Far from Home

“You need to fulfill your camping requirement,” the tall, built, bearded teacher who wears a Hawaiian shirt tells me. In order to graduate OVS, students must go to 2 campings a year. “You are going to Mount Pinos.” I don’t want to go.

Mount Pinos is located in the Los Padres National Forest. Its summit is 8,847 feet high, which is the peak of Ventura. I’ve been assigned to this Mount Pinos camping trip for 3 years. Relatively speaking, it’s an easy trip. Unlike the many backpacking trips that make you walk for 50 some miles. Once I went to Topa Topa backpacking trip last year and got bitten by a tick and had to dig a hole for bathroom. 

Mount Pinos still looks the same: the tortuous path, the fast-moving clouds, the pine trees… Good old Mount Pinos, here we go again. It gets bitterly cold when it’s dark, so we’d start a fire. Starting a fire is easy, but keeping it going is difficult. Taking one from warmth, from civilization, from your weekend… it just seems like masochism. I don’t get it. Do people actually go camping because they like to be tortured? 

Mount Pinos doesn’t have as much pine cones as it did in the previous trips. We only found 1 and a half pine cones this time. In the past, we’d burn all the pine cones we found and it would smell amazing. Maybe it’s because of the newcomers—there are way more campers than before. They would smoke stuff and play loud music. But Mount Pinos is still the same even without the pine cones. It still gives me the feeling of being far from home.

Photo credit: 100peaks.com

Weekends

Although I chose to go to a boarding school, it’s still nice to get away on the weekends. I’m friends with day students, as well as dormers who live relatively close by, and on some weekends I get invited over to their houses.

Because weekends here are more confined than a standard weekend at home, it’s nice to get off campus and spend some time in the real world. Sometimes a few days packed with fun, and sometimes a few days spent relaxing, these weekends are much-needed, and very rejuvenating.

Living far away, it’s not possible for me to go home on the weekends. I miss all my friends, and aspects of where I live. In spite of not being able to experience home regularly, I have other places to make up for it. Having friends whose houses I am able to go to provides a homey environment, which is comforting.

Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

When so much time is spent in an environment so different from what I’m used to, it’s calming to enjoy a few days in a real house. All in all, weekends are a time to rest after a packed week, and, if possible, it’s nice to vary what happens.

War

The air was cold. The wind, a warning. As we unloaded the bus nervous jawing could be heard among the new recruits. “We are so gonna die.” Veterans could only hide their agreement with a snark grin. “You’ll be fine, it’ll only hurt for a little bit.”

The soldiers unconsciously split into herds, discussing amongst themselves their past experiences or worries. Our troop leader, donned in a large gray hoodie, talks to the general, who is gathering our gear.

Guns, masks, and bullet holders are lined up against a stall. “E’ery one grab a gun, grab a helmet, and grab a holder.” A young child, no doubt the offspring of the general, hurries about getting the gear for our new recruits.

“Make sure the safety is on, right here! Make sure you keep your barrel plug on! And when you’re on the field, do NOT take off your mask!”

Introductions pass by quickly as nervous energy rises. Recruits want to take their first breaths of the battlefield, veterans want to sink into familiarity.

“Split yourself up into two teams! Here.” I am handed a pink ribbon. Guess I’m joining their team. “Here, let me help you with that,” he continues, reaching back for the ribbon. “I can do it myself,” I almost scoff, turning away and carefully looping the bright ribbon onto my left arm.

To my dismay our leader was on the blank side, as well as many of the rookies. Bins of bright orange bullets are dropped onto our table and everyone rushes to fit as many as they can into their bullet holders, tied around the waist, and into their guns.

Weapons loaded, masks on, we are led to our first battlefield by another general. “Your objective here is to take the flag, set in the middle here, and bring it to the base of the opposite team.” Everyone nods in agreement. “Blanks, you’ll stay here. Ribbons, take a walk.”

Self-designated captain of our small group of seven quickly knits together a loose plan. “You two take the right side, you two on the left, two of you stay here and guard the base, and I’ll charge for the flag.”

The whistle blows, and I dive for the nearest hay bale. Shots are fired, and I already feel glass-like shells of bullets spraying my neck. Hay flies everywhere, and I’m already breathing heavy.

Without firing a shot, I weave between hay bales, watching the enemy and my comrades alike. Once I looked up – our leader was facing away from me! I shoot once, twice, thrice, curse these horrible guns and their horrible aiming, then I hit him on the head. He spins around, trying to catch a glimpse of his attacker. I turn, concealing myself behind the hay again. He raises his gun and walks out.

Up ahead I can see a good friend of mine, someone who roughhouses with me but is actually soft as a puppy, charging two young rookies desperately hiding behind their hay base. He stands square, pointing his gun. Although I can’t see his mouth, I can imagine him yelling “surrender! Surrender!”

I look away and leap for the next bale of hay – and almost collide with person. I see a flash of pink and assume he’s a ribbon, but upon closer inspection I realized he was actually a blank. He raised his gun at me and I feel a flash of fear rise within, causing me to draw my own gun up. We stare each other down for a moment before simultaneously lowering our guns. “Shoot each other already!” The general’s voice comes at us from somewhere above. We don’t, and simply ignore each other for whatever reason.

Bodies of three, four pile along the edges of the field. Though before I know it, the match is over. “Yeah!” Captain shouts, “we kicked a**!”

I finally got shot in the second round while stalking behind large electrical wiring wheels. The bullet hit me directly on the inner side of my right knee, a sensitive spot for a person with knee problems like me. I raise my gun and breath deeply to ease the pain as I quickly limp out. Gotta watch your left side, I remind myself, watch your left side.

