Saturday, June 25, 2011

Homeless, stranded, all sorts of good stuff (with update!)

Here we sit, in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  Our Penske rental truck, cause of so much consternation yesterday, is in a sulk.  The fuel pump is being replaced at the moment (it was belching so much black smoke it was either a fuel pump issue or a failure to elect a pope).  Meanwhile we wait in our little Drury Inn (they allow pets: bless you, Drury Inn).
The truck is now being tried again.  More black smoke--still no pope or fuel pump, I guess.  An incredibly rough idle.
So is this what it means to learn patience?  I have no choice but to wait.  Our next way stop (Dunbar, WV, for what it's worth) is irrelevant at this point.  Don't know what needs to be done yet.  New truck?  Repair time?  I have no knowledge to work with, so I have no choice but to wait.  Is this what it means to learn patience?
Do I have any choice but to find out?

Update, 1:07 central time:

It gets better.  We are definitively stranded, at least for the day.  A replacement truck has to come from St. Louis, and for some reason that will take about three hours.  Then the defunct truck has to be off-loaded onto the new truck.  We know this won't happen quickly.  The truck is stuffed, with Julia's upright topping the list of heavy items.  So that's probably going to be an all-night affair.  At this point I'm just hoping we can get going in the morning at a decent time.
My wife, sweetie that she is, is taking the upbeat approach:  at least we now have a day to get rested before finishing up the move.  There's definitely a lot to be said for that.  This has not been a good-sleep week by any means.  A day of enforced relaxation might be a very good thing.  West Virginia is not an easy state to drive over (and "over" really does seem the right word).
As to the diagnosis: I am so not a motorhead, but I can grasp this: the reading that should have gone from 1 at idle to 18 at full rev only went from 1 to 3.  I don't have to be a motorhead to grasp that there is a problem with that.
So.  I'd say this quit being a patience lesson.  There's nothing really left to be patient about, is there?  Events are quite beyond our control.  We are into the territory of "accidents of history," to borrow a phrase from my Communities of Learning program I'm going through with Union right now.
For whatever reason I got the cruddy end of the stick this time.  Penske doesn't, in my experience anyway, usually hand out lemons, but I most assuredly got one.  The desk manager here at the hotel observed that she's almost never seen a Penske have to serviced like this, and many do come through here (this town does seem to sit at a crossroads in southern Illinois).  "U-Hauls, yeah, a lot, but Penskes almost never."  Nonetheless I got a bad one, unlike the three other Penske trucks that left here successfully today.  Does that mean anything?
Am I supposed to be learning some lesson about "the best laid plans" and all that?  Gee whiz, the whole reason I'm on this trip is that my "best laid plans" for my life got re-routed into seminary and eventually ministry.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I'm feeling o.k. on that subject these days.
I guess I'm resisting the notion that this "happened for a reason" or that it's supposed to "mean something."  It happened because somebody messed up.  That we'll get some extra rest is a nice side benefit, but it comes at some cost in hotel rearrangements (stupid me made one of those advance-reservation non-refundable reservations for tonight in WV, and now I'll pay for it--literally) and needing to reschedule unloading in Richmond.  And all it "means" is that we'll be a day later arriving.  An accident of history.  Something to moan about later.  A tall tale for regaling others with.  Or, put most simply, life.
Now to be a vegetable, for the first time in several days.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


With the first part of the move done, the idea of hospitality is much in my head.  Since we've elected to drive our own belongings from Lawrence to Richmond, and since I have no stomach for trying to tow a car behind the rental truck, I've made the first of two such drives to deposit one of our vehicles in Richmond, to be reclaimed when we arrive with everything else.  This has relied upon other people being hospitable:  not only my old roomie having a spare futon available and firing up the grill for night one, but a form of hospitality being extended to me from someone whom I had not even met, technically.  We've corresponded by email a good bit over the seminary and such, but our vehicle now sits at the home of someone I met in person for the first time when I arrived to leave it there.  (She and her husband also provided dinner to boot.)  Talk about "receiving the stranger in your midst."

OK, so in an absolute sense I am not technically a stranger, I guess.  Maybe this would be an opening to go into how the variety of electronic media changes the way people relate to one another, and there's certainly something to that notion--people who have no physical contact can become quite familiar, so to speak, through their communication via email, blogs (hello!), Facebook, etc.  But I don't know that I have the energy to pursue that line of thought at the moment (two days of mainlining Mello Yello on the road will take its toll, eventually), and besides, I'm not the young, hip type to be talking about social media as if it's the salvation of the world.

Instead, at this moment I am simply grateful for the hospitality of friends, strangers, and those who are some of both.  I am challenged to consider my own capability for hospitality.  And I'm really ready to get home, or at least to that place which holds home for a little more than a week longer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I thought I was through...

The transition continues apace.  Now that we're set on a place to live, the moving arrangements are in place.  The house looks suitably trashed for a place being packed up and vacated.  Some items have made their way to charities (not as many as planned--thanks, Salvation Army), others await disposal, others await packing.
And yet my academic career isn't quite over.  A lecture recital and defense yesterday, a dissertation defense Thursday morning, and a master's oral exam in a couple of weeks, all when I'm technically off the payroll.  What can I say, I'm a pushover.
The mental transition, when I step outside of myself and observe it, is fascinating.  I've dropped the AMS-L email list, for example.  Now this is hardly shocking, as I'm no longer a member of the American Musicological Society and am not actively participating in the discipline of musicology.  But watching an episode of career suicide and some rather petty carping trickling into my email inbox provided the trigger, not a conscious thought of departing the discipline.  More personal relationships--friends, colleagues, students--have been awful to see come to this parting, but other trappings of the discipline have been shuffled off with nary a sweat.
Meanwhile, it's harder to say how the transition to the new life is going.  This is, I think, because I don't entirely know what that life is.  For all the talk of "calling" and ministry preparation and all those things, in many ways I really don't know what to expect, an uncertainty that surpasses any transition I've yet experienced.
Oddly enough, I've been mostly o.k. with this.  Partly because of the more practical uncertainties--such as the long process of trying to find a place to live that would allow three pets--I've not been possessed of much time to be tripped up in the more metaphysical uncertainties.
So, somewhere down the road, I'm due to be blasted in the face with a truckload of "what am I doing!?" and "how am I ever going to get through this?"  Thoughts I haven't had time to be overwhelmed by for the last couple of weeks will come flooding back in.  The press of getting into Greek and finding some sort of remunerative employment and figuring out the commute may leaven the whelming flood of wondering, but it's coming, I just know it.
For now, though, back to trying to pack up some albums and trying to wade through this four-hundred-page dissertation...