On finding balance of heart and wallet

First of all, a small detail on more idiosyncracies of my country1: a lot of jobs pay twice a month, on the 15th and the 30th/31st of the month2. This means that tomorrow will be my first full pay cycle, in which I've worked for at least the minumum amount of hours to be considered a full-time worker3. This is the first time in almost a year that I will be 100% self-sufficient for 30 days in a row. It might not seem like much, but if you've ever been unemployed (and I certainly hope you haven't and you won't) you know how much this means. It means the first step to slowly get back on my knees after months of doubts and having sleep for dinner.

The other day I was rambling on the catbox about the rule propposed by Randall Munroe in xkcd about your socially acceptable dating pool. For those who don't read xkcd, it's as follows: the minimum age of your date should be equal to half your age plus seven years (y=(x/2)+7). Even though I'm still considered to be a young man, I'm certainly not new to dating4; but I've never really dated a woman significantly younger than me. Not until today.

Back when I was making interviews for potential volunteers for Wikimania 2015, she was just one name among 200 others wishing to help us. During our formal training she was just one of 80-ish new faces and I'm sure I forgot her name at least twice as with everyone else. During the event she proved to be immensely helpful because of her tireless smile on the Help Desk and her knowledge of French. Sure enough, she was in our after-party, celebrating one of the best Wikimanias on record.

Just like many other great things in nature, it all started incredibly small. "I hope we see each other again" when the farewell party was coming to an end. Then a brief message on the phone. Then another. By the time I realized, we agreed on a "museum + pizza" date, each of us suggesting two interesting museums to visit5. Our schedules conflicted for a few months, but the idea survived by feeding on several nights of messages and song suggestions.

Then the stars aligned: we both had the morning off, a temporary exhibition of modern art in a museum near us both and admitting ignorance of paintings to each other. It was also the first rainy day of the year; rainy enough for us to hold each other a second time for warmth; rainy enough for me to hold the umbrella and her to hold my arm but not rainy enough to make us walk any faster than normal.

For a girl 8 years younger than me (the youngest I've ever dated, if this counts as a "real date") she really amazed me several times with some funny comments on snob museum crawlers and astute observations on the posture of female models (she is, after all, a dancer and knows more of expressing feelings through posture and movement than I do). I genuinely laughed at her jokes, I think she might've genuinely laughed at mine, but I don't really care.

I've never dated anyone younger than me, much less this young. It didn't feel weird at all. I really appreciated the fact that she respected my job schedule and that we hurried the last room of the exhibition for this same reason. She liked the bookmark and mug I bought her at the gift shop, I loved the note book she bought me.

What's happening to me? I don't really know this gal but I found myself with this stupid grin 3 or 4 times during my shift, even after the idiotic call with a racist redneck from Texas. I'm not even looking forward to a relationship right now, but I did hug her a tiny fraction of a second more than I usually do. She didn't cut me. I didn't mind.


1 May or may be similar to other countries, but I can't say for sure

2 Which means you get a paycheck, on average, every 15 days. The actual payment is usualy referred to as "quincena" which derives from the word "quince" (fifteen). There are several other informal terms derived from the names of numbers or pay days, like "mesada" (from "mes", once every month) and "catorcena" (from "catorce", every fourteen days or once every other Friday)

3 This is because during December I was attending for 4-6 hours a day for training, so I still was a "part time worker" without full health and wage benefits, among other perks

4 But I'm far from being an expert, tho

5 My superior knowledge of pizza places essentialy gave me vetoing power on the decision of where to eat

The joy yesterday was the first patient, who brought me her pathology report from the University of Washington. It WAS cancer, it was a WEIRD cancer, they think it's been growing for FIFTEEN YEARS, but the miraculous part was that it was 17 centimeters and confined to the organ that they removed. It was just on the edge, but there is no sign that it spread. So after 15 years, it is still stage I.

The UW doctor had talked about chemotherapy or radiation therapy but now they aren't going to do either. They are going to do a CT scan in three months.

My patient said, "I hope that if it comes back it takes ANOTHER fifteen years and then I will be 90 and I won't care!"

I am sure that if I went to a conference, that case would be discussed....we like miracles too.

We hugged and both nearly hopped around the clinic.

I never got to become a doctor.

And now, it looks like I won't become a priest, either. For now, at least. For reasons I understand, TEC is going with others on a seminary path. Some have advised me that I should change churches, or even move to a different diocese in order to "get in", but that for me is never at all part of a personal ambition. 

