Friday, April 30, 2010

Finding Work, and Peace


A few days ago, I got out a pile of “work” shirts to iron, and then stopped: it made no sense to iron most of these shirts.

Why? Because they are going to be packed into a box, and put in a truck, and shipped 4,000 miles away. If I were to iron them now, they would not get worn before being re-wrinkled.

And who irons if they don’t have to? I don’t.

Another thing I avoid doing if possible is looking for work. There seems to be so many people in my life right now that are searching for jobs. One person is laid off, the next has a job that is outsourced to India. They drive and fly and search for someone somewhere that is willing to pay for their skills, waiting for a call that will affirm their abilities.

Sometimes that call comes; sometimes they are left to continue their search, growing more anxious by the day.

I can remember looking for a job four years ago. I would check district after district on Monday mornings, looking for leads, donning professional attire and marching into offices trying to elicit an interview.

I succeeded in getting many interviews…but when it came to actually getting a contract, I was coming up short again, and again, and again.

Our upcoming move has put me back in job-hunting mode again. Though our destination has a more favorable job market than I faced four years ago, it doesn’t change the unease and the anticipation of securing an actual position.

Openings don’t equal jobs; interviews don’t ensure positions; jobs don’t equal satisfaction.

I have a friend who is currently pursuing a new position, but she is doing so by choice. She has a job and a network, but she is looking for more, hoping for more in a new place. She doesn’t have to leave where she’s at until she has something better lined up.

I envy her situation.

I am leaving a job I love, a place I love, with no promises of what I may end up with elsewhere.

Change offers such great opportunity for new adventure and opportunity, but a cloud of vulnerability and unrest accompanies the anticipation of those positive experiences.

Six months from now, when we are settled into a new home, when I have started at a new job, and when Curtis has adapted a new routine, I am sure I will revel in all the new adventures and opportunities of which we can be a part. The wonder and unrest that attempts to plague me daily will be a faint memory that I dare not recall.

Until then, I will trust that details will all work out in the end, and while I am at it, appreciate a break from ironing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glimpses of Everyday


Grading pile at school has been extinguished.

Face is radiating heat after hours in the sun and wind at the track.

Thirteen page research paper edited for my sister, her last before graduating from college.

Craigslisting continues for a place to live this coming year.

Yes, it has been another satisfying day.

Would anyone care for another?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Line Between Work and Play


I feel like I've been talking about track a lot lately, but the reality is that it has indeed consumed my life.

This became glaringly obvious to me as I had the following conversation with a student in between classes yesterday afternoon:

Student: So, what am I running today?
Me: Well (pulling out the sheet I keep handy on race days for this very question--which comes millions of times), you are running the 100 hurdles, the 4x100 and the 800m.
Student: The 800?

(Pause) The 800, for all of you non-track people, is two laps around a track and nearly a half mile. To an eighth grader, racing this far is a very daunting task. Who am I kidding, to the majority of the average population this is a very daunting task.

Student: The 800?
Me: Yeah, Curtis and I were talking about this last night. We think you'll do great in the 800. In practice you have shown yourself to be a strong runner, and as we talked about this yesterday while making cookies, we felt confident that you'll do a great job.
Student: You talked about this while making cookies?

(Pause) At this point I have successfully distracted her from the intimidating race factor to the your-teacher-has-no-life factor...and she is grinning (success!!).

Me: Yeah. We wanted cookies, and still needed to map our our plan for the meet. Since we didn't have time for both, Curtis sat at the table while I measured flour and we talked through all the options. And that is when we decided that you would run an amazing 800 if put up to the task.
Student: You talked about this while making cookies.
Me: Yes...and you'll do great.

And this is when I realized the balance we carry in our everyday lives is a delicate one, a balance where baking cookies and planning event assignments simultaneously is necessary.

Because of the "focused" nature of my current existence, finding entertainment in these daily routines is a necessity, and nowhere is this easier than at a middle school track meet.

Yesterday it poured all day, and the show went on.

I arrived at the track, laden in running tights and pants, and layers of clothes under my rain coat. The junior high students ignored the rain in an attempt to maintain style, layering lace camisoles to peak out from their jerseys, and wearing tights with racing shorts that are intended to be paired with short skirts.

There we were, losing sight of shot put landings in the midst of deep puddles while the students gallivanted around in their muddy, soaked layers, chatting between throws as if they were at the mall.

After a few great victories and a couple wet meltdowns, we packed it up and headed home, just in time for the clouds to clear for the sunset.

