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So I’m apparently really bad at keeping up with posting. Or anything, for that matter. Since school ended, I’ve been busy (still). You’d think summer would let up a bit but no. Anyway, a month after I finished my college classes, I finally got around to graduating high school summa cum laude with a 5.04 GPA (how, I have no clue; but hey, I’m not complaining). I hadn’t planned on going, but my parents wanted me to and  I’m actually kind of happy I did (don’t tell them though because I’m prideful).

Some people I hadn’t counted on caring or supporting me, showed up to prove me wrong. Thank you to those people.

My guidance counselor introduced me with some incredibly kind words before I took her place at the podium and delivered my speech which I’d like to share with you now. It’s not terribly long, but it comes from the heart and means quite a bit to me.

I’ve always been a bit different. Whether it was because I watched Scooby Doo instead of Hannah Montana, read Mark Twain and J.R.R. Tolkien instead of Juny B. Jones, chose to spend two weeks of summer vacation at debate camp, or jam to Korean Pop instead of Taylor Swift – I’ve always chosen to place my interests in something other than the mainstream. And I think part of that has led to our success in school. I say “our” because I know that you’re different too. [This school], together with our parents, allowed us to chart our own individual course rather than joining the mainstream. You chose this school over a traditional brick-and-mortar one; you chose self-discipline over being told what to do every day. And you’re sitting here as a result.

           There are a few things I’ve noticed over the last few years that I want to specifically address and hope you keep in mind forever. And hopefully that doesn’t sound too cheesy.

  1. We’re all equal, right? Maybe we don’t have equal talents, but we’re equally valuable and equal before the law. But I believe that just because we are valuable doesn’t mean we’re entitled to anything. Entitlement is a disease our society refuses to fight because it is mis-labeled as a “right”. As Americans, we have incredible privileges – privileges people in other countries risk their lives to attain. Is it their fault to have been born in their country?  By the same token, is it by our skill that we were born with these privileges so readily available? We’ve grown soft and we’ve become afraid of hard work; not many will say this, but I think we have this fear that, if it’s difficult or uncomfortable, something’s not right. Someone else isn’t working hard enough for us to have it easier.

So take a moment to let that sink in… And because I’m terrible at transitions, we’ll move right on into Point #2.

2. Ji Kwon, a Korean singer, once said that, “What we should be really scared of are not failures, but the heart that is no longer brave enough to take risks and embrace challenges”. Sure, risks and challenges are uncomfortable. But they’re not something to be feared. Discomfort is not synonymous with wrong or bad and nothing worthwhile comes easily.  Consider those you look up to – anyone you consider successful. They’re not where they are because they sat around and hoped for their lives to fall into place. They made it happen by taking risks and moving forward even in their fear.

At this point, I’d like to quote Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  -Teddy Roosevelt.

3. You are unique, valuable and irreplaceable – gifted with talents only you can nurture. Don’t waste that opportunity. You have everything you need to be successful on both personal and societal levels. Utilize that gift. Be resourceful.  Be creative.  Maybe you don’t have what the person next to you has, but that’s the point: you don’t need what they have. You need what you already have.  Take the time to identify what that is and use it.

4. On that note, I’d like to discuss the idea of success a bit more. Unlike many people, I don’t think you need the approval of others to be successful. While we may not realize it, this is how many of us measure our value, worth, and success: by other peoples’ standards. It takes a lot of courage to shun those opinions (not the advice, but the opinions) and focus on what matters to you. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that setting goals is important to success. But the end goal rarely turns out to be the way I envisioned it. So I would agree with Seungri, another Korean singer, when he said, “Don’t believe in success. Rather than that, believe in the amount of your effort and passion”. Effort and passion are the two constants in the equation of success. I would add that faith and prayer are additional factors in this and the one that offers the most peace of mind. In their song “Fire”, BTS says, “Don’t try so hard. It’s okay to lose.” What they mean is not, “give up because it’s hard”, but rather, “acknowledge that you might not have met your goal; it’s okay. Failure doesn’t make you a loser; it means you’re working toward something”. My dad often says, “our rewards in life will always be in exact proportion to our services”. As a general rule, this is true. I’ve tested it out many times.

