Monday, March 07, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 10

"I don't know what just happened." Dana gave her friend a quick hug. "It seems to me that you're too hard on yourself.  Why should you worry about what Greg thinks?" She threw a new log onto the fire that was dying down. "It sounds like a funny idea actually, to put those clowns in the yearbook."

"I have a temper. Just ask Mike. He's fond of saying  that 'hell hath no fury like Kellie scorned.'  And his nickname for me is 'Killer'." She stood up. "I've been working on that, and things were going good all week until this afternoon and I lost the victory. Greg saved me from myself. He knows what I'm capable of." She pulled Dana up to her feet. "You have no idea!  I was praying that I wouldn't get mad at you!"

"Well, you did, you dork!"  Referring to yesterday's blow-up over breakfast. 

"That wasn't mad, Kellie!  Like I said, you have NO idea!"

"Wow, if that wasn't mad, then I'd hate to see what mad is!"  Dana rolled her eyes. "I'm no Dr. Phil, but that dog don't hunt."

"You watch too much t.v.!"
"Dr. Phil is so educational! Whenever I feel like my life is all screwed up, I watch that show and I don't feel so bad anymore.  Everyone else has it much worse!  And they have to be on the show, too!"

For a minute, Kellie just looked at her. "Hey, if you need help, you can talk to me.  I don't know much like Dr. Phil, but I can listen.  And pray--God listens."

"I just might take you up on that. I need all the help I can get." 

"Just don't whine.  My offer ends the minute I hear you whine." 

"Nope, I am going to whine like a little baby, Kellie."

"I've changed my mind!"

"No, you can't!"

"Oh, yes, I can!"

They laughed and headed to the Lodge's primative kitchen to make dinner.  They planned to make a fruit salad and fried spam over rice and share it with Chris, who previously took a loss in a barter out of pity.  Later that evening was a fire circle, and Dana was really looking forward to hearing what creative and inspiring essays everyone wrote.  It was the last evening before they headed home the next morning, and she was surprised that she was sad about the idea.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 9

As they opened the door to the back of the Lodge, Kellie ran smack into Greg and Dana bumped into her from behind. Although they were tall girls, they only came up to Greg's shoulders in height.

Greg was the other senior Outdoor Ed alumni recruited by Mr. Branson to help chaperone the class. In the fall, he played football with Kellie's older brother, Mike, and was generally famous in the community for his blocking skills and college football scholarship prospects. Kellie knew him way back before his local celebrity status when he was an awkward chunk of a boy who played xbox for a few hours every Saturday with her brother in their den.

Although their gaming days were almost over, Greg still hung out with Mike in their den, mostly talking shop about football and their futures. Mike was accepted already to go to University of Washington in the fall for the engineering program there. Greg was also considering UW, but wanted to be closer to his family and had decided to accept a full ride scholarship to Washington State University to study Wildlife Ecology instead.  The idea that they would be competing against each other was a constant joke between them, which Kellie could never figure out.  Why would being rivals be so funny?

"Yo, Strawberry Shortcake, what's the hurry?" When Kellie was a kid, everyone called her by her favorite dessert, which everyone forgot about except Greg.

"Nothing, Greg." He filled up the doorway and she was looking for a way to get around him. "Excuse us, we want to get through."

"You've got to wait, they're still cleaning the outhouses." With lightening speed, he grabbed Kellie's camera. "So, who invited you, paparazzi?  Whenever I see you with this thing I know you're up to no good."

"Just some nature scenes, Greg."

Greg looked at her skeptically.  "Tell me what you're planning, or I'm handing this over to Mike.  He's still mad about the photos you posted on Facebook."   He nodded his head toward the cleaning crew, which included the little Lipovsky kid that was on Kellie's hit list at the moment. "Let me guess, you were wanting some fun with those poor guys over there?  They're just doing penance for howling at the moon last night, Kells." Which was true, Mr. Branson assigned them the worst jobs on the chore roster for literally howling at the moon after quiet hours. 

For reasons that eluded Dana, Kellie confessed that she was mad and was planning to take some compromising pictures of Lipovsky cleaning the outhouse to put in the freshmen pages of the yearbook.  Greg still hung onto the camera and stayed in the doorway.

"So, he threw pebbles at you and you're going to roll a boulder on him? Revenge isn't justice, Kellie.  Over there, that's justice because Mr. B is the authority on this trip and he didn't make them do latrine cleaning duty because he was angry with them, but because they broke an actual rule and he made sure they paid the consequences.   What you're planning on doing is pure spite, Kellie."  Greg put the camera in his jacket pocket. "I'm hanging on to this until you cool down. I know you're furious at me, but I'm your buddy." He went out the back and walked towards the boys scrubbing the outhouses. "Aren't you done yet?  The faster you get it done, the less you suffer." The boys groaned. "Hey, I know what I'm talking about...Mr. B put me on latrine duty back in the day, too."

