What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Weathering the Storm August 23, 2014

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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There are times in life when you feel like you are stuck outside in the storm. That the wind and rain are battering you, and there is no escape. No safe haven, no warm bed to hide in. Just you and the storm, battling to see who can last the longest.

In some ways, I mean that as a metaphor for having my first novel up for preorder. But really I mean it literally. Being out in a storm and having nowhere to hide. When I was a young teenager, I went to a very fancy summer camp in Maine. There was no way my parents could afford to send my sister and me, so my father acted as the woodshop teacher in exchange for our camp tuition. There were all kinds of adventures and a million stories from that summer. But the one that seems most fitting right now is about the only tornado I ever heard of in my time in Maine.

I was on a survival camping trip. That basically meant a bunch of really board campers masochistically signing up to go “learn how to survive in the woods” by building stick shelters and eating food even worse than what was provided in the cafeteria.

I thought this was an amazing idea and was, of course, the only girl on my trip. We drove out into the middle of nowhere Maine and set up tents. We were then told we weren’t supposed to sleep in tents while our counselor ate “moose poop,” which I knew to be chocolate, to prove to us  just how nature oriented he was. We boiled water over a fire for our evening meal of gross things out of mixed packets, and then we each built our survival shelters.

The survival shelters were pretty much one big stick leaning next to a tree covered in little sticks. The point was to get enough little sticks and leaves to insulate yourself while you were sleeping under the big stick. Please see illustration A.

photo (6)

I made a great shelter and settled in for the night. But then it started to rain. Hard. Really, really, freakin’ hard. And the wind started to blow. Hard enough that my leaves were flying away. And then I ran away. Back to my sleeping bag in my tent while the boys hid under their sticks. Part of me felt awful. I should have stood up for all womankind and stayed under the sticks! But the worse the storm got, the more I was afraid of waking up in munchkin land, and the happier I was to be in my sleeping bag.

It was a terrible night. And when we got back to camp the next day, we found out there had been a tornado a mile from our camp site. But the camp director hadn’t contacted our counselor to warn us. He hadn’t thought it was important. Butt face.


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