So, to summarize:

  1. We are all equal, but not entitled + remember that a privilege is not a right.

  2. “What we should be really scared of are not failures, but the heart that is no longer brave enough to take risks and embrace challenges”.

  3. You have everything you need to be successful right now.

  4. Success is subjective; just keep making progress and keep in mind that your value is not determined by your failures or your successes.

If you read that, thank you.

Anyway, after the ceremony, two girls ran up to me and went, “OH, MY GOSH. YOU’RE A K-POPPER TOO!” One of them had a picture of BTS pasted to the back of her cap. I laughed and told her Suga was my spirit animal. Then her mom came up and said, “She mentioned Fire and I was like, ‘ahhh’!”

It was a nice night. Only 34 graduates.

And because I’m really bad at transitions, I’ll sign off now and leave you with a picture of me in my brother’s gown from last year (::cough:: it reached down to my ankles so I was the midget smurf of the evening ::cough:: I wasn’t about to pay $50 for a shiny blue garbage bag ::cough::).

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Love,

Rana || xoxo

Count Your Blessings

Hello, lovely!

I want to take a few minutes to let you know what’s been going on in the world of Rana. My aunt and uncle-in-law celebrated their one year anniversary a few months ago and, because they didn’t really have a party after the papers were signed and their marriage was legally legit, they threw a party at their house a year later.

>>Now, they have a friend who owns a gluten-free/paleo bakery and you really ought to check it out if you live in South West Florida. It’s called Epiphany Gluten Free Bakery and you can buy their goods at Neighborhood Organics (just call before visiting – all the info is on the FaceBook page).

Anyway, this friend made their cake. It was literally the most beautiful cake I’d ever seen and one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. Take a look:

Count Your Blessings | The Gingerling

Photo Credit to Epiphany Gluten-Free Bakery.

I jokingly asked her while she was cutting it up if I could work for her. She laughed and said absolutely. I kept thinking about it and realizing how much I really do love to work in the kitchen. I called her up and asked if she would mind my working there for free. Sweet soul that she is, Ruth said she would love to have me.

Long story short, I’ve been there twice now and have had a blast both times. I’m going to keep going once or twice a week over the summer to see if this is something I might want to do with my life.

Through this, I’ve learned that I need to step up and ask for things if they’re important enough to me. Which is something I’ve always had a hard time doing.

>>In other news, I think I’m leaning more towards not doing speech and debate for this, my senior year. It’s a hard choice because I’ve done it since I was 12 and this is my last eligible year. But like I said, it’s senior year, and I’m going to be incredibly busy succumbing to the pressure and trying not to be committed (to the funny farm).

The hardest part about that is I’ve just started to get good placing 4th and 6th at two different tournaments in debate, getting 13th place in speaker points, and moving on to semi-finals in all three tournaments with my speech. Plus, that’s when people start to know who you are and notice you and I’m not going to lie: That feels good.

But it’s a temporary thing as it’s always been and I need to let it go sometime. It’s either going to be now or next year.

>>For my writing buddies, I’ve started something new. It’s been going on for a while and still has no title. But it’s fun and I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish it. 😉 It’s about a girl from our world who gets zapped into a faerie world (think Tolkien elves, not the Christmas movie, Elf) and everyone thinks she has the power to move the stars (which, in their world, are people who have died or not yet lived). If she can do that, she can bring people back. But she doesn’t believe it and the prince of the fey people is in a perpetual rotten mood, so he’s put in charge of getting her to do the will of the evil king as a punishment for talking back on an issue he felt strongly about (and rightfully so).

Cliche? Maybe in some aspects. Fun? Definitely. And that’s (one reason) why I write. 😉

Fantasy is what I started with as a budding novelist and that crashed and burned. I’m hoping I can revisit it with more success this time, four years later.

