So, about last night…

One word: mice.

It all started when we decided to watch ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ We went over to the guys’ cabin to pop it into the DVD player, but when some people realized what we were about to watch, they complained. As a result, we watched ‘Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.’ We did this with the lights off and with not much talking.

And while the lights were off, we had a little friend in the kitchen who was scurrying around doing mousy things with his little mouse paws and his little mouse nose.

But we had no clue.

When the movie was over, we turned the lights back on and talked about things to do; we could play cards, but it’s always annoying to teach people a new game. One thing was for sure, we couldn’t go spend any money because we were all broke. There was talk of hiking, but it was really cold…

“BBBBBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

One of the girls on the couch let out the most terrifying scream I have ever heard. We all immediately jumped to action. I leapt onto the arm of the couch to defend myself against whatever it was, the men all jumped to a standing position and those that had blankets pulled them over their heads before suspiciously peeking back.

“What, what is it? What?” one of the guys asked as he danced around nervously.

The screaming girl merely pointed at the kitchen, which in turn made everyone go into fighting stance and try to figure out who the intruder was in the kitchen.

But there was nothing. I was honestly expecting a dead body or an axe murderer.

“What? What are you screaming at?” the guy asked again.

By that time, the girl was kind of laughing and gasping for air.

“A mouse! I saw the mouse!” she cried breathlessly.

Of course – a mouse.

Like this, but minus the cuteness and the teddy bear.

Like this, but minus the cuteness and the teddy bear.


For the next hour, we banged on cabinet doors and moved refrigerators to try and find the little bugger. The men did the lifting while the girls stood around with heavy objects and waited for the rodent to try and make his escape, but he never did. The cabin is a nice place too; I’ve been in apartments that are much worse, but somehow, a mouse had gotten inside this place. At some point, I was standing next to the counter when I saw an all too familiar sight.

“Hey guys,” I asked, twirling my shoe-weapon. “Has anybody made any Uncle Ben’s recently?”

They all stared at me blankly.

“Like, brown rice? Or…” I kept hoping someone would say yes, but nobody spoke up. So, I surrendered to the only plausible explanation for what I saw on the counter.

“There’s mouse poop.” I pointed at a dirty dish near the sink that supported most of it. “There’s mouse poop on the counter.”

At this point several of us girls lost it and started shrieking again.

We kept trying, but never saw the tiny intruder again. After we gave up, we all sat around talking about what we would do if we had money – when there was a knock at the door. One of the guys answered it while casually sipping from a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

It was the junior conservation officer. Apparently he had “just been driving by” and heard that it was “pretty loud.” We needed to “tone it down” because it was “disruptive.” The guy is a nice person; I go to college with him and I always manage to run into him at the gas pump. The thing is, he’s trying to show everyone that he’s a real-life cop – a big boy – and that’s annoying for us because we’re easy targets.

“Oh, well it was probably loud because we found a mouse and Kori started screaming,” we explained. You would think he might offer to help us kill it or even suggest ways to trap the thing, but nope – he simply reiterated that we needed to be quiet. He honestly didn’t even sound concerned.

After he left we all tried to justify why he had just done that, because clearly he hadn’t “just been driving by,” but the room remained divided.

At that point, some of us began to trickle off to bed. A group of nine of us stayed behind and played some cards, and when it was realized that we got paid the next day, four of that group decided to drive the 10 minutes to the closest Flying J to buy some forties at midnight because the money would be in our accounts then (We drink classily.) I chose to go to bed, and the funny thing is, I looked this morning and we still haven’t gotten our checks deposited.

I wonder how the rest of the night went.

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Remember when it rained

After I got off work two days ago, I thought it would be a good idea to go on a walk. (Have to keep those love handles under control, you know?) It was my luck that after a mild, sunny day, it began to sprinkle the minute I got home.

But that wasn’t going to stop me.

Cody, who lives in the cabins by the dorms, can ride a unicycle like it’s nobody’s business. He even goes to national competitions, and he needed to practice, so he offered to come with. That began a string of “I’m coming!” “No wait, it’s raining, are you sure?”

Eventually, it ended up being me, Cody, and another girl, walking Lovers Leap trail as the rain lightly fell on our shoulders. It was cool, calming and beautiful – the rain felt like it was washing away every stress and bad thought in my head.

And then it started to rain harder.

And harder.

And harder. While I felt like I looked like this:
Weee!
I’m pretty sure I actually looked more like this: Squish squish mutter mutter
We kept walking though awhile Cody rode his unicycle through the increasingly muddy and rutted trail. While the mud slopped up onto my legs and my sweatshirt got completely soaked through, I still couldn’t help but think about how happy I was.

By the time we went back to the dorms, my long hair was soaked through along with my sweatshirt and jeans. The girl who had come along with me was also pretty wet, even though she was wearing a rain-repelling jacket. Cody and his unicycle abandoned ship toward the end of our hike and booked it back to his house to shower.

