Life From the Passenger Seat

Life From the Passenger Seat

No need to brace yourself; I’m not going to have a proper whinge in your direction. However, I feel the need to document a bit of where life is moving, and that isn’t always a cheerful affair. Let’s be honest, kids: I’M not a cheerful affair. I’m not an affair, at all. Not even an event, and certainly not a spectacle. I’m just a panda whose life is still whizzing by, and I’m trying to find the good in it without ignoring the flaws. 

As of today, I’ve been without a job for five months. This is distressing, disheartening, frustrating, and a myriad of other adverbs with mopey connotations. When I quit my job in November, I didn’t anticipate still being out of work in mid-April. At most, I expected to have a new role by sometime in January, seeing as no one hires in December due to the holiday season. It seems that God’s still refining me, and my pride. I’ve had several interviews, and nothing has fallen into place. In some cases, the potential employer doesn’t have the courtesy to even ring to say I haven’t been successful after the interview.

Incidental to the above, I won’t be able to go home to Iowa next month for my best friend’s wedding. We were waiting to find out if some alternative funding would come through, but no. The dread I feel in breaking this news to her is palpable. What if I can’t get back before she moves away? What if I never see her again? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve realised that my “goodbye” in 2010 is the final one I’ll share with someone, but it’s almost too much to contemplate in this case. We’ve been friends since 4th Grade Orchestra, shared an apartment for two years, and she did my make-up for my wedding to Harli nearly four years ago. To miss her big day feels much bigger than I anticipated. Everything about life “here,” instead of “there,” has been more difficult than anticipated.

In incredible news, Harli and I are in no way struggling, financially, on one income. Wait, not true! My student loans are currently in deferment, but other than that, we’re doing just fine. There aren’t words enough to express my gratitude for God’s provision in this situation. Bills are paid, and there’s still enough left over for a date night to the cinema every now and then.

I’m still struggling with some emotional baggage, particularly in relation to feeling “forgotten.” For all my claims of leading a life full of friends, and an amazing church family, in Iowa, only a few people have made an effort to keep in touch. I know that’s just what happens when geography gets in the way, but sometimes it’s biting to feel insignificant to people I thought were precious.

Six weeks ago, we added a fluffy member to the family in the form of a Chinchilla-cross-Persian named Loki. His full name is Loki Lou Laufeyson, because we’re Marvel geeks and “Lou” just sounds so sweet when I’m scolding him. He has the sweetest little voice, super soft paws, and a delightful attitude in the mornings. I just love my Loki boy. 🙂 Even sweeter: we only paid $100 for him from the previous owner. He came with his litter box, three scratching posts, some food, up to date vaccinations, and desexed, so he was quite the steal. Harli’s family are all very fond of him, and he’s just fine with that. He loves Harli best, but is content to be my cat during the day. And, that’s enough chatter for you to see I’m obsessed with my pet, so we’ll stop there.

H and I celebrated the wedding of my closest friend in Australia, last month, and it was incredible. No exaggeration, drama, or fibbing, it was the most beautiful celebration I can imagine, and a perfect representation of her relationship with her husband, family, and friends. As her brother-in-law was giving a toast, praising the Lord for His provision, and speaking honestly about faith in this world, I nearly wept for my dear friend. The time I’ve spent with Mia and her entourage has been so good for my panda soul. I know where I belong in those moments, and that is an answered prayer.

Familial issues and drama are still there. You know.

Harli and I started a “Bible in 90 Days” reading plan a little over a month ago, and are progressing nicely. It’s really fascinating to discuss stories and teachings that have been part of my consciousness since childhood, with an adult man who is reading them for the first time. He’s wowed in ways I’ve ceased to be, and the opportunity to re-read the OT is so precious right now. Love, love this part of our married life 🙂 Fingers crossed it continues.

Lots of “lifestyle” changes are starting to come about, and should anything stick, I’ll doodle back and report. Let’s not celebrate before the table has been laid, kk?