Essentially, God has blessed me a lot so far this summer and I’m grateful. ^_^

So what’s going on in your world? What things are going your way?

Love always,

Rana

Updates x 2

Hello, lovlies!

I hope all is going well. ^_^

Update #1:

Regionals was spectacular. I did not break (move on to the next level) in debate; however, I did make it to semi-finals in my After Dinner Speech (it was filmed and you may have access to it in the near future).

EDIT: It’s up on YouTube! Excuse my insane eyebrow movement and fairly fast pace… and face. Anyway, here ’tis!

Here are some pictures to prove that I had a wonderful time (more coming soon [maybe]), courtesy of Sarah Mackenzie whose blog you should totally check out (and if her URL doesn’t draw you in, maybe these pictures will):

DSC_5252-[B&W]

And, of course, speech and debate tournaments call for a massive consumption of caffeine (due to no sleep, up at 6:00 a.m, and bed anywhere between 10 and 12. For three days.). My mother (bless her precious heart) knew this and took the liberty of buying me a s’mores (S’MORES!) frapp. This led to a Starbucks-themed photoshoot which resulted in a .gif which tells the story of three heartbroken young maidens as they realize

.

.

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there is no more coffee.

I'm waiting for Starbucks to call and see if we're interested in marketing for them.

I’m waiting for Starbucks to call and see if we’re interested in marketing for them. (Also notice me sporting those sweet Converse sneaks with a suit.)

Update #2:

I finally changed the blog name! Here’s to hoping you like it now and I will like it in a few years. 😉 Please bear with me as I make this transition and try to correct all the links.

Before I go, however, I would like to direct you to a sweet blog. The owner is a mother of 5 (her oldest child is 5 years old) and her husband just got diagnosed with stage IV Melanoma. I’ve followed it for a while and can tell you that it’s one of the most comforting blogs on the internet. Please be praying for their family and, if you have the chance, comment over there to let them know.

God bless!

Rana

Update x 3

Howdy!

I don’t feel much like writing an introduction as I’m eating French toast and have at least three assignments to get done afterwards. So let’s hop right in:

Update #1:

This is the most important and, as the case seems to be, priority = precedence.

Father Walter Bratus went home to Heaven either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. He was one of the pastors at our church and I need to talk about him. Here’s the kind of man he was:

  • He was the kind of man who bought everyone donuts on certain occasions.
  • He never got angry.
  • He had the clearest blue eyes.
  • He was the most joyful person I’ve ever met.
  • He could (and did) click his heels before/after Mass on Sundays.
  • He greeted everyone at the ends of the pews as he processed to and from the altar.
  • Just before he processed out, he would hug everyone in the front rows.
  • Once, when I was serving, I sat two seats away as usual. He called me over to sit in the chair beside him.
  • He loved the chorizo that we sold at my father’s store, so he’d stop by every once in a while to pick some up.
  • He loved Polish food.
  • I believe he could speak Polish (at least some) as well.
  • When I would serve at Mass, he would say a special prayer asking God to make me a saint – at least for that day.
  • He never said an unkind word.
  • His homilies could get long.
  • He showed up one Lent with his beard shaved and I wasn’t sure who he was!
  • He was so kind.
  • He was a saint.

Father Bratus

http://www.dioceseofgreensburg.org/Pages/FatherBratusObit.aspx

Update #2:

I still haven’t figured out a blog title. I’m kind of fed up right now, so I’m tempted to make the switch to “Ginger and Arsenic” but I know I won’t have such a bitter attitude in the future. It’s just the teen years, right? Right? Well, I guess skepticism can last a lifetime…

Update #3:

That speech and debate tournament I spoke of the last couple posts? It went really well. 🙂 I felt sick for a lot of it from anxiety, I think, but it seems worth it. Here’s how the “levels” work:

> Preliminary rounds (we have 6 of them)

> Double Octa Finals (if we have a lot of debaters – if you break to this level, you’re automatically invited to Regionals, which is another tournament, but only for those who qualified to it)

> Octa Finals (8 rounds, 16 debaters)

> Quarter Finals (4 rounds, 8 debaters)

> Semi Finals (2 rounds, 4 debaters) I made it here. I probably would have made it to finals had I gone affirmative, but I’m honestly kind of glad that I didn’t. Now I know I need to work on my negative case. Also, those judges were insanely qualified and I’d hate to look stupid in front of them!

