Narnia Will Kill Me

•January 25, 2010 • 3 Comments

I thought about Narnia tonight. I did. Maybe I should not have, but I did. What can I say? I was not born of this world. I was born of somewhere far off where life is nothing like here, where life is not demystified, where magic still whispers from the back of wardrobes, where I still ride the backs of two sea turtles just like the protagonist in the first story ever read to me.

I am a Narnian.

And it hurts me sometimes that I can’t be there. I think of Peter and Susan when they were banished. Then of Edmund and Lucy. I think I’d rather kill myself than hear Aslan say, “You can never come back.” Why? I’ll tell you why. This world thinks we have to grow up. It has constructed this mindset that in order to get anywhere, one must grow up. But I don’t think I was meant to. I don’t think I was meant to be more than a kid in an aging body. I’ll be on my deathbed fully expecting Aslan to take me to Narnia, and THAT, my dear friends, is what destroys me, what reduces me to nothing. Aslan will never come. He isn’t real. But I cannot shake the possibility that he COULD be, and that gives me so much hope that I cannot contain it all. I burst apart with that hope. But it is also completely devastating because if it isn’t, like my logic screams at me, then I’m screwed because once again I have bet on the wrong horse.

But let’s face it. Those of you who know me, you know I bet on the wrong horse. It’s all i know how to do. You know me, that I bet on Aslan being real, on Narnia being real, on my hopes existing for a reason. But I know I’m a fool. And I know my life will end some odd years down the road with me at age 997 and lying there dying finally and still hoping Aslan comes along. But he won’t, and I will have wasted my one precious life on this fantasy, when maybe my dead sister would have done more with my life had she been granted the choice.

I’m a fool. I was born a fool. And I can’t undo that.

I wish I could.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

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Mission Report: Switzerland, Day Four

•December 30, 2009 • 1 Comment

My mission beamed through the side window of the cottage around 0900: hike the hostile terrain from the back woods to the village of Brienz where I would meet my contact and procure a code too sensitive for beaming.  From there, I would catch the night train back to the safe house.

My first thought, as I reread the message that flowed in the window on a ray of Morninglight, was that I would need two types of cover: the cover of magic gleaned from what my surroundings would provide, and the cover of company. I would look less suspicious hiking the Pass of the See if I had a fellow hiker. Traveling under convenient magic as a lone hiker would just reek of someone cloaking his identity as a spy, or “wraithe” as we had become known in our inner circles.

I had more than one mission on this journey to Switzerland, ultimately to reach the Mountain Wizard who held the secret. So was it convenience that a friend invited me to this pocket of the world right when I needed the best possible cover? My Light side says it was the Coaxing that was spun over my friend’s head by the leader of my Order in the effort to hypnotize him into inviting me. Could that be a more confusing thought? Possibly. After all, my Dark side whispers that my friend might be a spy of some sort and needed his own cover, thus he invited me. But he could also be there with a counter mission.

As you know, I am on the mission, but I am explaining my reticence for the depths of this hike to Brienz, and my thoughts are beginning to dive too deeply for this report. Suffice it to say, I fear I shall have to weave artful magic today.

We started out not long after breakfast had digested sufficiently. My friend had been slightly hesitant to make the journey due to the temperature, but in the end we bundled up and climbed the wide stone stairwell that spilled down the mountain from the thick trees above us along the snow line. I glanced across the peaks where clouds thinned, and wondered if the Mountain Wizard could see me. I shrugged though and churned my legs like inflamed pistons, pressed higher up the stairwell until we eventually attained the Pass of the See. Even there, as I stood and surveilled the surroundings, I felt exposed. And we were only about a fifth of the way up the mountain. But today was a horizontal hike along the Pass that spanned from one end of the lake to the other. All we would do today was zigzag across the mountain faces toward Brienz. This height should have fewer or no encounters with enemy agents who had developed plenty of animosities against me due to previous missions, which is why I wanted to travel the Pass rather than take the Day Train directly to Brienz.

For the most part I was right. We encountered nothing overly daunting. The road, if it could be called that, was barely a road. Rather it was a winding through the brush and bracken, and many a time I found myself more in awe of the views, which stupefied me, left me vulnerable to attack from Hunds and Werespirits. I had to stop gaping at the latent and magical beauty of this pocket of the world, and pay attention to how my life stood, literally and figuratively, on a precipice.  I needed to think clearly.

