Difficult decision

With a heavy heart, I took the decision today to defer my degree, until next year. Cue much sobbing, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The reasons are straightforward enough; although I admittedly do procrastinate far too much on the internet, I was finding that the demands of a difficult pregnancy, a family and living out of cardboard boxes was just too much. The problem being that no sooner had I submitted one 5,000 word portfolio, I then had a week to get another 2 essays written and handed in. Although my timetable seems light, 11 hours per week, that entails an extra 29 hours of reading. Under normal circumstances no problem, but with so much to do to get the house in some sort of habitable order (clean clothes and plates being a rare and valuable commodity, nay on miraculous achievement), an iron-deficiency that doesn’t seem to be resolving, a baby with diarrhea and a six-year-old undergoing investigations for some sort of vertigo-related disorder, I needed one of those time-turner gadgets of Hermoine’s in order to be able to achieve anything. Term didn’t start well in that I missed the first week due to the entire family being stricken with gastroenteritis, add in the search for a new house and the logistics of a house move and it all went rather pear-shaped. I then subsequently realised that the new baby is due on April 23, four days before the start of a new term, and though I had romantic notions of taking baby into lectures and seminars in a sling and discreet breast-feeding, the reality would likely be vastly different, given that it seems likely that I’ll need another c-section. I remain optimistic as to a VBAC, but as the consultant succinctly put it – square peg, round hole…

Last time, despite the best of intentions, the recovery took much longer than I had anticipated, I remember volunteering to go to the supermarket 4 days post-birth, managing to stagger across the car-park and get to the entrance , before conceding that perhaps I’d been a little over-ambitious and needed to sit in the cafe, leaving him indoors to navigate the mysteries of the nappy aisle. So juggling a pushchair and new baby in sling on the bus (no driving allowed) into Uni, 4 days post section, walking around an extensive campus and then attempting to sit exams in the first week of June, is probably rather kamikaze.

So: a year to get the house in order, spend some time with the baby before the shock of a new addition hits her, time to get ahead on the reading lists and continue doing some part-time at home work for a text-answering service, beckons. It’s undoubtedly the right thing, I am finding the exhaustion debilitating, but it’s nonetheless disappointing. I can’t help but feel that I am letting everyone down, not least myself, although the current stress and exhaustion cannot be beneficial for the baby.

I won’t go off into a customary rant, actually perhaps I will, but I blame all these prolific superwomen who all manage to effortlessly combine pregnancy, a huge brood of children and a full-time career, whilst smiling cheerfully. It makes lesser mortals like me feel totally inadequate. During my first pregnancy I was working for a Private Equity firm, who made my life incredibly difficult, piling project after project on me, increasing my workload because after all I wasn’t ill, only pregnant, then commenting “you look absolutely dreadful, you definitely need to start maternity leave early” in order to fit in with their agenda. I can’t go into specific detail, given the confidentiality agreement I signed, but suffice to say, every single pregnant woman they employed had similar treatment. I almost ended up in court last year, testifying on behalf of a former colleague, who had an identical story to mine; pregnant women and women with young children were decidedly  unwelcome.

I had a similar problem last year, in that due to horrific morning sickness, my employer couldn’t renew my contract. I don’t know what the answer is, but I can’t help feeling that it’s something of a shame that pregnant women feel under so much pressure to perform and be superwomen career-wise, when the reality is, that simply by the act of carrying a child, they are physically heroes already.

The Gender of Religious Devotion

I am personally always very sceptical of debates that serve to highlight the differences between male and female within Christianity, particularly within Catholicism itself, which seem to centre on a presumed patriarchal hierarchy. Very often we see the rampant feminist, determined to expose the perceived misogyny within the Catholic Church and on the other hand, defenders of the patrimony of the Catholic faith, ignoring the very irony implicit in the use of that word, equally determined to hammer home the reasons as to why women may not be admitted to the priesthood.

I don’t intend to summarise the magisterium on this issue, having covered it in a previous post, but the one thing that strikes me in the various arguments surrounding gender equality in the Catholic Church, is that very often, the blindingly obvious is missed.

Right at the very beginning, we see that, contrary to the assertions of many throughout the ages, there is no hierarchy between our first parents:

Genesis 1:27: “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.”

