Adulting 301: Safety Deposit Boxes

Well, it’s official. I managed to make it 40 years without opening a safety deposit box, but those days are now behind me. Today Denisa and I traipsed into town to the bank to make it official. We now have a spot to put all our gems, gold, and illegal substances. If we had any of those things. Sadly, our lives are much less interesting than that. We just wanted to get the box to have a secure place to store our important documents.

See? How boring and adultish have I become?

I mean, I really wanted to have something cooler to put in that box. At least a few passports from other countries, as well as stacks of bills from a scattering of different currencies. I didn’t even have any mysterious keys to stick in that could lead people on an exciting adventure. No, instead I had a living will. Movies and television has taught me so much more is possible from a safety deposit box, but instead I put in What to Do If I Am Comatose and Not Likely to Recover.

Funnily enough, Denisa and I prepared those documents 4 years ago. Living wills, regular wills, powers of attorney. All that flashy stuff that makes any sane person’s eyes want to glaze over. We got them all set and done, and the last thing we needed to do was put them someplace secure, in case our house burned down or something.

Instead, we did the standard immature thing: stick them in a drawer and forget about them. (Hey, it’s an approach that’s never really failed me yet, so . . . )

For the record, getting a safety deposit box is more complicated than I thought it would be. I pictured us walking in, signing a piece of paper, stuffing the documents in, and being on our way. In reality, it took about twenty minutes. Our cost around $50/year for a small box just big enough to fit a rolled up stack of Very Important Documents. But at least that cost includes a cool set of keys that make it so you can’t open the box without having two keys present. Kind of like entering nuclear launch codes, but without the messy aftermath.

Why did we do all this? Because we have studied, and in studying, we have learned that man is mortal.* Stuff happens. And as much as it would be nice to never have to talk or think about that stuff, it’s still not a bad idea to prepare for the bad stuff, just in case. If Denisa and I both died, what should happen to our kids? If we’re brain dead, what do we want to happen to our bodies? Who gets to inherit the gazillion dollars I have stashed away in gold bullion from that adventure with the dragon and the dwarves from back in my early days?**

I dislike even thinking those thoughts, let alone writing them. They make me want to glance over my shoulder to see if a train’s about to barrel through my room. But as attractive as sticking my head in the sand seems . . .

We still signed the documents, and we still (finally) put them in a safety deposit box. So now I can legally forget about them and not feel guilty when I remember they’re not in a safe spot. I’ve got the cool double keys (and the yearly fee) to remind me I’m done with that for now.

In the meantime, if any of you are looking for a place to hide a very small piece of stolen artwork, have I got the spot for you . . .

*We also learned never to get involved in a land war in Asia.

**Bilbo was actually 50 when he first set off to the Lonely Mountain, so I’ve got almost a decade before I really need to start worrying about being behind on that plan.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

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Inflection Points

This morning at breakfast, I was thinking about inflection points: points in my life where single events ended up having very big impacts on my life. Where things could have (or did) changed drastically based on a decision or chance meeting. A couple of examples will help show the principle.

The summer before I entered Eighth Grade, my family moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. It wasn’t a planned move. My mom and stepfather dropped me and my siblings off at the airport to go be with my father in Utah for a month, as we did each summer. After dropping us off in Newark, they went for a drive, with no place in particular in mind. They just wanted to go someplace interesting. They ended up in Bucks County, about an hour and a half away from Newark. They drove by a road with an “open house” sign on it. Wanting a break, they decided to get out and look at the house. They liked the house so much, they put in a low ball offer on it. An offer that was accepted right off.

When I came back from Utah, it was to a new house in a new state. Everything that happened to me since then has been different than what would have happened to me if they hadn’t seen that house and made that offer. I have no idea what that alternate reality would be like. Would I have ended up hooking back into this course of events after a while? I’d always wanted to go to BYU, so it’s possible I would have ended up in the same dorm room, but even if that had happened, would I have been the same person, having had a whole different set of friends and experiences leading up to that?

Who knows.

Another inflection point: there was a time about 14 years ago where it looked quite likely that Denisa and I would be moving to Slovakia to oversee the renovation of a castle. Uhrovec Kaštiel, to be specific. It was going to be renovated into a business center and library over the course of several years. (Denisa and I actually looked at about 15 castles that trip, evaluating them for suitability and cost. One of them (that I know of) has since been restored:

This is what Oponice Kaštiel looked like back when we were on our expedition
And this is pretty much the same shot now.

