Maxims sometimes sound offensive and trite, because they are. Other times, they sound offensive and trite because we’d rather not believe that they’re true. Truth hurts because it’s firm and unyielding, and it smashes through all the complicated gossamer webs we’ve built in ourselves that make up the story about who we’re supposed to be. One truth I’ve always struggled with (because part of me, even still, finds tales of woe to be so much more dramatic and interesting than living well) is that the best way to get through life, is to adopt an “Attitude of Gratitude.”
Last year saw some challenges.
While I wrote a book I’d been working on for quite a while, almost immediately after I published it my furnace died, Amanda’s car had to have a $2,500 brake job, all while I was recovering from a sinus surgery that cost more than I thought it would. Also, a number of weird things started to happen alongside the publication of my book… to anyone who bought or had been given it, which left me with some very complicated feelings about promoting it more heavily. Which is stupid, but I wondered if maybe I wasn’t subconsciously causing people to self-sabotage.
Amanda and I were also supposed to get married on Christmas Eve, until our wedding plans were literally derailed by the Amtrak crash in Washington. I had mailed our application for a marriage license in plenty of time to have the actual license issued (and in enough time for the 3 day waiting period required in Washington to elapse) but then, from what I’ve been given to understand, the train crash delayed the delivery just far enough we couldn’t do it. We’d been hoping to do a small ceremony for her grandmother who hasn’t been in the best of health, and who we were concerned might not make it to the “Official” wedding in September. Now we’re back to getting married in September, after we both worked ourselves up into a nice warm feeling of how nice it would feel to be officially married.
On the same day I got this news, it started to snow. Also, one of the batteries in my smoke detectors died and I got home to find that Sophie (our dog) had been going crazy from the sound. A panel on the fence had also fallen down, unbeknownst to me, and when I let her out to go to the bathroom she ran away from home for the first time ever. It took me about seven minutes to realize this had happened and that she wasn’t just hiding in the backyard under a bush.
I ended up grabbing a lantern, throwing all my work clothes back on after having just taken them off, and running into the night following her paw prints in the snow. I kept expecting to find her in a the canal or dead in the road. Which I felt would also spell the end of any marriage ever as there are few people on Earth that Amanda loves more than Sophie. This was a three mile sprint I had not been expecting to take.
I ended up in a whole other neighborhood, knocking on doors and asking people if they’d seen a dog. As you may know, talking to strangers is one of my least favorite activities. I resolved that I would not sleep until I found her, and then kept running toward the sound of any dog bark. Sophie doesn’t bark, but she does like to be near other dogs when they’re barking. Finally, a woman I’d asked about Sophie earlier shouted for me to turn around and that she’d spotted her. There was my little dog, soaking wet, not running to me but to some woman who probably passed for Amanda to her wild eyes. I’d brought her leash and the woman (whose name I don’t know, bless her) helped me put it on. I walked Sophie three miles back home, dried her with a towel, and held her close for the whole night to put some heat back into her body.
I also drove eleven hours through snowy winter passes, with Sophie in the backseat, to be with family for the holidays. It was one of the more harrowing experiences of my life as I kept fearing I’d run out of gas and it seemed every twenty miles I’d see some other wreck on the side of the road. Eleven hours. In a cramped Prius, driving 35mph in places where the speed limit is usually 70mph.
You know what, though? I’m grateful.
I was able to pay for the furnace, and the brake job and the surgery. I don’t make an absurd living, but I make enough. If my book is cursed, then that means I did such a good job writing it that I somehow destroyed the laws of physics -which is something I’ve never heard of anyone else doing. Oh, that Amtrak crash? Yeah, it was awful but one of the people who died was a terrible monstrous pedophile. Silver lining, there, although obviously not completely but it could have been worse. And yes Sophie got out, but at least I was able to track her because it snowed. Otherwise I might never have found her. Also, I got where I was going in one piece and got to see my newborn nephew.
I sold two more stories to the NoSleep podcast, and they both appear to be fan favorites. “The Family of Fang and Claw” while still needing a clean-up job and maybe another edit pass, has sold enough that I made back more than what I spent on it. Oh, and I know how to make paperbacks on Amazon now and can probably do it much more quickly in the future! So, that’s good.
And I’m in a healthy, loving relationship! God that feels so nice. Like your soul undoing the top button of your soul’s pants. Amanda goes out for a long visit around Christmas, which feels awesome for about four days, and then by about week two I’m quite lonely and just needing her to be back as soon as possible. Even though we see each other in the middle, it’s a reminder of how much I’ve come to love that teeny tiny woman.
I also got to meet more of my future in-laws, and after drinking one Corona, bowled my highest score since high school. After two Coronas, I was back down to my average. I put that up there with the time I smoked two cigarettes and played an almost perfect game of Pool. I just need to work on finding my intoxication sweet-spots and I can do anything.
Oh, and someone posted this picture to my Facebook which was pretty nifty.
And I’m grateful to you all for continuing to read me. I’m hoping to bring you some more great stories in the New Year.