The Art of Seduction

Late last night, after the fireworks, I was trying to seduce David.

"Wanna make out?"

I'll admit it wasn't my best effort. He changed the subject.

"What was your post about?"

I handed him my phone so he could read it.

Then he said, "Three out of the last four posts have a picture of me."

I may have a little obsession going and admitted as much to him. He smiled.

"I'm glad you're writing again." And he nuzzled my neck to prove it.

"Me too. Though the first chance I get, I've got to clean up that sidebar."

"Are you going to change the banner?"

I nodded, wondering how I could get him to nuzzle my neck again.

"And change the name?"

My eyes opened. Whoa. Tread carefully now. "No," I said, warning in my voice.

"But aren't you done having regrets?"

Poor man. He can't stand the thought of me being the least bit miserable. Even worse when it's my own doing.

"No. And this blog is the answer to those regrets."

And so I rehearsed it again. About how my greatest regret is the way I treat the people I love, how I don't say the things I should and how I always say the things I shouldn't, how I leave the most important things out, and only remember to include things about taking out the garbage and picking up the clothes. This blog is the answer to that. So that they will know for sure how deeply and fiercely I loved them, how awed and amazed I was by them, how carefully I watched them and how constantly I thought about them and how completely I measured and treasured my life by them.

The other regret, of course, is that I never did any writing, that I was too scared and too overwhelmed and too utterly terrified to even try.

"But did you ever explain that?" he asked, "About the two regrets?"

"Yes," I said, "and it's implied in every post I've ever written."

"I think you should make it a subtitle."

"A subtitle?"

"Ya, 'The Two Regrets: and then what you just said.'"

"You mean that paragraph I just said?"

He nodded. I grinned at the thought of a two hundred word subtitle. And it just got funnier and funnier until I laughed and laughed, loud enough for the whole house to hear.

Which turned out to be quite seductive.

The Long Pause

Ira Glass narrated my dreams last night.

Act I was a funny story about how we bought a horse that shared a room with Ethan, in Act II we took a bus trip to Hawaii, and then Act III was a heartfelt story in which Ira asked us, "So you've been here a year, does it finally feel like home?

There was a long pause. (The pauses always say more than the actual sentences.)

Then a quiet but truthful, "Yes."

Over the last year I've thought about writing a post or two. I've been tempted by your kind comments and lovely emails prodding me to post. But I needed the long pause. There was just too much sadness and self-pity to make worthwhile reading. Everything I tried to write became a tally of my blessings and a list of my grievances, then a few computations where I would add the former and subtract the latter and ultimately see that I came out ahead, but only just barely. It was tiresome, especially to me.

But somehow, over the last month, I realized it was time. I was ready. The fog had cleared. I had something to say that didn't start and end with "Wo is me." I made plans to redo the banner, clean up the sidebar, start fresh, and write a post about how David and I rode a subway, a cab, a plane, and a canoe all in one day, a post about how my kids tried to train a bunny to use a DustBuster, and a post about Olivia's music camp at which her group named their quartet "Rhythm Is Not An Opinion Quartet" because apparently, to Olivia, it is (an opinion)...and the first violin disagreed.

(There were 84 words in that last sentence, if you're counting. Phew. I may be out of practice.)

But then summer started and I've been busy with Lord of the Rings marathons and keeping the house stocked with sunscreen and clean swim towels and afternoon reading that usually turns into a drooly nap. I take my summers seriously, as you know.

And then this morning, as the sun rose over our car heading out of Albuquerque, I couldn't help myself. I couldn't wait anymore. So I'm using my iPhone (which makes me prone to mistakes and misspellings...don't point them out...the buttons are small) and beginning again.

We are on the road. Headed out of the heat and back to our much-missed, beloved Lake Michigan.

It's good to be back. On both counts.

Cue the music, Ira.

