19 July 2012

My friends are cooler than yours.

I'm not bragging, I'm just saying.

[Rebecca Mott]
I turned sixteen last Saturday.  If feeling sixteen doesn't feel any different (which it doesn't) awesome people who transcend my soul do.

People often pass up birthday invitations because of sickness, schedule conflicts, or inconvenience, but few pass them up because they are too strenuous. The theme happened to be Hobbit.

Rebecca: Raymond, I think I'm too tall to be a hobbit.

Me: That's because you're an elf, stupid!

The "party" accidentally expanded to a daylong trek over Mt. Si and a 20-mile bike ride. The trail through Mirkwood was ridden with orb-shaped tangle webs that glistened in the morning mist. We imagined they were Will O' The Wisps that would lead us to our fate (sorry, Ariel).

Nathan: Don't you ever look at these rugged, breathtaking mountains with golden sun shimmering through the misty clouds and get filled with a deep inner longing for something greater?

Me: Always.

Nathan: Always?

Me: Every time I come up here.

We rode through a two-mile long abandoned train tunnel that we dubbed The Abyss of Echos. It was dank, dark, and most obviously haunted. I felt a chill pulse through my body the second I passed through the stained-glass sunlight into the gaping, black opening. It seemed to last forever.

The journey took longer than planned, partly because we kept on getting sidelined by wonder, and partly because Jared got attacked by a bear. Twice. I had to do CPR on him, but I did it on his stomach instead of his chest, so it only made him throw up and stuff. I've never had such a fun time in my life.

We took a detour on Deathwater (the river that turns objects into gold) and Spellbrook Falls (named after the sprite who lives there).

After Jared caught his second gardener snake, we plugged on to the end of the trail and hunkered down at the Motts house. Pizza, tromping through the woods with little Sarah ("close your eyes, Raymond, and follow me") and singing old hymns galore.

Sam Gangee hands me a small, wooden box.

SHIP TO: Mr. Dokupil

Sweerzy Carpentry & Carvers
9001 Raysh Town, Scotland


He's carved me something.

I open the lid and unfurl the plaid cloth.

[Jared Sweers]

Dangit Jared, you've out-arted me.

I owe my friends so much. But there's a clinch with these particular ones: There's no owing in the equation.

FRIEND: Someone who knows everything about you but likes you anyway.

There's something wild in actual friends, and it's different from that bro you watch movies with, or that cute girl you met at camp.  You don't just laugh at their jokes to be nice, you laugh at them because their funny. You don't give gifts because you owe them, you give them because you can. You speak your thoughts no matter what they are, and it's not awkward, they're just thoughts. It's rarely verbalized--you simply understand. It seems that friendship has nothing to do with time. It's being a kindred spirit...the type only brought together by divine providence.

FRIEND: Someone who knows everything about you but likes you anyway.

My friends draw me dashing dragon-slaughtering warriors and carve me medieval bards. What do YOUR friends do?

I'm going to go savor my sister's present now. BEST. MOVIE. EVER.

My friends are cooler than yours.

05 July 2012

Adventures in Nationals: Pike's Peak

The most wonderful moment in Colorado was NOT all the crazy things I did for thrills. It wasn't even winning at Nationals.

The climax of this adventure ended with a trip up the purple mountain majesties. Yes, the real ones. The one where a real poet, one hundred years ago, climbed up and decided to write a song about it. And I don't blame her.

We rode the Cog Railroad up to the top. It took about an hour.  There were marmots--scrawny, dancing little beavers that live in holes and have yellow bellies--and two deer, whom I affectionately named Silver and Sabrina.

Before we reached the top, the train was swallowed up in a thick fog. The mountain was covering our eyes so it would be a surprise.

To put this in perspective, the top of Pike's Peak is at the same elevation as Mt. Rainier. That's 14,400 feet. It doesn't have to snow to be cold. When we finally burst through the cloud layer, you could literally see into Kansas. When we climbed out of the train-car, it was fourteen degrees and the wind was blowing. Wearing shorts and flip-flops didn't help.

I don't carry a camera with me, but I won't need one to remember this. I tossed a stone through a shady valley cleft with snow. It took five seconds before it struck the craggy cliffs with a resounding crack, and continued to answer me as it plummeted down the mountain for a minute afterwards. You could see everything there is to see on this face of the earth.

At that moment, everything that had happened that trip was distant and forgotten. I was an infant--breastfeeding from colors and shadows and light of the earth itself.

A Bible verse was prodding at me, but all I could recall was "without excuse."

And now, I think I really get it.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, so that they are without excuse.

The mountains understood that they were made. Silver and Sabrina knew it, as sure as the spacious skies above them.  It's like when you've heard a song your whole life and then actually learn to play it. These words were no longer some faraway abstraction I heard in church. This was it, the verse itself, with all it's dazzle, brashness, and beauty. It was so complete, I felt this was the perfect place for my life to end.

