I smell a rat.

Or squirrel, which technically takes longer to decompose, and would be culprit no. 1 as to why the dead stink in our basement hasn’t deteriorated yet.rat

When I was pregnant with Bryce, I would wander periodically into Tony’s office to chat, as wives are prone to do, to ask for help with Addie or to lie on the bed, stare at the wall, complain about swollen feet. One day my spider pregnancy senses detected an odd odor emanating from our crawlspace. I pointed it out to Tony, who couldn’t smell it, and brushed it off.

Well summer got hotter, and as dead things do, whatever it was kept rotting away in the crawlspace and wafting their deadness out into our basement.

Smelling super gross.

Eventually, after some prodding, Tony acknowledged that yes, something probably had died underneath, and agreed that it was time to do something about it. We got in there, grabbed some bodies, disposed of them, and pretty soon our home smelled back to normal.

A few good things came out of this: we got bodies out of our crawlspace (a great practice to keep up no matter where you live), and I got a great sense of what it smells like to putrefy.

We currently live in a rental home that I love for so many reasons. After a difficult experience of home ‘ownership’ (its hard to own something when you’re 200,000 underwater), I learned to love renting and all of the ease it affords. I think we’re pretty good tenants. Tony’s planted a pretty great garden, essentially hosting a farmers market for my girlfriends in the summer, who come over for wine and take home kale and cucumbers. We unclog our own toilets (apparently something not all renters do), and generally keep the place up quite nicely.

We experienced the perks of renting when our downstairs ceiling fell in because of a water leak. Our job to fix? No! That was a wild mess belonging only to the landlord. After a long stretch of construction in our downstairs bathroom, I thought, “Gee, I hope he never has to tear the ceiling out again… while we live here.” All looked good until…the dead smell came back, which I am now an expert at identifying. Because all bodies (except those who eat daily at McDonalds) eventually decompose, its only a matter of time before the business is finished and you’re just left with a skeleton, but because our smell has been going on for about two months, it got us thinking that something much larger has gone to take a ‘dirt nap’, though not in the dirt just yet.

One day we called our landlord, who came over and verified that the only way he could get rid of the smell would be to tear out the ceiling once more. We actually really like our landlord, so neither Tony or I had the desire to put him through that terrible project again. We can live with the smell until it eventually goes away.

I remember being really freaked out when this happened the first time. “Things DIE in here?! And then just rot?!” This is just something that happens? When you think about it, it totally makes sense. Theres no way to keep everything out of your house, walls, your crawlspace. I think the most you can hope for is that it isn’t in a difficult place to get (like in your bathroom ceiling), so you could dispose of it before the stench really starts to bug you.

The other evening Tony and I sat down in the living room, and I felt like I had a quarter life crisis (32 is still mostly a quarter…) all over him. I have some dead rats and I think I ignored the smell for too long. I really miss being a school counselor. I worked so hard for a long time, and I love working with students. I want to use those skills again.

Parenting well is really hard sometimes. Discipline is really hard. Figuring out your kid, what works for them? What doesn’t?

(I think) we’re buying a house, assuming all the little pieces fall together, but it a process that is mostly out of my control, and thats rough for me.

And the pressure is starting to build up.

And I wonder what can keep the vermin from piling up. There is no way to stop them from getting in, because life happens, and it can be stressful, and its not always fun. But you can only ignore stink for so long. For me, it reveals itself through a crummy spiritual life. Impatience with my kids or my husband. A little extra road rage. And the smell is this litmus test for whats really going on inside.

I haven’t had any huge epiphanies, except to say that I realize how much I need to process more during times when there is a lot going on, and thats when its so hard to do so. When you start to see ugliness coming out of you, thats the most difficult time to stop and make changes. When you finally start to smell the rats, that means they’ve died, and something has to be done, but thats the last thing you want to do at the moment. I’d rather run away and sit on a beach with Tony, but I don’t have the babysitters or the airfare.

What I need is to get up early with a strong cup of black coffee and time with God. A good conversation with my mom, a friend, or Tony help. To go to the Y. Have a nice beer and then good conversations help too. I need it all. And I need to do it more, instead of letting it all pile up. Because when it boils down to it I can’t get enough of my kids. They’re fantastic and hilarious and wonderful. So is Tony. So is getting a house. I’ll figure out the work stuff. Everything is too great to get pinned down in the muck…its just that everyone needs a good crawlspace clean once in a while.