Back at home Curtis and I discussed the plans for today's meet, the results of yesterday's meet, and the plans for the weekend. He made hot chocolate, I checked my e-mail, and shortly thereafter we received a phone call from a friend who needed some medical advice, delaying further evening relaxation.

And then we went to bed, with our plans to run the same play again today mapped out.

It's true, our professions--as teacher, doctor, coach--consume our lives. But sometimes they do so in beautiful ways, where serving others becomes an extension of ourselves, and the line between work and play is blurred beyond sight.

And that's what keeps us going.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

The "Achilles" keep it flexed at night...

“…but mouse, thou art no thy lane, in proving foresight may be vain; The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy!”
(from “To a Mouse”, by Robert Burns)

Over a year ago Curtis flipped ahead in his calendar of medical school and determined that this spring he would train for a marathon. This, he resolved, was the only window he had to put in the necessary hours to train, and eat and sleep in a way that would prepare his body for the task.

The medical school regiment (as you might guess) is quite rigorous, requiring not only ungodly hours in the hospital, but additional hours studying when you get home. The time on your feet and the hospital, coupled with the headache that brews from supplementary studying leaves only a craving for sleep at the end of the day—a craving that often goes unfulfilled for weeks at a time.

Because this formula equals meager health at best, training for anything in the midst of it is pretty much impossible. This was a tough reality for Curtis to swallow, having been a competitive high school and college athlete for the nine years prior to medical school, but he was content to take all the self-discipline and rigor needed for competitive, long-distance running and invest into medical school. It was, after all, only a short term hiatus.

Residency, which starts this summer, requires a similarly unbalanced lifestyle. Thus, the winter and spring prior to graduation, which brings with it a comparably lax schedule, offered the hours needed to run, stretch, lift, eat and sleep that Curtis needed to competitively exercise his narrow frame and challenge himself to see if he could indeed get “back down” to the times he was running four years ago.

One month ago, he succeeded, bettering his half-marathon personal best time while I stood by amazed. Why was I surprised? Because he was injured. His Achilles tendon had flared up weeks before—a chronic injury that plagued him through college—and his training had changed from actual running to the obligatory swimming and biking. He didn’t expect to run fast than he ever had, when he wasn’t running much to start with.

One month later, we are heading into the last week of training…and he still isn’t running much. His Achilles issue migrated into an IT band (think knee pain) issue that has persisted in sidelining him from even biking. He has been using an arm cycle (think biking with your arms) to get his heart rate up, and while his arms are looking attractively muscular, his confidence in his legs’ strength is waning.

He and I have had a lot of discussions about this marathon, especially the past couple weeks. He has invested so much time and energy into these last four months of training, and it is so difficult to think of coming up with little to show for it.

The half-marathon seemed like such an unlikely exception—can we even hope for another just like it? When the training has only gotten worse? When the distance is twice as long?
And yet, what does he have to lose? The training is done. The window is closing. It will likely be another two or three years before he has time to train again. And when it’s all said and done, races that fall so short of expectations still can hold valuable lessons.

Just because we don’t get what we expect out of situations, doesn’t mean we walk away empty handed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Finding Rest

I woke up in a haze this morning.

This is a rarity for me. I am a wake-up-before-my-alarm kind of person, awake and ready for the day. I am the girl that falls asleep at 8:00 if I am tired, and was always the first one in bed at high school sleepovers. I have never pulled an all-nighter, and am pretty sure that not going into a profession that demands nighttime shifts was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So what explanation could be offered for the blur?

Allergy medication has long been a culprit of morning haze. I broke down and took a dose yesterday evening when my throat swelled up like a flaming mosquito bite. I was going out to see my new favorite baby, and I would not be distracted from his infant-smelling goodness by any local pollen.

Track meets and practices have all but taken over my free moments, considering that I’ve almost worked forty hours in the last three days. The beautiful sunshine has been the saving grace of the endless hours, and my body surely has collected its fair share of vitamin D.

The details of moving were the last thing we discussed as Curtis and I fell asleep. After a day of school, track, working out, church, and baby, we crashed into bed and started running through the lists of things that need to be determined for the upcoming move: Apartments. Jobs. Contacts. Dates. Flights. Visits.

So. Much. Stuff.

I fell asleep listing people in my mind that might know contacts that would be helpful in any or all categories…and when I woke up my mind was still spinning.

