Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Pros and Cons of 336

If fall comes in the form of rain streaks across my window, I’ll welcome it. But if it just brings shorter days, annoying students, and sore throats, never mind! Give me summer or give me death!

Too bad I can’t stop the seasons. We’ve got rain. The ants know it. But I’m willing to put up with them if I can listen to the pattering outside. Phil has put up with the ants marvelously well, but only because he imagines the ants taking our poison to their queen and feeding it to their un-hatched babies.

We keep the raisins and nuts in Ziplocs in our cupboards. The honey and syrup are in the fridge. That’s the problem with living in a converted laundry room. The ants can’t tell that this is a house.

We’ve lived in 336 square feet for a year now, and here are my complaints.
-We’re always tracking dirt into the house.
-If Phil’s watching clips online, I have to too.
-We can’t have more than two people over for dinner.
-I’m afraid that an alley mugger will break into our office/living/dining room window and steal my computer.
-We’ve had yellow rope on our bedroom floor for 365 days—the yellow rope is a temporary trap door opener until we finish it.

-We’ve no carpet to sink my toes into or sit on while doing a project.
-If one countertop is cluttered, the whole house is cluttered.
-The kitchen is really a one-man kitchen.
-If it’s above the second shelf, I have to climb onto the counter, desk, or couch to reach it.
-If I’m cooking, the whole house smells like it.
-If Phil has a friend over or if I have a friend over, the other spouse can’t go into the other room.
-It’s impossible to pass each other on the stairs.
-We can smell the garbage in the alley on trash days.
-I have to crawl over Philip to get out of the bed.
-We can hear our tenants through the bathroom wall and I’m sure they can hear us too.
Okay. Okay. It’s not that bad. But naturally I’ve thought of all the bad things first. So on to the good to balance out all the complaints:
-The kitchen is perfect; I take it out of the fridge, wash it, chop it, and cook it without taking more than two steps.

-We have a huge sink and a dishwasher, so the counters are rarely cluttered with dirty dishes.
-I don’t feel bad about getting rid of ugly decorations, unneeded gadgets, and rarely used clothes; we certainly don’t have extra storage space for them.
-Phil and I are never more than a holler away from each other.
-Our laundry chute is most ingenious.
-The lights alone heat up the whole house.
-It stays pretty cool in the summer, except 113-degree weather.
-I sweep and scour and I’m done cleaning.
-Phil knows where most everything goes.
-My desk faces the window, so I can watch the trees moving in the wind.
-We have multiple blank walls just waiting for the right picture.
-We have space for all we need.
-Every feature of our studio has a story.
-We have three big windows in our bedroom that send in great breezes (except on trash day).
-One tenant or another is always home in case I get attacked.
-We don’t have to pay our mortgage!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do You Know The Author?

I think I might be writing about this pre-maturely. If this doesn’t work out, I’ve got to blame myself. If it does, God has demonstrated his faithfulness.

A little over a month ago I wrote the following conversation in my story between two characters: King Austin and Master Downing. Downing has just returned from a potentially life threatening adventure, which has led to the very best of situations.

“How did you know?” Austin started.

“Know what?”

“Know that any of this was going to happen: that you’d make it back safely, that Noom would choose to fight for us? How’d you know?”

Downing shook his head. “I didn’t.”

“You didn’t?” Austin stopped pacing. “You mean you just gave yourself up to the thieves without knowing if they’d kill you or not?”


This was too much for Austin. It didn’t make any sense. Was Downing just that reckless? “But you could’ve died!”


Austin threw his hands up. “Master Downing, you don’t make any sense! I saw you giving yourself up to those thieves like you weren’t afraid of what might happen.”

“I’m not.”

“Why? How can you be like this?”

“Austin, after so many years I’ve come to know the author’s tone, and it is a good story. I am not afraid.” He spoke evenly and firmly.

A day shy of a month ago our front house tenant gave us her 30-day notice. Oh God, I thought. Here we go again. Every day the house isn’t rented, we have to pull money out of our savings: money that we’re trying to set aside for property taxes and fixing our rickety foundation.

Nine months ago we had to go through the same situation. That was painful. Both our front house and our back apartment were vacant. I watched our savings draining rapidly for two months before we found tenants. I wasn’t very trusting or pleased with God through those two months, but he stayed with us. Our tax return replenished what we’d lost and twice as much.

So here I was again. Similar scenario. Same characters. Same God. Was it providential that my God had made me write that scene in my story only days before the 30-day notice? Was it God reminding me of what I’ve learned before letting me try again?

I tend to get angry with God in these kinds of circumstances. I wonder why God doesn’t act now! Why doesn’t he calm my nerves? Why can’t I be nonchalant? Why can’t I just let it go and trust?
This time it was different. When the 30-day e-mail popped up, I paused. Oh God. Here we go again. You’ve shown me what you can do. I know you are trustworthy and you make all things good. May I not be afraid.

28 days went by without our receiving a single application. People called. People took applications home, but no one filled them out and said, “Yes, I want it.” Our old renters moved out four days early so the house is empty.

Yesterday, on day 28 I got our first bite: a family on their way to California needed a place ASAP. They were actually calling me from the road. The place they’d planned on living was raising the rents and they liked the look of our house on Craig’s list. Within 10 hours they were in California, Phil showed them the house while I was at choir practice, and they filled out an application.

Today we signed papers. They’re moving in as I write this. I have the first check in my hand. Today is day 29. Tomorrow, day 30, would’ve been the day that we started to lose money.

Need I say more? I know the author and it is a beautiful story.