31 December 2012


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

Twelve weeks, but not three months. One week shy of a quarter. But with this bi-weekly, I draw these reports to a close. Yesterday, December 30, was a milestone on several levels, and tomorrow begins a new year. The adventure continues!

The past two weeks have been mostly free of academic engagement. I sat for a final exam on the 18th, attended a final class session on the 19th, and that afternoon tidied up and organized my newly set up study area. Notes organized and put away for easy retrieval, book shelves restocked, and the extra computer monitor turned so I can watch videos from my winter bicycle trainer!

Then it was all Christmas all the time. A couple of social engagements, grown kids returning home, and all the comfortable aspects of a King family Christmas. (And no, we are not that King family. While growing up, that was a common joke question. And a fair one, given the roster in my childhood home.)

The bike went up on the trainer the day I took my exam. I am back on the bike. Over the past few weeks in various conversations I was asked if I was riding and running a lot, since - you know, I'm not working. My reply - that no, in fact, I haven't been on the bike at all to speak of, and the running has also stopped - each time evoked a physical response of surprise. Interesting. Peoples' mouths have gone agape (this really happens; it's unexpected, like when someone is literally stopped in their tracks), a couple of people flinched. A few found words to probe. This was all instructive to me, and I finally had to admit that all things considered, the dropping of my best "hobby" was probably a function of some low-grade depression. So . . . back on the bike, albeit indoors, and with a winter goal to hit. I also have a running goal, which of course as always will properly take a second place to the bike. But there we are. Balance, we are about to be restored.

Grown children come with their own sense of adventure, and they increase the awesomeness of our adventure. Sometimes scary, sometimes hilarious, and often just nice. We had a long Christmas weekend with all but our Army Captain with us. And he joined us on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning via Skype. Nice technology, that. On Christmas morning we had him on with us for nearly three hours, "in the circle" and taking his turns giving and receiving gifts. He had sent everyone's to our home, and we had all sent his to him. As a way to celebrate a family Christmas, it was a distant second to having him home. But he could not get leave because he had to "hold down the fort" while the soldiers going back to A'stan got leave. OK, well, given the alternative - that is, since this means he won't be going back - we were content. Karen and I got down to see him this past weekend, thankful for a posting that is within a day's drive.

As my Christmas break continues for a couple of weeks, I will be finalizing the description of my thesis, and expect to submit the formal proposal in January. There are also a couple of writing projects that I need to set my hand to. A recent flap in the Chicago Tribune, where the movie critic dared to pan "Les Miz" on cinematographic grounds, highlighted the whack aesthetic of popular culture. In short, the complaints to and about the critic amount to this: "How could you pan this movie? It made me cry, and at the end people stood up and cheered." Well, my friend, if you don't think this mindset is troubling church life and liturgy and music, stay tuned . . .

Meanwhile, life returns to "normal" for me and my Karen. I'll be looking for some part time work to help pay the bills during my last 6 months of studies, and we'll also be asking in earnest: "So, God, what is next, anyway?"

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