Posts tagged “friends

good times

To my adopted extended family,

It’s funny, because you’re sort of my real extended family because Michael married Emily. So since he’s my brother-in-law and you’re his family, it’s like we’re family-tied. I have the hardest time trying to explain that to people. But my heart really gets it.

I guess it’s kind of weird that I’m almost 21 and yet today I was playing leapfrog with you. It’s a weird I can live with, though. Because you are some of the best things in my life. And when I say “my life” I don’t mean right now. I mean ever. Always. You are the best. I never could have imagined our current situation- you and me and Michael and Emily all living on the same property, two minutes’ drive or 6 minutes’ walk away. It’s just one example of how God takes things that scare me (moving to the country) and turns them into things I adore.

I’m so sore right now. When someone suggested we play football on our knees, I had this thought that I probably shouldn’t ruin my jeans. But I played anyway. Because I can buy new jeans and my sore knees will be back to normal tomorrow. But this? This absurd experience of scooting across a sandy field on our knees and looking laughably stunted as we tackle each other is going down in the venerated book of Good Times.

When we played Red Rover (my first time since age 8ish), I squeezed your hands tight- partially to keep our chain together, and partially because you are my favourite kids and I love feeling like your sister.

When we made hot chocolate from scratch, I sang Pompeii with you and was glad of the cold weather and warm friendship.

I’m just so thankful for you. My family and your family and the joining of us through Michael and Emily. Thanksgiving isn’t for few weeks yet, but I find myself feeling this way all the time. When you hold my sister close, Michael. When you show me how itunes works, Josh. When you break the line of scrimmage to run and keep Caleb from shutting his fingers in the car door, Andrew. When you half-hug me whenever we pass, Sam. When you quote the same phrase 3 times in a row, Noah. When you show me sandcastles, Abby. When you say “Grace! You’re home!” when I get to your house, Caleb.

I love you. I don’t always tell you stuff like this because I guess I’m afraid you’ll think I’m sentimental. And I am. But I don’t care. I look at your dirty faces and I see your patchwork hearts and I love you with everything God has made me and all the ample love with which he has deluged my soul. I don’t know what time will do to us, but I hope to keep you close. You are my family now. You and your parents and the new baby who has yet to make an appearance. The Lord has done great things for us and I hope you notice even the tiny ones- the brightness of the day-moon in the afternoon sky and the sprinkling of leftover cocoa powder on the counter and the way people laugh when they feel secure. I notice them and I remember them and I keep them locked up inside me so that whatever happens, wherever we go, whatever we become, I will always have a piece of you with me.

Good times indeed.


going, going

there I was lying on the carpet,
raised on my elbows, making bookmarks
precision knife poised like a tiny javelin
red squeeze marks on my knuckles
the promise to come downstairs electrified solitude
and as my bedroom reverberated with strains of his symphony
Tchaikovsky cradled loneliness with reverence
like me

there were the Proms in their last week
and I leaving for a two-week vacation,
voices and orchestras made me fade
blowing wide their memory
the anticipation of leaving intensified festivity
and as the walls reverberated with strains of applause
Petroc Trelawney described the Albert Hall with reverence
like me

there you went leaping over garden rows
spiking the volleyball, sipping your milkshakes
fresh haircuts, tan and taut legs
stretching my heart
and the thought of me ever going from you- or you from me- energised camaraderie
and as the Honda reverberated with strains of your mirth
no one listened to your laughing with as much reverence
as me

home is

almost-healed blisters from chopping down trees with Andrew

cows play-fighting

walking barefoot in short-clipped grass and red garden soil

Anna browsing Pinterest

boys throwing pebbles at my window

dirty cowboy hats in the garage

all hands on deck in the garden with rakes

Dad “forcing” people to put their banana peels etc. in plastic compost containers

sudden spring and sneezing in hay

everyone sprawled out on the Lathams’ couches watching Phineas and Ferb

Sam owning everyone at video games

the bounce board

Mom wheeling Caroline around in the stroller in the afternoon

Alan poring over library books and lining them up across the living room floor

Noah helping me play Lego Batman

Josh going back to old subjects when everyone else has moved on to another topic of conversation

