Monday, October 25, 2010

An Ode to the Crazy Man on the Metro

One of the beauties of living in the Big City is all the colorful people who converge in one place. Tonight, I'd like to give a little shoutout to one of those interesting people I encountered on my way home from Philadelphia.
Me and Bess got split up on the return journey, so I rode the metro on a Saturday night from Union Station to my home metro stop. To be fair, so did Bess. On Bess' solo ride, she found a fellow Tennessean who went to high school with our old roommate, Heather. If I learned nothing else on this trip, I discovered that the inner joy of Bess' heart draws strangers to her, like a moth to a flame. These strangers are invariably charming, asking her to take their picture for them or complimenting her on her outfit.
My strangers are nearly never charming or complimentary. They are usually scary or crazy or both. I have to wonder- what kind of different vibes am I putting out into the universe?
Par exemple, as I rode home, I noticed a man with an abundance of odd bages and purses around him. He was in mismatching clothing and sat hunched over in his seat. I felt for him- he clearly was disoriented and seemed to be trying to refocus on something in his hand. That's when I realized that the thing in his hand was a tiny little notebook that he was frantically scribbling into in small even lines. For the record, any time you see someone doing this, you should go ahead and scoot away. There's nothing good that comes of tiny notebook keeping (see "Conspiracy Theory" for further evidence). And when he started referring to other, already filled tiny notebooks, I started inching away.
I had not made it far when he shoved the notebooks into an old purse and made direct eye contact with the guy next to me. Cocking his head to the side, he queried, "I speak Russian- do you speak Russian?" The man confessed that he did not. He turned to me and repeated, "I speak Russian- do you speak Russian?" I shook my head no. He continued with this question to everyone in our car, repeating it as many times as was necessary to get a response. The question was asked with such gusto and earnest interest, it reminded me of a 5 year old asking you if he can show you his new trainset. It was ascertained that no one in our car spoke Russian, so he sat back down until we got to the station. One might infer that he spoke no further English- however, the question was asked in a fake Slavic accent that was highly reminescent of Boris and Natasha, of "Rocky & Bullwinkle" fame. So I felt a limited amount of pity- should a Russian speaker have been located, I am not sure that the conversation would have continued for very long.
Anyways, he continued his search once we got to the next platform, and nary a Russian was found. Once I realized that he was crazy but not scary, I felt a bemused affection for him. He was a lot less depressing than many of the homeless people I see around the city, because he was happy. He had his notebooks and his quest, and he wasn't worried about finding anything else. I mean, I'm sure he was- I'm sure he thinks about getting food and somewhere warm to stay and maybe where he'll get drugs. But for that moment, he didn't seem to be thinking about any of that.
So here's to you, sir. I hope that you found your Russian speaking friend and rode off into the sunset a happy man.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Brief Pictorial of Mi Casa

Now that I'm unevicted, I thought I would post a couple of pictures of my new place. Any cuteness can be attributed to my aunt's wonderful good taste...







Anyways, I'm glad I get to stay here! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unevicted and Loving It

