Monday, October 13, 2008

A time apart, to rest and reflect

As I write this, it's Sunday mid-afternoon. After a particularly hideous night dealing with local trash at the waterpark/hotel where Christopher works, and a week of dealing with the wreckage of the past at the condo on my part, we decided a rather-spontaneous "vacation day" was in order.

So we slept in, drowsing and listening to the excellent "Sunday Jazz Brunch" (8-12 noon Sundays on the local 101.5 - The River), then loaded up his mountain-bike and my PC and got in his truck to ride north.

We journeyed along the wooded areas around Toledo to see the beginnings of fall colors - to revel in God's magnificent skill with a color-palette. From there, we drove to near Brighton, MI to Island Lake State Park. There are a pair of particularly wonderful mountain-biking trails there, and a chance for me to sit down and just mentally detox. While Chris is off riding, I am here at the trailhead, writing, reading, and enjoying a beautiful day of "Indian-summer."

It's been a draining week.

Chris made his decision, last week, that he was just pushing too hard to try to get to his dream jobs - which are out there, sometime in the future, but not on the immediate horizon (pardon the pun). As I posted earlier, the dream is not dead - but the economy seems to have ensured that it is deferred, at least for now. So that was one emotionally-charged decision made last week.

In the midst of that decision, it became clear that we needed to make a decision about what we as a couple were going to do above our living arrangement. While Chris' one-bedroom apartment is comfortable for one, it's pretty close-quarters for two on an ongoing basis. But the lease runs through December, and the one lone nibble we had on subletting it crumbled about the same time we decided not to go to Champaign. But shuttling back and forth between the condo (where my internet connection was, thus where I had to work) and the apartment (which has become "the rest of my life") was getting increasingly obnoxious, now that Sue and Jeff are mostly out of the place.

So this week, it was my turn to start moving out. We got a larger storage unit - to store what I would keep once we had a 2 bedroom apartment, and moved from our former unit to the new one. I'm glad to see that the winnowing-down process we've been doing is finally showing progress - it only took us about 2 hours to move stuff out of the old holding-cell into the new.

I finally got new cable/internet/phone at the apartment on Friday. Once I knew the online connection was working, I started the process of changing his address to "our" address. We will stay in this place until springtime, and then start the process of looking for something more permanent - work and residence-wise.

(It's been pretty clear that the relationship had reached "permanent" status a while ago.)

A recurring theme over the last weeks has been to pick out the few books that I would want to keep with me during the five-to-six month stay in the storage-deprived apartment. Here's a few from my list:
  • Wounded Prophet by Michael Ford - a excellent biography of one of my spiritual mentors, Henri Nouwen
  • The Wounded Healer and Return of the Prodigal Son, the classic texts by Nouwen
  • Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba's Child by Brennan Manning - number two in my "spiritual mentors" trinity
  • Messy Spirituality and Dangerous Wonder, by Mike Yaconelli - with great thanks to Renee' Altson - completing my "earthly trinity"
  • Gentle Closings: How To Say Goodbye to Someone You Love, The Gentle Closings Companion, and Where Is Heaven? Children's Thoughts on Death and Dying all by Ted Menten - better than most of the pastoral-care books I've read, so far
  • In Ordinary Time by Roberta Bondi - a great one when it seems like God's voice has gone silent, and
  • stumbling toward faith, a classic of faith despite every reason not to have it, by Renee Altson
There's more in the box, but they aren't leaping to mind.

I had to give up on the music-digitizing process, for now. At some point, I will have to replace the CD/DVD drive in the desktop - it's clearly starting to fail, because the error-correction routines are slowing the process way, way down. But there's four boxes of books to go, and a box and a half of CDs - 2 boxes of books and about 3/4 box of CDs each to the church and the local public library.

Interestingly enough, there is a large ELCA congregation in Maumee, to whom I originally offered my resources - but their education/library director never bothered to return my repeated calls. Epiphany Lutheran in Toledo is smaller, but hosts a half-dozen AA groups a week, and was the start of my journey back to faith - and their Christian education director was ecstatic when she got the last delivery. So, it's sad, but it's a case of "who loves ya, baby?"

