A Series of Unfortunate Events

My world has been pretty full here lately.  We’ll say that a number of negative things have happened, but God continues to speak through them and to shove some unexpected good things in as well. 

I sort of felt like God warned me in a couple of ways that I was about to go through some difficulty, which is comforting when the difficulty does hit.

In April, my boyfriend and I broke up.  We had been together for 3 1/2 years.  I am probably not going to go into detail on this particular event since it involves someone else as well.  But I will say that I am not sure where the situation will end up.  We still have a relationship that is positive, and, indeed, due to my most recent difficult circumstance (I’ll get to that), I am staying in the apartment off of his mom’s house.

So, needless to say all of that was grandly emotional.  Then after we broke up, my car broke down on my way to church.  Having only recently broken up, I was still in the habit of calling him when I had trouble, so he came and helped me out for 3 days until it all got worked out.

The following circumstance was my decision, so it was not something that “happened” to me, but something I chose.  I decided to move out of my cabin, and the living in a tent plan was reborn.  This decision was come to after a series of conversations with my landlord in which he decided I owed him $400 for something that should in no way have been $400, and for which I could not get him to provide documentation.  I will give him some credit, though – when I put in my notice, he did offer to waive this fee, and subsequently to reduce my rent if I would stay, but I had already made my decision at that point.  The tent decision was very logical to me.  I weighed my options – a) live comfortably, and in no time in the foreseeable future get to do the things I really want to do with any consistancy (write, create, travel) or b) live uncomfortably, and get to do those things.  And so, last week, I vacated the cabin.  But before we get there, I have one more situation to tell you about.

About a week before I was supposed to move out, I decided to take my cat to the vet.  He had been having a cough for a couple of months, but hadn’t had any other symptoms so I didn’t think much of it.  However, in the week or two preceding this, he had started seeming a little lethargic, not eating as much and reluctant to jump.  I decided to take him, in part because someone else was going to have to care for him during my tent living and if he had something contagious, I did not want to spread it to someone else’s pets.  But I did not really think it was that serious.  However, the vet did x-rays, and it was not good.  One entire lung was full of either a mass or fluid, was swollen and pressing on the other lung, which was not entirely clear either.  So, he was functioning on less than one lung.  My vet said they did not have the capabilities to find out what was in the lung, but that I could go to a specialist if I wanted, which, of course, would be very expensive.  The vet was very honest and told me that he really felt that all I would get from a specialist would be a definitive answer about what was wrong and that they would still not be able to do anything.  He told me that there are times when people want to euthanize their pets and he discourages it, but in my case, he would support that decision.  So sad…I cried the whole afternoon.  I have had my Leo for 9 years since he was younger than he should have been taken from his mother, due to poor humane society practices (they came and picked up the mother and left the too-young kittens).  Anyway, I took Leo home, and although I cannot afford the specialist, my vet was going to get the blood test results from my cat and consult with them just so I would have a more educated opinion.  He was supposed to get back to me on Tuesday after Memorial Day.  I was leaving the cabin on Wednesday morning.  Well, on Monday, I was going to take Leo to a friend’s house.  She had agreed to be his foster parent.  I was doing other moving runs, taking my stuff to various generous people’s attics and storage units.  My plan was to take him when I got back.  Only when I got back, I could not find him.  This is very rare, even though he is indoor/outdoor.  He always runs up when I get home.  I called and waited and later on I called and waited.  He never came.  He was just gone.  And he never came back.  They say that cats know when they are about to die, and often go out alone to do it.  He did not act like he felt that bad, but I suppose I was wrong about that.  I feel that if he had been able to come back, he would have.  He’s never once been gone for 2 days before.  So, Wednesday morning came and I had to leave my cabin not knowing where he was and just hoping he was peaceful and that he would not come back to no one and nothing. 

Well, I had a trip scheduled before I began my tent adventure.  A friend of mine and I were going to TX.  She had someone she wanted to visit there, which worked out nicely because I had a wedding I was hoping to go to.  We rented a car, and the plan was that we would drive to Dallas, and then I would take the car and drive to Houston on Saturday for the wedding, then stay the night with my sister who happens to live there and drive back to Dallas on Sunday.  Since my friend was staying with people in Dallas, it would not leave her completely stranded.  Well, on Thursday, I noted that what I thought was a bug bite was getting worse, which is unusual.  I didn’t think much of it until Friday (which happened to be my friend’s birthday) when it was significantly worse.  I went to the minute clinic where they told me I had a staph infection and gave me oral antibiotics, and told me if it does a, b or c that I needed to go to another clinic.  Well, it DID do a and b, so I went to another clinic, where they gave me an antibiotic shot and told me that if it does a, b or c, to go to the emergency room.  Yay.  So, the next day I am supposed to drive to a wedding, not go to the emergency room, although at this point, I can barely walk. 

