Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cities of the Dead

Before The Big Guy left we took a trip into the city to take some pictures in several cemeteries. We visited some of the not famous ones, and got some fun pictures.
Can you find some things living in these cities of the dead?

All photos taken by me. Except the ones that I'm in. But that would be a cool trick, eh?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Here I Am

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God

This morning I sat in a strange sanctuary, singing these familiar words, as tears streamed down my face. The May Queen watched, confused. She snuggled in beside me.

Last week we bid our farewell to our congregation here. There was a big goodbye BBQ, and a final service. It was a bittersweet celebration of our time there and a sending off to our new home and calling. During the service last week I sang with the praise team for the last time, and looked out over the faces of the congregation that has been my family these last five years.

Don't you just hate goodbyes? We had a weekend full of them. It was hard. But today was even harder.

My husband flew to Michigan on Wednesday and is already a part of our new congregation.

But I am still here.

Our national church body has rules. Once the pastor has said his (or her) farewells, the family needs to leave as well. I understand the rules, and how they allow the congregation to move on, etc. Prolonged goodbyes are hard.

But I also don't understand the rules. Not only was that congregation my husband's job, it was MY congregation. The youth volunteers I organized, the kids I led in song at VBS, the praise team that I sang with (and laughed with) each week, the women with whom I studied the bible and prayed. My friends. Like any family things weren't always perfect. But there was grace and much love.

I nearly didn't go to any church this morning. I had a bevy of excuses, not the least of which was that as a pastor's wife I don't ever get to just decide "I feel like sleeping in today." I also had an open house to clean for.

But it was Sunday. I knew I needed to be in worship. The body of Christ is larger than one congregation. I picked a church, and a service, the night before. I had a hard time sleeping last night, and lay in bed this morning praying.

And I got up, got dressed, and went to worship.

It was harder than I imagined. But I showed up, and I'm glad I did. The sermon was on obedience, and quite timely for me, as I struggle to obediently follow the call we've heard from God.

I knew I needed to worship. It wasn't an easy worship this morning. Not at all. It was a broken hallelujah, to be sure.

But... I was there to worship, to bow down, to say that you're my God...

Meeting Jen

This week fellow blogger Jen from a2eatwrite found herself unexpectedly in New Orleans for vacation (to celebrate an anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Jen and Dave!). I found myself unexpectedly not working. We found each other for a great day!

We started off at the sculpture gardens and New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. The power went out right at lunchtime, so we made our way over to Parkway Bakery. The proprietor of the Bed and Breakfast where Jen and her husband were staying recommended it as having some of the best po' boys in town. I had never been before, but I have to say I agree. Yum.

We then went to the French Quarter where I showed them a few of my favorite galleries before pointing them in the direction of the Louisiana Music Factory and heading to pick up the May Queen from camp.

It was a great day. We talked nearly nonstop. Jen and her husband were quite friendly and interesting. Fortunately, I'll be moving near them in Michigan, so I know this time together won't be our last. Jen has promised to take The May Queen and I on a tour of fairy doors. Fun!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

I'm not beyond performing a little Catholic Voodoo (as Rima refers to it), even if I am Lutheran. We buried St. Joseph a week ago.
Do you think St. Joseph would approve of the champagne I have chilling in the fridge, waiting for the offer to come?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today the Big Guy got on a plane for Michigan.

The May Queen and I are still here. We are trying to sell this house. Tomorrow it will have been on the market for 7 weeks.

We've sold two houses before; both in California, both during the housing bubble. We put them on the market, the next day we had lookers, and the following day we had offers at or above our asking price.

We knew it wouldn't happen that quickly this time. But we never imagined that we'd reach the point where The Big Guy was heading to Michigan and we wouldn't be under contract yet. That we wouldn't have a date set for when The May Queen and I would join him.

I was supposed to be teaching camp this week and next, but due to low enrollment, I was downsized. The good news is that The May Queen still gets to go for free. I'm trying to take advantage of the time to get some things done, visit with friends, and enjoy a bit of Louisiana while I still can. But it's throwing me off. I had imagined teaching camp, then maybe having a week or two to close up shop, and then making the move.

I'm not teaching. And there's no end in sight.

I am at sea.

(and a sea filled with oil, at that)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saying Yes to Michigan

I was born and raised in Michigan. I graduated high school there. I worked my summers there during college. I met my husband there, and we were married there. Then, a week after the wedding, the moving trucks came. They took us to Philadelphia. Later trucks moved us to Los Angeles, California's central valley, and then to here... north of New Orleans.

Later this summer, a truck will move us back to Michigan.

I won't technically be moving "home," although my husband will come darn near close. In high school he worked two jobs in our new town, a small island community southeast of Detroit.

It's a twist in our narrative I didn't see coming. Nearly 6 years ago, when we ended up moving here instead, it was contemplated... being closer to family as The May Queen grew up had its appeal.

We've made a home here in a way we haven't anywhere else. We love New Orleans, and Louisiana. We've stuck through some pretty rough times here.

The reasons are never simple, but the simplest reason for our move back is the health of my in-laws. Both of my husband's parents have had strokes in the last 6 months. My sister in law closed up her home in Massachusetts to move in with them and help care for them (she started a blog about her journey, you can travel Through the Looking Glass and give her encouraging words if you feel so inclined). We feel a need to be closer to help with the care and the decisions. To give the May Queen more time with her grandparents.