Overall, I don’t feel terribly in control these days. I’m sort of just along for the ride, and miss being the one behind the wheel, so to speak. I suppose life is sweet enough from the passenger seat, at least for this season. I’m not in a valley, or belting a tune a la Maria in The Sound of Music, and that’s perfectly fine. My Lord is amazing, even in the quiet.

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Six Months Later

Six Months Later

Still angry. Heart is still broken. Still fat. Still lonely. Still wishing for the ability to change the last decade of my life. There are little glimmers of sunlight, but most of the time I’m just distracting myself into ignoring the darkness that crashes around.

And yes, I have made an effort to change all this. I’m just not worth saving, at the moment.

Here you go

Here you go

“Maybe I’m just angry and bitter, and can’t be fucked to move in a better direction. Yes, I just said “fucked.” Cover up your horror, and tell me that God’s left me because I’m lazy and the thought of going to church makes me tear up as I write this. By all means, connect my health with the state of my relationship with Christ. Or, just continue in your world where being employed or pregnant means you can’t answer the phone, and the only conversations worth having with me are the ones where I don’t share that I cry most days. Yea, I chose to live in Australia, and that means I don’t get to be lonely or lost. I apparently forfeited the right to beg for one little corner of my life to go unchanged when I made the decision to immigrate. I’m 26, childless, nearly friendless, and I lost almost all belief in the God I thought I knew. Apparently, this lack of offspring means I have more than enough time to cater to people who give exactly two shits and three giggles about me, and that I can’t possibly have a full life without being a mother. I won’t arrive, or have a valid word to say, until then, right? I do work 50 hours a week, though that doesn’t really count, does it? Maybe I look at who I was at 18 and know that she’d be ashamed of me. And maybe I just eat to keep myself from screaming sometimes. Or, maybe, I’m too busy making sure no one sees how “less than” I really am to find the time for the treadmill.”

The above was written approximately five months ago. Much as I hate to admit this, it pretty much sums up how I’m still feeling. I don’t go to church; facing the loss of my old life seems to happen most during worship, and my husband is super awkward and makes the whole experience really uncomfortable, so I just stay home. Community has always been really important, vital even, to my life, but I suppose I need to give up that, too. I don’t believe in substitutionary atonement/penal substitution (Wiki it) anymore, and that’s pretty much killed my relationship with God. Woo. I really want to still believe, but I’m just not strong enough right now. I fill the hole with furniture, food, and anger toward my family and husband. I’d love to go back and know the love of God, again, but He seems to have given me all that I ask for and then walked away. “Here you go. Stop your bitching. You blew your chance, and I can’t handle your bullshit excuses, so call me when you’re not a mess” or something to that effect. The only time I’m genuinely happy these days is when I let myself rest in memories of days that will never be repeated, when I had friends who loved and supported me, a church family that wrapped itself around my tears, and a fiance who would never let me talk to him the way my husband does. I don’t tweet, or update my Facebook status very often, because I have nothing of value to share. The JEL girl died, the 20 year old with wanderlust is no more, and the hope I used to so honestly trust is a shadow. No one cares. I put on my happy voice for my weekly calls to my mother and sister, and that’s good enough. My (family member) shredded me into little pieces, and no one seems to understand that they just won’t go back together. I tried, honest I did. No matter. By the time Harli is home from work in an hour, every trace of my tears will be gone, because he can’t do anything to stop them. Lovely.

Buenos Dias, me llamo “Panda”

Buenos Dias, me llamo “Panda”

There exists a moment, at least twice a week in fact, in which my darling husband asks me how to say something in Spanish. What he’s after varies from, “how do you say ‘my second cousin smells like cheese,'” to ‘what is the name of this episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ in English?” and I can almost never answer his question. The other day, I translated “Caballo sin nombre” to “House without numbers,” instead of “Horse with no name.” Senora Cermak would be ashamed.

