Saturday, May 21, 2011


“Mountains, Gandalf, Mountains!” The hobbit gestured wildly up at the wizard on the TV screen across the room.

Gonga grunted, sliding down further on the couch.

“I want to see mountains!”

Gonga reached over and punched the pause button on the remote. Mountains. He did want to see mountains. Quite a lot. His friend’s planned expedition to Mount Everest interested him slightly. Though he wasn’t so much a fan of ice and cold. Gonga didn’t really like altitude much either. One trip up Kilimanjaro as a teen had pretty much ruined his appetite for anything higher than 4000 feet above sea level.

But he did want to see mountains again. He’d had enough of sitting around watching the library’s entire DVD collection over the last two weeks since classes were over. It had been interesting the first week. But now the actors were all jumbling together, and he was pretty sure the producers had all watched each other’s movies. They all seemed oddly alike at any rate. He wasn’t even sure if he had kept the “Need to watch” stack separate from the “Already watched” stack.

Gonga pushed himself off the couch.

Where was Derick anyway? He had disappeared a couple weeks ago for some insane outdoor adventure up in Minnesota. But he had invited him to go on a canoe trip, right? When was that again?

Gonga shuffled through the litter of empty water bottles and wadded up newspapers towards his calendar. There is was. A bright red canoe sticker was plastered on July 27th. Ah. That’s when Dereck said he would get back.

Gonga scratched his head, wondering if he was supposed to prepare anything. And then wondering where in the world the canoe trip was, and furthermore, what he was supposed to do in the next month.


That word intrigued him. Perhaps he would find mountains over the next few weeks.

He glanced down at his fur. Black. Black mountains! That would be perfect. But where?

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Gonga did a quick two-step and clicked his heals. He spun around in circles. He jumped in the air and tumbled into a somersault. Freedom!!! Summer was finally here. The last final was over. It was done.

Now it was time for one last grand adventure of summer before buckling down to the more routine work of catching birds with the mist-net gun.

A backpack came hurtling through the air and bounced off Gonga’s chest. He grunted in expectation of a stack of books. But the backpack caved and slid down to the ground. He looked up to see Dereck grinning at him.

“Got rid of them all,” his friend said. “Finals done, books sold, now I’m ready for one good canoe trip before heading out to Mount Everest.”

Gonga cocked his head to one side. “Gonga like canoeing.”

“Really.” Dereck scratched his chin.

“Gonga know how to swim,” Gonga added.

“You’re not saying you want to spend a week with me in a narrow strip of metal going down category three rapids?”

Gonga smiled. “Gonga love water. Especially when it is hot.”

Oh no. This had nothing to do with the cryptic message he had received the night before. Go with Dereck, the message had told him. He has information you need. Yeah. That made a lot of sense. Go hang out for a week with this random person who had befriended Gonga. Keep your Gonga guise in place. See if you can last a week of close scrutiny without detection. Besides, what in the world could Dereck know that would have any bearing on the mission? And was the mission really worth it anymore anyway?

“Well,” Dereck has been silent for a while, pondering. “I suppose you can come with me. I have a couple other buddies going, but one had to bail yesterday. So we have two canoes and three people. Do you know how to paddle?”

“Gonga can learn,” Gonga declared, smacking his fist into his chest.

And with that, it was settled. Gonga would go canoeing.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How To Beat Your Finals (Or Let Your Finals Beat You?)

After multiple semesters of watching students sweat during their last week of torture before the summer holiday’s Gonga has picked up a thing or two about sucessful studying.

1) Coffee is a must. No sane student goes without coffee for more than a three hour period while studying for finals. To put it more clearly, only the crazy students deprive themselves of coffee during those last crucial minutes of study.

2) Sleep is over-rated. It always has been. As one famous person (now long dead) once declared, “There’ll be time enough to sleep when I’m dead!” Presumably he is indulging in that pleasure at the moment. Students currently attempting to pass their own exams should adopt his maxim as their own.

3) Stress is an abosulte necessity. Nothing else can provide enough energy to pour over archaic textbooks fulls of useless information late into the night. Especially when the textbook is usually so dry that it has been propping open your dorm room door for the entire semester.

4) Pandora radio is yet another item requisite for completing your final week of school. Music is food for the soul, and the right kind of music can be energy to encourage all that studying. Just make sure you don’t go over your monthly forty houre limit before finals hit. That could get ugly.

5) Last, but not least, for get any attempts to maintain perspective. Finals are you life. Your grades will disctate your success or failure for the next decade of your existence. If you didn’t believe this, you would fail to study as hard as possible. Therefore you must remind yourself of this fact hourly. “My grades are my life.” Repeat each time you crack open your textbook. Repeat it as you sit quaking in the exam room, pencil in hand, waiting for your scan-tron. Repeat it as sweat pours into your eyes, making it difficult to read the questions.

If all the steps are followed religiously, you just might survive finals week.

At least, this has been Gonga’s observation. He’s glad that all he has to do is hand out flyers and sell textbook