For the rest of the journey, we joked and laughed and snapped several great shots, all great elements of cover. I grew to think my friend could be no agent, for his concerns did not align with those of a typical agent. At one point while he inspected a new bypass, I battled a Monarch Winderon that bounded boldly up from some trees and onto the path. My friend, walking a distance ahead, did not see us in combat, which in retrospect was a good thing. I do think he wonders still what happened though because I stepped out of a treeline quite awkwardly and feigned as if I had to pee. Magical traces had just evaporated from my fingers and the stains of the Death Call had finally smeared away, but my eyes. Well, they revealed all that my buddy needed to know. He could see I had just committed a heinous murder in the Alps. He just did not know the nature, nor did he trust his instincts when they told him I had sinned. Nonetheless I acted innocently enough. He either disregarded his gut instinct, or he overroad it in the name of friendship.  I felt badly for lying, but it was that, or tell him about the Wilderon.

At one point, I found it necessary to weave some clouds around us. I spun away paths and focused us up and down ravines. I would not indulge my desires for an easy route to my destination. After all, that would be how I would needle my way into an opponent Wraithe were I to meet one along a quest; I needed to think offensively as well as defensively.  It was painstaking, but it was required.  My friend remarked how the clouds had sunk surprisingly low for that time of the afternoon.  I smiled, nodded, quickly slipped my Elderleaf Wand into my sleeve when he turned around for my response.

Near Brienz, hostile Priniths attacked us from overhead, tumbling down the mountain slopes, mimicking a rock slide.  As my friend ran for cover, I whipped out the Elderleaf Wand and burst apart over a dozen of the little beasts as they jumped for us.  They scattered across the Pass like dust stirred up in our running footfalls.  Quickly, I dodged behind a tree to feign that I had also run for cover, and waited until my friend called out that it was safe before I returned to the Pass.

We were on the final leg when we reached the Bridge of Mount Baddervane, where we intended to cross the Deep, and take the Pass down the final length into Brienz.  However, enemy agents from a previous mission, capricious Magic, or the Mountain Wizard himself must have been to the Bridge already, for the rings across the Deep still hung there in silent suspension, but the flooring across the rings upon which we needed to walk had been spirited away.

I bit my lip.  This could prove dangerous.  Had I been alone, I would have risked floating across the Deep.  The drop was not even 1,000 meters.  But if my friend were indeed not a Wraithe and, therefore, held no magic, I could not break my cover in such an act.  I would have to circumvent the corrupted Bridge in the manner of a regular human.  As such, we backtracked a bit, and found a side path that detoured down the rock face to the ravine at the base of the Deep.  There, we forded the waters of the Rush and bore up the forty-five-degree angled path back up to where the other end of the Bridge of Mount Baddervane would have connected.  We left it behind, but not without a scowl from me as to the witchery that cost us precious time.  I only hoped now that my contact in Brienz would still be there.

We finally descended into the village as the sun had begun its descent.  Short were the days here in this Narnian pocket, so little time was afforded me for a mission.  I hastened us along the main artery into the village, pretending to inspect little shops for souvenirs whilst searching for a particular restaurant.  I found the restaurant on the other end of the village after we had walked through a small park on the lip of the silver-black lake.  But I had to figure out a way to go in without looking suspicious, to possible Wraithe around, or to my friend.

I spotted a sign next to the doorway that advertised apple streudel in vanilla sauce, but it was written in German, so I pretended I did not understand the words, and asked my friend.  He translated good-naturedly, and I commented that the dessert sounded delicious.  With that said, we decided to stop in for some.  A woman stopped by for our order, and offered the day’s soup as well.  It was a strange combination that my friend almost denied, but I caught the subtlety of it, and told the waitress I would love the soup.  My friend agreed to a bowl as well.  She brought the soups out with our drinks, and we never saw her again.  I did, however, find a small bit of paper under the spoon that had been on the little plate with the soup bowl.  Discretely, I opened the paper, read the numbers on it, and then dissolved the paper in the soup and ate it all.  Another waitress brought us the streudel, which was incredibly delicious, and after finishing it, we finally left the town and caught the Night Train back to Niederried.

