On top of the world.
CAMPING IN THE
THE BEST OF CLINTON COUNTY
June 25, 2005, was the annual Best of Clinton County parade in downtown Lock Haven. Lou, Meghan Rockey, Krystle Welch, Debbie Benfield, Shelby Sander, and Ginger White all rode in the float that they made out of the mini-van.
"It was so hot...you have no idea," said Meghan. "The float that Lou came up with was pretty cool, though." Lou made the van out to look like a camping scene, and he even put a tent on the roof of the van. One of the kids, Debbie, got up in the tent and rode up on top of the van for the whole parade.
"It was pretty cool to see," commented Meghan. "I took some pictures and I'll have to post them up on here once I figure out how to hook up the damn card reader to my computer."
"We decided to work with the camping riff," Lou explained. "The outdoors is one of Clinton County's biggest attractions, so we used the tent, sleeping bags, and cooler to make our van into a sort of mobile campsite. Debbie, for years, has been asking me to ride somewhere on the roof of the van. I gave her the chance to do it this time. It worked better than I thought it would, actually."
-Meghan Rockey, Staff
-Ginger White, Staff
THE LS KIDS LIVEJOURNAL
On May 14, the LS Kids got their first Livejournal Community. Meghan Rockey created it, invited the members, and made the first post.
"I just created this community," Meghan stated. "Lou and I had talked about starting a LSK community, so I just decided that I would."
The Kids who have livejournals have all been invited to participate: Lou, Meghan Rockey, Crissy Miller, Biz Albright, and Tiffany Duncan. The journal will be used to post photos, stories, and incidents not covered in the JJJ.
The journal can be viewed at http://www.livejournal.com/community/lostsolacekids/.
-Meghan Rockey, Staff
-Ginger White, Staff
DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS
While on vacation in Lock Haven, I got the opportunity to play Dungeons and Dragons for the first time. D&D is a fun game played with a handful of dice, some books, and the collective imagination of a group of players. D&D players each get to make up their own character, which can be anything from an elf to a sorcerer to any number of otherwordly creatures. Each character gets a name, a set of skills, a list of friends, and an alignment: good, evil, or neutral. Then the team of characters is guided through any of a number of adventures dictated by the Dungeon Master, who plans and oversees the game. Depending on his interpretation of the rules of the game, the adventures can be taken purely from the Dungeon Master's imagination or guided by one of the many D&D books available for players.
My character's name is Lidda Willowby, who is a small, human-like creature known as a halfling. She's a thief by occupation, but true to her alignment of chaotic good, she only steals for the good guys, and only when necessary. Lou, who was the DM for the games i played with Biz and her friend Bunny, helped me create Lidda with a special computer program that can generate D&D characters. He also gave me his first set of D&D dice before I flew home, so I could teach my little sisters how to play.
I hope to join Lou and the other players for another game of D&D soon, because I must confess that I find the game slightly addictive. It really is quite fun. Until I can get back to Lock Haven, though, we're thinking up other ways to get together for games....Like a speaker phone.
-DCS Bureau Head
THE CIVIL WAR THAT WASN'T
On June 13, 2005, Biz Albright and Ginger White got together with Lou to go down to the annual Civil War reenactment in Canal Park. With temperatures in the upper nineties, the reenactors had givn up and gone home, but some of the educational sights were still available.
They stopped and saw the tents, the cannons, and the old flags, and then went into the Heisey Museum to view the building, preserved as it was over a hundred years ago. There was also a man showing his collection of old Civil War weapons.
"I don't recall the real soldiers being able to go home when it got too hot," Lou commented. "But we managed to get some education out of it anyway."
REALITY'S CRUEL INTENTIONS
I don't know or remember if I've told you this, but January second, 2005, at 6:15 PM, I lost my best friend. So many people have told me it wasn't my fault....But who else could you blame but me?
Me, Cookie, and Steven were all at my house downloading a game on the internet called Conquer. After hours of playing and leveling my character, it was time for us to head back to church. We were running a little bit late and all decided to race to church. Me in my Mustang....Steven in his Buick....and Cookie in his Chrysler. Steven took the main road....I cut down a shortcut....Cookie didn't know the way I went....But he followed anyway.
