My life in books

ALA recently announced the winners of children’s and YA book awards, and it got me thinking about all the books I loved as a kid.

monsterendGrowing up with three older sisters, who were much older than me (seven, eleven, and twelve years older), books were read to me since the day I came home from the hospital. My sister Tammy is probably the best book reader, especially when she read The Monster at the End of this Book. She has Grover’s voice down and the more scared he got with the prospect of a monster at the end of the book, the more scared she sounded.

FrogandtoadBut it wasn’t just Grover. We had an overflowing bookshelf of books that I grew up with, as my dad said about me, “You were always up in your room reading.” I re-read books until the pages fell apart. Frog and Toad were my good friends. I had tea with Frances. And all the Sweet Pickles animals taught me things, though I probably should’ve read Yakety Yak Yak Yak a few more times.

bfgBy the time I got to 2nd grade, one of my favorite books was The BFG. I don’t remember the name of my 2nd grade teacher (Mrs. Dixon, maybe?), but she read The BFG to us in class, and I was so proud that I had already read it and that I had my own copy of the book I could bring to class and read along with her. The story of Sophie and bone-crunching giants and snozzcumbers fascinated me, but I just really wanted the BFG to come blow dreams into my bedroom window at night.

ramonaI read a lot of other chapter books when I was young, too, like the Encyclopedia Brown books, a ton of different Choose Your Own Adventure books, and I loved Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, but if I had to pick chapter books that I read again and again and again, there are just two authors you need to know – Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.

I wanted to be Ramona Quimby. She was ballsy, up for anything, and she’d get in trouble, but she always had the best of intentions. Well, almost always.

And who didn’t love Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Blubber? And what girl didn’t whisper to other girls about Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? or Forever? Judy Blume told us about bullying and made us sympathize. Judy Blume told us things adults shied away from telling us and she didn’t make them scary.

I still read quite a few young adult books, and some middle grade books, too, because there are still great stories being published. And now, it’s time for me to dive into one. I hope Dumplin’ holds up to all the praise.

Book review roundup

Here are some of my most recent book reviews. There are some great books here and some that everyone besides me seems to love.

life-after-life-185x280Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I just finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and now I’m sitting here saying, “So what? What was the point of that?” You’re forewarned: this contains a lot of spoilers.

Life After Life follows the many lives of Ursula Todd, and when I say “many” I mean many. Does she die 30 times? 40? …continue reading

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffIlluminae Ray V6FrontOnlyA2A_V3.indd

I absolutely love well done epistolary novels, those told through letters, reports, chat transcripts, newspaper clippings, etc. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is one of these novels.

The year is 2575 and widespread space travel, through the use of black holes, is commonplace. …continue reading

undermajordomominor-185x280Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

I have been staring at a blank screen for fifteen minutes, not knowing how to start writing about Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt. I loved deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, a fabulous western with a riveting main character, and though Undermajordomo Minor had a completely different setting, I hoped to read another unforgettable story. What I didn’t expect to find was a lack of character development and a colossal jump the shark moment that ruined everything. …continue reading

undertowmichaelbuckleyUndertow by Michael Buckley

Undertow: racism and segregation through the lens of merpeople.

Okay, it’s not that profound, but one can’t help but think of Civil Rights-era school segregation while reading Michael Buckley’s Undertow.

Lyric Walker was a typical teenager until the Alphas moved to town. …continue reading

thelibraryatmountchar-185x280The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

I tend to devour any book that includes librarian characters, but the librarians in The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins are nothing like my kind of librarian. These librarians devour literature, but the kind that teaches them to bend time, bring people back from the dead, and engage in military strategy. …continue reading

welcometonightvale-185x280

 

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Full disclosure: I have never listened to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I tune out things like podcasts, talk radio, and audiobooks, so I’m not part of Serial and Welcome to Night Vale obsessions. After reading the Welcome to Night Vale book, I’m completely content not being part of the obsession.

