Journal Entry: September 14, 2009

Friday night T–‘s parents came in from Wichita, and after unloading the newly refurbished dining table and chairs that John had brought down, we took them out to dinner at Mama Roja (of course). It was delicious. Other than that, it was just WoW.

Saturday around noon we went to Mayfair Church of Christ for D–‘s grandma’s birthday party. It was about forty people, mostly D–‘s family, and only a couple people I knew, but for some reason (and completely unexpectedly) that place hit my social anxiety something awful. We were there for two hours. The brisket was good.

Afterward we went home, and brought my niece Lola with us. We watched her for a couple hours, then when my sister came to pick her up, T– and her family went up to Hobby Lobby for some fabric shopping.

John and I had talked about going out to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner to catch the OU game (since it was only showing on pay per view), but I still felt bad from the afternoon’s activity so I stayed home and made us all chili instead. Then I played WoW for the rest of the night while John watched the race and the rest of us watched an episode of Lie to Me.

Sunday morning I skipped church, and spent some time coming up with a list of adjectives to describe little Alexander. That…didn’t turn out to be useful. I had fun with it, though.

T– made barbecue sandwiches for lunch, then she and her parents headed to my sister’s place for a baby shower while my brother-in-law brought his two girls over to play. They watched Word World with AB while Jeff and I talked for an hour or so. Then I took AB up to the shower.

Now, T– had told me she wasn’t expecting much of a turnout at the shower, since all of my family had all canceled and several of the ladies from church had said they wouldn’t be there. So I was somewhat astonished to walk into my sister’s house and find it packed full of people.

They had brought so many gifts, and while I was there the guests read out blessings for Alexander and T– and me, that they’d written earlier. That was precious.

Afterward, we came home and said goodbyes to T–‘s parents, then I played WoW and waited for D– to become available. He called around six, and we both headed up to Edmond to watch the Cowboys game with K– and N–.

It was an excellent game. I left at half time so I could watch some of the game with T– (who’d been too exhausted to go with me). We enjoyed that so much that we watched the end of the Bears / Packers game, too.

Sort of an erratic weekend, and exhausting, but a lot of fun. And, y’know, the Cowboys won. Awesome.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: September 10, 2009

Yesterday was relatively quiet — at least, the way my life goes now. A year ago, yesterday’s events would have seemed positively newsworthy.

Anyway, I had a busy day at work, I wrote 600 words on Restraint over my lunch break, I got a call from my mom and we talked about teaching, I wrote a detailed blog post about Tuesday’s experience, I played some WoW, and then I mixed up some of my famous salsa to go with the fantastic quesadillas T– made for dinner.

And all of that was before D– showed up with his own copy of the new The Beatles: Rock Band. We got the instruments set up, figured out how T– and D– could both do vocals (and me playing Ringo front and center), and then we played that for two hours. Then AB went to bed to sleep, T– went to bed to read, and D– sang all his favorite songs while I logged back into WoW to play a couple battlegrounds before bed.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: September 9, 2009

Last week, before my first day of class, I mistook a respiratory virus for anxiety.

This week, there was no mistake. Anxiety shut me down. I didn’t sleep Monday night, and I didn’t eat anything yesterday until hours after the class. It was a miserable experience.

Also, as anxiety tends to be, it proved irrational and unfounded. My class went really well, but I’ll wait to go into real detail in a separate post. The good news is that, after exhausting my prepared comments within the first fifteen minutes of class last week (and panicking about it afterward), I managed to run out of time yesterday. And, even better, the (significant amount of) material I had to skip works perfectly in next week’s lecture, too.

Anyway, I took the afternoon off yesterday, and it proved to be a good thing. I went home for lunch and instead spent forty minutes lying on the bed in a dark room, trying to calm down. Then I packed up my laptop, hugged AB goodbye, and drove up to the school.

Class went really well, and afterward I headed to the offices to report as much to Cami, and found her speaking with Peggy Gipson — my creative writing teacher when I was at OC, and easily one of my mentors. Apart from emails, though, we hadn’t spoken since I got back from Tulsa, so we dismissed Cami and I took a seat in Peggy’s office, and we caught up. For more than an hour. It was awesome.

I got home around 3:30, and T– asked me to watch AB while she went grocery shopping. We watched part of a Sesame Street, then I suggested we got play outside and while AB played on her slide and climbed on her house, I mowed the back lawn. AB behaved really well for me while I did that, so when I finished I pushed her in her swing for a while.

We were still doing that when T– got home, so she took over for me and I went around front to finish mowing. It was almost three weeks of growth, after the Velezes’ visit two weeks ago and my sickness this last weekend, so the front yard especially was a lot of effort, but we’ve got guests coming in for a baby shower this weekend, and it needed to be done.

