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    Tuesday, July 24, 2012


    Oh my goodness! Is summer over yet? I’m so ready to say good-bye to summer 2012.

    It’s been a rough week. My husband was in a rollover accident coming home from work last Wednesday. He is fine, amazingly, but the car was totaled. Kory stayed home from work on Thursday, went to the doctor at my insistence, and made the necessary insurance phone calls. I went about my normal day, but I kept thinking, “I could be in the hospital with him right now.” I couldn’t bear to think of the worst-case scenario.

    Then came the tragic events in Aurora on Friday, July 20th. It’s mind-blowing to think that my husband survived a rollover and twelve people didn’t survive a night at the movies. This is not the sort of thing you can make sense of. Everything we tell ourselves—that God had a plan, that death is part of life—none of it reconciles the gut-wrenching wrongness of a psychopath murdering innocent people.

    The outrage and grief stirred in our hearts is the only natural thing about such a tragedy. The heated debates about gun laws and access to mental health care are examples of our need to express the splitting deep within our souls. We have a collective need to cry, “This is wrong! This is not how it should be!” We point to different reasons for the tragedy and offer scenarios of how it could have been avoided. But all of the words and the arguments can’t fill in for what we can’t express.

    The truth is that death is at odds with the eternal nature of our souls. Death was never in the design. Yes, I truly believe human beings were created to live forever. Death entered our world with sin, but before that, we were immortal. Of course C.S. Lewis put it best. “Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time.”

    This juxtaposition of our condition is one reason I’m drawn to paranormal stories. I think the genre allows for that schism we all feel. It’s a relief for me to read and write books with both human and supernatural characters. My mind fits more easily into a story containing elements outside of the normal “human” experience.
    I sometimes wonder if there are components of speculative fiction that are more real to our souls than anything found in realistic fiction. But no matter what we write, read, say or experience, we are not much more than tadpoles navigating our world in awkward bodies while peering through the water’s surface at an existence we can barely imagine.

    This summer I deliberately put my work in progress on hold with the intention of establishing a healthy summer routine for my boys. I mostly failed. I am handicapped in the area of organization. We’ve been going to the pool, reading sporadically, and practicing math facts on a sort of penance model. And I’ve been drifting. Every writer is familiar with that evil voice that whispers, “Who do you think you are, pretending to be a writer? You don’t have anything worth saying.” At one point, I realized I couldn’t even remember the name of one of the main characters in my current project.

    Then I went to bed one night last week and I couldn’t sleep. I suppose it was either Wednesday or Thursday because it was after Kory’s accident. To my surprise the characters from my WIP started speaking. The antidote to that pesky voice of doubt is a character who pops into your head every time you close your eyes. In my case, he’s a boy with high cheekbones, brown eyes, and copper wire woven into his dreadlocks. His name is Blaise, and he’s trapped in a city full of beautiful porcelain people and wind-up creatures called Tocks. He tugs on my imagination, begging me to leave behind one level of existence in order to explore another. And so I guess I’ll return to the life of a writer, wriggling and flopping along in between story world and reality. Not fully at home in either. A tadpole. A human. A spirit. Something in between. Something other.

    Where are you this summer? When do you feel split? What experience causes you to slide between the two planes of existence? Is it uncomfortable? Terrifying? An awakening of sorts? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    For info on how to help the Aurora victims, click here

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Me versus Sangria

    I thought I’d let you all know that I’ve won the Mother of the Year award again. Sorry to all you hopeful, worthy ladies out there, but the deed is done.

    Tuesday night was Girls’ Night at my friend Kari’s house. I volunteered to bring Sangria even though I’d never made it before and only had a vague idea of what it was.

    Tuesday morning I found a recipe online that said Sangria--or fruity wine punch--is supposed to sit overnight so the fruit has time to infuse. I didn’t have all night, obviously, but I figured if I made it early enough in the day, the fruit would at least have some time to do its job.

    For some reason, it took me several hours to reach this conclusion. The morning was gone and my Sangria wasn’t made.

    So I headed to the liquor store and grabbed a bottle of white wine and some blackberry brandy. Then I dashed over to King Soopers and loaded up on citrus fruits, strawberries and pineapple.

    At home, I set to work uncorking the bottle—usually Kory’s job. I casually twisted the corkscrew in and nothing happened, so I started paying attention to what I was doing. The screw just wasn’t going any deeper. I did what any independent woman would do in such a situation. I texted my husband at work.

    If you read my blog at all, you know Kory is used to getting texts from me that display my incompetence in no uncertain terms.

