April 29, 2009

sleep like a camel

So moving the move date (well the, we're coming to pack up your stuff date) up 24hrs has effectually meant no sleep tonight. The funny thing is that I'm actually feeling pretty decent. I have to wonder if I don't have a little stored sleep somewhere left over from all those 12hr sleeping binges in the past couple of months. It's like I've got a few extra hours stored in some mental camel's hump or something :D Anyway, they arrive in about an hour and a half. There's still a few things that need to be straightened out, but what isn't done already I think we can do while the movers are packing us up and moving us out.

Here's to finding out with 48hrs's warning that your prep/packing time has been cut in half!

April 28, 2009

eye bolts?

So the relocation people e-mailed Allen asking him a bunch of questions about what he wanted in an apartment and such. To that end they asked what amenities we wanted/required in a rental property. My suggestion? Strategically placed eye bolts suitable for hanging a hammock. I'm only half kidding -those things are crazy comfortable. I wish I had a place to hang it long term.

April 27, 2009

That goodbye tint

Saturday is the big day and all around me everything is taking on a certain farewell tint. As I drive down the road past trees I've seen nearly every day these past two years I keep thinking to myself, another week and I won't be here. The Cahaba will still be winding underneath this bridge, but I will be pressing further into the unknown as we drive across the country. It's a hard and exciting feeling.

Just yesterday we sat down together with our congregation for the last time in a long while. The funny thing is that I kept thinking it didn't matter how far away I went because Red Mountain Church would always be here when we're ready to come home. I know it was just a feeling, but I like to think that maybe it's actually true.

In the midst of these goodbyes we've been trying to sort out our possessions. I keep finding a dozen small tasks popping up just when I'm ready to settle down and really get something done. It's rather exhausting in a way. It doesn't help that all the mental chatter in my brain makes it hard for me to settle down and get to sleep at night. Right now I think I'm running on guts and adrenalin -I don't really want to see what happens should those suddenly give way on me!

And so life continues. There's a lot I'm going to miss while we're in California. I'm going to miss the saturated green of summer, afternoon thunderstorms, and the wonderfully homey nature of living with 90% of our family within two hour's drive. I'm going to miss driving to the gulf and the Atlantic ocean and the smell of live oaks. I'm going to miss Easter and 4th of July down at the farm riding around on 4-wheelers and wading in the creek. But I must admit, I'm starting to look forward to all the adventures we're going to be having out in California.

April 22, 2009

California resolutions

I know that New Year's is the typical time to make resolutions, but I'm thinking that moving to a new state is a pretty good time to bust out some better habits. Plus, I'm going have a lot more time by myself since Allen will be working out of the house, and I won't be working (certainly not at first anyway) So here are my California Resolutions:

1. Cook more for myself.

Cereal is easy. So is peanut butter on a rice cake. The problem is that I don't think doing so many grains is really that great for me. So top on the resolution list is buying a blender and learning to make smoothies, hummus, and other raw, low carb foods for myself. Hopefully this will improve my energy levels and shake off that stress weight I've gained.

2. Take more ownership in my kitchen.

Are you sensing a theme here? Unfortunately, most days I view cooking as a chore. I'm also more of a casserole/huge pot of soup type cook than anything, but I'd like to learn more about cooking "special meals." So the idea is start small and see if I can't learn to enjoy the process. Also, Allen does waaaaay too many dishes. I need to get on the ball about that.

3. No actually I really need to get in shape.

I know this is on every resolution list, and everyone sort of nods and understands that a couple weeks at the gym is about all anyone gets out of this. However, Apple does have a gym where I believe Allen and I could work out together. I'm also thinking about making bikability a priority wherever we decide to live.

4. Make the effort to keep up with family.

I've set up the blog for family and some church folks to keep up with us. Now I just need to keep up with it.

5. Get plugged into our new church.

We've had a church recommended to us that we're pretty sure we'll end up attending. My goal is to really plug myself in there and see if I can't use my wife without kids status to serve the church. Much better than moping because I don't have kids and aren't terribly career minded.

6. Not. Get. Lazy.

This is the meta-resolution that encompasses pretty much everything I want to do out in Cali. That's why working on my diet is number one. It's sort of hard to push your boundaries when you can't roll out of bed in the morning.

To close a chapter

I know there are probably at least a few people who have been reading my blog long enough to know about my year from hell (back when I was going through miscarriages and such), and many of those who haven't been reading my blog that long will still understand what I mean. This has been something I've been thinking about putting up for awhile, and today just feels like the day to do it.