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is one of the gems of living in Toledo. While I can't speak to their staffing situations (their management caused my former wife and a lot of library professionals unspeakable agony back in the late 80's), they seem to have come light-years in the collection and technology departments. The ability to browse their collection online, including ALL of their music and video offerings, and to request items to a local branch in a day or two, brings them right up there with library systems four and five times their size. (When we were looking at moving to Champaign, one of the big down-sides to the move would have been the differences in the public libraries). So I am very glad to be able to send some of my books home to them - either to their collection or their book-sale, I don't know (and don't care) which.

The thing that pains me is some of the big stuff, which is really worthwhile, which we can't sell because of the no-garage-sales clause in the condo association, and I really hate to just give away because they're too good NOT to get some value from them. And I can't bring myself to just give them away - although that may very well be what happens in the end, because I'm not moving this crap again.

I like the idea of FreeCycle, but getting a thousand emails a day (only a mild exaggeration) is a frustration. So we will start with CraigsList, and move to FreeCycle after that. We have two or three weeks to get it out - two would be preferable. It would be very nice to be done by Reformation Day, October 31st....

There are a hundred other topics I need (and want) to write about -
  • the housing crisis (which has not stopped being a crisis, even though the stock market and credit crunch has vastly overshadowed it)
  • the credit crunch - and how it may finally bring about the death of conspicuous consumption (albeit too late to really help anyone)
  • how we are going to teach an entire generation (or two) the difference between "needs" and wants - and if it will take an honest-to-God Great Depression to make it stick
  • why an awful lot of people of deep-and-abiding faith continue to ditch The Institutional Church; and
  • living between Death and Resurrection - and why most churches don't recognize Easter Saturday when it happens in October.
On the first two topics, there are still an awful lot of people who are asking, "How the hell did we get here?" I'd like to recommend three very powerful, very informative stories - each will take about an hour of your time, and each one is absolutely worth it:
  • Chicago Public Radio's This American Life has done two very insightful, powerful programs on the economy - "The Giant Pool of Money (talking about the fundamentals of the housing crisis) and "Another Really Scary Program About The Economy. Both should be required listening - especially if you think you know what caused the whole sub-prime crisis.

  • Dick Gordon's The Story on NPR had a particularly powerful program called "Blowing The Whistle" (click on the link to go to the archive to listen). The second half of the program is an interview with Bill Thornton, a real-estate appraiser who had to get out of the business because his practice of giving reasonable appraisals didn't support the housing-market insanity. For 20 years, he was a home appraiser. But as prices climbed during the housing boom, lenders stopped calling him. Yet when he recently heard how Wall Street helped create the housing and financial meltdown, he realized that losing his business wasn't exactly his fault.
Powerful, painful, and yet so informative. I'd really, really recommend you set aside an hour to listen to the first two, and a half hour to listen to "The Story."

It might just open your mind to some new ideas about what's been happening...


Michael said...

Thanks for the update and one day at a time ...

Greetings to Chris from The Waterpark Capital of the World!

Black Pete said...

And major congrats on the "permanent"! :)

Sam said...

I've randomly followed Ragamuffin Ramblings for a year or so. I'm copying your bullet points in this post for no other reason but they are some of the best written, most thought provoking statements I've read in a really really long time. Well said, well said indeed.

Enjoying following your journey...

Im A Foto Nut said...

For me the frustrating thing about storing my things is that it has already been 10 years since my divorce and by the time (if ever) I am back on my own none of what I have paid to store will either be any good any more, or so out of style it won't be worth having. I have already spent enough money on storing it that had I gotten rid of most of it and saved the monthly fee in an account I would be more than able to afford replacing it. Oh well, one day at a time, right?

This sounds aweful but my elderly neghbor lady fell and broke her hip in two places yesterday. He husband is in the begining stages of dementia and my parents have been trying to get her to see that she isn't able to care for him any more. They currently have elder care until she is mobile again. Now comes the aweful part. If she would put her husband in a home like she should have done two years ago, and sell the house. I could hopefuly buy it thus having the best of both worlds. The help I need from my parents, and my own home!