My longer-than-a-week hiatus has two real excuses.

1.) I was under a blog detox. A while back I posted a lolcats picture, and for the past few weeks, my search engine terms have been crammed with people looking for FUNNY CATS! Seriously. There has been little else. In fact, my hits have been nearly 250 hits higher than average. It was really annoying me. I was disappointed that I couldn’t check my blog stats and be proud that I had 358 hits. They really didn’t care about my writing. They just cared about the FUNNY CATS! So, I deleted the lolcats picture off my blog, and it took about a week for Google Images to figure out that the post no longer exists.

2.) Work has been nuts. Every night I’ve come home exhausted. This job has really made me appreciate assembly-line workers. I can’t imagine working on an assembly line for more than a month. I’m so thankful that it worked out for me to have this job for this short time that I’m home, but today I am even more thankful that tomorrow my paycheck will be in my hands, and I can move on to bigger and better things….

LIKE CALIFORNIA! BECAUSE I’M LEAVING IN 9 DAYS!

Also, some pretty amazing things have happened in the past few days that remind me just how great God’s faithfulness is. The money came through from the insurance company for the Great Rear-Ending of 2007, and with some generosity from my father, it covered the cost of my new car, the Sable Who Has No Name. My dad also did some work on the car for me, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a mechanic father. Let’s just say that after he told me everything he did on the car, all I could say, with wide eyes and an unsquelchable smile, was, “Merry Christmas to me!” I was planning on getting him honey roasted cashews for Christmas or a new set of keys he could use to clean out his ears. I guess I’ll have to re-think those options.

Also, a dear friend of mine took it upon himself to send me a little package in the mail today. It was quite lovely and touching. Thank you, friend. You know who you are. I will send you an email sometime tomorrow to thank you personally.

Speaking of Christmas, I didn’t have to work on Sunday, and I went Christmas shopping with my mom and grandma. I’m planning on making most of my Christmas gifts this year, and I had a great time in the craft stores picking out the materials to purchase. I can’t wait to post some photos of what I make, but that, of course, will have to wait until after Christmas and the gifts have been bestowed upon their recipients. And, of course, after I actually make said gifts.

One thing I did purchase for my nephew Ezra is a baby toy of the future, and I can’t wait to give it to him. It’s a new take on a typical baby toy, and I knew it was great when my mom saw it and was disappointed that she hadn’t gotten it for him.

Speaking of my niece and nephew… I love them. They will be the hardest to leave in 9 days because they will be so much bigger when I see them again. It has been truly wonderful to be around them for the past month and a half. I don’t regret the decision to come home for a little while at all.

I promise that I will start writing about homeschooling soon. Today was my last day of work until I find a job in California, and I’m looking forward to letting my body rest for a while. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’m working out all day every day. Tomorrow I am sleeping in!

It’s the End Of an Era

November 10, 2007

On Wednesday, I signed a document putting my former car, Cordelia, a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, again under the ownership of my father. I have been driving her since I was 17, back when she only had 30,000 miles on her. And 96,000 miles later marks the end of our saga. It’s weird to talk about having a connection with a big hunk of metal, so I won’t talk about it, but know that I was quietly emotional. I will say, though, that our connection probably stemmed from our ages. We were close; We understood each other. I think it’s more the loss of a symbol of my rites of passage than the loss of this specific car.

Or not. She was a good car. And dare I say it: A damn good car.

Today the insurance assessor came to take a look at her and determine how much money will come into the Clipperton family due to the Great Rear-Ending Fiasco of 2007. And it turns out that Cordelia’s damage was not merely cosmetic and trunk-closing-related, as I had originally thought it was.

Apparently her frame is broken. Apparently she is totaled. Apparently she was deemed undriveable. Apparently I just drove a totaled, undriveable car 600 miles.

My dad, the mechanic, took a look at her after the assessor had left and said that I was probably fine the whole time because the frame was broken at the back, not near any suspension. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t know until now. That sappy, inanimate-object-loving side of me is glad for that last 10 hours I had with my first car, driving that trip we knew so well, up from Arkansas, through Kansas City and Des Moines, over the Minnesota border and back to our homeland, past the place where we spun in the ditch two years ago on black ice and then triumphantly got ourselves out. Yes. While tow trucks were abounding in that same area, dragging out the five other cars that were there, we merely put ourselves in gear, spun and screeched our tires a little, reversed and moved forward and reversed again, just like our daddy taught us, and we pulled out of the snow, up onto the road, better for our effort, from the independence of it all, from conquering a little ice in the road on the journey home.

Back-Bender

October 18, 2007

When this week began, I was without car. Cordelia, my 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme had an angry starter problem that made all my neighbors in the 50-and-older apartment complex where I live emerge from their respective homes to tell me that my car “sounded bad.” The starter problem began on a Saturday evening. I got my car back on a Tuesday afternoon. I am moving to Minnesota tomorrow.