A Retraction of Sorts

Wow.  I don't know if you read that last post, but I just did and boy, I have to say that it may have bordered on whiny (gasp!) and also it's possible that it came pretty close to bratty (who me?).  My editor is on summer vacation.  (Clearly.  I mean, did you see that last sentence?  Three punctuation marks in a row.  Ahem.)

Speaking of which (bad editors and bad writing), I joined the Relief Society book club.  I won't tell you the name of the book I was supposed to read for this month, but I will share this sentence with you:

There weren't any washcloths smeared with makeup left behind, no sounds of water running hollowly through the pipes from upstairs while Josey and her mother and Helena sat in the sitting room downstairs and watched television.

I nearly killed myself after that one.

It was on page twenty-eight.  I had been bullying myself through it up to that point, talking myself down from every bad simile and heavy-handed adverb, but I could not read past this sentence.  You only live once.

I told David, "I just can't.  The writing is so bad."

Caleb overheard us and said, "Don't all of your book clubs end like this?"


You know what this means don't you?  I may be a brat and a snob.  Sobering news.

On a positive note, The Closer started up again this week.  Thank heavens.  Last night when we went to Lowe's for a gallon of paint, David asked me for the synopsis.  I gave him my best Brenda Lee impression.  (He was not very impressed.)  Well.  It sounded better in my head. 

Then again, most things do.

And on an even more positive note, did you see the great shot of my cleavage in the picture above?  (You can't have too many of those.)  In a few days, my darlings and I are headed back to the beach.  We almost cancelled because I forgot that I was supposed to be enjoying my life.  David reminded me just in time.  Good thing, too, because my favorite things in life are sunscreen and sand and salt water and little pools of drool under my children's sunburned cheeks.  Oh baby.

For Love

By now, you've probably made it to the fifth stage of grief...and accepted the idea that there might never be another post on this blog again.

It has been a long couple of months. 

I have been so far underwater that I had to give a few things up.  Among these were blogging, homemaking, and being happy.  Do you know how much time and energy these things take?  For a few days I even gave up breathing and thinking and being likable.  All of them much too difficult given the pressure I have been under.

[Olivia gave me a card for my birthday a few weeks ago.  In an attempt to be encouraging, it said, "April Showers Bring May Flowers" and she had made little pop-ups.  My pop-up had my face in a thunder cloud complete with rain and lightning and all my children were little pop-up flowers.  She gave me an admonishing hug to go with it.  There have been days when I nearly die of shame seeing it.]

Anyway, the sun is finally coming out.  Thank heavens for that.

I talked to Barb on the phone on Sunday night.

She mentioned how I was clear down on her blog roll just above the private bloggers.  I sighed and changed the subject.  Because, as some of you know, I have a serious crush on Barb and it nearly killed me to know I had disappointed her.  (Gosh, I hope that was disappointment in her voice and not relief.)  The next day I nearly wrote a post because, like I said, this is a serious crush.  But even love could not overcome my debilitating list of obligations and a few more days passed.

Last night I went to the ballpark where two of my children were playing simultaneous games on different fields.  It was exactly like my current life, moving from field to field, catching glimpses of my children's lives as I try to be in three places as once.  And let me tell you, I'm not as good at that as you might think.

But eventually, Ethan's game ended and I sat on the bench with the rest of my family watching the end of Olivia's game.  Near the end of the game, David left to get Chinese food and Caleb nonchalantly got up from the bench and walked over to the fence.  There was a girl a few feet away talking to her friend, and now and then he would glance over at her and then turn and intently watch the game.

I was stunned.

This is one of those moments, I told myself.  A moment where all the moments after this one will be different.

He edged a bit closer but the game was nearly over, and I could see both his hesitation and his bravery in the hands he had shoved in his pockets.

And then, there was a serendipitous fly ball.  Everyone yelled, "Heads up!"  The ball landed behind them and it was enough for Caleb to catch her eye and start a conversation.

Last night in bed, David plied me for more details, "What did he say?"

"I don't know."

"What did they talk about?"

"I don't know."

He was frustrated by my lack of eavesdropping skills.

