23rd Publication, September 19
– November 11
My rather lengthy summary of the summer and beginning of the school year is now being followed by a shorter relation of events. Unfortunately, the past two months have not been quite as newsworthy as the two months preceding them, but they kept me sufficiently busy to trammel me from getting certain extracurricular activities done, such as writing my newsletter.
Many have thought, and bolder ones have insinuated, and brash ones have exclaimed outright that I have a captious demeanor. No, I may love to debate, but I would call myself argumentative, not necessarily captious. However, these “friends” of mine were duly timorous when I announced I was going to a speech and debate conference.
One of the many people that I met online but rarely — if ever — in person was actually a fellow drama student this spring (she had also gone to French Creek the same week as I), and I had some communication with her brother. They were both apparently doing debate this year, and he had done it the year before. They, probably recognizing a contentious fellow when they met one, thought I would enjoy going to a speech and debate conference that was held by Communicators for Christ. They
(Kiersten and Nick Timpe, whom I shall call Thor, since that is his middle name) didn’t mention this to me until two weeks or so before the commencement of the conference, so I had to make a relatively hasty decision whether I wanted to go or not. I decided to go for it.
Because the conference was being held fairly far away from us, the Timpes’ offered to put me up for the five days—or maybe they said up with me. I’m not certain. I found out several days before the conference that Karen
Hudzinski, another online friend whom I had only met once, again at French Creek, was also going to the conference. Since neither of us had written our platform speeches (an original speech) which we were required to do, we decided we should write papers on a similar topic. At first we decided on the ideal wedding, (she was going to espouse a very odd hippie style wedding, complete with people sitting in trees and the groom riding up in a chariot and I was going to espouse a very odd gothic wedding, complete with trap doors and cowled monks), but we concurred that it wasn’t going to work as a speech, so instead we wrote on the existence of green hippos. She was for it, and I was against it. We had great fun, but unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to present them together, so much of the amusement to the audience was lost. Alas.
The one tenebrous cloud that hung over the conference was the dress code. For some reason unfathomable to man, the male students were forced to wear dress clothing and ties and the female students forced to wear dresses or some sort of “female dress pants” variation. Mom, of course, had a field day forcing me to buy clothing for this event. And so, I suffered greatly for my learning. Not many would be willing to endure what I did, but the other aspects of the conference were worth the pain and agony of formal clothing. At one point I fell into a paroxysm and started clawing wildly at my tie: my noose. Luckily Thor was able to restrain me, and after having a grape I calmed down somewhat and was able to pass the rest of the day in relative peace.
The conference itself — the actual content, that is — was pretty good. Since I was in the beginning class, I was above the general class level, since they had to accommodate students as young as twelve. However, I found solace from my boredom in young Jenkins, a precocious little fellow who carried around a tape recorder in his pocket. He was quite amusing, and we entertained ourselves — quietly — when the classes were on things we already knew. The conference had a general tendentious position for students who were planning on formal speaking or debating, so I realized that I would get the most out of the experience if I debated or spoke formally. I’ve contemplated the idea, but since debate would be naturally more appealing to me than public speaking, I looked into that. It requires an immense amount of research, and therefore time. The tournaments appear to be somewhat scattered and I do not know the cost. I decided for these various reasons to stick with my numerous informal debates, and leave formal debating for another time. Overall, it was quite enjoyable and informative.
My friend and comrade in Arm (or so we refer to each other), Paul MacDonald, returned victorious from his long campaign in Japan. His goals to visit the tourist attractions was completely fulfilled despite various attempts on the part of the Japanese people, such as mislabeling streets and siccing giant samurai mosquitos on him, to foil him. I had suffered greatly in his absence... much of my mordant wit and tricksome nature faded away without him to help me keep it alive with devious plots and wicked deeds. I was beginning to become dull and — worst of all — prosaic. Thankfully he returned, and we are both now back to our usual mischief.
