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  1. I don't post to this blog very often, but I stumbled across a short story I wrote a while back. It's not anything serious, just something I wrote for fun (or more accurately, partially for fun and partially to vent) and figured I would post here. Proof that I really do write! ;) Sorry about the formatting issues. I tried to fix it, but it didn't work...

    Streams of warm, golden light poured in through freshly windexed, streak-free windows, but Holly, on her hands and knees furiously scrubbing her tiled kitchen floor, had no eyes for the sun’s dancing rays or the chirping birds perched cheerfully on the feeder hanging outside. Sweat ran in rivulets down her grimy face, trickling down her neck and soaking her ratty ASU t-shirt, but she didn’t even pause to wipe away the sticky streams of perspiration. There was too much work left to do, and she was running out of time.
    Justin had offered to help her, and Holly’s aching back and throbbing knees almost made her wish she had accepted. But he would have done something wrong, missed something, and then—Holly shuddered at the thought and went back to the floors, scrubbing with renewed energy. That wasn’t going to happen…not again.

    The dirty mop water had just been poured down the drain, the bucket stowed safely under the sink, when Holly heard an ominous rumble of thunder. Moving to peer out the window at the suddenly overcast sky, she gasped when she saw the sleek silver Toyota turning down her street.
    “Justin!” Fumbling to untie the handkerchief holding her curls away from her sweaty neck and face, then using it to wipe away some of the dirt that a quick splash of cold water earlier had missed, Holly whirled and rushed toward the bedroom, tugging her filthy t-shirt off as she ran. “She’s here! Oh my god, she’s here and I’m not even dressed yet!”
    “Relax, Holly, what’s the big deal?” Calmly switching the television off, Justin appeared from the living room, already dressed in slacks and a button-down black shirt. Holly glowered at him, kicking her gym shorts off and pulling a navy blue cocktail dress off its hanger.
    “You know what the big deal is, Justin.” She snapped, pulling the dress on over her head and turning so he could zip the back. “I’ve been having nightmares about this for weeks.”
    “But why? It’s not like the president is coming for dinner, it’s just—“ But the doorbell rang, cutting him off, and Holly finished for him with a grimace.
    “My mother-in-law.”

    “Can I get you some wine? I’m afraid dinner isn’t ready yet, but we’ve got some appetizers to tide everyone over until the roast is done.”
    “Oh, you’re making roast?” Holly tried not to cringe at the condescending tone in her mother-in-law’s voice. “It’s such a difficult dish to prepare correctly. I hope it doesn’t turn out too dry.”
    “I…” Holly trailed off helplessly and raised an eyebrow at Justin, who stepped in smoothly, taking his mother’s arm.
    “Come on, Mom, I’ll show you to the living room while Holly grabs the wine.”
    “And the appetizers.” Holly threw in. “I wouldn’t want you to starve waiting for dinner.”
    “You know, that might not be a bad idea.” Janeen commented thoughtfully as Justin lead her out of the room. “Even terrible food tastes delicious to someone who is ravenously hungry.” Waiting until they had rounded the corner, Holly stuck her tongue out, then stalked silently into the kitchen and ripped the refrigerator door open to pull out the plates of tomato bruschetta and stuffed brie she’d made earlier that day.
    “Justin?” She called, grabbing a bottle of merlot from their wine rack and taking three glasses out of the cupboard. “Can you come help me carry this, please?”
    “Be right there!” He appeared just seconds later, wearing a placating expression.
    “I’m sorry, Holly. I don’t think she meant that as rude as it sounded.” Holly just shook her head.
    “I’m going to spit in her drink.”
    “No you’re not, because then she would insult your taste in wine, too.”
    “But I would know it wasn’t really the wine she was insulting.”
    “Come on.” Justin tried not to laugh, taking the wine and glasses from his wife. “You can carry the appetizers.”
    “Spit wasn’t the first thing I considered putting in her drink. At least I scaled it down.”
    “It’s only a few more hours, babe. You can make it.”
    “Carrying the wine won’t stop me, you know.”
    “You’ll be in the kitchen for most of the night, anyway. And I’ll keep her in the living room so she won’t distract you while you’re cooking.”
    “I think heckle is the word you were looking for.” Holly corrected. “And thank you. I wouldn’t want anyone to interfere with the making of my dry roast.”
    “If it’s any consolation, I love your roast, even if it is dry.” She started to object, then caught the wicked grin on her husband’s face and scowled.
    “Very funny.”
    “For a second there, I thought your head might really explode.”
    “Keep it up, Justin, and the couch will be too good for you.”
    “Keep what up? I was just saying, I like your roast.”
    “Uh huh.”
    “What?” He feigned innocence. “It’s good.”
    “You’re supposed to be on my side, Justin. Not pick on me with your mother.”
    “I’m not picking on you, I was just teasing you a little bit.”
    “Same thing.”
    “No it’s not. The two are actually very different.”
    “How so?”
    “Picking on someone is mean.” Justin explained. “Teasing is all in fun.”
    “Mmhmm…” Holly’s eyes narrowed. “Sure, Justin.”
    “Nothing…” She smiled sweetly as they neared the living room. “I just hope you enjoy sleeping on the floor.”