I told him, "Don't you see?  It's not what he said to her.  It's the thought of going to talk to her at all.  Can't you see what's happening?  He's leaving.  He's going to find a wife and build a house and a life and a covenant with her."  I tried to explain it--this quiet, roaring moment, this thing that had happened, that looked small but was actually as big as eternity, this leaving our bench to go to talk to a girl, even though he was unsure and nervous.

I was awed to find that this did not make me sad.  Not one little bit.  I felt happy and proud and amazed and reverent.  I felt like telling heaven to look, to look down and see the miracles in my life, to see the wonder of its creation.  I felt like I had swallowed the whole depth and breadth of eternity between the pitching counts of one batter at a little league softball game.  I felt like Rebekah

David had gone with Caleb that very afternoon to his sixth-grade maturation program at school and so he could only say, "I know." 

And then he kissed me.

And now, because you've been so good and patient, a small, subtle picture story about the beginning of the end.  I am only glad I was there to witness it myself.


My Blog by the Numbers

David and I are in a fight.

I'm not sure what it's about, but I think it might be about rootbeer extract.

No, that can't be right.  And yet, I think it is.

When I got married I had no idea that the big issues would include rootbeer extract.  I'm thinking that that probably wouldn't have even come up in premarital counseling.  Though I could be wrong.

Anyway, add rootbeer extract to my list of regrets.  (I'm as surprised as you.)

In other news, my blog turned 2 today, and so for your delight and entertainment, I give you my blog by the numbers:

In the last 2 years

I have written 370 posts,

including this one,

that have been read by people in 50 states

and 5 countries. 

(Two of my readers are technically Americans just spending the semester in Europe, but I'm totally counting that.  And ya, Canada counts too.) 

And what did I say in those 370 posts?

Contrary to what some people think, I've only mentioned entropy 15 times

and my perfect breasts 3 times. 

(Can that be right?  Clearly a serious oversight.)

Rachel commented once, "This blog has everything...suspense, sex, comic relief, scripture, drama, and oh so much more,"

but looking back I've only mentioned sex twice

and Isaiah twice,

but she's right about the comic relief.  (It has to be in the high three hundreds.)

For the record, there have been 6 kissing pictures,

but my favorite is still this one.

(What rootbeer extract?)

To my surprise, my most revisited theme was pie.  24 times in fact.  Well.  You can't beat pie.

Over the last twenty-four months

I have recorded the celebration of dozens of holidays,

deconstructed scores of days around my dinner table,

noted several perfect gloamings with my darlings,

and counted my blessings hundreds of times

Add to that the fact that this blog has blessed your life in countless ways (See?  More comic relief.  I told you.)

and I think it's a blogiversary worth celebrating.

I think I'll make pie.

Allusions and Punctuation and Plot Gone Awry

First allusions, and an apology for yesterday.

When David read the post he said, "Who's Valdez?"

I said, "Just keep reading."

A bit later he said, "Who's Reuben Lands?"

"Reuben Land, in the plural.  Just keep reading."

And then, "You think you're a Swede?  You are definitely not a Swede."

"Not a Swede.  Just Swede."

He read a couple more sentences.  "Wait, who is the she that bangs on the wall?"

"She is Swede."

He got to the end.  "So wait.  Now who's Valdez again?"

I could only sigh and mutter, "Never mind."

I can only say that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Secondly, punctuation. 

Yesterday my sister and I had to write a few emails for our body image class.  One of them was to someone that we both have great admiration and love for, a person we would normally never have the opportunity to write to.  At the end of the email we made a little joke and added a smiley face with punctuation.  You know the kind:  :).  Yes, really.  I have no idea what got into me.  Nerves, I think.  I mean not only do I have a personal moral objection against using punctuation in such a literal way, it seems embarrassingly childish especially given the respect I have for the person we were writing, like I am some immature texter with no real grasp of the English language. 