Once that was finished I grabbed a quick shower, and it was already six o’clock. T– told me her friend Becca was coming over, and I owed Becca a character design worksheet (that I’d discussed at one of our earlier writing groups), so I spent half an hour searching through my old high school Creative Writing notebooks, but it was nowhere to be found. I settled for copying her a Dungeons and Dragons character record sheet, and a copy of the custom ones D– and I made up for our fantasy project.

Then I emerged from the office for a much-needed dinner, which consisted of some Dominos pizza I paid for out of my allowance (because I’d had a rough day, and I deserved a treat). I just finished eating before Becca showed up with her two boys, and we talked shop for half an hour or so, going over some sticking points in her novel as she rushes toward its climax. Once she felt more comfortable with that, I left her to talk with T–, and went to play WoW.

That took the rest of my night, but it wasn’t really as much night as I’d hoped for it to have. Maybe two hours, and then I was in bed so I could make it to work on time this morning.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 31, 2009

Two days behind, and a busy weekend to cover, so brace yourselves.

Wednesday night we had dinner at Taco Bueno, with my sister’s family, K– and N–, and D–. The girls ran amok, we ate cheap Mexican food, and we discussed idle frustrations. Then, in perfect consensus, we all decided not to go to church.

I spent the evening in the office, scanning paperwork to throw away and rearranging the closet so I could store some crates and file folders that had been sitting out next to my desk ever since we swapped the office and the nursery.

That took all night, but it left me with the cleanest-looking office I’ve had in forever, which is something we did in anticipation of guests living there for a weekend.

Thursday I took a late lunch, planning for it to be a little bit of a long one, because I had a training session out at OC for using their online classroom tool, Blackboard. When I double-checked the schedule, though (after I’d left work and gone home to pick up my laptop), I discovered the class was an hour later than I’d thought. So I called in to work, had lunch with T– at T. G. I. Friday’s, and then spent a leisurely afternoon up at the university.

D– brought us dinner — Buffalo Wild Wings — then he headed home relatively early to work on a project for his mom, and T– and I spent the evening watching TV shows.

Friday was my RDO, so Friday morning when T– woke up early to run the garage sale again, I stayed in bed. I finally got up just in time to go grab some Little Caesar’s for lunch. I took AB up there with me, and then we ate together while T– was still manning the sales position outside. A few minutes before one she finally closed the sale down and came in to eat, and I headed out for a haircut.

When I got back home AB was taking a nap, so T– and I took the opportunity to work out in the garage, cleaning and rearranging all the stuff that had been used for the sale so that we could park both cars in the garage again. Then I brought my XBox and laptop out of the office (in anticipation of it being occupied for the weekend), and played some Magic while T– napped, and then switched to WoW on my laptop when AB woke up and needed the TV.

The thing about WoW…after being out of the game for six month, none of my characters are specced anymore. “Specced,” in this sense, means I haven’t spent the skill points acquired through the leveling process to customize them (choosing from among the talents that make your characters the most powerful). It’s a complicated process, and an unspecced character is essentially worthless. I’ve got three characters at 80 (maximum level), and unspecced they’re about as tough as 70s. The point of all this is that I logged into WoW Friday night, and discovered that I couldn’t really play it. To get my specs right would require literally hours of research into the newest changes to the skill trees and the most effective ways to spec to fit my playstyle. I looked around some, I logged in each of my characters just to see where they were, and then I spent about half an hour mining. That’s like logging into WoW to do chores.

So that was sobering and disappointing, after a week I’d spent gradually getting more and more excited about playing WoW again. It was not indicative of my evening, though.

T– made some fantastic barbecue chicken sandwiches for dinner. We watched some Lie to Me, and then just after we put AB to bed at nine, Julie and Carlos got in from Topeka!

Julie had a boxful of youth group photos (which I just realized I never actually looked through! Ack!), so she and T– went through those and commented while I chatted with Carlos. They’d also brought with them a couple bottles of wine from their recent trip to Napa, and we managed to empty both of those Friday night.

We got a late start, and though T– went to bed relatively early (albeit after midnight), the rest of us were up talking until after four.

Saturday morning T– got up early and discovered some of the veggies she’d bought for her special brunch dish had frozen in their drawer, so she had to go buy replacements. She took AB with her, ran up to Homeland, did some shopping, and got back to the house before any of the rest of us woke up. Then she made a goat cheese tart which tempted Carlos and Julie enough to wake them up, but I slept right through it. By all accounts, it was incredible.

I got up around noon, then ran up to McDonalds to grab some lunch for AB and me. I know, so tragic. The chicken sandwich was good, the fries weren’t. AB really enjoyed the Lego race car that came with her Happy Meal, though.

Then she went down for a nap, and T– and Julie went out in the back yard to shoot some cute maternity photos, and I showed off the XBox Magic game to Carlos. Or…used it to bore Carlos. Whatever.

