Sunday, February 27, 2011

Now the Green Blade Riseth...

This is a big old swatch of bright, green grass.  In fact, it is grass in Eugene OR.  It is the way the grass looked in late January.  We'd flown out of CT barely missing a giant snow storm.  In fact, we'd land in a storm as well, coming off the red-eye.  But while we were there in Eugene, this is what we saw.

It does a soul good to see green, especially this winter when we are so white-weary of the frozen water droplets.

Sometimes people ask me if I'm nervous about moving to Eugene.  Well, naturally, YES, of course!  It's very far away from the East Coast.  It is not my beloved Virginia.  They will give me lots of tofu, but it's absolutely going to be an adjustment to living in the new land of the West Coast.

What is keeping me calm is remembering that this is not just a job- this is a call.  I had myself some serious conversations with the Great Above during this entire process.  And my new gig held the most intense, unique interviews ever.  It was very bald and open and revealing- I don't think I've ever revealed so much about myself in a weekend, ever.  But I met so many people who all joined together to help make the decision- and that's what is keeping me calm and centered.

This is not just my decision.  It's a mutual decision of a community in prayer.  Whew.  That really does relieve a lot of pressure.  Really, it does.

We can't exactly even explain in English WHY we know we were called out to Eugene.  We just know that we HAVE been called out, and that for some inexplicable reason, we both feel a sense of certainty and peace.  It's beyond logic, but we know this is right.

How about some more Eugene pictures?
These are flowers.  They were blooming in January.  People go for walks together in January, outside.  In fact, I ever heard that people ask other people to meet them somewhere for a chat and to hang out, and instead of going for coffee, they go for a walk.  People walk up and down the Buttes (pronounced BEAUTs.  Really!) and hang out.  It'll be a nice change from the eating-centered hanging out I've done all this time in Connecticut.  

Our current opinion of Eugene!
The mittens are from a store called Down to Earth, of all this green, sustainable living stuff.  Compost bins, table wear, pots, pans, nut milk bags, garden items... way too exciting!  Eugene even has a store that sells natural latex beds (it's the non-hot alternative to memory foam.  M is agitating for a memory foam bed!)  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Moving is FUN!

So, news is out that we are moving to the West Coast.  I'm so excited.  They give you tofu right in the restaurants.  The trees have lichen on them, so even the leaf-less trees have a faint green.  We'll be about an hour from the coast.  I think it'll be fun to live in-between the coast and the mountains.  I'm told people ski on the mountains.  I've actually NEVER skiied in my entire life.  So these hot-shot kids in Eugene will have a lot to teach me.  I bet Eugene is teeming with skiing whiz-people.

Anyway, the packing is going OK.  So far, I have accidentally smashed only my favorite beehive shaped cookie jar.  I have repacked several boxes BETTER and LABELED them.  Ahem, my beloved M.  Packed.  With paper, and padding, and labels.  This is important with packing, as you found out this summer.  But you make me amazing fried eggs, so you are off the hook.  Except that our bread machine died, so I can no longer have toast with my eggs.  The death of Bread Machine is truly tragic!

For fun, I'm getting moving QUOTES, to give my new employers, so they may pay the movers for moving me to a new house/condo/apartment/townhouse.  We haven't yet found a place to live.  My plan is to get to Eugene and then house hunt furiously.  It'll be fun and adventurous.  Don'tcha think?  Anyone live in Eugene?  Wanna come house-hunting in a few weeks?

One company has already sold my name to other small moving companies, so I'm getting random calls from places like New Jersey.  This will probably continue until I change my phone number.  But really, alleged moving companies, if you don't leave me a message, do you really think I'm going to answer the phone when it says BLOCKED?    And if you won't do an in-person estimate, I am not going to let you move my stuff.

In other news, I had a lot of non-moving related fun yesterday.  I visited my friends at St. Mark's Storrs, which is one of my favorite Episcopal Churches in CT.  They are just wonderful folks.  St. Mary's Eugene people will soon see the coolest Advent/Christmas/Lent thing EVER.  I'm not kidding.  You guys will flip.  

