-competitive guy who only cared about winning. Obviously, I would like to someday hoist the Lancer Cup after a close final match, but that wasn’t why I joined intramurals. If I made someone on my team feel like they would rather be somewhere else, then I would have failed as a captain and friend. I like to play soccer and playing with others who are having a fun time makes it that much better.

After a captain’s meeting and receiving the Peruvian flag from Community Life, team Peru was ready to go. Our first game of the season was on Monday, and I was a bit nervous. Our team had practiced just once before the game and that was only with half of them. Derek had class, too, which left my defense lacking. I even showed up early just to find every other team that had a game at 3 p.m. already practicing. By kick off we had enough players to start, and I met two of them only minutes before. We were up against Ivory Coast, and, as I recall, they destroyed my team last year. Maybe this would be different.

And, surprisingly, it was completely different. In the first half, our team organized a strong defense and set up a few good through passes in the offense. Then early in the game, Cody Clark, our striker, took a throw in and threw it right at their keeper. The ball bounced off her finger tips and went right in the goal, followed by my shout of excitement. The ref quickly crushed my spirits when it was called a goal kick instead, and then Ivory Coast scored before half. Luckily for us, the call wasn’t final, and the head ref called the captains over at half time to discuss the call. According to the rules, it should have been a goal, and we were awarded the point which tied the game at 1-1. That psyched up the team for the next half, and it showed. Our offense turned up the pressure, and Austin Leonard, who I recruited simply because he wore Adidas sweat pants and an Arsenal FC jersey in the caf once, scored the deciding goal. Our defense held off the attack, but most of the credit goes to Taylor Parker for sure. She asked me if she could play goalie before I even knew her name, and she dominated. At one point it was a one-on-one situation between her and the opposing striker, and she showed no fear. I don’t think anyone else on our team would have committed to defending the goal at that point, but she accepted the shot and blocked it accordingly. MVP for sure.

Team Peru won the game 2-1, and we all felt excited about the season. I couldn’t have been more proud of my team. This could be the year…

Rival Rematch

When rivals face off, those watching cannot help but feel the thrill. Although they may disagree, Azusa Pacific University is CBU’s main competitor in Division II athletics. Even before the switch from NAIA to NCAA, the Lancers have been facing off with the Cougars for years now, and the same drive for domination persists even to today. Lancer basketball was the arena this time around, and I witnessed the best and worst of outcomes.

Our first battle against APU was at Azusa, and everything was going against us. I caravanned over with some friends, wore my ironed CBU Crazies shirt and felt pumped to see our then undefeated team completely annihilate these guys. There were a good number of CBU students as well with our Crazies leading the cheers like a home game. The APU homeside, however, made it nearly impossible for us to cheer above their own chants. “The Zu,” as they are now called, filled the stands and upper levels and held the most random posters of players and celebrities faces. Upon walking in, a man from the CBU athletic department handed me a whole pizza, which sparked my CBU pride instantly, but I couldn’t keep it up for the whole game. None of our players were playing at their top level, and the Zu kept up the badgering and jeers throughout both halves. APU tainted our winning record. That wouldn’t be the end of it.

With that defeat in mind, the week leading up to the rematch kept me on edge. It would be a home game, and our team had won every game since losing the game to APU. Anticipating a sellout, the school even handed out tickets early in the week for those loyal fans who wanted a guaranteed admittance. There was no way that I was missing another home game, so I grabbed a ticket and guarded it with my life. That ticket did not leave my green folder, which is always in my back pack, which is always on my back, for the five days leading up to Saturday night. Even when a group of my friends tempted me with a trip to the Van Buren Drive-in Theater, I had to stay true to my Lancers.

I walked into the gym by 7 p.m. and found the stands packed with a more punctual fan base than I expected. I wasn’t leaving, though, which resulted in standing on the staircase leading to the upstairs office for a nice aerial view. Compared to Azusa, our home game environment felt much friendlier, even with our home team cheers. I’m not being biased either. We keep it classy but competitive. Our players responded well to that, too, since we were on fire all night. The team jumped ahead early and kept it that way throughout the whole game. My friends and I even found seats in the middle by half time and kept the crowd energy going from the inside. Our Lancers won with about the same difference in score as the last game, except switched. With that victory, our team is now 20-1 and ranked 8th in Division II. It’s a good time to be a Lancer.

Making the Cut

I rely on my bike or board for all means of transportation, which can be a just as much a blessing as an annoyance. There have been way too many weekends when I just wanted to get off campus and none of my friends or I could make it happen. Even the necessary items like toilet paper and animal crackers requires a little planning and a lot of peddling. At the same time, doing normally mundane tasks suddenly becomes a little more interesting.

I needed a haircut to look fresh for my RA interview this week, and it was an open Saturday afternoon. As much as I love my brother’s attempts to use a razor kit from Ross, this time around I actually cared about how my head would look afterwards. To my surprise, what was about to be a solo adventure down Magnolia Avenue became a party with my roommate Jon wanting a trim, too. We were both veterans behind the handlebars with many trips down to the mall and around during our freshman year. It’s definitely been a while since our last adventure. This would be a restart.

There was only one thing I look for in a barber shop: reasonably priced cuts. As long as my wallet feels safe and supplied, the shop could literally be a hole in the wall, and I’d be happy. I’m glad I set that standard, because that’s about what we settled on. I googled “barber shop” and found one just three miles up Magnolia Avenue. We biked through a surprisingly vicious wind and found the shop on the corner just before Central Avenue. To our surprise, there were actually three barber shops lined up one after the other, each one sharing a wall with other. We couldn’t decide on any one place, so I employed what I like to call Goldilocks logic. With three porridges to choose from, you just have to try each one.

The first shop had dirty windows and an unclear indication for the front door, which was eventually stumbled upon. The shop itself was tiny, just big enough for a few waiting chairs and the cutting station. There was a TV tuned to college basketball and a nice old man speaking quietly to a regular customer as he aggressively buzzed his head. I like having a little something on top after trims and the $15 starting price wasn’t hitting me right. That was a good start, but I faked a phone call, and we walked out before he could ask who was going first. The second shop was larger and packed to the brim. Even with three barbers at work, the line seemed endless and neither of us felt like waiting for a cut. We didn’t even try walking in. The last place on the corner combined the best of both shops. There were three young guys giving trims in a spacious room with a cop movie and pool table in the waiting area. This one seemed just right, and for $10 I had to say yes. Who knew a children’s story about a little girl who steals oatmeal from woodland creatures would actually help me later in life?

Conveniently, Dairy Queen was just down the street, and Oreo Blizzards were in order. The sun was out, my head felt free, and I was eating ice cream with my roommate. If I had a car, I would have gone by myself earlier in the week and would not be enjoying that moment. We rode back to campus feeling good, even though I still had to swing by CVS. I still had to awkwardly pedal with a large pack of toilet paper, but it was all good.

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