When AB woke up, we all packed into the car and headed up to Guthrie for our big photoshoot. Julie’s in the process of becoming a professional photographer (although that “in the process” bit is something you’d have a hard time believing from the quality of her work), and the excuse we’d all used for their trip was to have her come shoot some maternity photos of T– and some profile photos of me for my website.

T– had recently found an old trainyard in Guthrie with some old, abandoned-looking buildings nearby that she thought might work as a good backdrop. When we got there, Julie fell instantly in love. She took three hundred photos of the three of us in just a couple hours. The settings were great, the lighting was good, and AB was remarkably cooperative. She and I finally started getting restless as the afternoon wore on, though, and between the two of us we convinced T– to take a dinner break.

We headed back to town, and took our guests to our new favorite restaurant — Mama Roja on the lake! So, yeah, that’s three times in nine days. What of it? It was fabulous, and everyone left happy.

Julie was able to point out to us the perfect lighting for photography that occurs just around dusk. That is, she was able to point it out through the window next to our booth, because there’d been something of a wait to be seated. So we watched the sun set, and didn’t get any more shots on Saturday night.

As soon as we got back to the house, Julie pulled out her laptop and got started editing. While she did that, we played them an episode of Lie to Me, and then T– regretfully admitted she was too tired to stay up, and she headed to bed.

Carlos and I spent a while talking band stuff, writing stuff, and whatnot. Then we broke into the scotch he’d brought along, and ended up sitting out on the porch sipping scotch and smoking cigars for several hours. Julie put away the laptop for a while to join us. We talked some about old times (as we’d done pretty much constantly up until that point), and then Carlos asked casually if I ever wrote any lyrics.

That became a proposition. He’s just started playing bass in a new band, and they perform only original stuff, but they don’t have a lot of songs written yet, so he was wondering if I would supply some material. By utter coincidence, I’ve been thinking much recently about trying my hand at writing songs again. So we talked about what sort of stuff he’s looking for and what sort of stuff I can do, and then I brought my laptop out on the porch and he showed me some videos of bands he’s been in and I showed him some of my best (and worst) material. When all was said and done, we both ended up incredibly excited about the opportunity to work together.

Then it got cold, and the laptop battery died, and Julie felt the itch to get back to work, so we went back inside. I put on Uncorked (or At Satchem Farm), which neither of them had seen, and fell in love with that movie all over again. Carlos was impressed with the guitar work.

It was after two when the movie ended and we went to bed. An improvement on the night before, but nothing approaching reasonable.

Sunday morning T– and AB went to church, but the rest of us slept through it.

We were all awake by the time she got home, though. She started working on lunch — her famous Tuscan chicken ring — and I ran up to the grocery store to grab some soda. By the time I got back, food was on the table.

We ate, and then we had plans to watch Nacho Libre (which our guests had never seen), but while we were waiting for T– to load the dishwasher I turned on the Rifftrax version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, just so Julie and Carlos could see how funny it was, and then by common consent we ended up watching all of that.

By the time that was done, Julie was finished with her marathon editing session, and we got to check out the photos on the TV. So good! You can see a bunch of them on T–‘s Facebook album. Julie will also do a blog post on her portfolio site sometime soon, and of course I’ll provide a link when that happens.

Anyway, we watched a slideshow of all 83 pictures (to a terribly appropriate soundtrack by Sting), and then T– decided to show Julie how Smugmug works (using my sister’s site as an example), so I put on the Cowboys preseason game from Saturday night and watched Romo tear up San Francisco.

I’m so ready for football season.

Around six we started decorating our French bread pizzas for dinner, and as soon as we were done eating we performed a quick costume change, and then headed back out to the lake for another photoshoot — this one in the prime dusk light. It went really well, and I think AB adored getting to spend so much time outside this weekend. It shows in all her smiles.

After that we drove back home and said lots of goodbyes, then Julie and Carlos got on the road back to Topeka, T– and I crashed on the couches, and we watched Psych and Leverage and Lie to Me while I tried to play WoW again. This time I focused on my Warlock, specced him on guesses (but I know my Warlock best, so they were probably pretty good guesses), and actually had a lot of fun. I ran a couple dungeons, checked out the new castle-defense battleground (way cool), and then picked up where I’d left off in questing. In that last, I remembered just how great the storyline is in Northrend (the most recent expansion), and I got excited about playing again all over again.

I finally tore myself out of that as midnight crept close, and I lay in bed for another hour before I fell asleep. This morning came too soon, and work with it, but even with the weird hours and the packed schedule, it was an awesome weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 26, 2009

Yesterday we had an appointment to go out to a Wells Fargo office on Northwest Expressway and MacArthur to talk about refinancing a couple of our loans that are in a bad way. We’d arranged that appointment last week sometime, when the loan agent cold-called me, and then she called back yesterday morning confirm.

