And just like that–two months!–gone.

I’m on a plane (my second of three) leaving Milwaukee and traveling back to California. “Ooh, the scenic route,” as one of the gate attendants had said to me as she almost sent my suitcase into air travel oblivion. Because the plane was totally full, my rolling carry-on had to be checked, and because of my scenic route, the attendant had almost tagged my precious luggage with LAX as its final destination.

“No wait! I’m going to San Diego,” I said to her.
“Oh, would you look at that. I’m sorry! Let me print a new tag…”

Thank goodness she was one of those talk-while-you-work kinds or else, after 14 hours, 4 airports, and 3000 miles, one seriously disgruntled passenger would have been standing at the baggage claim in San Diego wondering where her (should-have-been-carry-on) suitcase had ended up.

Now, let’s get back to those two months in Milwaukee that just flew by. You can look here to see how I spent the time. (I’ve never drank so much wine in my life! *cough* Mom.) But to be fair, that recap glosses over the real reason why I went back to Wisconsin in the first place.

It was weird trying to explain it to everyone. First of all, I was still (and still am) grappling with this big thing I’m supposed to be composing out of my allegedly creative(?!) head, this unwieldy, intangible, seemingly-impossible-when-you-actually-sit-down-and-try-to-do-it project/process/”Ah-what-the-hell-is-this?!” thing.

This thing called writing a book.

And because I was (and still am) uncomfortable with the idea of it all, of actually saying out loud, “I am writing a book,” I still like to throw “trying” in there, like it might soften the blow, or let me get off easy. I’m more comfortable with the idea of ‘trying’, in case someone doesn’t take me seriously, less I look too naive, like I’ve got this idea in my head that the deal is sealed and I expect to be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble right next to Janet Evanovich. (In which case that would be impossible anyway, because I’m not writing a fiction novel. C’mon, I’m not that creative. I’d be in the memoir/nonfiction section.) Okaay…uh, let’s back up to the part where I stumble over telling other people that I’m [trying] to write a book.

Right. So, when I decided I wanted to [try] to do this, I had just spent ten minutes thumbing through my grandfather’s autobiography, 100 computer-typed pages in a 3-ring binder. He wrote it sometime after he retired (early 90s) and I had just got around to taking a look at it this July.

What I read left me flabbergasted. My grandfather experienced all of this? My Opa, who likes to walk two fingers around on the table and up his arm like a spider and act surprised when it pounces on his head (just to make us granddaughters giggle), is the same person who, as an anti-aircraft gunner in the German army during WWII, shot down enemy British planes from the peaks of Austrian Alps?

This intrigued me. All of this I hadn’t known, everything I wanted to know, the fact that this man is my grandfather, my Opa, and it seemed as though I barely knew him. I needed to remedy this situation. And I also thought, this might be what I’ve been looking for. This might be the story that wants to be told. My first book.

But, when I told my friends, when I told my roommates, when told my coworkers, well, I just couldn’t tell them. At least right off the bat. I had said, “I’m going back to Wisconsin for a little while, I need to spend more time with my family.” Which was true, but not the complete story. And because of the lack of clarity, the out-of-no-where change of plans, the fogginess of it all, they assumed things. Things like, “You’re leaving California?” or “You’re moving back in with your parents?” or, my favorite, “Are you and Kirk breaking up?”

No, no, and definitely no.

The point I’m trying to make here is that this book-writing is scary. So much so that it’s frightening to talk about. In the past seven weeks I’ve spent a lot of time with my grandparents, talking, listening; remembering dates, checking maps and looking at old pictures. I’ve collected hours of audio from our conversations and filled a notebook with thoughts and observations. So far, however, I’ve written a mere 500 words that might be eligible for book inclusion. That scares me.

What I’m really afraid of is the unknown. I’ve never done this before. The scariest part, however, is the possibility that I might fail. In such case, the antidote is tried and true: don’t give up.

Now, back here in California, its go time. I’ve got a bunch of material to work with and no excuses. No more Summerfest or State Fair, no more luxurious evenings out to eat or cute triplets to babysit. No more shopping with Mom (did that more than Kirk would care to know) or grass calling my name to be mowed. No more watching reruns of Frasier, no more playing Scrabble or Settlers of Catan (you’re going to snag a win one of these days, Dad.)

It’s just me, my notebook, and many, many, cups of coffee…

…right after this little trip to Europe that I leave for tomorrow. What?! More travel? I know, I know… ☼