Tuesday, May 26, 2009

James Taylor Song

So today it was offical - discussed a few minor points, got the letter signed and sent off. Wheels which have been slowly turning have suddenly increased speed a hundred fold: leave on Monday, arrive Tuesday, start work Wednesday. And then start the process of rebuilding a life.

I also confirmed with my parents tonight that I accepted and am leaving. Sigh. They are of course happy that I have a job and believe that in the providence of God this will be a good thing, but still are sad. Meeting with friends and allies as well, drinking more coffee over the next five days than is probably good for a person, saying the goodbyes that must be said but are never easy.

It suddenly feels like I'm living in a James Taylor song, something about "Leaving California, my past dwindling faint, future stretched out on a canvas of concrete and paint." Cue guitar solo.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gear Shift

I have the vague sensation of my life having downshifted, of hearing a horrible grinding noise which (as I look in the rear view mirror) turns out to be my transmission lying on the freeway.

By this time next week, I will be (hopefully) pulling into Tucson, AZ on my way to Austin. After this, I'll be back three or four times, the last time to move. And that's it. The next time I'm back, it will be as a guest, not as a occupant.

The enormity of it is only starting to fully engulf me. This is my last Monday here. Tomorrow will be my last Tuesday. I've got my list of things I have to do, of things I have to bring, of tasks that need to be accomplished when I arrive. But none of these detract from the fact that my life, in one of those rare occurrences, has changed literally overnight.

I'm sure about three weeks from now, when I've found a small apartment and have started looking for permanent family housing, there is going to be this incredible sense of the extent to which life has changed - especially as the moving date moves closer and our physical presence here will be removed.

How odd to find that thing that I so wanted and needed has changed my life so much.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And Then It Happened

I sit here in front of the computer, having slept 9 of the last 48 hours, my mind sluggishly apprehending the events of the day.

The seemingly to now (Day 110) has happened: I got a job offer. Huzzah! I got a job offer in Austin, Texas. Huzzah!

Oh no!??

It's not as if I did not mentally prepare myself for this eventuality when I left here - in fact, I gave it great deal of thought before I left - if I was going to go to the interview, I would accept the job if it was offered. Still, I have the feeling as some of the 12th century Kievian princes must have as they saw the Mongol hordes pouring across the plains towards them.

Oh dear.

Suddenly, there is so much to be done, and not enough time, and how will this get arranged? Things to be packed, schedules to be arranged..and the house? What will we do about the house? And getting the rabbit and the cats to Texas?

What if? What if? What if?

And then I have to stop, take a really deep breath, and just say "Thank you God. Thank you for providing me with this opportunity. I certainly cannot see all the avenues that need to be pursued, but if this is of you, it will go forward regardless."

New Moon Coffee

A challenge when one wakes up at 0300 is that in the event one wants coffee AND in the event there is not enough coffee ground, one has to grind more. If one has multiple family members asleep AND wants them to stay asleep, this becomes a bit more difficult.

No problem, said the (twice) educated college graduate. I'll just take the coffee, the grinder, and the container and take them out to the front porch. There's a plug out there. I'll grind it up, bring it back in, and brew away. None (but possibly the dog) will be the wiser.

So, armed with my three items in two hands, out I went onto the now-lighted porch to grind my coffee. It was a bit cool, but not overly much, so I bent down and started grinding away, chuckling to myself about my ingenuity.

And then I looked up.

The early morning sky was pierced with light from the new moon. Venus sat off to the lower right, twinkling away, while the stars played a pale myriad of softer light.

I sat for a moment staring, ingenuity and coffee forgotten, looking up over the natural beauty which persisted above the row of houses and the highway noise. How I have missed the moon, having no early morning commute anymore and therefore no reason to see it in the morning.

I went back into the house subdued and started my coffee. An idea tugged at my head - initially I disregarded it (it was a bit cold outside), but finally took hold. And so, snug in my "Grumpy" sweatshirt and with newly brewed coffee in hand, I went out on the porch to have a moon viewing.