Most of the explanation is simply this -I was going through the worst depression I've ever known, and since there were plenty of times I literally couldn't think for myself I was relying on people who either through error or ignorance misled me. I know who hurt me the most through all this, and all I can say about that is Allen and I have decided that should the occasion come up again these persons aren't going to have the same access to this portion of our lives. These happen to be people we both love and respect, so nuf said. But looking back I can see where all sorts of people, quite early on, should have looked me in the face and given me some hard facts. I can think of a couple nurse-midwives specifically who, if they had taken the time to sit down with me early on, might have averted much of this mess. Instead they just sort of exchanged looks over my head so that when people finally did try to confront me I became confused and ended up falling back on the misguided advice I'd been receiving from other sources. For people who don't see how this could happen may I suggest that you haven't dealt with any sort of long-term depression? I certainly wasn't "lock myself in my room for three weeks" depressed, but I was dealing with some sort of ongoing depression that often completely sapped my mental abilities. There were days I woke up tired and went to bed tired not having done anything more productive than play solitaire for three hours straight. In that kind of atmosphere it is really, really hard to stand up and say "I think we really need to take are hard look at what's going on here, because something sure ain't right."

There was a second aspect in play during that time I really think needs to be addressed. We've all heard people talk about "having a peace" while making a decision or feeling "a burden on their heart" or any of those other phrases signifying that they have had an authoritative feeling on some subject (usually meaning they should either go ahead with something or stop.) I certainly don't want to denigrate that because I believe the Holy Spirit certainly can and does nudge and prompt us in certain ways. We've all heard about the person who canceled their tickets at the last moment and were therefore spared some catastrophe or another. Who can say that wasn't the Holy Spirit? On the other hand, when you combine this sort of "I have certainty because I feel a certain way" with evangelical/American individualism you can run into some serious problems. Coincidences, feelings, and even denials can all become authoritative signs of God that x really is so even when there is no place in the Bible that is specifically mandated to be so. This might sound crazy, but how many of us have heard of someone taking a specific flight, choosing a certain name, or buying a particular house because of something happened to where they said "I knew God wanted me to x." Ok. Did God say so in the Bible? If not you really are sort of just guessing. It might be are really great guess, and you might be making a really wise decision, but it doesn't mean that taking one flight is right and taking another flight would be wrong. In speaking on wisdom and decision making Tom spoke about the fences and the freedom we find in God. Where there are fences (a thou shalt or thou shalt not) we have God's clearly revealed will for our lives. In the areas where He hasn't spoken we have a lot of freedom -where to live, what car to drive, how to arrange our free time, etc. There are certainly better or worse decisions we can make in those areas, but by and large we can make those decisions without running into one of God's fences. However, having individualist evangelic tendencies means that we frequently try to establish certainty where there is none -often in our emotions. I feel x, but you feel y. Whose is more authoritative? Who felt it first? Who feels it the loudest? We see this most in evangelical culture when we hear or read people talking about the finding and knowing the perfect (secret) will of God for your life. Because the secret will of God for you is just that -secret- people tend to start investing feelings and coincidences with the authority of God in order to discern this secret will. Once you do that it becomes easier and easier to believe in God sending extra-normal experiences. Although in the Bible God made it unmistakeably clear (often in a fall down on your face thinking "Oh sh**, I about to be dead" sort of way) when He was breaking the normative pattern of events, I think we evangelicals can be too quick to believe that we can all have a Moses experience where we get sent off on our life's great mission and that furthermore we should seek out that sort of experience. But since there are no more burning bushes we have to settle for seeking authority in various feelings and events. When I heard Tom speak about all this I had a huge aha moment, and much of that very hard year suddenly fell into perspective.

Let me see if I can pull it together in a way that would make sense. If, in the back of your mind, you have this sort of secret will of God theology operating it makes sense that you would invest all sort of coincidences, words, feelings, etc with a measure of authority and certainty or even hold them up as "proof" that "x" really is true -forgetting that when God does break into the narrative like that it's completely unmistakable. Combine this sort of theology with a measure of depression that makes you pretty reliant on what other people are telling you (and heaven forbid these people be firmly entrenched in the discerning the "secret will of God"), and you end up with one hell of a mess. There were some other people who did try to help me and tell me the truth of the situation, but many of them seemed to a. view me as a charlatan, or b. didn't have a good groundwork themselves for addressing the root of the problem -namely my depression and my faulty understanding of normative experience and the will of God.