The details will be worked out, sooner or later. We will find a place to live; I will find a job. Our stuff (whole, broken or lost) will trek 4000 miles across the country to join us, and a summer of garage sales will replenish the goods we leave behind.

In the end, all will turn out just fine.

In the meantime, I will just check things off the (growing) list one by one, satisfied to be moving the right direction, even when the end is nowhere in sight.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Deflecting Dark Clouds


The last few days have been a whirlwind, in which I have been tossed from school to track practice to track meets and back again. Thirteen hour work days are starting to feel like the norm, and being outside for hours daily--whether in rain, sleet or sun--are coloring my face with their effects. (It's unfortunate, however, that my neck is usually covered with layers, and thus is starting to look ridiculous in professional attire)

Though every waking hour seems to be consumed with all things school or track related, I have managed to squeeze in time for other important things: newborn babies, teaching license applications, and sorting through piles of goods that have yet to be marked "Keep" (small pile) "Toss" (medium pile) "Sell" (small pile) or "Give to my sister" (large pile--isn't she lucky?).

Thankfully, Curtis is officially finished with his schooling (which he informed me yesterday, means he's done with the "21st" grade), and can be commissioned for important tasks like going to the grocery store, picking up teaching items for me at the library, getting an obscenely large cashiers check from the bank so that they will give me a new teaching license, and maintaining and organizing all our many track stats--which for seven grades and two genders can be quite a challenge.

Yesterday, as a result of Curtis's behind the scenes efforts, I actually made a large dent in a GIGANTIC pile of grading--which was all graded, mind you, but needed to be entered in the grade book and calculated (nothing like athletic eligibility checks to force some action on the grade front). Fueled by a large pile of jelly beans, I marked and calculated like I haven't done since track season started--and am almost on top of things once again.

Despite all the great efforts made to stay sane in the midst of the chaos, there will always be a dark cloud that tries to dampen spirits. Yesterday this came in the form of a starter: the man with the gun at the track meet that tries to keep things moving.

When he arrived at the meet while I was orchestrating the long jump, I may have audibly sighed aloud. Mr. Dark Cloud (who I has presided over many track meets I have coached in the last several years) is known for his lack of patience and gruff persona. I gathered all the middle school athletes around into a quick huddle to warn them of his demeanor, and admonished them to be on their best behavior--he doesn't tolerate tardiness, and he certainly doesn't repeat himself (two things that middle school students are very good at).

Despite Mr. DC, the meet was enjoyed for all of the warmth of the evening, with many students running personal bests and many parents expressing how much their children are enjoying the sport. While the students may have gone home to nightmares of an exceptionally tall man with a gun that yells at them to move faster, I slept soundly knowing that we had had another successful day at the track (and knowing that I'd better get some rest because I have to do it all again today).

Alas, we evaded a storm. Today's dark cloud? Academic eligibility.

We'll see how that one goes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The End, and The Beginning (Part II)


Last night found me all smiles when I got to hold K’s baby, fresh out of the womb. At thirteen hours old, I soaked in his distinctive scent, and watched him rest quietly in his swaddle while he was passed from arm to arm.

Though I was all smiles in the evening, the entire day preceding the meeting had been an agonizing wait. I’d received a picture text of the baby in the morning (oh the joys of modern technology) and then impatiently waited all day for an invitation to see the little guy.

Nine months of waiting had ended in an instant, and suddenly twelve hours seemed like an eternity.

K and I have had many interesting conversations about the drastic changes we are planning for and undergoing. We have both reached the end of one era, and look forward to the beginning of another.

Transitions come with growing pains (though hers a bit more literal, and mine a bit more figurative), but both come with a bounty of hopeful anticipation for the future, and wonder of what it will hold.

Some days, like yesterday, leave me intoxicated with the wonder of the moment, forgetful for a time of the frustrations of change. Other days find me pained with grief over things that will be lost in transition.

While I am sad to accept the reality that I will not be as present with K and her child as I’d like to be over the next few years, I am thankful I can cherish these precious moments in the present, holding onto the hope of future blessings, which will surely be just as rich.

(And stealing away to visit him every time I get a chance)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The End, and The Beginning


Yesterday was Curtis’s last day of medical school.
The tests, the studying, the lectures—over.

Just like that.

I told a student on my track team this while we were warming up, and he asked what we were going to do to celebrate. “We are going to a play,” I replied.

And he looked at me confused and said, “That’s not fun.” And kept running.