I also did an indoor triathlon yesterday afternoon.  I'm still waiting for results to be posted.  Clearly, Star Hill Sports has just done their first tri, because results weren't available instantly.  Don't they realize that many triathletes are junkies for numbers?  Don't look now, because I did this one without having swum for a month or run since the first snow.  I've only been cycling inside on a trainer while watching cheesy sci-fi.  But I might have posted a person best in the run.  I don't know yet, but I'll share if I do!  It WAS a nice tri, though.  Star Hill really does have great space for indoor tris, and should really, really consider doing a series during the winter.  Which is actually when the magazines tell me I should be doing "active rest" and mountain biking (check), eating real food (check), and doing engaging winter sports like snow shoeing (uncheck.  No one will lend me their snow shoes!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hoodie Sweatshirts Change Lives

Well, back a few months ago, I owned only one hoodie sweatshirt.  It is the Newington Soccer sweatshirt my parents bought me when I made travel team and we have to buy certain parts of our uniform.  It has my name on the back.  They bought it too big and gave me this huge lecture about taking care of my sweatshirt.  20 years later, I still have it.  You're welcome, Mom and Dad.

I wore it while my dad taught me to refinish and I re-did a secretary desk which now looks really awesome.  But my picture won't upload, so imagine a gorgeous desk.  

Awesome, eh? 

I was very sad here in the Frozen Icey Nutmeg state.  (Sounds like a coffee drink, no?)  It is hard to find a place to ride your bike.  I often racked my bike and drove it to places to ride it.  I wished I lived in a place where I could ride my bike right out of my house. 

I was also getting very sad at work.  I work in the ED and I love my ED people and my Nuero people... but the nature of our work involves a lot of death and dying. And while my people like to feed me cake and coffee (and whole snack spreads on C9I! You guys are awesome), the death and dying was starting to get to me.  I love helping people.  I love talking with a person as they work through their issues and being present as God's grace illuminates darkness.  But I grew weary of the dying.  Sometimes I'd have 9 deaths in a single night.  Once I had two babies and a co-worker die in the same day.  I'd always said that I would know it would be time to get out of the chaplaincy work when I started feeling numb.  That time came. 

Unbeknownest to me, M had purchased a Christmas present in the fall.  It was this.

It is a hoodie sweatshirt from one of my favorite bloggers, the Fat Cyclist.  I like him because he does good things for humanity like raise money to fight cancer, and he's obsessed with his bikes.  He went to hell as his first wife died of cancer, but he has come back to celebrate living fully. (And his second wife, nicknamed the Runner, sounds so awesome.  I have the most major girl crush on her.) He also describes crashes in great detail.  A true cyclist, really.  I like to imagine that the Fat Cyclist and I could have a nice chat for an hour or two, talking about nothing but crashes and comparing scars and eating our weight in french fries.  It would be fun.    

After this hoodie arrived, it immediately began working its hoodie magic even though it was being hidden.  I saw a posting for a job that looked like a lot of fun in a really cool location.  I talked to the boss there and applied for the job.

And Martin gave me the hoodie for Christmas.

And the job invited me to fly out to interview as a finalist.  And I loved the place.  The people were awesome.  The town was awesome.  And the weather is so mild you can ride your bike every day.  In fact, many people bike commute, riding right out of their garage and all around the streets.  I thought this really rocked.

Now church work isn't just a job.  It's a call.  Priests and clergy (and hopefully, every person of God) see their work as a calling, as something where God calls us to grow and change and transform.  So when we join a parish, we aren't just taking a job for some quick cash and sweet vacation benefits.  We should be accepting a call because we believe it is where God wants us to go next.  The parish calls us because they discern in groups called "committees" that we are the one being called there.  It means when the call comes, it's more than just you- it's a process that involved a few dozen people saying, "Hmmmm... I think this is the right call." 

Whenever I get the nervous tremors about moving 3,100 miles away, I remember this.  IT'S NOT JUST ME MAKING THIS CHOICE!  Phew.  So much less pressure. 

So when the church called, I accepted.  And we gave each other these for a Valentine's present.  Therefore, Hoodies Change Lives.  Because all the positive changes in my life these past six months were accompanied by hoodies. 

So I have a new call, to Eugene, OR.  I will become a West Coast priest.  I will be bike commuting and getting to eat tofu in fast food places.  It's not just a cool job.  It's a call. 

It means that God, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

And the hoodies are just a bonus, after all. 

Craig's List

So we are trying to sell M's Kia Sephia on Craig's List, and I wrote a joke ad that he dared me to post.

