I love you.

I am forty-eight, and I have achieved a kind of balance where I can now tell my friends I love them.

It’s liberating and invigorating and a lot of other action verbs (gerunds, I think) and I’ve waited my entire life for the satisfaction of having friends– some who have known me for thirty years or more– to whom I can say, without hesitation, “I love you.”

Yes, we may accompany this with an awkward male hug or no hug at all, but it’s an unexpected benefit of aging that, up until recently, had been wholly unknown to me.

I anticipated the aches and pains, the, ahem, thickening around the midsection. The, ahem, lines of character, hard earned and now worn as an emblem of experience and a life well lived.

What I did not anticipate is what I’ve seen older men doing around me all my life. They are both sweeter– yes, sweeter– and meaner all at once, a contradiction I’d previously only found in childish candy and chocolate milk on the verge of spoilage. It’s a heady sensation to me, since I (among everyone who knows me) am most surprised to see myself here, on the cusp of fifty– happy, rich with friends, and able to put away the concerns of a younger man.

I think it’s the best of both worlds. In my mind, I am twenty-something, an impervious wall of the me I knew from mirrors long ago, but a construct; a thing that existed only at a glance.

I like this aspect of me a great deal more. My son senses it. My bride, too.

I think getting older means that going slower means we are free. Free to say things like I love you without irony or care.

I’m also closer to the senior discount at Denny’s, and yes, I will use it.

I’m a man!

 

Life Without Cookies

Or cake.

Or pie.

Or waffles, milk, flour, cheese, and joy, yes, there will be no joy, not in this house.

Bride is doing a really interesting thing known as the Whole Life Challenge. It’s kind of cool– focusing on better food, plenty of sleep ( a must!), stretching, meditation, and overall health.

In short, all the things we tend to ignore because of life, kids, spouses, bounty hunters, outstanding warrants, and existential crises. You know, the usual.

It has a lot of things to like in it– case in point, here’s a drink I would have never tried, but I did, and OH BOY is it good: Golden Latte Super Fancy Drink!

So here I am, day three without my usual inundation of junk food. I’m intensely curious to see what happens. I’m almost fifty— things start to break down. I’m no longer under warranty, so to speak, and one of the things that I hope to preserve is my mind. You know, no more ten minute search parties looking for my keys, or wallet, or sock, or shoes. Stuff like that.

I’ve written fifty thousand words in my current book, and this dietary change makes me ask the question: will I write better or more efficiently if I’m not standing at the sink, mindlessly chewing cookies like a very tall cow that wears underwear and a contented smile?

We shall see. I’m going to go two full weeks (also time to recover from the Man Flu, of course) and see what happens.

Between this, the pushups, and wearing a FitBit, I might not survive.

My newest addiction: Annie Chun

Before you think I’ve abandoned my wife for another woman, allow me to explain.

I am currently in the spicy, flavorful embrace of some magnificent hybrid between barbecue and hot sauces, known as Gochujang. In my mind, I may or may not be able to renounce it, but in my mouth, it sings.

I am currently eating lunch, which consists of mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, celery, and chicken. I cut these things up, added ginger, then sauteed.

Then *cracks knuckles*, we get to work.

I use Annie Chun’s Miracle Nectar like a five year old with a new bottle of ketchup.

I am not sorry, nor am I planning on changing my usage since amazon delivers it to my door in a case of six bottles.

What a time to be alive.

If you haven’t bought my books, now would be a good time, because I’m down to three bottles and I don’t think anyone really wants to see what happens if I run out.

Must eat. Bye for now.

I have a cold. I will die soon.

There’s no getting around it.

My son, the World’s Largest Eight Year Old, has infected me with a virulent form of the rhinovirus, which may or may not be a combination of the following diseases:

The Bubonic Plague

Cooties

Ebola

A Random Tropical Fever

Boogers.

These have combined for the following symptoms:

Sneezing.

Producing more snot than my current body weight.

Headache.

More snot.

Snot.

Snot.

I write this as a farewell to you all, and only ask that you eat pie, waffles, and Oreo thins at my funeral.

Good day.

Terry

Virginia. So Much More Than Ham.

I’ll be in one of my favorite cities next week, Roanoke, Virginia. I’m speaking at the Roanoke Regional Writer’s Conference. It’s on the beautiful campus of Hollins University.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Virginia is incredible. It’s just so American, and Roanoke is a shining example of a great town. If you haven’t been– go. See the star. See the town. See the people. They’re Virginians, so they’re steeped in history with the friendliness of the South, and the sights of the North.

Roanoke Writer’s Conference.

I can’t say enough good things about this event. It’s a wide spectrum of thinkers, writers, and writing styles wrapped up in an atmosphere of sharing– and there is an unmistakable joy for the written word. It’s my second year, and an absolute highlight for me.

In case you’re still not sold on Roanoke, let’s recap some things: The star!

Rivers, nature, and bridges that are statistically likely to terrify nearly one third of all humans!

And, of course– the city itself. Lovely.

So, to sum up: Books, fun, ham, Roanoke, coffee, friends, and nature. Can’t wait.

