lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Twiggy Tornado August 16, 2016

I’ve slept some very strange places in my day. I slept on the floor of a tour bus for a few months, airports the world over, lean-tos, and even a VW van at a youth hostel. But the worst, or maybe best if you’re searching the annals of your life for new blog material, is the time I built my own shelter out of sticks.

It was an overnight camping trip from my summer camp in Maine that I signed up for specially. In camp we stayed in nice cabins with toilets and showers and all the fancy things in life. But this overnight trip was going to be roughing it. Real hiking, building your own shelter to sleep in, and cooking over a campfire. Out of the whole camp only two girls signed up, but I was super stoked to prove that I was just as outdoorsy as any of those boys.

We left camp in a rickety, fifteen-passenger van that was probably not safe for children to be in and drove out to the wilderness. We found a place to pull off the road and hiked around a bit. I don’t think we were really supposed to be where we were. There we no markers for trails or a sign saying we could camp there. I think we were illegally squatting on someone’s land and the camp hadn’t cared enough to ask the counselors where they were taking us before we left camp.

Once we found our less-than-legal home for the night, the head counselor started teaching us how to build our emergency shelters. You had to use a big stick to make the top, lay smaller sticks against it to make the sides, and finally pack it in with leaves for insulation. A decent concept in an area where there are no deadly bugs or snakes that might have wanted those snuggly warm leaves for their own evening shelter.

We all built shelters and went to make our dinner over the fire. The counselors told us wonderful stories of survival before setting up the tents they were going to sleep in for the night. That’s right. They were going to sleep in tents. And they had graciously brought one extra in case any of us couldn’t hack it for the night.

Of course, all the boys immediately started going on and on about how that would be the girls’ tent ‘cause the two of us wouldn’t be able to make it through the night in our shelters.

That’s when it started to rain. (more…)

 

I Can’t Hear the Bells February 11, 2015

I grew up next to a fire department. Besides getting a great education in strippers (they had lots of bachelor parties), I also heard lots and lots of fire sirens. And after hearing the same sound over and over for years and years, I stopped being able to hear that particular sound. Not like I’m deaf, but my mind just doesn’t process it as a thing.

It really is kind of nice when I’m at home. The sirens don’t wake me up during the night or make me drop my milk when they start suddenly. But it was a really big problem when I went to college in Oklahoma City.

I was terrified of tornados, but my roommates assured me that if a tornado were coming, there would be sirens to warn me. Not to mention the whole deathly looking sky and fleeing people scattering for shelter. I took those to all be surefire signs that it was time to panic. But then one day I was walking to class in a little piddly rain (it wasn’t bad, just a little inconvenient) when suddenly the people around me started to run.

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