I went to sleep that night, content in a successful mission that I had obtained the coordinates to the cabin of the Mountain Wizard.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

Switzerland, Day Three

•December 29, 2009 • 2 Comments

My buddy and I laughed when we finally dragged ourselves from our beds this morning because we both went right to our computers and logged on, disheveled, hair awry, breath offensive.  But we had our priorities.

We chided each other over getting online, laughed, logged off, and set about breakfast.  As we ate, we decided to take a hike.  There was a path that routed up behind the cabin into the mountains on the foothills of which the village of Niederried sprawled lazily.  I bundled up since it was frosty outside, and we set out.

The path was actually a nice path, quite agreeable, one that lifted against the mountain face at a simple-to-trek FORTY-FIVE DEGREE ANGLE!  Haha  I laugh because I have hiked before, but I know I have lost some of my ability to hike as well as I have in the past since in NYC the only way to mimic hiking is, quite lamely, to climb the stairs of one’s office building, or take the train north an hour to Cold Spring or some other town along the Hudson.

Needless to say, while I can run miles without feeling ass-whooped, conquering a twenty-minute hike in the lower Alps did indeed kick my ass.  I was glad though because it was an indicator of where I was in terms of getting back in shape for hiking, which I do want to start up again in New York, yes, likely up the Hudson.  At long last, we reached a mountain rode that wound from one end of the lake at Interlaken to the other end at Brienz.  We took that rode home to see some of the landscape.  Above us, the Alps rose so majestically that I found my mouth open.  The heights were unlike anything I have seen in years.  I grew up in Southern California (capitalized because it is truly its own state even though northern California is always hating on us haha).  Out there are plenty of incredible mountains, and even the Rockies are just a couple of states over.  But maybe because I am enamored with the fact that I am in Switzerland do these mountains seem that much more hypnotic and breathtaking and all around ass-kickerific.  Yes, that is a word.  No, not really, but it should be, so I am making it one.  Thanks.

The rest of the day felt short-lived as on this second full day here I realize how short the days are.  Already with the constant inflow of clouds and fog and with impossibly high reach of mountains, the sun does not shine directly down for very long before vanishing again.  But the sun sank around five o’clock, typical in NYC, but here where time does not seem to exist (ironic, in the land of watches), the day felt much shorter than normal.  As such we were chased by the dark and the cold back to the house where we milled about online again, downloaded a movie on iTunes, chided each other for being online, laughed about that again, and spent the rest of the night making and eating dinner, which was a large pizza with cheese, prosciutto, and additional chorizo we bought and added.  I really wanted a beer with the pizza, but that was not to be.

As my sleep had been interrupted, jump-started, and then ended that morning, my eyes drooped uncontrollably at some point, and I found myself nodded off.  That probably was not the best since it would disrupt my sleeping pattern and delay any cures of jetlag, but when the lids droop so powerfully, one does not consider jet lag cures.  One considers only the many comfortable ways to tangle oneself up in thick, warm blankets.

I did take a nap, and when I woke, I found my friend online again.  I laughed, called him some name, but I could not blame him.  I had after all abandoned hanging out in pursuit of fatigue relief, to put it dramatically.  Nonetheless, with the dropout of the Internet signal, the movie did not finish completely, so we watched a movie I forgot was still on my laptop.  Around midnight we clambered into our beds and died for the night.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

Switzerland, Day Two

•December 28, 2009 • 1 Comment

Was it any surprise I woke at four in the morning?  And did not fall back asleep until six?  Not really.  I called it jet lag.  My body called it bullshit.  I had no counter logic.  Nonetheless, I managed to fall back asleep again, but I was woken around nine when my buddy started to open all the shutters on all the windows.  That cozy dark feeling of sleeping in a room where the sun cannot reach and so time does not exist?  Yeah, it was burned away by the blue light of morning as it sang through the windows.

“Dude, check it out!” was the first thing I heard.  I woke, actually happy to be awake at that time, and the first thing I saw was the Alps.  They rose up in the frame of the balcony doors directly in front of me.  This was the first time I had seen the Alps ever.  It had been too dark when I trained in last night.

