Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Awareness for Today

Just yesterday, Dustin's brother and his wife stopped by my house while they were in town for a baseball tournament for one of their boys.  I knew they were coming, and I knew my house needed a little more attention than my children would give it in their daily chores, but I didn't have a lot of time to clean in a panic.  I don't know why I wasn't more freaked out than I was.  They never asked to drop by so somehow I thought maybe they wouldn't see my house.  On the other hand, they haven't been to my house in 8 years so I figured they would want to see some of the things we've done around here (finish the whole basement, new floor/paint/decor in the living room, sandstone patio in the backyard, etc..), and honestly, I wanted to let them see it.

We coordinated and decided to meet here at my house and then go to dinner.  They were already driving when we talked, and it would only take them 10 minutes to get here.  As we talked, panic set in.  Suddenly all the things that  normally only bother me a little... the weird pile of stuff in my kitchen that I don't know what to do with, the 10 or so bowls, pile of silverware and 3 or so plates that were in my sink, the crumbs of bread or cereal and a streak of Nutella on the kitchen counter, the catch-all zone on my back entry that has lots of weird stuff on it and so, SO many more suddenly-glaring things... made me freak out and set off the narrative in my head that has plagued me my whole life.  This narrative tells me horrible things.  It screams at me and is really quite abusive.

In my panic, I asked my sister-in-law, as I have so many other people, "Will you still love me if you see how messy my house is?"

She laughed and probably thought I was joking, as so many others have, and said, "Of course I will!  (hahaha!)"

I ask this question in a way that sounds like I'm being funny, but there is so much more truth to this than any of those I question will ever know... and more than I ever realized myself, for that matter.

I am currrently reading a book called Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.  This is a powerful book.  A life-changing book.  An I-could-read-this-100-times-and-get-something-new-each-time kind of book.  As I was reading it this morning, I came across this bit regarding shame:

                        "Shame is the fear of disconnection--it's the fear that something
                         we've done or failed to do, an ideal that we've not lived up to,
                         or a goal that we've not accomplished makes us unworthy of
                         connection [of love or belonging]."

I realized, as I read this, how very true it is.  I had reacted exactly as this describes just yesterday.  Allowing my sister-in-law (who sits serenely on a clean-house pedestal, in my mind) to come and walk through my entire house in it's moderately messy state was very much an ideal that I had not lived up to.  And I, as I have with so many others, ASKED her if she will still love me if she sees how messy it is.

I learned today that I'm asking the wrong person this question. don't think I'm worthy of love, belonging or connection because my house is less-than-perfect. I will try to have the awareness to ask myself instead, and then reply, 'Yes, Clancy.  I still love you and you are worthy of love and belonging, even if your house is messy and even if other people see this.'

That's my awareness today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Rohan!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, funny, delightful little Rohan Xavier.  This boy is endless joy and nonstop questions.  I bless the day he was born as he continues to bless and delight everyone he encounters.

In honor of Rohan and his awesome Rohanisms, I will post somethings from his school journal that he brought home yesterday.

Lasst night I watched a show called Dirty Jobs.  It was abowt lice.

If I wera a super hero my name would be magma man.  I wood be able too go in magma.

My nickname is Roh Roh and when I was littler than now, but then my mom called me Throwen Rohan.

The animal that is most like me is the sloth because I'm slow at climbing trees.  But at soccer I'm fast.

If I had A free trip, I would go to new Zelend because of the scary eels.  But thay kill.

What do you know about penguins.  What do you want to learn about penguins.  emporer penguins are as tall as Krew (kid in his class).  In Antarctic ther are no plr bears.  And frost bite.

Five words that describe my mom are nice.  takes care of me.  (that is five words!)

I think there is life on other planets.  I think Aliens are on planets.  certein plants. I think certein oxygen.  I think that some Aliens mite be in A different universe.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Dam at My Fingertips

I don't know which it is today.

The river of words, the whirlpools and currents and the dam that is my fingers.  

Or is it the keyboard in my shower?  It's there every time, the ghost of it.  Growing and glowing, a little rubber covering to keep it safe from the water.  It really took shape today, the waterproof keyboard.  My finger a pen, I scribbled a few words on the steamy tile, a furious thought.