And so with all that I would like to close what has been a rather difficult chapter in my life. If you don't understand how this could happen then let me simply say that depression + bad theology + bad advice can get a girl into a major mess. It seemed appropriate to put this up here where I wrote so much trying to work through it all both during and after.

April 20, 2009

Excess baggage?

How in the world can two people accumulate so much stuff?!? I thought I'd been pretty good at periodically purging our wares of things we no longer need/use/have room for, but you should see all the bags and boxes I've been sending out the front door either for giving away or storage with family. There's nothing like a move across the country to clear out all those things you weren't sure about keeping!

A caricature nicely drawn

I've started reading Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry, and I must say that I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I know it satirizes Christianity and the ministry, and that the Southern Baptist Convention probably had three fits when it came out, but for all that I'm finding it a very thoughtful read. Even though I haven't met any really sympathetic characters I have encountered quite a few scenes addressing calling, faith, wimps in the church, the seductions of power vis a vis the pulpit, Christian education, the challenges of the pastorate, atheism, etc. I certainly wouldn't say that in these first few chapters Lewis has painted the whole of Christianity, but the part he paints I'd say he paints quite fairly. All the things he caricatures are things that Christians, both individually and corporately/organizationally, wrestle with on a ongoing basis. I think one of the reasons Lewis's critique is so valuable is that the characters are (primarily) drawn from inside the church. For instance, Elmer Gantry isn't a profane fellow who decides that being a used car salesman is too much work and turns to selling salvation instead. Rather, imagine a young man growing up whose mind is completely formed by life in the church. Aside from a few college songs his entire imagination is formed by Sunday morning worship -the marching rhythm of its hymns, the rolling thunder of the preacher's voice expounding on the juicier bits of the Bible, the stained glass giving forth gaudily behind the choir, and all the various kings of the Old Testament adorned with gold, silver, crimson, and purple. Imagine a young man growing up with a mind shaped to the liturgy who nevertheless knew nothing of grace and doctrine and who (together with a friend) assuaged his hours of boredom with drunkenness and easy affection. That is Elmer Gantry at the point before he "converts" and is persuaded to attend seminary. To a large degree that is still Elmer Gantry when he sits before the crowd of parishioners to be ordained. Where he goes from there it's rather easy to guess.

We're marching onward to Zion...

Well, we decided not to hit Yellowstone after all. First we decided it really would be a bit cold for us to find it enjoyable and then we ended up changing our plans so we could attend a family reunion to be held a two days after we'd originally planned on leaving. It's going to be really great though, because it's going to be perfect weather for visiting all those national parks out West between Colorado Springs and the Grand Canyon.

April 15, 2009

Why didn't anyone tell me they closed the roads???

Being the simple Alabama girl that I am, it didn't occur to me that May would be the August Bank Holiday of the wild and woolies. Seriously. Hardly anything is open in May. All the winter activities have closed down, but very few of the spring activities have started. Maybe I should replan our trips? On one hand five nights in Yellowstone followed by a couple in Teton while folks are far away waiting for the summer rafting and horsepacking seasons to open seems like the ideal way to get up close to some really amazing scenery. On the other hand, that might mean getting close and personal with freezing or below temperatures and muddy trails. Hmmmm, what to do...Make an abbreviated trip? Bypass these parks entirely? Drive through Colorado and leave Wyoming for a more auspicious season? I have a friend who knows a lot about these sorts of things. Maybe I'll ask him. Of I could call my dad. They went there a year or two ago I think.

April 11, 2009

Any advice from my readers?

I really appreciate all the comments and encouragement I've been getting from all of you lately. This has not been an easy thing for me to contemplate doing. I'd like a bit of advice on something though. Everything so far has seemed to be pointing us to an earlier leave date -something like the last Wednesday of this month. Of course considering that I've only been thinking about moving to Cali for the past week and a half this seems entirely too fast, but from a purely practical perspective we could do it. So on one hand this all seems entirely too fast; I'll miss a young friend's dance recital; I'll miss a church party that has been anticipated, postponed, and on the calendar for over a month now, and I do feel rather as though I've been pulled up rudely by my roots. Would staying around longer is a hotel or someone's spare bedroom give me more closure?