> Finals (1 round, 2 debaters)

I think I look like a monkey here, but that's all I have from the tournament for now.

I think I look like a monkey here, but that’s all I have from the tournament for now so I guess we just have to deal with my face. — Click for a clearer image.

Image taken by the illustrious author of Batman and Tacos. Seriously go take a look at her photography. I’m in awe.

I think someone said there were around 90 Lincoln Douglas debaters. So I placed 4th in LD, was the 14th best speaker (which means relatively nothing since there’s no objective standard of speaker point rankings), and I also broke to semi finals in my After Dinner Speech (all the speech categories broke to semis this tournament).

Overall, I’d say it was a smashing success. 🙂

And I get to do it all over again in less than a month for Regionals! 😀 *twitches*

You know what’s crazy? This is my kind of fun. An intelligent high. Wearing suits. Looking and acting professional (well, minus the acting outside of the rounds – I’m still a kid. Don’t rush me.). I spend my money to think. I get up at ungodly hours of the morning (like 5:50, 6:00?), and get to bed around midnight for three consecutive days…

I love this life.

I love you.

And I hope you know that you can do amazing things. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t impossible either.

Love,

Rana

Effort + Prayer = Success

Hello, love!

I’m pleased to let you all know that my new year started off just phenomenally. My birthday is January 6 and I love that day, honestly. It looks rather whimsical on paper; plus, I’m able to start off the new year with a new age. Unfortunately, I dislike celebrating my birthday. And just birthdays in general.

Which is part of the reason I decided to spend the 17th anniversary of my existence on this planet in South Carolina at a speech and debate tournament. What a nerd, right? It was a really nice day. People I didn’t expect to know or care, did and showed it. My club surprised me with a cookie cake and sang “Happy Birthday.”

(Kids, I still don’t know what to do while people sing that without being a jerk or looking like an idiot. Sorry to disappoint. If you’ve figured this out, you must understand life. Please share your secrets.)

This year, I decided that I’m going to take more risks, set more goals, and put forth the effort to excel. A few months ago, I was afraid to write a speech and perform it. What if I didn’t break (move on to the next level)? What if it wasn’t funny (like it’s supposed to be)? What if people hated it?

Well, I made it to Regionals with my speech, received many laughs, and was ranked number one in my room a couple of times. In debate, I placed 6th at the tournament (I believe there were 56ish students doing the same style as me). And heck, it took me long enough to get 6th. I’ve been debating for about 5 years now (?). I think the difference is simply that, before, I didn’t put in enough effort. This year, I did. And it feels good.

All of this said, the credit goes to God. I was praying like crazy to move on and I did. Lesson learned: effort and prayer pay off. 😉

(I would share pictures, but the ones I’m in make me look like I’m just a bus ride, two skips, and a hop away from Zombieville. Which I kind of was/am. And you would be too if you had to get up early, go to bed late, give a speech twice, and debate 4 times in one day. 😉 )

Hopefully, the rest of this year will go just as well.

I hope your 2015 has fared as nicely as (if not better than) mine has thus far.

God bless!

Rana

Regionals in Georgia

Quick update: My computer, which I just got back, wasn’t fixed fully. So it needs to go back to the shop. Yay. Second, I had a total BLAST up in Savannah, GA for the Regionals NCFCA speech and debate tournament. I’m pumped for next year. 😉 Below are some pix and following that is a link to watch an amazing speech. 🙂

Let me just say really quick that NCFCA is an amazing organization. Look into it. I’m so blessed and honored to have been able to compete with all of these amazing people. What’s awesome is that all of these kids do it to glorify God. And they’re not preachy about it. Furthermore, they’re all kids in suits and, no matter how professional they act in the rounds, they’re still kids and it shows outside of the rounds. It’s fantastic.