I kicked off the blankets, tumbled out of the makeshift bed where I was camping out in the living room, and stumbled in all my grace out onto the balcony.  The crisp morning air felt incredible against my half-dead face.  I probably should have presented myself better to the Alps, but I did not.  My eyes had the fun crust in the corners, my hair ran in seventy-two directions with total abandon, my breath could have melted the snow from the peaks and caused a flood in the lake, and I had bare feet.

But I could not have cared less.  At that moment, I grinned like a five-year-old on Christmas morning.  It was perfect.  I noticed the details of my surroundings then while my friend pointed out a few things across our vision.  I listened, but the blueness of the lake entranced me.  The frigid waters looked so fake, like we were all a part of a photograph that the great photographer in the sky was photoshopping.  Click Lake à Tap “2000 Flushes Blue blue” color on palette à Tap Lake (yes, I know that is probably not how one changes color of items in photoshop).  I gazed up finally across the backs of the Alps through the coats of pine forest, up along the snow line, and to the peaks where the morning sun surfed the crests.  Clouds of thin vapor rolled around the entire terrain and frolicked with the leaves on distant grounds, danced with the occasional brave bird in flight, and skimmed over the icy waters.  Kissed my cheek and turned it flush as they wafted across the balcony.

We breakfasted, prepared for the day, and walked down to the station to catch the commuter train into Interlaken to buy groceries and see the town.  Admittedly, my friend had seen the town a million times, but I had not.

The town bloomed with slumbering charm.  Mid-winter, Interlaken, and the rest of the surrounding towns, all but shut down for the off season.  I am told in summer all is a-bustle, but I am glad to have acquainted myself with this valley of the world in a time when it felt more pristine rather than tourist-trampled.  Now, there have been tourists already, but they are of the ski variety.  Up at the crack of life and into the mountains for the day, not home again until nightfall.  So I hardly saw anyone other than locals.  And Asians!  I have not seen that many Asians in NYC.  I thought for a moment I must have walked through a portal and into Beijing or Tokyo or Hong Kong.  Apparently they love to tour the Alps.

Shops of all sorts line the main street through Interlaken, many selling the cheesy tourist items that reminded me of Times Square and all the “I © NY” paraphernalia.  Many sold watches and Swiss Army knives, which was what I expected to see.  My buddy scoured the town for a particular Emporio Armani watch, which he found for a mere CHF 300,00, which at the current exchange rate is just about $300.00.  I told him he should get it.  I try to live by the philosophy that if I think I will regret doing something (or in this case buying something), then I will do (buy) it.  He figured he could find it cheaper.  I was not going to be his guidance system, but I figured he should buy it.  I, on the other hand, picked through end cap after shelf after display in search of the perfect souvenirs for a couple of people who politely placed their requests.  I found one such souvenir in the first store I entered.  I was amazed at how exact it was.  I wondered if I could find such souvenir elsewhere, but my gut said to buy the one I found, so I did.  As we moved from store to store, I saw that my choice was good.  I did not encounter another souvenir like the one I found.  As well, for the second souvenir, I found things I considered suitable, but something pulled me away each time, until we reached the last tourist haven on the main street, and I found a souvenir I knew was the right choice.  So I felt good about my selections.  My buddy did not find the same watch, and a similar watch was not priced that much cheaper.  It would appear again that my clairvoyance kinda rules.  Don’t hate.  Haha

We walked along the river at that point, one that meandered through Interlaken between the two lakes as we meandered over to the largest grocery store in the whole valley.  It was probably only as large as the Trader Joe’s in Union Square, but it was fun to shop for food again in another country.  I had to figure out how they wanted me to weight and price my vegetables, which is completely different from how we roll Stateside.  My friend brought a bottle of a soda called Rivella on the train ride down from Germany, and said that soda was a quintessential soda in Switzerland, complete with particular glasses used for drinking it.  I thought that was so intriguing, especially since the drink was fucking good shit (to speak plainly).  We bought a six-pack of 1,5-liter bottles.  His grandmother had stocked the house with plenty of meat, which is usually expensive in Switzerland, so we did not have to worry about that.  I was glad I did not have to do too many calculations since the exchange rate between dollars and Swiss francs is about one to one, give or take a penny.  Not that I have a problem with calculations, but sometimes one just wishes to blank out on vacation, and foreign currency exchange is always a way to remind us that we do not belong where we are, and that nature will return us to that which we escaped.  Or something like that.

