No, no, it’s not you, it’s me

Creative Memories? Come here, sit down. We need to talk. Look, you know I love you, right? I mean, we’ve had a ton of laughs and I’ll never forget some of the special moments we’ve shared (because some of them are carefully preserved in wonderful, quality scrapbook albums). We’ve been together almost 12 years now.

But I think it’s time we split up.

It’s not you, Creative Memories, it’s me. I just need something more in my life right now. No, wait, wait, not “more” – did I say “more”? Because I meant “different”. I just need something different in my life right now. That’s on me. You’re great, Creative Memories. You are.

What’s that? Is there someone else? Look do we really need to do this right here? Okay, okay, yes. Yes, there is someone else.

What do you mean, what does she have that you don’t have? Look, don’t do this. You’re better than this. What? Fine. Well she’s got a helluva daily buffet luncheon. So. There’s that.

I know, we’ve gone through some rough times. And we’ve always been there for each other. Right now I love what you’re doing with yourself with these innovative, incredible plans you’ve got in place. For real. You’re going to burst forth from this more beautiful than ever. You’re going to be fine. You are. I just can’t be there with you.

Huh? Well, she’s a little older than you. She turns 100 this summer. She looks great though. Lots of bricks and shrubberies and stuff.

And you should see her with the kids. She’s just amazing. What? No, not better with the kids than you, just different. You’re great with kids. What was it that noted child psychologist Dr. Kenneth Condrell said? “I think photos and scrapbooks might be a parent’s secret weapon. There are few tools out there that are more powerful or effective in helping to raise confident, happy, well-adjusted kids.”

That’s you, Creative Memories. That’s what you can do for my kids. And that’s awesome. But, uh, see, she has this thing she can do with providing free college tuition after I’ve been there two years (assuming the kids qualify academically and are accepted). And I think a small-college, liberal arts education is going to help them with confidence and happiness too.

Do you know her? Come on, I don’t want to get into this. Okay, okay. After 12 years, yes, you deserve that much. Yes, you do know her.

It’s The College of St. Benedict. I start with the Advancement Communications team right after Memorial Day.

Look, I think you’re one of the most amazing companies in the world and I hope we can still be close after this. In fact, maybe every once in awhile we can get together – freelance – and rekindle a little of that old magic, huh? What’dya think? Okay, too soon. You’re right. Let’s talk later though!

EDITOR’S NOTE: I really am going to miss Creative Memories. Don’t mistake anything I’ve written here for mean-spirited snarkiness. I’m just being a goof. Creative Memories has been great to me for nearly 12 years. But I’m EXTREMELY excited about the new challenge and opportunity in front of me. And I can’t wait to get on campus at CSB and get started! Wish me luck.

Don’t squeeze me, I’m intestinally challenged

Pressure's on, because Lucy here has an awesome stick technique.

Greg to second nurse: “Pressure’s on, because Lucy here has an awesome stick technique!”

Special guest post by Corinne!

When your usually loving, sensitive husband asks you to ‘please, don’t squeeze me’ – something’s wrong.

When it follows a two week bout of sinusitis with a colonoscopy thrown in, it probably means that a trip to the ER is in your future.

Of course, Greg spent most of the week not really letting on how badly he was feeling. By Sunday, he started to let his guard down and asked me to drive Erin to the airport in his place. I probably should have pushed the issue then. But I think Greg likes to put on his brave face and make sure he’s not being an inconvenience.

Case in point – he told the admitting nurse we were there because he was having some “intestinal challenges” this week. If that’s how you describe nausea, inability to eat, massive abdominal pain and more urgent trips to the restroom (Editor’s note: We really tried to come up with a fun euphemism for that, but couldn’t come up with anything Greg found acceptably ungross.) than we can count – then I guess he was suffering from just that.

When the doctor offered some relief from the pain while we figured things out – he politely declined. They politely declined to let him decline (okay, I told him not to be a hero and he totally crumbled). One dose of morphine and anti-nausea medication later, Greg was feeling a little more himself and chatting up the nurses – taking bets on who sticks the best needle.

For all of you who have emailed, messaged or called today – Greg’s going to be okay. We still don’t have solid answers and they are running tests to check for a little bug called C-Diff (rapid culture is negative – so that’s promising). He also has a follow-up scheduled with his colonoscopy surgeon for tomorrow afternoon.