If you look up the word “awkward” in the dictionary, this picture will show up.

My face. It’s just screaming one word: help.

My bestie and I made it! A 6.5 hour ride with a 6 year old with all three of us in the back seat is no easy feat. But we made it.

So much awesome in one photo. Oh, look! There’s me too!

Yeah, “help” is definitely the word my face is screaming…

Awww! We make debate look fun AND easy! This was my worst round though. :/

And the after-party. Wow, the crazy is showing on my face. And my friend’s. And my other friend’s.

That is the sanest picture after the tournament.

M’k. Let me just say something here. NCFCA is amazing. The tall guy behind me performed (with Tristin who is not in the picture but made it to Nationals in LD debate) the BEST duo I’ve ever seen. Ever. He also looks like a chaperon. Because heaven knows we all need one.

And with that, I’ll conclude with a link to watch the best duo I’ve ever seen! 😀 It’s also going to NATIONALS!!! They totally deserve it. 😀

God bless!

Rana

The NCFCA

Credit to Wikipedia

Well, it’s been a while since the last post. Or it feels like it anyway. 😛

I’ve been a bit dry as far as writing goes for the past couple of weeks what with being behind in school and working on debate and all. So I decided I’d share a bit of the NCFCA love with you. 😉

If you ever have a chance to look into this lovely organization, please do so. Go for a day or two or three or even just a couple of hours and watch these kids.

We are the future.

What do you see when you go outside? Here’s a brief list of what I notice:

1) People texting on their cell phones instead of speaking

2) Illegibility (seriously? Can we nt typ lk dis al d tym? im sck uv it.)

3) Disrespectful behavior amongst children to their parents and other adults.

4) Lowered standards.

5) Porn (yes, Victoria’s Secret. You’ve lost your secret. The only secret you had has been revealed. Along with the rest of you.)

The list goes on.

Guys, we need encouragement. And the NCFCA is such a thing. I have had the opportunity to compete in this program for the past 5 years. I’ve been debating and giving speeches. At first, the only thing I was happy about was the fact that I got to wear a black suit.

ncfca

Some of the lovely ladies in my club. L-R: Me (I don’t usually make the duck face for pix, just so you know. I’m not THAT person), Martha-Grace, Sara, Leah, and Natalie. The other little redhead is Emma. She’s not competing. 😛

My philosophy was this, “Well, I’m going to die there anyway. At least I’ll be prepared for my funeral.”

After the first debate camp, I was pumped. I wanted to debate everything and everyone. I was a puny 12 year old debating (get this) resolved: “A government’s legitimacy is determined more by its respect for popular sovereignty than individual rights.” I felt smart saying it, so I said it often. Did I know what it meant? Not really.

But guys. If a 12 year old can debate this resolution, imagine what they can do after several years of this.

And it’s not just the debate. It’s logic. It’s learning to think on your feet. The NCFCA’s mission statement is, “…addressing life issues from a Biblical worldview in a manner that glorifies God.”

That’s not to say we’re a bunch of sheltered homeschoolers that only talk about Jesus’ unfailing love and mercy. No. We’re more that. We’re real. We address difficult topics (abortion, suicide, self-harm, etc.) with LOGIC. Not just opinions.

My good friend Sara gave a persuasive speech on gun control. Check out her blog. She’s intelligent, logical, beautiful, funny, and has great writing tips. 😉 She didn’t say, “GIVE EVERYONE GUNS ‘CAUSE THAT’S WHAT I BELIEVE AND IT’S ALL GOOD.” No. She analyzed both sides of this debate and found a happy middle-ground.

There are also humorous speeches. Warning: you may die laughing.