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

I have been struggling between apathy and nostalgia as I finish these last weeks of school, these last weeks in our apartment, these last weeks in this town. Some days I feel little motivation to do good work, “because” my mind reminds me “you’re leaving anyway.” Other days I am so overwhelmed with the memories that I try to soak up and maximize every moment and opportunity that comes within reach.

I feel like I am tied to a swinging pendulum over which I have no control, desperately trying to find some sense of normal while I am thrown back and forth between extremes.

We have had a beautiful life here in Ohio. Here we have become adults, become independent people, begun a marriage and established ourselves a people contributing to a community.

Here I have become a teacher, nurtured relationships, invested in lives.

Even as I mourn the loss of everything I love about this place, I squint my eyes and look forward, trying to determine the details of the future: where we will live, where I will work, who I will grow close to.

And even though it is blurry, there is promise in new beginnings, even as it is very much unknown.

*Comic was found here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thirty Years Later

My mom and I on my wedding day...

Today would have been my parent’s thirtieth anniversary.

Nine years ago when their marriage ended, it felt very much like a death. It was not something I resented; rather, I saw very clearly the necessity of it at the time. My dad was on a path of destruction, and we needed to get out of the way.

Even when you know something needs to die, it doesn’t make it any easier to let go.

It is amazing how the experience of my parent’s divorce shaped my own approach to marriage. Not only did I date my husband for three years before agreeing to marry him, but we were good friends for a year and a half before we even became a couple.

He was the only boy I ever dated.

I watched from the outside as many friends formed relationships in high school and college and broke them off after one month, two, six...and while they mourned the losses of these defeated relationships, they never seemed to approach them as seriously as I thought the situation demanded.

Could they, perhaps, have avoided the heartache and misery?

When I eventually started a relationship of my own, I ended up on the other side of the spectrum. I took things very seriously, acting as an investigator on the prowl for a fraud or a fake. I analyzed Curtis from every angle possible, certain I would find some fatal flaw that should end our relationship. After a year of scrutiny I began to relax, but I was always waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop.

If you hang around someone long enough, you will find something wrong with them.

Curtis, as I suspected, is far from perfect. He is not nearly as clean and tidy as my everything-must-be-in-place tendencies prefer. When we get into intense discussions, he will not reply to my heated remarks, but instead retreats to think through all sides of the debate, forcing me to wait for his reply. He expects so much of himself that he is miserable when he doesn’t reach the lofty goals few others even bothered to set.

The month before we got engaged, I spoke to everyone in my life that I perceived as wise and thoughtful and asked them what they thought of our relationship. Was there something I was missing? Was there some glaring problem that I had failed to see? And that’s when my pastor told me something I haven’t forgotten:

Ashley, he’s not perfect. And it’s a good thing, because you aren’t either.

It’s true; I’m not.

Being married is an interesting thing. There are days when it is all I can do to keep my mouth shut while I feel like I put up with all his shortcomings. There are just as many days (surely more) where I walk around unsure of why he has chosen to put up with all of mine.

I care too much about crumbs being left on the counter top after he has made his morning sandwich, and icing buckets (used after long marathon training workouts) left in the bathtub. I can’t stand the stacks of medical school books left on every table and corner of the apartment. I get frustrated when he eats the last orange when I’d planned on taking it in my lunch. I rant for hours about students and parents and frustrations with my job, and then wallow on the couch while I try to muster up the energy to go back the next day, while he encourages me to press forward.

There were many days when we were dating that I wished I didn’t have my parent’s divorce as the back drop for my own dating experiences, but in hindsight I am grateful for all the ways it made me more thoughtful. Marriage—even dating—was not something I entered lightly; I over analyzed every aspect I could.

And even as our relationship is not perfect, I appreciate that it is all out on the table. Everything that needed to be talked about was. Anything that comes up in our day to day experiences and interactions is addressed, because we know that this relationship is not something to be taken lightly.

And every April 12, I remember that again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Week of Saturdays

One of the egg hunters on Sunday afternoon...

This break has found me soaking in a slower-moving world, if only for the week.

I watched the squirrels hop from branch to branch and tree to tree in our yard as the trees went from bare, to peaking color, to full bloom.

I read on the lawn, and fell asleep in the afternoon sun. I scoured the bathroom and leisurely cooked meals, and nearly finished a quilt.

I helped hide over 200 easter eggs, and then helped unload them of all their candy and pennies.

I read a book in less than 24 hours.