The car fiasco presented a large dent in my plans. I got behind on packing and running errands because I had no automobile to take me places. Thankfully I live close enough to work to walk, and I had some wonderful co-workers who helped me out on rainy days. I kept calling the auto repair place because I was nervous. What if my car had gone completely car-put? How would I get home? My last day of work was today, and I have to be out of my apartment by tomorrow at 5 p.m. At that point I still didn’t know where Francis was going to live. And as the minutes ticked by that my car was in the shop, all I could see were dollar signs. I grew up in an auto repair shop. I know that problems under that hood can cost muchos francs.

The cost of restoring Cordelia’s health wasn’t as good as it could have been or as bad as it might have been. My exact words to the mechanic were, “Can you fix it so that I can drive this car just six hundred more miles?” I just need to get to Minnesota. Then I’m going to buy another car from my dad, the mechanic.

I got my car back on Tuesday afternoon and immediately started rejoicing. Then shortly after that my friend AA called to tell me that her parents wanted to adopt Francis. Francis is currently on her way to Omaha, Nebraska in the back of AA’s car. It was a hard good-bye… one of the hardest ever… but that feeling is overcome by my gratefulness that when I told my mom a few weeks ago that God was going to bring the right person to adopt Francis, he brought a few someones who were better than even I had hoped. Francis is going to a house where she will get to spend hours getting lost under beds and furniture and hiding in cupboards and closets. She will stay beautiful while she’s young, and she will grow fat when she’s old — fat on love and ham. She will have a good life. I am honored that could be her first mommy. And I will also probably get to go see her over Thanksgiving.

I also said good-bye to my co-workers today, which was bitter-sweet. I am going to miss the people considerably. And I guess I will miss the job too, but I’m ready to move on to something a little more challenging. It is nice to know that I will not have to go to work for a while. And that I get to use my vacation time next week. And that I get to spend time in the next few months baby-sitting my niece and nephew and spending time with my dog and my parents and just re-discovering the things I enjoy. In mid-November, I’m going to start working at a seasonal fruit packing company that a friend of my parents’ owns. It is an excellent job, and since it’s only seasonal, there isn’t any problem with me leaving in just a few months. Plus the pay is great, and I get to keep all the damaged fruit my grubby little hands can carry.

Another tremendous blessing is that someone, just out of the blue, decided to give me a check to cover the expense of fixing my car this past week. It left me crying and speechless. Just that day, she had told me that God would provide, all the time knowing just how He would do it.

Oh yeah, and another little something happened today. Directly after my good-byes to my co-workers, I left to take Francis to AA’s house so AA’s could take Francis to Omaha.  And a lady rear-ended me as I was turning into AA’s apartment complex. I was slowing down to make a right turn into the complex, when I heard tires screeching. I thought, Why are my tires screeching? I’m not going that fast. and then I heard a big crash and felt my body be jolted forward. In my confusion, I thought, Oh no, I hit someone! and then I realized that there was no one in front of me to hit. So I looked back, and sure enough, the car behind me had hit me.

Did I mention that I’m driving 600 miles to Minnesota tomorrow in a car that I just spent nearly a week’s pay fixing? Just checking.

The lady in the other car was sobbing. My neck and shoulders had undergone some trauma, but I was fine. My car is like a tank. I got out of the car and went over to her. I was afraid she was hurt from the way she was crying, but when I got over there and asked if she was all right, she said, “Well, this is just the icing on the cake.” I was thinking, Tell me about it.  She was afraid of her husband’s anger, and it made me so sad. How can a person live in a relationship like that? How could someone stand that type of fear from the person they’re supposed to love the most?

Her car barely had a mark on it, but she had hit the chrome part of the back of my car, directly under the trunk. It was badly bent, but no vital organs had been damaged. I was just worried that I had whiplash and that I wouldn’t be able to finish cleaning and packing. And I have to drive tomorrow. For ten hours.

I called Dad and then the police and then I sat in an ambulance for a while and then I talked to a policeman for a while and then I  called my insurance agent and then I called L to see if her dad (a Nurse Practitioner) could get me some drugs and then I called D. By that time I had most of the tears cried out of me (mostly due to thinking about Francis), and after D had asked if I was okay, he asked how the car was, and I started laughing. “The trunk won’t close,” I said. “It just keeps popping up like a jack-in-the-box. I’m going to have to drive home with it bungeed down.”

It just seems right that I should end this stage of my life driving to Minnesota in a car that is as old as I am, with all my worldly possessions packed tightly in a trunk that will not latch — the worldly possessions covered with a shower curtain liner in case of rain, under a trunk that is being held down only by a hooked piece of blue elastic  tubing.