Imagine Dragons

“Guys don’t really like a ton of people. Girls are like, “I love everyone!!”” -Sam

pink magic

lots of yelling. all the time.

borrowing Emily’s camera

random power outages

spotty cell phone service

bumpy dirt roads and radio turned up loud

throwing the frisbee

spontaneous dinner parties

Emily’s homemade bread

Caleb dancing to Gangnam Style

cuddling and tickling on the couch with Noah and Abby and Caleb

sunset light filtering over the hill behind Michael and Emily’s house


“I can’t wait until you make your pickles again, Grace.” -Anna

Alan eating too much peanut butter every morning

Caroline and Sam tickling each other with grass

baking scones

the way Alan screams with his tongue out when he’s hurt himself

Andrew wearing The One Ring on a chain under his shirt

Abby’s glass collection at the fort by the free-running course

that one piano app on Michael’s phone

“There are these magnetic mushrooms… but they go to sleep during the day so you have to give them a coffee bean..” -Michael

Josh and Andrew’s garden-dirty hipster shoes

medieval philosophy lectures and silhouette bookmarks

getting poked in the ribs

broccoli and cauliflower plants between the blackberry rows

crowding around Michael’s television watching the extended Lord of the Rings

my boys

everyone annoying everyone else

everyone loving everyone else anyway

hugs and head-kisses



The following disconnected narrative was written on my way home from Montana, some on the plane, but mostly as I sat in the airport. It’s largely unedited, and it reads a little bit like a Tumblr blog, so prepare yourself.

Long valleys sprout veins- erosion paths in the plateaus that cradle creeks and rivers. They look like cracks in a hard-set Jello sculpture. I can see the rims of mountains stretching around the side like tree-less ribbons. There is a canyon like a spine sunk into the yellow earth, and its tributaries are red like Mars. If I was a bird, I would fly down and find out if that’s really snow I’m seeing.

It’s all so different from the air. When I’m down on the ground, I look up at the mountains twirling into peaks like full dance skirts, and I feel so small. But when I’m in a plane, I look down on the same mountains and now they’re the small ones. All that snow is a very long way down. If mountains that dwarf me are looking so tiny and far away, think about how small I really am. The Bible says man’s life is like a vapour. I am the chilly spray thrown by the magnificent waterfall cascades I saw yesterday. I am mist tossing on a river of holiness. I am a feather on the breath of God.

There are so many people in the Denver airport. So many different kinds of people. I was one of the last people to get off the plane, and walking up through the empty cabin made me a little lonely. Not a really sad kind of lonely, though- it was the emptiness of a screen door left ajar and an abandoned cup of coffee on a clean white counter. It smelled clean- not like bleach or anything, just cared-for. I was a little bit surprised that it wasn’t more impersonal, but it’s hard to repress the character of all these people who pass through here. The airport itself smells emptier- like Mrs. Baird’s bread or something. But the people are fun to watch. I’m sitting across from my gate (its own seating area is filled with people ready to board an earlier flight to Bozeman, MT), separated from it by one of those conveyer belt walkways, on which people are walking unnaturally fast; almost gliding. I didn’t use it- I used to love those as a kid, but now I prefer walking at my own pace. I’m not in any sort of hurry, anyway. I’ve got a four-hour layover.

A young guy just walked by in a dress shirt and a tie, but his tie was loose and so was his expression- looking around, wondering. He was carrying a big brown backpack and a thick book I didn’t recognise. A backpack plus a tie is a bit of an odd combination. I wonder if he was going to or from home.

Another fairly young man walked up to the beginning of the conveyer belt with his little son. The boy took off down the belt in a fit of excitement, and his dad grinned a grand smile and waved before playfully chasing after the kid. People with kids are the only adults who seem to get excited by airports. When you show something to a child, it’s almost like seeing it for the first time yourself. I saw a lady sitting on the floor with her kids, dealing out cards for a game of (probably) Go-Fish. There are quite a few families sitting on the carpet in friendly circles, eating airport food and wearing Disneyland hoodies.