This fundamental equality is reiterated by St Paul:

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Admitting and embracing equality should not entail eradicating of the heterogeneity of mankind.  What St Paul is emphasizing, is that within the body of Christ, we all have different roles to play, we will all be judged on our individual Christian merits, Christ is not interested in our gender, our race, our class, but on our souls themselves. Not one of us is more important than the other. He highlights our differences, not dismisses them, in order to distinguish those differences, but to say that ultimately, our differences are inconsequential, its is our life in Christ that unites us, it is Christ who renders all differences, unimportant. True equality embraces diversity; not by pretending it doesn’t exist, not by turning us into homogenous entities, but by accepting and respecting differences.

This week I have been focusing on the gender differences apparent in the religious poetry of two seventeenth century poets, namely Amelia Lanyer and John Donne. Although much of what I read disturbed me, in that I found the sexual resonances shocking, as was the poets’ intent, what fascinated me, was how both poets used their gender, as a tool to religious devotion, neither of them denying the traits or sociological positions of their sex, but in fact using them constructively as both a tool to devotion and also to challenge the conventions of what was a patriarchal society. Lanyer accents and eroticises the feminine attributes of Christ, whereas Donne focuses upon the erotic unconventionality of the gender-specific positions that conventional devotion demanded that men assume. Though metaphors for God had invariably been masculine throughout the Judeo-Christian tradition, Catholic devotional writers had recourse to Mary and a host of female saints as objects of veneration.  The God of the Protestant Reformation had however, become increasingly masculinized as a consequence to the theological emphasis on the absoluteness of divine power, as espoused by James I. This meant that a female worshipper made religious devotion a concentrated version of her everyday encounter with patriarchal authority, dangerously migrating the languages of erotic love and social submission from the social to the devotional realm, whereas a male worshipper was forced either to assume a feminine persona or engage in a discourse of same-sex desire. What both writers did was from differently gendered subject positions, to articulate desires, which crossed the perceptions and conventions of the society that they inhabited, both turning traditional gender roles upon their head. Lanyer wishing to liberate heterosexual desire from masculine oppression by turning them to God and Donne heightening the violence that invades heterosexual eroticism in a patriarchal culture, as a measure of the absolute submission God demands from him. Donne invites punishment and ravishment, whilst Lanyer’s God, welcomes redemptive suffering at the hands of his creatures.

Neither poets sought simply to fight against the limitations of their gender, but to use it, as an aid to devotion.

So, what relevance does this have, beyond the merely academic? What it signalled to me, upon reflecting this week, is that as St Paul points out, we should not deny the gender differences that exist between us, however use both our gifts and the limitations of our gender, race, class to maximum effect, acknowledging both our similarities, in the case of the Christian, of longing to enter into a deep and everlasting relationship with Christ, and of the different ways in which the service of Christ might be realised.

The extracts from Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ interview with the FT, published earlier today, were particularly salient given what I had been thinking about during the week.

In the Old Testament, the shedding of blood was for a man to perform. It was not for the woman, who gave life.

And then you have this iconography of Jesus Christ who stands in this spousal relationship bringing his people as [the] bride, to the Father.

This is not as eye-wateringly sexist as some commentators would have you believe. It highlights the differences and the similarities between the sexes in the giving of life. A man may shed blood, may lay down his life in order to save another, whereas a woman will do exactly the same thing in order to bring a new life into the world. One is not rendered more significant than the other. Women are not called to physically lay down their lives, although the act of childbirth may entail this, in the same way as men. This is not saying women are not worthy, but that their role is of a life-bringing nature, and this ability to give life, to nurture and protect their young, is too precious to waste or sully. It could even be argued that the male is the un -empowered impotent one, his role is to shed blood, either to dirty his hands with the blood of another, or to spill his own. Christ is the bridegroom, we are all the bride, male and female alike, but the way that we come to Christ will invariably differ as we ourselves differ.

One of my struggles has been with the physical pain of pregnancy and childbirth and entertaining the thought of enduring another pregnancy in the near future. Uniting my suffering to that of Christ, finding that suffering can indeed be a blessing, the Christian paradox of joy from pain has proved an enormous spiritual comfort over these past few weeks, although it has been the source of disbelief and shock to many. The thought of redemptive suffering has been described as a “sick and twisted” notion, a concept beyond the comprehension of most “rational” people.

