The Summer That Was

I had been planning this big long post about how challenging this summer was, but then I thought a short poem might sum it up better. I was going to add another verse about how we all got sick, but I figure this is enough. This is also the reason I hadn't posted for so long: I wanted this post finished before writing anything else. Anyway, here it is.

The Summer That Was

Twas a Thursday in late June,
A heat to make you choke
And as the day wore on we found that our AC had broke.

A simple fix we hoped for,
And so we called the man
"Can you come take a look tomorrow?" "Yes, we surely can."

But sad news was delivered:
Prepared for prolonged thirst
Because the part you need will be sent August 21st.

And so we mulled our options
In triple-digit heat
Deciding that, without a choice, this challenge we would meet.

And so a few days later,
The summer trials grew
My company informed me "There's no longer work for you."

We dug a little deeper
I followed every lead
And in a month had found new work of just the kind I need.

And now the final chapter
It was September when
Our poor AC was finally fixed, and life was good again.

Something Something Hot

These last few days in our house have been a fascinating experiment incorporating elements of psychology, physiology and biology. It all started last Thursday evening, when we realized that our house was 85 degrees despite the thermostat being set at 75. I called an AC repair company first thing Friday morning, and we were informed that it would take at least a week for the replacement part to arrive. In the meantime we’ve experience a slow descent into the depths of Hell, and I’ve become convinced that we are a part of some scientific experiment.

The mornings are comparatively pleasant, in the low 80s in the house, climbing to the mid-90s in the late afternoon, and remaining scorching until after the sun sets. We’ve been spending time outside and going various places as much as possible, but we can’t completely avoid the house. So obviously we’re hot and sweaty (I’ve discovered that I can drink more water than I ever expected), and more irritable, and it’s hard to be motivated to do any word around the house. The idea of cooking with the oven makes me want to faint.

Meanwhile, I’ve started putting the bread in the fridge so it won’t spoil quickly, I had to throw out a bag of potatoes that had rotted, and anyone on Facebook has seen the candles. And the saddest part is that this is happening during the worst heat wave we’ve had in years. Last year we didn’t have a single 100-degree day, and we’re in a string of a whole week of them now. I don’t even know what to say about that, except yell “I’m sorry for whatever it was!” at the heavens.

Vehicular Prosopagnosia

Okay, so I have been trying to decide whether or not to post this. Normally I mock those who not only do something embarrassing but also actively tell others all about it, but since I recently became accustomed to embarrassment as a form of repentance, here we go. And I thought I’d reward those who still occasionally check my blog hoping (mostly in vain) for updates.

Last night I went to Walmart. Calm down, that’s not the funny part. I got my groceries and headed out into the parking lot, congratulating myself for getting what I needed for the right amount of money. I tried to be patient getting out the door as a slow couple walked ahead of me. As soon as we were outside, I moved ahead of them and looked for my car. I parked in a different area than I usually did, so I was pleased to spot it right off. One of the few advantages of owning a car manufactured in the previous millennium is that it does stand out. So I walked to my car and put the key in the trunk to open it. But it wouldn’t open.

 I looked at my key and remembered that it was a copy I had made, and I haven’t had the best of luck with copied keys over the past few years. So I stuck it in the lock again. Suddenly, the trunk popped open. “There we go,” I thought. “But wait. Why is there a wheelchair in my trunk?”

“Excuse me,” a voice behind me said. “This is our car.” I turned around to see that the slow couple had caught up with me.

So, yeah. Same distinct car. Same color. Same parking lot, just one row over from mine. And we both left the store at the same time. We had a good laugh, and I went on my merry way (“merry” here meaning “red-faced”).

Bonus: Earlier that night a good friend of Katie's came to our door. When I opened it, she greeted me by name and asked if Katie was home. I thought she was just someone from the ward whom I didn't really know, so I just had to tell her "someone" was here.

Negative Nelly

I have an intense dislike of negative news stories. I usually skim the headlines in the morning, so I’m not  wholly ignorant of what’s going on in the world, but I don't read articles discussing situations like infanticide. But most people seem to find them normal, valid conversation topics, and I imagine a smaller portion of that group is fascinated by the details (probably the same people who watch shows like Hoarders).

This has just come up for me in the last few years, since I became a parent, so I imagine it has something to do with that. What I want to know is whether it’s unhealthy of me or not. I’m not trying to pretend these things don’t exist. I am certainly aware of the terrible things happening in the world, and our responsibility as individuals to make a difference where we can, but I see no value in discussing the specifics of X person doing Y thing to someone, especially when a child is suffering. It won’t make me a better person to hear it, and I doubt it will give me any tools to help in situations I come across. So unless someone can convince me otherwise, I will try to keep these things at arm’s length.