Or perhaps it is the pressure gauges and I, the watcher.  I fell asleep and woke up to buzzing alarms.  Too much pressure on the dam, I run down fluorescent-lit hallways in the depth of the earth to turn valves.  

The world hisses and screams at the release.  

And I sigh, the disaster averted, but cry for the dream of equilibrium.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

As Long as I'm Living, My Baby You'll Be

Dustin and Mac started fighting tonight (as they often do) just before bedtime.  I interceded (as I often do) and had a long talk with Mac about his stinky attitude and his behavior that could have been handled differently.

When I was pretty much all talked out, I made him stand up and come and sit on my lap.  I was sitting in our office chair and so it was awkward to have him sit there, but I did it anyway.  

As he, this boy who is taller than me and almost outweighs me, sat on my lap, I looked down at his hands.  They looked so BIG.  I held them up, matching them to my hands and was astonished to find his fingers were about 3/4" longer than mine.  

I asked him, "When did your hands get so BIG?!  Weren't our hands just the same size about 3 months ago?  How could they have grown so fast?"

He didn't answer because he was still mad at me.  

I tried to pull his legs up into my arms, but they were too far away and too heavy for me to move easily and he took pity on his old mom and lifted his leg up.  When I had both his legs in my right arm, I moved his head back into the crook of my left arm and pretended to rock him like a baby.  (I do this now and then when he's mad at me... I'm so mean.)

We talked a little bit more and, as I held him and contemplated his big hands and growing body that I so awkwardly held, I remembered holding him and rocking him as a baby and a little boy.  I would sing to him then:

You are my sunshine, 
my only sunshine.  
You make me happy 
When skies are grey.  

You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Oh please don't take
My sunshine away.

The other night, dear,
While I was sleeping,
I dreamed I held you 
In my arms.

And when I woke up 
You were right beside me
And so I held you close to my heart.

(I changed the lyrics on the last bit because the real ones were too sad to sing to my baby boy)

I asked him if he remembered how I would always sing him that song.  He replied, "Yes, and it would always make me cry."

I continued to cradle him and began stroking his stylishly long hair.  I started humming the tune of 'You Are My Sunshine' out loud to him, my twelve and a half year-old son.  He had his eyes closed, and I stroked his forehead and cheeks like I used to do when he was a baby as I hummed the song of his infancy.

I, then, watched as a small miracle occurred.  After one time through the song, my boy-giant's face suddenly relaxed.  His head flopped back just a little more in the crook of my arm.  His eyes started shifting around behind his eyelids and his breathing changed into something slow and relaxed.  I continued humming, voice cracking and tears leaking from my eyes, as the river of love I have for this boy burst it's banks and flooded my heart, penetrating every cell.  Every atom.

A gift was mine this night.  My baby boy-giant had fallen asleep in my arms.  I kept humming and crying as I wrestled with Memory to find the image, the weight, the feeling of the 2 week-old, the 2 year-old, the 5 year-old, the 8 year-old or the 10 year-old version of this amazing child.  They all warred with the boy-giant I held in this moment.  My mind railed against Time and begged for just a moment with that sleeping boy of years past.

I kept crying and stopped singing.  I almost wondered, for a moment, if he was teasing me and pretending to be asleep, but his breathing was steady.  I watched him breathe for a long time, wishing for the moment to linger.

In the end it was my legs that gave out.  His 117 pounds were too much for them.  I stroked his face again while saying his name and, with a start, his bright blue eyes opened.  He was confused.  I was still crying as he sat up and hugged me, letting me kiss him and tell him what an amazing being he is.  I sent him off to bed with as many I love yous as I could get out of my mouth.

I know there will come a day when I will cry for this 117 pound boy-giant... with his first stubble after his first shave.  This boy with the cracking voice and the laugh that still ping-pongs between man and child.  This boy who eats, and eats, and eats, and eats because each of his ten fingers has to grow 3/4" in just a few months.  I know that someday I will fight to recall this version of Mac and so I write.  Tonight I write with the hope of searing this beautiful, twelve year-old boy-giant into my memory.  My beautiful Mac.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Tonight I feel my own humanity hurtling toward me like a freight train.

Tonight I wrestle myself... the unworthy, keep-myself-hidden, stay-small part of myself vs. the expanding, show-who-I-really-am, brilliant part of myself.  A knock-down, drag-out brawl happening in the confines of my head.