I paid my cardiologist (in more ways than one) a visit a couple weeks ago, and I pronounced him fit as a fiddle and good for at least another year. I then humored him and let him try his hand at diagnosing me, and he, probably grateful for my previous comments and so willing to respond in kind, said I was probably not going to keel over — at least until the next visit. He did say, however, I was to refrain from caffeine and strenuous activities (weightlifting, etc.) So I anticipate many long days of reclining in front of the television, claiming that school is too strenuous for me...
The summer high school Bible study did not have enough people to continue into the school year, so I decided to have a monthly social event to keep a group together, in a sense, and hopefully use that group as a springboard to launch off the Bible study next summer on a better footing. I had a late start, however, but managed to get the first one off (a trip to a corn maze), with what I think was a great success, despite many travails along the way. At one point it looked like no one at all was coming, and I would have to cancel due to a lack of interest, but in the end, we had five people: Gabe, Anna, Paul, Elisabeth, and me. Elisabeth was yet another online acquaintance whom I met at French Creek (I’m sure my perceptive readers will notice a pattern here) whom I had told in jest that she was invited to come. Since she lives more than two hours away, I assumed that she wouldn’t be able to come, but, much to my surprise and delight, she could. I hid the fact that she was coming from the others (all of whom knew her to some degree or another), though the logistics became more and more complex. In the end, she stayed the night, and her family then picked her up Sunday afternoon and took her to Philadelphia, where she stayed for a week with her sister and brother-in-law. In any event, it was great fun surprising everyone else with her presence, and the corn maze was a big hit. Hopefully the next event (which is as yet undecided) will be as great a success.
Drama, or The BEAT, as it is sometimes called, has been going fairly well. It is composed of a fairly jovial crowd, and so the time tends to go swiftly. In addition, I’ve actually been able to make a decent — if not any better — presentation while on stage, so I have hopes of not having to commit suicide after the recital, which would put a damper on it, I would think... Though maybe it would increase the post-event celebrating. One day was “costume day.” We were all supposed to wear a costume of some sort. Sharon had dubbed Gabe “The little blue man who’s king of Iceland” and she dubbed me “The little green man who’s king of Greenland” and so for costume day, Gabe dressed up as the little blue man, and I dressed up as the little green man.
I have pictures of many of these events, and I still have a scintilla of hope that I will post them on the web site, however I now have great plans for my web site, which will probably never be fulfilled. I haven’t undated my web site in many months, other than putting new newsletters on it, and the basic format is still the same as a year ago. I’ve grown weary of FrontPage, in which I created my site, and so now plan to re-create my web site in Dreamweaver, which is a much nicer, powerful, and complicated program. To facilitate this, I’ve been learning how to use Dreamweaver, and so I will have to essentially re-create the web site, cutting and pasting information from the old web site to the new. I plan to completely re-design it as well. A companion to Dreamweaver, Fireworks, is a picture-editing program designed specifically for editing images for the web. I’ve been using that to edit all my images, which is also impeding the swift completion of this project. However, when it is done, I’m hoping that you will all be stupefied by the effulgence of it.
During the summer, as you may recall, Mom and I volunteered as ushers at the Shakespeare festival. This wasn’t from altruistic motives, really, since we wanted to see the plays for free, and that was the safest way to do so. There was an appreciation banquet for the volunteers, which Mom couldn’t go to for some reason (I think she was sick), so Poppa went in her stead. Throughout the dinner he had to keep explaining that he really isn’t a volunteer, just sitting in for Mom. The dining room was somewhat tight quarters, but the food was acceptable (except for the mushrooms on the chicken...). Afterwards there was a forty-five minute production of Julius Caesar. This was, in fact, the Shakespearean play, though very much abridged. It was tailored for high school students, and so had some modern aspects, but overall it was very good.
Nana and Poppa, being the famous celebrities that they are, now that they’ve made their Hollywood debut in a two-second Windows XP commercial, contracted a speaking engagement in Los Angeles from a Thursday to Monday. This went well, and they returned with many tales of tearful farewells when they said goodbye to the conference participants (we are lead to assume that the tears were of sorrow, and not joy).
