Thursday, March 26, 2009

Worth a thousand words

Please accept this picture in lieu of a sermon on encountering obstacles.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Party Line

I am a dyed in the wool liberal. All those things Rush Limbaugh hates, I am:


And proud of it, thank you very much.

But there is one part of the liberal platform that I don't get: Embryonic Stem Cell research. I haven't decided how I feel about this. It seems awash with ethical issues that should be carefully considered, and this is what concerns me. When something becomes "party line" there is no room for a circumspect discussion of ethical implications. You are either with the party or against it. I'm thrilled that our new president wants scientists to have the freedom to do science unfettered by politics. But even though I'm a pro-choice feminist, I am not prepared to say for sure when life begins, and am ignorant about what ethical model is being used for embryonic research, and how I feel about it.

As a card carrying liberal (I've got a GreenStar Co-op card, a UU Minister's Association card, and a World Wildlife Fund card in my wallet right now), I just want the freedom to say "I don't know, can we talk about this one?"

Part Time

I am finally settling in to the reality that for the first time since before my son was born that I work part time. While we were gearing up to purchase the music store it was quite a balancing act to get sermons written and loan applications completed. But the business changed hands the same week a volunteer project I was working on came to fruition, and I am beginning to realize that the slow pace of my daily schedule is not anomalous. Now I know I said that we were moving out of Silicon Valley to have a quieter more sustainable life, but I think I hear crocuses growing this morning. In theory it is perfect; between the time I drop my son at school and when the bus brings him home there is just enough time to exercise, work my half day in the home office and make and clean up from lunch.

But this week both the Board and the Committee on Ministry at the church have mentioned that they are feeling kind of amazed at how much the church is doing, and how it's important not to over-tax the system, to remember that church should be fun and not all work. I realized that some of the things I've got on my "to do" list for the church need to stay there for a while- that I need to make sure I don't put too much in the pipeline all at once. I'm realizing that this is a part-time position not just because of church finances, but also because it may really be meeting the needs of a family-size congregation.

Last time I worked part time I was fresh out of seminary. I was used to spending the days meditating, writing, reading. Since then I've served a busy congregation full time while raising a child through his early years. I wonder, could I get back to that state of mind where I felt close to the ineffable most of the time? Will I become a more involved activist? Will I finally learn to play the mandolin confidently? Or is this just cabin fever that will disappear once the soil thaws and gardening season begins? I don't want to go back to the frantic pace of my old life, but there is clearly some need as yet unfilled. I should figure out what it is before I drive my congregation over the edge with ideas and projects.

Music Store Update

Tonight- Our CEO meets with the DJs from the local music show we are sponsoring

New guitars are finally coming in

We rented a water cooler- apparently it rocks

Next- how do you serve cookies and drinks at the Grand ReOpening party without endangering the instruments?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2nd week

This post is dedicated to my father-in-law who wanted to know "why the news blackout" on the store.

Here are a few brief updates:

The checks finally came

The Credit cards finally came

We spent all the rest of our inventory money, but the store still looks bare, and it turns out instruments are expensive! (who knew?) After a brief panic, we realized that when people bought things there would be money to spend on more inventory. Phew. Now the trouble is that people are buying inventory faster than we can make orders and get them filled. We are starting from scratch with each and every vendor, filling out piles of forms and waiting while they determine our credit-worthiness. Even after that some of the guitars we order have to be made I think. My partner says several customers have commented on "how bare the store looks." Our goal is to have the store crammed with merchandise for the grand re-opening party.

Here's my partner's awesome-est idea so far: Print advertising is crazy expensive- our grand re-opening add (purchased at 50% off for the occasion) will run once and is 2 months of our advertising budget. So our awesome CEO checked into sponsoring the local music show on the local college radio station. It turns out we can be the sole sponsor of the show for a year for around the cost of that one print add. AND we get to help the public radio station AND support local music all at the same time.

Another major milestone- my partner now knows more about QuickBooks and accounting for the store than I do. My only remaining job at the store is to reconcile the bank statements once a month and to make sure we have set aside a month or 2 of payroll so that if things get tight we can pay the landlord and the amazing staff. Fortunately we have a shareholder's meeting almost every night, and our CEO brings the board up to speed on operations.

Next big goal? Making the Grand Re-Opening party rock.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Home Alone

After over a year of working from home, my partner has gone off to work at the store. While he engages the terrifying and exhilarating prospect of a new enterprise, my life is largely unchanged, except that the house seems very empty. The quiet of my home in the morning has often seemed peaceful, fertile ground for writing and thinking. Today, however,the quiet feels like the end of an era.

Rituals for our age

I was talking with a friend just starting her second trimester about rituals for pregnant women. We were both aware that a religious ritual for pregnancy is somewhat rare- there are no standard forms that either of us knew of, and so we talked about adapting from other transition rituals and creating new ritual.

Of course most important transitions have their rituals in any culture- though they are sometimes hard to spot. I thought about the baby shower- the most common way to honor the transition to parenthood. It is usually a secular affair, and centers around the giving of gifts. Suddenly light dawned- what a perfect ritual for our consumer driven culture- we welcome the mom into the new realms of consumerism that accompany parenthood, and we welcome the baby as a new consumer. What a brilliant reflection of our societal values and norms.