A few seats down from me, an Asian man is yelling into his phone at 100 miles per hour, clearly incredulous about something.

I just looked up and made eye-contact with the boy across from me- a basketball-shorts-wearing dude with a red Nike shirt and blue, blue eyes. Other than his eyes, there’s not too much to be said for him. His earbuds appear to be glued in. I smiled at his dad, who only stared at me. I like it better when people smile back.

A lot of people here are dressed the same. Polos, t-shirts, Aeropostale shirts, jeans, cargo shorts, backpacks. Sometimes I see someone wearing something really unique, like the lady in the sundress that was longer in the back than the front. She was accompanied by a little girl in a similar dress, and both of them looked like they had come from the Bahamas.

There’s a woman pushing two strollers at the same time. I do not envy her. I remember dragging two roller bags around Boston a few years back, and that’s not at all my favourite memory of that trip.

There’s a guy with a musical instrument case of some kind. I can’t tell what instrument it is, but its small, rectangular surface is covered in vibrant stickers.

Airports are always such hubs of action. It’s almost overwhelming. One could come here to escape from life, and I wonder if some people are trying to do just that- they look so defeated. Here I am watching humanity stream by- hearing the rumble of suitcase wheels and the “ding-ding” of cellphones, watching the rush, the energy, the importunate crowds, and I wonder what the hordes of humanity think of me. I know the answer to that already, though: they don’t.


I went to buy a sandwich at Schlotsky’s, which was nearly twice as expensive as they are outside of this transport trap. There was an old man in line behind me carrying a box from Build-a-Bear. He said he bought it for his grandson. He also had a wad of $100s in his money clip.

Another man in this waiting area is playing rock music on his ipod, out loud for all to hear. He’s sort of singing along, too. That’s more something you’d expect from a teenager instead of a middle-aged guy.

I should write about Montana, but airports are so intriguing. Every time I look up, it’s something else: the lady and her daughter hopping like rabbits down the conveyer belt, the girl wearing multiple scrunchies around her ponytail, the man laughing at his wife because she’s going to buy a Colorado magnet despite the fact that they’re not even leaving the airport, the guy who looks just like Michael from the back, the little girl in the sparkly tutu, the European man wearing white linen pants (ew?). I’d like to see all these people in their natural habitats. I’d like to follow them around the world.

Remembering the highlights of my glorious week in Montana, I think the drive up to the pass on the way to Yellowstone National Park was the most gorgeous thing. We climbed that steep, winding road like trout zig-zagging upsteam. And suddenly, there were no more trees. And suddenly again, there was snow. I waded through it in my shorts and cowboy boots, ducking Alison’s little brother’s snowballs. And it was all so huge up there. Looking down was like looking down into another world. Mountains awaken my soul to sing. The week I spent among them was exciting and rejuvinating, filled with hikes up to cascading waterfalls, wild raspberries, rafting, s’mores toasted over the gas grill, Doctor Who marathons, and small-town charm. I had incredible hosts and incredible adventures. The only negative elements of the trip were the massive mosquitoes (you think everything’s bigger in Texas? I’m afraid not.) and the sunburns. Oh, but I won’t even remember the negative things. We had a brilliant time.

Favourite quote of the trip, an exchange from when we were stopped in a long line of cars for two hours in Yellowstone because a massive herd of bison was traveling along the road ahead of us:
Ali: What if we’re stuck here all night?! Where would we sleep? What would we eat? Where would we go to the bathroom??
Mrs. L: That tree. For all your questions.

Now here I am on a plane to Austin, drinking Pepsi without ice, ignoring the endless car commercials on the tiny television screen in front of me, and wearing a jacket. I’m going home to Texas and I’m wearing a jacket. For some reason, that’s amusing. I finished reading “Catcher in the Rye” a few minutes ago, which starred a boy with a pointless life. His pointless life was probably the point of the book, but I was unimpressed, except by the writing style imployed by Salinger, which was detailed and interestingly cynical. But like “Gulliver’s Travels”, the book was just too annoying to be enjoyed, and it didn’t resolve, and it had too much language.

