Friday, October 5, 2018

Is it Falling Together or Falling Apart?

Tonight I came home from buying my daughter a new bathing suit for our vacation in two days, when hubby pulled me into the bedroom to talk. "it's bad," he says. "Bad."  Sometimes bad from hubby is a problem with the NFL schedule or hearing one of the kids say a cuss word, so I haven't panicked yet. But it is definitely on the bad scale.  A notice to vacate in 45 days.  They want to "do something different" with the property we've been renting for 3 1/2 years.

So I take a deep breath and I just know, in my chest, that this is what's supposed to happen right now.  I don't know what's next, and part of me wants to panic and pull my arms in the air, and such. . . but it's also somehow right.  For the past few months I have felt a pressure in my veins, all through my body, that we don't belong here in this place, in this situation, and in this house.

I know--of course I feel like this--I just finished the degree, hubby is applying for jobs (he's been getting contacted about positions EVERY week lately, which counters strongly the dead silence we got all summer), and I am applying for faculty positions all over the country.  I had two interviews last year! With each application we are praying, who will get it first? We are agreeing that whoever does get the gig, that will be where we go, and where we somehow "make it work." We feel unified, driven, but mostly anxious. We have already agreed that somehow, by January, hubby needs out of the position he's in, so having a massive life change one month earlier can't be that bad, right?

Tears roll from my daughter's eyes. She just got into an honor choir, she has a few friends, she doesn't want to leave school or move really, she just misses snow. What will happen with her guitar lessons? She's frightened and I feel ultimately at fault. I want to give her a magically stable home. But sometimes falling apart is not really falling apart.  How do I explain this?

Nov. 13, 2013. That's the day hubby got fired and our whole world changed. We moved across country with nothing coming. We were battered, tired, and not that hopeful. And five years later I have a doctoral degree, hubby is producing a #1 show (a torturous schedule that's killing him, but you know) and it feels like the kids are thriving.  We are also not really keeping up with bills--sometimes having only $40 left from a paycheck after bills. We are struggling with my piddly "adjunct" income and it hurts. We don't love the desert, especially not the heat. We hate the tiny rental house where kids have nowhere to play so they just play on top of us.

I pray that just like five years ago, things will crumble apart to reveal a new plan. Perhaps this new plan will feel a bit more permanent, and guarantee my children the chance to make lasting friends. I am grateful that we are getting kicked out, however awful it feels as I scramble for storage units and calculate a rough plan B or . . . is it plan C? I don't really care which plan it is, but I am hoping pretty intensely that it is a divine plan I couldn't possibly have predicted.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

It Doesn't Have to Happen

I have a feeling that this blog post will start less happy and end up joyful.  Let's see.

When everything fell apart, I changed a lot of how I view prayer and God.  Well, first I hated God. Then I stopped believing, and then I started wondering what it was I really believed.

So, when I was young, things were blissfully black and white. I could just say, "well, I know it hurts but the answer is no and I guess we'll have to deal with it," and then wipe my hands of your problems, or pretend to ignore mine, and get on with my day. I also believed in this crazy thing that many seem to, about "everything happens for a reason."  In some ways I believe this, but now as a more grown-up believer, what I really think is that most of those "reasons" are beyond our comprehension and we will never, at least in this life, get to feel like, "aha, I get it, God was planning this, or this blessing was hidden all along."  Those stories are abundant in not only Christianity but other religions as well.  I think of them as payoff stories. They go like this:

My boyfriend dumped me.  I thought he was the one, I cried like crazy, but then I met the REAL one and he was so much better, and I see what God was doing.  = payoff.

I tried for years to have a baby. It was so hard, but then I got pregnant and my daughter is amazing and I understand all the waiting was worth it for this great kid. = payoff.

I didn't get in to Harvard, but Cal State Whatever ended up being the greatest blessing of my life. = payoff.

Here's what I think.  Sometimes boyfriends dump and you never get married, and sometimes babies don't come, and it hurts like hell, and sometimes Cal State wasn't as good as Harvard. And none of that means there isn't a God, because God is bigger than that.  I believe there is a big story, an ultimate journey, and a God who cares but maybe in a way we can't fathom sometimes. Otherwise, you will always wonder what went wrong, when nothing came wrapped in a bow. And probably you will wonder how YOU are wrong, or why God hates you.

Again it comes to me, all these brilliant hymns, which describe real suffering to me. They resonate so perfectly, because there's something in there I can't even imagine, something deep and fulfilling and perfect, something in the verses of the Bible that I can't show you by giving you a payoff, or telling you I finally got a good paying job.