Welcome to Night Vale is simply a mish mash of idiotic, ridiculous situations in a southwest town. …continue reading

2016 books

The Readers’ Advisory course I’ve taught for the last three years is moving to every other year, so the course won’t be offered this year but will be back in 2017. While I love teaching this course, by not teaching it this year do you know what that means? I can read whatever the hell I want this year.

I read a lot of what I want even when I do teach the course, but I always have to read more in genres that aren’t my favorite. See ya later romance and detective mysteries.

So with me diving into books I’m excited about, these are the ones coming out in 2016 that I’ve got my eye on.

BOOKS IN A SERIES

cityofmirrosThe City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

This is the final book in The Passage trilogy that I have loved. I wrote about book one and book two in the past and I’ve been patiently awaiting this book for four years. I’m really looking forward to this one, even though I’m kind of hazy on the previous two. I’ll have to find a good synopsis to catch me up again. Damn those series.

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. SchwabA Gathering of Shadows Final

This is the second book in V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series. I never wrote about A Darker Shade of Magic, but it’s a fabulous book involving four different Londons and magical people who can move between all four worlds. There’s fun magic in the book, great power struggles between worlds, and some serious attitude. I can’t wait to see what happens in this one.

laststarThe Last Star by Rick Yancey

Another series finale I’m really looking forward to is the last in the 5th Wave series. I liked the first book, but I loved the second book. I never wrote about the second book but it was way better than the first, probably because it didn’t follow Cassie as much in the second. Secondary characters became more pronounced and they were way more intriguing. I have no idea where this one will end.

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malleystiletto

This is the second book in The Checquy Files and I loved the first book. I described the first book as if Mulder and Scully had a baby with Jason Bourne and the X-Men. Myfawny Thomas is the main character who woke up not knowing who she is but soon finding out she works in a secret society that tracks down supernatural creatures in the UK. It was just so much fun and I’m thrilled we’ll be able to visit this world again.

morningstarMorning Star by Pierce Brown

This is the final book in the Red Rising trilogy. I really liked the first two books, and I’m in awe of the fabulous world building, so what I’m most looking forward to is to find out what this war will do to this world and who will come out on top. I have my fingers crossed for Darrow, our bottom dweller Red who’s sticking it to the Golds.


ALL THE OTHER BOOKS

And now, for books that I know nothing about but that sound super good.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvelsleepinggiants

This is an epistolary book, the first in a series, and I’m totally intrigued. Just check out this from the description:

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code.

Yes, please!

fellsideFellside by M. R. Carey

I loved Carey’s 2014 debut The Girl with All the Gifts, so no matter what this story is about I’m in. Although it sounds good, too:

Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to end up. But it’s where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It’s a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

What’s the message?! We’ll have to wait for April to find out.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Andersallthebirds

From the editor-in-chief of io9 comes an apocalyptic tale that includes magic of some sort? There is a time machine at some point, then later there is the global climate crisis and magicians who want to help solve it? I don’t fully understand the description, but I do love a good apocalyptic story.

everyheartEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

This description also is a little vague, but it involves an underground world that sucks up children, magic, and a girl who comes back from the world and wants to go back, but there’s trouble all around her. It’s something like that. I don’t know a lot about it, but I’ve heard a lot of buzz, so I want to check it out.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelthex

I ran across this book on a Barnes & Noble list of 2016 releases, and I laughed when I read that a 17th century witch holds a town hostage. That’s pretty much all I had read to know I wanted to check it out, but it also didn’t hurt to know that this was a bestseller in the Netherlands and is finally being translated for us. I’m interested to see if I agree with the Dutch.

So, yes, that’s a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, with a little bit of horror, but I said I wanted to read 76 books this year for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, so there will be plenty of other books, too. I really need to catch up on a lot of things I missed in the last few years, but these are the ones I won’t miss in 2016.

Happy reading!

New Year’s Resolution

new-years-day-1062608_1280It’s 2016!

