Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Knocking on Heaven's Door

It's a Tuesday evening and my husband and I are at The Paris Bistro on 15th Avenue to celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary. We're seated on the patio, next to a trio of musicians called St. Boheme playing songs from the film Amelie. I glance at my husband across the table and muse on the clever way time has of appearing both short and long at once. I have been married forever, and yet it feels like just yesterday that we were dressed in white and ushered into the Celestial Room of the Salt Lake Temple while we waited for our guests to filter into the sealing room. It feels like just yesterday, and yet it couldn't have been, because I was just three weeks past 20 and he was only 22 and we were both slender and slight and terribly naive. Certainly, we were nervous about the vows we were about to make, but we experienced a hushed moment of peace as we sat side by side, taking in the splendor of a room echoing the promise of paradise.

The story of Adam and Eve has a certain resonance with me, although the symbolism was doubtless lost on me on my wedding day. It is a wonder to me that a story that has been played out countless times throughout history can, for me, feel intensely novel. Still, becoming one flesh is sometimes a painful process. "Committed" can have certain unpleasant connotations. As I look at my husband on the eve of our anniversary, my mind floods with memories of our marriage - some good, some bad. I catch hold of one image in particular, a Sunday morning from the year we spent in London. We were sitting at the table in our studio apartment, listening to REM's "Nightswimming" on the laptop, our first child swimming in my belly. I rested my bare feet on my husband's lap as I skimmed through the pages of the Guardian. Pale sunlight streamed through the open window. We were in the midst of a bustling metropolis, and yet, within the thin, tiny walls of our apartment, we might as well have been in our own world.

"Do you ever wonder," my husband asks, "what you would have done if, you know..."

His voice trails off, but I can fill in the blank easily enough. Do I ever wonder what my life would have been like if we hadn't married that hot August day twelve years ago? Yes, I have wondered, and the answer comes easily enough.

"I'd work at a publishing house in New York," I say. "Or maybe L.A., Sydney."

"I'd sell flip-flops on the beach in Hawaii." My husband's answer is not surprising. We've discussed this before. After twelve years, we've discussed a lot of things.

We fall silent, listening to the otherworldly sound of the accordion. The musician has thick, black-rimmed glasses, a full beard, and a thin white shirt unbuttoned to his mid-chest. He is not your typical Utahn. I, however, am. There is nothing unexpected about the life I've chosen. Marriage. Motherhood. Mortgage. Minivan. There is nothing glamorous or astonishing about my life --- a fact I have to admit I've resented at times.

"Are you sorry?" My husband asks, seemingly reading my mind.

I think about all that I've experienced the past twelve years. I think about that English morning, unremarkable except for its immediate, enviable intimacy. No, mine is not the road less traveled by. But I have promises to keep, promises I made at twenty years old, when I was hardly more than a child. Promises that, if kept, may somehow, miraculously, lead me to heaven's door.


My husband graces me with a familiar smile, and we retreat into our own private Eden.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Memoirs of a Bad Dog

Saturday I made a trip to my mailbox and was thrilled to find the following item inside:

I first met Curtis Moser at the 2011 LDStorymakers Writing Conference. I was lucky to be assigned to the same Boot Camp group as he was. Right from the bat, I could tell that this guy knew a thing or two about writing. After the first participant read her first chapter for the group, we went around the table and each took a stab at offering some constructive criticism. Each of us offered some rather weak comments, but when we finally got to Curtis he whipped out a page of carefully written notes he had made during the reading. Each of us at that table were blessed with the feedback we received from Mr. Moser.

During that conference, Curtis also won the First Chapter Contest for the General Fiction category. Which, after having read the chapter in Boot Camp the previous day, was really no big surprise. After the conference, Curtis and I exchanged manuscripts and I was able to read the rest of the story.  Memoirs is the tale of Bogart, a Bassett Hound who finds himself in some deep doggy-do when he causes the death of his owner's father. That's right. You heard me. The protagonist in this story is a dog. But Curtis pulls it off beautifully, and after I completed the story I realized the genius of it. By exploring big themes like love, redemption, and morality through the eyes of a dog, Curtis manages to bypass being overly didactic and infuses the story with a healthy dose of humor.

Which brings me back to my mailbox. And, of course, you. Because Curtis has decided to self-publish this wonderful story. And, for a limited time, he is giving away electronic copies of the book. So do yourself a favor and visit his website for more details....