Far from being repressed by a patriarchal Church, again a common misconception is that the Catholic Church is the institution of the Vatican, as opposed to being composed of all the peoples of Christ, laity and clergy alike, in my role of woman, I actually feel incredibly empowered by my own fecundity and the physical and emotional difficulties it comprises, giving me an opportunity to express and unite my suffering in a way not available to men. Though not my favourite communion hymn, I found this week, that the following words took on a new and poignant resonance.

This is my body broken for you

Bringing you wholeness, making you free

Take it and eat it and when you do

Do it in love for me.

Not only may this be applied in the explicit sense of the Eucharist, but also in my role as woman, literally giving her body in love for her unborn child. In my more dramatic moments I have indeed complained, “I feel broken”. Though not likening myself in any heretical fashion to Christ, I can use Him as an example, and like him bringing in a new body, a new world order by his bodily sacrifice, I too can experience the agony and ecstasy of bringing a new life into the world. Whether or not I would be able to display the same courage and acceptance should I be required to give up my life remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the notion of personal sacrifice, of literally giving of myself to another, is a source of enormous strength.

Finally, last week, Robin was invited to talk to the congregation of St Anne’s in Banstead about his journey. Our story seems rather unremarkable in the great scheme of things, but Fr Miceal pointed out a fact that we had previously been impervious to. All of the great protagonists in the journey, all of the influences were women; the narrative was dominated by the various women in his life, both physically and spiritually. Without us, it would not have happened. The alleged misogyny of the Catholic faith turned on its head, the so-called repressed gender, being the protagonist of eternal and everlasting change, calling a soul to spiritual fulfilment.

My St Joseph

Warning – not for those with weak constitutions, the following post will be laced with huge amounts of saccharin.

There have been moments in my marriage where I have wanted to set about my husband’s head with a frying pan. The most recent being “book-gate”, namely the saga of what to do with his vast theological library acquired over the past 20 years. Never mind the rest of our meagre worldly possessions, we would have to ensure that whatever else happened,the books were lovingly stored, categorised and sub categorised, even if this meant that we had to substitute luxury items of bedroom furniture, such as wardrobes, for bookcases. At present we are sat here surrounded by unpacked boxes, because apparently I need to decide which are my allocated shelves. Only once I’ve done that,is the great unpacking able to commence – books can be alphabetized and cosmic order will be restored. But until the books are unpacked safe and sound, then no other boxes, like the ones containing kitchen implements for example may be opened…

Given this is meant to be a post of praise, I’ll stop there, although it does need to be noted that Robin is the human equivalent of a womble. He exhibits worrying hoarding behaviour, which when moving to a house substantially smaller than the Rectory does need curtailing. It’s allegedly the fault of his parents’ war-time generation mentality,  “oooh the lid of this broken kettle might come in handy for something, you never know, best not throw it away”. “I can’t throw those postcards away, I had them on my wall at university”. *whispers: evangelical poverty darling* Camels, eyes of needles, barns, you know what I’m talking about…

Anyway, part of our journey means that Robin has to get a normal layperson’s job. On yer bike and all that. Sounds easier than it is in this current climate. Plus its additionally difficult when excepting a year out as a pastoral assistant, your entire career history consists of 14 years of ministry. On the face of it, a Rector should have tons of transferable skills right? Pastoral skills, team-building skills, budgeting skills, crisis-management, conflict resolution, administration (ahem), marketing and so on and so forth. The reality is, that most employers see ex-vicar on the CV, have visions of beards, goats cheese, corduroy jackets with leather arm-patches, open-toed sandals, worry about their workforce being evangelised and run a country mile. The most obvious openings seem to be school or prison chaplaincy jobs, which at the moment are very few and far between. One interview was attended a good 50 miles away, only to be told “frankly, we think you’re a bit too intelligent and cerebral in terms of what we’re looking for, think you’d be wasted”, which illustrates the other problem. With 3 theology degrees, including 2 MAS, poor Robin finds himself somewhat over-qualified for most positions.