I never thought I’d say a year so high. When I was a young kid in the 80s, there’s no way I ever thought I’d see 2016. Not that I thought I wouldn’t make it there, but it seemed so incredibly far off that it was not in the realm of possibility. Well, welcome to the future.

Since I’m living in the future, I should really take more advantage of our technology and things like this blog. Hence we get to my New Year’s Resolution – blog more.

When my dad died a year and a half ago, a lot of things stopped for me, or at least slowed down. I couldn’t read a book for about six months after he died. It was the weirdest feeling, but I just couldn’t concentrate enough to do it. I also inched along when it came to other things, too, like exercise, hanging out with friends, writing, and this blog. Although, to be fair, I didn’t blog much before he died, but after he died it pretty much stopped completely. I stopped.

But I’m doing much better. This doesn’t mean I still don’t cry and don’t wallow from time to time, but my life is getting more back to some sort of normal and it’s time to start talking about it.

Welcome 2016. I hope to blog in you more.

Readers’ Advisory book lists

Tomorrow my Readers’ Advisory course begins, making this the third time I will teach this course at St. Kate’s. What librarian could say no to teaching a fun course all about books and reading?

Because I try to pick pretty current books, people always ask me for my book lists, the many books my students will read in the course. Here are my lists for last year’s class and this year’s. (Students read two books in each category.)

2014 Book ListShiningGirls

Literary Fiction
Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
The Heist by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg – mystery
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes – suspense
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – mystery/detective
Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis – cozy mystery
Cell by Robin Cook – thriller

Historical Fiction
The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye – late 19th century/early 20th century MN
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – saga/U.S. 19th century
I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe – romantic historical/U.S. Civil War
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – WWII Germany/ParisNearToYou
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris – historical thriller/19th century Paris

Fantasy
The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley – epic fantasy
Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey – mystery
Kabu-Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor – short stories
Written in Red by Anne Bishop – paranormal/urban
Vicious by V. E. Schwab – superhero

Science Fiction
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – space opera
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – alternate history
Red Rising by Pierce Brown – dystopian
Influx by Daniel Suarez – techno thriller
Defenders by Will McIntosh – aliens

Graphic Novel
Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang (2 books) – historical/fantasyHellfighters
Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges – memoir
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Fornay – memoir
Attack on Titan 1 by Hajime Isayama – manga
Attack on Titan 2 by Hajime Isayama – manga
The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks – historical
Goddamn This War! by Jacques Tardi – historical
Hinterkind, Vol. 1: The Waking World by Ian Edginton – fantasy
Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian Vaughan – fantasy
Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin by Geoff Johns – superhero
Batman/Superman, Vol. 1: Cross World by Greg Pak – superhero

Romance/Women’s Fiction
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan – contemporary romance
Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins – contemporary romance
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare – regency romance
The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle – women’s fiction/issue-driven
The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi – women’s fiction/family fictionHitler

YA Crossover
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick – contemporary
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – fantasy
More Than This by Patrick Ness – science fiction
Cy in Chains by David L. Dudley – historical fiction
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Gardner Berry – mystery

Nonfiction
The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber – narrative nonfiction
Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower – history/WWII
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward – memoir
Gulp by Mary Roach – microhistory/science
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull – business

2015 Book List

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Rose Gold by Walter Mosley – mystery/private investigator
Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis – cozy mysteryGirlTrain
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – thriller
The Stranger by Harlan Coben – suspense

Literary Fiction
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Historical Fiction
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – WWII Germany & France
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman – early 20th century New York
The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman – late 18th century England
West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan – 1930s Hollywood

Romance/Women’s Fiction
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev – contemporary romanceBollywood
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare – regency romance
The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes – women’s fiction/historical
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman – women’s fiction/short stories/historical
The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi – women’s fiction/issue-driven

Fantasy
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab – alternate/parallel worlds
The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley – epic fantasy
Written in Red by Anne Bishop – paranormal/urban
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – mystery/urban

