state of suspension.

It’s been two months (shameful!), but here is an update to cheer you up.

And a melancholy picture of Sophie staring out the window in the gray light of dawn, to bring you back down.

Today is the first day of spring, and I have so much gardening to do.  Our backyard is a wasteland.  I honestly can’t wait to get my hands back into the soil.

Construction on the house continues to drag on, which makes it hard to move on mentally / emotionally / socially / etc.  Progress has been made, but of course at this point it’s been going on since January 2011 and feels never-ending.  Dan has been traveling a lot, so between that, work, and other obligations, much time hasn’t been left for construction.  So our pace is slow.  The only room left that’s a wreck is the dining room though, and it was just recently stirred up again because Dan wanted to work on framing out the wainscoting.  So we’ve just got some woodwork to do in there, and a few other places around the house to touch up in terms of paint, etc.  I’m spending evenings doing wood filling, sanding, and painting, just trying to get the dining room over with.  So I can do something other than wood filling, sanding, and painting every evening.

In spite of that room not being done, we had swept it up neatly and made it look presentable over the past few months, and it was relatively fit for entertaining.  So we’re slowly making our way through a long list of people we’ve been wanting to have over for dinner for a long time.  It’s been good to see people, good to finally catch up, good to make food and share it, good to have people sitting around our table enjoying themselves.  Good to move into the parlor and talk until late at night.  At some point several years ago, having people over for food and / or drinks became my preferred method of hanging out.  I’m not sure exactly when that happened, but I’ve grown to really look forward to the more calm, intimate setting of the home, as well as increased focus on the person you’re with.  Bars, though I love them too, can be noisy, distracting, and expensive.  I’ve missed having a place to invite people to during our displacement, and this is why I’m up late struggling to finish the dining room.  All the “real” connecting and catching up seems to happen here at home.

Despite the construction chaos still going on, things are much happier and calmer since we’ve been living in the house for a few months.

At work, much is going on.  I finally wrapped up interviews and hiring for all the Support roles I needed to fill, and here they are on their first day with an HR lady from the NY office:

So I have had my work cut out for me in managing their transitions and training them and such, but they’ve already had a huge impact on keeping our workload under control.  I was also able to hire Lianna as our new Office Manager, so it’s been great to unload most of my purely administrative tasks onto her as well as fun stuff like party planning and art buying.  We also made our long-anticipated move into a new office downstairs in the same building, and so far I really love it.  Lianna’s coordinating a fancy office-warming party for April, which we are all looking forward to immensely.  Things are busy and exciting in the Tumblr Richmond world right now.

In other news, I have been eating a lot of kale, partly because I crave it thrice daily and partly because it can be obtained for two dollars and something for a huge bushel of it that fills up the entire refrigerator (from Relay Foods).

Here’s that mysterious stuff, Light Tape, that Dan makes at work.

We’ve had an incredibly mild winter, full of surprising 70-degree days that became less surprising and more expected as the winter wore on.  It did snow a little bit though, and I went outside and pranced around in it for the few minutes that it stayed.

Seriously though, it has been super warm out.  I’ve also been taking long walks around Church Hill on my lunch breaks, and enjoying the scenery quite a lot, as well as my usual podcasts and / or audiobooks.  Recent audiobook recommendations: Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan and Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad.

We finally framed all of our art and got it up on the walls, and I trotted out all the tchotchkes as well.  This all took a LOT longer than you would think, but the house finally looks like people live here, and I feel way more at home.  Dan has also installed a lot more lighting, built and installed the dining room bar, etc., but you can always read more about that stuff at The Shebaylo Times.

Soon I will have made it through a whole semester of tutoring at CHAT, and it’s been pretty awesome.  I’ll probably continue to volunteer there.  Just being in a house full of loud, jostling, wild children who test the adults whenever possible has been a lesson in patience.  My student is a boisterous, loving, frustrating, smart, selfish, maddening child, and she seriously brings me to my absolute limit every week.  As a nursery coordinator at church I routinely take care of way smaller tykes (side note: this has also been joyfully insane lately — there’s been a bit of a baby explosion at City Church), but I haven’t had much of an opportunity to deal with older children on the cusp of adolescence.  It is totally different.  I’m glad for the experience and for the little losses and victories that we have on the road to academic perfection (or at least being able to focus on something for more than 20 seconds).