On the other hand: our lease runs out this month, we really do want to take a tour of the West on our way out (although this could be trimmed down), Allen's new manager at Apple wants him out there sooner rather than later, and in the end would moving all our things around and living out of a suitcase for the last week and a half before heading out on the road really be less stressful than simply heading out on the road? (Tom, if you're reading this -the young'uns could use some advice -you've moved about quite a bit. How does one handle it?) Oh yes, one final bit of thinking. If we moved out earlier rather than later we'd be able to use Memorial Day as a free traveling day to go poking around a bit in Cali. We're trying to maximize Allen's vacation time so we'll be able to stay to fly back home and reconnect with family without using up all his vacation days so that Allen and I don't get any time off just to ourselves.

Thoughts? Support? Sympathetic sounding noises?

April 9, 2009

Faces towards the west

Well that's what it feels like. Apple called yesterday talking about salaries, start dates, and relocations. Allen and I have roughed out our 4,500 mile road trip to get us from Alabama to Silicon Valley while taking in a few sights along the way. Tentative leaving date -way too soon. We're looking at about three weeks here, which to my mind kind of stinks because that will mean missing the bake sale and hoedown that our church has coming up a month from now. I had been looking forward to this party for at least a month, but with our apartment lease running out at the end of this month there's really no good way to stay in town for another week and a half (that we can think of). Once upon a time we could have stayed with Grandmom and Granddad, but they haven't been doing the best lately and Allen agrees that would be much too large an imposition. On the positive side though our itinerary includes Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Zion, and the Grand Canyon (north rim). We've got two weeks and Apple will even cover some of our expenses (ie gas). So now I just have to figure out what to take, what to store, what to give away, and what to pack for our road trip. Allen isn't quite so sure about this whole road trip thing (what will we look like at the end I wonder?) but agrees that it's a wonderful opportunity to see a lot of places we've never seen before and revisit a few I enjoyed seeing with my family. So long as we keep a sense of humor about things and don't let ourselves get too rushed I think we'll be ok. Considering that our itinerary includes several days marked out for simply wandering around, I don't think we'll get too frazzled. We won't be able to visit the Rocky Mountains, but I also discovered that Mt Whitney is within a three-day or weekend trip's reach from where we'll be living.

All the same I'm not thrilled about moving so very far away from everyone and everything I love. I wish there was a wormhole somewhere a couple hours east of town that would put us out somewhere in the Sierra Mountains. It'd make it much easier getting to and from Mamaw's that's for sure. Unfortunately no such thing exists, and as is I really don't look forward to saying goodbye to all these wonderful folks.

April 8, 2009

I can be bribed.........with camping!

So I've been doing a little doing and checking on this whole California thing. Looks like there's Big Sur about two hours south of SV; we'll have a national seashore about an hour and a half north of us, and Yosemite is about three hours east. Looks like there are compensations for moving all the way across the continent. I must admit there's something attractive about living close enough to a place like Yosemite to enjoy it through the changing seasons. We'll have this spring and summer to get acquainted with it's various peaks and valleys. Then in the winter Allen and I can head back up there and play in the snow! I'm already planning to go try some cross-country skiing once the snows again. It's not Alabama, but even I can see the attraction of being able to spend one weekend hiking along some of America's most spectacular coastlines and then being able to spend the next weekend way high up in the mountains looking for waterfalls.

Hmmmm, now if we could just get some family to come out and play with us something that would be just about perfect.

April 6, 2009

This before that

Lol, so apparently nothing can really happen until they do a background check and determine that Allen really is basically a clean-cut twenty-something year old with rather good credit (does one have good credit when one has never borrowed money?). With everything happening so fast it's good to know that I'm going to have about a week to start figuring things out before the hiring manager and the recruiter are both asking Allen when he can start and how soon they can come pack up our stuff.

Part of me is still a bit anxious since Allen won't be receiving a formal offer until after the background check, (many's the slip betwixt cup and lip, etc) but really I can't see what there is to prevent it happening. I'm excited for Allen, but mostly at this point I'm simply tired from the speed at which my head has been spinning for the past few days/hours.

Apple called

They want to offer Allen the job. I'm feeling shell shocked right now. My mind is spinning with all things I need to consider -packing, visiting family, sorting through our possessions. Allen has to come up with figures and times for salary and moving. I need to come up with a sort of itinerary for driving out there in a few weeks. I'm literally shaking right now.