Science Fiction
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – space opera
The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey – post-apocalypticBunker
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – time travel-ish
Lock In by John Scalzi – mystery

Young Adult Crossover
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – contemporary
More Than This by Patrick Ness – science fiction
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley – historical fiction
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks – psychological thriller
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black – fantasy

Nonfiction
Dead Wake by Erik Larson – narrative nonfiction
Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization by Andrew Lawler – microhistory
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward – memoir
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe – science/humorMarch

Graphic Novel
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast – memoir
Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson – superhero
Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder – superhero
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen – fantasy
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan – fantasy
March: Book One AND March: Book Two by John Robert Lewis – historical/biographical
Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 AND Vol. 2 by Hajime Isayama – manga

Happy reading!

Miss you, dad

dadI haven’t written anything here in a long time, and part of that is because I was busy planning for and teaching the Readers’ Advisory course at St. Kate’s, but the biggest reason is that my dad unexpectedly died in the middle of the summer. I haven’t wanted to write anything here until I wrote about what happened, and it’s been hard to bring myself to do that.

When I say my dad unexpectedly died, it’s really true. It was a complete shock to us. He didn’t have a deadly disease. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t battling anything other than high blood pressure and aches and pains having to do with arthritis and his knees. It’s still hard to talk about what happened because we’re still so unsure about what caused his death.

This is kind of a long story, but enough people have wondered what happened, and it’s hard to tell the story without crying, so here goes.

On Friday, June 27, I went to my parent’s place because my mom and I were going to go to a play on Saturday evening at Theatre L’Homme Dieu. My sister Tammy and her husband Dean were also visiting that weekend and that night we had a great time playing cards. One of my favorite things to do with my family is play cards, especially Up and Down the River, and we played multiple games of that on Friday, staying up until 11:30.

My dad seemed perfectly fine that night, joking with us as he always did, even though he didn’t win at cards, which was rare. Going to bed that evening nothing was off, nothing was suspect. We all went to bed like normal, expecting nothing out of the ordinary.

At about 3:30 a.m., I was woken up by my dad screaming. I hopped out of bed and went into his room where he was sitting on the side of the bed, asking who was in the house. I tried calming him down telling him that it was just me and that no one was there. I even went into the dining room area and turned on the light to show him that no one was there. My mom said that he often had night terrors and that this was probably one of them, but then I noticed his pillow was completely wet, that he had woken up sweating, and it sounded like he was having trouble breathing. I asked him some questions and he seemed a little bit delirious, so I went to get Tammy and Dean. Dean used to be a first responder, so I wanted to grab them before calling 911 to see if they knew what might be wrong.

Not long after they came upstairs we called 911 because he was having trouble standing and breathing. They did take his blood pressure and it was fine, but there was enough wrong with him that we called 911.

When you live in the country, the ambulance is not the first to arrive. The people who arrive first are volunteer first responders who also live in the country or in the nearby small towns, so cars and pick up trucks started pulling into the driveway within 10 minutes. And my dad, like he always did, was joking with the people he knew saying things like, “Oh, no, they sent you to help me?!”

The first responders gave my dad oxygen, and after that he seemed so much better. So much so that by the time the ambulance arrived we all said we were wondering whether we should call it off, but we didn’t say anything and dad just said, “I guess I’m going for a ride,” as he hopped on the ambulance bed. He told us he’d see us at the hospital, but we didn’t realize those were the last words we’d hear him speak.

We didn’t go in the ambulance with him, but instead we took two cars – my mom was with me in mine, and Tammy and Dean were in theirs. Tammy and Dean beat us to the hospital, and when my mom and I were walking into the emergency room a “Code Blue” was broadcast over the speakers. When we got to the waiting room with Tammy and Dean we started talking about how we’d be waiting a long time because they were going to take care of the “Code Blue” patient before they got to my dad. There were three ambulances that arrived at the same time, so we assumed it had to be someone else who was having the “Code Blue.” My dad was joking with the first responders and seemed perfectly fine when he got into the ambulance, so it couldn’t be him.