Intestinally challenged or not, I’ll give him a hug from all of you. But I promise not to squeeze too hard.

Humps & Hills (tee, hee)

I was taking requests this morning for breakfast. So today was bacon (of course), and a traditional favorite from Corinne’s side of the family: Norwegian Oven Pancakes (aka: Humps & Hills).

Humps and Hills

(Insert Butt-Head laugh here.)

The breakfast part was a fantastic success in spite of Corinne’s derisive laughter at my inability to use her great-grandma’s mixer. (My Mom didn’t love me enough to teach me to use a hand mixer correctly.)

The mixer

All four of the still-at-home kids go nuts for Humps & Hills, and it’s great to see something that gets teenagers excited and engaged.

photo 1[1] photo 2[1]

But the sophomoric giggling part of breakfast was even better than usual this morning because last night, Molly and I (and Josh and Quinn at various times) watched most of Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. (It’s 1 hour, 20 minutes. I made it through 1 hour, which, I’m quite certain is a new record for anyone over 40.)

So Molly and I spent this morning sharing good food and breathy, stoner chuckles at quasi-dirty jokes. Family bonding is in the eye of the beholder.

My pianist has a mind of its own


I like to think of my pianist as a strong, intelligent, competent woman. So sing us a song, Corinne, you’re the piano woman. (Although I AM prepared for it to be sung fairly quietly.)

Yep. Bought a piano tonight. Well, technically, half a piano. It’s currently safely tucked away in the walkout basement of a fantastically friendly (read: talkative) woman from rural St. Joe. So we’ll pay for the other half when the snow melts and we (and some as-yet-unnamed friends) haul it around back, load it up onto a truck/trailer, and transport it home.

It’s important to note that this is not an impulse purchase. Far from it. She’s been going off on this idea for years. And so, last year around this time I got my road bike. This year, it’s Corinne’s turn.

And so (happy ending in sight), instead of listening to persistent pestering about “when are we going to get a piano”, I’ll get to listen to the electrifying strains of the theme from Remington Steele.

Can you see in color now?

Who’s cuter, Erin or Abbey? (Tough choice, I know, they both could give you that look.)

When Erin was only 5, we had to put down one of the most wonderful dogs I’ve ever owned. And I can’t make up my mind whether that makes her lucky on balance because she got to spend those first 5 years with such an amazing, gentle, loveable companion – or whether it makes her unlucky on balance because she had to experience that kind of loss at such a young age. I guess I have to go with lucky. Abbey was a great dog.

And I remember that, when the time came, Erin insisted on coming along to the vet’s. Looking back, I have NO IDEA what I was thinking, bringing a 5-year-old to watch the dog she’d spent every day of her life with be put to sleep. There was something about her insistence and the understanding way she talked about wanting to come along. I just knew – she needed to be there.

And she was.

She and I gently stroked Abbey’s head and neck and fought back tears as we watched the life slowly fade in her eyes. I remember walking out through the lobby, holding a leash that suddenly seemed impossibly pointless and out of place. Someone in the lobby made some kind of encouraging comment and I coughed out something intended to sound dismissive and chipper. But really, I don’t think Erin or I even really heard what the woman said. We were so focused on just making it to the car. Just get me to the car. Then I can collapse and bawl like a 5-year-old.

And we did.

Copper, the best beagle in the world.

A month or so ago, my friends Heidi and Dan had to put down Copper. To be honest, I haven’t seen Heidi or Dan in years – much less Copper. But when Heidi and I worked together, we all used to get daily Copper updates. That dog was so spoiled and so loved and we used to hear all about it. And when I heard that Copper had died, I felt a loss – even if it was just that ricocheted kind of loss you feel when you know someone you care about is hurting.

Coaster was family, the best kind of family.

This week Gina and Eric finally had to make the decision I think Gina’s been avoiding for awhile (which is easy to do when you’re too close to see). Coaster’s gone now. All of our kids loved Coaster. Corinne and I still laugh about the great time we had watching after Coaster (though they never asked us again…Coaster must have told stories when he got home). And when everyone around you loves a dog (even you, Eric) it makes perfect sense to hang on as tight as you can for as long as you can.

Shouko, I don’t think she’ll ever stop being a puppy.