I have no idea what would have waited for us down that path. It never materialized, mainly because the bottom fell out of the economy a few years later, and that was that. But talk about an inflection point.

Sometimes, however, I think there are things that look like inflection points, but really are just the culmination of a series of events. They’re more the straw that broke the camel’s back than a real moment of pivotal change (or lack of change). To use a scriptural example, people might try to point to David deciding to sleep with Bathsheba as an inflection point, but I’d argue that was the culmination of a series of events that preceded it. It wasn’t as if David went from a solid-as-a-rock follower of God straight to adulterer and murderer. There were a series of steps in between, and if he hadn’t seen Bathsheba bathing naked one evening, it was likely he would have seen or done something else that caused his downfall, because his life was then at a point where a downfall was quite likely.

It makes me think of back pain, actually. When you “throw your back out,” it’s easy to point to the thing you were doing when it all went wrong. I remember I was reaching into the backseat of my car to get something once, and my back suddenly hurt worse than ever. It took a week for me to feel mostly better. But when I talked to a physical therapist about it, he said it wasn’t due to reaching into the back seat. It was due to me overusing the back muscles before then. The final action was just the last straw, not the ultimate cause. If it hadn’t happened reaching into the back seat, it would have happened soon after with another random “cause.”

Though I suppose things like that could still be inflection points, if only for the various possibilities suddenly narrowing down to one particular instance in that moment. For David, his downfall went from “could be any number of things” to “Bathsheba” when he saw her from his rooftop. Maybe we could call that the Schrodinger’s Cat inflection point variety . . .

Anyway, that’s my deep thought for the day. Do any of you have any examples of this in your life that you’ve seen? I find events like this fascinating. Please share.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Week at Fiddle Camp

Tomas just got back from one expedition, and off he and DC go on another. (For the record, Trek went very well, despite the fact that it rained buckets on them for most of the time, and they ended up coming home a half day early. Tomas said he had a great time, so yay for that.)

This week, Tomas and DC are at Fiddle Camp, a weeklong summer camp devoted to fiddle music and stringed instruments. We only became aware of Fiddle Camp a year or two ago, and both kids said they wanted to do it, and applied for scholarships to cover some of the costs. The scholarships came through, and we drove them up yesterday.

It was a strange sensation, dropping the two of them off at a place where Tomas knows a couple of people and DC knows just about no one (other than Tomas, of course). We took them each to their cabin (ten kids per cabin) and unloaded their bags, and then took them on a brief walk around the camp, and that was that. I figured they’d want us out of their hair as quickly as possible, so we grabbed MC and got back in the car for the drive home.

I went to several camps as a kid. CTY and Day Camp. I remember some of what I did there. (More at CTY than at Day Camp–was it at Deerkill? I can’t quite remember.) But I do think it’s helpful to kids to let them get away from their parents and do their own thing for a while. Of course. part of that process is hoping that “their own thing” is something that you as a parent approve of, but sooner or later you have to let them figure that out for themselves. I think we should have sent Tomas off sooner, though we probably couldn’t have afforded to do it in years past.

Anyway. I checked in briefly with Tomas yesterday evening via text, just to make sure all was going well. Got the thumbs up, so I’m assuming the best, and hoping they’re having a blast playing music, dancing, eating, swimming, and having fun. MC was quite sad to see them go, so we’ll have to see how this week goes for her. Entire families can attend. Perhaps Denisa will take MC next year. We’ll see.

For now, however, my family is down to three people at home instead of five. Whatever will I do with all that extra space?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Three Days of Retreats

I’ve got three days of library retreats in front of me. That might sound like it’ll be tons of fun to some of you. “Retreat” always used to bring to mind lots of fun images. Perhaps canoeing down a river, or maybe trekking across the fields somewhere picturesque. (In fact, the first retreat I ever had in Maine involved going orienteering, which was a whole lot of fun.)

I’m not going to say these retreats (one of which is two days, and one of which is one day) will be no fun at all. I’ve got friends who will be at both of them, and no doubt there will be laughter and food, but there’s also going to be meetings. Lots and lots of long meetings, full of sitting and talking. You see, these days, the meaning of the word “retreat” in my life has somehow changed to become synonymous with “day long meetings that involve free food.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of free food. (Perhaps too big a fan of it, if we’re being honest.) But I’m also not a fan of long meetings. Your brain starts turning to jello about four hours into a long meeting, which as around the time you realize at a retreat that you’ve got another four hours to go, and that resolution you made to stop at one brownie was pretty much laughable. You’re going to need five or six to get through this day.