On Kansas Road, there are four extremely sharp curves....A two-mile stretch, then a deep hill, then another curve. We were all going fast, and by the time Cookie reached the bottom of the hill, I had cut the curve...You would have thought I would have looked in my rearview mirror, but I didn't. Cookie didn't see the curve....And I didn't see his car hit the embankment and flip.
He was knocked unconcious and his car thrown into the lake over the curve. Cookie drowned; they found his body Monday around noon when the man who owned the lake was walking around. My friend Robbie, whom I've been friends with since I was four, called me and told me. I refused to believe him. I didn't want to believe him. We all met at the church, and Cookie's mom came. I couldn't even look at her. Every time I saw her, the only thing I could think was,"It's my fault....I killed her son, how can she even look at him?"
I didn't know what to do....How do you cope with something like that? I know it's real. Death is just a part of reality. I had the hardest time dealing with it. It was the most painful thing I have ever felt. For hours I laid in my bed in the dark, crying, hoping that I'd wake up hearing the phone ring and he'd be on the other line....But he never was.
I didn't know what to do or how to lessen my pain. I've always been a pyro, so I would constintly play with fire....But not the way I used to. I woke up one night because I dreamed that Cookie was calling me and I woke up to his voice....It hurt so bad. I grabbed my lighter and just played with the fire....I left it burning for quite some time....The fuel finally went out. I stuck the lighter to my arm. It didn't hurt, but it was hot. I left it pressed to my skin for some time. When I peeled it from my arm, the skin came with it. I know everyone who saw this would think I was insane....But the only way for me to deal with mental pain....Is physical pain. The burn blistered up quite a bit and even bled a bit, but that was my way of dealing. My way of coping with reality's cruel games.
I still hurt from Cookie's death. But I only have two scars....The one on my arm....And the one on my heart. Cookie was the greatest person to me that ever lived. And now living without him is so complicated.
How do you deal? I know if Cookie was here right now....He would wrap his arms around me and tell me he loves me. Because he did. Every guy I ever dated....Had to have Cookie's approval, and none of them ever met his criteria for me. Many times he offered to take care of me, and I knew he could. He would always tell me how much he loved me.
I don't know how to explain him, but there will never be another one like him. His name was Richard Allan Cook....But to us, he was Cookie....He was my Cookie. I've always believed God sends us angels to watch out for us....He was mine. He helped me out of the most painful trials I have ever been in....And he never spoke a word. He just wrapped me in his arms and gave me the look that everything would be okay. And I'll never forget that!
So how do I deal now?....I remember. I'll always remember. I love you, Cookie.
Richard Allan Cook
RIP my friend....And guardian angel....I'll see you soon.
-Regina Ann Spence
RHYME AND REASON
For My Child
A piece of my heart was given to you.
So I can be there
For everything you do.
A piece of my mind I have laid.
So I may still help you
Not to be swayed.
A piece of my strength I've given to thee.
So I may help
All those who are weak.
A piece of my soul for my child.
So you may know my love.
Learn from what I've taught.
And build with my strength.
Look to the heavens the ray of sun.
I'll be with you forever my son.
Editor's note: Gina Spence wrote this poem, and sent it to me when my mother died. This beautiful poem made me cry, but it also reminded me that Gina cared for me, and was there when I needed her.
I run it again now as a reminder to her. Regina, we all love and care for you, and we're here if you need us. Always. -L.
A COLUMN BY TIF
For this first column, I'm going to get down on my knees in front of the computer and beg everyone for help. Why, you ask? Because I need a name for this column. After more than a month of trying to come up with something, I'm still undecided, largely because my brain is still recovering from a semester full of Botany labs and Spanish classes. Every time I ask it a question more complicated than what my name is---Which it can usually handle---It automatically says something random, lik "abscicic acid" or "Feliz Navidad!" I gave up on it sometime last month, while attempting to write what was supposed to be my first column.