I just sat, the warmth of the coffee in my hand and steam of the coffee curling around my noise, staring at the silent moon and Venus floating in the sky. To my surprise, as I stared at the moon, I heard the whale-like song of sparrows singing away (at this time of the morning!) rising above the dull roar of the highway traffic behind me. The moon hovered, Venus twinkled, the sparrows chattered, the coffee steamed, and I just sat in awe. All of this, all that I was enjoying in the morning, was the gift of a good and gracious God, a God who created and sustained all that I was seeing - and its cost to me was a cup of coffee.

That, and getting my eyes off myself and my cleverness for a little while.


Up at 0300 this morning. My sleep pattern has been lousy, seemingly for months now (the job loss, you say?). The Ravishing Mrs. TB has had the same complaint of late - it seems that it alternates between the two of us, and one or the other has been up at the time for longer than I care to remember.

What got me up? Not sure today. An odd dream about working in a grocery store with no air conditioning, followed by the thought when I woke up of "The Center Cannot Hold". And then you wake up, of course, and realize that you're not going back to sleep, and you might as well make a go of it and not wake your spouse up by twisting in bed, trying to catch that elusive sleep...

The waiting is grinding. I tried to explain to Uisdean Ruadh once the amount of time it takes to get hired in The Industry. He verbally shook his head in shock, but as I pointed out to him, my previous two jobs took a month or more between first applying and getting hired - and actually as I think about it, it got consistently longer over a 4 year period, from 1 month to almost 2. In my current case as well, the jobs were both applied for in the end of March, and only now are potentially coming to fruition, 2 months later (and it will be 2 months plus by the time I would start one of them - something to bear in mind the next time I get the "urge" to be unhappy).

The sense of lack of control is astounding, something one cannot grasp unless you have been there - in a lot of ways I guess, just like sleep: it comes and goes, sometimes without your conscious participation in the process. You can't really do anything about it except to ride it out - which, I might add, is bitter consolation at 0300...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Inside Outside Upside Down

It occurred to me last night that my inner life (my daydreams, my imagination) and my outer life (the way I am day to day) are two completely separate creatures - and therein lies the problem.

I know, I know - much of what passes for my inner life is in places, times, and situations that can never occur (the chances of me being a starship captain now - very small). But it is the person I am in those dreams versus the person I seem to be that is the question, and is the difference.

My inner life, as I thought about it, is not only the product of my imagination, but a reaction to how I feel I am perceived to those around me. Inside, I am a commander, a leader, competent, admired, a "lion" if you will; outside, I feel (important word there) that I'm a cog, a follower, of little import and little regard, using humor to lead.

These two need to be reconciled, as I would propose that one cannot move forward or succeed on some levels in life without this integration.

Why am I here? I think it's because I fell into the trap of allowing myself to think of myself as a follower rather than a leader, to the point that when I got an opportunity to lead, I completely shut down. Also, I had a rough go with a mentor where I thought I was being mentored to lead only to hear that "You're not", but then being told that on the whole we should all aspire to be leaders. Tack onto that some experiences through high school (ah, those bucolic high school years) of finding your always in the support staff but never in the leading role - and suddenly, I get where some of this comes from.

It's the same motivator as those that get caught up in any sort of games, be they role playing or MMORPG or X-Box: The opportunity to be something you're not and something that you will never be.

So fine. How do I fix it? - because there's a lot I like about that guy inside. His poise, his confidence, his ability to make decisions, his competence - something that the guy on the outside often seems to lack. How do I get these two together?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Calm Before the Storm

A sense of foreboding this evening - not necessarily bad foreboding, just foreboding. The interviews are almost done; by this time next week, it is likely that I will have some resolution as to my career situations, and perhaps a great change in my life.