Another airplane just flew under us, looking very tiny. The funny thing is, it was flying sort of horizontally. It looked like it was being blown off-course, following its pointing left wing. I hope that’s supposed to happen. I’m told it has something to do with physics and relative distance, which, although I did study it once upon a time, is endlessly intriguing and confusing.

The only bad thing about window seats is that, if you’re on the 3-seat row side of the plane, you would have to crawl over two people if you had to go to the bathroom… or, I should say, the “lavatory”. I wish they wouldn’t say “lavatory”. It sounds snooty. Is there something wrong with just calling it the restroom? Or you might as well call it the “loo”. At least that’s British.

There’s a picture of an ermine on the wing flap of this plane.

I forgot one thing I liked in “Catcher of the Rye”. A quote by psycho-analyst Wilhelm Stekel: “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” I think that’s very true, and sometimes very hard to take. Sometimes, dying is easier.

times of our lives

“Long live the walls we crashed through! I had the time of my life with you.”

What with having graduated last May and all of my family’s <british accent> mental </british accent> activities this spring (read: baby sister born in February, slightly-less-baby sister getting married in two weeks), I found myself whizzing through the semester with a sorry lack of NCFCA. I had all these plans last year… plans to coach speech and debate, plans to go to as many tournaments as I could… plans. We plan, God laughs. But as it turned out, even though I didn’t get to plug into the league as early in the year as I would have liked, I was able to attend the two last Region 4 tournaments of the year, as an alumni judge. And oh, blimey, have I missed this. Walking around in the same facilities in which I competed just last year brought back so many memories. I have three years’ worth of those memories. When I was competing, I kept a document solely for the purpose of chronicling some of the small ones, the unimportant ones, the kind of memories that spin the world. Perhaps now is a good time to revisit them. But prepare yourself: there are quite a few.

Warm-Up, 2009-

First tournament ever! I did NOT like my clothes, especially one day when I wore a maroon-ish argyle blouse. =P

My first speech ever in this league occurred on the third floor in room #360.

Christina Hastings and I were constantly quoting Wall-E at each other… specifically, “You look GORGEOUS!”

With little practice, no feedback, and no club to call my own, I managed to break at this, my very first tournament.

National Open, 2009-

I got my first 1st place ballot at this tournament. In Apologetics. I remember being shocked.

Since I didn’t break, this was the only tournament ever when I timed a semi-finals speech round.

Alamo Qualifier, 2009-

Late one night, at our host house, I was getting ready for bed when the power suddenly blacked out. Completely and totally. I brushed my teeth in the light of my cell phone. And it was freezing cold, just as a plus. Turns out, someone turned on the microwave and for some reason it shorted the system. I believe that Mr. Hastings had to go outside in the freezing cold (and rainy) night to flip it back on.

This was the tournament when I tried to take lots of pictures of people who matched each other. (partners or otherwise)

Paul Putman and I walked through the halls singing songs from Mary Poppins one afternoon!

The four Pevensies were created. ❤

Regionals, 2009-

Sometime during prelims, I wrote my first ‘Timing TP’ poem while timing Maisano/Upham against another team I can’t remember! They’re probably in my records somewhere.

The gym was on the second floor, and it was often in use when we were competing. NOT a brilliant plan on the part of that church. =)

I was so tired on the last day that I literally tried to take a nap under the stairs. But people found me, and we ended up taking an awesome group ‘sleeping under the stairs’ picture.

Frisco practice tourney, 2009-

Here is where I learned the ‘Roll’ game, where you can get people to roll on the floor if they’re not doing the ‘block’ properly. The things we do sometimes… 😉

It was so frigidly cold during the tournament. And since we had two competition buildings, we students perfected this sort of mad dash from one to the other, holding our suit coats tightly closed.

