19 November 2012

Fortified Fortnight

. . . being a bi-weekly report on self-imposed unemployment, scholarship, and vocational exploration . . .

Yesterday marked another fortnight on the precipice. Winter's coming - though the warmth of this Thanksgiving week in the Midwest makes that a little hard to believe - and with it a run of special services that I am going to miss being a part of. I mean, of course, Advent and Christmas. I have to admit that I felt I was getting away with something this weekend, having breakfast with my brother, Ron, on Saturday while the choir (I can no longer say "my choir" - more on that another time) had a rehearsal for seasonal music. Getting away with something . . . and missing something. That is going to mark this season, I know.

The past two weeks have been packed with school work. For the most part, I am settling into the reading, the assignments, the long-range planning required to succeed as a student. I am engaging a bit more in class discussions (without feeling like a total doofus). I've been really jazzed finding resources for a research paper in the Trinity course. This weekend I charted out the days from now till that paper is due. Then, I tried not to freak out.

A friend offered me a little musical gig, playing congas for one item in his choir's Christmas concert. When my Karen and I talked about this, she said, "Gee, if we'd known you'd get the random monthly gig we could have made this change years ago." She can be so sardonic. Still, she has always supported the pent-up percussionist in me, and I think she is secretly delighted. Or maybe she is just happy to have me out of the house and earning something!

We've been confronted in multiple ways, these past 2 weeks, with the realities of a limited income. Yes, we counted the cost, and yes, I've known all along that after the fall weeks, I'll need to take some kind of part-time job. But it's in the spontaneous, in the unexpected, that the reality of our belt-tightening hits us. Son Andrew will not make it home for Christmas - he will be tied to his post (oh, now that's a funny double meaning!). Instinct: "Let's rent a vacation home and move our Christmas to Kentucky." Reality: Oh, right, that's what the discretionary part of our income used to do for us. Which presses the point: discretionary spending aside, I really need to earn some income during my next semester.

I've been indolent in the exercise arena, and reflected on that. Why am I "OK" with not cycling or running these days? Am I just super engaged with creative studies, or am I in a funk? Good questions. And characteristically, I won't take time now to sort that out.

We're still here on the precipice, and winter is coming. Thankfully that means that Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it a long weekend with our grown kids. Andrew won't be with us on the day (that post he's tied to) but we'll drive to see him and spend some time after Thursday. Karen and I will get to St. Olaf College for their iconic Christmas Festival. (We can, you see, find a reason to spend some "discretionary" money!) Andrew will get home for a few days of leave. And I'll write a long term paper. Then, before we know it, it will be Christmas. And after that, a new year.

We are eager to see what that new year will bring.

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