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Only four more days!  Only four more days!!  Only FOUR MORE DAYS!!!

Only four more days of calling this shit hole my home.  I moved in here five months ago.  I kinda knew what I was getting myself into.  I live in a dilapidated mid-rise apartment building in a dumpy Northside Chicago neighborhood.  Uptown.  That’s the neighborhood that used to be the center of celebrity and status.  Frank Sinatra, Al Capone, and the Three Stooges all used to reside in my building.  So says Ernest Eddins, building manager.  But nowadays, Lawrence House is a hostage within the community it’s consumed by.  Drugs.  Gangs.  Violence and guns.  Mental illness and despair.  24-hour security and the night-long howls of souls in torment.  The indoor pool and the theater are no longer in operation.  The library houses little more than old newspapers and empty plywood shelves.

Lawerence House(1)My apartment itself hasn’t been that bad.  The noxious odor that overwhelms the grounds and lower level seems well confined from my tenth story studio.  The paint in my unit is fairly fresh and actually stays on the walls.  The stove and refrigerator were new in April.  And I see my little cockroach friends far less often than I suppose is possible.  But most importantly rent is only $550 per month, all utilities included, which by Chicago standards is amazing low.

Yet, I have been looking forward to leaving this place ever since I told Eddins I’d like to move in as soon as possible.  Then why did I move in here to begin with?  Long story.  And this is a blog, not a book.

Short version:  When as an evangelical pastor, I lost my faith and my life nearly fell apart.  I made some bad decisions and now I’ve lost my marriage.  Which, by the way, this is the day–just earlier today, when my divorce was finalized.  Judge Hyman Riebman presiding.  Rolling Meadows Courthouse of Cook County, Courtroom 105…

‘Why am I not blogging about the divorce?’ you ask.  Quit distracting me.  Maybe tomorrow or maybe today.

Anyway, it was on April 1st when I was out on my own.  First a hotel until the Lawrence House rescued me.  But from the beginning, this was to be a transition.  A wayside station.  Just to cut back on expenses as much as possible until I could catch a clear view of my finances and gauge my budget’s stability.

And now, after months of disgust and weeks of anticipation, I finally get to move out  (!!!) to a place that will let me stretch out a bit.  Somewhere to which I’m not embarrassed to bring my friends.  And to where I’m not questioning my children’s safety.  I. MOVE. IN. FOUR. DAYS… :D

I’ve seen a lot of changes over the past year.  I’ve gone from a man desperately holding onto the brittle fragments of his faith to one who openly denies it all.  From pastor to server to steakhouse manager.  From a married man to a guy who’s separated–wait, that’s right, divorced…  But this guy who used to feel so completely broken and confused and hopeless now feels more joyful and optimistic and excited than he has in years.

And some things never change.  I’ve always been one to take a good hard look at reality and find myself flooded with all the problems, conflicts, and obstacles of ANYTHING I’m looking at.  Meanwhile, my mind automatically races to discover and craft solutions for … “turning lemons into lemonade”.  (Note to self:  Hatred for cliches.  Make sure to change before publishing online.)  Thankfully I’m still convinced I can take the worst of all that I’ve faced over this past year and “make the most of it!” I’ve never been one to harbor regrets, and I’m generally pretty convinced that anything can be turned around and used constructively in our lives.  “Better, Faster, Stronger.”

I’m not sure where exactly I’m going from here.  I know that this past month I have seen a promotion, an opportunity to take another stab at public speaking post-faith, and now a new apartment.  True, I’ve also finalized my divorce.  But afterward, my wife–make that ex-wife and I were able to have lunch together as friends.  My beautiful daughters warm my life with their hugs and artwork.  And I am daily learning what it is like to rebuild my life well.  To build beyond yesterday’s religiosity.  I find myself filled with excitement for tomorrow.  And I am amazed at how good life really truly is.  But on top of all this: I just can’t believe I finally get to move the hell out of this shit hole!  So here’s to tomorrow!!!

Moving on…

Moving on up!