Don’t call us, we’ll call you

February 3, 2015

THE house

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 12:00 am

Back in July 2013, when we were first working on our move to the National Forest, I wrote about some of the first things I was smitten with when we checked out this house. From the first moment I stepped out of the car, I loved the strong piney smell, the little hill in back (for sledding, I thought — but alas, extreme drought), the garage that could be a painting studio, and the proximity to the park and library. What I didn’t mention at the time was one of the things that made me feel most at home:

tinfoil window

That’s our neighbor’s window, one of the first things we see when we walk out our front door. And it has foil covering it. Be still, my beating heart.

Perhaps I should explain, for those who have never lived with me. I like darkness, especially when I’m sleeping but also when I’m awake. So as often as possible, I made it a habit to cover my windows in tinfoil. While roommates tolerated it, my parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea of me covering up their front-facing windows for all the neighborhood to see. Probably after a brief rant about being a slave to others’ expectations, I resigned myself to the bits of sunshine and street lights coming in at all hours.

But my heart truly swelled when I saw our new neighbor’s window. Here was the place for me. Tinfoil on the windows, abandoned toys in the front yard, random traffic cones in the driveway — and no apologies necessary. I’ve always had modest tastes and prefer functionality over appearance; two (of several) reasons “the O.C.” was far from a natural fit for me.

After living here for a year and a half, and officially becoming the owners in December, I have found so many more things to love. In no particular order:

  • No lawns! Ain’t nobody got time for lawn-mowing!
  • No trash collection. Neal and I always sucked at remembering to take our trash out in time, so being able to take it to the dump at our convenience is a relief.
  • Three steps up to the front door, and none in the house. My parents’ house has other virtues, but three separate staircases in a split-level is not one of them. Stairs are not my friend, so one story was a must on my list.
  • Only 964 square feet means when I call out for help, I can be heard anywhere in the house. Not to mention the bathroom is so small, it can be cleaned in a jiff, provided we can motivate ourselves to get started.
  • Between living on the “shady side” of town, so-named because the sun sets behind our mountain early in the day, and having several large pines shading our house and property, we don’t even need tinfoil on the windows.

This truly is the house for me.

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February 2, 2015

Privilege

I wrote this back in July 2014 and I’m not sure why I never posted it. So, here.

“Would Lindsay be able to help me with this?”

I recognized the voice immediately, even though he was an exceptionally soft-spoken man. Or perhaps it was because of his gentle tone, not in spite of it. There’s no shortage of booming voices in this mountain town and we hear a lot of them at the Resource Center. My heart swelled just a bit that Greg was back and asking for me. Although he wasn’t one of my usual clients, I had spent several hours with him over the last month: finding job postings, applying for insurance, and seeking prescription assistance after his employer unceremoniously dropped his health insurance.

It was the latter appointment that was most memorable. As I began filling out the paperwork with the contact information I was beginning to know well, I asked what specific prescriptions he needed help with. He slowly pulled out a packet of carefully folded prescription receipts, drug usage information, and two business cards for his doctor and therapist. He placed each one on my desk, smoothing them out one-by-one. When he was finished, he held up his hands in a gesture to calm me and said, “Now, don’t jump out of your chair or anything, but they say I have . . . I think it’s called paranoid schizophrenia. The medicine is for that.” After a pause, he added, “But I’m not going to hurt you.”

There was no fear in me, just a sudden ache. Can you imagine feeling that you had to make that disclaimer every time you sat down in someone’s office? Several responses crossed my mind in that moment, and I almost blurted out, I’ve been locked down in a jail before – you got nothing on that! But I finally leaned toward him and said, “I’m so glad you came. I think we can help. And I’m so glad you’re seeing a counselor to help you through this. Keep going.”

Over the next hour, I filled out the paperwork, made calls to several pharmacies, and verified the needed prescriptions and costs. I sent him home with a promise that I would personally check on the progress of his prescriptions, even though my job generally ends at the paperwork. There was something about the anxiety in his request that made me want to give him some extra assurance.

It had been several weeks since that visit and I hadn’t seen Greg. I wondered how he was: if his prescriptions were holding up while he waited for new insurance; if he had found a job that he could actually afford the gas to get to; if he would feel comfortable seeing me again after having to lay bare so much of his medical history the last time. “Would Lindsay be able to help me with this?” was just exactly what I wanted to hear. It meant that he believed me. He believed that I was glad he came. He believed that I would help him.