My goal is God himself, not joy, nor peace nor even blessing, but himself, my God.

When sorrows like sea billows roll.. . Whatever my lot, God has taught me to say it is well with my soul.

My place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark, and I do not feel the romance, I do not catch the spark.

It is not well, I guess, because things will get better. It is not well because I have what I need financially. It is not well because my kids are amazing, or I am blessed with doing what I like for work.

It is well because the creator of the Universe is real. It is well because He endured the worst possible pain, separation from God, to give me a way to know forgiveness, and to be at peace in my imperfection. It is well because nothing in the world is fair, and yet I am known, the very darkest of me is known, and ultimately loved in a way I can't even ever love back.

I will still pray for it to happen. But it doesn't have to happen, because right this moment, I rejoice that He exists, and that I am His, and He is mine.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

10 Years

I guess I feel like blogging, I seem to start these things lately and then give up.

We had an anniversary weekend, though we still have 4 days to go until the real 10. Hubby and I went on a trip, where nothing was as I planned. He had to nap each day, because his work schedule has kept his body from being able to sleep a full night--he gets up after 4.5 hours, then later on he's exhausted.  I knew that, but I didn't plan for it.

The restaurant I dreamed about going to was booked solid until 10. We were starving, so we went to another place, a fancy expensive place, which I downrated in my head and then reluctantly forced myself to enjoy. It wasn't what I wanted, and the adjustment was so hard. I was angry with myself for not being more flexible, and yet still not completely flexible.

It was hot, I was sore, and we didn't have the cash we should have, so we had to put some of it on credit which scares me.  I think I will have a doctorate degree in a month, but it's not the way I wanted--with a job at the end, a plan.  I originally thought our 10th anniversary would be celebrating the new life we'd worked for, and instead it just . . . was a nice anniversary.

I feel like the whole weekend was an allegory of my marriage. We have been putting out fires for so many years, and I have had so few weeks of just breathing and enjoying. We have two amazing children, albeit horrible and difficult pregnancies and births. We have a place to live, but we don't own it, it's too small, and I'm ashamed a bit when people come over. 

My husband has tried to get a better position for over 10 years now, and he'll be hitting 50 years old in 2019 without that position.  We've battled medical and dental emergencies that were life-threatening, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease. We never have enough money coming in to pay off the bad times--despite my ability to budget. It just seems like we never catch a break that lasts longer than 10 minutes.

And yet, just like this weekend, if I don't stop picturing what I wish it was, I will not see that I am very happy with a person who loves me for me. I have kids who miss me, who are kind to people, who are smart and healthy. I am soon to have a doctorate, that hopefully I'll be able to use as intended, and in the meantime, I am only working doing what I want to do. I don't earn enough to be a living wage, but we're always able to fill in those gaps, and hopefully I'm building toward it.

I think expectation and gratitude play a constant battle inside me. I feel frustrated that every little thing is earned so painfully, but maybe I should be grateful that I have the will to do that work. I feel frustrated that we get so little time together, always trying to scrape together a schedule, money, vacationless jobs, but maybe I should focus on the gratitude that we are moving forward. Slow is ok. It's just so hard.

There are harder lives to be had, for sure. There are loveless lives, and there is pain I don't ever have to feel. I am present and sober with a family who loves being together. No creditors are coming after us yet. We have purpose. We have today. And now we have 10 years of somehow staying afloat. Thank you God, for the flotation device. For whatever purpose it was to have us struggle through these years. And I pray the next 10 are a lot more boring.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Boiling Points

Well, our initial plans have not worked out.  We planned, hubby and I, that I would come here, finish a DMA in three years, and that same year I would get a job somewhere else. I would rescue him from the torturous schedule he works, that seems to be rushing him towards an early demise, and we would be planting in lush, dark soil by August.

But instead, we're in Tucson, I'm teaching 7 year olds "how to sing," (this is not really a thing before you're old enough to develop vocally, so it's more like "how to be musical,") commuting up two hours to teach a few hour-long students over the summer, trying to push to get the DMA done in 3.5 years, and we rarely see each other, rarely talk, have no room for the kids to play, no dream yard, no sense of a regular schedule. Hubby never gets enough sleep, and many times I feel overwhelmed and completely unhappy to be raising kids while I try to write every day--eventually giving them way more "tablet time" than I feel comfortable with because kids DON'T LET YOU WRITE RESEARCH PAPERS while they play.  That doesn't happen.