The appointment was for 5:30, so I left work at 4:30, drove half an hour home, picked up T– and AB, drove half an hour out to the Wells Fargo office, and learned that when she’d run the numbers on the loan (presumably right after our phone call last week), she’d found that we weren’t really qualified for anything that would be useful for us. So, in other words, we’d wasted our time. She tried to sell us a new credit card, we said no, and drove half an hour home.

So my evening started at 6:00. I did get a free can of Diet Dr Pepper out of it, though.

We had leftovers for dinner, and I began the process of surrendering my life back to the monster that is World of Warcraft (which is to say, I started copying 12 gigs of data to my new laptop). Then while that ran, I played with AB and read her a couple books.

After she went to bed, we watched Lie to Me. Then we went to bed. It wasn’t much of a night. I had fun playing with AB, though.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 24, 2009

Friday afternoon I got home in a bad mood from work, walked into the kitchen to pour myself a Coke and after a quick, “Welcome home!” T– told me a little about her day, and then said, “Oh, and I’ve got all my stuff ready.”

And the words, “Ready for what?” died on my lips. She had a crop Friday night. I’d known about it for a month. I was not in any mood to watch AB, though.

I had about half an hour to change that. Luckily, AB woke up and ran to me with a big, “Daddddy!” that did a lot to make the transition easier. Then right after T– headed to the church, D– called and asked if I wanted a snowcone, so that (and his company for the evening) helped a lot, too.

Actually, it ended up being a pretty fun night. We went up to McDonalds so AB could play in the play area, then came back home and I set her up watching videos on T–‘s laptop while D– and I broke out the Rock Band. She’d periodically throw off the headphones to come dance to our music. That was fun.

Then around bedtime I played with her a bit, put her to sleep, and then got back to rocking with D– until T– got home. At that point I seriously considered going out and wrecking another weekend with poor decision-making, but somehow overwhelmed that impulse. I watched an episode of Lie to Me with T–, and then went to bed elevenish.

Saturday morning I woke up late and mowed the lawn, and suddenly it was 1:00. I had some leftover barbecue and it was as good as new, then poked around on the computer for a few minutes, and then it was time to go.

“Time to go” because we had our second monthly Britton Road writer’s group on Saturday. I threw in a bunch of modifiers there, because this was a sequel to our writer’s group last month, not to the social writing at the coffee shop last Tuesday. The follow-up to that event takes place tonight, at Full Circle Bookstore, and will likely feature many of the same people who were at the thing on Saturday. I know it’s confusing. I’ll try to come up with clear distinctions of the two things (or convince both groups to merge them into a seamless whole), but for now, you’ll have to wade through explanatory paragraphs like this one.

But, yeah, “time to go” because we had our second monthly Britton Road writer’s group on Saturday. Courtney hosted again, and I showed up a few minutes after J. T., and Shawn showed up a few minutes later. We had German Iced Tea, and gave feedback on each others’ submitted works. J. T. submitted a couple short-form poems, Courtney submitted a truly chilling short story, and Shawn submitted a one-act play that clocked in right around seven pages. Oh, and I submitted all 200-plus pages of Gods Tomorrow. Don’t judge me. That’s just who I am.

We had some great discussion, though. We talked about structured writing, and longhand drafts, and early efforts, and then spent about half our time on psychological disorders. We had an expert among us (of the “trained professional” variety, not simply “longtime sufferer”), and we ended up with some really great information.

We were done with that by 4:30, but T– had taken AB over to my little sister’s place, so I had some free time in the afternoon. I spent it playing Magic on the XBox, and pretty much stuck with that until T– put AB down for bed. Then we watched a little TV, and she went to bed, and I stayed up to play a bunch more Magic on the XBox.

Sunday morning T– took AB to a special event (along with my little sister and her girls). Unwilling to face the adversity that is Christian fellowship without the protective barrier of my perfect little family, I decided to skip church. Around 11:30 I called D– up, and we headed to Edmond to meet the girls at Jason’s Deli for lunch. It was delicious.

Then D– took me home, and I spent much of the afternoon playing Magic on the XBox. I finally had to put it away when T– invited my sister’s family over for dinner (she grilled hotdogs). While we were waiting for them to show up, I set up the Rock Band stuff, and after a quick dinner we sent the little ones to AB’s room to play, and then we spent a couple hours rocking out. That was pretty fun.

After the guests left, T– and I watched an episode of Psych, and discussed watching something else serious, but we weren’t in the mood for serious. It was late, anyway, so we gave up and went to bed.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 18, 2009

It’s been a while, so I need to get caught up. If you don’t want to read the big long blog post, there’s this: We had a garage sale over the weekend, and I caught a cold that lasted somewhere around 36 hours. That’s it.