Impromptu, apologetics, illustrated oratory…

We’re a community of real people who address real issues. And the funny thing is… while this is all a competition, it’s only competitive IN THE ROUNDS. Some of my good friends have been the ones who creamed me in debate! It’s fantastic.

Here’s a link to see if there’s a tournament near you. Go judge. Watch the speeches. See that there is hope. We are hope. We’re respectful, intelligent, and very welcoming.

This past season, I broke to regionals (meaning I moved up to the next level 😛 ), won 5 out of my 7 debate rounds, and placed 18th in speaker points out of what we believe to be about 70 LD debaters. I would definitely not be the same person I am today had NCFCA not touched my life.

I’m not trying to sound cheesy. I’m being honest.

If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to read a post by a man who has been touched by the NCFCA as well.

God bless!

Rana

P.S.

Just a warning… After day #2, you find yourself saying things like, “I tend to use my mind over my brain.” <– my intelligent remark of the 4 day tournament. 😛

Chatterbox: Death

Hello, my lovelies! Sorry if that sounded creepy…

Anyway! The speech and debate tournament was fantastic! We had 109 competitors, 64 of which were new.  😀 We had three rounds of debate and 2 of speech. I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t win all three. I believe that I should have won all of them, but hey! You never know exactly what’s going on in the judge’s head, right? I won two out of three rounds. Not bad. My speaker points were high! 😀

Impromptu, however, didn’t go so well. My topics were dreams and radiance. -_- But we won’t talk about that. 😛

In case you’re new, or missed it, last month started a monthly writing prompt sort of thing. For more information, check out the description on InkPen! 🙂 Onto the death scene! 😀

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     She slipped between the rusty black gates, which just barely managed to hang onto their hinges, and into the cemetery. A gust of wind followed her in, blowing the chains and lock so that they clanged against the iron bars. Her fingers slipped under the collar of her maroon colored jacket and flipped it up to shield her pale face from the chill.

The crescent moon shone brightly behind a mist of clouds in the dark sky. No stars shone tonight.

The girl’s eyes scanned the uneven ground. Tombstones sat in the dirt, some chipped, some so worn that the words could not be made out. The memorial she sought was one such as this.

“Who are you looking for?” a voice growled. She did not turn around. “The cemetery is closed. I thought the fact that the gates were closed and chained would be an evident sign that no one should enter.”

“He told me to come tonight,” she explained quietly as if the grave keeper would understand. He nodded knowingly.

“Ah… This way.”

The man shook his head as he turned away, muttering something about an incredible number of young people.

The young woman followed the tall, lithe figure. It seemed to fade in and out with every step. She rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. Her heart thumped hard against the inside of her chest like it wanted out.

“You prepared to pay the fee?” the man asked. He stopped and turned to look at the girl. She wondered how old he was. He looked young, but his eyes seemed older than the earth itself. “It’s pricey.”

The girl nodded as she pulled her coat closer around her slender body. The man’s top-hat covered head turned back around followed by his body. He smirked as a small gasp escaped the young woman’s lips.

“Are you ready?” he asked, his voice muffled by a navy blue scarf.

“I am,” came the answer.

“Then pay up.”

A dagger appeared in the man’s pale, bony hand. The girl accepted the weapon and, with a deep breath, plunged it into her own heart. A shriek filled the air, but the wind whipped it away quickly. The woman’s body disappeared and, in her place, a young man stood. He sighed.

“Rest in peace, my darling,” he whispered, touching the gravestone that, just moments before, had his name written across the front. It now read the name of the young woman who had died to give him his life back.

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God bless!

Rana

Tournaments, Talking, and Tired

Hello, my wonderful readers!

Just a quick update on what’s been going on. 🙂

Saturday, I have a speech and debate practice tournament all. day. long. As if the time change doesn’t make me tired enough, I have to get up around 5:00 a.m. or so in the morning on the one day I am able to sleep in. Yay. But it’s all good. I really enjoy debating. 🙂 I’m a member of NCFCA (National Christian Forensics Communications Association) and I’m a proud LDer. For more information on that, click here. 🙂 Also, Mom signed me up for impromptu. And I didn’t know that until a few weeks ago and I haven’t practiced for that or anything. O__________________________O Thanks, Mom. Very impromptu.