Unlike the Catholic Church, TEC has a significant number of people looking to move into the clergy - and that's a great thing. We cannot all be chiefs, though - and I really really feel for those who have to quietly inform those not selected that they've decided to take on other people. You're not hiring one person over another for a job at Kinko's - you're in essence rejecting a deep-seated call, one that someone has taken to in many cases despite their best intentions to avoid. 

A significant part of my conversion and call was about losing a lot of things: anger, hatred, spite, personal ambition, prejudice, and so forth. The Dalai Lama said if you go around talking, you only ever repeat what you already know, but if you listen, you gain knowledge you didn't have before - and it's been very very illuminating to do just that.

There's something very nerve-wracking about presenting your beliefs to others, even to fellow Christians: I can testify to the fact that the bitterest "animus" many Christians get are from fellow Christians, who in a nastily passive-aggressive fashion do a "love the sinner, hate the sin" trip against them, reminding them that "iron sharpens iron" and that their heretical worldview is something they should know better not to follow.

But I've had a lot of support from people here, and it's humbling. Whether it's upvotes and cools on things I've written, private notes of thanks or clarifications, or even heartfelt responses, personal and private - whether rebuttals or agreements with what I've said. Most touchingly, some have reached out to me as someone to talk to. And that means more than anything.

I dipped out for a bit because of incidents and responses that led me to believe that that relationship was broken, and things were about to get horribly political, and horribly personal - with people reading things into certain statements and deciding what I was saying. That's a very, very real fear of mine, and it's well founded. 

I was wrong, and I'm glad I'm wrong.

I'll stay out of conversation in the chatterbox situation, but allow instead whatever I write here to speak for me. And of course, I'm always open to reading messages from folks, whether it's words of thanks, words of constructive criticism, heck, even the gift of abuse. The fact that what I write has merit for people here, has spurred others to chime in with their own beliefs or lack thereof, or even expose their vulnerability - is a huge, huge gift I thank you all corporately for.

If you think about it - in a way, blogging, tweeting, what have you - has taken up some of the space that we've traditionally used for prayer, and I'll even argue it has become a prayer. I don't see much difference between going onto your knees in a closet and talking about your life's ups and downs, and hoping and wishing for good will and happiness for others, and doing the same thing, anonymously - into the ether by typing it on a keyboard. And likewise, online communities can become a church - when responses come back: "I hope this works out for you." "I've been there - you're not alone." Or even donations of money or time, or resources. I read online in one place where someone admitted he was stuck in rural Texas because his transmission died, with no hope no money or no way to get to a job he was going to change his life around with.

Two questions were asked: "Where are you?" and "What kind of car?" Within two hours someone said "I have a transmission that will work, stay right there" and within another two hours, a marvellous relay race started, in which one member drove out to meet the original owner, and the transmission went from truck, to van, to another truck, to the back of a car, and to another truck again, and so forth - and within a day and a journey of literally hundreds of miles spanning four states - that transmission was being installed by three men who skipped church to do a good deed instead, replacing the unit with hand tools and jacks in the parking lot of a shopping mall, the food court of which had fed a few people who had showed up to participate in fellowship and charity by keeping the man fed, and in a hotel room.

Jesus once said "wherever there are two or three of you, I am there also". The people involved were atheist, secular, hostile to religion, but they were most certainly an arm of what we call the body of Christ one way or another.

I've read stories here. People have met, fallen in love, gotten married, sired children as a result of meeting here. Charity has been performed. People have been uplifted when they were down. People have died and been mourned. Confessions of the trials of life and announcements of triumph have been noted here: mostly anonymously.

I'm just glad you have me here as well, in the highways, and in the hedges, making the occasional tent speech, and being an ear to anyone who wishes to talk. Thank you all. 

A quick update on Pandeism: An Anthology (the Kickstarter)....

I think it is going well -- 11 backers; $229 pledged of $2,450 goal; 28 days to go. Surprisingly, most of my backers have been in the $24-$30 range -- that is, people actually buying the book!! I'd expected to get a lot more people just giving a dollar because they like the idea (or $3 for that-plus-an-awesome shout-out on Twitter). But on I soldier into the effort. I plan to push forward far more intensely this weekend, when people are less wrapped up in work.

On the E2 front, I've planned for a long time to get back to node audits. So, who wants some? Blessings!!

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