After buying a couple of large bags and my backpack full of food, we took the commuter train from Interlaken West back to Niederreid, and lugged the Santa-sized sacks up the hill to the cabin.  I began to wish for teleportation, and then I stopped myself.

“You are in fucking Switzerland in the damn Alps on an unbelievably blue lake that pollution and bullshit have not yet reached, so shut the fuck up, Matt, and climb your ass up the hill!”  I listened to myself immediately.  Sometimes one just needs to bitch-slap oneself.  I recommend it often.

My friend had mentioned the night before that Internet is dodgy in the area.  Only one house nearby has an unlocked signal that we could piggy-back off of, and they shut the router/modem off every night.  So when we returned, we left the groceries in the bags and found ourselves checking Facebook and other such time-waster sites.  I was immediately ashamed, but I continued to click through and update status lines, and send out messages.  I convinced myself it was okay to do because I was sending out messages to people, too, to let them know I made it to Switzerland and had not ended up on a plane hijacked by terrorists like what happened to that unfortunate flight en route to Detroit the day before I flew out (or somewhere around there).  Talk about a send-off thought that was, though I refused to dwell on that on the flight.  If it is my time to go, it is, but like hell I would go down without a fight.  So sad flying has come to this.  I still remember a time when people would see you off on your flight, and they could do that at the gate instead of saying good-bye practically at the front door to the airport.  ANYHOW.

By the time we returned home, unpacked the groceries, and thawed, it was later in the day, and we decided to lounge around the cabin and do absolutely nothing except watch a movie.  I only had one, and that was Victoria: the Golden Age.  I completely forgot it was on the laptop from ages ago.  Not a bad movie.  I wished I had more time though to download a movie from iTunes, but that’s a day-long event with the signal we had available to us.

Nonetheless, el fin to dia dos.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

Switzerland, Day One

•December 27, 2009 • 2 Comments

I am in Switzerland.

What does that even mean?

After I landed at Cologne, my buddy met up with me, and we darted around the train station in an effort to eat, buy tickets, get money from an ATM, take pictures of a beautiful cathedral, and wonder if we should have made reservations on the train since no reservation could seriously mean no seats.  It was a seven-hour ride with two transfers down to where we were going in Switzerland.  That would prove a long time to stand.  But then again, I had just sat my way across the Atlantic to Munich and then up to Cologne.  Possibly standing down to Switzerland was a blessing in a strange disguise.

As it turned out, stand we did.  On a train that traveled a mere 300 kilometers per hour, we stood next to a door, and I wondered what I would do in a situation if the door opened accidentally while we traveled at that high speed.  Assuming, of course, that I do not fall out and land squarely on my head.  Or neck.  Or really just fall out to begin with.  This was the burgeoning survivalist in me speaking.  But I wanted to take a break from Matt Lawrence, the-everything-he-is-in-his-normal-life, and channel the magic of the Universe of this trip.

So I commanded myself to shut it.  It was surprisingly easy to do.  I remember a time when I would have immediately begun to think on things again, and then chided myself again about thinking on those things, and the cycle was always a vicious one until I exhausted myself or until someone happened by to distract me.  Mind you, by “distract,” I mean all the temporality of that word because it would never take too long to be right back at square one.  I hated that square.

But maybe with age, one learns how to get away from that square, or see it as a circle instead, or learn that the square is a strange little home that one can only not be at if one accepts one might be there indefinitely.  For sure that is one thing I have learned as I have aged (and so well!  Haha).  The more one embraces that which one loathes, the more one realizes one does not loathe that noun anymore.  Frankly, as someone always looking for the most efficient way through the growing pains, avoiding those nouns, in all the possible facets available, was never the route most efficient.  In the end, I learned that embracing those nouns made them vanish into a new light for me.  That revelation was quite . . . revelatory.  Haha  That’s not even a word.  Oh!  I just checked.  Pathetically I should have known the right word is revelational.  ANYHOW.