Last Thursday night, my little sister came over to help T– get ready for our garage sale. They spent much of the evening organizing tables and setting out stuff and affixing price stickers. When I got home from work, T– was working in the garage and asked me to help arrange some stuff, so I spent half an hour or so dragging two sawhorses out into position, brushing off the dust and cobwebs, and then setting up our old window A/C units from the Tulsa house on them.

Those big monstrosities had been obnoxiously taking up space in our garage for most of a year, but we didn’t know how to get rid of them, so we were really hoping to sell them in the garage sale. Unfortunately, that meant I had to find some way to move them into position, and that was no small amount of work. Then I spent a little more time getting them presentable before finally wimping out with the old “it’s way too hot out here for human survival” bit and going inside.

T– and my sister followed suit before too long, and we spent most of the rest of the evening in the living room. T– kept working on getting stuff ready (and I eventually went to my office and gathered some old computer stuff to add at the last minute), and my sister set up ads on Craigslist and Facebook to get more people to come by. It was a long evening in anticipation of Friday.

Friday morning T– got up around six to open the garage sale early. I woke up…not nearly so early. I think it was around 7:30, and I got cleaned up then took AB over to Miss Becky’s house for some babysitting, then from there drove up to the car dealership in Edmond to have the new car checked out. We’d spent most of the last week noticing a strong antifreeze smell whenever we were in the car, and as it doesn’t have any sort of engine temp indicator on the dash, we figured we’d be better off just taking the car in.

I elected to hang out at the dealership while the mechanics looked the car over, and I got nearly a thousand words written in my scribblebook before the guy came by to tell me he didn’t smell anything in the car, and a quick check hadn’t revealed any leaks, so I could go home.

That was a little frustrating, since it had taken up most of my morning. But I got back to the house and learned that we’d already sold one of the air conditioners. I also found E– and N– both there keeping T– and my sister company and helping them with the garage sale. So that was nice!

I ran up to Wendy’s to grab them some lunch, and when I got back I spent some time talking with N– and playing with baby Jason while we ate, then I had to pack up pretty quickly and head up to OC, because I had some work I needed to take care of and then I needed to pick up AB from Becky’s.

At OC I got my parking decal from the security office, then dropped by IT to pick up my laptop. That “dropped by” ended up being an hour-long process, though, because we had to get the laptop set up on the network in two different operating systems and the tech had to walk me through some of the specific software I’ll need to be using. It was productive time, but an unexpected delay.

As a result I was a little late picking up AB, but Becky didn’t seem to mind. AB sure didn’t. She spent the half-hour drive home telling me how much fun she’d had, and how she was not tired and she did not need a nap. Then we got home, and she walked straight to her room and went to bed.

The garage sale was already closed down by then, so I went to the office to play some games while AB napped. Then, as afternoon rolled toward evening, we got in touch with K– and N– and invited them over for pizza and preseason football.

The pizza was better than the football. Still, it was fun in a premonitive kind of way. I can’t wait for football season to get in full swing. Anyway, K– and N– hung around until about half time. For some reason I watched the whole rest of the game after they went home. It kept me up late, and left me utterly disappointed in our third-string defense. Our backup backup quarterback looks surprisingly good, though.

Saturday, again, I got up way too early for a day off, but it was still a couple hours later than T– had gotten up. By way of making amends, I took AB with me and ran up to Panera to buy T– a cinnamon crunch bagel for breakfast. AB and I shared a bearclaw.

Speaking of AB and me…we both woke up with a cough, and a sore throat. She expressed hers with a gravelly baritone. I expressed mine with much whining.

Anyway, by early afternoon I was already feeling sickly with fever, so I put AB down for a nap and then went to the office to play Fallout and ended up taking a nap of my own. That lasted a little over an hour before my brother-in-law called me up and said he wanted to try playing Magic over Xbox Live, and that turned out to be pretty fun.

I’d made plans to get together with some other people from my writing group at a coffee shop Saturday night, but around five, driving up to Taco Bueno to grab some dinner for T–, I decided with some confidence that it wasn’t going to happen. I forgot to call D–, though, so he showed up right after dinner only for me to tell him I was sick, and he should go somewhere else. He went to see The Goods which, he tells me, wasn’t.

I spent the evening lying around, then eventually went back to the office to play some more Magic, and while I was doing that my brother-in-law joined in again. Between my afternoon nap and my non-drowsy decongestant, I wasn’t close to tired, so we ended up playing until two in the morning. When I finally went to bed, I still couldn’t sleep.

Sunday morning I woke up around eight when AB jumped up onto the bed next to me, but I just gave her a hug and fell right back to sleep. I woke up again around eleven, and then again around noon when T– called to tell me they were headed to Olive Garden for lunch. I passed on that opportunity, but a few minutes later K– called to ask if I could help him hang a swing in his back yard. He had helped immensely when I hung AB’s in our yard, so I didn’t want to tell him no. I warned him I could be contagious, but he didn’t seem too concerned.

