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The State of Gashlaria

Time to catch up on my life, lest I contract Alzheimer’s disease sooner than later. First, here are some pictures from our latest family photo shoot by Angie Berrio Photography:

Percy is a terror, as always, having led Teresa to exclaim the choice words, “This is the baby that makes me not want to have any more babies.” Aspen is our little scientist, always wanting to learn how the world works, building things with her hands, and telling us interesting facts. She also loves a good poo poo joke. Ariah is ever our rambunctious blast of creativity and fun. The girls are loving their home schooling, field trips, gymnastics, ballet, and more, all for which Teresa is doing a bang up job.

Speaking of the family, yesterday I drafted our first bill of laws. Princes and princesses have one vote, the king has two, and the queen has three. It just makes sense.

For all completed chores, princes and princesses are rewarded with fifty cents. For all failed chores, they must pay us fifty cents. Of course, half of their allowance must go in to savings, ten percent into tithing. The king and queen accommodate all travel, food, and lodging expenses. However, if princes or princesses desire more than is provided, they must pay for such themselves. On principle, we’ll never buy them candy at grocery stores, because that’s what their spending money is for. Princes or princesses over the age of eight must purchase their own clothes. College, missions, etc. must be self-funded, for which we’re helping them build their savings now.

The King and Queen are required to complete at least one date per week, at which princes and princesses are strictly forbidden. A date must include each of the following: recreation, dining (outside of our usual dining area or with significant modifications), entertainment, and … special … time. If there are any babysitters out there, please contact us. The children are killing us. In a loving kind of way.

12105804_10102257761405019_8537661750046492582_nAs is old news for some, I took first place and the Audience Choice Award (3rd year in a row) at the Timpanogos Storytelling Haunting Contest. I told an original ghost story entitled “The Haunted Sewer.” There’s something strange about hearing your mother congratulate you for terrorizing people with stories of demonic apparitions dragging little boys to their silent deaths, but I’ll take it. The contestants as a whole were better than I’ve ever heard them, the competition stiffer. It’s fun to be a part of a game that ups its quality and prestige each year, forcing one to follow suit. That being said, having finally taken first place at one of these events, I’ve also realized (as one only can through experience) how empty winning is in itself. I’ve heard other competition winners say things such as, “Everyone did such a good job, I wish everyone could win.” My inner responses then were usually, “Easy for you to say …” Though my envious resolve was to achieve their lofty station for myself so I could then experience a similar state of glorifying humility. And now I can. For the record, winning is, in fact, dumb.

I know: easy for me to say. Prove me wrong.

Since our production of BUMS! ended at the Echo Theatre in Provo, we, in Gashlaria, haven’t quite known what to do with ourselves. Teresa’s made progress on her own musical (as of yet untitled) about ghosts in early-twentieth-century Appalachia. Though fearing that the pesky kids in our abode would eclipse her time and prevent this project from happening, I wrote a contract for her, which she signed completely at her own volition. Basically, if she doesn’t have a solid draft finished by March 1st 2016, she has to (1) lie tied up on wet grass while sprinklers douse her for a period of fifteen minutes, (2) dance on the corner of Center Street and University Avenue during rush hour for thirty minutes, and (3) consume three jars of sauerkraut within seventy-two consecutive hours. (I’ve been cheated before by not including the word consecutive. You know who you are.)

Don’t ask me why she signed this. I guess sometimes we all need exterior motivation. Real exterior motivation.

Though I really shouldn’t have, as I’ve I had more important projects to work on, I’ve begun outlining the sequel to Prisoner of the Molepeople, currently entitled Return to Molemania. It’s been fun to revisit the characters, the underground city, and to come up with even crazier shenanigans than before. I have to compete with myself, after all. Without throwing out any spoilers (especially considering that I have no idea when this project will even happen), let’s just say that I’ve discovered new findings in the belly of the earth that I can’t wait to write about.

On my more immediate list of projects, however, is my novel Gideon Versus the Gods of Cool. I’ve written about a fourth of it plus a detailed outline. The story will explore, in a fictional setting, some of the philosophical and quasi-magical adventures I had with friends in high school, compounded with an esoteric pantheon of deity you never realized controlled your world.

I also have tentative plans to write a musical about Vikings, but that’s all I have to say on the subject.

For Halloween, last night, I buried myself in my basement and programmed. I guess you could say my sense of awe and wonder at black lights and fake spider webs has gone the way of all the earth. Perhaps I’ve lost the true spirit of Halloween, and my formerly black heart has turned hopelessly warm and disgustingly fleshy. Though in my defence, (1) I went trick-or-treating with my kids the day before at a company event, (2) I myself went religiously trick-or-treating until I was twenty-four years old and my wife demanded my retirement, and (3) no one invited me to any parties. 🙁

Forget that last point. I’ve realized, lately, that the difference between mere dreamers and those who actually achieve their dreams is nothing short of hard work and lots of it. For example, I was recently watching an interview with someone I idealize: Danny Elfman, and when he was asked how often he looks back with triumph at his accomplishments, Elfman stated that he almost never listens to his own music. He only looks forward, as there’s always another project on the horizon. So it is with winning, and so it is with Halloween. It’s all well and good to bask in the moment and play around, but when something ceases to be novel, one must move on. Last night, while I have no candy to show for it, I tackled a few more problems between me and that moment when the machines will finally do my bidding, making my presence in the workforce obsolete. Plus, I can always eat my kids’ candy.

4 thoughts on “The State of Gashlaria

  1. I, for one, find your wit, wisdom (yes there is much of that) and candor refreshing. I think you must have an amazing wife …… and I love the new rules for the King and Queen. Think I’ll take a page out of your book. 🙂

    Also, as I am retired and my children are grown, I would be happy for the occassional childcare opportunity so you and your sweetheart can stick to the rule of going out one night each week.

    Bottom line — love the post. Good job, Steve!

  2. Steve, you need to update this blog more. Or send me other stuff to read. lauriefstradling@gmail.com

  3. Just finished your book “Prisoner of the Molepeople” and left you a review on Amazon.
    The book was written well, but as I said in my review – was far to wordy. You write well, but you definitely need someone to edit you.

    I did resort to skimming at points, but I didn’t put the book down. Which is saying something.

    I look forward to trying out your next book.

    1. Thanks for your review.

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