So I shut off my brainpan on the train ride down so that I could enjoy said train ride down, standing and all.  My buddy and I joked and laughed and remembered the craziness of the past, and before long we were on the second train, headed to Basel.  Smartly, one of the items we purchased at the Cologne train station was a bottle of champagne to celebrate.  We lucked out when a cabin of people left at the first stop on the train, and we got their seats.  So for the rest of the ride down to Basel, we continued with the laughter and the merriment and added the champagne, and it was a great leg of journey.

Mind you, I had been awake at that point for thirty-three hours, twenty-seven hours if you account for the six hours difference in time between NYC and Germany.  Either way, the third train was when I began to feel sleep crawl along my neck like a tarantula, all slow and hypnotic with a poke here and there.  While I tried to nod off, instead the lurch of the train always happened as said nodding was about to happen, and in the end, I spent half the train ride from Basel to Interlaken, not sleeping, but in that half-world where dreams are birthed and awareness of the world around one is still bright enough.  In other words, it was pointless, and I slept none of it.  Even with half a bottle of champagne coursing through my system.  Not that a half a bottle of anything does much to me, as my friends well know.

We pulled into Interlaken Ost around seven that night.  Since I had been on the airplane the night before, it felt like my first night in Interlaken was actually the night following the morning I woke and got on the trans-Atlantic flight.

As it was darker than the inside of a horse’s ass, I saw only those buildings near the train station in Interlaken Ost, and then en route to the cabin (called House Milan), only those lights in the twenty-some building towns that dotted Brienzersee’s shores.  For those who are not aware, Interlaken, as one might imagine, means something like “connected lakes.”  The town of Interlaken rests on an isthmus between two lakes (called in German, “see”).  Chugging into Interlaken we past the first lake: Thunarsee, or Thun Lake.  We were now passing small villages on Brienzersee, or Brienze Lake.  We aimed for Niederried, the second village out from Interlaken on the northern shore.  I considered what I went through transportationally in order to get here.  (and no, that’s not a real word either).

Route: NYC -> House Milan

Home -> subway to Jamaica Center, Queens -> AirTrain to JFK -> trans-Atlantic flight to Munich -> connecting flight to Cologne airport -> train to Cologne train station -> train to Frankfurt -> connecting train to Basel -> connecting train to Interlaken Ost -> commuter train to Niederried -> uphill hike to House Milan

THAT . . . is some craziness.  Can someone please invest teleportation?  Thank you.

But when we arrived, it was like visiting Heidi and her grandfather in the Alps.  House Milan had that cozy charm of old Switzerland, and lived-in and still well maintained home that had hosted countless adventurers throughout the decades that my buddy’s grandparents have owned the place.  The décor eased me out of my chill I had carried in: maple-stained walls, toast-colored carpet, a cushioned bench around the picnic-table-styled dining table, warm brown curtains, and a fully functioning restroom that would make any American proud.

We ended up hanging out and making some dinner and sinking down into the comforts of the Swiss Alps, and that is how I ended my first night.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

In Memoriam

•November 9, 2009 • 8 Comments

November 10, 1978, a girl was born.  A dark force did not want her here, so it cursed her, cursed her with spina bifida occulta and hydro encephalitis.   With an improperly closed spine and water on the brain, she fought her way into this world and faced that dark force.  Tubes shoved up her delicate neck and into her newly woken brain, and knives stabbed into her soft lower back, doctors battled the dark forces, served as her warriors in her first conflict.  They knew she had a secret power.

The girl won the battle.  But when she was three years old, she ran barefoot down an alley with her older brother who had worn his shoes.  Glass hurled itself under her left heel, and plunged into her tissue, severed a nerve.  Bleeding everywhere, she was whisked away to the hospital again, crying, suddenly aware what her mother’s command meant: “Put your shoes on before you go outside.”  Outside was a dangerous place.  It always had been.  Her brother ran for home and help.

Again, she summoned her warriors, and they swooped in with their medical technology.  They brandished scalpels and needles, and blood sprayed everywhere, but in the end, the girl won the battle.  But this time, she was wounded.  Her foot never fully recovered, and she walked askew.

