The House of Broken Dreams

29 12 2008

During my first semester of my senior year, eight (later seven, thanks to DBA) of us lived in an ill-fated house in Fullerton that was later given its appropriate name by Micah: The House of Broken Dreams.  While the major catastrophic events have been well-chronicled, I still find myself wondering how we ever made it out of there…  Then I remember that we were kicked out by a landlord in danger of having her house repossessed, and I don’t wonder any more. We spent New Year’s Eve (and a day or two on both ends of that) staying up all night to clean and  pack and truck stuff over to the new place that remains fittingly unnamed to this day.

While there aren’t exactly a plethora of great memories to choose from when it comes to that place, I have easily chosen a favorite.  Perhaps it belies my consuming disdain for the proprietor of our house for those brief six months, but I have no choice but to share it:  It was, I believe, November.  On the morning of a sunny fall Monday, we heard a knock at the door.  As was our custom, a couple of us gathered around the door to greet what could only be a friend, surprising us with some unexpected gifts.  Instead, we were met by a squat, greasy man in a suit.  When greeted, he hurriedly began to enumerate the reasons that we needed to let him talk to the owner of the house.  We finally cut him off to say that we had been having trouble contacting her as well, but we could give her a message.  He then said that she had not been answering her phone, and that it was a very urgent matter about some dealings with the bank.  Responding to his stern warning with plaintive pleas of ignorance as to her whereabouts, Mr. Bank T. Squat was then ushered by our doorstep by the cacophonous cries of five college students who had just met a fellow victim of our mutual acquaintance’s incompetence.  Later on, it became clear to us that we had merely reaffirmed his concept of Imelda as a bumbling and foolish person; our plight meant less than nothing to this Fullterton financeer.  (alliteration virus quarantined)

Perhaps it’s not the most dramatic tale of woe to take hold upon your screen, but I do hope I have at least half-decently expressed my feelings of sardonic exuberance upon finding out that our deadbeat landlord was on the run from collection officers.  I mean, shoot man, we were half-sure that we were gonna wind up owning the place after that morning…

If we hadn’t met Brian (lawsuit indefinitely forestalled at this time) so soon afterwards, I surely would have hung Imelda’s sister’s business card (another great* story) at the head of the pantheon of heroic landlords by this time.  Instead, we were soon to encounter the inimitably maladroit stylings of Brian G., at your service.

Also, Boomers is like a rotting corpse containing rotting fruit fly corpses now.  Seriosuly, this place (which drove me to tears on a long-forgotten Saturday afternoon) now makes the Camelot off of the 57 look like the land o’ milk and honey.  Good thing I’ve served my 40 years.

*Definition pending

Everything, insanity

14 09 2008

Vida fue muy sabrosa en la fin de la semana pasada.

My dad has spent the last six weeks or so without a voice. After another one of many procedures on his throat in an effort to slow the progress of his Amyloidosis, he found himself with but a whisper with which to communicate. As a pastor, this also began to raise fears that had remained relatively far from the realm of likelihood since the onset of his disease nearly five years ago.

Seeing my father struggle to be heard because of a vacuum or a passing car was hard. Knowing that his condition was the result of a procedure to restore his voice was one of the most bitter ironies I had witnessed in some time. After going through the fairly difficult process of accepting his hoarse-ish voice as a replacement for that of my father’s over the last few years, I began to sadden every time I thought about how much I had resented his affliction before it became severe.

My mom has been working hard in the midst of a flagging economy to limited success; her hours have seen reductions to the point where she was looking for a new job despite really enjoying what she has now. Her and our prayers were finally answered and fulfilled when she was given enough seniority a few months ago so that she would be able to maintain a worthwhile schedule.

I remember also resenting my mom’s employer over the last year on a number of occasions; her pay was substantially lower than he skill set should have garnered, and her work environment was often maddening. My love for my mother often made it difficult for me to be thankful for a troubling job that my mom needed directly because of my dad’s medical troubles (college is also expensive, apparently).

Now, of course, I can see how weak my faith was in those times. My mom is currently blessed to be working with friends on a regular schedule that puts bread on the table.

Today, my father preached for the first time since that last procedure, having “discovered a voice” that at first sounded much higher than his original “croak” but has since come down to practically normal (for an amyloidosis patient) levels.

As I was sharing a hymnal with my grandma this morning, I wondered how my dad must have been feeling. Surely, he was nervous, wondering if people would really think of his “new” voice as much of an answered prayer at all. Surely, he was apprehensive, wondering if it would hold up to the rigors of a long sermon. Of course, he was faithful and strong, and it seemed to me that his voice rang with a note that echoed what I have heard over the past four years to a nearly exact degree.

My dad preached about Ecclesiastes this morning to a congregation that has supported him in innumerable ways while some of us chose doubt over faithfulness. To be sure, I cannot say that God’s will has finally seen its fulfillment in the matter of my father and his voice. I still pray earnestly for his complete healing and the restoration of his health. In the meantime, however, I could not have received a more blatant reminder to be grateful for what God gives, and to be grateful for everything under the sun that God has given to us. The rather languid tones of Ecclesiastes 8 resonated this morning in an audibly iridescent manner:

14-There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked; On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.

15So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),

17and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.

Matt is going to have KIDS someday. What? What? No. What?