I'm frustrated, and tired.  I'm fat, and frustrated. I'm frustrated.

I'm hot too.  We're over 100 now, and it won't come back down until October. We have a pot in the windowsill growing flowers, and that's all the gardening I'll get this year. I'm not really a Southwestern gal.

I have been trained to notice that there's my timing vs. God's timing, but at these points, all you see is nothing working out. I never really loved long days at home, being a nanny, raising kids, and today I hate it. Don't tell me someday I'll look back and miss it. I certainly don't miss those horrible snowy weekends where I was stuck in the house with a working husband and a two year old who needed me every moment.  I'm not going to miss hours of watching cartoons with the 5 year old while I wished I could be finishing the DMA.

So I pray that maybe this is just the time for hubby to get a new job. A new job would fix much of what makes this life so hard. But I know better than to try to guess what would help. All I can do is take one day at a time.

Does it feel like we've been here since 2014? Just in this constant state of transition? I'm just so tired.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Our Mexican Dental Experience: A Review-ish

13 months ago we were on a family vacation when my husband bit into something with nuts and half of his front tooth broke off.

Since I met him, he's been somewhat prone to having infections in his mouth. They seem to come on quickly and have resulted in a lot of dental work. 

We have a poor history with route canals and every time a dentist suggests them, I want another option. Though dentists often poo-poo my doubts, about 6 years ago, he went to the dentist with a massive infection and blood pressure through the roof. The dentist herself rushed him to the hospital, and he lost SIX teeth that he had spent so much money getting route canals and crowns. Basically, all of the route canals he'd paid for were worthless? So we spent years paying off that bill and we tend to hesitate before making decisions, just trying to get him frequent appointments. While that experience was horrifying in itself, I often think of how I could have lost him. We have both grown afraid of dental work when it comes to him.

We had been told the front tooth needed a route canal, but again, would that just end in another removal? We took that half tooth to a local dentist, and got a suggested $3000 bill. So we waited, because--who knows? Would we pay that just to lose the tooth again? The other front tooth is a crown, the result of a route canal, and already having some issues--it was fairly chipped and we worried about it.

So we waited too long, and two months later that tooth was fully gone. The local dentist now said an implant would be doable at something like $5000 and an 8 month set of procedures. After that appointment, I talked hubby into going to Mexico.

We went to the dentist that is literally the closest to the Nogales border (Laser Dental). It had decent reviews, and is four doors down from the point where you enter Mexico. He was very worried about it. The first time down, he left all his paperwork in the car on the other side of the border and I had to go get it. Then he started getting used to crossing.

We are about an 80 minute drive from the Mexico border. This was probably the worst of the experience. He got really used to doing that drive. We never had time in between appointments to get a passport, so we went over with a birth certificate. This slows down the process, but it is still do-able.

I will stop with the narratives and give a bullet-point list of the experience.

1. The first pro is that the dentist office is convenient and very similar to a US office. The dentists, we found, are not great English speakers, but everyone else is. Some of the employees were born in Phoenix, and choose to work down in Mexico. My husband, however, did hate that every piece of information had to be passed from the dentist to the dental assistant to him, and sometimes having 3-4 people standing over him in a procedure speaking a language he didn't know well enough to understand while their hands were in his mouth was a little scary.

2. Appointments were slow to get and they ran late a lot. That could happen anywhere but feels important to mention.

3. The first implant didn't "take." They discovered the tooth next to it had an infection. So we had to start the process over. I don't know why they proceeded to do the implant even though the infection was likely apparent. They "risked" it, and that was a bad idea. After the infection next to that tooth was dealt with, the second implant took beautifully.

4. They were hesitant to give him antibiotics, and a few appointments resulted in him going down to get something done, discovering that there was too much swelling or a mild infection, and sending him home with NO WORK. It was devastating. We ended up buying antibiotics, since you can get them for just about nothing at the pharmacy next door, and taking a round for every appointment. It seems like this greatly improved our experience.

5. There is a no-frills atmosphere. No one was in a rush, no "extra precautions" and sometimes Tye worried about whether the lack of those precautions was dangerous. However, we did not have any problems, and generally the work was really great. He ended up with TWO surprise crowns in the front, and they are beautiful, and fit better than any crown he's had.