Given her war wounds throughout life, her warriors were not surprised that she had some difficulty from nerve damages they had not initially killed off.  Despite their valiant efforts, her warriors were not able to repair those nerves.  She faced many years with bladder control challenges, constantly afraid if she were not next to a restroom, she would lose control.  Such a mentality kept her close to home.

Her brother, whom she loved unconditionally and wanted around endlessly, did not feel the same about her.  He loved his sister, but he kept it quiet.  He did not understand her perspective.  After all, he had never faced difficulties.  Though he never told anyone, he was embarrassed to have her for a sister.  All he asked was, “Why can’t she be normal?  Everyone asks me what happened to her.  I am tired of standing up for her and making excuses.”  His feelings darkened him, made him bitter.

After a time, she stepped forth from her fears and let her anger work for her.  She faced the darkness and said, “You cannot stop me from living.  If I lose control, then I lose control.”  And she went to public school.  The children did not understand her at first.  After all, she was already a Colonel in the War of Life, and they were only fresh recruits entering Basic Training.  Just like her brother.  But soon her strong personality and inner light shone forth, and the girl won that battle, too.

In later years, she still faced her physical difficulties, but she had grown so familiar with them, that by the time she was an adolescent, those challenges held little power over her.  She had faced her fears at a wildly early age, and now she held close her ailments.  They no longer inhibited her, for she had determined not to let them.  Of course, with adolescence comes the desire for a relationship, and she was not to escape that desire.  But unlike many others she had met in the War who also had challenges, she did not consider her ailments to be reasons for a worthy suitor to dismiss her.  After all, it was her spirit that mattered.  And for those whose paths she crossed in the War, they knew the healing that came with her presence.  Throughout her life, she followed a different voice, a voice that told her things about people, a voice that urged her to hug a stranger because that stranger needed just that, a voice that kept her from judgements because those who faultered needed her smile.  She never failed to hear that voice and obey.

That was her secret power.

The darkness knew she was born with that power, and its plans reddened and burned hotter.  It craved to stop her widening scope of light.

When the girl was eighteen years old and her brother had long since been at university, she rejoiced.  She called her brother, excited, and exclaimed, “I am now an adult!”  He managed a “Yep.  Cool.” and ended the conversation with an excuse about meeting friends.  She chirped out, “I love you, buddy.  Call me soon.”  He merely said, “Bye,” and hung up.  He did not hate her, but he had felt the only way to handle his bitterness was to distance himself from his family.  He knew though that that was no excuse.

Though many considered the girl a four-star General in the War by the time she reached legal adulthood, she still had the unblemished perspective of someone who had not yet seen sadness.  Her parents beamed, and embraced her, and in the wake of her birthday, they rented the place next door for her.  This way she could be near home and yet have her independence.  She wished for both, and she received them.  The family did not understand why the brother barely managed a phone call to be a part of her new victory, so they focused on her happiness.

She also had long before wished for a good-hearted suitor, and she received one of those, too.

She and the suitor enjoyed each other’s company, and talked often.  They would saunter along paths through the town, her ancient fears of nearby restrooms only memories.  And they sauntered both to enjoy each other’s company as long as they could that day, and because he understood her needs, for she still had the battle scars from when she was three.

Her life made her happy.

She turned nineteen, and wished her brother would have visited her from university, but he made an excuse about studies.  She explained that university was a short four-hour drive away, but her logic seemed lost on him.  Instead of choosing anger, her immediate reaction was to say, “Well, get home when you can.  I haven’t seen you in a while, and I miss you, buddy.  Spring Break maybe?”  He only muttered, “Yeah, we’ll see.  I might have to stay and study.”  Really, his family embarrassed him still.  He always wanted a picture-perfect family like his friends had throughout his life.  He didn’t understand why the light forces did not grant him that same grace.  If he kept distant, he could achieve his independence and create that perfect life.  Then he could slowly re-integrate his family in a controlled manner.

He knew he was a fool.

That summer, the girl went to battle again.  She contracted a violent blood infection of unknown origin.  The dark forces labored hard in their efforts.  Her warriors swooped in and whisked her away to their care where she remained under medical attention for a fortnight.  Her vigilant parents pleaded with the light forces, and called her brother to join their plea.  At long last, she won that battle.

