Small Miracles

I took communion as a Catholic for the first time last night, and helped baptize six as well (following in my Dad’s footsteps, except not the Catholic part.) We were told that the baptism tank heater had failed, and I was at first anxious about how cold the water might be (especially as I heard person after person gasp as they put a hand in the tank before the service) but I decided I was sick of worry, and asked God for a small miracle (I was going to be in the tank the longest, since I would be dunking each person.)

When I stepped in the tank, it wasn’t really that cold at all.  No really, I’m not kidding.

I can get wrapped around a post ruminating on why epically bad things happen without divine intervention, and small miracles make no sense when the rest of the world is boiling, but there it is.  A small miracle, maybe two — when I prayed for the water to not be cold, I also prayed to stop catastrophizing about it and I did.

Then again — me not worrying — maybe that is a not-quite-small miracle.

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Panda Hats

Ever hear a designer scream about a client giving them the wrong type of feedback? I have. At which point I ask them if they told the client what kind of feedback they were looking for and they just pull the panda hat over their head to hide their anger. — Mike Monteiro, “13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations

He said this, twice, during An Event Apart Seattle on Monday.  He was a great presenter, keeping us all very engaged, but even more so because he said the magic word: “panda.”

And the other magic word, “anger.”

And he painted a picture of a frustrated, unassertive person hiding beneath a panda hat.

Ouch.

Deferred Maintenance, Despair and Holy Running Shoes

We’re getting our house ready to sell – we’re moving into town after 16 years of living in the beautiful and quiet but sidewalk-less and insular country – but before the house can sell it needs a new roof, and we need to do the exterior painting we’ve put off year after year, and we need to catch up on years and years of unrequited drywall dings and stubborn carpet blessings.

We’ve managed to tread water financially by putting off a lot of things, or by leaving things 80% done, but now the chickens are coming home to roost, and it feels overwhelming and awful.

It is good to finally be attending to these things (and it is a habit I want to continue in the new home), but it doesn’t feel good to be asking for an increase on the home equity line of credit to pay for them.  It doesn’t feel good to reduce the amount going to the 401k each paycheck back down to 1%.  It doesn’t feel good to be adding to credit card debt instead of reducing it.  It doesn’t feel good that we haven’t had an away-from-the-house vacation in years, just day-trips here and there.  It doesn’t feel good that the emergency fund is gone again thanks to new tires for the car and an unexpected call to an exterminator.  It feels kinda hopeless.

It doesn’t feel good to think about selling the motorcycle every day to buy some time – it feels like it would be a single bucket of water thrown against a raging fire – evaporating violently in a hiss of futile steam.

My running shoes developed large holes in them a few months ago and when they started hurting my feet I threw them away and I haven’t been on a good brisk walk since and there’s no money for another pair, not with that balance on the credit card now.  And that (no exercise) is its own kind of deferred maintenance.

But the alternative is worse.  To give up on trying to keep a handle on debt would be far worse.  To give up on trying to rebuild the emergency fund is worse.  To give up on trying to stay on top of household maintenance would be far worse than attending to little things before they become big things (or big things becoming even bigger things.)

And I guess it’s about priorities, again.  And that means I need to buy some new running shoes, and rebuild the emergency fund tomorrow.

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Evergreen Dalek

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The Christmas Tree waits patiently on the back porch;
Lurking beside the door;
Branches still pointed and ready;
Like an Evergreen Dalek, accusing.

“You have failed, homeowner!”
I imagine the grating mechanical voice;
“It is nearly February, and…”
With pitch and insanity rising…
“you have not been able to exterminate me!”

I turn off the porch light;
I close the door and turn away;
I mutter “Tomorrow..”
“I will deal with you Tomorrow.”