The thought, as it rolls around in my brain, invokes one of two feelings in me: to either not deal with the thought at all, or to not do the thing I should do, which is pray. It's interesting to me that this are two options, and in both cases, they are a call to non-action.

Why is this? Is my mind, now at the end, shuddering away from the very thing that I have been seeking and refusing to rely on the One who guide my through it? This is also an interesting thought to me, as I have to have done with the inability to tell the truth - to others of course, but primarily myself.

If things go the way they seem to be trending, I will have a brand new life in three months: new city, new home, new church, new school, and have to start building new connections. The sort of "reset" button one keeps thinking one wants in life but seldom gets.

I had coffee with He Who Must Not Be Named (HWMNBN) this morning; he too is closing in on his second interview. I commented to him that as I look over the last 5 years, I can almost see the fingerprints of God on my life: I am currently in a position considering doing what I swore I would never do (leave my state, including family, friends, church, and school), having lost what I thought was a critical friendship (Himself), having tried and failed in doing my own thing (The Firm), having made a decision to leave where I had a safe job to where I had a cutting edge job (and lost it), now going back to a career field I thought seriously about leaving when I got laid off - it's as if, I pointed out, God has been prying my fingers off of what I was clinging to with a crowbar, one finger at a time.

To what end? I can't say for sure. Certainly to rely on Him more (a challenge any day, but more so when you're unemployed) but possibly as well to clear away the cobwebs of my thoughts on where I am and what I am doing, or to realize I have to "be" where I am instead of always dreaming about being somewhere else.

I'm not sure. All I know is very likely by this next Friday, the world, which has been in abeyance these last four months, will come crushing in like a tsunami running through streets.

Monday, May 11, 2009


So today begins a busy week: one interview today to drive to, then tomorrow on a plane to fly to my second interview on Wednesday. In both cases these are exciting developments (at least exciting for those of us who are unemployed): in both cases they are second interviews, which have not happened to this date (Day 100 of unemployment for those keeping track on Unemployment Bingo).

I have been really trying to prepare for this interviews, reviewing regulations and trying to grasp a part of the industry which I have not previously been involved in. It's good work, as it has focused my mind wonderfully on the (for me) fun side of the industry, not the side it seems like I have to deal with so often, the personal relations/politics/petty tyrants which plague so many companies.

But the odd thing that has been happening around Taigh na Toirdhealbheach Beucail is even as I have been invigorated as I prepare, so has everyone else here. The Ravishing Mrs TB has begun to make plans as if I am going to employed, whether here or far away, and has started planning things as if it is going to happen. Na Clann have discussed with her and myself the possibility of moving, and although they would be sad at leaving family and friends, are somewhat excited about the possibilities that might exist. It's as if a forward energy has moved into the house, giving direction and purpose.

But isn't that what hope does? Brings us out of our despair and feeling that there simply is no purpose to giving us a purpose, a direction, the ability to plan forward and think ahead? One doesn't remember what hope does until one dwells without it for so long.

And the remarkable thing - at least for me - is that this is what the Christian life should be (not the way I seem to live it, but there you go): a life of hope. As Christians, we have the unique hope of the risen Christ, of eternity with God, of the fact that this is the worst things will be. We have hope - a real, risen hope, or as Paul says in Titus 2:13 "...the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ...".

But is also seems to me that is is where we as Christians - let's be fair, I as a Christian - fall down so often: being hopeful. The world craves hope right now: every self-help guru or self-help book or self-esteem laden message is hope - hope that you can be a better person right now. Christians have a better hope: not a hope that we can be better right now or life will be better right now, but that after this life, we have the hope of eternal life with Christ in Heaven, or as Randy Alcorn says, "We were made for a person and a place. Jesus is that person. Heaven is that place."