Here I sit at my pretty desk, “working”, and bored out of my gourd. If I were Australian, that sentence would probably have something to do with religion, seeing as “gourd” is how many pronounce “God.” The same people pronounce “gosh” as “goursh,” and don’t find it funny when I tell them they sound like Goofy. On days like today, I occupy my nine hour work day by listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter books, and picking out furniture for our impending move in September. No more Shoebox. Hellooooooo duplex! At least that’s the hope. Much as I love being in such close quarters with Harli, I’m a wee bit over this chapter of our life.

By the end of the week, I’ll have sent off the supporting evidence for the latest visa decision. The wait time is supposedly three to eight months, but I’m praying to hear back before then. If the answer is “yes,” then I’ll be a Permanent Resident of Oz. If not, then I have to either apply for a Work Visa, or return to my horrendous credit rating in America, sans my husband. I really miss life where groceries aren’t akin to highway robbery, and Christmas is cold, but my life is now in Australia. I drive on the left side of the road, refer to bell peppers as “capsicum,” think of $300,000 houses as “cheap,” and enjoy more public holidays than you can shake a stick at. For real: Good Friday, Easter Monday, Australia Day, the Queen’s birthday, “Gold Coast Show” day (remind me to tell you about the Show in September), National Labor Day, Queensland Labor Day, Brisbane Show Day, and Boxing Day (December 26th), are all public holidays I get to enjoy. Oh, and if any of those days happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, they’re gazetted to the closest weekday. Australia loves a long weekend. As we speak, I’m trying to convince Harli to get his boss to give him Easter Saturday off so we can go visit his sisters in NSW. Nothing screams “He is Risen!” like spending the holiday with atheists, right?

We’re heading to Iowa in August for our annual, oh so exciting, visit with my family. We were going to be there in late April, but decided against it for a myriad of reasons, most of which were financial. By going in August, we’ll be able to easily afford the trip, I’ll have enough annual leave to accomodate the time off, and Harli will have the blessing of spending his birthday at the Iowa State Fair. The man wants to spend at least one birthday in his life enjoying various foods on sticks, apparently.

A letter to 2012

A letter to 2012

Hello 2012,

Yes, here we are. As I sit on the eve of another new year, I have a few words for you. Please sit down; you need to be a good listener right now.

As you came slamming in 365 days ago, I promised that while you “started with a battle,” I was “confident that (you) would see the end of a war.” Contradicting my Pacifist (yes, capital P) beliefs, and desire to live gently in a violent world, you and I both know I wasn’t talking about world events. Still, as the days went by, I DID pray for an end to war, destruction, and the tragedy that plagues this ridiculous world. I begged you to shape the heck up, and you couldn’t listen. Disasters, injustice, and the loss of innocent lives continued. Why couldn’t you just be calm?

At the same time, the war I spoke of raged on. It’s still raging, maybe more now than ever. I’m tired of fighting it, 2012. It makes me physically ill sometimes. Waiting, anticipating, whining, stressing, gossiping, and never addressing the real issues, has left me exhausted. I’m not carrying this into 2013. I have to believe that Jesus didn’t go to the Cross just so I could keep circling the same issues for three years. 2012, I’m tired of crying, and gasping for anxious breath in my sleep. If living by faith means enduring more hurt, or acting in a way that seems “too much,” then that’s what I’ll do. Pease don’t try to remind me of how I failed before, 2012; stay quiet while I try to do better, ok?

In the midst of the upset, you brought so much “new.” A new stepdad, who calls me “daughter,” and loves my mother like she deserves to be loved. Two gorgeous nephews, one on each side of my family, born healthy to parents who cherish them, and do whatever necessary to promise their safety. I found a new job, in an industry I didn’t know existed, but sparks all my passion and allows me to serve others in a practical, intentional way. We even found a new place to live, just a smidge bigger than the last with slightly lower rent. I love you for that.