DFW Qualifier, 2010-

One of my HI judges at this tournament wrote that I should consider wearing a more generic outfit to fit my performance. I had been wearing a grey pencil skirt, a white button-down blouse, and black heels at the time. How much more streamlined can you get? =)

During lunch one day, Paul Hastings came over to finish my leftover food, and he tried to force me to write cryptic notes to place in Owen Stroud and Nathan E.‘s instrument cases. I actually gave in… but I made the notes less cryptic than he had intended, i.e, “You did great in extemp (he wasn’t doing extemp). Love, Paul Hastings.” Paul ripped out his name, and put it in anyway. 😉

There was an incredibly tempting grand piano in the foyer that we were told not to touch. That was a trial. =)

It’s hard to believe something could be so convenient, but there was a room PERFECT for dancing and containing an upright piano :right: next to the fellowship hall. We taught the Virginia Reel and the Patty-cake Polka and the broom dance, and more! Plus, the vivacious timer lady sang with our live accompanists. What fun.

National Open, 2010-

During the accidental break between LD and TP finals, I ate dinner at the Pei Wei about 3 blocks and 4 parking lots down with a bunch of friends. When we got done, we walked back in the dark. And it was incredible.

Timing TP 2 was written at this tournament. Little did I know what would happen to it!

I learned the Highland Polka during TP finals. =)

Regionals, 2010-

Tim taught me how to two-step in the hallway, much to the amusement of the hall monitor.

The tournament staff had warned us to look out for snakes on the campus (Concordia). And one day when Owen and Molly and I were meandering along the paths for some reason, we spotted one eating a lizard. It wasn’t very big at all, but Molly and I still kept our distance. I had my back to Owen while I was watching the snake, and he suddenly lowered his voice and said, “Grace, don’t move.” So I didn’t. =) But I barely had time to register his urgent admonition before he laughed and said ‘just kidding’. =D

Tim told Caroline and I the ‘awkward waiter’ story. Historical moment. =)

Caroline brought her pink bubble wand… and… we used it. “You two will be the death of me!” -Tim

Nationals, 2010-

At the hotel on the Navy base, we had a large bag of sour skittles. I ate many. And read someone’s book about dragons at the same time. 😐

Also at this tournament, I nearly forgot to give my speech during a round. I was sitting around talking blissfully, when Christina came up and announced happily that she was done for that round. I was all like, “oh, yay!” until I realized with an audible gasp that I WASN’T done, and the building in which I was to speak was all the way at the other end of the campus (Regent University). I ran all the way. (and I wasn’t late, after all)

Their library was directly adjacent to the fellowship hall. I had the best of times foraging through all the books.

I did not participate in the massive game of ‘Ninja’ which happened on the last day and filled the entire front courtyard area! I did, however, dance the polka and Posties Jig with members of various regions.

Warm-Up, 2011-

It was myself and about 5 young men, standing in the chapel on the second floor and exchanging stories of how we had almost died.

While executing a particularly difficult move in my HI, I stumbled and almost fell flat on my face. That’s never the best thing to do when you’re worrying about whether your judges will penalize you for it. None of mine mentioned it, though!

The first day ended so early (8:00pm, I think), that a lot of us stayed to dance the Virginia Reel for another hour or so. =)

National Open, 2011-

A little timer gal asked Ben Amason what she should draw. He suggested Grendel from Beowulf. But at her protests that she couldn’t draw a ‘monstrous spirit’, he told her to draw a bunny. A few minutes later she came back with a picture of a cat sitting in a tree. =P

“Breaking in Extemp…. Brandy Clayton.” -Mrs. Hudson

Right before the awards ceremony, Sarah Maddux had to leave to go back to A&M. She had a few guy friends with her, and I was teasing them about not letting them take Sarah back. Abruptly, this one guy says to me, “We will pay you some really wonderful compliments if you’ll just do us a big favour. Can you let us know who won TP finals?”
“Oh, sure! I’ll text Sarah.”
Then this guy whom I’ve never seen before in my life begins to shower me with the most extravagantly exaggerated compliments:
“Thank you so much! Your eyes are like twin amber sunsets over stretches of misty forests….” etc. and so on. He took my hand dramatically as he continued. How he was coming up with all this off-the-cuff, I had no clue. He must have used this tactic on others before me! I was laughing extremely hard, but I managed to get into the part a bit, fanning myself with my hand, and acting faint with happiness. It was some kind of hilarious.

I still can’t believe that I got 2nd place in OO and thus qualified to Nationals. So flooring. Also, I picket-fenced two rooms: OO and TI.