How can I take the temporal hope I feel right now and make those feelings of action and purpose translate into the same action and purpose for my eternal hope?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Self Reliance II

So here's timing for you: I wrote this morning (see below) about the fact that I am grappling with God being in control, and this being on His time frame, not mine. Sure enough, I got a call today from the out of state interview asking me to come down next week for an all day interview. Great I said. Originally it was fly Monday interview Tuesday, but then was changed to fly Tuesday interview Wednesday. About 2 hours later, the more local company called and asked if I could come in to do an interview; would next Monday work for me?

Huh. Well there you go. Now instead of worrying about finding a job, I get to spend the next week getting studied up and mentally prepared for interviewing. What a much better mental place to be.

I wonder, in my heart of hearts, if God was just waiting for that realization to occur...

Self Reliance

There is a sense in which constant job hunting becomes an exercise in futility and depression - like yesterday. It was one of my "better" days (better in the sense of numbers), but at the same time mentally exhausting because of the fact that at the end, I realized I hit most of my weekly sites as well - so the expectation is that in fact I will find very little for the rest of the week.

But it brings up a bigger issue, as I look at this morning with a half hour search done: how much am I relying on this versus relying on God?

I have found that it is a constant struggle to not confuse the fact that I am to be diligent with the fact that in the end, I cannot "make" a job appear. I can put out a stream of resumes every day, but in the end only God can provide me with the job.

But in reality, it is God who is ultimately providing me with the existence of getting through day to day right now. The bills are still paid, food is still on the table, everyone is in good health - funny, that all seemed to happen without me having a job right now. Like somehow, I'm not really in control of it.

Intellectually I can grasp this. Viscerally it is much more difficult: we are so trained to act, to do, make things occur (if you've worked in the recent past, you know the focus is on "follow-up" and "closeout"), that the idea that doing what we can and relying on someone else (in this case, God) without worry is unnerving to the point of concern. Partially it may stem from the fact that to do this in real life is to realize failure repeatedly (if you've ever relied on someone else to complete something for you and have them forget, you'll understand), but partially it probably stems from our own pride as well, the sense that "I can do what I want. I need not rely on others."

When the job comes (as it will), will I look back on this time and say I was able to relax and see God providing for us, or will I look back and say I spent a great deal of time worrying and being depressed and unhappy trying to accomplish something that was never truly in my ability to accomplish?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Lessons for Living from my Labrador Retriever

1) Eat early. Eat often.
2) Never be afraid to try new and different foods. Even horse poop can be considered a delicacy if approached properly.
3) If you see a body of water, jump in it.
4) Persistence is crucial. If someone will not immediately give you what you want, continue to be right next to them until they finally cave in.
5) When you meet new people, always greet them immediately (sniffing optional).
6) There is never a bad time to give or receive love.
7) When in doubt, always be the first one to give the wet sloppy kiss.
8) If someone looks at you, smile and wag your tail. It shows people you’re happy and ready to play.
9) When you’re let out, immediately run as hard as you can.
10) When you’re awake, be awake. When you sleep, be asleep. Don’t mix the two.
11) Always be aware when someone looks like they’re getting ready to go out. They might take you too.
12) Accept love from others as they give it. For some, this means petting you. For others, this means rolling on your head. They still both mean the same thing.
13) When driving, stick your head out the window.
14) Not everyone is your friend. It’s okay to growl at those that are not.
15) Be happy always. Who knows when a morsel is suddenly going to drop on the floor?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Rain, Rain

A good day gone horribly awry. I made a trip up to the Ranch today primarily to look at bees - it's two weeks tomorrow, and I want to insure that they're doing okay. The forecast for tomorrow is rain, but I thought that if I went up today, I would beat it.

No such luck. I ended up peering into one and checking out (and well please indeed: larva galore and new comb) but did not get into the second one, as it was just raining too much.

So here I sit on a Friday, stuck inside having planned to do something outside. Not a totally wasted day of course: the hills are still quite green here (and will be more so, thanks to this rain), and I always enjoy watching the rain from inside. Still, it's frustrating: having planned to do something, I find I am unable to do the very thing I came for.