Promoted to the highest ranks of the military, the girl was a five-star General in the War of Life.  She had graced the world in which she inhabited, brought such light to the fallen, and stood as a beacon of what it meant to be righteous, courageous. Excited and grateful, she called her brother from the hospital, and told him about her victory.  He half-listened, having felt he heard it all already from their parents.  She would be fine; he was unconcerned.  She asked again when he would visit.  He repeated the same excuses.  She did not know why he needed to take summer school since he was a very smart student.  Or maybe she had understood that he was looking for ways to not be home.  Either way, she never stopped smiling.  As they finished their conversation, she added, “I love you, buddy.”  He only grunted back, “Bye.”

The dark forces struck.  They subverted one of her warriors with promised of money from larger operations, money guaranteed by insurances.  The warrior was won over.  Even though she had fully recovered from the infection, certified by other warriors as nearly home-bound, this warrior slipped into the fray.  With a legal trick or two, he snatched her away to a distant facility.  There, he did the unthinkable.

He betrayed the girl to the dark forces.  Saw in hand, he cut her open under the guise of open-heart surgery.

The girl died on June 13, 1998.

I have never forgotten my sister.  Rena Michele Lawrence was the perfect woman, the perfect person, the example for many as to how we should face the dark forces of this world.  She was a warrior, a confident, a friend.  I was a coward and a weakling, and for the rest of my life, I will live with the worst punishment that the light forces could incur upon me.

I will constantly remember that I was the last person she spoke to.

I will constantly believe I should have been taken instead.

I will constantly remember her last words.

I am sorry, Sis.  I am so sorry.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

Let The Countdown Begin!

•November 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I fly to Europe in 56 days!

There is much to be accomplished.

I have decided I have several goals.  These are the ones I will list at the end of my blogs each time I write one, to update you, and to keep my wandering ass accountable.  I am at the first-listed point, and I want to reach the second-listed point by December 26th when I leave, so let’s just say by Christmas, and change.

  • $5,400 —> $10,000
  • Book One not fully edited —> Book One fully edited
  • 185 pounds —> 170 pounds
  • 23.7 BMI —> 21.8 BMI
  • chest: 42 inches  —> chest: 43 inches
  • shoulders: 47 inches  —> shoulders: 48 inches
  • arms: 12.25 inches  —> arms: 14 inches
  • waist (natural): 33 inches  —> waist: 31 inches
  • waist (belly button): 35.5 inches  —> waist: 32 inches
  • upper legs: 22 inches  —> upper legs: 21 inches
  • calves: 15.5 inches  —> calves: 15 inches

I want to get down to 170 pounds because then my BMI will be 21.8, which is in the middle of the “normal range” (18.5 – 24.9) for my height and weight.  No, I’m not doing this because I’ve become an anorexic model.  lol  It is, however, my personal goal.  I have in mind an idea of how I appear when I become the survivalist I want to be.  That’s where this comes into mind.  But, of course, I have about two months, so clearly I won’t reach that image by Christmas, but I can get started.

I would like to save ten grand, too, so that I have no worries about traveling in Europe, AND so that if it works out to move to another country to model in the spring, I’ll have plenty of money then, too.  In case you are wondering, at the moment, I am just playing it all by ear on the retiring or not thing with modeling.  I do think these goals should be feasible, only an inch or so of change in two months.  We’ll see.

I bought the iPhone about two weeks ago.  Yes, I buckled.  I held out for so long.  But I finally got one.  So far I have enjoyed it.  I have some great applications, too.  And guess what.  A few of them are survivalism-based apps.  lol  Great information so far that I have read on them, and so as I learn, I’ll share on here what I learn.  I hope in that effort, anyone else interested in survivalism might learn something as well.  Who knows what will be useful one day, right?  I found one for first aid and CPR, for a Navy SEAL training program, for learning to fix a car even.  Yes, I realize these apps are not a substitute for actual hands-on training, but I am sure I can absorb a lot and have a clue for when I dive into things for real.  Plus, Scrabble is a blast on it!  haha

These, folks, are some goals I have until Christmas.  So we’ll see how successful I am with the goals.  Yell at me if I fail, you hear me?  lol

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence