Monday, 26 November 2012

Moving Out, Moving On

Mondays are always a bit strange for me. A while ago on Twitter there was a hashtag going round - #youthworksongs - and one changed 'Working 9-5' to a normal day of a youth worker, mine today would be 'Working 9-11, 3-5, 6:30-9:30, what a way to make a living'. But it's actually the gaps I want to focus on today. Monday is the last day of my working week, and as I worked last Tuesday (though technically had the Saturday of 3Gen off it’s my first day off in 9 days tomorrow. This is, however, the first time I’ve sat at my laptop all day, so emails will have to wait till Wednesday.

Anyway today!

Today was the day I’ve been dreading for quite a while. The day Boyfriend moved out. I knew as soon as he moved in that it wasn’t forever. We have always said we wouldn’t live together before we got married, but as he got his job in nearby city and no real time to house hunt before he started, he moved in and my study / guest room was occupied again.

Car has been playing up in the normal way today –but it's off to the garage in the morning so that should hopefully be the end of that! So any time I say 'so we/I drove here or there' imagine a few minutes of the car not starting to add to the stress. I got home from my exciting Monday morning meeting (not sarcasm, I really do enjoy it) to get the car packed up, Boyfriend was mostly packed, had sorted the details and soon we were on our way to letting agent office number 1 to sign paperwork, the cheap supermarket for lunch then letting agent office 2 to get keys. Then finally to the house, where Boyfriend met one housemate leaving for work and we moved stuff in, made the bed, unpacked the clothes, had lunch, moved the furniture, drove Boyfriend back to letting agent office 2 as there were issues with keys and I drove off back to work. 2 hours later, I have an hour and a half to kill and decide to look for a single friendly eatery (as you get funny looks in some places asking for a table for one); the local supermarket cafe stopped serving at 5 (it was 5:05 at this point) and my fave pub for eating in didn’t start till 6. So off I went to Indian takeaway for Chicken Korma. Realising at this point I had no cutlery and stealing from a supermarket cafe is wrong I went and found plastic cutlery to buy – so now I’m prepared for next nine times I need to eat takeaway in my car! It was also about this point that I had a fab chat with a great friend, who let me rant and work out how I was feeling –as well as making me laugh, before going back off to work.

Today is a sad day. (I'd bet that there aren't many relationships where moving out from your partner's house is seen as progress. It is quite nice to know we can live together, yes the house is a bit messy, and we argue about silly things but I still love that man. It has been a lovely couple of months, and we still aren’t about to dance up the aisle (Though my proof reader states “I'm not dancing up the aisle ever!” ), but I think we are closer, and realistically if he can move out when I’m working at 11 and 3, I’m pretty sure I’m going to see a lot more of him than I ever did when he lived in that other country.

So yes it's sad, but it's another step on our journey, moving on as well as moving out and I’m not going to become a wimpy missing him kinda person, I’m a hardened Long Distance Relationshipper who is, as Jason Mraz and Colbie Calliat sang, “Lucky [to be] in love with my best friend” 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

garage rant

I don’t often use names in blogs, and if I had evidence I would today, but as I don’t I’m just going to rant about an unnamed body shop type garage.

You may recall at the end of August I had a bit of a bump in my car, about 4 weeks later I got my car back good as new – or so I thought.

During the cold and wet times of year my car has a habit of not starting, or starting after a few times. Occasionally it starts first time, usually when I’m leaving my house – which is nice of it, and always when it is at the normal garage and they are trying to work out what is wrong.

Then today after leaving a work church after an exciting youth fellowship session – where they had remembered what I’d done with them months earlier! So left church to find car wouldn’t unlock with button, would unlock with key, but then wouldn’t start at all. Long and short of it is – after taking key apart and almost going back to collect other key we(well mainly the fab church member who works at the garage I go to normally) popped the bonnet and found the battery cable had come undone, but after fixing that, more concerningly (spell checker doesn’t think that’s a word but I can’t think of a better one) the battery hadn’t been screwed back in to where it should live. I’m not saying that the BODYSHOP GARAGE IN A NEARBY CITY RECOMMENDED BY MY INSURER is to blame, but the facts are my car was serviced in the summer by my normal garage and it was fine and now it’s not, and there aren’t many other people who have been under my bonnet.

All that being said the fab church member managed to get the battery back where it belongs and I managed to drive home – after a few goes as the other starting problem came back – but that is hopefully being fixed on Tuesday.

Ok rant over, so glad I was at that church and people were able to help me, just not impressed that it seems that my car wasn’t put back together right.

Also thought you’d want a shorter blog this time, not what I thought I’d be writing about today, but needed to get it off my chest. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Ode to a youth event

This isn’t an Ode, but “Essay to a youth event” doesn’t have the same ring to it. It is however a very long self indulgent blog, so really don’t feel you have to read it all, but if you want to please do, or just add your own memories of the past few youth weekends.