Tonight, the Stay-Small part is winning.  Brilliant is on the mat and Stay-Small is standing over it, screaming like an abusive drunk with greasy hair, sweat-stains on his grimy undershirt and spittle flying from his putrefying mouth. Stay-small tells me that I don't have anything important to say and that no one wants to hear me anyway.

I used to post whatever the hell I wanted on this blog and if was too scary or too personal, I would write it in a poem.  And now, I am scared to write anything that means anything.  And this means anything, in case you were wondering.

The tornado that has lived inside my body for the past several years feels like it's mostly emerged and I now walk through it daily rather than have it dwell inside me.  I'm not positive that my situation has improved, but it feels like progress, so I'm calling it that.

But tonight, I felt like I swallowed the tornado whole and it's ripping through me, taking my voice, my breath, my brilliance.


I don't really have anything more to say except that hitting that publish button up there is the most terrifying thing I've done in a long time.

Here's to living beyond my fear.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


When he was about twelve or thirteen years old, my brother started playing the guitar.  I remember so clearly listening to him on my dad's Gibson Firebird electric six-string strumming out "On Top of old Smokey".  This was the first song he learned, if memory serves.

My dad taught him the basics and then Zandy took off.  He would spend hours and hours in his room every day playing the guitar.  By the time he was 15 or 16, he was really good.  One of my favorite things to do was to knock on his door, sit on his floor and watch him play.  I did it a lot and I loved it.  I don't really remember talking to him much during this time, just listening and occasionally singing along with something.

I brought my guitar (that I'm not very good at... YET!) over to my parents house when he and his family were here for New Year's a couple weeks ago.  He picked it up and tuned it and, in spite of not playing this song for a long time, whipped out a little Auld Lang Syne to ring in the New Year.   

He's pretty amazing.  You can imagine, with just a bit of practice, he plays this flawlessly and it's still one of my favorite things to sit and listen to him playing the guitar.

♥ Love you, Z.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Regarding Rice

There are two types of people in this world.  Those who can cook rice, and those who can't.

I don't understand why this is so, but it is.

I sit in the camp of those who can. I make it in a pot on the stove.  I have a friend who can make rice, but cannot fathom the idea of making it in a pot on the stove.  She once asked me how it was possible to cook rice without a rice cooker.

I don't get it.

My darling Dustin is of the other camp.  The non-rice cookers.

Tonight he inadvertently made rice soup.  I blew my top* and got irrationally, insanely, and ridiculously upset about the incident.  I sloshed the rice-soup out of the pot onto the stove and splashed it up onto the wall because I was stirring it with a mad fury that was indescribable.  I felt like a volcano with no control over my emotions.  A part of my brain was still rational. Every time Mr. Rational tried to pipe up and talk it out with Psychosis, Psychosis would turn into that Venom thing on Spiderman 3 and annihilate the genteel Mr. Rational who was just trying to smooth things over.

image source

I did actually get calmed down after the rice debacle and even had some drop-in house guests with whom I sat and visited congenially with for quite a few minutes.

But just a short half hour later, Psychosis was back at it and I found myself jumping up and down like a three year old, followed by a slammed door and an ear-piercing scream that left my throat hurting for the next several hours.

So, yeah.  Not really my best day today.

But, I can cook rice.

*CSI was called in and they dusted for prints.  PMS was reportedly on the scene tonight and had a hand in said events.  

Monday, January 14, 2013


This is the third post I've tried to start today and each potential post had a different topic. 

I'm rusty. 

I'm not used to molding these thoughts of mine into words anymore, and, to be frank, it pisses me off.  Can't I just be that writer-girl again?  Why does telling you a story about the magical moment I had today watching my twelve-year-old son be enamored and charmed by my sleeping almost three-year-old daughter feel like I'm wrestling a mountain goat?

It was this beautiful moment.  I had these thoughts, watching him, about the wonder and mystery of seeing your child for the first time.  

I could see, as I so often do, the man that this boy will become. But this time, I saw not only his physical appearance, but also the fierce qualities that he possesses tamed and tempered by some tiny human that will come into his life and change it forever.  I saw him as a daddy as he, smiling to himself, watched the prostrate and snoozing Brynja.

