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Intro ... to an intro

Today, my new book, I Told You I Was Dehydrated, finds itself on This is the first -- and only -- shameless plug I will offer in this space. It's a portion of the book's introduction, describing the place where my story began.

It's a modest, two-story brick house in Watertown, WI, on a small corner lot where South Fourth Street ends; the house I grew up in. My mom still lives there, and she’s proud of it. She should be. She’s an amazing woman.

The house isn’t big or fancy, the layout nothing special. But it was always clean, impeccably so, because Mom made sure everything was in its place, all the time, yet she never made a big deal about it.

Fact is, she never made a big deal about anything, because that’s just my mom: calm, unflappable, and in control.

Our family needed someone like that, and when things “hit the fan,” there was no one better. It’s no different today. When we visit Mom, I can tell you exactly where things are going to be: today’s

newspaper, the book (or books) she’s reading, framed photos, and candy dishes, which are always filled to the top. It’s like stepping back in time, in a good way.

My memories of this house are vivid. Sitting at the dining room table doing my homework, the same table where Mom did—and still does—her jigsaw puzzles. The same table where Dad did the family’s

income taxes every year, sighing and smoking and mumbling things about the government and red tape, saying things like, “What the hell is this form for?”

The same table where we gathered for so many Thanksgiving dinners.

I also remember spending hours playing in the basement. Realize it wasn’t fixed up with a modern, finished rec room replete with a pool table, TV, easy chairs or anything. It’s simply a basement built for function back in the 1930s; then probably called a “cellar.” But it was home to things like my beer can bowling league, my electric train set, and a small workshop that got serious use from Mark (my older brother). It also played host to at least one Sweet 16 birthday party, one which for a time, featured a five-year-old “bartender” (yours truly) tapping beers from a keg for my sister and her friends.

Most of all, it was a place where I could hang out, a refuge where I could do or be whatever or whomever I wanted without anyone bothering me.

The small rooms of our home didn’t seem small back then. But then again, the Haznaws are a small people (at 5' 7", 155 pounds, I’m a giant in my family). I wouldn’t call it “cozy” because that word doesn’t describe our family. But we never thought it was too small or that we were crammed together. At least I didn’t.

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