Yesterday was the end of an era.

Not sure I would describe it is as the end of a chapter as I don’t think my life works quite like that – as so much would overlap. And it’s not the end, but that’s another story .

Disclaimer! This is going to be full of Methodist Jargon – I will try to explain as I go along and may also be repeating stories I’ve told before, but sometimes you have to hear everything together.

Firstly, it was my birthday last week, that is important – but I’m not going to focus on that today, another blog there too.

When I started writing this blog I was sitting watching Strictly and eating take away (which I paid for despite it being Boyfriend’s turn to cook!) Yes, I thought I’d tell you as it’s always nice to know there is a happy ending. But I’m going to start my story about 11 years ago. The weekend of my 13th birthday. Donkey Derby was my first link to MAYC (as it was then) and Connexional Methodism, with the youth weekend. 
Skipping forward to summer 2006, a very important conversation happened as someone turned up at my front door trying to persuade me to go to Methodist Youth Conference (MYC). If I’d decided not to bother I think know my life would have been completely different. You’ll see!

So November 2006 a week after my 18th birthday I went off to Norwich in a car with two lads from my district. My memories include a youth pres in bright trousers, discussions on the Godfrey Report – with the exec members taking their tops on and off a lot! The posh meal on the Saturday night, lending an ecumenical rep my towel, sleeping on a school floor – and getting quite a bit of sleep. Being supported to go for exec – by lovely district boys. Hustings with questions about potatoes and streetlights, being voted on – and the moment the returning officer came to tell me I’d been voted in, the funny moment in the handover when the VP muscled in, and talking to the new youth pres on the stairs queuing for lunch.

5 exec meetings (including the legendary car journey with step by step 2 and the Save Methodist Youth Work petition...) and some YPS reference group meetings later and we were on the way to Cardiff. This was also the start of my fairytale. This was where I met Boyfriend; due to others being delayed I was the first to arrive at the station where I first saw him – he’d seen me a year earlier during Hustings in the big chairs that made me look even smaller than I am. That weekend is a blur of spending hours at the station, finishing the presentation about the YPS for the next morning – which included Harry Potter - and discussions that led to DYEs being suggested as a name for the employed people. There was pizza, worship, business, I even remember being told of by the chair for not being in the right place. This was the year we didn’t vote for a Youth Pres and gained 5 new exec members – most of which were new boys – rather than the experienced girls we were expecting.

Another year of Youth Exec meetings, Breakout, and speaking at Big Conference just before the big YPS vote.

Northampton was the last ever MYC. A strange event for many reasons. For one boyfriend and I got together less than a week earlier and no one knew. Little exec sister had made me a shell cake that those in the office enjoyed. The vote for the new Youth Pres was very close and was tricky for the exec to vote for – being between two of our own. We had workshops; I ran the “understanding MYC” session 3 times, as the first one started an hour early so had to do two more at the designated times. We launched the campaign for the Methodist Nunnery – as the mock resolution. My teddy sat on the main desk. And all of the exec girls (except maybe the new Youth Pres) and probably some of the lads cried through worship as we were the last ever exec. There was also lots of dancing that year, the returning officer was disappointed cos there was no custard and the exec all got dressed up very smart –the pampering in one of the girls’ rooms was great fun. I was driven to and from this weekend and was grilled on the way home about my relationship that was now out in the open.

It was at this point I decided that I needed some time out, so I took myself off the YPS reference group. The summer of 2009 I was asked if I would co-run the detached youth work team at Breakout the following summer and help facilitate at the first Youth Assembly (MYA). This led to some late night driving across England for the planning weekend of Durham.

Mid November arrived and so did more floods, but my car half full of delegates – as others wouldn’t come as their parents didn’t trust my car to get us to Durham –we did fine,  arrived late Friday evening at Durham. I must say this weekend is probably the low of the story. I know some young people enjoyed it, but it felt like a backward step – looking back what we had done was thrown the baby out with the bath water, wanting to move away from MYC to something new we lost something. This event also included tears, these more in frustration. Due to no one’s fault we didn’t have a full time youth pres to preside over the event, so much of it was adult led, the youth pres elections were very complicated and I remember a number of us were annoyed there was no grace at mealtimes! We learnt a lot that year. There were good moments too – late on the Saturday when the 18pluses who were staying on site (as many had to be put into a local hotel as the event was over booked accidentily) we ate ginger birthday cake out of a glass bowl, and talked about the usual Methodist geeky stuff.

Then we came to Breakout 2010 – another last. Though me and Oggy had a fab weekend with the Linkies, many of my memories were from the campsite rather than the event grounds, but one memory that will last a life time is when we turned the orchard into my late night garden, with tea lights in jam jars and LED balloons. It was truly special, the conversations, the games, the whole experience. All too soon the event was over and it was then that I was done with volunteering for the Methodist Church for a while.