And I have to admit, when I did get back, that hot shower felt really good.

Living with crazy

It’s time to get personal.

When people are together for long periods of time in an enclosed area, there is bound to be conflict, but for the most part, all of the seasonal employees that I live with get along swimmingly. Granted, some of have conflicting personalities, but we make it work.

And then there’s Dennis.

Physically, he’s a tall, large guy. He’s hairy, and the best way I can describe his overall look is to say that he looks like Jesus after week-long bender in Vegas.

He doesn’t conform to societal norms, and I can respect that. He also doesn’t conform to hygiene, and I can respect that too – who am I to judge if you don’t want to wear deodorant? But he just loves to push the envelope and cross that line that doesn’t need to be crossed. I have too many examples to write about, but I’ll just tell you about a couple.

The man farts and burps like it’s his job. I mean, we’re all nature-lovers and this isn’t exactly the most fashionable place to live, so we tend to let appearances and manners slide, but Dennis can fart the alphabet. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but still, he burps and farts constantly – in your face and general direction. It’s not the sound that gets to me, it’s the smell, but he doesn’t care one bit.

He also loves to flaunt his intelligence. He’s brilliant, I’ll give him that, but it can be absolutely infuriating. An example of this is when we played Categories, which involves going around in a circle and naming everything you can within a category without repeating someone else.

“Ok, how about dogs?” someone suggested.
“Can we do scientific names? Like Canis Familiaris…” Dennis started to spout off.
“Seriously Dennis? This kind of thing is what made me go all pterodactyl on you the other night.” I cut him off.

What I was referring to was an incident where he corrected me one too many times and I lost it. Everybody has their breaking point, and he finally cracked me. I yelled at him for so long that everyone in the vicinity started to find it funny and later told me I sounded like a screeching pterodactyl. And what was even more infuriating was that he totally disregarded the incident. I’m not kidding you, two days later, he gave me a foot massage.

I’ll admit that it’s my own insecurities that tick me off when he flaunts his knowledge of everything under the sun, but the bodily functions are just gross.
And he has no respect for personal boundaries either. Granted, we’ve all gotten comfortable enough with each other that we’re always in each other’s business, but once again he takes it to another level.

One day, he randomly did this:

Like, what? Seriously?

That’s him, lying on top of the girl who lives across from me. There was no rhyme or reason as to why he did it, he just did. He just pushed her over and did it.
I have more stories I can’t post on here, but Dennis is truly teaching me the meaning of patience. But honestly, I’ll probably yell at him a few more times this summer.
__

The thing is, I wrote this at about 9 a.m. Later that day at about 3 p.m. I went to the Visitor Center to take photos of a junior naturalist program, which consists of small lessons about nature that are taught by our park naturalists. That’s where I saw Dennis in a completely different light – he was teaching three eager young students about fire, and I’ve never seen him act like that. He was engaging, smart, and above all, interesting. He had the kids hanging on his every word as he taught them about convection, conduction and radiation using foam balls and matches. It was quite a sight. Even adults in the vicinity were stopping and watching his little show with faint smiles on their faces.

I don’t know what to think anymore.

If only I could sing…

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If only I could sing...

I’m not complaining in any way when I say that I’m living inside a Disney cartoon.

Seriously, on my days off I hiked Lovers Leap trail, which is a much more romantic name for what is really Lovers Leap To Their Death Trail, but that’s another story.

The walk is really pretty; you cross a babbling brook several times and are surrounded by fluorescent green trees that are inhabited by tiny, chirping birds.

And the butterflies – let me tell you about the butterflies. They’re everywhere! I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was almost terrifying to walk to fast for fear I might inhale one of them. There were blue ones and yellow ones and small ones and big ones. At one point, I just stood still, put a classical piece of music on my iPod and stood still to see if the butterflies would flutter in sync with the music.

Sadly, they did not, but it was still really pretty. If I had anything resembling a good singing voice I would have tried calling the birds to land on my finger.

Later that night it rained, and once again, it was like living inside Walt’s head. When the showers stopped, it was as though we were viewing the world through a yellow filter. If you’ve lived in tornado alley, you know that its post-tornado weather, but we hadn’t had a twister. The clouds looked like painted puffs of cotton candy in the sky and the sunset was so pink that it looked like an Instagram filter had been put over the sky.

I pinch myself daily to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Confessions of a lobster

I am so sunburned I can barely move.

My mother is going to kill me if she finds out, but I am as red as a lobster.

Yesterday, my spider-killing-friend and I went out to Center Lake and laid out for a couple hours. I slathered on some sunscreen, but I wasn’t too liberal with it because I felt like a pale blob of flesh and wanted to get tan without having to stay out there for hours. I had other stuff to do – like work.

When we did eventually leave the beach, we both felt as though we hadn’t gotten much sun and were disappointed. I went home, suited back up for work, and went about my business.