Providentially however, he spied an advert for a funeral director recently. Hoorah we shouted, absolutely perfect. Stacks of experience, knows the industry well, enjoyed the pastoral aspects of the job, no squeamishness about dead bodies or funerals as a whole and felt that perhaps in some way he could continue a ministry of healing and helping the bereaved, as well as ensuring that the dead were accorded the appropriate dignity and respect. So off the application went, detailing the 14 years of funeral experience, including taking funerals, visiting the dying and bereaved, arranging the services, acute attention to detail, liaising with funeral directors, digging graves for ashes, updating burial registers and so on. Letter comes back: sorry other candidates have more experience. Nevermind I said, it’s the automated online system, jobs come up all the time at this nationwide company, next time, add a covering letter with your CV, put some bullet points (bullet points are always good in these situations) and make your skills absolutely explicit. I used to hire people, I know these things. Yet again – computer says no.

So on-spec letters go off to all the funeral directors in the locality. Turns out one, knows Robin and arranges informal chat, which then leads to interview. The upshot is that they realise that probably he’s way too over-qualified to be a funeral services operative (the person that picks up the bodies, washes the hearse etc) and they can see potential for greater things. However, given the current climate (groan, I really need to use a different phrase) there aren’t that many opportunities, but there is a potential business manager position which they would like him to apply for. In order to be in a position to apply for it, he is therefore going to have to start with them on a casual basis, picking up the bodies, hearse driving for £6/hour for the next 4-6 weeks, at which point he can apply for this position which he may or may not get. If he doesn’t however, then it is likely that he will be able to apply for a funeral director’s position, and at least if that doesn’t materialise, he’ll still have the £6/hour job which will give him the correct experience, if a position comes up with another firm. Got that?

So, why am I proud? Because I realise that this is not the most pleasant of jobs and not what my husband feels that he is ultimately called to do. However, the brave decision, which I fully support to leave ministry and become a member of the Catholic Church, has entailed the double-whammy of loss of house and income. Even if we did qualify for Housing Benefit and JSA and whatever else, which we don’t as Robin is deemed to have voluntarily made himself homeless and jobless,  then part of me would feel guilty, because although the state does have an obligation to look after vulnerable people, actually tax-payers shouldn’t have to fork out for decisions of conscience. Besides, this was not a decision based on any events going on in the Church of England, this was simply him following a calling. He had no other choice than to lay down his ministry, to continue to have served, when his heart was elsewhere would have been a lie. Regardless, this was a personal choice and neither of us expect the tax-payer to foot the bill. His income will invariably mean that we will be entitled to benefits in the form of income support, however, he will be working and paying tax on a wage.

The St Barnabas Society have been incredibly generous in terms of their support – without them we would be literally homeless, thanks to their generosity we have a roof over our heads and I am immeasurably grateful, both to them and to anyone who has ever donated to them. Not only have they provided practical and financial help in terms of finding us a house, but they have been a source of great moral support and guidance. No doubt they would have ensured that we had food on the table as well, but though one needs to accept help graciously, we will be able to support ourselves by living frugally.

That’s why I am so very proud of my husband, because instead of relying on anyone else to help him, instead of expecting anyone else to foot the bill, he is not sitting around despairing or bemoaning the lack of suitable employment but instead being proactive and accepting not the most pleasant of jobs in order to ensure that his family don’t have to suffer. I’m not always very effusive in person, but I know that from time to time he dips into my blog to see what the missus is ranting about now, so when you do see this darling, thank you. I am more proud of you than you could ever know.

See, told you it was saccharin, even I am having a blub as I type. As a family we have always prayed to St Joseph, protector of the Holy Family, who has a particular and special resonance for us. Never has this seemed more apt.

That man in a frock in Rome

I have a dreadful habit, one which I am endeavouring to keep in check. Arguing with complete strangers on the internet. Recently I’ve decided to leave a particular forum simply because the majority find my catholic views almost incomprehensible.

One of the most staggering comments I have encountered recently, both on a private website and indeed on a very public baby-orientated website goes along the lines of “I cannot take you seriously as you live your life by a set of rules determined by a celibate man in a frock in Rome”.