After I sent the email I stared at that smiley face, aghast at what I had done.  I always say that if the person can't tell that you meant it to be funny it needs to be rewritten, that you just haven't used the right words.  I rewrote that sentence about a hundred times last night and regretted (oh how I regretted) the use of that punctuation.  Sheer madness. 

I can hardly believe that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Lastly, plot.  

Olivia's lungs are making their way out of the soup and into a light, gentle wheezing now and then.  She even managed to read her verses of scripture this morning without sounding like she'd run a half-marathon.  We were in the brief Book of Omni, which always needs a roadmap, I think.  The kids looked at me cross-eyed, with lots of "Wait, what?"s as I tried to explain the plot, the comings and goings of entire civilizations that happen over the course of about six verses, the introduction of new characters and new settings that pop up without warning.  Even Mormon had to add a brief word of explanation after it was all over.  It required a more extensive explanation than we had time for and so I gave it up as a bad job and a discussion for another day, and administered antibiotics and albuterol instead. 

I can only think that Amaleki (who, like me, was working without an editor) thought it was a good idea at the time.  

And after yesterday, I have all kinds of empathy for him.

A Random Post That Might be Entertaining

(Well, that may be going too far.  I suppose I can only promise that it will be random.)

When I woke up on Wednesday morning this week, I was sure it was Saturday.

The weekend has felt a long time in coming.

Last night as we were doing up the dishes, I confessed to David that it had been a lonely, unproductive day.  (My deep clean is over and I am wondering what to do next.)

And this morning Ethan told me, with tears, that he didn't know that "all-day school" was going to be so long.

We're still adjusting, I guess.  I remember when Savannah started the first grade it took two months until she could come home from school and not dissolve into tears before dinner.  The Halloween decorations were already up.  I would like to promise that this will be my last post on our adjustment, but Halloween is still a ways away.

In other news, I have become enamored with a new word and ended my "Word of the Week" hiatus.  (I know.  You're welcome.)  Thanks mostly to Ms. Estes book, next week will feature a post about the wonder of "stolid" and maybe even the adverb form of "stolidly" if I can muster the emotional fortitude to be "unemotional and impassive" myself.  Let's be honest, this seems very unlikely, but David thinks this may help with the aforementioned "adjustment" we are going through.

I have become less enamored with our telephone.  With no one here but me to answer it, it seems to ring constantly.  And for someone like me, who absolutely hates talking on the telephone, this is growing wearisome.  I have even considered turning off all the ringers for one or two (or six) hours so that I don't have to listen to it ring.  But I always worry that it's the school calling.  And someone forgot their lunch or their viola or just threw up on the way to library. 

My mom used to have a code ring.  If it was my dad calling he would call, let it ring two times, and hang up.  Then he'd call back and she'd pick up.  I am wondering if this can be instituted at the school without raising too many eyebrows. 

I know what you're thinking, "Caller I.D., April.  It is 2009 after all."  But I still have to listen to it ring, and then get up and check the caller I.D. and good heavens, I need to conserve my energy for later in the day.  I am beginning to see why Mr. Alexander Graham Bell never had one in his house.

By the by, David sees my abhorrence of the phone as a deeply disturbing character flaw that he has had the good grace to overlook all these years.  Give that man a medal.

And lastly, there were some very sweet comments posted on the post-before-last, as well as a couple of gracious emails, about the fact that I turned off my comments on the last post about the Great Divorce.  I thought it was dauntingly courageous of me to do the post at all, and I did not think I had any courage left over to read all your kind thoughts of confidence and well wishes.  Turns out I heard them all anyway.  I have enough imagination for that at least.    

Well, I am off.   This weekend we will remember and celebrate the arrival of Savannah on earth.  Last night over chicken tacos we talked about a Saturday dinner party with a completely french menu, a three-layer chocolate cake, and decorations that include poodles and clay models of the Eiffel Tower.  Ooo la la. 

CIM Takes Matters Into Her Own Hands

It's time I posted.  Past time, really.

David listed my neglected and missing posts last night in bed.