MYA 2010 in Swindon was my first since 2006 that I didn’t have a job.  I missed having the office to hang out in, but I didn’t miss the stress. The train journey had been interesting.  The highlights included spontaneous and slightly rebellious worship that the VP’s Husband joined us for. I’m pretty sure this was a cry-free year! This was the first time I felt old - I had just graduated and being in a session about the future with 16 year olds was tricky. I also remember sitting in a window on a value continuum about Presidency. This was the first year we trialed the voting pads – who wants to be a millionaire style, and the team forgot Wales existed. I went this year wanting to be good enough that I wouldn't have to go again if I didn’t want to. After Durham I felt like we’d ruined MYC and replaced it with something worse, however after Swindon I knew there was still work to do, but that it would be as good (while being totally different) if not better than MYC.

Fast forward another 12 months and 3Generate (3Gen) was born  - the new name for Children and Youth assembly, starting at the age of 9 and going up to 23. So off we went to Ludlow railway station for a new way of working – this time as a member of the 18+ stream – and still not volunteering, but with a very different and distinct role- as the girlfriend of a Youth Pres candidate. I arrived late after a train journey that involved ukulele worship and so we missed the evening worship to eat food. I remember not sleeping well due to one room mate (mentioning no names – well not that I ever do, but you know) snored both nights. The sessions were challenging and I still have the final evaluation on my fridge, challenging me to be real – something I was challenged on in the preaching session and I meant to look into what I can do about Poverty. However my big thing that came out of that weekend, which led to me crying through most of worship including getting communion off the district chair who very delicately held my hand for a little longer than normal when handing me the bread and scaring an OPP as she handed me the wine, was planning for the future. Due to the fact Boyfriend did not become Youth Pres 2012/3 the future had been thrown open once again, at this point neither of us had a job past April. It was the next day that he started his Christmas temp job at his local pizza making restaurant. Just like to say what fab chaplains we have!

It was just after this that I decided I’d had enough years off and was ready to once again volunteer for the event. So I joined the 18+ planning group. I was also invited as a youth worker to join the 8-17s consultation group, as this was the new way of getting the children and young people to plan the event.
So Friday finally rolled up and off I went to get a bus, 2 trains and a minibus to somewhere not very far from a place I used to call home. After checking in, being shown to my room by a hansome steward, designing a mug, finding some tea it was time to go to the all2gether and be2gether, the funky names for the opener for everyone and worship, we were in gen groups – I was facilitator of gen group 26! (Which has just occurred to me that that was something we’ve played with over years - like the dinner tables at Durham, and is something that was very MYC.) After that we watched some of Children in Need, then bed!

Saturday started with me getting up first, having a shower and making a cup of coffee before breakfast, where I had cereal! Then me and my co-worship leader led worship and I did the longest notices ever and we played human bingo with a twist. We heard Mumford and Sons sing I will wait, and I believe the aim was for us to think about us waiting on God, but for me the night before I’d kinda been winded by God’s presence – just like whoosh! Wow God is here! So for me was like God singing I will wait to me, that he’s always there waiting for me to engage, not intrusive but patiently waiting for me, for us to want to be with him. This was followed by a very interesting session about living sustainably and everyone I’ve spoken  to about what they were taking away from the weekend who talked about the input mentioned this session. The video about the no impact man was so incredible, could you imagine not using lifts, trains, the tv for a whole year? Apparently it brought the family closer together, but wasn’t always easy.  After the bacon butty break we got into the cohabitation session, this again was really interesting discussing our definition of cohabitation and looking at some case studies, obviously with such a topic you have to be careful with what you say, unfortunately Boyfriend (who was leading this session) told everyone I couldn’t enter the quiz as ‘I’ve already done it with her.’ The laughter started when someone realised what he said and it slowly went around the room with me getting redder and redder. After this was lunch – a rather unappetising chicken casserole. After that it was time to set up for the justice village, when one of my MWiB friends came to join me to talk to young people about Children Unite, to get people to sign gloves, draw around their hands and find out more about child domestic workers. This did mean I missed grill the youth pres candidates’ session.
After setting down the justice village I arrived a few minutes late to the relationships sofa chat. It was great that young people can share experiences, questions and confusion while throwing a duck around the room. A nice chat with the expert facilitator about another event I had seen him at was very helpful, and then off to tea which was very quiet as we were eating later than the younger groups. Then there was a session that never happened followed by a chat about the day, which led to conversations slightly later about how we adapt the event to what people want. We left the room so that some people could pray and had time to chat with people before it was time to go on the bouncy slide / assault course, where I raced twice without my glasses and came 2nd both times –out of 2, with my competitor finishing before I’d even got to start the last climbing wall / slide. I also hurt my hip.