Seriously, Brain? This Is What You're Going With?

Last night I dreamed up another joke in my sleep, and it's a horrible one. Here we go:

What do you call a willing cannibal who also fights to the death for entertainment?
A gladiator (glad-I-ate-her).

In my defense, it's possible I've heard this joke somewhere and didn't actually make it up. One of the few times I'd rather be guilty of plagiarism.

The Terror Lurking in the Corner

It lurked in the corner of the room, largely escaping notice. Well, if something taking up that much space could really escape notice. Nevertheless, it sat there watching. Patiently waiting for its chance to strike.

The day began like any other. I sat in a chair for several hours, and went home. But then I had the chance to literally stretch my legs and run. The fates had conspired, however, and the wind outside was gusting up to 30 mph. Until a few weeks ago, there would have been no choice—I run outside, or not at all. But now there was the evil machine in the corner calling to me. “There’s no wind here,” it gently hissed. “Look, there’s even a place to put a tablet so you can watch TV and run at the same time…” And so, to my everlasting regret, I succumbed to the siren song.

Then it began. To keep from disturbing the family beyond the noise the machine itself makes, I put in earphones, but with my arms moving my hands accidentally caught the cord and ripped them from my ears. They tangled with the cord of the kill switch, and it came off, stopping the treadmill. And every time I touched anything on the tablet, the treadmill took its chance to shut off, cackling softly. It also erased my progress, so I had no idea how far I had even run.

And then it happened.

In a fit of frustration, I kicked the metal support of the console (possibly shrieking like a girl) and immediately knew something horrible had happened. As I limped to a chair, I could still hear the dreaded machine mocking me. “Looks like I’ll be gathering dust for a while. You’re now just like everyone else with an exercise machine they never use. My work here is done.”

And the x-ray showed quite a stunning break in my big toe. Goodbye, Provo Marathon. Goodbye, goal of running 1,000 miles this year. Goodbye, endurance I had built up, being able to run 13 or more miles every Saturday. All because, in a fit of irrational rage, I lashed out at the evil machine.

But I will have my revenge. Oh, yes. I will have my revenge.


I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful causes that people around the world are supporting. There are so many that it can be difficult to keep track of the issues that demand public attention. And that’s why I’ve decided to declare today Awareness Awareness Day. This is a day when we can all come together to calendar out all our awareness days for the coming year, to maximize our awareness potential. Because if there’s one thing in our society that is suffering today, it’s our awareness of those causes that truly demand awareness.  So, to raise awareness of the need for awareness awareness, I’m asking everyone to change their social media profile pics to this:

Together, we can make a difference when it comes to making a difference.

Why Don't I Hear Sleep Screams?

In theory, parents should be the most sympathetic people in the world. But, as Homer Simpson observed, in theory communism works. And it seems like there's a limit to our sympathy, just like there's a limit to how many cheeseburgers you can stuff in your mouth. And like a toenail in you burger can reduce the cheeseburger eating number to zero, certain stimuli can greatly reduce the amount of sympathy we are capable of.

Are you still with me?

I've found that one thing that reduces my sympathy to near zero is the way Sam cries when he gets hurt. Something about the pitch of his crying, combined with the fact that it happens so often and over such small injuries, makes it really hard for me to care. The problem is that I get desensitized by these little "stub your toe because you're running around when I told you not to anyway" injuries, so even when he's genuinely hurting I have a hard time really showing the concern that I really should.

Case in point: Saturday night all was well, until the very moment Sam laid his head on his pillow. At that moment, he decided to report an earache and start crying. I dosed him with some tylenol, and he went to sleep... only to wake up screaming a few minutes later. That screaming continued pretty much all night. Of course it woke up his sister, so by around 4:30 we were all up, just enjoying the symphony, despite all the pain medication we could administer.

I sent Katie to bed to take the second shift, looking for the earliest-opening Instacare facility I could find. And so shortly after 7 a.m. I bundled the kids into the car and left early, fearing that his increasing screaming would make it harder and harder for Katie to sleep. (It was a measure of her fatigue that she later reported hearing him only once.)

So we sat in the waiting room of the Instacare at Riverton Hospital, with a couple other parents who were waiting for it to open, while Sam continued his screaming. (As a side note, if you've ever seen the Simpsons episode with the "screamapillar," it was kind of like that.) While we were there, I finally tried to hold him and give him some sympathy (largely so the other parents didn't think I was a jerk), but it really didn't make any difference.