I talked to my sister, who told me that if I get admitted to the hospital, it is most likely not going to be a short stay, and that I should come to Houston to go to the hospital so that I will be near family since, obviously, my friend was not staying in Dallas forever and then I’d be stuck in a hospital where I didn’t know anyone.  So, instead of my taking the rental car, my friend drove it and we met my sister half-way and I went back with her.  Needless to say, I did not make it to the wedding.

That night (which was Saturday) we went to the ER, and thankfully, they sent me home and said that they would expect the antibiotics to start kicking in (although there was no noticable difference until yesterday!).  So, now I had to figure out how to get back to Dallas to make it back to TN with my friend.  I opted for a bus trip so as not to put everyone out again.  I didn’t bank on the medicine making me sick.  I have never before been car sick in my life, and it was not pleasant on the Greyhound.  At least it gave me the warning I needed to take dramamine on the drive back to TN the next day. 

So, now, remember, I don’t live anywhere.  Tent living is probably not the best idea when you have a full-blown staph infection.  Hence the reason I am now staying in the apartment off of my ex-boyfriend’s mom’s house.  And unbeknownst to me, they moved furniture in here and had the carpets cleaned explicitly because I was going to stay.  I didn’t mean to be so much trouble. 

The friend I went to TX with said maybe this was happening because I am so independent.  Hmmm.  Well, this definitely makes me NOT independent.  I go to the dr. again today to get it all checked out.

However, in the meantime, I do think that God has been opening doors for me in other fronts.  I played my first (music) show in approximately two years in May.  I felt God impress me to submit my works to an event called “Women’s Work” put on by the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, and was chosen as one of the singer/songwriter’s to play. 

And then I felt compelled to create a specific work of art (I woke up with a picture of exactly what I wanted to do in my head), and it led me to what I think is my favorite type of art to create so far.  And because of this, I felt led to create another piece and take it to a cool little shop here in Nashville to see if they would put it up for sale there.  And they did. 

And then someone randomly sent me a message through my “MySpace” music page, saying they wanted to book shows for me.  If you know me, you know that booking shows is one of my least favorite activities, and one of the reasons I never have shows!  I have my first show for them on July 3rd.  There is a clincher in that I am supposed to draw X number of people, so I have to work that out. 

The point is that God is definitely doing things, and as I said at the beginning of this, He knew I was about to go through hard things.  And I am.  And I feel like the are not finished yet.  But He has also worked some other great things out, and given me wonderful, supportive people in the meantime. 

I’m not really sure what He’s doing, but I know He is doing something.  And if He’s doing it, it’s good.  I’m not saying God has caused the bad things that have happened.  But He’s definitely working in them, and if I let Him, through them.

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Squash

So, I have gotten my CSA  vegetables for the last three weeks, and it is just as exciting as I imagined.  I really must be an adult to be so thrilled every week about a gigantic box of vegetables.  And I mean gigantic.  I signed up for a half share, which is supposed to be a quarter bushel, but every week I go and pick up my vegetables, which are jam-packed full in a half bushel box…for those of you with poor math skills, that’s TWICE as many vegetables as I thought I was going to get.  Apparently, these guys are really generous.  I’m not complaining.  (I did ask to make sure I didn’t mistakenly get signed up for a full share so I wouldn’t feel dishonest.) 

Well, one has to get pretty creative in order to figure out the usage of a half a bushel of vegetables every week when one is not married or living with a family.  I find this to be a magnificent challenge.  This past week was a little easier because my boyfriend and I actually went on a vacation (hence the lack of posts), so I had someone else to help eat them.  However, it was also harder in a sense because we were camping, so I had to find ways to eat them fast enough for them not to spoil with no electricity.  I did bring a cooler with these great ice packs that keep stuff cold for approximately 3 days, but beyond that it was a race to eat the most perishable things fast enough.  I should tell you that I am sort of a crazy person about not wasting things.  I am not a pack rat about stuff, but when it comes to things you can use up, I will use it ALL up to the very last drop before I begin a new something else.  Leftovers beware. 

