20 April 2011


Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Life has been very busy. Two weeks ago, I competed at the last "qualifying" tournament of the year. It was actually a STOA tournament, but it was the last low-level competition I attended. It was very fun, but even more fun was the Region X Invitational Tournament last week.

To make a long story short, I won my form of debate and the top speaker of that debate form, in addition to extemporaneous. My impromptu, persuasive, extemp, and debate have all qualified to NCFCA's Nationals, held in Boston this year. I've been chasing this goal for five years, and this one year, God blesses me so that all my events bar one reach this level. It seems unreal - it's overwhelming.

You know what's also overwhelming? School. I have gone from swimming in the stuff to drowning. AP tests to study for, essays to write, research papers to start and complete, books to be read and analyzed, college entrance SATs and the COMPASS tests for community college entrance, math homework weeks old, speech and debate to prepare for Nationals, and at some point I should probably start practicing violin again - considering I've only touched my instrument once in the past two weeks, since I've been out of town the rest of the time.

I'm having a marathon school-year. I've been looking forward to summer to relax and just chill, but even that seems to be filling up. Speech camp, possibly debate camp, mission trip to California, two nationals, and oh, let's see, the possibility of some sort of history convention. My driver's license. It's a lot. I'm starting to wonder when this is going to end. I can't see the end in sight, because next fall, I enter community college.

So, dear readers, if these posts start making less and less sense, you'll know exactly what's happening. My back-up marbles haven't shown up in the mail yet, and the current ones are currently fighting a losing war of attrition.


11 April 2011

Wake Up

It's Arcade Fire. 'Nuff Said. Wake Up, by Arcade Fire. I especially like the anthem-like introduction.

Somethin’ filled up
my heart with nothin’,
someone told me not to cry.

But now that I’m older,
my heart’s colder,
and I can see that it’s a lie.

Children wake up,
hold your mistake up,
before they turn the summer into dust.

If the children don’t grow up,
our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We’re just a million little god’s causin rain storms turnin’ every good thing to rust.

I guess we’ll just have to adjust.

With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’ to be
when the reaper he reaches and touches my hand.

With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’
With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am go-goin’

You better look out below!

04 April 2011

Ragdoll Physics

Well, this song is bipolar/interesting. Most probably, it's both at the same time. Ragdoll Physics, by the Diablo Swing Orchestra, is an interesting combination of old-time jazz and Wagner-style opera. I like it immensely. The lyrics are good, and if you haven't figured this out by now, I enjoy symphonic metal.

Pure As The Unborn Son, Pure As The Maid Should Be Ceased To Breathe Again
Never Look Away From Those With Nothing To Spare
But I Do And I Don't Want To Care Anymore
If I Close My Eyes Would It Spare Me The Sight?
Of Decay, Corruption, How We Nurture Destruction
And Everything That Will Doom Us All.
Chaos May Be Thy Name, You Left Us For Anything
Trust Never Been So Misplaced As In Your Arms That Day
Those That You Gave Away To Those Who Could Ease Your Mind
We Were Nothing But A Waste Of Your Time And Space
But I Do And I Don't Want To Care Anymore
If I Close My Eyes Would It Spare Me The Sight?
Of Decay, Corruption, How We Nurture Destruction
And Everything That Will Doom Us All.

03 April 2011

Transient Beauty

My church has been preaching through Genesis and the Fall of Man. It's been interesting, but what has really stuck out to me is the idea that Creation fell with mankind. The physical world, abstract concepts like Justice, reason, and peace - they all fell with the original sin. But more importantly, beauty fell with man.

This is what I mean: currently, we find beauty in imperfection.

A contorted pepper.

An asymmetrical spider web.

Imperfect snowflakes.

 Flowers that are almost symmetrical, but not quite.

The beauty we're observing is one of imperfection. Our sense of beauty fell when Adam first sinned. Now, the Bible says God will restore Creation when Jesus returns, which means everything will be made new, including our human understanding of beauty. The only thing we know about this "new beauty" is that it will be perfect as God is perfect. But besides that, it completely escapes my comprehending.