They immediately gave him more Tylenol with codeine, and several prescriptions, probably mostly to get him out of there. And I should feel better about things because the doctor said he had a grown man in there the day before with a much less severe ear infection, who was reacting much the same way Sam was. Anyway, we started giving him his medicine, and eventually things improved. I must mention here that I am seriously impressed with the amount of fluid that drained from his ear throughout the day. So I was certainly doing what I could for him, but it's hard to show the emotional sympathy when your brain is being short-circuited by the screaming.

And now I've typed "scream" so much that it no longer looks like a word.

I'm Back

Empathy is a funny thing. And if by “funny” I mean “awful.” I like to think I can appreciate the misfortunes of others without having to experience them directly. No, really, Universe. I’m good.

Well, okay. There are some situations I have been less than empathetic about because I don’t have personal perspective. Like whatever brain parasite causes people to wear skinny jeans. I will never empathize with that. Anyway, this post isn’t about those situations, but one I have actually now experienced firsthand.

Generally speaking, I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my life in terms of my health. I mean, I’ve experienced lesser issues like horrible acne, comical near-sightedness, braces, and that nasty bout with Crohn’s disease which has fortunately remained in check for the most part. But I didn’t inherit any kind of “fat” genes (skinny genes don’t demand skinny jeans), and I even still have a decent head of hair (knock on wood). I am used to going throughout my daily life in a constant state of non-pain. Now, let’s flash back to two weeks ago.

It was in the middle of that horrific month-long cold snap that had us hovering around zero (Farenheit, duh) every day. I stubbornly refused to alter my activities and so went on my usual evening run. This night it was about 4 degrees, which may have broken the record for the coldest weather I had ever run in. Needless to say, I was pretty anxious to get home. So I ran my 4 miles in 28 minutes, which as far as I can recall is faster than I ever had before. I was pretty proud of myself.

Then, a couple hours later, Katie and I were having a sock fight with the kids, wherein you gather all the clean socks in the house and throw them at each other. Naturally, there are very technical rules to this battle, but let’s stay focused here. I bent over to pick up some socks and felt a sudden twinge in my back.

“Aha!” you’re now saying. “It’s a ‘bad back’ story!” And I’m sad to say that’s true. I’ve never had a bad back, but I’ve certainly heard from so many people who do over the years that it’s payback time – pun most definitely intended. I’ve strained my back a bit on occasion, like when I spent a day moving, or putting in sprinklers or whatever. But in each of those instances I only felt it for a day or so. This was a whole new level.

I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, but for a week I felt it every moment of every day, whether I moved, sat, or stood still. I couldn’t sleep well because lying on my stomach made my back hurt. (Yes, I’m a weirdo stomach-sleeper. You back-sleepers snore, so shut up.) Sitting in my chair all day at work made me horribly stiff. And, worst of all, I couldn’t run for a week. Now that two weeks has gone by, it’s quite a bit better but I can still feel it several times throughout the day.

So, while a couple of weeks of pain can’t compare to people who have dealt with it for years, but I definitely have (unwittingly ) developed some sense of empathy toward bad-back people. You are martyrs of humanity, doomed to suffer in (occasional) silence. Never again will I take for granted my mobility. In the future I will devote at least half an ear to listening to your groaning. I will even try (though without much hope) to refrain mocking you for visiting a chiropractor, desperate for anything that will ease the pain even slightly. Bad Back People, I offer you a (hunched-over) salute.

Obligatory Year End Post

Last week we took a trip to California for the wedding of Katie’s brother. So on the morning of the 26th we packed up and headed to southern Utah to spend the night with her family (including a bonus 250 miles driving in the snow), and then made the trip to San Diego the next day. We surprised the kids with a day at Disneyland (which was crowded beyond belief, but they still enjoyed it) and, despite a rainy reception, the wedding the next day was nice. Then we made the same trip in reverse, spending the night in Toquerville again, to arrive home exhausted on New Year’s Eve. But it was nice for the kids to see their new toys again, so it was kind of like a second Christmas.

2012 was… a year. I’m not quite sure what to say about it. Our lives remained largely unchanged. Sam started first grade, two of Katie’s siblings got married, and we just sort of went on with whatever it is we do. I did meet my resolution (and bucket-list item) of running a marathon, and I ran a total of 843 miles during the year. This year I’d love to break 1,000.

I guess I’m curious to see if 2013 changes anything up. I made a few personal resolutions, and we made some as a family. I’ve always had a hard time with resolutions (okay, okay, with personal improvement in general), but I’m starting to see some value in them. Does this mean I’m growing as a person? Probably not.