I've done all sorts of things on a dare, like bungee jump.  So post an ad?  Sure.

It is for an ugly, but well running Kia

Then it got nominated for Best of Craig's List.  And I read this, which might be the best ad ever written.

Please put down any items- coffee, soda, babies- before proceeding. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

MICROSTORM! And shout out.

In the category of super-creepy things in Connecticut... I was watching the sun set from my 10 floor place, and freezing my duff off.  That might be due to M's bad habit of opening the windows because he is "hot" and it's "stuffy".  (We don't even use the heat in here, but the man has a body temperature that should be studied as a model for a portable fusion device.  He's hot, in so many ways.)  I was wearing a sweater, a shawl, socks, AND Uggs and still shivering. 

Suddenly, I heard a rushing wind sound, and even as the west is still pink and lovely with a few lazy clouds in the light blue sky, these black snowflakes started barreling down.  At first I yelled, "OHMIGOD, IT'S HAILING!"  M insists it's snowflakes but they look black because they are totally backlit.  There are black rolling clouds visible to the North.  So it's some sort of freaky microstorm. 

This weather is creepy.  Cold, and creepy.  Any day now, I am expecting the elevators to start pouring blood and to have someone chop down my door yelling "Heeeere's JOHNNY!"  And I've never even SEEN the Shining- only the Shinning!  (Thank you, Simpsons and the Treehouse of Horror.  Without you, I'd never know the plots of horror movies.) 

Meanwhile, in the GOOD NEWS front, I did have an excellent day of errand running.  Among other things, I got a much-needed gig bag at a fabulous price from Lasalle Music in West Hartford, on the corner of Lasalle Rd and Farmington Ave.  It was more than $50 cheaper than comparable bags I'd been looking at, and it was long past due that I bought a bag for my electric piano (88 weighted keys, and only a few basic piano and harpsichord sounds.  Serious piano stuff and no fluff.  If you really wanted to know.).  Previously, I've been asked to bring it for retreats and small events, but it was a tough thing because I had no bag, so I would wrap it in blankets and towels.  This will make that SO much easier, so now you may ask me any time (well, if you know me and we live in the same state and stuff) to bring my piano to events. 

Meanwhile, it's still sunset and orange and pink and blue and there's STILL CREEPY BLACK CLOUDS AND SPOOKY SNOW, accompanied by a few flocks of starlings and crows, circling our buildings and crying out in scary bird voices.  I may never leave my apartment again.  Seriously.  They write thrillers about stuff like this. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bike commuting and cities

There's actually a parking lot beyond that pile of snow.  Really. Sandra C, your church is fun!
So, it's a dark, cold, cold winter with snow piled up more than 12 feet in places and there's no way I can possibly get a bike outside in these conditions. 

Of course, I'm riding my trainer indoors and obsessing over bike commuting.  Aren't you?  On the bright side, thanks to netflix and a newly repaired hand that can handle long stretches on the bike, I have discovered the fun of watching TV while I ride.  Please don't judge me when I share that my favorite current shows to catch up on include Macguyver and Stargate.  My deep love for Richard Dean Anderson is rivaled only by Patty and Selma... barely.  Next, I think I might take up the A-Team.  And Fringe.  Suggest other shows for me, too!  I will get LOTS of pedal time in. 

I'm also wondering about bike commuting... when I am in heaven, I will bike commute to work every fine day. 
All ready to get racked for a tri! (Yes, I need a better seat bag).  With road pedals.  This is not my commuter.

Years ago, in DC, I first rode and commuted in toe straps.  Then as I started riding distance with the cops who were training for Unity Tour, I traded up to clipless.  I've ridden two clipless systems (recessed hybrids, and full road pedals) exclusively now for the last 6 years.  But now I wonder if in a city environment, it might not be better to go back to toe straps.  It's not as efficient as real clips, but it does help you get your foot out of a pedal quickly.  I've had a few falls when I couldn't unclip fast enough, and it's embarassing.  Nothing like The Crash, but the sort of thing where other cyclists first act concerned and then totally rag you for your clumsiness.  They ask you about your ability to walk and talk at the same time.  And you spend the rest of the riding with a bruised ego saying, "No way.  I've been riding clipless for years.  I'm power girl.  POWER GIRL!" 

So, if you commute, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  What do you do for pedals?