Somewhere in round three I got shot three times in a row. I had ducked, but was not close enough to the poorly constructed building to hide my body. I was hit on my left elbow first, followed by the left side of my chest, followed by my left hip.

The pain didn’t come until I walked out of the battlefield. Breathing shallow, I put my hands on my knees to wait the pain out. “Don’t worry,” our captain says, patting my back with paint-stained hands, “it’s ok.”

The worst battle by far was the last. Ammo had run low, and our three rookiest rookies had decided to flee. The teams were now six to five, with odds in neither of our favors.

Our shields were large, colourful, and dripping with paint. They were inflatable and grew out of the ground, rounded at the edges, making it poor cover.

At the whistle I ducked and weaved, rounded orange bullets whizzing around me at alarming speeds. There’s our leader again, in his conspicuous gray hoodie! I kneel down and take a dozen shots, all of which go in a comical arc around his body. These freaking guns, I swear.

Pink team won again. Celebratory shots were fired, leftover ammo used up, and tired and injured troops saunter out of the battlefield. They talk amongst themselves as if the war never happened. How can they?
On my thigh is a perfect imprint of the accursed paintball, a full moon of purple bruising growing thick around it.

This is the pain of paintball.

Plague Inc.-Fun but Deadly!

While reviewing my most recent blog, I came to the mindset that maybe I should write something that’s got nothing to do with sports!

I know you’re all surprised but this is pretty cool. I recently downloaded a new app on my iPad called “Plague Inc.”. This simulator enables the player to take control of their very own disease and attempt to infect and (end result) completely annihilate the entire human race. Imagine sending the humans into complete extinction.

Considering I’m not human (ha), I see literally no controversy of any kind with this game. It’s not like you’re running around with guns and blowing the heads off of zombies. There’s no gore whatsoever. There’s no blood. The only thing possibly traumatic about this game is the principle that you are, in fact eliminating everyone on the planet.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m gonna talk a little bit about some problems I see with the game.

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Team Rest

This weekend was the first time since the start of the season that our team did not have a game.

This is not because one was not scheduled, but because simply we could not compete against Orcutt Academy’s team.

We are a team that defies odds, beginning a season with a mere 20 players in a collision sport.

Players are bound to get injured, and starting with a number that low doesn’t put us in the best position.

Regardless of size, we are a team who trains to compete, to show what we are made of, and even if we don’t always win, to show we will not go down without a fight.

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Rain Rain, Please Don’t Go Away

It finally rained the other day .

After having so many hot days, I was really ready for the weather to cool down, and to let the water fall from the sky.

There was talk of rain over last weekend weekend, and in the beginning of the week, and I was skeptical that it would actually happen.

There was between a 20-40 percent chance, but with less than 50% chance, the earth still made it happen.

Thursday started off clear and I was worried that this one rainy day was going to be just a cold day, where I was looking to the sky hoping for rain.

Soon enough it began to rain a little after noon.

I was standing outside and felt a light drizzle.

I returned back indoors and just as the door shut behind me, it is as if the skies opened and the heavens rained down upon the ground.

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Sandy Friends and Smiley Beaches.

This weekend was so good.

Yesterday, I got off campus with my best friends to go shopping in Santa Barbara. I mean, what could go wrong there? Four girls on State Street, a beautiful sunny day in California, shopping. It was fantastic.

We ended up eating at Pascucci’s for dinner. Although I was never a big fan of the restaurant because I believe the food is incredibly bland, I nevertheless had an amazing time with my girls, all of whom I will miss so so so much after June 8th of this year…

Today, the girls headed out to the beach.

The day was beautiful and we made so many memories under the sun. Sand was everywhere and we strutted around in our bright bikinis, showing off our fabulous shorts tans we all accumulated from sports.

Anyways, although I am super happy, I am growing scared because of how close graduation is. 60 more days! And then we all part our different ways and walk the rest of the paths we were on.

All I can say is that I feel incredibly blessed to have crossed paths with such wonderful girls. I know I will never forget them and that we will always, ALWAYS stay best friends, wherever we are on this Earth.

Cheers to the weekend!

This weekend was one of the best that I’ve had in such a long time.

On Friday, I went to a really cool art show in Ventura with a few people.
There was so much beautiful pottery. I love pottery, and I haven’t had time to go to the studio recently, but this trip gave me some new inspiration and I can’t wait until I have time again. There were so many different artists with a variety of work that all took my breath away.

The next day, I got to sleep in until 10:30. BEST FEELING EVER. I have not spent enough time with my bed recently, and seriously, it put me in such a better mood for the whole rest of the day, which consisted of going to a gingerbread house making party and a birthday party!

I spend about one who hour making a masterpiece gingerbread house with my best friend. We made sure it was very colorful and cute, and let me just say, it was some high quality work!

It was so much fun to decorate a gingerbread house; I hadn’t done it for years, and it made me feel like a little kid again, which I love.

Then came the big “dance party,” I guess you could call it. When really, it was just a bunch of loud music, and people jumping around making fools of themselves (including me). And I’d have to say, that was definitely my favorite part. Having fun without anyone to judge me or anything else to worry about. I spent time with close friends, and others that I’m not as close with, but still had an amazing time with both.

I did, however, underestimate the amount of work I had to finish, and overestimated the ability I have to do so. But a little bit of a time crunch is just the price to pay for a pretty amazing weekend 🙂