After the awards ceremony, ARC had planned a ballot party at our hotel, but Kathryn, Anna, and I wanted to go to IHOP with YSA and LOGOS and 19:14. So we convinced Mrs. Macdonald, and lovingly ditched ARC for the time. That night was amazing. We stayed until at least 1:20, laughing our heads off about everything.

Austin Qualifier (TX State), 2011-

What do Predestination, Catholicism, Science, and the 4th Dimension have in common? They were all exciting conversation topics when Avery and Nathan and I sat around a table for the better part of 2 hours. It’s unbelievably wonderful how we can be kindred spirits and true friends even when we disagree.

Jason Halvorson was happier than I was when my DI advanced to finals. The kid is adorable. I love him a ton. Also, he sent a bunch of us into spasms of laughter when he jumped into our conversation circle (sitting on the sidewalk outside before awards) and dealt out high fives, saying, “Hey, it’s all my homies!!”

I literally sobbed through the entire last half of my DI in semis. I love crying in dramatic productions.

Owen and I went into a back room with Molly to practice the Timing TP song before performing it for everyone, and we had the BEST time singing it in ridiculous operatic voices.

Having never received a 1st place award in speech before, I was thrilled to get 1st in OO and TI. (Because of this, I received an invitation to the THCS banquet in Austin, which was a formal affair with disgusting salad and hanging out on balconies.)

Abilene Qualifier, 2011-

I began to feel pretty sick on Wednesday night during script submission, and it worried me that I might have to pull out of multiple events. But God was so amazing and He pulled me through it.

Debating (only time ever) was such fun. Mostly. I went against some super fun and skilled people, like Kelton Brisack and Graham Wegsheid and Brady Clayton. How I ended up with 2nd place speaker, I have no idea?

Alison L. and Elizabeth C. appointed themselves to be my ladies-in-waiting. =) Alison: “Grace, you are going to have all the nations fighting over you. Can I get front row seats?”

The gym floor was a slightly rubbery surface, and I was quite excited when I discovered that marbles could bounce super high on it.

Brooks Clayton was my trash-emptying buddy. =) We made all the rounds during TP finals.

I got a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 5th&below in every impromptu room.

Regionals, 2011-

Saw on a white board: “Wear short sleeves; support your right to bare arms.”

Alison guarded me from men a lot. Whenever she saw me in a group of mostly guys, she got all defensive and hilarious. Apparently, I am very vulnerable according to her. 😉

Caroline came to see me, and we sang Broadway songs outside for roughly an hour. ❤

Got first in Thematic for the 3rd time in a row… ((what? cool.))

My last tournament in Region 4, and I was still meeting people! Worthless? Never.

Nationals, 2011-

You can read about my experiences at Nationals here. =)

of recreation

My head was spinning faster than the wheels of the truck as the country roads took me away from home. I forced myself to slow down on the curves and tried to remember if I was forgetting anything. The easiest item to forget is the cell phone charger, but even that was tucked away between a curling iron and a book I needed to return. My mind was parched for the purple scent of pine trees. They have this way of expanding the sky and putting parentheses around the stars and reminding me that I’ve forgotten the mountains.


Sometimes I wonder why I’m the only one who shivers with delight upon entering that ugly church. I’d like to have it on a key chain, address it in diminutives, and write a song about each of the horrendously-painted walls. Exhilaration is sitting in a corner in the depths of its environs and listening to all the memories jostling each other above my head. “Hi, remember when we danced the Scottish polka and lamented the loss of those pointless hanging branches?” “Oh, yes I do, and don’t you recall walking through the hallways in hose and nearly falling down the stairs every time?” Are memories more indigenous to any other place on earth? The place was rampant with them.


The clicking of a pink pen woke me up and I found that I was on the other side. Separated from my former self by a table and a judging philosophy, I told my face to be responsive and tried to look official. Several people felt the need to tell me that I looked closer to sixteen than nineteen, but I preferred to pretend I didn’t care. My name tag was blue, my Converse were yellow, and the world was at my feet for a weekend, even when I slipped on the stairs. Incidentally, there’s only one letter’s difference between “stairs” and “stars”.


