BucketListI write these words from a new desk in a new home in a new city in a new phase of life. Sitting here, I have to admit that this across-state move has been one colossal emotional roller-coaster ride. In truth, it’s been one of the more heart-wrenching adventures I’ve yet faced. And we’re still careening down the tracks with the end barely in sight.

My husband and I arrived at our new apartment in Dallas at the tail end of July to do an initial inspection of the place before I moved in and Matt traveled back to West Texas. As soon as we set our things down, we found the air conditioning unit leaking onto the floor our master bathroom and the master bathroom in general smelling like an ash tray. We got maintenance to fix the leak that night, but there has been no end to the persistent cigarette stench or my allergic reactions to it.

While Matt went back West Texas to finish packing boxes and finish his last week of work, I moved into the apartment full time with only the bare essentials in supplies to prep for the main move. We expected that the moving truck carrying most of our stuff to arrive at the apartment early on Friday, August 7. Instead I got a phone call from Matt on Thursday evening telling me that the unthinkable had happened. The moving truck carrying most of our earthly possessions had caught fire!

As it turned out, no one was hurt during the fire, but no one had any clue what started it in the first place. Last week and this week have seen Matt and me on the phone with the moving company’s COO, his insurance adjuster, our insurance adjuster, our real estate agent, our financial adviser, and a host of other people. For days we had no clue where our belongings were or how much had been damaged. To make matters even worse, Matt and I had to close on our house in West Texas on Wednesday, August 12, instead of the initially-scheduled closing on Monday, August 10, because our buyers didn’t have all of their paperwork ready on time. We got everything straightened out with our financial adviser last Tuesday, successfully closed on the house last Wednesday, and finally returned to Dallas on Wednesday night. We were finally able to see our belongings at the reclamation/restoration warehouses last Friday.

Despite all of the frustration associated with this situation, Matt and I were very fortunate. Not only was no one hurt, but most of our belongings have survived the flames and the water used to put out those flames. When Matt and I inspected our things, we found them already sorted and cleaned for smoke and water damage. As it turns out, both of our office desks, our coffee table, a holder for a set of four small TV dinner stands, a decorative plate, and a small display case were destroyed. We also lost all of my Anne McCaffrey books, some of my Gordon R. Dickson books, most of Matt’s clothes, and some of my clothes to fire and water. However, our bedroom furniture, den furniture, dining table, dishes, hutch, the rest of the books, bookcases, electronics, artwork, appliances, paperwork, and everything else either sustained very little damage or no damage at all. Things could have been so much worse, so Matt and I feel very blessed.

Throughout all of the headache and heartache, our family and friends have been amazing. Their love and support has been a true blessing during all of this. Laughter and tears have followed us throughout the whole process. As one family member put it, Matt and I left West Texas in a literal blaze of glory. Sadly our belongings were not the only ones on the moving truck. Another family also lost items precious to them and so they’ve been in our prayers as well.

I’m also pleased to report that at least three very uplifting things have come out of the past fortnight. First, Matt and I absolutely love the new area where we’ve settled. It’s an amazing blessing to have so many stores of all types and sizes just down the street from where we live. Second, the bathroom stench has finally begun to dissipate thanks to my husband’s and my concerted cleaning efforts. Consequently our allergies seem to be back under control as well. Third, I received the first official review for Skinshifter and it’s quite encouraging. Here is a small part of what the reviewer said:

“Action is well done, tension is wonderfully detailed and maintained throughout, and fantasy readers will find in Katja an appealing, believable character whose quest and concerns drive a story line that is vivid, accessible, and involving; making it a special recommendation for readers of animal-based fantasy worlds where anything is possible.”

-D. Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Ms. Donovan’s complements give me great hope that Skinshifter will do well with readers once it’s published. We’ll soon see. For now though, I’m going to finish working on my replacement desk and then go catch some sleep on our blowup bed while we wait for the rest of our undamaged belongings to finally arrive in our new home. Then perhaps I can forgo any more loopy loops from this particularly violent roller-coaster.

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