He stroked her face with his finger and he'd laugh to himself as she shook off his attentions while remaining asleep.  He must have shifted her into some other phase of her sleep cycle because she started stirring and he tilted his head in admiration as she reached around blindly trying to find her binky.  At this point I shooed him away because I was not ready for her to wake yet.  He moved back a yard or so and watched her with a moony-eyed look on his face as she fell back into a deeper place of sleep. 

It was so darling, and I felt like I caught a glimpse of his future.  I seem to be doing that a lot lately as I watch him moving through this world, living these brief moments of his life.  It catches me off guard and I stand in wonder of who this man-child is at a soul level and who he is becoming. 

He is beautiful, this boy of mine. 

Mac with his new cousin, July 4, 2012.
Mac, Nov. 2, 2012

And... I did it.  I wrote about my moment. 

Maybe I just had to get pissed off enough to pull down some of those walls.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012, In Review

So far, in our blogging DUEL, I think Lynsey is winning.  I had the first slash, but she parried with an awesomely long and awesomely awesome post about her year in review. 

I'm going to pretend I know stuff about DUELing and say that I'm now going to use the mirror technique.  (Does that sound official)  But my mirror will be hazy.  She was much more eloquent and verbose in her review.  Mine will be short and picture-free.  Sorry.  Beyond my capacity at this moment. (Short and short... that's kinda like Lynsey.  I heard she's four-foot somethin'.)

Here goes....

Dear 2012,

I liked you. 

Here are the highlights: 

In January, I had a dinner party AT MY HOUSE for 12 people.  This is a big deal if you know about my issues with people coming into my physical space.  It scares me.  But I did it and felt very successful and happy with the way it all went.  And I made Beef Barely soup, which is my favorite.  AND Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, which was everyone else's favorite. 

On this same day in January, I was a goober and ran my battery dead in my car and discovered this about 25 minutes before I was supposed to get my kids from the bus stop.  I put the jumper cables on the other car (van), started it and hooked it up (but not until I managed to turn my car around in my driveway... no small feat) and then went inside to let it charge for the next 20 minutes while I made soup for the party. 

When I got out to un-jumper the cars, I tried the dead car first and discovered that it did not charge after all.  I was annoyed but was just going to drive my van and wait to jump the other car.  I got in my van and discovered, to my horror, that the van was dead too.  I didn't know why at the time, but it turned out that the alternator decided to die right then and so it ended up just sucking the battery all the way down.

I was supposed to get my kids in 5 minutes.  I cried.  I cursed.  My friends saved the day.  The End.

February brought the loss of my beautiful maternal grandmother.  I already wrote once-upon-a-time about the wild adventures of driving to Texas with my dad to attend her funeral and to be with my beloved family.  If you recall, there was another alternator escapade on the drive home.  Not my favorite part of the trip.

Miss you, Grandma. 

In March, Dustin and I went to Provo, UT for a week-long karate course.  We were instructed on kicking for days on end and, if you can imagine, this makes one's legs rather sore.  The instructor was a man by the name of Mark Hallum from the United Kingdom.  It was a good week. 

This month also brought us a celebration in the form of Miss Brynja's 2nd birthday.  I got her a toy that she's played with 2.5 times in the past year.  It was a good investment. 

But seriously, Brynja is the delight of the household.  She's affectionate and darling and she's doted upon by all members of the family.  It's hard to fathom my reluctance to bring her into this world.  But I didn't know her then, so I'll forgive myself that.

March also brought the tenancy-termination of the Tenants From Hell.  And there was much rejoicing.  Until I told them that there was no way they were getting their deposit back because of the disasterous state they left the apartment.  There was much weeping (on my part because of their nastiness), wailing (on their part... biggest whiners EVER) and gnashing of teeth (on both our parts, I would imagine).  We then spent the next several weeks cleaning and repairing their damages.  Many books were listened to through the magic of audiobook-online-checkout from my local libray. ♥

April found me driving cross-country, or more accurately, across two state lines with one of my best friends, Maria, and an almost-perfect stranger named Alex (female) to see the amazing Gotye in concert in Denver, CO.  We stayed overnight at my aunt's house and ate gluten-free amazingness cooked by said aunt.  The concert was mind-blowing and we returned home the next day, making the total trip time 39 hours, 24 of which were spent in the car.  A good time was had by all.