We will also be closer to my family... the May Queen will be about an hour from her cousins, and another half an hour will bring her to my parent's home. I still have dear friends there from high school and my days at camp, and although they won't be next door neighbors, I am looking forward to reconnecting with them more than once a year.

Autumn. I can honestly say I am looking forward to fall.

There are good things about this move. But there are big questions, too. What will the new town be like, and will I fit in there? How will I break into yet another theatre community, one that appears quite smaller than the one here. Can I handle snow again?

I'm trying to be excited about the new possibilities. But honestly? I'm tired. And a bit scared. And quite a bit sad.

Yes is not always an easy word to say.

When I was a child there was a marketing campaign with the jingle "Say Yes to Michigan! Say yes, yes, yes, say Yes!"

I couldn't find that song, but this was obviously part of the same campaign.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Buying and Selling

So we're moving. Which means that we are selling our home, and buying a new one.

The markets here and there are quite different.

We painted most of our home beige. We moved out furniture to try to make things look bigger. We replaced some light fixtures to look more modern. We keep our house darn near spotless for potential buyers. We had our home pre-inspected and then went about fixing most of the problems we found, from the air conditioning (new coil and condenser, thank you) to the latches on closet doors. (A bonus in all of this is I am discovering that I can do all sorts of things around the house myself, like fixing the closet door that we rolled a handheld weight in front of for YEARS to keep the cats from opening. 10 minutes and a screwdriver were all it took). We have put our home at a lower price than comparable ones in our neighborhood because we do not have granite countertops and a tiled floor.

The houses we looked at in Michigan (We're moving to Michigan! Sorry... didn't mean to keep that a big secret... you all keep asking... I'll have to write a post soon on the how and why of all that) were much different. Not a single one was freshly painted. Many had lots of old wallpaper (a huge "no-no" according to our agent here) and nearly all had linoleum flooring in the kitchen (Horrors! Oh wait, so does our home...). Only a few had updated kitchens.

We have put in a contingent offer on a home, and just got the inspection back. There were quite a few things wrong with the house. In the market here, I know our agent would encourage us to fix everything the buyer asked for. Up there... we are only asking for the safety issues (one of which is HUGE... sagging ceilings in the whole home. A deal breaker). Asking for anything else would be considered crazy, greedy. (and it's not like houses up there are flying off the market. They sit and sit. In case you haven't heard, the economy in Michigan sucks)

We have spent, literally, THOUSANDS of dollars improving our home to help with the sale. I have put in hundreds of hours of personal labor. But the home owners where we are headed, where we are buying, have not. The market there is just different. The expectations are not the same.

The good news is: homes there are cheaper. And maybe that has something to do with it, but I don't think it does.

Ultimately, I think I like their way better (I'll paint the house the colors I want, anyways). I just wish it were reversed.

(We have a family that seems very interested in home... have asked for information on our yearly energy bills, etc. We're really praying an offer comes in soon. Any prayers and good vibes you could send our way will be much appreciated)

Monday, June 7, 2010

A broken hallelujah

Last night I went down to Frenchmen Street to hear John Boutte. After 2 years of Jazz Fest performances I've wanted to hear him in a smaller venue, and am thrilled I got to do it before I leave. I sat on the wooden floor and watched and listened. The thing about John Boutte that gets me - it got me from the back of a huge tent at Jazz Fest and it got me from 5 feet away in a tiny bar - is how every song he sings is personal. You can see the connection he makes to every single song... each heartbreak and each triumph, each question and each proclamation. It's written all over his face, right through his body, and out through the tambourine he holds in his right hand.

At this year's Jazz Fest he sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I sat in the tent with tears streaming down my face. I knew that it very well could be my last Jazz Fest, or at least my last Fest as a Louisiana resident.

Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

I seem to be drawn lately to an exploration of finding the joy even in the sorrow. Of celebrating the good among the bad, hard things. I don't know that I'm doing it well, but I'm trying. Because I want to experience this joy; here and now. But I also need to honor the fact that I am mourning. These things are not mutually exclusive.

I have to put on a fairly happy face about this upcoming move. And there are good things about it, there are. But most of my time, outside of this blog, is spent behind the mask composed of mostly the good things. so here... here I am doing some mourning. Thank you for bearing with me.

It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

He sang Hallelujah again last night. It was even more beautiful. Later I bought two more of his CDs, which I had signed. And then we went out onto the street. Where a band was playing and people were dancing. Somewhere in the festivities I managed to lose my car key. My husband had to come and rescue us.

Still, it was a wonderful evening. New Orleans magic.

And I keep singing...

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I have been overcome with a sudden desire to purchase every New Orleans thing I see. If it has a fleur de lis, I want it. Tshirts, magnets, jewelry. New Orleans artwork and photographs. Foodstuff. CDs. Christmas ornaments. Books.

I want to grab hold of this place and not let go. To take with me all that I can get my hands on.

For the most part, I've managed to control myself. Except for the CDs. My CD collection has grown a lot in the last month or so.

I will probably give in a bit here at the end. Buy a few of the things I keep coming back to.

I'm afraid, though, that if I take too much of NOLA with me... if I hang too much of it on my walls, around my neck, from my Christmas tree... that it will make me more heartsick. Do I need that kind of constant reminder of what I've left behind? How will I embrace my new home if I am constantly yearning for the old? Who will understand these earrings outside of New Orleans?

I can't put NOLA in a box. I can't wrap her in paper and hope she doesn't break, then take her out and install her in Michigan. New Orleans is here.

And in my heart. Always in my heart.