Surprisingly, I wasn't feeling too amorous after that.  And I may have said something rude.  (I'm not saying one way or another.)

And then this morning RIM and CIM got into an argument about what to post and what not to post, and in what order.  Like that matters.  Obviously, CIM won because here I am telling you all this.  She always wins when I'm tired or haven't eaten recently or I've said something rude to my husband and am therefore feeling out-of-sorts.  (Let's be honest, after all that there is really very little place in my life for RIM.)

And so yes, there are other things to talk about.  Like our date to Othello with my parents (it was brilliant, by the way),

David's new car (no pictures yet),

the word-of-the-week and my SPT (in which I am teaching my kids a *new* game and *trying something new by letting the laundry and the mopping wait in favor of a couple of good games of croquet*),

not to mention the girls' Saturday sewing class with my mom,


a talk by Elder Bednar,

an inauguration, and the 100th day of school (which happened on the same day).

But instead,

here is a movie about why it is great to live in Arizona in January even if your bicycle-built-for-two gets a flat tire and it's so warm that you have to run the air conditioner for an hour before bed.

Word of the Week: Detritus

detritus  /n./  rock in small particles or other material worn or broken away from a mass, as by the action of water or glacial ice.  any disintegrated material.  debris.  fragments.  garbage or waste.  matter.  rubbish.  scree.  silt.  tuff.  rubble.  shavings.  leavings.

detritus  /n./  1.  I have always loved this word.  The letters themselves, put together in this combination, sound like the leftover sand and rocks rolling around in the bottom of a beach bag.  And in addition to that, it is my constant companion.  Detritus and entropy dog me ceaselessly.

detritus  /n./  2.  I have to admit I almost discontinued "word-of-the-week."  It felt almost like the detritus of another time, and that maybe I ought go in a different direction with my blog this year.  But then I realized I had only posted once between my last two SPT's.  Apparently, I need more reasons to post, not less.

detritus  /n./  3.  Last week was rough.  Re-entry into regular life after two weeks vacation with my darlings was harsh and shocking.  It always is.  When I commented just that, David only said resignedly, "I knew it would be."  Last Monday, when I found myself surrounded on all sides by detritus of every kind (laundry, holiday decorations, suitcases and boxes from our trip to Michigan, ashes in the fireplace, and new toys with no "home") and simultaneously deserted by everyone I live with, a small rebellion ensued.  Not to mention a hearty resentment stew boiling away in my hard heart.  There was enough there to last more than a few days.  But eventually, I cleaned up both the detritus and my heart (you can guess which one took longer), and by Saturday night, it was livable here again.

 detritus  /n./  4.  By the end of last year, working (blogging and editing pictures) on our home computer was just about impossible.  There is so much detritus on there from programs the kids have uploaded and downloaded and generally unloaded on there, that it has brought it to an almost excruciating standstill when you're trying to do anything requiring even the least bit of memory.  David, seeing my plight, bought me a brand new Dell laptop for Christmas.  And in particular, a red one.  He was very specific about that last point.  I was so shocked and confused when I opened it (I thought it was an electric skillet?) I started bawling from the surprise.  (I'm sure that will shock most of you, considering my decidedly un-lachrymose nature.  Last night I did start bawling while I was making hamburgers, but my blood sugar was low, so there.)  Anyway, I am feeling extremely blessed to be using it.  In addition to all this, David spent a good two and a half hours on the phone and on the computer getting my wireless internet hooked up on Thursday night.  I know how lucky I am.  (Especially considering everything in the paragraph above.) 

detritus  /n./  5.  It seems we barely put away the detritus of the space station project, and Caleb is already nudging me to help him start his science project.  He told me yesterday, "Mom, I really think we need to order those petri dishes today."  I really think Target should have a petri dish section.

detritus  /n./  6.  In an effort to clear up some of the detritus leftover from last year and "start fresh," we finished reading the Book of Mormon this past week.  We read the last chapter of Moroni together on Tuesday night and then ate cake.  We believe in celebration around here.