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What this has to do with anything
The various threads converge…
When the regular R5 carrier returns, which will apparently happen soon, my hold down of his route will end. At that point I will go back to being a regular RCA, on call six days a week and grabbing whatever hours get tossed my way. In other words, I go back to being underemployed and with an income of startling variation.
My church is not doing well.
The pastor of my church (Will) is likely to move sometime during the first half of this year. When he moves, he will leave the parsonage and the next pastor will move in. My family shares the parsonage with Will, so we move when he moves. Therefore our free housing (with utilities and amenities such as high speed internet included) comes to an end, and probably so does all of my involvement with my current church.
My wife, though she does have a full time job with comprehensive benefits, does not make nearly enough to support the family.
See what I said about uncertainty? I’ve been wandering this landscape for some time now, but in the middle of last night I awoke with thoughts of “what the hell am I going to do?” bouncing around in my brain. It’s the first time I’ve had such thoughts since early 2003 when I realized that it was time to leave my beloved church/community/career in Ohio.
Seeking the God of Uncertainty
This is my primary image of God now. He is the Lord of Uncertainty. He may not change, but the world He created does, and constantly. He may be entirely certain of the plan he is unfolding, but his children who live within its bounds and with its consequences are not. More to the point, he may know the plans he has for me, sayeth the Lord, but I don’t know if they include a hope and a future. That, plus he never promised me a rose garden.
And I’m okay with that.
Most of the time.
Still, there are those odd waking moments such as those that occurred last night. Moments when my mind makes a mad grasp at the periapt of certainty and comfort and finds no charm or magic talisman.
I think I noticed another gray hair this morning.
read part i here
For twenty three months I’ve been acquiring mad mail skillz as my wife has been moonlighting as Count de Monee. Route 5 (which I refer to, without affection, as ‘the monster’) fears me now, which is infinitely preferable to the other way around. In fact, I now know all of the rural routes and am pretty good at delivering all but two of them. Even though it all works on a seniority system, this still works out okay because if something happens at the last minute, I’m the only sub without a regular daily assignment that can fill in on any open route.
As regular readers know, I’m doing what we call a “hold down” of R5. The reason for this, which I have not disclosed before, is that the regular carrier on that route was given an involuntary leave of absence. In such a situation, his sub would be assigned to carry the route during his absence. His sub however, only works on Saturdays (that’s a whole ‘nuther sleeping dog and we’re going to let it lie for now, okay?). That means that, for the reasons listed in the previous paragraph, I get R5 every day, all the time. Well, except Saturdays.
The hold down started about a week before Thanksgiving and is still in full swing. At one time, R5 would put me into a near fit of nervousness. Other subs cannot sleep the night before they do R5, and the amount of mail it gets can induce something like panic. I know that what I just typed might give you the giggles, but rest assured that it is no laughing matter. R5 did the same thing to me for over a year, and I’m sure a few of my gray hairs find their roots in that panic period. Now the route isn’t even an annoyance. Except for a few days during the Christmas rush, I barely break a sweat on R5 now. This doesn’t mean I enjoy it. Most days I hate it, in fact.
As for the freelance writer gig, it doesn’t pay nearly as well as holding down a route, but it’s infinitely more enjoyable. The only problem is that my deadlines correspond perfectly with the heaviest mail days.
At the post office these last few days, I’ve been hearing rumors that the regular R5 carrier is shortly to return to work.
in part iii we will learn what this has to do with anything.
In this post you will read about the trivial minutiae that haunts my addled brain. This post is going to be long on words and also long on moderate personal revelation. I will probably break it into parts for two reasons, 1.) I’d actually like you to read it but would never expect you to wade through as many word as I’m about to type at one sitting, and 2.) I’m kind of interested in your reaction to the whole. So, here is part the first.
Four and a half years ago
I left Cleveland and the church and the career I truly expected to retire from. The reasons were many, and some of them were sort of ugly too. I came to Pottstown and another job in another church. I fulfilled all the expectations of the job but the church it was in did not evolve or change in any way, even as a partial result of the work I joined. I left the church’s employ in early 2006 and acquired a couple of other jobs: I retained part of the position at the church in return for continued housing. As you all know, my main source of income is the USPS and I also write articles for a local business to business publisher.
The shift in our income situation made it necessary for my wife to re-enter the workforce after a 10+ year absence. She is a bank teller.
All of this is stuff you need to know as background for what comes next.
Uncertain, as usual
In 1997, on my birthday in fact, my left hand felt all tingly. You know how it feels when your arm has fallen asleep and it gets to where it’s almost back to normal? That’s how my hand feels all the time. Yes, even now, though I’m so used to it I don’t even notice anymore. After weeks of agonizing about what was wrong with me, and feeling the same sort of tinglyness begin in my other arm, and visits to doctors, a chiropractor, a neurologist, and a physical therapist, I was convinced that I had MS. Finally in March, the neurologist showed me the area of signal pathology on my MRI at the C2 vertebrae: consistent with MS but only one lesion, so short of a diagnosis. I’ve never had any further symptoms and remain a medical enigma even now.
I don’t believe God gave me whatever it is that looks like MS on purpose, but it certainly has been a tool in his hands. It has taught me to live with uncertainty. I’m pretty good at it now.
Coming in part ii, why this year figures to be more uncertain than the previous five put together.