“She Was The Prize”

My vote for most romantic song ever:

2011: My Year In Self-Improvement

I set out to check four things off of my bucket list this year.  One proved too arduous for now, and petered out in March.  I finished the other three.

One was seeing every film on AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Movies” list, except the R-rated ones.  Finally finished in July.  More on this next week.

Another was ministering to each of my home teaching families at church every month this year.  I didn’t always have a visit–I can’t control if people open the door or pick up the phone–but in past years I’ve gone months at a time without trying to contact people.  This year, everyone at least got a chance, and a lot of good work did come from it.

But the third thing was by far the coolest.  In fact, I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever done in life.  I surprised my wife with a romantic gesture every week for a year.

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I Did The Love Dare

After seeing the movie Fireproof with my wife recently, I wanted to do the love dare in it for my wife.  I put the book on my hold list at the library.  I couldn’t publish this until after the whole 40 days, because my wife reads this blog and I wanted it to be a surprise.  Here are some notes on what happened, but since I don’t want to ruin the book (or infringe on copyrights!), I won’t list the dares here.  (Update: the book’s web site actually has the full list.)  You just need to pick up your own copy. 

In the movie, all that stood in the way of their perfect romance was their fading feelings.  Real life is more complicated.  Just in the last forty days, some of the things that made it harder for me to do this included: a kid got sick and threw up seven times in one morning, my wife and I were taken to court (where we did not do well), I got sick (twice–once during the first week of the dare, and again during the last week), our refrigerator broke down and got repaired, work and other responsibilities kept us apart all day and up very late, the lock on my car door broke (and the dealer didn’t even fix it right!), the battery in our van died, and a motley assortment of other irritations, distractions, and adversities made their merry way into the path of my earnest scheduling.  In short, life happened. 

So it was hard at times, but I think my wife appreciated it, so it was absolutely worth it. 

My only frame of reference for ideas was the character in the movie, and at times I felt a little bad that my gestures weren’t as dramatic as his.  I guess that’s to be expected: my life isn’t scripted, nor does it have a movie studio’s budget.  I, alas, do not have twenty grand stashed away for a boat that I can dip into to help make her dream come true. 

Days 1-5 (May 20 -May 24)

Day 1: The day I picked this up from the library was one of the hardest, most discouraging days of work I had all year.  I wanted to complain about it and dump it all on my wife, but I took the injunction to not be negative as literally as I could, and held my tongue.  At least for today!

Day 2: foot rub

Day 3: Star Trek glass from Burger King.  We’re awesome. 

Days 6-10 (May 25 -May 29)

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Story Time, Part III

On another page of this blog, I’ve just posted another of my old stories, “Seducing the Muse.”  In fact, this was the first story I wrote after college, and while I still get a kick out of it, it’s undeniably amateurish.  Oh well.  I think the other two stories I’ve put up here–a mystery about understanding religion in the age of terrorism called “In the Shadow of Death,” and a dramatic little bit of catharsis about raising children after divorce called “Gordon Raises the Kid“–are better, but this one is still worth a read. 

I wrote it wanting to blend two romances, a love for a woman and a love for the written word.  It works well enough, but Joyce Carol Oates–or even Nicholas Sparks–I’m not.  I’ve sent it to several publishers, but to no avail.  Zoetrope sent me a note calling it a “good story,” but not for them.  Another magazine wrote on their rejection slip that it was “cute,” but too long.  At least I got some feedback.  Alas, I’ve never been very good at marketing.  These stories will probably reach more sympathetic eyes here than they would anywhere else willing to print them, anyway.