It was him.

About 45 minutes after we arrived a doctor came into the waiting room telling us, “Well, we almost lost him.” The shock on our faces is something I’ll never forget. I think one of us said, “Wait, you’re talking to LeRoy Suchy’s family,” because we were certain he wasn’t talking to the right people. He had to have been accidentally giving us bad news when it was clearly meant for someone else. My dad was fine.

The doctor told us that my dad arrived at the hospital with a face as purple as the shirt I was wearing. He wasn’t breathing. They were able to help him and he was stable, but my dad was really strong and when he was coming to he was fighting them so they had to sedate and paralyze him. The doctor told us my dad’s blood pressure was good, the oxygen levels in his system were good, and he didn’t have a pulmonary embolism. He said he wasn’t sure exactly what caused it, but that they were moving my dad up to ICU and he’d probably be in the hospital for a few days.

So we were given bad news, but it ended on somewhat of a good note hearing that he’d be in the hospital for a few days. I was still nervous, but comforted thinking that there was an ending to this. That in three days we’d be taking care of him at his house.

We were told that he’d be moved into ICU in a half hour, and about a half hour later we heard another “Code Blue.” Panic set in, but my sister asked the woman sitting at the desk in the ER if the “Code Blue” was for my dad. She eased our panic because she said that LeRoy Suchy had been moved up to ICU so it couldn’t be him.

We made our way up to ICU and when we got there they wouldn’t let us in. That should’ve been a sign, but we didn’t recognize it as one at the time. They told us that they just didn’t have LeRoy ready yet so we should sit in the waiting room and they’ll come get us soon. We made our way to the waiting room and Tammy and Dean decided they should go get us some food. They got on the elevator to make their way to a gas station to get coffee, juice, and donuts, and almost as soon as the elevator door closed a doctor came into the waiting room.

As the doctor was talking, I texted Tammy to come back instantly because the news was bad. The doctor told us that my dad wasn’t going to survive in the Alexandria hospital. He wasn’t sure what was causing his body to stop breathing, but my dad had another “Code Blue” and there wasn’t much more they could do for him. He said it may be heart-related, and we could airlift him to the St. Cloud hospital for more help, but he most likely wouldn’t survive the helicopter ride. We were given the option between bad and bad.

We asked the doctor what he would do, and he said he’d get him on the helicopter, so we did. My dad had another “Code Blue” before they got him on the helicopter, and to even get him on the helicopter they had to have a machine attached to him that pumped his chest up and down. I wish I hadn’t seen that machine, because seeing it I really had no hope at that point. We all said that when we saw the machine attached to him to help him breathe, we wanted to stop them, to tell them not to take him to St. Cloud, that we would just be around him at the hospital when he passed. But it all happened so fast. We really didn’t know what to do at that point. With the doctor saying he’d get him on the helicopter, and a woman telling us that he was good as she was pushing him towards the helicopter, we remained silent and watched it happen.

I don’t have regrets about getting him on the helicopter, though. If there was a slight chance we could’ve helped him, we were going to take it, even if we didn’t have much hope left. I would’ve lived with a lot of regret if we didn’t try, so I don’t have to live with that regret. Not trying would’ve haunted me my whole life.

He did die on the helicopter. He didn’t survive the flight, but at least we got him on the helicopter. My dad liked helicopter rides, so he got a send off flying high in the skies.

When we got to the St. Cloud hospital, the doctor told us they still didn’t know what was causing him from not being able to breathe, but that it did start in his lungs. There was something in his lungs that was causing him from having trouble breathing, and with trouble breathing, he couldn’t get enough oxygen to the rest of his body and his other organs started shutting down. The doctor said the only way we’d know what caused this was if we had an autopsy, and my mom started laughing. She said, “Ha! He’d hate it if I had you poke around in there, so no, we don’t want an autopsy.” We all started laughing because he would’ve hated that, but it is hard not knowing what happened.

