Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Plus, Mom

Right now I'm sitting in a hospice house visiting my aunt Connie. Her battle with cancer is coming to an end, so I drove down from camp to say my goodbyes and see her one last time. My mom drove from Albuquerque to see her (and me, too, I'm guessing), so it's a fairly depressing family reunion. But I'm pretty sure that seeing your mom can fix any problems of life. Moms are great, and my mom is fantastic. I needed a mid-summer mom visit.
The reason this visit is so hard is because I have never seen someone with cancer. I mean, I've seen people with cancer, but I've never been around all the side-effects. My family doesn't have cancer in it, and so this is really the first experience I have had with seeing it so close. I had never realized just how severe the pain was. I had never realized how hard it is to watch someone you love slowly break down from the inside, but still have all the soundness of mind. My knowledge has been limited to those who fade both mentally and physically. I think it is much harder to watch someone go only physically, while knowing they have so much to live for and so much more that they want to do. I am sure that my aunt has total awareness when she is awake. She is still totally herself. At one point in our visit, my uncle Ed said to her, "Connie, I'm going to shift you over now," to which she responded, "I'm going to fight you." Totally Connie.
I don't think she's going to be going back home. I think she is in her final days, which really breaks my heart. For someone so dedicated to her family, so devoted to her church and her other passions and commitments, to be robbed of so many years - it is terrible to think about. There are so many people that value and depend on her. She is the central member of her family, the crux of them all, and a crucial member to her extended family. She is a wise and amazing woman of God, and I will miss her dearly. I cannot express how glad I am that I got to come down here one more time and see her and uncle Ed, even if she was too tired from medication to really talk. There is great comfort in bedside sitting.

In much happier news, I will now relate some highlights from my week at camp. Both of these have to do with being a wrangler. On Tuesday afternoon, no kids showed up for the third and final trail ride, so we decided to do a wrangler ride. We grabbed our horses and set off down the trail at a canter. We picked up speed, going into a gallop, turning fast around the trees at the sides of the trail. It was exhilarating. At one spot on the trail there is a little root that stretches across the path. My horse, Biscuit, jumped right over it. It was really fun.
The second fun thing is this: my wrangler friend Mel is teaching us other wranglers how to do drill! This is sort of like dance teams on horseback, making formations and doing cool-looking things in neat patterns. We practiced on Thursday and Friday morning. On Friday morning, we had our drill planned out. This drill, at full speed, should take about three minutes. The first time we just walked it all out, and it took about thirty minutes. The next time it only took fifteen, and the following two times we did it in five. It is so much fun, learning about a totally new (to me) aspect of horsemanship. Drill takes a ton of focus to get everything just right. It is very hard, but totally worth it. The horses were exhausted. I don't think any of them have trotted that much ever. They need to get in shape!
Okay, I'm going to hang out with my mom some more now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Humor Elitist

My second installment for Session 4. Lots of rain, which is fantastic in many ways. It keeps the temperature down, so you don't die of heat exhaustion. It also prevents overworking at the barn. There is still a lot to do, just everything is much easier.
The farrier came to the barn this week, so we all spent three days taking turns holding horses while they had their shoes changed. I got stepped on by my favorite horse during this time, but nothing worse than a swollen toe. It still kind of tingles a little bit. I don't know what that means.
All in all, it was a pretty uneventful week. I had a lot of fun with my cabin. Their awesomeness never abated.
Yesterday on my time off, Jo and I went and saw Toy Story 3. It was fantastic. I cried. Jo laughed at me and then started crying. I laughed continually. There were two moments when I was cracking up and no one else in the theatre was even smiling. I don't remember which parts these were, I just remember being struck by the thought of how weird it was that no one else saw the humor in the moment. This thought made me just remember something.
A while back, I was at the movies with my friend Jared. A preview came on that was full of crass humor, and the full theatre was all in stitches, except for me and Jared. I looked at him and said, "Sometimes, when everyone else laughs at something that you don't find funny, do you secretly think you're smarter than them?" He said yes. I kind of agree. I do that too. But I think while I was watching Toy Story 3, the same thing was going through my head, but in reverse. It was so clear to me that the animators and story board people and directors thought that those two moments would be funny, but I was the only one who caught the joke. I suppose you might call me a humor elitist.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week 1 of 2

I am on my day off during my first two-week session. One thing I can't get over is the fact that parents will send their seven-year-olds to two straight weeks of camp. I would hate to be the counselor of a cabin of ten homesick seven-year-olds. Pure misery. Thankfully, I am in a cabin of 16-year-olds, and they are blessedly awesome and amazing! This week of camp has been wonderful, from the campers to the weather, which has been significantly cooler than past weeks.

I write to you today from Joplin, Missouri. Since I had a few extra hours for my time off, I drove up here yesterday afternoon and went to a traditional Third of July cookout with Momma J and Papa Ryan - and Josh, of course. There was lots of delicious food, along with great fireworks, and a bunch of people I didn't know, which was fine, because all but about four of them were adults. I can totally get rest from camp by being around adults for a day. Win.

Good news: The pink eye is gone! On Sunday when I was at camp, the pink eye was really bad. Usually on Sundays I would be greeting campers and their families, but we didn't want to scare families by showing them my terrifying eye, so instead of my usual job, I was sent to a place where no one would possibly have to see me: the radio room. All afternoon, I made announcements over the loudspeaker at camp. It was actually really nice. I was in the air conditioned office, and I had a lot of extra time to myself in between making the announcements. I used the time to write some letters and doodle on a Post-it note.

Since the weather was so much cooler this week, all the wranglers went on a couple trail rides during rest period out to the hay barn pasture. While there, we would run our horses around and have a good time. One day I rode my favorite camp horse, Biscuit, who is afraid of everything but is still awesome. He's the youngest horse at camp, and is very poorly put together, but I love him. Anyway, we came in third in a wrangler race. It was a lot of fun to go at a gallop and a canter, since all of our trail riding with campers is at a walk and we rarely even go over that in the arena. It was a literal great change of pace.

This morning I got to go to Carterville for church. This is what I was most excited about for my day here in Joplin. The service was marked with sadness, as I found out when I got there that a deacon in the church had taken his own life on the Tuesday prior. Even with this event having taken place, the family of the man was at church this morning. I got to see the body of Christ lived out as the congregation gathered to pray. The minister, Robin, preached an excellent sermon about the elephants in the room: that we are in a serious war; that we need to stop fighting each other, but we should come together and fight as one against Satan; and that it is okay to have anger, but that anger should lead us to righteousness, not to sin. I felt blessed to share my morning with such an amazing family. I also got to see some of my family group that I was in this past school year, which was great. I had been keeping up with them through email, but I was really glad to get to see the Jordans and the Fewins in person. All in all, a great trip.

And now I have to go rather quickly, for I am supposed to be back at camp in less than two hours, and that's about how long it takes to get there from Joplin.

But really quick, a shoutout to those who responded to a previous post and have sent me camp mail: Thank you to David Heffren, Jessica Scheuermann, Candice Summers, and my mom. Camp mail is just about the best thing ever. I love and miss you all!