I made Taylor Swift cry.

In a good way, and in a dream. I’ll explain.

Last night I dreamed she read one of my books (Heartborn), posted a video of herself crying about how it made her feel, and several things happened:

The book became a sensation.

It was made into a show on the CW, and everyone in the show was beautiful (with great hair).

I got invited onto the Tonight Show for banter with Jimmy Fallon. I told him I liked him, and thought he was even better looking in person. We laughed and fistbumped, then he asked me who my favorite band was.

I said, “The Cult” without hesitation, to which the curtain drew back and there they were, ready to rock. Ian Astbury invited me up and I got to sing Love Removal Machine and OH MY GAWD it was amazing even though I can’t sing and I’m fairly certain that even in the dream world, my mic was turned off.

It’s going to be really tough to top this dream.

Christmas, Fried Chicken, and Michigan.

I’ve added an event in the heretofore unknown to me town of Frankenmuth, Michigan, which appears to be the geographical equivalent of my spirit animal.

This magical little town is known for (but not limited to):

  1. Christmas
  2. Buttered noodles
  3. Pretzels
  4. The “Best Fried Chicken Dinner in the World”.

Okay, let’s stop there for a moment as I tell the good people of Frankenmuth that I will most certainly put that claim to the test.

World Famous Chicken Dinner!

When my wife and I were dating, I made fried chicken. I made really good fried chicken, and my wife is somewhat of a connoisseur in that arena. She famously said, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken and I don’t want to know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken.”

I could not agree more.

SO. I’m coming for you, Frankenmuth. I will have an empty belly, a stack of books, and an intense curiosity in sampling all of your wonderful fare.

Here’s the event– I can’t wait; it’s going to be wonderful. Once Upon A Book

If you’re familiar with Frankenmuth and have suggestions for me, I’ll be there from August 10-12 of this year. Drop by, say hello, or suggest the things that I simply shouldn’t miss.

I’ll have a minimum of two new books with me, and plenty of swag for readers.

I’ll bring the books, Frankenmuth, you bring the chicken. It’s a date.

 

St. Olaf and the Golden Girls

I may have mentioned I married a Norwegian Lutheran, who comes from a family filled with other Norwegian Lutherans.

Upon meeting my mother-in-law to be, she mentioned that she graduated from St. Olaf with a degree in home Economics.

Until that moment, I thought St. Olaf was a creation within the show, “The Golden Girls”, in which Betty White would relate hilarious Midwest tales of odd culture, covered dishes, and people being polite. To demonstrate Gwen’s skill at All Things American, I humbly offer you the salad she fixed for me tonight. Sundays are known as Family Day, which naturally includes dinner.

Dinner is always excellent.

As exhibit one of just what a Norwegian Lutheran with a degree in Home Economics and thirty years’ teaching experience considers a side salad, take a look:

It’s magnificent. Color, balance, crispness, variety– it’s all here. Even the dish radiates America, but politely.

Oh, and St. Olaf has a world class choir, filled with Midwestern sopranos that make every day seem like Christmas. It’s beautiful.

I’ll have book news this week. Cheers.

A Bear Attacked Our House.

Last night, my bride made fresh ice cream with fresh baked honeycomb, from a recipe by baking genius Mary Berry. My bride has her own blog (http://www.buttereggs.com/, in which she’s making her way through various items from the Great British Baking Show.

Unfortunately, at some point in the night a bear (or other large mammal) pierced our home defenses and savaged the tray of ice cream (with home made honeycomb) as it chilled in the freezer. In case you would like to make this allegedly delicious recipe, here it is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03jmctz

I haven’t notified authorities, but I promised her I would be on the lookout for a bear. Or other large mammal. It should be noted, despite the savagery of the attack, that the bear (or other large mammal) was kind enough to put the plastic wrap back over the ice cream, and I think we should consider that as a mitigating circumstance in case the bear ( or– you know) is caught.

Carrots. Fuel for adulting.

Where I’m at in life today:

I plan on writing in the car at the pickup line. I arrive about an hour early to get Optimum Line Placement, assuring that my son gets in and we take off with near military precision.

Side note: If you told me to invade a country and gave me whatever resources I’d need, I would select the teachers who supervise the pickup line. I could have my forces in Moscow by noon. They do not play around when it comes to getting the kids on their way.

Ok, so I’ll write a chapter today– around 1500 words. The fuel I’m choosing is white carrots, purchased from the Hendersonville Produce Stand. It’s the kind of place that has fruits and vegetables that look real, rather than the polished, waxy approximations of food in some stores. I like the irregularity– it’s the same in people, I think. It’s the cracks that make us good, to quote Dozer from the book Heartborn.

Why white carrots, Terry? Welllll, glad you asked. I really dig parsnips, and these are rather like them. Add a touch of butter, salt, pepper, thyme. Roast until tender. Add protein of your choice. Boom. Writing fuel, or fuel for whatever you’re doing.

In my case, it’s writing. I’ll report back on the efficiency of carrots as Fictional Fuel.