 

 

 

 

Fall

Fall is coming. I’m so excited I could dance around in my scarves and boots and cozy warm jackets…but with it brings a little anxiety, only in that I have this ginormous need to feel organized, clutter free, simple, and prepared for fall.

Meal plans that will produce leftovers. Closets that make sense and are easily maneuverable. A generally clutter free house that has what it needs, but not much excess. Some sort of cleaning schedule, along with some motivation to actually clean (not sure how I’m going to drum that one up).

What I would really like is for my life to look like some sort of giant walking Pinterest Board, where everything is organized and categorized and colorful and appealing. Pinterest always makes me feel motivated…until I shut my laptop. So, my goal for fall is to figure out the way to keep that motivation. Then I will blog about it, copyright it, make millions of dollars, and hire someone else to do all of it for me in the future. I would also buy a pair of really, really expensive boots.

How do you get organized? When have you found is the best time for you to do projects?

 

Those clogged up drains.

I can’t think of a more effective way to learn how your plumbing system works than to have it stop working. I used to think that your food disposal was a magic tunnel that just took all of the food away. I honestly never thought about where it went. I even remember thinking once, “I wonder where all this is going…..hmm, oh well.” It seems rather intuitive (once you actually stop to think about it) that the disposal is connected to the rest of your plumbing system, right? This lends itself to the idea that if one component of the system stops working, the rest does as well. Let me tell you how this looked for us this weekend: old lettuce and beans rising to a new and disgusting life from the drain in our bathtub. Never have I been so glad that I did not recently eat fish.

At first, it didn’t seem so bad. But then, water from our toilets started to clog, sinks weren’t draining, and water (I don’t know if it’s the same water, I’ve since chosen not to think about it) started to come up from the drain in our bathroom, giving us about an inch of “I don’t want to know where it came from” grossness on our floor.

It seemed that by cooking a lot more at home, going out less, and shoving a whole bunch of food scraps in our disposal resulted in clogged up drains, unresolved food remains, and a large, giant mess for us this weekend. We weren’t dealing with our food scraps well, and as a result, our pipes didn’t know what to do all the excess garbage they were taking in.

Can you guess where all this is going? Yup. Enemas and colonics.

I’m probably kidding (but we are talking about plumbing systems, aren’t we?).

 

Its all taken care of now, we’re utilizing our compost pile, being kind to our drains, thanking God that we have clean, running water in our house on a daily basis.

It seems that when you don’t dispose of things well the first time, they come back bigger, grosser, and hairier the second (and third and fourth, according to our tub drain). I realized that I was doing this this weekend as well, not just with our food disposal, but with myself.

I realized a few days ago that something about the past few months had left me feeling ineffective and exhausted. I wasn’t disposing of my junk effectively, and I wasn’t receiving grace from God either.

And heres the thing. When we’re in relationships with other people, whether they’re just friends, working relationships, your marriage, your larger community, we’re going to have to deal with junk. We’re very imperfect people, loving each other in imperfect ways, and because we live in fallen world, we’re never going to feel like our emotional bank account balance is full (though some days are better than others).

I’ve had to take the past few days and ask to be restored. I had to ask God to help me deal with my everyday debris better, and not just ‘shove it all down the disposal,’ because unfortunately, as I learned this weekend, somethings going to inevitably get clogged up when you do it that way, and it looks a lot worse coming back up.

So, the easy way can be taken, junk swallowed with a big ol’ swig of wine, but for me, it slowly, surely, clogged up my heart until things didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Fortunately, draino exists. You can take a drain snake to your pipes and unclog them. You can dispose of things more carefully, and not carelessly shove things down your disposal. For me, it looks like a cup of coffee and an early morning spent with God. Thats not how it looks for everyone, but for me, to hear that even Jesus was rejected (from his own people!), he felt pain, he felt drained, tired, weary, it lets me know I’m not alone. I can come to him with everything that I have and he’ll restore me. Circumstances may not change, but your heart does. And mine did.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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