Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mafia and the Texans

This is a story.

A story of thunderstorms, musicals, surprise, and a very happy ending.

This is the story of the Mafia and the Texans.

(in other words, the story of my Washington DC adventures)

To begin: I did not expect anything out of these four days spent in DC. I expected to be bored and alone and glued to my lovely computer screen. None of the expected happened. I arrived and discovered that they charged money for the internet. And then I went to "child care" and that ended the boring part.

Here is a post I wrote during the week:

Just a moment ago we had the most exciting hotel experience I ha’ve ever encountered. Yes my friends, there was a fire in the hotel! We didnÂ’t even hear the alarms in our rooms. Mom was heading toward the elevators and heard it coming from the stairwell so she came back and got the rest of us and we scurried down 16 flights of stairs. I think I was the most intense as I lead the charge down the stairs behind this old couple who took their time. This eerie voice kept blaring at every floor: “An emergency has been reported. Please exit at the stairwells. Do not use the elevators. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. (etc, etc, etc)” Very exciting. Sadly though, we were only put out of our rooms for a mere fifteen minutes before they let us back on the elevators. Thank goodness that we didnÂ’t have to walk up those sixteen flights that we had just flown down!

What a way to start a weekend!

Actually, the excitement began about 30seconds after we left the front door. A car flew out of their driveway backwards and we nearly smashed into the rear end of them. And the pavement was wet which made our sudden swerve just as dangerous. See, they wouldnÂ’t have been hurt at all since no one was in their backseat but who knows that could have happened to us.

It has been an eventful time in a bad sort of way.

Met up with some old friends. Really old. So old that I canÂ’t remember the last time that we actually talked about anything. It was fun however as they are easy going people. Mary Grace and Will taught us how to play dominos which we enjoyed and chatted for a bit. It is so strange to meet up with people from my childhoodÂ… and then try to talk with them. But it wasnÂ’t so bad and they are really neat people, more like getting to know strangers than someone I once knew.

Dad let me have a laptop and the keyboard is magnificent. I adore the typing noise it makes. (sigh blissfully) -end of post-

This was all prior to Thursday evening when I met some amazing people, namely Rachel and Richmond, our leaders for the weekend. They were from Texas and just splendid. Rachel had this great accent and strawberry blond hair which was too perfect to be real (it was, in fact, very uncolored). Richmond was so cool and fun to be around. They lead all our games and made sure we were in the right spot and everything but mostly they just played with us which is exactly what I needed: some fun times.

Friday we went on a bus tour of DC which beat the heck out of walking all that way. Saw the monuments and the Air and Space museum. That really wasn't our most enjoyable times. The first evening and all day yesterday were the best! We played mofia with all the other kids so many times! Hannah turned out to be unbeatable in the game. She could always sense who was lieing and we caught on real quick to go with her gut reactions when she accused someone. Rachel was so amazed at her skill. AND Richmond was impressed with her speed when we played capture the flag for two hours. Would you beleive it? I actually contributed in getting the flag! We played in this big field area that was covered in trees (ie there was a large grove of trees but all the brush and such had been cleared out and there was cut grass inbetween. It was a perfect spot!)

And of course, we met other really cool people. It felt a lot like WVA in that sense of having a ton of really unconnected people thrown together and yet we all came out without killing eachother and actually having fun with each other. Some snapshots:

Rachel: An amazing girl. I wouldn't have missed getting to know her for anything. She's a true southern lady in every sense of the word! Her accent is perfect which I immediatly picked up and have yet to shed though its fading fast! That happens when I get around those southerners! She's heading to California pretty soon to start graduate school after finishing a few years of being on staff with Young Life. She loves outdoors and extreme sports or anything else that involves Richmond Mcgee.

Richmond: The starting kicker for University of Texas, arch rivals of my dream school, Texas A&M. I soon forgave him for that though and really enjoyed getting to hang out with him and Rachel. The guys were really drawn to him in a lot of ways. And he doesn't give an inch in playing games! Ran over Gretchen and me in the pool to get that stupid squish ball... (shakes head)...

Will: An eighth grade guy that we haven't really gotten to know since he was five or so. He's turned out to be quite a hoot! He was always able to make us smile with his "Yes, my ol' friend, you shall see," and "Vegetable Medley" and "I'm the mofia. I told you I was!"

Andrew: We've decided that you can't go wrong with an Andrew. He was Will's counter part in that his dad went to Georgia Tech and his mom to Texas A&M. Will's parents went to UGA and he is an avid Texas Longhorns fan. Somehow these opposites made them become sidekicks to eachother. They were quite amusing. Andrew was the WORST mofia mayor I've ever seen but it made for some laughs trying to yell at him without talking (since I had been killed). "Dana died. They found her with her shirt all bloody which made it red even though it was red already."

Casey: This girl I met last new years. Actually, she is a second cousin of mine. What a character! She did some Highschool Musical imitations that made us all laugh. She has such a personality and is impossible not to love. Oh, and she isn't ticklish. She's "sensitive". ;-)

Joanna: this little sweetheart became an instant playmate for Jen. She was so sweet and carried around her stuffed animal that came alive when it met Jen's puppy, Light. They went around DC together on the bus trip. Joanna got her feet covered in blisters so Mom resorted to letting her run around the monuments in bare feet. The poor dear... we loved her.