April 5, 2009

Back from the left coast

Things have definitely been moving fast around here. Wednesday Allen got a call that we had tickets, hotel reservations, and a rental car waiting for us if we could be on a 7:30 flight the next morning. One mad round of cleaning and packing later, we were all set. The flight over was uneventful. The most annoying part of it was Allen and I getting middle seats one behind the other for the second leg of our flight. I ended up sitting bodkin between two men. I'm grateful they were both rather clean cut and inclined to ignore me as opposed to some the other, more scruffy, specimens I saw scattered throughout the cabin. After we'd landed and gotten our rental car we headed out towards the Santa Cruz mountains and the Pacific Ocean. I'll admit my first glimpse of that great ocean was something less than awe inspiring -the ocean being tamed by both the bay area around Santa Cruz and the wharf coming out from the boardwalk. Heading north along California 1 though.....it's completely different than anything I've seen on the East Coast. The waves and general shape of the coastline are about what you'd see up along the coast of Maine, but the mountains are definitely western. Unfortunately we were trying to cover a bit of distance in a short amount of time, and we only took a tiny handful of pictures. We did stop one place with some trees growing right along the bluff edges and sling up Allen's new hammock for a few minutes to enjoy the view. Along the way up the coast we saw a lot of kite and wind surfers, and in Pacifica we even saw a Taco Bell right on the water. It looked like a beach shack where you'd get snow cones and overpriced hot dogs down around Panama City beach. As always the food was cheap, but for a view like that I'd eat 79 cent burritos most every day. Once we'd gotten up past Pacifica we turned inwards towards San Francisco and the bay. We made it there just in time to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge while the remnants of a sunset lingered among the clouds. I'd hopes to get there in time to walk about a bit, but since we hadn't we contented ourselves with driving up and down the hills of San Francisco -including a twisty jaunt down Lombard. By that point we were both plenty tired and decided to head back to Cupertino and check into our hotel.

The next day we roamed around the area trying to get a feel for the place and where we might want to live should Allen get the job. After lunch, I dropped Allen off for five hours of interviews and heading up to Ikea in Palo Alto. Didn't buy anything but got a few ideas for how to squeeze us into a smaller apartment. As anywhere, space equally money, but in Cupertino it can equal rather a bit of money. Once I'd finally figured out how to exit the store (Ikea can be rather confusing at times) I decided to go exploring some more and cut across to the coast again only to turn off after a while to head back into the mountains and get a look at some of the mountain towns. Some people commute into town from them, and I was wondering if it'd possibly be worth it. I will add that Allen asked them to get us a car with gps. I've never used one before, and I loved it. Except for a couple of times in San Francisco it never steered us wrong. I was wandering along all kinds of tiny little twisty mountain roads, and I never got lost. I did almost run out of gas, but I didn't get lost :D

That evening Allen and I headed back up into San Francisco to have dinner with a friend of his and subsequently got a lesson in what traffic would be like for Allen if we tried living up towards the bay area. From thence our time mainly consisted of packing up, getting to the airport, and hoping we'd get seats together. We did, and the journey home was spectacularly uneventful.

Allen feels quite good about the whole process. We both feel rather good about California. I don't feel compelled to move there, but then again I don't see anything much the matter with it (except for perhaps the cost of housing). Once I found out that if Allen got the job we'd get ample time to come home and visit folks for Christmas and whatnot I felt rather better about the whole thing. Our pastor has told up about a church up there. We might even be able to rent a house for the cost of an apartment, and I've been rather wanting to live in an actual house again. The coast is beautiful, and as I mentioned it appears that with careful husbanding of our vacation time we'd be able to visit family and even have time to do a little exploring ourselves. I still feel rather ambivalent about leaving Alabama, but I do hope that Allen gets this job. Lord willing I'm hoping we'll know something in the next couple days.

April 1, 2009

When will it stop?

It seems like every time I see a picture of my sibling, come across their tracks on facebook, accidentally run into them it's like ripping off a bandage. Sometimes I wonder when it will ever stop hurting. What with us maybe moving to Cali it's all been in the back of my mind. Even if my folks don't talk to me at least I'm close to them. If they would just pick up the phone I could be there in under half an hour. Thinking about moving though -I don't know if I'd even get to see them before we left. I wonder. Would anyone even tell me if Dad or Granny got sick? Would I get a chance to see them? You'd think it'd be easy to move away from a family that won't speak to you. It's not.