This was also the month that I got my apartment re-rented and my sister's house (that I've been managing for the past two years) was vacated by the best tenant in rental history.  Or close too it, anyway.

April also brought my brother and his wife their first baby... cutest little squirt EVER!  (almost as cute as my kids...) This was an exciting event and my bro. and his wife are still recovering their equilibrium.  ;-)  Adventures in Parenthood!

May is always a welcome month.  We celebrated the birth of two of our adorable offspring, Rohan (7) and Ella, (10) and I am ashamed to say that I can't recall what we did nor the gifts we gave them.  Oh, wait.... it's coming.  A watch for Ella.  No friend party this year... nor for Rohan.  Rohan's gift... was... .....        ...........................   ...................................................  nope.  I got nothin'.  Sorry Rohboy.

I spent a lot of May showing my sister's house and seeking after tenants of excellence.  They were found. 

May also brought the conclusion of school, which is always a thrill.

I got sick this month and when I was coughing very hard, I threw out my back and became next-to-useless for about three weeks.  It really sucked.

I almost forgot.  In May, I was privileged to attend the wedding of my incredible aunt Devan in Houston, TX.  This time we sucked it up and flew there.  It was much more... palatable.. than driving for 28 hours..  The wedding was amazing... on a bay in the Gulf of Mexico.  Great company, beautiful bride, delish food.   Awesomeness.

In June, we had ANOTHER tenant move out and had to spend some time fixing things and redoing things on the other side of the duplex.  It was good. 

Other than that, I have no idea.  I  didn't write stuff down for the month of June and apparently did not do anything that impacted my memory-brain-cells significantly.

In July, we traveled to Salt Lake City to my cousin, Britney's, wedding reception.  Also, Mac had a week of Ballroom Dance Camp and  week of Scout Camp.  I'm also showing a dentist appt. on my calendar.  Isn't that a thrill?!  (no cavities!)

Our darling eldest child, Mac, turned 12(!) in the lovely month of July.  He's growing so tall (taller than me as of November!) it's freaking me right out.  He's got shadows above the corners of his upper lip.  Shadows, as in darkening, lengthening hair... as in WHISKERS.  How am I this old?  I don't understand.

August is my birthday month and I planned my own party this year.  A party for two.  My friend Maria and I went to Salt Lake City to see the musical Wicked.  I've wanted to see this forever so I was so thrilled to go.  It was a great weekend of shopping, musicals and Parading through Homes.

August also found Mac at another dance camp.  All of my children went camping to Yellowstone National Park with my in-laws.  This left Dustin, Brynja and I together for a couple days in the Bear Lake area where Dustin was working out of town.  We hiked and waded in sand on the beaches of Bear Lake.  Dreamy.

On August 7th, I wrote down the following Rohanism on the calendar. It would appear that we were having a conversation about my Grandma Carol because Rohan said, "Ella... Gramma Carol is with Christ and all those other dead people."  I ♥ Roh. 

And August was the end of piano lessons for Ella and Rohan because their adorable teacher got married and moved to Utah.  Ella was brokenhearted.  Rohan, not so much.  We have yet to find a new teacher.  Any locals know one?

SEPTEMBER.  That's all capsy-boldy because September was a big deal in my life.

September was, first of all, the month my son shed his elementary school skin and officially became a Jr. High Schooler.  That was exciting.  I can't believe how big and grown-up he is looking.  It seems like, when you're in the midst of the day to day raising of your children, this day will never come.  Your child will never become a man, grow whiskers, broaden shoulders, or bass-up his voice.  Well, I realize I'm not quite there on all counts, but I'm watching it happen before my eyes.  It's like he changes daily.  It's marvelous and frightening all at the same time.  He's a great kid.

Ella started 5th grade at the third school of her career (and no, we've never moved in the school years, I just have school A.D.D.  Mac is on his 5th school...) and Rohan, 2nd grade.  (Rohan has actually never changed schools.  Yet.)  They're all doing great and changing and growing so beautifully.

I got my vacant apartment rented this month too.  Happydance.