Strange Scottish accents kept us up until four in the morning, along with debates about debate, Whataburger shakes and way-too-loud-for-a-small-truck music. We reveled in each others company, and oh, how I had missed you all.


And suddenly a new scene clicked into focus like a slide on one of those paper discs that pop into those hand-held magnifying picture things. I cannot remember what they’re called to save my life, but they’re made of plastic, and you squeeze a lever to flip to the next slide. I think you could get them at McDonald’s sometimes. At any rate, a new scene clicked into focus like picture on one of those enigmatic devices, and we were wandering around in the dust of a noisy carnival– petting baby alpacas, eating over-priced funnel cake, and watching people fail at impossible-to-win games. And we went to the auction and cheered and clapped and enjoyed the excitement for exactly twenty minutes… and then it was all just noise. What is it about a person whistling loudly enough to wake the dead that makes me want someone to hold my hand? A borrowed jacket and “camelot” written on my arm kept me sane.


I personally don’t think it’s fair that Best Buy carries “Torchwood” and not “Doctor Who”. But eating Chik-fil-A fries while sitting on the edge of a potentially pretty landscaping plot which was flooded with greenish plants that dipped their fronds in our ketchup honestly made up for it. We toured the Conroe shops (I bought books), and then it was back to the carnival for dizzying rides and hanging upside down in our seats while taking iphone videos and bending a few rules on the ferris wheel.


I think you’re all pretty sort of marvelous. You sweep away the dust of Being from my life and remind me where I’m going. You accost me on my journey and make it beautiful. It was a jolly holiday- worthy of British adjectives and accents. (Surely it’s not our fault if the Indian guy at the gas station was confused.) We’ll do it again sometime.

Or maybe we could go out sometime… for texting and scones.

(If you get that reference, I will hug you.)

Quotable 2011

It’s my favourite way to commemorate the year just past. I hope you enjoy the following collection of quotes from 2011.

Dad: Now, this is a narrow street, so watch how I make this U-turn. *makes turn while explaining* Okay, so see how tight that was? Sometimes U-turns are illegal, though, so you know not to make those.
Me: *looking back* Uhhhh… I’m just now realizing that there was an “illegal U-turn” sign back there…..
Dad: Oh, really? Oh. … Yeah, it’s hard to make U-turns on tight streets like that. They put those no U-turn signs up for people who don’t know how to make turns like that. Thankfully, I know how to do it safely. SO it doesn’t really apply to me.
Us: *laughing*

Anna: Come this way, Alan!
Alan: To Isengard, to Isengard!

Me, pop-quizzing the family on vocabulary: ‘Extraneous’. The root is “extra”, which means “out”….
Emily: OUT OF A TRAIN!!! ….um, out of CONTROL! Like, extra “reign” eous.
Mom: Oooh! Extra rainy!

Dad: You’ve been a good boy during devotion tonight so far, Alan!
Alan: I would be happy if you finished.

“Alan, don’t swing the sword around. Just point it at people.” -Dad

“You are being especially clever tonight.” -Emily, to me

Me: (looking at senior photos) I can’t pick one!
Christina: It’s because you’re just too lovely and photogenic.
Me: But you don’t mention those 300 pics you deleted.
Christina: Well… we just won’t talk about those!

“The topic I’ve chosen today is self-worth. Now, judges, *pointing* you’re ugly, you’re fat, and YOU’RE stupid. Now listen up, especially you, the stupid one.” -Luke (*spoofing impromptu*)

Nathan: Grace, are you a yankee?
Owen: Of COURSE she’s not!