So I drove up to Edmond, and learned when I got there that his tallest ladder on its tallest setting was about five feet too short to reach the limb he wanted to hang the swing from. For a moment I thought that meant I had wasted a drive to Edmond, but he quickly set me straight. Instead, it just meant that we had to get creative.

Before everything was said and done we were chucking tethered wrenches over tree limbs twenty feet up and tying nooses. It was a good ol’ Sunday afternoon in the midwest. The swings turned out nicely, though, and it really only took a couple hours.

On the drive home I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner Thursday, but I really didn’t feel hungry. I got to the house and told T– about hanging the swings and then played with AB a little bit when she woke up from her nap, and then as evening rolled in we started talking about dinner and none of us really had any strong feelings on the matter.

Around seven I called up D– to ask what he’d had, just for extra ideas, and he said he’d been wrestling with what to eat, too. So I had him come pick me up and we stopped by Homeland to pick up some microwave popcorn for T– (the choice she finally settled on), and then we drove up to Johnny’s for a couple Theta Burgers and fries. That hit the spot.

After dinner D– went home, and T– and I watched a little TV before retiring relatively early.

Monday morning I woke up and felt completely better. Immune-wise, anyway. Obviously I wasn’t too thrilled about having to go back to work. Still, it pays the bills.

I spent the day doing excessively boring things, then got home and worked out while T– and AB were at the grocery store. Afterward we had dinner, and I scheduled another writing-at-the-coffee-shop (I’m calling it social writing) for Tuesday night, hoping I could stay well and a little bit of advance notice would garner a bigger turnout.

T– made chicken crescent squares for dinner — one of her specialties — and after AB went to bed we watched the first episode of Lie to Me. That’s one D– recommended to us months ago, and it was a good recommendation. We really enjoyed it.

Still dragging a bit, we went to bed pretty early Monday night, but didn’t get a lot of sleep. A thunderstorm rolled in around two, and that kept AB awake all night, and she kept us awake.

As a result of the long night, I woke up late. T– and I had already had plans to meet for lunch, so I just called my supervisor and told him to expect me after lunch, and took the morning off. I spent some time in the kitchen putting together my chili fixins for supper, and then got some paperwork taken care of in the office, and then we went up to Schlotzky’s for lunch. It wasn’t a terribly exciting morning, but it was pretty pleasant.

Then I spent the afternoon at work doing some excruciatingly boring stuff, which was interrupted by an unexpected summons to give a presentation to a packed conference room and try to explain to them the excruciatingly boring stuff I’d been doing.

I survived that, and got out of there just in time to head home. Five minutes into my commute, though — just as I turned onto I-44 northbound — I ran into standstill traffic and heard a traffic report explaining that a semi had knocked over a power pole and there were power lines down across the highway about a mile north of where I was, so they’d closed the highway. The recommendation that commuters find an alternate route didn’t really do me much good by that point. So instead of half an hour it took me an hour and a half to get home.

My angel of a wife had dinner ready when I walked in the door, though, and it was one of my favorites. D– joined us for that, too, but then headed home right afterward. T– and AB went to Hobby Lobby with my little sister, and I headed to the coffee shop for my scheduled social writing.

I’d said it would be seven to ten, but I overestimated the distance from my house, so I actually got there twenty minutes early. That turned out to be a good thing, though, because the place was pretty packed. I snagged a spot, and dragged out my scribblebook, and got nearly a thousand words written before Courtney showed up. A few minutes later Becca showed up, too, and we moved to a newly-free table so they could plug in their laptops.

We didn’t really do any writing after that, but it was a fun evening. Becca’s been working on her novel for several months now, but it’s the first major writing work she’s done, and this was our first opportunity to really talk about it. I’d been looking forward to that conversation, but I think it probably went a lot better with Courtney there too, giving another experienced angle. I just hope it wasn’t too overwhelming.

Still, the mentoring bit only lasted ten to twenty minutes, and then it was just discussion of all our roadblocks for most of the rest of the evening. Both of them happened to be struggling getting into the heads of their major male characters, and I think I was able to provide some useful insights on that topic. We talked a lot about vampires, too, and psychopaths and sociopaths, and the challenge of writing easy dialog. Writer stuff.

Then around 9:20 the proprietor quite politely kicked us out, so he could go pick up his brother-in-law (returning home from a deployment to Iraq) from the airport. How could we object to that? Before we split up we decided to try another one at 50 Penn Place next Monday, but before that rolls around I’ve got another official Writer’s Group meeting on Saturday.