6. Our dental insurance covered this EXACTLY the way they would have covered a US procedure. Mostly at about 50%, some at 80%, and the implant at 0%. Everything was "pay upfront/get reimbursed" so we had to wait, but we were able to pay off much of it. The cost was about a third of what we would have paid here, or less.  In terms of cost, there is no way to overstate that it was actually--almost affordable. I wish I had thought to not put part of it on a Wells Fargo credit card, because they charge that horrible "foreign transaction fee" which was pretty high, but otherwise, it was the best possible financial decision we could have made.

7. The results are beautiful.  They not only finished the implant but fixed the crown next to it so the teeth look beautifully matched. I am very impressed, and impressed with all work they did as a final result.  Two weeks have gone by and he still looks amazing.

8. The whole process took about 7 months, but that includes the fact that the first implant did not take. They also insured their work for years, but require he returns every 6 months for a check-in (which is highly unlikely for us).

Ps-I had read online many stories of "I stayed overnight, and they did the implants in a weekend!" (Not only did the dentist tell us that it was a minimum of 3 months to heal before they could complete the implant, but even the wait time for the molds to be completed was a week, so that is not in any way accurate in our experience).

Biggest Pros: Cost, Work Quality
Biggest Cons: Incredibly Slow Timing, Lack of Preventative Choices/Antibiotics, Hard to get Appointment Times

There ya go.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

John 4

This is just my favorite.  I have tried to examine what it says about me, that it's my favorite, but ultimately given up.  Today my head is filled with the woes of the world, a reminder of how truly horrible we are, and ultimately, how totally confused.

So God is in walking around in the body of a Jewish man, and he stops, in the middle of the day, in a town that's not Jewish, to get water at a well.  There's a woman there, filling up water for her house. I know it's unusual for her to be there at midday.  Most of the women went in the morning, when it was cool and before doing household chores for the day. She probably didn't want to see those catty old judgmental jerks doing their gossipping at the well.  So she waited until lunchtime. She sees this Jewish dude there and she does not want to talk to him, because why would she?  Out of the blue he says, "hey, would you mind getting me a drink?" She looks around herself just to check if there's a Jewish person, but there's not.

This reminds me of a lot of things that happen in our own culture.  There are people who just try to avoid each other.  They don't talk because someone thinks they're somehow better than the other, and the other just shrugs their shoulders and stops trying. Or maybe they get angry, go on a few marches, hope things get better.

"Are you asking me?  You know I'm Samaritan, right?"

But he says, and this is crazy. . . "If you knew who I was, you would be the one asking for a drink.  And the water I would give you would be living water." And since He was God, I bet those words made her tingle all the way down to her feet.  Water is living, right?  It's filled with organisms, it's . . . what keeps us alive.  We're part amphibian, born in water, not needing our lungs until we're pushed out.  I mean, it is living.  But part of her knows this is so different.

"Sir," she says, because maybe he's insane, "You don't even have a cup.  Plus, are you saying to me that you are somehow better than the great Jacob, the fighter, leader of armies, favored by God, whose land this is?  The Jewish hero? This is his well, and I doubt your water could compare with his."

"If you drink this water, you'll get thirsty again. But my water is special. You drink it and you're never thirsty again. It becomes inside you, a spring of water, and turns into eternal life."

So this part always surprises me, because why does she know that he's for real and not a weirdo? Maybe she's just so desperate not to come to "gossip town" again, she wishes there were another source for water. She'll take anything.

"Sir, can I have some of that water? I would love to not have to fill up at this well again."

"Sure," he says, "call your husband." (Ouch, we all know why he said that. Low blow.  Maybe He knows she doesn't really believe him, she just wants water.)

"I don't have a husband." (She's so honest!  She could have just lied to this random Jewish guy, but she doesn't. And I think this is why he came to her. She's not a liar.

"You're right. The fact is, you've had five husbands, and the guy you're with now is not your husband.  But thank you for telling me the truth (I know how hard that was for you.)"

"Ok, well I see you're a prophet. So listen, here's my question, the Jewish people say we can't worship God here, and we think this place is ok. . . " (blah blah, she's asking a political question).

"The time will come when it won't matter where you worship anymore.  I'm here to change all that."

And then, it hit her for the first time.  Maybe he's got information about the messiah they talk about all the time. Or maybe she's being polite. It's normal for a Jewish person to say "this will all be better when the messiah comes" maybe she's doing that.  She says:

"Well, I know the messiah's coming, and then things will be clear."

And he looks her in the eye and says, "that's me.  I'm the messiah."

And she has no idea what to think, but this random jewish guy knew all about her, and now her whole life is changed forever.

And ironically, she got that living water without even asking.