Today marked the day of a lovely garage sale, for which my dear friend A and I have been preparing for months. Garage sales are opposite of many other events that require much planning — rather than having all sorts of small details add up to one stressful day of carrying out those details, the actual day of a garage sale is rather relaxing. We spoke to many wonderful people and made some pleasing profits and had some time to talk together amid all the frenzy of me moving. At this time next week, I will be at my cousin S’s bachelorette party, in Minneapolis — phase one of my fantastic journey. Phase two will be California, but that won’t come until January. It was a good day, and I was feeling pretty good about it.

Unfortunately, all the cash I made today on that sweet little garage sale is now going to replace the starter in my car, which failed about a half hour ago. Of course, it failed on a Saturday, when I cannot take it somewhere to get it fixed, and of course it happened to fail the evening before I have to go to work. My car is currently full of boxes to take leftover items to the local second-hand store, with a trunk load of card tables in the rear that go back to the church.

Many obstacles have fallen in my path thus far as I’ve been working to go to California. I’m putting so much effort into this, and those who care about me keep telling me that it’s just another bump in the road. Somewhere inside me, I believe that, but I did have to give myself that one little moment of panic right after I walked back into my apartment after the starter failed. There I sat, just on the inside of my door and buried my face in my knees to cry and take deep breaths for a few moments. A starter failing may not seem like a big deal, but having your car out of commission even for a little while the week you’re moving is. I cannot tell you how much I have to do. And this is just one more thing to pay for.

During my junior year in college, I put words to a truth I always knew and believed but had never acknowledged: Anything in life that is worth having is going to be difficult to obtain. Along the way a few moments of grace may arise, which are welcome surprises, but for the most part, those things we love, those things about which we are passionate, and those things that we just really, really want are never going to come easily. The bumps and hurdles and unexpecteds will always be there, distracting us from hope and threatening to remove us from the lives we long to have. The failure of the car starter is definitely not the first hurdle I’ve encountered in this journey that will end in California. It will. But it is probably the scariest. I am tired. I am saying good-bye to many people this week that I don’t want to leave. I am dealing with about a thousand different what-ifs. This whole venture of moving to California has been a long and stressful process, one that is developing and becoming clearer daily. But there are still so many unknowns. And there will be many more wrenches tossed in the gears.

My grace this week has revealed itself in the people in my life. It came earlier this week when I had to say good-bye to my boss for the last time and he had to pretend to blow his nose so no one would see the tears. It came with the bag of chocolate my co-workers gave me, along with a silly little stuffed monkey to keep me company in the car on the big journeys that lie ahead. It came today when my dear friend A brought me a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from McDonalds at 6 a.m. on her way over for our garage sale. It also came when she had to tell me to stop working so I could eat that bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. It came tonight when I called D right after I discovered the starter problem, and he said all kinds of things that made me laugh and cry at the same time. This week it has probably come most significantly as the people in my current workplace have come up to me just to let me know that they’re rooting for me.

In one week, it will come the moment I walk through the front door of my house — not my apartment here in Arkansas, but my home, in Minnesota — and remember me to one who lives there: that Girl From the North Country who dwells inside me. She once was a true love of mine.

My car is a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I like to inform people that it is as old as I am. Ever since I have owned the car, the fabric that is on the ceiling has been falling down. It never bothered me because I’m short enough so that the fabric fell just above my head, and by just above, I mean within a centimeter — close enough to stick to my static-y hair in the winter time, and far enough away that I never felt it.

All the hot, single men I welcomed into my car, however, had significant problems with my ceiling. They were large, attractive men with amazing pectoral muscles, and believe you me, there were a lot of them. But I never made it past first base with any of them because they were concerned that my ceiling would mess up their thick, glossy hair, and I’m not even kidding.

So, a few years ago, for the sake of the men, Dad brought out his staple gun and had a brilliant little shin-dig shooting about seven hundred staples into the ceiling of my car. The only problem? He didn’t shoot any into the ceiling near the windshield, right where the ceiling fabric ends and the windshield begins.

So, today I am driving home from work, and the sun is shining blindingly into the drivers’ side window. It is shining so brightly that the side of my face starts to sweat. Of course, I decide to move my visor to the side to block the sun. I reach up and push the visor over to the side. One would assume that instant relief would come, that the left side of my face would stop sweating, and that the air conditioning would begin to soothe my heated skin.

But no. All of that took second priority to the amazing cascade of decomposed foam that fell out from the crack between the ceiling and the top of the windshield when I moved the visor. It turns out that the visor was holding up the last bit of droopy ceiling.

And when I say cascade of foam, I don’t mean a little bit. Enough foam dust fell to cover every inch of bare skin (face, arms, neck, knees, hands) and the front part of my dress. Of course, my first reaction as I begin coughing because foam dust is falling all over me and in my mouth is to close my eyes so it doesn’t get in my eyes. After three seconds of eye-closing, I realize that I am still driving, and there are CARS, CARS OUT THERE! And then my eyes pop open, peering through the orange haze, just in time to begin slowing down for a stoplight.