“But Bryce!” you say. “You’ll be away from the office! Won’t it be great to have a change of pace? Mix things up a bit?” Typically, I’d agree with you. When the retreats line up in a row like this, however, I begin to feel a little daunted. Am I up to that much retreating? At some point, if you retreat too much, isn’t that considered a bad thing? Isn’t retreating cowardly?

The courageous thing to do would be to take a stand against retreat, I say. To plant my flag firmly in the soil and declare, “No! We’re not doing another one of these things unless it involves a canoe or a compass!” To stand like Gandalf before the Balrog that is twenty-one hours of meeting and boldly tell those hours to go back to the shadow. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn.

But who am I kidding? Not only do I not have the flame of Anor tucked away in a pocket somewhere, I’m fresh out of flags to plant. And to be honest, there are actually important things these meetings need to get accomplished. Will there be padding? Sure. But we’ll also get some good stuff done. It’s the price we pay for progress.

So forgive me if I’m blog silent the next few days. I’ll be stuffing my face with brownies and doing my best to somehow get through so much retreating. Here’s hoping I don’t just retreat in one big circle and end up right where I started.

Wish me luck.



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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.



Keep on Trekkin’

Tomas is heading off on Trek this morning. If you’re a Latter-day Saint, chances are you know exactly what that entails. Well, maybe not *exactly*, but generally. I’ve never been on trek, so this is the first real experience someone in my direct family has had with it.

For those of you not in the know, Trek is a sort of modern day reenactment of the experience Mormon pioneers had in the 1800s as they went across the country with handcarts on their journey west. The first reenactment dates back to 1966, where Latter-day Saints from Arizona decided to travel out where the original pioneers journeyed, recreating the experience as closely as they could. This was followed by more efforts in the 70s, mainly with college-aged students. Journeys would go for almost 100 miles through the wilderness. (More information about the evolution of Trek can be found in this great op-ed.)

All of these people participating in trek reenactments made its spread almost inevitable. (If there’s one thing Latter-day Saints can be relied on, it’s to take a good idea and run with it farther than it was ever intended, sometimes to less-than-optimal results.) In 1997, with the 150th anniversary of the original trek, more and more youth groups followed suit, and today there’s an entire online guide for how to run a successful trek activity.

Originally, these treks were designed to be as historically accurate (and grueling) as possible. Youth were sometimes encouraged to fast during some of the experience, the thought being that having a difficult temporal experience might help them have an even stronger spiritual experience. That’s been back away from (perhaps due to instances where individuals have actually died on Trek), so Tomas is heading out in pioneer-era clothes, but he’s also stocked with regular hiking shoes, normal camping gear, and a good supply of Swedish Fish. I don’t believe they’re hiking more than 8 miles any one day, though that will be with a handcart in tow. (Participants are grouped into “families” of around 10 people each, and each family has its own handcart.)

I’m not entirely sure what I feel about trek. On the one hand, my ancestors were part of those original pioneers, and I really like the thought of doing something that shows us firsthand what they went through. I like historical reenactments, and the thought of doing one of those early treks in the 60s and 70s seems like it would be appealing. (I especially like the California Young Women’s group that did it, where they spent the year getting ready for it and really dove all in.) On the other hand, I feel like it’s gotten streamlined to the point where perhaps it’s no longer quite as impactful as it could be. There’s a fair bit of pressure to go on Trek, with youth strongly encouraged to participate. That makes me skittish. Ideally people go because they want to go, not because they’re expected to. (I did ask Tomas if this was something he wanted to do a few months ago, and he seemed game. I’m not sure how excited he was to go this morning when he left at 7am, however . . .)

In the end, I think it’s still a good idea, as long as it’s done well. My hope is he connects some with his history (even though he’ll be trekking through Northern Maine, a far cry from the plains of the midwest followed by the Rocky Mountains). Denisa and I were asked at the last minute if we could participate, but I already had three days of work meetings scheduled that I couldn’t get out of. I think I’d like to go at some point, just so I can see what it’s like firsthand.

Have you or your children done trek? What was your/their experience like? Tomas will be back Friday. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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