“Yay, my cupcake is here! I will kill it!” -Emily (at a rehearsal for the battle scene from Beauty and the Beast)

“Death is only romantic when the SINGLE person dies.” -Alison

Anna: The reason there’s paint all over the floor is because Michael..
Michael: I did NOT make paint angels on the floor, Anna.
Anna: *laughing* No, no, it’s just, (*to me*) Michael kicked the bucket!
Michael: *he and I chuckle* I’m standing right here! Don’t tell lies.
Anna: I’m not! He kicked it! It was an accident!
Michael: Well at least I didn’t do it on purpose! *he and I laugh again*
Anna: *totally confused* …and it spilled everywhere.
Michael: Ugh! Gross!
Me: Hahahaha! Anna, do you know what the phrase, ‘kick the bucket’ means?
Anna: Ummmm…
Me: It means to die.
Anna: …*starts laughing*

“I have a photographic memory. In my mouth.” -Isaac

Nathan: Well, if you have to go, I don’t want to keep you.
Me: You just want to throw me away??
Nathan: How did I know you would say that?!
Me: Because you’re you and I’m me and we get along. =)

Alan: Awww, look at yourself!
Me: Why?
Alan: Because yourself is pretty!


I took a week off from real life. I wandered up and down the bank of the Frio River like a wanderer come home, stepping on the same ground I visit every year. I remembered a game I made up when I was very young: trying to walk as far as possible without touching anything except cypress tree roots. I spent my childhood here, and somehow I managed never to take it for granted. It’s the simplest place in the world, a combination of peaceful and exciting that I needed so much. When did I turn into a grown-up with a life to escape from?

You would love those sprawling cliffs and the deep water below them. When you swim ten feet above the lazy catfish parties, it’s like you’re alone in an aquamarine mystery, and the mystery is more beautiful than the answer. I don’t think there is an answer, and that’s why it’s beautiful. The breeze turns the stillness into contented energy, and little ripples kiss your upper lip again and again like there’s no tomorrow and all we have is now. The past is gone and the future will never come and no one cares. You just swim into the 4 o’clock sun. You see poetry in everything. And for once, you exult in being alone… but then you’re not alone. Because your little sister and your fabulous cousin come and play seals right next to you, and then you exult in being not-alone. And you swim through the ripples to the diving log and pretend it’s a ship. Sometimes you can feel a fresh-water spring under you and it’s so COLD you scream and everyone thinks you saw a snake and then you laugh at them.

Then it’s eleven in the morning on another day and you’re alone again, down by the rope swing without much sunscreen, building a waterfall and channels for three hours. When you’re finished, it’s a quality establishment, and that sunburn on your back? It hardly matters. And your chipped fingernail polish? It doesn’t matter at all.

There’s a big hill from the upper campground to the lower campground, and it’s perfect for riding your bike with no brakes. People talk about throwing precaution to the wind, but I don’t think that’s what happens. I think the wind whooshes around you so fast that it snatches your precaution away from you, whether you’re holding it tightly or not. And I never hold mine tightly on that hill anymore. I’ve been hurtling down it at top speed ever since I was nine years old.

You would love the annual catfish-fry… sitting on rocks with fishing poles all day long, baiting with hot-dogs, naming the fish you catch, and throwing away the “stanleys”. And then at the end of the day, you haul your stringer back up to the cabin and your dad tries to show you how to clean the fish and it’s disgusting but now you’ll be able to survive in the wild. If you had a knife. And matches or flint. And cornmeal and Lowry’s salt and oil to coat the fish with. I fried them this year, and it took forever.

Oh, and then when you feel like it, you can walk up to the office and charge any number of ice-creams to your family’s account.

It was a week of enchantment and detachment. When being alone didn’t ever feel lonely. A week of painted rocks and curious fish and family and hardly any other campers to bring my mind back to the present. I don’t think I took a week off from real life, really. I think I took a week of visiting it. Maybe paradise is what’s really real, and everything else is simply the contrast material.

Scratch the maybe.

Ah, but the contrast material always seems so very contrasting when I come home. When I was a kid, I used to be sad to come home because home wasn’t as fun. But now I’m sad to come home because home is so much less home. It’s so much more complicated. Here is where I have to think about the future and figure out how to deal with the past. Here is where alone always feels lonely. But I tell myself to get a grip and wear a smile, because even while I miss that carefree river, a River of Life is flowing inside of me and I only have to look to the Source to realize that I will never despair and I will never let go. Even when all I want is to fade, there’s colour holding onto me that won’t let me give up. I can’t stay in paradise, but I can carry it with me always. And I will.