Shouko’s 10 (and a half!) now. And she still barks ferociously at pedestrians, and she still sucks it up and takes the shock every now and again so she can take off out of the yard and go scavenge for something cool to bring home. So she’s fine. (“Greg, she’s been sleeping since we got home in that same position – do you think maybe something’s wrong?” “NO, SHE’S FINE!”)

(sigh) I think it’s a cruel evolutionary joke that our caveman ancestors chose wolves, with their frustratingly short lifespans, to befriend. Why the hell didn’t cavemen pick turtles?

Gina, when Shouko’s time comes, I pray I have the strength and honesty to recognize it as gracefully as you have.

And since, as we all know, all dogs go to heaven, some day I hope to hang out with Abbey and Copper and Coaster and Shouko (but not Lassie, that prima donna bitch) and ask them: Can you guys see in color now?

[Editor’s note: Justin Gauerke, where you’re going, I’m pretty sure you’ll still be color blind!]

I am one-eighth bohemian. Not nearly enough to be interesting.

These aren't real Bohemians. This is, of course, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. Which made me laugh. I don't know if I'll ever be quirky. I just know what I know.

My mother is half German, one quarter Swiss and one quarter Bohemian. And aside from a rampant, swarthy eyebrow, those crazy gypsy roots have given me… (sigh) Just about nothing.

For the most part, I'm okay with that. But every once in awhile, I really wish I had a little more of a bohemian edge to me. Just every once in awhile I'd like to be able to sit in a darkly lit coffee shop, sipping organic espresso, wearing something that looks truly ridiculous but is still cool (because it was hand-woven by the grandmother of an Ecuadoran freedom fighter who was executed by a death squad of jack-booted thugs and died in my arms, breathing out his last wish – that I take this poncho back to America so that some part of his grandmother could at least touch freedom), and opining in detached, world-weary tones about the collective works of Franz Kafka or David Sedaris or whoever it is that's really cool and not a phony.

But that will never be me. First off, I don't even like coffee. But it's more than that. I'll never be tragically hip because I'm too conservative in my politics, too aesthetically unaware in my fashion sense and too slothful in my reading habits.

I have a degree in government, and the closest I ever came to "politically active" in college was driving into town when Bob Dole came to the St. Cloud Holiday Inn. (Actually, I'm not even sure I drove. I think my car was broken down at the time.)

The only time I was ever "fashion-forward" was my senior year in high school. Moving from a big school to a small one, I was at the vanguard of the boxer rebellion. And I was the first to wear indoor soccer shoes to class.

I think the biggest part of my problem is plain old apathy. It takes work to be quirky. And I just don't have enough want-to in me. There are just these passing whims. That's not, however, to say that I am and will always be a blind conformist. (That takes work too. Keeping up with all the trends I'm supposed to follow? Come on. That's not me either.)

I guess I'll just be who I am. I'll embrace the eighth of myself that actually IS bohemian. And I'll sleep well in the knowledge that, while my percentage isn't high enough to get me free tickets to the poetry slam, it IS high enough to get me a cut if they ever open up a casino in Greenwich Village.

Play and win valuable prizes!

Corinne and I are playing another of our little games. (No, this one does NOT involve a Catholic school girl costume. I'm NEVER putting that thing on again.)

Here's the way this one's going to work: Corinne's going to give me random topics and I'm going to have two days to work that topic into a blog post. So today it might be nihilism. Friday it might be purple unicorns. I don't know what she's going to give me.

And, originally, I thought I'd just keep it quiet to see if I could weave these random topics into posts that make sense out of context.

But then I thought, what the hell – let's make a game out of it!

Check out the stuff I post, starting with yesterday's Mud Run post and ending when I tell you I'm done. (Except this one. Ignore this one. Well, don't IGNORE this one, because I'm trying to tell you something here. But don't waste a whole lot of time searching for a hidden topic or theme in this post.)

If you think you've figured out my assigned topic for a post, go ahead and comment on it. If you're right…um…I'll give you some kind of valuable prize [to be determined]. Could be a $5 iTunes gift card (but probably not), could be a 50 cent coupon on Hot Pockets, could be an autographed picture of Brady Borkoski dressed as Burt Reynolds. Whatever. The joy comes in winning, you greedy little monkeys.

That being said, go back and check out yesterday's post, then keep an eye on what's coming next. (To get you started – and I hope I'm not making this too obvious – yesterday's headline was a clue.)

Have fun!