Maybe each year just magnifies mess ups of the last. This year, I gained weight like it was my job, which certainly wasn’t the case. I gave up on healthy practices that I enjoyed, like blogging, adventurous cooking, thorough budgeting, and reigning in my tongue, in favor of easier roads. I said “we’ll get the budget set next month; today, we’ll buy that (whatever.)” I became friends with the Dominos delivery guy, and spouted off my grief to anyone who would listen. I stopped documenting my life, because I was certain no one would want to hear about it. Never again. Seriously, Lord, never again.

2012, I don’t really know what to say about you. You’re a bit of a bittersweet mess, aren’t you? Maybe you were just what I needed to get my motivation back. Maybe you’ll make me grow up. I refuse to repeat your failures, and thank you for your joys. Now, move along. I hope that “Mayan calendar” gag was fun for you.

All the best,

Alana.

 

Return of the Panda

Return of the Panda

Relax. It’s all gonna be just fine. Hush your crying. Shhhh…

Here I be. Back in your living room. Invading your laptop like it’s my job. I won’t go so far as to say that you should get used to seeing my particular brand of sorta-crunchy, Anabaptist, soft-hearted sarcasm- because let’s face it, I’m none too reliable these days- but I am hoping to start blogging more often. Maybe I’ll get around to genuinely sharing what life is like in our corner of the world, instead of just listing the high points. Dreams, eh?

The last six months have been incredible, and incredibly difficult. God has blessed us so thoroughly, and hasn’t shied from correcting and challenging me into shaping up, literally and figuratively.

In April we undertook a most underwhelming move, all the way across the hall. Yep, we moved from Unit 17, to Unit 18 in our apartment complex. There were a host of reasons for moving into our “new” place when the lease ended on our old one: the rent is $5/wk cheaper, our bond rolled over without issue, and its semi-furnished status cushioned the cost of buying a fridge, washing machine, bed, mattress, couch, and various kitchen implements that were provided in our previous, fully-furnished abode. Primarily, it was the easiest option, and as we don’t yet need a second bedroom, or radically more space, it seemed the wisest way to go.

We took a trip back to Iowa in May, and had a lovely time. Bittersweet, but good. Next time, I’ll plan a bit better. I hadn’t anticipated not having a car to drive during our 16 day visit, so my plans of seeing folk in other parts of the state quickly dried up. There are friends I’ll most likely never see again as a result of bowing out of promised visits, and that’s a bit hard to take some days. Overall, an amazing time with my dear sister, nephew, momma, and step-dad.

This winter (June-August) went by with minimal upset. To be honest, I can’t quite recall anything worth sharing from those months. Sad, because I’m sure there were moments that should be remembered.

As September comes to a close, there’s a noticeable excitement in the air. Christmas is less than three months away; my apartment balcony garden is sprouting, though I made the mistake of not labeling the pots, so I have no clue what is what; we’re on track to be debt free in a little less than two years; and Harli and I are both exercising more and eating better. (Nothing like a shocker on the scale to make our Friday night pizza a thing of the past. Poor Domino’s delivery guy is probably suffering the loss, too. He knew us by name, you know.)

I’m incredibly excited to see what’s in store for us as a couple, and where God is taking me personally. I’m still fighting a battle with ye olde serotonin, and some days are much murkier than others. It’ll all come good. In other news, I’m not sure when I’ll get used to the swapped seasons, but for now I’d be oh so happy if my body would quit freaking out with each “opposite” seasonal change. Like clockwork, I get mild bronchitis every 12 weeks. Nothing echinacea, essential oils, and a warm shower won’t cure, but oy if I’m not a grumpy thing this week.

This weekend is a long one thanks to the Aussie itch to call a national holiday without reason, so I’ll be spending the next two days stretched out on the sand. Or, I might be reading The Hobbit, watching movies, and Christmas shopping. 50/50, really 😉