I shouldn't be blogging.
I should be packing.
But there's so much I want to write about!!!
I learned a lotta new things in the last two weeks. And am undergoing some drastic lifestyle changes. I learned that my contract as an associate of Chronicle Project will expire and not be renewed; I learned that having a degree actually works against you in this economy (ref. Matt); I learned that I don't have my flippin' degree (more on that later); and I learned that it's pretty much impossible to plan for the future - not to say that we shouldn't...
Those weren't the best series of mystery boxes, but I'm sure you're curious as to what has happened to bring about the learning of these lessons.
I didn't lose my job - but I won't be continuing as a contracted part with Chronicle Project. My contract came to close and it was evident that my position wasn't needed with Deidox up and running (check out the new site, by the way!)
I'm just going to skip to the drama -
it's been 6 months since Matt has been able to find any kind of work. He's done ok getting odd jobs here and there, but his pursuit of part-time or full-time work in grocery has lead to dozens of applications yielding very little results (and obviously not being hired). Of course I wonder sometimes if he's giving the interviewing supervisor the bird, thus keeping him from landing any positions... but have you met my husband? He's just about the easiest guy to get along with, if a little shy (must be cuz he's an artist). In any event, 7 yrs experience and college degree have, it seems to me, put Matt in the unique category of applicants that pose an integrity issue for the stores at which he has been applying. He's not inexperienced enough to be hired at starting wage, and many companies have a policy or ethic that believes an educated individual should be honored with a higher wage... or put into management (i.e. full-time and years committed to a store). But no one wants to pay for experience when they can pay less to train someone else. Matt's efforts should not be underestimated! He has spent any less that 25 or so hours a week since September applying, interviewing, searching for and driving to job opportunities; and yet, he still has no job.
This has compounded the problem of debt. When we moved to Pasadena, I'd done the math. Matt had a job and I was working with CP. This should have been enough to sustain us, but, for all intents and purposes, downsized right after he was hired. And being the first time we'd ever lived in anything larger than a dorm room, I'd not budgeted for a move or the living expenses of a house very well. Long story short, we've been getting deeper and deeper into debt since we moved.
Now, with Matt Jobless, me jobless, and a living situation we can't afford, we found ourselves in a bind last week. And inside of a few days, we realized the only option we had was to move back in with one set of parents and try to get jobs in one of our hometowns. This was a major bummer.
We'd been praying out work and debt since the third month of Matt's joblessness, and we'd always seemed to make it, even if we had to use the credit card. But this was the end of the line and it was downright depressing to find ourselves forced to leave our home because of something as seemingly simple as finding a pair of jobs. But that was the reality last Thursday.
We started telling our friends that we were going to be leaving the area very soon. Most of them offered consolation and help with the move; many said that would keep their ears open for any kind of work, but it was really too late. Even if we both found jobs, it wouldn't have been in time to pay the rent and bills. A pair of my dearest friends (who happened to be roommates) even offered to pay our rent for one more month if it would help. And a funny thing happened, I couldn't say "no." I didn't say "yes" either, but it didn't seem right to say "no." It occurred to me that moving also meant leaving our community, our church, our friends, even our beloved stomping grounds. The offer extended by my friends to us was, for whatever reason, a very profound act of community - and it struck me as foolish and probably stubborn and prideful, too, to turn them away.
And with that offer, we decided to wait. We couldn't say "yes" but we couldn't say "no." Perhaps it was divinely orchestrated, but the events of crisis we were sharing also created opportunities to go intimately connect in with time and conversation and wine that we hadn't had since our stress had set on. We ate lunch with the Chinese church and went shopping with friends and had dinner in homes - activities we had replaced with wallowing and dead-end job searches. For a few days we stopped and just lived in what we thought would be the last few evenings for a long while with our friends. And they urged us to pray with them and pray with our church - to be with them and be with Church. I was being asked with every interaction if I had prayer requests and what had my church said about our situation.
I finally wrote our pastor a somber email - I wasn't upset and I wasn't worried. I only told him our situation so that he could disseminate the information to the body and we might be blessed with intercession and company. He wrote back within the hour affirming us as family and reminding us that we are prayed for... oh yea, and an offer to cut a check for whatever we needed to get through the next month.
I couldn't believe it. I didn't even tell Matt for an hour. We didn't even write back for a day. Do communities do that? Do CHURCHES do that? I sent a few messages to the friends who had urged us to bring our situation before our church family, telling them of the good news! The response I mostly got was, "duh. that's what we're here for!" which was a precursor to "Praise God!" Matt and I talked about what we would ask for - putting aside any lingering effects of a uselessly bruised ego and thinking of only what we might need to get through to the next month. But before we finished the email, we got another message from a good friends' brother-in-law. The message from him said something along the lines of, "Hey, it's hard times, but we live in 3-bedroom condo and are only paying $1000 a month. We heard about your job situation and I also lost my job. How about we be housemates and split the (already incredibly low) rent?"
That's what happened. We thought we had needs that couldn't be met. And then we were offered a means to meet the needs. And then the needs were completely changed!
So that's where to next! Housemates in a giant house with another couple who mutually benefits. And that's the BEST part! It's not just only a blessing for us, it's a blessing for them, too! And the church who can use those funds to bless someone else! And to our community who so clearly expressed how blessed they were to have us with them!
That's it. Oh yea, and to top it off, I got a job yesterday.