My life is just too busy. Courtney asked me last night how many projects I’m working on, and after some consideration I believe I have five active, unfinished novels, and five finished ones that need immediate, extensive rewrites. So call that ten big writing projects, with numberless others waiting in the wings.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 11, 2009

Yesterday after I got home I worked out for an hour before dinner. T– made a delicious Mexican casserole, then we watched new episodes of Leverage and Psych while AB played with puzzles.

Before we got started on the TV shows, I dug out the Tech Writing Handbook that Gail has been using for the last couple years, so I divided my time between that and the TV, trying to figure out if I can use it for my class this fall. I’ll need to look more closely at her syllabus before I can say for sure, but it’s certainly a cool resource.

Anyway, a bit before nine my little sister showed up to take T– to see Julie and Julia, leaving me to put AB to bed. That was a little bit of a battle, and when she finally went to bed I went to the office and chatted with D– for a half hour or so, and then I went to bed, too.

So, all told, an evening quickly lost. Then I was up at six and out the door while T– was still in bed, so I haven’t had a chance to find out if she enjoyed the movie. I know she was looking forward to it, though.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 10, 2009

I really only listen to music when I’m in my car, driving back and forth to work, so I’ve never developed very refined tastes. For the most part, I listen to hip hop stations. One thing you encounter with pop radio stations like that is a pretty small selection of music with heavy repeats. At any given time, there’s probably a library of six to ten hip hop songs getting played on the radio. The turnover is pretty quick, but you’re just not going to hear anything from the back catalog.

I’ve got the presets on my radio ordered by my preference (with the sixth and final preset dedicated to NPR). This morning on the drive in to work a commercial came on my number one station, and I punched all the way through to five before I found music playing. Five happens to be a country station that advertises its selection as “today’s top country.”

The song on the radio was Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee,” which is a song I really liked back when it first came out seventeen years ago. That’s today’s top country. I guess they’re ruling out Johnny Cash’s old stuff, and anything by Hank Williams, Sr.

Still, after that song went off I got to hear one called “God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy.” That one made me smile.

Last Friday I got off work a little bit early (as I often do on Fridays), so that left me a couple hours at home before I was supposed to head over to B– and E–‘s place. I spent it edging the yard.

See, we’ve only got an electric weed eater, and it’s the cheap sort with the stupid flimsy plastic string that’s constantly snapping and requiring field maintenance, so I really only edge the yard about once a year — when the grass along the front curb is hanging majestically out over the street and providing willowy shade to cars that pass beneath. Then I gear up for an afternoon of edging, and spend forty-five minutes hacking through the trunks of the fescue.

So I did that last Friday. It was hot Friday, and I did this around four in the afternoon, so just all around poor planning. Still, the yard looks pretty good now.

After that I got cleaned up and headed over to B– and E–‘s place, where we discussed dinner plans and (far more important) drinking plans. I floated the idea of some O. G. Diddies (the same vodka, grape, lemonade drink that we all learned to rue last Poker Night), and B– and E– were game, so we stopped by the grocery store on our way to pick up the pizza.

The drinks were a hit, the pizza was delicious, and while we were enjoying both, B– broke out the new Wii Sports Resort. I watched them play some (because I was ravenous), and then when E– tried throwing a Frisbee, I just had to try it out. I did about as well at that as I would’ve done in real life (which is to say, very poorly), so that left me impressed with the hardware.

Then I tried out the Samurai Showdown mode of swordfighting, which has you charging into a horde of sword-wielding Miis who surround you and then politely attack you one at a time. In true Samurai-movie fashion, you get to mow them down en masse. So much fun. I wore myself out playing that.

Then I decided to try out the archery mode, and had a lot of fun with that, too. Then B– challenged me to some pick-up basketball, and I did about as well as you’d expect. That is to say, I lost. Badly. I didn’t score a single point. Yay.

After that we turned off the Wii and turned on Tropic Thunder because, even though B– and E– had already seen it, they’d always wanted to see it with me. How cool is that? Halfway through I started pointing out that it’s really just a remake of The Three Amigos (and, at last, to audience familiar enough with The Three Amigos that they could actually get this), and of course that knowledge blew their minds. Fun stuff.

Anyway, after the movie we spent some time talking, so it was 2:15 before I got home. Somehow I managed not to be a complete idiot RE: consumption of alcohol, but I still didn’t feel like going to sleep when I got home, so I stayed up for another hour or two playing Fallout.

Saturday morning I woke up at 10:30 and mowed the lawn, which took about twice as long as expected because we’ve spent most of the last week with high temperatures and heavy rain, so the grass has flourished. Anyway, I got that done, got cleaned up, and somehow it was already time to head to Wichita. I packed in a hurry, cleaned up the house just a little bit so T– wouldn’t have to come home to total chaos, and then ran up to Edmond to pick up my brother-in-law.

I got to drive the new Vue, which was sweet.