    2:54 PM
    Me: I can’t get the wine bottle open. I NEED to make the Sangria NOW so it has time to sit. I keep turning and turning the opener and the screw won’t go any deeper in the cork. What am I doing wrong?!

    Kory: Sounds like you stripped the cork. Take a pic and send.

    Kory: Push down hard while turning. Don’t hold down the handles while turning.


    Me: How much further? (I’m sweating at this point.)

    Monkey (stole my phone): Yawn. Cookies from Monkey. (Perhaps this make sense if you have ADHD. I don’t know.)

    Me (got my phone back): I can’t get it out!!!

    Kory: Rock it back and forth.

    At this point I realized that it was 3:00 in the afternoon and I was sweating and panicking over opening a wine bottle while both my 8-year-old and my 10-year-old tried to help.

    It dawned on me that this was not a personal high point. I thought about going to our neighbors' house to see if Big Strong Matt was home and could open my bottle for me. Then I thought about how that would look and decided against it.

    I gave up on that bottle and headed back to the liquor store, fully comprehending that I’d been there only 15 minutes ago and would now walk in, looking desperate and ruffled, to grab another bottle of wine. So I did the only thing I could think to do. I pushed the door open and announced that I’d stripped the cork in the first bottle, and I had to make my Sangria NOW. It was a Sangria emergency.

    I grabbed another bottle of white wine and headed to the register where Friendly Neighborhood Liquor Store Owner wrinkled his nose and said, “You use for Sangria? Too sweet.”

    I gave him a look that said, “And that’s a problem how?”

    Back at home I set to work on the second bottle. Kory got the following text at 3:23 PM.

    Me: 2nd bottle already giving me trouble. Gonna cry. Does the screw have to go all the way in?

    Kory: You have a better chance if it does.

    Me: Was I supposed to take the green paper off first? Should I take the screw out and peel off the paper then try again?

    Kory: Do anything that might help.

    Me: But will unscrewing it strip it again?

    Kory: Not if you’re careful.

    Me (hysterical): Is it too late already?

    But it wasn’t. I put the screw in the cork and cranked down a few more times and Viola! I got it.

    Kory got this picture.

    Me: Success

    Kory: LMAO. Success has its benefits.

    Me: I’ve won the Mother of the Year award again, haven’t I?

    Kory: *diplomatic silence*

    Girls’ Night was a blast and the Sangria was delicious. I am a little worried about future biographies of my life written by my children and possibly Friendly Neighborhood Liquor Store Owner. He’d probably title it Crazy Lady Use White Wine in Sangria or Suburban Mom Don’t Know Crap.

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Love and Mess

    The other day my friend Beth Vogt tagged me in her Facebook status which linked to a blog post by Jessica R. Patch. Naturally I checked out Jessica’s post titled “Nothing Says I Love You like Dog Poo.”

    Her husband’s brave sacrifice in the face…er...rump of poo made me think of some particularly gross tasks my husband took on for me. I remembered the time Monkey threw up all over our bed after Kory’d gone to work. I tried to clean it up, but being pregnant, my efforts took the situation from bad to worse. I tried to make it to the toilet before I threw up, but I ended up splattering the master bathroom. When Kory came home that evening he had two puke messes to clean up. I’ll never forget him standing on our bed, running the carpet cleaner over our mattress.

    But that’s certainly not the only time my husband got stuck with a nasty job. Several years ago we had a family reunion that overlapped with the wedding of two good friends. The day of the wedding, we hosted our extended family for breakfast. My dog thought she was a guest too and snagged some sausage patties, wolfing them down before anyone could stop her. My family headed out to their activities for the day and we left for the wedding. We stopped by the house during a break between the ceremony and reception and discovered that the sausage had violently exited my dog. So Kory, still in his groomsman tux, got down on his hands and knees and scrubbed the floor. He said cleaning up dog diarrhea in a tux was a surreal experience he never wanted to repeat.

    Kory came to the rescue again the very evening after I’d read Jessica’s post. As we were getting ready for bed, my sink filled up with water which meant the clog in the drain, which I call Sink Thing, had grown to full-pipe capacity. Now, I’ve made an effort to dislodge Sink Thing in the past, if you can call donning full protective gear and poking at it with a rubber gloved-finger an effort. I’ve also poured Clorox on Sink Thing and shouted at it a time or two.

    But Sink Thing remains a fixture in our bathroom. Then one day as I threw my work-out pants over the side of our rarely used bathtub, I discovered that Sink Thing had a friend. A strange little dried-up brown object sat near the tub drain. Naturally I recoiled from the mysterious pellet. Instead of removing it, like a normal person would do, I took to calling it Tub Turd.