For Dustin and I, September marked the biggest adventure of our lives, thus far.  (aside from the whole raising kids thing.)  On the 11th of September we flew over the big blue ocean, Dustin air-sick the whole way, and landed in Vaasa, Finland.  We did karate there for five days, saw some awesome things and got to know some AMAZING people.  Then we flew to Stockholm, Sweden and stayed for three days playing tourist and marveling at the coolness of another culture (and marveling at how expensive food was over there!)

I've talked a little about this trip, but as I've had more time to process, I think traveling to Europe changed me in more ways than I realized.  I'll have to dedicate a post to this subject, but I'll just say that I feel like my capacity and awareness was expanded from this trip.  Amazing.

October was the month of rentals.  Again. And dipping pretzels.  I had ANOTHER tenant move out of my duplex at the very first of this month (the ones who had just moved in the previous April...) and then one more move out from my little house at the end of this month.  Crapcakes.

We also re-roofed half of the duplex which was a HUGE job and took weeks.  We did it ourselves (of course... we like to do things the hard way.  READ: the cheap way) and it turned out great, but, boyohboy, it was a lot of work.

Halloween was a blur.  I kinda forget what my kids even were.  Oh yes.  Ella-pirate.  Mac-80s punk rocker.  Rohan-Scream ghost thing (NOT the normal kind of costume for me, but it was the dream of his heart for two years and so, I acquiesced and he was SO thrilled), Brynja-Monarch Butterfly Fairy... darling.

November was more pretzel-dipping and a trip to see my sister and her family in the beautiful Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.  My little nephew, William, got baptized and the kids, my parents and I drove up to witness and celebrate.  It was a lovely, if quick, trip and I miss my Wheeler's like crazy.  We got a bonus on the trip and got to see my friend Rachel and her family too!  They drove down from Sandpoint, ID where they've lived for the last 18 months(?) and we had a great time visiting, walking down misty lake shore paths, acting like 6 year olds on playground equipment and eating great pizza with 73 children talking loudly around us.

Of course, November was also Thanksgiving and a touch of Black Friday shopping for me, as well as a release from my 7.5 year position as Choir Director at church.  Wow.

December was probably the most relaxed December I've had in years.  I've always, for the last many years, had the choir Christmas program to do and this year, I didn't.  It was also a slower pretzel year.  And a slower Clancy year.  I let go of many things that I used to think were important.  It was more low-key... still busy, but not a "KILL ME NOW" kind of busy.   ♥

So, that was not so short as I expected, but still no pics.  Pics just aren't my thing.  But we all know that already, right?  Right.

I'll hit the PUBLISH button now and I say again, Lynsey.... EN GARDE!    (I just learned that we've been spelling this wrong as I looked up fencing terms... doh!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dead in the Water

I once read somewhere that you're not supposed to mention your blog on your blog... or something.  It seems like it was C.Jane that said it, but I can't be sure.  That sentiment is always in the back of my head when I post stuff like, "Hi.  I forgot I had a blog." or "Remember me?  I'm Clancy's Blog!" or, "My blog floats like a dead fish in a cold, cold lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota."   Maybe I shouldn't be saying such things?  Bad blogging ettiquette?  Que sera sera.  (On a sidenote, I hear Doris Day's voice every time I hear that phrase.  Only just now did I realize she was speaking Spanish.  Or was she?  Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

"The popularity of the song has led to curiosity about the origins of the saying and the identity of its language. The answer is not simple. It is a centuries-old saying used mainly by English-speaking people. In linguistic terms, "Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡" – in the form in which Livingston and Evans adopted it – is a hybrid expression made by superimposing Spanish words on English syntax (somewhat in the way that "Long time no see" consists of English words superimposed on Chinese syntax)." 

Hmm.  Thanks, Wikipedia!  And thanks for bearing with my through my commuters'-nightmare-train-of-thoughts.)

So, it's late... shocking?  Not really.  What IS shocking is how I'm finding out that in my mid-thirties, it actually IS harder to stay up late and harder to function the next day when I do.  1 a.m. is the new 2 a.m. in my world. Anyway... it's late.  So, I will just tell you the #1 reason I'm writing right now. 

The great Lynsey has challenged me to a blogging duel.  I don't know what this means exactly, but I accepted the challenge because I want to write.  I don't know how to make myself any other way at this point, so here I am.  One of a pair of combatants in a BLOGGING DUEL!

So... ON GUARD, Lynsey!!