Kellie and Dana headed back to the fireplace.  Dana knew that Kellie had a giant crush on Greg for years, but she would never admit it.  She didn't deny it either when Dana teased her privately when she caught her looking at him from a distance or reading for the fifth time the blurbs about his performance on the team in the local newspaper.  They sat for a long silent minute.

"I wish that he wouldn't call me Strawberry Shortcake."

"I thought you like that?"

"Not anymore." Kellie stared at the fire. "But what he said was true.  When am I going to grow up?"

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 8

"Did you have a "marmot moment" on the hike, Dana?" Kellie was warming her bootclad feet at the fireplace. The clouds had come in and the temperature was dropping in the late afternoon. Dana sat next to her on a rough hewn bench. The hike was easy and she had gotten some ideas for the essay she wanted to write for her project while on the mountain ridge.

"Almost." She patted her friend on the shoulder, "So, did God talk to you while you were up there?"

"Yeah, God told me not to murder that Lipovsky kid up there. He was throwing pebbles at me while I was trying to think. I even gave him one of my famous killer looks, but he just laughed! I went up the ridge and sat next to Mr. Branson. It was a better angle for pictures, anyway."

"He was trying to get your attention, Kellie. You know how these boys are--such babies!"

"I know! Grow up already! I think I've got little pebbles stuck in my hair, too. So annoying. Really, it took all I had not to go up there and do something violent!" Kellie started to look through her fluffy hair and sighed and gave up. "I was really looking forward to having a "marmot experience", too. I was so disappointed because all I could think of was how irritated I was."

Dana found a pebble trapped in Kellie's curls and pulled it out gently.

"Hey, Kellie, I'll get up early with you early tomorrow morning and watch the sunrise. Maybe you'll get your moment then... I promise not to throw little stones at you."

Kellie gave Dana a big hug. "Thanks, thanks and thanks! I'm a morning person anyway!"

"But we have to share about our projects tonight during the fire circle. What are you going to say then?"

"Oh plenty, I never run out of stuff to say. Speaking my mind comes naturally." Kellie looked around, "Hey come with me, I've got an idea." She grabbed her camera. "It's revenge time on that Lipovsky kid!"

Dana had a bad feeling about this. But Kellie looked like she was very mad and very determined. What could she say to make her change her mind and forget about her anger? Dana got up and started to follow, trying to think of how to divert her friend from whatever shenanigans she was cooking up.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 7

The assignment for the afternoon was to quietly sit on the ridge across from the mountain and write down any observations. Dana waited for something to happen to report, but after 15 minutes all she saw was a solitary bird soaring above. She couldn't tell what kind.

As mountains go, it wasn't all that exciting. There were patches of pine trees, patches of rockiness, patches of grasslands and patches of snow and a patch of a small lake. It was much further away than it looked, and probably much bigger than she thought, too. Between her and the mountain was a wide open meadow. It was too cold for spring flowers, it was just full of brown grass. She wrote all this down, plus the fact that the snow was melting away and the sun was shining very brightly.

A slight breeze was a little chilly, but she wasn't uncomfortable. She heard another student cough somewhere along the ridge--Mr. Branson had taken them out and placed them in spots a few feet away from each other, while he sat above them at the top of the ridge and kept watch. He had talked about this assignment a lot in the months leading up to this trip. How just sitting quietly in nature can teach you a lot. How he saw a marmot come up to him one day while sitting on a cliff, which is rare because marmots are really shy.

After a few more minutes, Dana was bored. She had 45 more minutes before they hiked away from the area, and even if something happened, like a deer or a marmot came out of the woods, she still wouldn't have anything more original than the rest of her class, because they would've seen the exact same thing.

She took a drink out of her water bottle and looked at the mountain again. Most of the time, she was always in a car traveling through the mountains when her mom drove to Seattle to drop her off at her dad's and vice versa. She never had a chance to actually sit and look at one. What did Mr. Branson keep saying? That everyone "looks but don't really see" what is right in front of them?

Sooo, Mr. Mountain, what I am not seeing? You are a bit of a nerdy mountain, not as rugged as the Cascades or majestic like the Rockies. You are far away from any highway or tourist trap. I had to hike 30 minutes in from the Lodge to see you. Nobody comes to climb you like your cousins Rainier, Adams and Hood. No one skiis off your slopes like at Baker. Are you lonely, Mr. Mountain? Are you glad to see us kids come and really pay attention to you? To really see you?

At this thought, Dana started tearing up. This was not a popular mountain, but it was pure in a way because of that. No one trampled on it. There wasn't garbage anywhere, unlike most places that people visited. Not even a gum wrapper. This mountain was better off in this wild and desolate place. Dana began to understand the value of a hidden, secret thing.