I’ve been spending my time doing school, cramming cases for both aff and neg (though mostly neg), and I’m proud to say that I have been getting in a little more than 1,000 words a day (with a few exceptions) in the third book of Desensitized. ^_^ I’m not doing NaNo, though I wish I could. Good luck to all of you involved though! 😉 I’m sure you’re doing great!

I’m a bit hesitant about sharing my writing with people… so… I’m going to swallow that fear and give y’all a snippet of book 3. *hides* Only, like, 2 people are reading it so far (big thanks to Una and Lisa) and they’re really nice. So don’t kill me. I’m still learning and I could be classified as an old newbie. 😛

So, here is the beginning of chapter 2:

Kody and I arrive at a small, quiet neighborhood a week later. I glance down at the paper in my hands.

“It says… 3805 Peck Street… I think. This penmanship is atrocious.” I look out the window and through the rain drops obscuring the clear glass. Kody and I both check the numbers on the houses and mailboxes and yawn. “Can’t wait to get there. I’m exhausted.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll crash too,” Kody responds, peering through the rain coming down like a thick blanket onto the windshield. “Ugh! This stupid rain!”

I nod. “It ain’t helping me stay awake any.”

“Same here.”

“Hey, how’d you find out where they were anyway?” I ask in the hope that a conversation would keep us both awake. We’ve been taking turns driving for the past three days, only stopping for food and bathroom breaks.

Kody glances over at me and grins. “I like to eavesdrop. When they were leaving, they told Cael where they were going and gave him their addresses in case something really bad happened. I wrote it down.”

“Oh. I guess you skipped out on the beautiful penmanship gene then, huh?” I smile, continuing to keep an eye out for the house numbers.

“Yeah. Skipped me an went to Ca- hey, there it is!” Kody pulls the car into a driveway. The rain is coming down so heavily that I can’t even see the house only a few yards away.

“I think we should wait until the rain lets up a bit,” I suggest, unbuckling my seatbelt. Kody does the same, nodding.

“I think this one is Blade’s house… Or, it’s one of his relative’s houses anyway. Bill Ferguson, I believe. He’s renting it. Core went to live with his cousin, Ryan Peterson.”

I turn my head slowly to stare at Kody. “I’m really disturbed now.”

The young man adopts an innocent look. “Why?”

“Dude, how do you even know that information? It’s pretty personal too. Do you know my number too?”

“Which number? Your cell phone number or the one on your wrist?”

My jaw drops slightly. I clap my hand over the scannable tattoo. “Wrist,” I challenge.

“Uh, I’m not great at numbers. But it’s 33092608, right?”

“Nine,” correct.

He grins cheekily. “I know. I just wanted to mess up so it wouldn’t totally freak you out.”

“Okay, that’s just-” My hands flail about as if that would convey how utterly terrified I am. “You’re such a creeper!” I manage to say at last.

Kody lets out a short bark of laughter. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“It’s not one. Creepers are… creepy. I don’t like them.”

“But you like me.”

“Not anymore.”

“Oh, come on. Yes, you do.”

“Nope.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Liar.”

“Creeper.”

“The fact’s already been established, weirdo.”

Aaaaaand now I have something fun for all of you! 😀 A video! It’s by a singer named Christina Grimmie and her friend. Christina is a 19 year old Christian who started homeschooling in 2010. Check out her music — it’s fantastic! ^_^

Here’s the vid (watch all 6 of them — they’re hilarious)! I hope you enjoyed the writing snippet! 🙂

God bless!

Rana

P.S.

If y’all could pray for the tournament to go well, I’d appreciate it. 🙂 It’s a long day and my club is hosting the tournament and there’ll be, like, a lot of people there. I think it’s 100 – 200 kids. I think. Anyway. Thanks!