A great example of this was when I worked for a carpenter friend of mine…he needed brain surgery and was having a little trouble with his driving in the meantime, so I became a sort of carpenter chauffer, but he figured out I was not so bad at building fireplace mantels either, so I got put to work.  We were almost out of the standard screws we used for almost everything at one point, and he had bought another case.  Well, I unloaded it and brought it into his workshop.  I looked at the old box with some yet unused screws, and looked at the new box with its brand new ones, and crazy kicked in (just wait, you’ll see).  About a week later, my carpenter boss looked into the new, full box of screws and said, “Why is this Ziploc bag of screws in here?”  I immediately burst out laughing and could not even tell him I was laughing so hard because I knew it was completely ridiculous.  Finally, I managed to get out that I had put the screws from the old box in the Ziploc bag because I wanted to use them first.  It was the old Chick-fil-A philosophy coming out in me…I was indoctrinated with FIFO (First In, First Out) for those of you who have never worked in any food service capacity.  You should have seen my boss’ face when I said that.  He looked at me crazy, and immediately emptied the Ziploc bag into the rest of the full box. 

What does this story have to do with vegetables, you ask?  Well, this philosophy most definitely extends into my new vegetable venture.  Every meal, I look into my giant box of vegetable goodies, and think which of these can I use first in order for nothing to go to waste?  And when I go pick up my new box of vegetables every week, I make myself finish everything from the old box first.  This is very exciting for me.  Besides that, it makes me think of new and creative things to do with the different vegetables.  I have to say that it is definitely squash/zucchini season, and that these crops must be very prolific.  I have been getting other things, but nothing else really cook-able (more like greens and tomatoes and cucumbers).  So, when I cook, I am always trying to find a way to use my squash and zucchini.  This is a challenge because my boyfriend “doesn’t like squash.”  Or at least he didn’t.  I have cooked squash (and zucchini, but it’s basically the same thing, you know) every way you can think of.  In addition to eating squash raw as a vegetable dipper, I have cooked squash with sausage and squash with scrambled eggs and squash in a quiche and squash with parmesan cheese and squash with beef and mushrooms and rice and onions and squash with green beans and bokchoy and squash with kohlrabi.  (I got you on those last two, didn’t I?  Bokchoy is a green, and more common than kohlrabi, apparently often used in Chinese stir-fry recipes.  Kohlrabi is a root vegetable very like a turnip.  I haven’t met anyone who had heard of it before yet…except the lady who I pick my vegetables up from.)  Well, while we were camping, my boyfriend decided that he did like squash after all, but only when I cooked it.  I’m hoping that actually has something to do with my cooking ability and not with the fact that he decided he ought to get used to it if it was all I was going to feed him.  We get a newsletter with our vegetables, and this week on the back they talked about how much squash/zucchini we have been getting.  It said, “You know you have become a creative cook when you can repeatedly bring squash to the table without groans.”  Yay!  It doesn’t mean I’m a good cook, but at least maybe I qualify as a creative one.  And that’s my story about squash.

New Orleans

I went to New Orleans for a couple of days while I was out of town a few weeks ago.  I was visiting my brother, and they don’t live in New Orleans, but he had to be there for a real estate training.  (They’ve just moved, and he’s changing careers.)  People have asked me how New Orleans was.  Being from Louisiana, you would think I’d have a good comparison to before Katrina.  However, I have only been there three other times before, and during only one of those trips was there any sightseeing whatsoever done.  So, I don’t have much of a comparison, but I can tell you what I thought and felt.  It seemed sad…like a whole city of sadness, but with a facade of light-heartedness that seems put on for tourists…like a carnival crew trying to make people laugh when they’re barely capable of laughing themselves (maybe I’m being dramatic, but that’s how it felt to me).  It felt like we were in one of those futuristic movies where the people are walking around in New York City, only the whole thing’s been reduced to ruin and rubble, and you can only recognize a landmark here or there.  It tugs at your heartstrings if you let it.  There is still a lot of beauty there, but it is incongruously placed immediately next door to the destruction, which if you have read my Snow, God, Reality blog, you can see I do not think is really so incongruous.  It’s just the way life is.  Anyway, because of my preference to remember the beauty and capture the beauty, that is what I took pictures of, and I’ve included a few here.  Click on them if you want to see them larger!  And, yes, I know that the arrangement of my photos is a bit shoddy…maybe I’ll figure out how to do better next time.

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