    “Is everything going ok out here? We’re running low on that bruschetta.” Holly glanced away from the rolls she had just finished piling neatly into a small basket at the sound of her mother-in-law’s voice, and she smiled tightly.
    “Everything is fine.”
    “Are you sure? It’s no trouble for me to help out if it means getting that roast on the table more quickly.”
    “Hey, where’s Justin?” Holly pretended she hadn’t heard her. “Wasn’t he supposed to be entertaining you?”
    “Oh, he had to use the restroom, so I thought I would check on how dinner was coming along, in case you needed my help.”
    “Well, I don’t. Like I said, everything is fine.”
    “Are you sure? Because if you want me to take a look at that roast—“
    “The roast is fine.” Holly struggled to keep her tone even. “It’s almost done, and everything else is under control.”
    “You know, there’s no shame in asking for help.” Janeen edged toward the oven. “I’ve been cooking a lot longer than you have, I could give you some tips.”
    “I don’t need any tips.” Holly pulled a dish of corn out of the microwave, added some salt and pepper to it, then moved it and the rolls to the dining room table, placing them next to a large bowl of mashed potatoes already waiting in the center. “If you want to help, though, you could go get Jason for me. I need him up here.”
    “Because I’m hungry,” Sliding between her mother-in-law and the oven, Holly pulled the door open to check on the steaming roast inside. “and the sooner he gets up here, the sooner we can eat.”
    “But the roast is still in the ov—“
    “Not anymore.” Holly pulled the silver pan out of the oven with an impatient jerk. “Roast is done.”
    “Are you sure? I can always take a look—“ Stepping around her mother-in-law once more to bringing the roast to the already full table, Holly turned and cut Joleen off firmly, smiling sincerely for the first time all night.
    “Dinner is served.”
  2. In case anyone was interested, since I haven't figured out a magical way to post some of the video from our wedding ceremony yet, I figured I would post our vows. We wrote our own, cause we're cool like that. ;)

    Joel's vows:

    Many years ago I met Heather when she and I both worked at Papa Johns. She will tell you I ignored her there because I didn’t like her but the truth is I thought she was an interesting person from the day I met her. All the guys at Papa Johns would shower her with attention so I had to come up with a strategy to get her to notice me. As it turns out, the plan that worked was to ignore her and let her come to me. In time the plan paid off and we began conversing. She had a boyfriend at the time, but she was beautiful and interesting, educated and had a razor sharp wit. I loved to be around her so I waited patiently until the time was right, and now here we are at the altar.
    She moved in with me before either of us were “Officially together” and it was an interesting transition at first. Over time we both realized we were madly in love with each other and that as they say, is that. If I ever had any doubts about Heather being my perfect match, she put them to rest by showing me everyday that she loved me intensely. From the beginning when she would lean up against me and let me put my arm around her when we would watch movies to today when we hold hands and bicker in the grocery store, everyday I know that she’s my perfect fit, my one and only, my love.
    Heather, I promise that I will always try to cheer you up when you’re sad. I promise I’ll be there when you need me. I promise I will give you all the love and attention you deserve. I’ll try really hard to listen to every word you have to say and I promise to put up with you being (Slightly) crazy as long as you put up with my expensive hobbies. Finally, I promise to be your faithful, committed husband and love you forever.

    My vows:

    It seems like only yesterday that we got engaged…the first time. I remember thinking to myself after we started hanging out that it was nice of this caring, kind, huge-hearted person to play along with my little charade, to act like he liked me as much as I liked him. I spent every moment that I could either with you, texting you, or sending you messages on Myspace, just hoping that maybe someday you would like me as much as I liked you. And then suddenly, inexplicably, we were a couple, and I couldn’t believe that you actually felt the same way about me as I did about you. I couldn’t understand, sometimes I still can’t, how someone as incredible as you could want to wait for someone as crazy and messed up as I was to pull herself together enough to be ready for all the love you had to give…but I’ll never stop being grateful that you did.
    Everyone has stories about that moment where they knew they loved their significant other, but I don’t have that one moment of clarity where I realized that I was in love with you. Being with you has always felt right. Safe. Whole. Perfect. I didn’t fall in love with you. I didn’t need to, because I always have been in love with you. How could I not be, when you were so clearly meant just for me? Two people so perfect for each other could never have just met by some cosmic accident. We were made for each other—it was always you who I was looking for. How else could you explain a relationship that started with an engagement ring? It had to be you.
    I keep feeling like I should come up with these great, epic stories about something touching you’ve done to show me how much you love me, but I can’t. I was looking through a journal that I keep of all the things you’ve done to make me really happy, though, and I realized that it’s not the grand gestures that make us love each other so much. It’s the little, every day stuff, like you getting me a teddy bear to hold when you work early in the morning because you know I don’t like sleeping alone, or when you wrote “you’re beautiful” on my coaster when we were having dinner at Chili’s. It isn’t the ability to plan and execute grand gestures every once in a while that makes me love you…it’s your ability to make me feel special, beautiful, unique, and loved every day.
    I am so grateful that I have the chance to spend the rest of our lives making you feel as loved by me as I do by you. I promise to do everything I can to make that happen, to take care of you and treat you like the treasure you are in my life. I promise to take care of you when you don’t feel well, to support and encourage you when you need a little push, and to always say “I love you” and kiss you goodbye before you leave for work. I promise to always kiss you goodnight, to never go to bed mad at you, and to stop saying “nothing” when I’m upset and you ask me what’s wrong. I promise to do your laundry and clean up around the house as long as you do the cooking. I promise to put up with your expensive habits as long as you put up with me being (a lot) crazy. I promise that I will always be there for you, standing beside your side, no matter what the world throws at us. You are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life, and with all my heart, I look forward to loving you for the rest of eternity.