I was siting at Lou's kitchen table in my pajamas, looking like a ten AM train wreck, barely coherent but trying valiantly to write something of quality before deadline. I asked my brain what I should name my column. It sputtered, smoked, slow-poked around, and finally came up with "A Column By Tif". So I resorted to the only thing I had left: Canine thought processes. I turned to Lou's dogs. "Hey guys," I said. "What should I name my column?"
They stared. Kat nosed my hand, to make sure I hadn't miraculously procured any food in the thirty seconds since she'd last checked. Sam licked my sock. I said,"Allright, forget it."
So, you see, I need some help. I'm not asking for anything too complicated---I just want somethin appropriate for a column that's mainly going to be about anything in particular, with a kind of focus on life with a disability. Something short and simple. I'd ask my pug dog, but she'd just stick her tongue out at me and then sneeze on my feet. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish you more luck than I've had.
-DCS Bureau Head
Editor's Note: Let's have some fun. Let's make this into a contest. Send in your suggestions for the name of Tif's column, and Tif and I will choose the best one. We'll print our favorite runners-up in a future column. The winner will get credit in a future issue, and we'll send them a free LS Kids wallpaper for their computer! Deadline for entry is August 31, 2005. -L.
ADORE IT/DEPLORE IT
Adore It: An organization called Teen Angels is for teens, ages thirteen to eighteen, who are trained to keep the Internet safe for children. A very good program. It's nice to know the LS Kids aren't the only caring kids on the web.
Deplore It: The Supreme Court, this month, ruled that eminient domain can be used to take away someone's home, and build a business on it. Unfair and cruel. I've got an idea---Let's take the Supreme Court's homes, give them to Wal-Mart, and then see if it's still considered a good idea.
The Just Juniors Journal Is:
Assistant: Debbie Benfield
President: Krystle Welch
Secretary: Meghan Rockey
Quartermaster: Biz Albright
Staff: Ginger White, Shelby Sander, Cris Miller, Ida Yost
Distant Correspondents: Tiffany Duncan, Kazlynn Otto, Regina Spence, MacKenzie Brundage, Amber Fleming, Meghan Wilson
Foreign Bureau: Janice Marco
It's late. As I write this, it's after midnight. Biz Albright is downstairs, sleeping on the couch. At least, I think she's sleeping---Chances are, she stayed up a while more to draw, or work on her writing, or something.
It's been a busy month. The parade, D&D games, little get-togethers here and there....I've been spending a lot of time with the Kids, doing things. Not every little thing we do makes the JJJ, you know.
And, thinking about it, I like those moments. A lot. Just the quiet, small quality times that the Kids and I spend together.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I love the big, exciting things, too. The parades, the Relays, the projects, all the stuff that gets all the attention---Yeah, I like that. It's good. But I like the quiet things we do, the times we just spend time together, enjoying one another, just as much.
I wonder if this is how my father felt. (I wondered the same thing during the parde, when the whole tent-on-the-van thing reminded me remarkably of something my father would have come up with.) With all of the big things that we did, I wonder if he liked the small moments that we spent together, as well.
Probably, but I'll never know. The only way to find out is to talk to him about it, and I'd be mortified.
But I like those quality times we spend together. Watching a movie with Biz, going for a walk with Meghan, sitting on the porch talking with Krystle, discussing Harry Potter stuff with Debbie, phone calls to Tif. You'll never see an article about any of it, but those are the moments I enjoy immensely.
At the moment, it's late. And as I write this message to you, both Biz and I are about to fall asleep. We've been up talking, watching the Wookiee Life Day Special on video. (Don't ask.) Just one of those moments.
I think tomorrow, we'll go out on a treasure hunt. There's a lost cache of old money that we've both been talking about searching for. Tomorrow morning, it's back to the big stuff. But for now....We had a quiet, quality moment in front of the TV. And I like that.
Nothing huge and exciting about it. Nothing too special. Just a small moment when I spend time with a Kid....And that's what's most important.
-"Why do I always think that getting you home for Life Day is gonna be easy?"