But about an hour later, I realized my pants were rubbing my waist raw. This was odd because they weren’t that tight, so I went into a bathroom to check out the situation.

That’s when I realized I was completely and utterly burnt. My waist, thighs, and for some reason, my eyelids got the worst of it. My friend’s back is completely seared and for the rest of that evening, everyone made jokes about slapping our sunburns.

I think if anyone had actually followed through and done it, we both would have just died on the spot.

Today, it’s not as bad as it was yesterday.

Who am I kidding, it’s just as bad. I don’t know why, but my eyelids are burnt and my waist is still chafing against my jeans. Every time I rolled over last night it re-occurred to me, “Oh yeah, you’re sunburnt, you idiot.”

I’ll deal with it. I’m hoping with all the lotion I’ve been applying that it will be better by tonight.

Fingers crossed.

Ewwww a spider!

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Ewwww a spider!

Your average shower spider doesn’t freak me out. They’re a valuable part of the ecosystem and the food chain, so I realize their existence is necessary.

But spiders that can jump or have huge, round bodies freak me out. They can all die.

There’s a story to go with this. The dorm building I live in is nice, but it definitely has flaws. For example, my window is square, but the screen that’s supposed to fit it is kind of shaped like a trapezoid. Maybe a buffalo charged it – I don’t know – but it doesn’t fit in my window. As a result, there are large gaps that used to let in wasps on a daily basis until I duct taped it shut.

The door jambs are just about as flimsy, but I tried not to let it worry me. I can handle a couple bugs.

Until two days ago.

I was getting ready for work and minding my own business. I left my room, shut the door behind me and went to the kitchen for some water. On the way back, I stopped to casually chat with the girl who lives across from me, but something caught my eye on my door.

“ARRRGHHHHHHH OHMYGODITMOVES!” I screamed. I’m pretty sure I woke up everyone in a 2-mile radius if they were trying to sleep, and for that, I’m sorry.

“What, what, what is it?” my friend dashed out of her room in her shorts, holding a single flip-flop as her weapon of choice.

“Sorry,” I said, catching my breath. “I’m not afraid of spiders, but that one jumped!”

I pointed at the black, bulbous, throbbing, eight-legged-freak hanging from a strand of web in front of my door. It couldn’t have been bigger than the nail on my middle finger, but it was a quick little sucker. He had jumped about a foot downward in a split second, so I wasn’t going to allow him to live.

“Here,” my friend handed me her flip-flip. “I’m not going to do it, but you can use this.”

She didn’t have to say it twice.

R.I.P Anonymous Evil Spider
Unknown – May 2013

I dream of…

I’ve always had really vivid dreams. I still remember, in great detail, a series of epic dreams I had about adventures in a cavernous underworld with a handsome stranger, and I was under age five when I had those. They were just as good as, if not better than “The Iliad,” and I didn’t even know what “The Iliad” was at that age.

This has, in turn, carried over to my live in Custer State Park. I have dreams in college, but many of them are vague and easily forgotten. Here, it’s a whole different story. Maybe it’s the mountains, or maybe it’s the springs that poke through my mattress and into my back, but I’ve had some insane dreams.

And these aren’t small, silly dreams about dancing buffalo or showing up to class naked. These dreams are always heavily laden with details and subplot. Sometimes, if I realize I’m dreaming, I can mess with the dream and manipulate things to do what I want them to, which can be fun. So far, I haven’t been able to do that here, but I’ll keep hoping.

One night I dreamt I was in a mall full of people on the verge of collapse. Hoards of people were inside the mall trying to break windows and get out. Women were using the tips of their high heels to try to puncture the thick glass to no avail. Somehow, I made it outside, only to look back at the giant, multi-story brick building and realize that it wasn’t collapsing, it was going to be blown up. The people inside were frantically trying to get out as I ran around trying to herd them through the hole in the glass I had used, when several people with guns showed up.

At that point, I came to realize that it was a terrorist attack of sorts, so I grabbed a gun and shot several bad guys, but not before one shot me in the right shoulder. This terrified the people in the mall, who all turned and ran back inside the building right as it toppled on top of them. I stood there in disbelief, surrounded by dead bad guys, and knew I had to flee because for some reason, this was all my fault. I did what I could to take care of my wound as I drove down I-29, not knowing where to go.

Then I woke up.

It’s weirdly specific and epic, right? I feel like I should call Michael Bay.

I’ve always talked in my sleep as well, but it’s gone to a whole new level this summer. Almost every night I’ve woken myself up mid-conversation and had no idea who I was supposedly talking to or what I was saying. It’s exhausting.

Like I said, maybe it’s the horrible mattress and maybe it’s something in the air. Either way, I’m going to have a ton of movie scripts and novel ideas by the end of the summer if I keep dreaming like this.

Silver linings – they’re important.