After this the exciting late night chats happened, a group choosing not to go to worship but instead try and tease out what we thought God was saying about what we had to do – in this case using our passion as a form of discernment, pushing on doors to see if things were possible. Thats all I’ll say now but things are afoot. I went to bed late after staying up till Boyfriend was allowed to go to bed then late night chats in our bedroom, about boys, the day, voting, Methodism, and other such things you’d expect in a girls dorm.
Sunday morning felt very early, we stripped beds, packed, saw a beautiful view over the misty lakes and got our cooked breakfast J. Then it was time for voting, before going off to our own 18+ room for the final session about PEGs – Personal reflections on the weekend, what we are going to take to our home church Environment and how that is all held together by God the hinge. The planning team then read the evaluation forms, seeing what we thought we had totally planned was not understood the way we saw it, but hey, that event management for you.

Closing worship was fab, time in our Gen Groups looking at the covenant prayer, that I know I’ve blogged on before, and I only very nearly cried once – when asked what I had taken from the weekend. And communion in mixed groups which meant I got to sit between two good friends, one who gave me the bread and the other the wine – as I was opposite the chaplain who had started with both. Worship over it was time for food, and the long goodbyes. I also went in hunt of my mug, that I had to go though the bin to get back. We left the venue on a bus of friends, got the 3 trains back, and even though it was 9 minutes late we made our first connection as the train we needed was behind it! I got Hot Chocolate at the station I hate the most, and then walked very fast across local city to get the bus, and home about 6ish! Boyfriend who I’d told had to cook tea as he got home an hour before me decided we would order take away. My mum rang and I mumbled about being tired down the phone at her, so she said she’d ring another time, and I went off to bed. Shattered after a very long but amazing 6 year journey.

If you have made it to this point then you deserve a medal! At 2828 words this is my longest blog ever I’d think. I assume if you’ve got this far you are part of the journey somewhere so thank you got your part and here’s to the future, cos you never know what might happen next!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Him, Me, Us

               Having a boyfriend for a housemate has enabled me to learn much about myself, him and us. Today I've spent time with Aunty/Godmother, Uncle and 3 youngest cousins (can’t say littlest as they are all taller than me now).  While we were out I left them in a charity shop while I ran off to a future brand to buy boyfriend new socks. Now this is the first time I can think of that I've bought boyfriend clothing for necessity – rather than as a present. I commented on this to Aunty when I returned after successfully purchasing socks – though still waiting to see if Boyfriend likes them. I’m now obviously in a grown up relationship!
                I've just got back from Sweden (which is what I kinda assumed today’s blog would be about) but I’m not really going to tell you about that today. When I was away though Boyfriend has had some big decisions to make – similar to deciding to take current job which is why he came housemate too while I was at Soul Survivor. This time it was the consequences of a phone call that probably happened while I was in the air to ask if he wanted to look around a house! I know he wished I’d been around this week, in the same way I feel when at Christian events and it feels like God is doing big stuff – Boyfriend is such a big part of me that he should be there. Boyfriend does seem to make big decisions about life when we aren't together – we got together after a weekend of soul searching and big questions at Tresaith – when I was having similar thoughts at a youth weekend. Like I said the interview was when I was in Stafford and now a house while I was in Sweden – maybe if I go away for longer he’ll decide to marry me!
                We had a very weekendy weekend a couple of weeks ago. Saturday started with a mad rush to find a postbox to send my Grandad a 70th birthday card. The afternoon included a trip to the supermarket, a diy shop and a fabric shop, and boyfriend cleaned the kitchen.
                I’m very lucky to have a boyfriend who puts up with my stress, last night my car wasn't starting and he just sat there rubbing my back and offering me garlic bread! I love being an ‘us’ with him. It’s funny for years we've mocked our friends who have lived near each other who couldn't cope with a few days apart and I don’t think we have turned into them, but it was very nice to be back in his arms yesterday after just 80ish hours apart. It will be interesting to find a new normal with him living nearby but not just in the other room. Living together has taught me a lot about us, it’s made me even more certain that boyfriend is the one I want to spend my life with.  We complement each other, him chopping, me cooking, him washing up, me putting away, though we are both messy – he blames me, but if it really bothered him he’d tidy it! I’m bossy and he’s dealing with that, he’s laid back and I’m dealing with that. I’ve learnt he can’t do mornings, so not to expect breakfast in bed, he’s learnt that when I’m tired I’m no use to anyone, not to annoy me when I’m driving and I've learnt not to bother moving the shower head any lower cos it’s just a waste of time. He has though come round to my way of putting the toilet paper on the holder.
                It’s going to be strange when he’s moved out, living alone again, but this time I know it’s not forever, cos one day we’ll move in together, for good.