City Group is still going strong, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know everyone a bit better.  Everybody in the group is so different, which makes our discussions go all over the place in a very satisfying way.  The level of support and hashing out ideas together and checking up on each other is part of what carries me through my week.  Recent discussions about how to love our neighbors better and really get to know them got very real very fast when the neighbor of one of the folks in City Group had his power shut off and no way to care for his kids.  You have these very hazy, high-level discussions about “making a difference in your neighborhood” one minute, and the next minute you’re getting a text that you need to make an emergency dinner for a struggling family, but you’ve already got dinner guests who are on their way.  As if I could actually turn them down, standing in my beautiful, huge kitchen with the refrigerator door open.  This time though, I was actually delighted and said “Oh hooray!  I can just make an extra large batch of what I was already making, and I have plenty of it anyway!”  There should be an overflow here — having so much and feeling like it’s natural to give out of the overflow of my blessings and my joy and my food.  I felt like this time, it really did feel natural and I did give simply out of joy, rather than out of a feeling of obligation.  Knowing me, next time it will probably be out of guilt again.  But, you know, continual process of redemption and all.

In terms of other faith-related studying, I’ve been reading and listening to lots and journaling it all.  There’s always a question of “okay how much can I really digest and have it actually sink in and mean something to me,” but I think right now I’m in a pretty good rhythm with a couple of daily emails, regular sermons from Erik and others, and some other sites / blogs I’m following.  Recent blog recommendations: The Introverted Church and WEPC’s 2012 Lenten Readings blog.  General science and philosophy and psychology have their place in my reading as well; I feel like I’ve been linking to a billion TED talks like everybody else on the internet — particularly this one, though.

When you’re young, “spending time in the word” or “reading something of substance” is this sort of nagging admonition you get at church and school, and it’s this chore that you know you’re supposed to be doing but always put off as much as possible.  But when I look back on the times when I did have a good habit of doing this, even in high school, those times stand out to me as really rich and peaceful times.  Besides being interesting and stimulating and a great provider of conversation fodder, it also keeps you aware of the fact that the world is bigger than just you, and you’re a part of something much larger.  Which puts your daily aches and pains and whines in perspective.  Like most of the things you’re “supposed” to do, there’s actually a good reason for it that you miss when you’re too busy screaming “Dude I hate rules, I don’t NEED that stuff!”  I’m just really hungry for more of this right now — I could honestly spend the entire day, every day, curled up with a book or roaming the streets while listening to stuff on my headphones or attending lectures.  Frankly, I wish I had the time / money for seminary.  But I swore, in a tone similar to Scarlett O’Hara, that I would “never go to school, again!”  So don’t worry.

I’m really glad I started processing all of this information on a blog, and keeping little snippets and quotes from things that I thought were particularly interesting or true.  At first I was like “Is there a point to putting all of this out there in the ether?” but it helps to keep me accountable and keep actually reading and understanding instead of just skimming and calling it a day.  Also I’ve actually gone back several times and been able to find everything on a certain topic that I’ve saved, thanks to the magic of tagging.  And this is really helpful for my own reference or for when someone emails me all “Hey what are your thoughts on such-and-such?” because you can just call up a collection of your thoughts on it, lickety split.  Maybe not important to everyone, but highly useful for people like me whose memories extend only for about a three-second period.

The concept of “waiting rooms” in life has come up several times lately in my reading.  It’s this idea that sometimes you’re just in these weird waiting phases where you can’t really do anything or you’re being held up or hemmed in by something else.  And that in these “waiting rooms” of life you should still try to be present in the moment and thankful for what is here, and not simply straining toward whatever you think will break the cycle.  Not that it hasn’t been good for me, but I feel like I’ve spent plenty of time being (painfully) fully present in this renovation waiting room.  We’re planning an open house in May, so I’m looking forward to that as an official moving-on point from this weird in-between stage in my life.  And as of now I foresee nothing but picnics on the other side.


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