Mom signed me up for a book club at the library twot years ago, and thought it was quite enjoyable, I’ve been sliding down the slippery slope. Over the summers the librarians roped me into the helping sign kids into the computers in the youth section, and once or twice they have gotten me to help at book sales. Recently they convinced me to join the Teen Advisory Board, which is a group of twelve or so teenagers who discuss such things as the plans for the summer reading program and various other events and things pertaining to the youth section. It was much more enjoyable than I expected, and the meetings are quite fun (not in that little work is done, but the work is fun). I think that the board ha benefitted from my presence as well, since they previous only had one boy, so I’ve doubled that, I’m apparently the only one on the board with any technical experience, and I tend to have somewhat controversial ideas, which at least get things stirred up.
School, as ever, continues to plod onwards. This year I am taking chemistry with Dad, world history, Latin II the aforementioned drama, and AP English Language and Composition as an online course. The circumambient presence of these various unsavory creatures could do much to make one’s life dull and gloomy, but I persist against them as best I can. Though they perpetually threaten to overcome me once and for all, I have always managed with a clarion to rally the cadre of stalwart supporters to man the ramparts and beat the beasts back.
Mom has for many months being prognosticating doom for our van and seeing sundry ill portents and omens. I merely attributed it to her gloomy nature, and discounted most of her claims. However, it appears she was right, in that last week the van gave up the ghost with a great billow of smoke, and now shall be consigned to the great graveyard of all vehicles, where scavengers pick at their bones, and they slowly rust away. Never ones for great emotion and mourning, we wasted no time in searching for a new van, and have now purchased one that I have been informed is white. I suppose you will have to wait until the next newsletter to hear more, since we won’t be able to get it for several days, since they are repainting some chipped sections.
Nana and Poppa have been worrying about their car as well, and were planning on purchasing a new one, but their plans were accelerated when their engine caught on fire when Poppa was trying to start it. Luckily it was a small fire, and Dad managed to extinguish it by closing the hood, after backing our car (at that point our only vehicle that was still running) away, and while Nana was busy dialing “991” and wondering why she wasn’t getting through to the switchboard. All in all, it was very comical in the retelling, but I imagine somewhat less so in actuality. Nana and Poppa, being even less sentimental than we, bought an ersatz car that night.
This past Saturday Gabe, Paul, Thor and I finally realized a much planned out event. We had long planned and afternoon of “fun and games” either preceded by or followed by a sleep over, and it finally crystalized into fun and games Saturday afternoon a sleep over, then Paul would return with my family, who would drop him off at his house after church, and Thor would return with the Wests, and his family would pick him up at the Wests’ house. This all worked out, and Gabe picked me up, then we picked up Paul, and we returned to his house, and Thor arrived shortly thereafter. We had much fun, had many rubber band wars, and divided Gabe’s room in three — one side, the other side, and no man’s land. We also did numerous other things, including drawing a life sized portrait of Gregory the Mischief Maker, the object of Hannah’s (Gabe’s sister) greatest hatred and antipathy. Gregory is someone that Gabe constructed one day when he should have been doing school, but was instead pondering what would most rile his sister. He has a pointy face, and body, is only about three feet tall, and has a pointy wooden flute and pointy wooden shoes.
On a final note, Mr. Barshinger, the father of Anna and Sharon and husband of Mrs. Barshinger (who runs the drama class along with Gabe and Anna), was in a car accident last week, and had numerous bones in numerous limbs broken, and so shall be a long time convalescing and rehabilitating. However, the good news is that there should be no permanent damage. So, if you all could keep the Barshingers in prayer, as this is obviously not the most easy of times for them.
Well, my matutinal writing is now finished, and I hope that you all have a pleasant week.
Postscript: I recently subscribed to a word of the day E-mail, and so I decided to employ the the first dozen or so words in this letter. If it seems exceptionally abstruse, that is why.
*Here Endeth the