    We might as well go ahead and pause for everyone to say, “Eww!” Yes, I am a terrible housekeeper.

    We continued with Sink Thing and Tub Turd until one day I needed to use my bathtub to launder my pile of handwash only clothes. I braved Tub Turd’s lair and discovered that Tub Turd was really a harmless fuzz ball. I still wore gloves to remove it.

    But Sink Thing is another story. I know what Sink Thing is—a gross, sludgy combination of my hair and soap. Why does clean, sudsy soap turn to black goo in the drain? Or stain your grout that slimy pink color? Isn’t that the opposite of what soap should do?

    Anyway, back to our evening routine. I pointed out the flooding caused by Sink Thing, and Kory presented me with a long, thin, bendable wire with what looked like a tiny dog brush attached to the end.

    I took it from him and frowned. He pointed to my sink, but I already knew what I was supposed to do. Gingerly I plunged my hand into the full sink and inserted the dogbrush end of the tool into the drain.

    “You’re going to have to go deeper than that,” Kory told me.

    I shot him my best sad puppy dog expression and shoved it another inch or so in and wiggled it around. I nearly gagged when bits of Sink Thing started oozing up into the standing water. About this time, Kory got impatient and came over and crammed the snakey tool all the way down the drain and started hauling up sludge from the u-bend. I stepped aside, suppressing a triumphant grin, and grabbed some paper towels to hand to Kory as he dismembered Sink Thing.

    With Sink Thing vanquished and my water draining properly, I gave my husband my best you’re-my-hero smile. I wonder if all those girls who think love is a vampire watching you sleep would be shocked to learn that love is really a thirty-something guy snaking a drain for his wife. Or cleaning up vomit, while she watches from the doorway, one hand on her preggo belly and one covering her mouth. Or cleaning up her dog’s poo wearing a tux because she mysteriously disappeared.

    Yep. The grosser the mess the truer the love!

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Accordion Awesomeness

    I don’t know how you spend your Saturday nights, but Kory and I like to stay hip by hitting the town, eating at trendy spots, and hanging out at the cool clubs. We’re just awesome like that.

    Yeah, ok. That’s about as far as I can go with that absurdity. Truth is, we spend most Saturday nights at home doing ultra-exciting stuff like watching TV and begging our children to go to bed.

    But this last Saturday night was different. Kory’s parents invited us to the picnic for their senior townhome community.

    I know. Try to hold back that raging jealousy monster.

    We weren’t just there for the brownies. The scheduled entertainment for the picnic was a husband and wife accordion duo, the same couple who gave my husband accordion lessons when he was a kid.

    *cough* Nerd!

    Kory’s parents brought pictures from his accordion band days and shared them with the other seniors and the musicians. In an amazing display of wifely solidarity, I kept my snickering to a level undetectable by hearing aids. Actually, as a former bell choir member, I don’t have a stool to sit on in the cool department.

    But the accordion players were truly fantastic. They’d had a show in Branson, medaled in international competitions, and were professional entertainers. Our boys really got into their “music from around the world” bit. Chunky kept whispering, “When will they play Scotland?” When they heard his request they played a version of “Scotland the Brave” that would’ve earned a nod from my Scottish aunt.

    You couldn’t help but smile as the husband and wife players flirted over their bulky instruments in a practiced routine that was, nonetheless, charming. When the concert was over, Chunky leaned over to Kory and said, “Daddy, you need to get an accordion.” I suggested that Kory could make some real money playing the accordion in bars, particularly if he wore lederhosen. Oddly enough, my introverted husband didn’t jump at this opportunity for extra cash.

    As we drove home I told Kory that I felt cheated. Here I am the wife of an engineer when I could’ve been the other half of a dynamic accordion duo. We could’ve been up there, in matching clothes, grinning and winking and one-upping each other as we each played what has got to be the weirdest instrument ever created. Well, second to the bagpipes, of course. And those gourd thingies.

    Our whole family was on a fast course to geekdom. Thankfully, when we arrived home our very cool neighbors were hosting a very cool backyard party, playing very cool classic rock and drinking very cool sangria. We crashed the party, regained our slightly cool status, and were saved from a possible future as the Denmark Family Accordion Band.

    So, time to share. Did you play an instrument as a kid? Do you still play? Are you a closet pan flutist?

    Have you ever seen Boba Fett and Princess Leia in an accordion duel?