Back in January when I was stressing that my teaching hours would be reduced, I had no idea that another opportunity was waiting just around the corner. But not just any opportunity; this is an opportunity 17 years in the making. See, when I was 17 years old I received my patriarchal blessing, a blessing of guidance and direction that all Mormons can receive. Over the years, one line in particular has followed me: “You will have the privilege of working among the people in the communities in which you reside.” It would be difficult to quickly encapsulate how this statement has influenced my life. When I was young and naïve, I thought the community I would work in would probably just be THE WORLD. Or maybe that would be too broad, maybe just the whole United States. I wanted to move to Washington, D.C. as soon as possible so I could start working on changes in the “community.” Apparently my teenage brain read that line as “You will change the world! No big deal.”

Even when I decided to narrow my vision and worked with some legitimately community-based organizations (book donations for struggling schools, domestic violence shelter, teen mentoring), it never felt quite like the realization of that promise. Until now. I’m not exaggerating when I say that nearly every single day of work at the Resource Center, I feel an overwhelming sense that this is precisely the fulfillment of that long-ago promise. This is the community. This is the work. This is the privilege. I have people like Greg to thank for that.

February 1, 2015

December: Read

Filed under: Books, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 2:51 pm

Even though most of the year went quite awry compared to my plans (I only managed to Organize, Cook, and Travel on schedule), I was determined to stick with the program in December. Mostly because curling up with a book is just the best.

Of course, if there’s no spreadsheet involved, it’s like it didn’t happen so:

2014 Books

The last four or five were in December, so I’m calling that a success (although I read most of The Secret History in November and In the Dark Streets Shineth is really brief, so don’t be too impressed).

While we’re on the subject, I want to show you my favorite thing about my Books spreadsheet:

Books 1998

 

Since I’ve been using the same one since 1998, when I open it, that image is what greets me. It may not seem all that interesting, but for me, it serves as a very important reminder. I can read books again! I’m so lucky! 1998 was one of the sickest years of my life and even though I had a lot of free time that year, in general, I had neither the mental focus to read nor the arm strength to hold a book. Instead, there was a lot of Jim Rome radio show and televised baseball games. No offense, but I’ll take reading any day. I think me and December and reading have a long-standing engagement.

So, have you read any of the books I read in 2014? Which did you like best? What’s on your 2015 reading list this year?

(Also, can you sense the sickness/insomnia here? Two posts in one middle of the night.)

August – September: Nest

Since I knew back in March that things weren’t going to go according to the plan, I was pretty open to any emergent theme by the time August rolled around. Neal was, of course, lobbying for more organizing/decluttering. But it didn’t seem to quite fit all the things we had in mind, things like trying to buy our house, going forward with our foster/adopt plans, and of course, organizing.  And then it came to me:

Nestverb. To build or occupy a nest: settle in or as if in a nest. To fit compactly together or within one another.

The genius of Nest was that it described both the actions I would take and the overall purpose of what we were trying to do: to build our home and family, so that it fit, and we could settle in happily. As the month went on, I realized I could just as easily accomplish it when I was cleaning the house or making needed home-buying phone calls as I could when I was holding a sick Addison in the recliner. (She even held my hand for about 17 seconds — so thrilling!) It was all nesting.

To that end, these are some of the things I did in August and September — before the grieving paralysis struck:

  • Attended the county foster orientation (to say it was not the best experience would be a huge understatement)
  • Got a referral for another foster family agency, attended their support group meeting, and decided to go with them
  • Read several books on transracial adoption and other adoption topics (while serving on jury duty for a murder trial, which of course, I was not selected for since no prosecutor ever would select me with my history and bleeding heart)
  • Cooked and froze a new batch of food for my work lunches
  • Agreed on a purchase price with our landlord
  • Researched the heck out of how to buy a house without the help of anyone with real estate knowledge (this was our landlord’s strong preference)
  • Started our mortgage application
  • Cleaned, organized, decluttered far less than Neal was hoping!
  • Took Addison for a mommy-daughter San Francisco getaway instead

Nest. It was such a peaceful theme. I’ll have to come back around to that one sometime.

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