I am sitting here in the midst of a crazy hectic week at work- I've worked late every night last week and through the weekend. But I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the roller coaster I've been on for the last 3 weeks.
Last Wednesday, my roommates and I finally were able to send a letter that we were all comfortable with that addressed some of our concerns about the notice of lease termination we'd received. Basically, after doing some homework and requesting more information, we realized that the way that they were attempting to terminate the lease was questionable, at best. It was a long and sticky process to develop a unified letter to the property managers. We all had different opinions and different perspectives on what should be in the letter, how it should be expressed, and what we should ask for. It has been a major growing experience for me- having to make a decision with others, depending on other people for their stengths, working through disagreements in a way that builds relationships rather than hurts them. All of these things were essential to the process of making a group decision with people that you have to share a bathroom with. It would make life damned unpleasant to chew someone out that you can't escape from. I am very blessed to live with women who are probably more mature than myself and definitely have more experience in conflict resolution. And still more blessed to share with them an understanding of the order of things, of the Mover who moves all the puzzle pieces of life in ways that are mysterious, yes, but unpurposed, never.
And upon feeling the wave of relief of pressing the send button and knowing that we have made our requests and concerns known, Thrusday morning we awoke to a complete retraction. Our landlords emailed us themselves, expressing apologies for their waffling on the issue and any distress it may have caused us, but definitely reversing their decision to take residence back up in their home and ours. It was very pleasantly conveyed, but I could only laugh. Laugh because Jesus has known this entire time what was going to happen. And laugh because of all the ups and downs of the last few weeks.
The news of the eviction came on a day when I was particularly raw. I won't go into the details, those who need them have them, but being away from my support system for this last year has systematically compelled me to deal with nearly all of my issues and hangups. My coping mechanisms were stripped from me in the disruption of picking up my rooted life in Knoxville and unceremoniously dumping into a rootless DC existence. All the creature comforts fell away- significant comforts like longterm and initimate friendships or being able to see my niece grow and learn, to small pleasures like not needing a GPS to go anywhere or knowing where I could take visitors out to dinner. The only creature comfort I had to lean was my nearby family, who were and continue to be far more gracious to me than I deserve.
But in my heart, at night in the dark, all I had left was Christ. And I deeply resented Him for that. I cried out and I was angry and alone. I didn't understand- why did I have to be in the strange city with no real ties by myself? Couldn't I have a friend here who would be in the same boat? Couldn't I have a boyfriend or husband for companionship? Why did I have to do this hard thing against my will by myself? (though, let's be real, God didn't ask me to live in a hut by myself in Siberia- so things really could have been worse).
So I "punished" God. Which is hilarious- I'm sure that God was greatly persuaded by my sulking and pouting, by my thoughts and behaviors that I always turn to to push Him away. It wasn't until after I had a refreshing and renewing Christmas break in Knoxville that I began to come back to myself, come back to Him.
And I can say that since that time, I have leaned into Him and I have seen Him respond, over and over again. I'm not exaggerating when I say that nothing in my life right now is easy- every single area is a struggle. But I can also say that while things have not gotten easier, in many ways, my life has become infinitely more managable because I stopped trying to manage it. God took me away from all of the comforting support that I've known, I believe, to teach me to see these things as the blessings that they are, but not necessities. I don't HAVE to have those things. What I really do have to have is God, and His strength that is perfected in my undeniable weakness.
So as I rode the roller coaster of eviction, I can see now that it was a microcosm of the journey that we have been on for the last year. I started in denial. Then as reality set in, I dissolved into an anxiety meltdown, kicking into survival mode, running around trying to figure out how I was going to get myself out of this mess. From that place of brokenness and anxiety, I was forced to recognize not only my need for God and His strength and peace, but my need for community and their intercession and provision for me. I can't count how many people prayed for me, people who offered their spare bedroom or basement apartment for the interim, my aunt who was ready to buckle down and find me somewhere amazing to live, the friends who sent out SOSes looking for a roommate on my behalf. In coming to the end of myself, I did not find despair or chaos- I found hope and provision on every side. And as I reluctantly took the chill pill that God handed to me and relaxed, I relearned the lesson that He has been teaching me all year- I cannot and will not make a decision without waiting for Him to move and speak. I cannot and will not make a decision in rush or haste or in anything other than rest in Him.
Right before our landlords sent us that email, I was having my morning prayer time. I said, "Look, Lord, I get it. I'm really not going to make a move until You speak. I will wait for You and do as You ask. But, in case You don't have a calendar handy, we're kind of on a time crunch. So if You could go ahead and let me know what You'd like me to do, I'd appreciate it." I closed my Bible and went upstairs to be greeted by the news that I didn't have to move after all. He's a funny guy, that God.
Anyhoo, here's looking at all of you wonderful people who have been supportive and listened to my meltdowns and revelations. It has been much appreciated! And now that I know that I won't have to move it until next year, I'm going to the William Sonoma outlet and getting me a waffle iron.