Evangeline: Another Jane-ite. Really surprised me with what her personality had to offer. She could really sneak behind lines in those games of capture the flag! And, she loved Jane Austen. I knew I liked her!

Mary Grace: Cold all the time and great to chat with when I had a chance. She worked with the other kids most of the time so I didn't see her much. She did however introduce us to "Highschool Musical" which was amazingly funny. It made me smile. I couldn't stop actually.

[somehow we entirely missed getting a pic of her!]

What a weekend though! I'm so glad that Mom and Dad made me go so I could meet all these new people and enjoy getting to know new faces and play beyond my familiar comfort zones. It was great to get away and be in an entirely new setting with new people and be different than what I sometimes feel I have to be at home. And to think that I thought I would have a boring time... psh.

And THAT, ya'll, the storMafiathe Mofia and the Texans.

The End.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"...I spent it in good company"

These have been some crazy days and some crazy times. The world keeps spinning faster than I can keep up with it. I’m so dizzy but I think the ground is starting to adjust under my feet once more. The quickened paces of the new dance are coming less fumblingly. Is that a word? Fumblingly? I like it.
I’ve been working for most of this month at a break neck pace back the church “worshiping the porcelain” as Uncle Ronny puts it. What a character that man is… I’ll never meet any one else like him, not as long as I live. So far it has been enjoyable in its own way. We laugh at the messes we find and the people who made them. We laugh at each other and the staff. It’s been a good crew and there have been some amusing times with Hannah and Amy working with me. I’m so glad to have them mostly trained so that I don’t have to check on them after every job like I had to do in the beginning. After some minor mess-ups they’ve gotten it down. Amy in particular seems to have formed a passion for cleaning. Her favorite job is now to scrub the toilets within an inch of their lives. Hannah just likes playing with the urinals trying to get them to flush. J Don’t tell me I don’t have good coworkers. Nate even taught me how to park; haven’t had trouble since he told me the secret about lining my mirrors up with the line of the parking space. Who knew it could be so easy? Psh. He didn’t even have his license when he told me!
But today, I started another page in this summer’s chapter. Today I started work as an employee of Penn State College of Medicine working under Dr. Chester Ray in his lab, assisting his assistants (mainly Charity Sauder). As of right now, I’m perfectly useless but Dad said that everyone is like that the first week before they can start helping with the studies. This whole work job is really going to be a stretch for me in an amusing way, as I don’t plan on entering a science field at all. Mrs. Sproul asked me about it and I sheepishly replied that, no I wasn’t going to be in a science. Yeah, I’m an English major. That title always sounds lame when I say it. Somehow, English has gotten this connotation as a copout major for people who are too lazy to put their other talents to use. Maybe it is for a lot of people, but I really can’t see myself doing well in anything else. I love writing and reading and what other major caters to that so perfectly? Unless you count Biology textbooks as enjoyable reading, than there isn’t any other option.
Another exciting thing for me was becoming a nondegree student at Penn state Harrisburg. This opportunity is really cool. I went down to the campus today to get my account activated, which re-emphasized to me how lovely the place really, is. My classes next semester look good so I’m eager to try my hand in those.
But first, who could forget what lies right around the corner in WVA. Yes, that’s right. I get to go to World View Academy for a week as an “intern,” whatever that means or entails. They’ve forgotten to send me a bunch of info already so that’s been difficult but not impossible. Recently I’ve pulled out my old notes and began looking over them, which revealed how much I’ve forgotten. Could it really be two years since I last went to camp there? Two years since I saw Lauren and Amber? Two years since I learned from some of the most amazing staff ever? I don’t really see what I can add to the camp, which is discouraging, but hopefully, it will turn out all right and be amazing.
Speaking of Amber, I met the loveliest people last night at sports night. The Witwers brought some friends who were visiting them from Ireland of all places! These three girls were so much fun. I was sadly only able to hang out with them for ten minutes or so but I felt as if I had known them for years and years. Not since I met Amber have I ever fallen so easily into familiarity with someone. Even Lydia Forge took twenty-four hours. With these girls it took ten minutes. Lorene was a dear. She uses a lot of Keilah’s body language like the hand to the eyes as if she was shielding her site from something when she tells an embarrassing story. They spoke about the Swedish and the liberal Europeans and a camp that they go too and I talked about our Swedish “cousins” across the water and the difficulties of keeping those kids in clothes. In a way, I had this American conception of the strong Iris accent and flaming red hair. Actually, two had sandy blond and Lorene had dark brown. And they really sounded American more than from the UK other than a sweet Irish lilt to some of their words that could be easily missed if you didn’t know where they came from. I suppose my misconception would be like that of someone from Europe thinking that everyone spoke from the Deep South. (Sigh) I need to get out of the country more often. Anyway, I do hope that I’ll have a chance to speak with them more before they go back to Ireland at the end of August. Unfortunately, they aren’t staying in Hershey but perhaps they’ll have a chance to visit again.
Tomorrow the Ray Caravan takes off for an adventure in Washington DC. Should be better than our last attempt two years ago. I’m looking forward to a great time and hopefully sneaking into some of the talks by Peter Kreeft (author of The Journey and Between Heaven and Hell).
To conclude: my body is demanding some serious sleep after all the running around. I still haven’t caught up from visiting NY last weekend nor have I slept in since the beginning of work two weeks ago (not even a Saturday). Please write me while I’m away.