On the way north, we listened to the Lonely Island CD, and then spent an hour and a half discussing the premise for Burn Jump, and just how much effort I was going to spend appeasing the fickle interests of general relativity, causation, and basic physics. Conclusion: not much.

We got to T–‘s house just after four, and after a happy reunion with wives and baby daughters, we talked with Mom and Dad and the Charboneaus for a while, then headed to the church for “dinner and entertainment.”

I rode with Mom and Dad, and we spent most of the drive there discussing social anxiety disorder and specific management techniques. Then we showed up and I almost immediately forgot everything we’d talked about. The fellowship hall was packed, and there were so many half-remembered faces in the crowd, and really all I wanted to do was leave.

Dinner was a catered spread featuring sliced brisket, and as I filed through the line to fill my plate, I talked to four or five old family friends. Then halfway down the table, with my back turned to the tables full of people, I was suddenly overcome. My head started spinning, I couldn’t breathe, and I thought for sure I was going to pass out. I did as Dad had suggested, focusing on calming breaths while I made my way to the end of the line, and then discovered that Mom had picked out a table in the far back corner. So that helped a little. By the time I sat down, I felt almost normal again.

That was really the worst of it. Some friends stopped by our table to say hi, and a couple of them sat down with us, but with my sister’s family and my parents, we had the table mostly full already. After dinner everyone headed to the auditorium for a special presentation of all the former ministers (which included my Dad). I stayed out in the foyer with my sister and brother-in-law for most of that, though, flipping through some photo albums they’d put out. Most of the pictures were of my time in the youth group, and they were rich with memories. Honestly, those thirty minutes looking through photos made the whole thing worthwhile.

I did finally join Mom and Dad in the auditorium in time for a poorly-conceived Westlink Church of Christ History Jeopardy, which was more entertaining by its floundering than by design. I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way, because the hosts took it all in stride, and Gary (the pulpit minister for as long as I’ve known Westlink) has always had a charming knack for laughing off little mistakes.

When we got in the car to head home Dad asked me about my experience, and I mentioned how much I’d enjoyed looking through the photos, because I have such a poor memory of my time in high school. On a whim, he offered to drive by the old school (it being just a mile out of the way). I’d done that a few times on my visits to the west side of town, but I’d never thought to actually turn onto the campus. Dad did, and by some strange fortune the gates were actually open so we could drive right up to the school.

As I’ve discussed social anxiety more and more recently, the question has often come up of when I first started struggling with it. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a good answer. That brief tour Saturday night, though, confirmed suspicion it was firmly in place by high school. As we approached the building, I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s weird how familiar this all is!” And then as we got to the point where you’d actually turn toward the parking places, pick a spot, and then go in to classes, I was suddenly overwhelmed. Worse than when I was standing in line at church, I felt a crushing weight on my chest and my vision darkened. My heart started racing, as Dad casually swung past the parking spaces, up to the curb, and then turned back toward the exit.

Halfway there, after we’d left all the buildings behind, I finally found enough air to say weakly, “Oh, that was weird.” I paused for a moment, collected my thoughts, and then tried to explain to them what it had felt like. Mom and Dad are both trained counselors now, so they were interested and able to offer insight. Dad said I’d encounter that other places, too, because physical places tended to have strong emotional memory associated with them. That was easily the worst I’d ever experienced, though.

Still, by the time we turned onto Tyler and left the campus behind, I felt fine.

Sunday morning T– woke up early and took AB up to church for the pre-class coffee and donuts, figuring that she should be there for that since she’d skipped dinner Saturday night. I stayed home, slept in, and went with the Charboneaus in time for service at 10:30.

The service was a pretty good one, with some fantastic song-leading and a true-to-form emotional sermon from Gary. Afterward they had a big balloon release in memory of the Westlink family members who had gone on before. We’d intended to skip that, slip away during the confusion and have a quiet little family lunch, but when my sister went to get the little ones out of kids’ church, she got trapped in the crowd. And when I went in search of my errant sister, I did too. That turned out to be a lucky break, though, because I got to see Kelly Sullivan there. She’s a Mackey now, and I keep track of her on Facebook, but it was still nice to see an old friend. I also spoke with Serena Dawson and Loni Jo Butler and Steve Hutchins on Saturday night, and that’s pretty much it for other youth group alumni. Everybody else was family friends.

Anyway, after that we slipped away during the confusion, and had a quiet little family lunch at Carlos O’Kelly’s. Then Mom and Dad headed home, and my sister and her family came back to OKC, and T– and I ran to her parents’ place to get packed up and then we followed shortly after. We got home around five, order a pizza, and spent the evening on the couch, getting caught up with work on our laptops while AB played with puzzles and watched Shrek for the first time.

It was a busy weekend. Good, though. Better than I expected.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.