The doctor said it may have even been pneumonia, and when we said he wasn’t coughing or having any other symptoms, he said pneumonia can actually be a silent killer. People associate coughing and other symptoms with pneumonia, but one does not have to have those symptoms, which is why it’s so key that older people get pneumonia shots. My dad did have his pneumonia shots, but they’re just like flu shots – you can still get pneumonia.

But it may not have been pneumonia. The doctor wasn’t quite sure, so we aren’t either, and it really doesn’t matter. Something took my dad from me on June 28, 2014, and I really miss him.

As I type this I’m watching Andy Griffith episodes. I grew up watching Andy Griffith episodes with my dad, and to this day Barney Fife is still my favorite television character of all time. I have watched Andy Griffith episodes my whole life and I always think about my dad when I do. I would even call my dad to tell him when a good episode was on, like the pickle one, or the one where Opie throws a tantrum, or the one with the lady convicts, or the one my dad loved where Rafe Hollister (actor Jake Prince) sings. My dad really liked all the episodes where there was singing, whether it was from Andy, Rafe Hollister, the Darlings (bluegrass band The Dillards), or even when Barney attempted to sing, like that great choir episode. I would always call him when I saw one of those episodes was on so he wouldn’t miss it. I sure do miss calling him.

I’ll miss many things about my dad. I’ll miss playing cards, where he almost always won. I’ll miss poking and prodding him every year about what he was getting mom for Christmas, because he said they didn’t need anything, though as stubborn as he was, he’d always come around and ask me to get something. I’ll miss his sense of humor about any and everything. He always looked for a joke in any situation, which leaves us with a lot of memories where we laugh.

Though we often still cry through the laughter. I know that will change. I know there will be a time when I can tell this story and wonderful stories about his life where all I’ll do is smile and reminisce, but that time isn’t here yet. I’m not sure when that time will come, but for now, I’m okay that I’m crying as I write this and that I can’t get through certain Andy Griffith episodes without tears running down my face.

Just know that I loved my dad very much and I miss him. It aches how much I miss him. I wish you could’ve all known him because you most certainly would’ve loved him, too.

They say it’s your birthday

bday cardI am now officially closer to 40 than 30. I’m in my late 30s. Late 30s. Ouch.

It’s not that 40 is old. 40 is practically the new 20, isn’t that what they say? Every so often I think, “I still feel like I’m 25,” until I’m actually around 25-year-olds and I realize I am so not 25.

With my sisters all in their 40s, some of them close to 50, I know that 40 isn’t old. 50 isn’t old. Hell, 60 doesn’t sound old to me. It’s just that I can now see 40 from where I sit and I don’t know how I got here. I’m close to 40? How did I get to be close to 40? Isn’t my mom still 40?

Even though I’m still trying to accept my age, I rang in my birthday in a great way. My oldest sister was going to come visit me and we were going to go to a comedy club with two of my friends. Well, we did go to a comedy club with two of my friends, but my sister surprised me by bringing my two other sisters and my mom with her. I went to open my door expecting one sister and all of them were there.

I don’t do surprises well. Well, it’s not that I don’t do them well, but I wish I handled them in a much cooler way. I’m the one who is so charmed and overwhelmed by the surprise that I cry. I got an award from the president of the Minnesota Library Association and I cried. An ex-co-worker told me when I left that if I ever needed a reference he would tell anyone how amazing I was. I walked away so he wouldn’t see me cry. And when my sisters and mom surprised me for my birthday, I cried.

We went to the Chatterbox Pub, had pizza and beer, played games, and then we headed to the comedy club with my friends and laughed the night away. It was a pretty good way to ring in my birthday, but I’m still closer to 40 than 30. Sigh.

(Picture = a birthday card from a friend. On the inside it read: “No reason. Happy birthday!”)