But I just wasn't finished yet.

The horn blew, which meant that if you weren't on the cog train in ten minutes, you were stuck up there.

Now I happened to think that taking a train down a place like this was grossly anti-climatic. I refused to end this journey in such an unromantic fashion.

"You want to to hike down?" The tourist woman stared down at my flip-flops.

"Don't worry, I brought shoes," I said hastily. "And water." I added after a long pause.

"It'll take you all day," she said bluntly, but I could just tell her eyes were dancing with mischief. "I can stop the train halfway down if you like though." I told her I would.

My mother and I had such a comical exchange about the safeties of the trail that the whole car burst into laughter. Before I stepped off, I turned to address the crowd.

"And now, receive this benediction. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you."

Then I hit the trail without looking back.

Epilogue: Shorts proved to be an imprudent move, and I had a cough and a cold for two weeks afterwards. But it was so worth it.

03 July 2012

Adventures in Nationals: Knights and Cowgirls

Sunday, Day 1. I've watched the sunrise, got stuck in a runoff trench, and clouted my cranium on the pool floor pretending to be a whale. And it's not even nine o'clock yet.

We were on a roll, so when we found ourselves left alone in the hotel, keeping up the momentum was obligatory. So we thought "Hey, we've been in Colorado for more than twelve hours now. Our friends are probably already filing our wills!"

So, to reassure our existence, we decided to conduct a few thoughtful e-mails for our lovelies. Here's a few of our masterpieces:

Subject: cast yourself into oblivion!
This is my last warning, Knight of Gondoriam Pimpsnezzle! If you do not comply, we will pickle your half-righteous short-triters! If you do not give me the plans in a well-packaged envelope with a red ribbon on a rotten abondoned tree stump TONIGHT at the NORTH gate instead of a paper mache National Geographic magazine in a waterlogged cabin at the west wall like you did LAST time, I will personally persnicket your nose.
You are a shineloving conehugger! You are a juicemongering scoodlebossmer! You are a dangerous shipman!
IN ADDITION to aformenetioned threats, I now have your dear friends Raymond and Nathan held hostage and am now in the process of reversing their digestive tracts.
In complete, entire, whole, and unadulterated sincerity,
Lord of the Bothmenian god, Keeper of the Snapple.

Ironically, our friends' last name is "Knight". This made the e-mail a huge success.
Our next victim had a much less hostile letter.

I mean, come on, EVERYTHING is metaphysical anyway. Have you ever thought of the scientific precussions that came with assuming that the fourth level of neurotecnology would implement undefined reality abstractions? The psychoplexical realities associated with the fifth anti-dimension of Hallsharn prove that the Eversword must exist! Oh, and need I mention that this is NOT Raymond and Nathan typing this e-mail. This is actually Raymond's said-to-be-deceased older brother who is a hypotechnophonetical engineer. My name is Yano Evenshchwart R##sk8>?lk;. and the ? is silent.
Don't talk to strange men.
With a high quantity of love and affection, Your humble servant,
Yano Evenshchwart R##sk8>?lk;.

But our finest composition was composed singularly by Nathan, who seems to have a natural talent for speaking in this dialect. It was the shortest one, but it had us in stitches for a straight thirty minutes. It was titled:

Subject: Yo dawg puppygirl
You got some mad bawlin' skills wit yo dogbrowmandawg, you know what I'm sayin' cowgirl? I mean please dawg, dis stuff is there, you know, it's like there, girlydawg! Now you own me up sum hot diggity dang dog hippie cakes, you cool wid dat, cowdog?

Dis bein' from yo' hot dippity dang brohicks all da dangdest mile frum Colorado and having sum o' dem hallucination babies:

Raymond and his brodawg Nathan

It was such a tour de force, we sent it to all the girls we knew. Okay, not all of them, only the ones we thought would garner a satisfying response. 

Yeah, it was a big hit.

RE: Yo dawg puppygirl
I am flabbergasted.


And my personal favorite...

Alright... I'll give it my best shot:

Yo, wuzzup, doggity dawg dude brohicks brotha', dis girlydawg gottit skills slippin and trippin likea diggitydawg, bringin dat heat from da chillin city-a Seattle, babydawg!  I be makin some a dem hot diggity dang dog hippie cakes like a dawg, my brotha, bringin it hard.  Dey be comin to ya, my brohicks, dey be comin trippin like der no tomorrow!

Wen dey be ready for my brotha, they be comin flyin like a brohawk to you, my doggity dawg brohicks brotha, you best be gettin ready for dem all.

Feffy and her brobunny Checkers

And that's just day one.