Tomorrow brings back reality, but rather than facing it while feeling like I am running on the last of my reserve energy, I am rested and rejuvenated and ready to make the last long push to the finish.

Eight more weeks of chaos, and then a sigh of relief.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Blessings (or Woes) of Technology

A non-technological building project, from up in Michigan over Easter.

I explored the land of craigslist today
until my eyes began to rebel from clicking and scrolling. “Enough!” they silently cried when I threatened to click for the next 100 postings. “We can no longer tell the difference between studios and townhouses, in the good, bad or medium parts of town.”

And so I conceded.

I am intrigued by how easy it is to “shop” for a place to live from 4,000 miles away in this day and age. Thanks to the internet, digital cameras, and Google maps, I can see the inside of the house, the outside of the house, and determine all sorts of information—-from across the country.

When did our society get so sophisticated?

While I periodically (strike that) regularly get frustrated with the ways that technology have made us lazy, unable to entertain ourselves, or in need of constant stimulation, when it comes to moving a long ways away, it is very helpful.

Our move will be a far cry from hitching up a wagon with belongings and trekking over the river and through the woods and over the mountains, needing to set up a homestead when we finally arrive.

While it’d probably be cheaper to build our own housing when we arrived, with all of our degrees and sixteen years of post high school education put together, I think we’d be a lost cause. I can educate and entertain teenagers all day long, and he can fix people’s health problems, but we are quite inept at all things practical and constructive when it comes to housing.

What has our society done to us?

We should probably just Google it.

(I’m sure they know how to build houses)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seasons of Contentment

The tree I like to sit under as I read on the lawn, which bloomed before my eyes this week.

If there is one thing I have loved about Ohio, it is the predictability of the seasons.

Spring has come with the end of March, and the trees have bloomed. The weather has warmed, and the thunderstorms have rolled through with great drama.

Summer will come as the school year lets out. The air will get hot and humid, the vegetables will flourish, and the evenings will be comfortable for lingering chats with cool beverages.

When the official start date of fall comes in late September, the leaves will change colors, the air will turn crisp, and the mid-afternoon sun will offer welcome warmth.

And when winter comes at last, it will snow just enough (though not too much) and will offer the perfect brief period of hibernation—just enough to make me crave the warmth of spring.

This is not the case in Alaska, to say the least. With the move to the North approaching quickly, the warmth of this week in Ohio stands in stark contrast with the snow that fell in Alaska simultaneously. The seasons in Alaska march “to the beat of their own drum” to say the least, which I suppose is fitting, since that is somewhat true of residents as well.

Fall is the season that strikes me as most different; it rushes by so quickly it is easy to miss. The leaves turn a quick golden brown before falling off, and winter steals the show before you are ready.

Winter is long and lingers. It stays far beyond its welcome, and brings a blanket of darkness along with an abundance of snow. The sun rises late and leaves quickly.

Spring is defined by snow that becomes slush, which freezes and thaws several times before draining and evaporating. This season finds the city as one giant, icy, mud puddle for weeks at a time.

Summer, however, redeems it all in one quick, fell swoop. The mountains are frosted early on but eventually turn lush shades of green. The sun comes out and lingers for most of the day and night. The trails and adventures are plentiful, and the temperatures are comfortable.

It may not be balanced, but it is beautiful. I will miss many things about the Midwest, but I am truly looking forward to hiking and fishing and enjoying the rugged outdoors.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ode to the King Chair


When my husband and I ventured to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for our honeymoon,
we found ourselves with a lacking supply of “beach accessories”. Swimsuits we had, but we lacked other necessities like beach towels, before going out in the sun lotion, after going out in the sun lotion, and of course, beach snacks.

While perusing the variety of goods housed at the local Walmart, we stumbled upon a beach necessity that we could not live without: the king chair. We were taken in quickly by its bright vinyl weave and its collapsible capabilities.

Our honeymoon would not be complete without it; of this we were sure.

We shared the chair (in true “honeymooner” fashion) throughout the trip, because we were too poor (or cheap?) to purchase two. Being the historically Alaskan residents that we were, one chair turned out to be a wise investment, because we had a pretty short tolerance for the beach front scene anyway.

The North Carolina summer time temperatures left us overheated in two hours or less, and we were content whittle away our afternoon hours at historical sites within driving distance. Kitty Hawk flight museum? Check. Roanoke Lost Colony? Done. Jamestown? Conquered.

Are we nerds? Yes, but that’s why we get along so well.