Just think about it. There are moments - split seconds, really - where the beauty is so strong it kills you. It aches in the most painful way possible. When time slows down for one, exquisite experience that leaves you wondering what could possibly beat it for beauty, grace, or ... perfection, really. Maybe I'm just crazy, and none of you have experienced those "click points", but I sincerely hope you have. They're wonderful.

Anyways, these click points are what I consider the height of beauty. And yet, our sense of beauty is flawed. God will make beauty perfect like Himself. So if the click point is just the illegitimate, ugly, and flawed version of what God originally intended, just think about what Heaven will be like.

Doesn't that thought just give you the shivers? Our click points aren't nearly as beautiful as what will be in Heaven, because they will be made perfect. I have to stop typing now. I'm shivering too much. Just the idea of perfect beauty. Wow.


Grab Bag #4

Well, my life is getting chaotic again. Next week, there's another tournament, and immediately following it, the Regional Invitational. Now, the week following Regionals (that's three weeks from now, if you're following) I have a couple big research papers, a few essays, and an oral report due, not to mention the AP tests I ought to prepare for. Busy, neh? But before jumping back into the madness, I'm going to give you a reel of the high and low lights since the beginning of January. Why? Because I feel like it.

In January, I flew to California for a tournament and a college visit. The TSA took my cookies, and discriminated against me because I chose to wear a skirt on the airplane. At the tournament, my persuasive took second place, a feat that I've yet to repeat.

Also in January, two weeks later, I drove from my home in Western Washington to a tournament in Medford, Oregon. This was my first extended exposure to Shrimpy and Shorty. I've got to say, the car ride was the real highlight of the trip. That, and the really messed up cake we made for Calvin's birthday.

Two weeks later, another tournament in Idaho. Once again, I carpooled with Shorty, and we gave Rubbish a ride over to Idaho, but not back. Yes, Rubbish is a new character in this saga. She's named for one of her favorite adjectives. Ahem. Idaho's tournament was an emotional rollercoaster, but surprisingly, I had the most fun at that tournament than any other so far. It was groovy, and I watched Despicable Me for the second time in 4 weeks.

Two weeks after that, yet another tournament - but this was less groovy. I competed as a Team Policy debater, and my partner and I qualified to Regionals, which was unexpected. However, I had stomach flu for the entire tournament, and ended up losing a lot of weight from a. my inability to keep food down, and b. running around a lot. My impromptu speeches went over well with the judges in finals, and I finished 3rd. Despite this comparative success, throwing up all night and competing all day did not make the tournament one of my fonder memories. It got so bad that I almost didn't show up on the second day. Also at this tournament, I spent more time with Shorty. Yeah, I'm really adding up the hours.

After the stomach flu tournament, I had a month to "get ahead" in homework. I'll spare you the details. The next tournament was toward the end of March, and it was ... frustrating. Friends of mine with champion speeches didn't break, showed poorly, or lost their titles to unexpected contenders. There is some personal disappointment, I admit. But frankly, some of the results were entirely unjustified. I'm not saying that the people who won didn't deserve, because the strange results didn't extend through all events. However, some of the results were extremely frustrating.

The tournament was held at a university in Seattle, so Shorty stayed at my house. At the time of my writing this, Shorty and I have spent a cumulative total of 135 hours with each other, using the most conservative estimates. We had some very interesting conversations at early 'o clock, before falling asleep. Actually, Shorty and Gabby's visit during the tournament was the highly of the weekend.

Unless, of course, you mention Gertrude and Alfonso. Wrath, Calvin's little brother, was in a bad mood on that Friday night - and I was entering the state my parents call "rummy." It ended up with Wrath and I waddling across the college campus like a pair of senile penguins, muttering to each other and occasionally yelling "quack!" It was quite fun, and I'm afraid we've permanently scarred some of our friends.

At this point, you've been brought up to speed through the present. You may be wondering how I have time to write all this if I'm so busy preparing for the next weeks. I have two answers: First, I don't have time. Second, I'm writing this in the car on my way from church. So there.

I've been doing a bit of thinking about things over the past three months. I'll try to get some time to type the thoughts up into scintillating blog posts, but your best bet for intelligent thoughts will be in a couple weeks after Regionals. Thoughts that should be coming soon includ: beauty, vulnerability, aspiration, passion, defiance, and surrender.

Now, aren't you curious?