Because life is a series of edits

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Anybody Got a Wagon Queen Family Truckster*?

In Family, Places on July 17, 2009 at 6:35 am

Wagon Queen

Clark Griswold: Roy; can I call you Roy? Have you ever driven cross-country?

Roy Walley: Oh, hell yes. Drove the whole family to Florida. Worst 2 weeks I ever spent in my life. The smell from the back seat was terrible.

Clark Griswold: Ooooh. Ooooh, I know that smell. Roy, could you imagine if you had driven all the way to Florida and it was closed?

Roy Walley: Closed? Uh, they don't close Florida.

Rest assured if they do, it will be just before we get there.

Heading on our first-ever major family vacation attempt, as a friend has generally offered the use of her family's beach condo in Florida for a week; all we have to do is get there.

Notice I say vacation "attempt": a day before departure, we unexpectedly had to invest $750 to get our 1996 Honda Odyssey roadworthy (new radiator, ignition switch, carbon cleaning, etc.), so before we even start the trip we're $250 over budget – not a good sign.

Oh, and check out this weather forecast for the next ten days (half of which we're supposed to be frolicking on the beach). Lovely.

For perspective, I went to the video store last night to rent National Lampoon's Vacation. I kid you not: they had every Vacation movie (European, Christmas, Vegas) but the original, as it was "damaged."

I'm not making this up, folks. I swear.

2,240 miles; ten days; four children; two adults (chronologically); some kind of unrelenting travel curse we can't shake (if you don't believe me, read the posts). God help us all.

*On a lighter note, click here for more on the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Sweet.

Squirrel Nam

In Family, Health, Pop Culture on July 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm


It was dark…so dark. You could hear the squirrels chattering in the trees, calling to one another and plotting…always plotting. The bugs – the awful, biting bugs – were everywhere, as was the humidity and heat – baking us and causing sweat to roll off our noses like rain off a roof.

The Jungle

We were trying to protect the plants – not so much their leaves, but their fruit – from the four-legged Communist predators. We'd naively tried goodwill; we'd desperately tried negotiation. Now we were left with no choice – no choice, that is, except to build the DMZ (Dunham Menu Zone) as a frontier and boundary between our two competing powers and passions to stay alive.


This is our life now – forced to deal with metal and mesh in order to desperately cling to our hope for home-grown veggies. This is our struggle – to withstand the guerrilla attacks of various varmints in an effort to lower our food budget.

This is our conflict. This is Squirrel Nam.

July Update

In Books, Calling, Family on July 6, 2009 at 9:02 am
Megan and I have been in de-cluttering mode as of late, getting rid of stuff we don't need, won't use, and can't believe we are still hanging onto. It's been a good process and one I wish we'd engage in more frequently, especially now that we have no moves on the horizon (though I'm not sure all those really helped us – we just schlepped the stuff along with us and everything else).

We are very different in our perspective on things, and have been from the beginning of our marriage. While I am purely utilitarian with only a trace of sentimentality and even less tolerance for space taken up, Megan has a much more complicated evaluation equation that includes price paid, potential resale value, and every possible future use imaginable (regardless of whether we actually plan to sell or use something down the road) in addition to sentiment and family history.

This difference of evaluation has caused more than one healthy disagreement in our marriage as to the state of our estate over the years, and both of us have had to learn to compromise in order to accommodate the other at various times and seasons in our marriage. Thankfully (at least from my perspective), July looks to fall in my favor as Megan has caught a bit of my bug (I have the spiritual gift of throwing things away) and has worked hard doing some summer cleaning that has yielded good results.

If only I could apply her newly-discovered diligence concerning the house to my writing and the purging of all the stuff lying around within my head concerning it. After taking a week to recover from the South Dakota trip during the last two weeks of June, I find myself with just another two week window before our family trip to Florida at the end of July. From the point of our return from that trip, it's just two weeks before school starts, and summer – and my season of scribing – is officially over.

Two goals I have for the next two weeks: 1) organize and edit the 190+ pages into some kind of sense-making narrative (it's there, but just takes time to find); and 2) figure out how to extend the writing season to more of a year-round reality (this will take some effort in light of finishing up my second masters this next year, but it needs to happen).

Doug and I are still waiting to hear back from WaterBrook Press as to their decision to publish ThirtySomewhere (no news is good news, I suppose, but it sure would be motivating to lock in a contract, especially since they have first right of refusal according to our TwentySomeone contract). Megan and I have received two rejection emails on the book idea we're working on, but that's secondary right now in light of everything else. Much change is going on in the publishing world, so it's interesting pitching ideas to publishers who are trying to figure out where their industry is really going.

So, for those few still following along, that's the latest. If something changes, I'll let you know here. In the meantime, thanks for caring.