The king chair returned to Ohio with us and was tucked away in our attic for a season, but it was not forgotten. Every summer as I would rest and rejuvenate from the previous school year I would carry it down to a corner of our yard where I would read, or watch the squirrels, or listen to the breeze.

The king chair came to represent relaxation at its best, getting away from things that stress and burden, coming to a place where I could clear my head—be it on the beach or in the yard.

This past winter the king chair returned to sand and waves, accompanying me, Curtis and two other friends in our twenty hour drive to South Florida. It was on this trip that it was given its name, as it was the only beach furniture that had made the trip. Three of us would lounge on a sheet laid out on the sand, while one would rest in the lap of luxury in a chair (theoretically) fit for a king.

Spring break has found me back in the king chair, reading in the sun in unseasonably warm temperatures that find me unable to stay inside to accomplish my “goals for the break”.

Surely they can wait until I have to shut the windows against the cold, until I have to wear socks and long sleeves once again.

Until then, I will leave the chair out of the attic, anxious to use it any chance I can.

Status of the king chair with the move?
It’s coming.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Moments of Rest


My view from my favorite napping spot.

It is spring break here in Ohio and I am going

While plans were attempted, they were eventually thwarted by the powers-that-be in the land of medical school. While I was initially disappointed by this turn of events, I find myself rather content as of late to "just be". I think all the planning an anticipation of "the move" is taking its toll.

Catalog of Spring Break (after 24 hours)

Yesterday evening found us participating in a traditional passover seder hosted by our church, with a beautiful ceremony and fantastic meal. Lingering after the service was over to help clean and arrange things back to "how they were" was calming...because I had nowhere I had to rush off to, no papers to grade, no planning to accomplish.

This morning I woke early (old habits die hard) and went out to run into the sunrise. The temperatures today will top 80, but the breezy 50's of the morning were the perfect atmosphere to just be lost in thoughts and memories of all the miles I've put in on the roads that cross the city. It was a bit nostalgic.

Afterward I had a liesurely breakfast with a friend I haven't talked to since Match Day, and we caught up on all that has happened in the chaos of the last two weeks: plans and excitement for the future, grieving what I am leaving behind.

Noon found me reading for pleasure out on the lawn, listening (and secretly watching) the neighbor children play in the sandbox. It was a mess to be sure, but I was secretly sad for them when the sitter called for them to go inside and clean up.

After two hours of sun, I lay on the couch and stared out the open window for a long time...enjoying the luxury of quiet thought, listening to the breeze flowing through the trees, appreciating the constant chirping of the birds and the quiet clinking of the wind chime. And then I fell asleep.

I am a busy person, and love my full life, but I never cease to be surprised at how a quiet day of reading and sleeping and listening and thinking can rejuvenate my spirit for all the tasks I have to complete.

For today, it is more than enough.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On Things That Are Broken, and Finishing Strong


I count on having balance in my life
Not too many cloudy days without a sunny break
Not too many rich meals without a plain bowl of oatmeal
Not too many problem students without a real, authentic breakthrough

And not coming home from a long day at work,
only to find that Curtis is in the same funk that I am.

It just doesn’t work.

One of us needs to be able to fix dinner while the other wallows in self-pity on the couch.
One of us needs to tidy up the house while the other crashes in bed early in the evening.
One of us needs to assure the other
that life will not always look this gloomy,
that it will get better,
that we are (thankfully) nearing the finish.

But both of us were feeling pretty broken down.

As we near our move, stressing ourselves as we finish the school year and preparing for what lies ahead, we have been finding signs all around us of things that, like us, “have reached the end of the line.”

Case 1: Our laptop, purchased for Curtis’s medical school career has been on and off the fritz for about fifteen months now. We’re planning on purchasing a new one…this summer. But I’m not sure our old Dell is going to make it that long.

Case 2: Our microwave, purchased for $5 ($5!) at a garage sale before we were married, has served us well. And for no reason at all turned off with no explanation when I tried to heat up a bowl of chili...and never turned back on. Since purchasing a microwave before a cross country move makes zero sense, we have been making good use of the stove and the oven, both of which very effectively heat things—in ten times more time.

I know we will make it to the end of the school year, across the country, and back to a rhythm of normalcy. But in the mean time I find myself repeating the same things in my head that I say to my athletes at track practice: “Keep going. You’re almost there. DON’T stop before the finish line.” Because in track, just as in life, the end is often the most challenging, but it truly defines the results of the entire race.

Thank goodness spring break starts tomorrow.