I could spend an age picking apart that particular sentiment, but it does strike me as a symptomatic of a mainstream view, one that is deeply prejudiced and intolerant. What worries me is that it was uttered by an otherwise highly intelligent person.

Firstly, it displays ingrained ignorance, in terms of the Catholic Faith itself, namely that Catholics follow a set of rules laid out by the Holy Father. This is categorically untrue. The Holy Father does not have that  type of authority and is not some sort of cult leader demanding unquestioning acceptance. There are certain things he can declare as being part of the deposit of faith but he is unable to do this on his own authority. Precisely one of the things that seems to irritate many is that the Holy Father says that he DOESN’T have the authority to change teachings on issues such as women in the priesthood, in order to bring it into line with contemporary thinking. The Holy Father very rarely issues new teaching and if he does it is always in consultation with the bishops and in continuity with what’s gone on previously.  Humanae Vitae for example was not an innovative teaching, it emphasised what had been previously taught. No Pope can just wake up one morning and think “I know, I think I’ll teach everyone that naked Morris dancing is an essential element of the Catholic liturgy”.

Secondly what that phrase implies is that somehow every Catholic is brainwashed, incapable of free and rational thought. We have somehow been bewitched into a cult of unquestioning obedience, unable and discouraged from exercising any critical judgement of our own. Nothing could be further from the truth. I speak as one who is not a cultural Catholic, who has a lapsed catholic mother, a formerly staunch Protestant now agnostic father, an agnostic sister and who despite attending Catholic secondary school received very little in the way of any catechism. I never participated in the sacrament of First Holy Communion, I was baptised a Catholic, attended a C of E church where my father was an organist and sang in the choir, then aged 11, I was asked by the Rector to make a choice, whereby my mother took fright and decided that we suddenly needed to attend Mass. I can’t even remember when I first took Holy Communion, but it was around the age of 10 and my instructions were to copy everybody else! It was only as an adult in my twenties that I began to explore  cautiously and embrace my the faith of baptism, having previously totally rejected it. At no stage did I ever take the approach “the Catholic Church takes the position of xyz therefore that must be correct”. Quite the opposite. I had a belief in Jesus Christ and my viewpoint was “why does the Catholic Church state xyz, what’s their rationale” as opposed to “do not question, just obey”. In fact never once in all my journey did anyone admonish me for asking anything. As a person who attempts to always exercise critical judgement, I find the insinuation that my free will is somehow diminished or my intellectual capacity dimmed because of my faith, more than a little insulting, not just to me, but to millions of Catholics worldwide.

I was told this week that my blog is “dangerous”, an allegation that made me laugh. The reason being is that it is apparently well-written and thoughtful, it shows up on google, and it might mislead people as to the facts about NFP, because I can apparently “twist my thoughts in order to fit anything that the Catholic Church might say”. Surely if anything this shows that the teachings of the Catholic Church are, if nothing else, based in logic? It is not a case of my twisting or distorting the truth, but of explaining the rationality behind truth? Nothing I say is contradictory. I have my struggles, as we all do, but the fault lies in my own selfish will, it means that I am flawed, not the principles themselves. It is not a case of “this is difficult, therefore this must be wrong”.

The third problem I have with this statement is the pejorative use of the word celibate. The Holy Father is celibate as are the majority of Roman Catholic clergy. Why does the word celibate have such a negative connotation? Celibate actually means the practice of staying unmarried. Why is that such a bad thing? I suspect the word celibate is being confused with the word chastity, a common misnomer. To remain chaste is to behave appropriately and responsibly in sexual relationships with others. It’s a particular moral position, but it is not an inherently evil or negative one. Surely, regardless of religion this is a trait that should be encouraged? Besides the fact that one might chose to refrain from sexual relationships does not render one’s judgement inherently flawed. Indeed it might mean that one can speak more coherently on certain topics, free of the constraints of sexual desire. After all the more one has sex, the more one wants it. Besides, whether celibate or not, all of us need to avoid being driven by the desires of the material and physical.

My other issue is the distinctly offensive nature of the word “frock”. So by rejecting conventional western dress, the Holy Father is somehow attempting to masquerade as a woman, he is deliberately wearing female attire? I don’t need to highlight the ridiculous nature of this assertion, other than to point out that the garments that a priest wears harken back to the days of Rome in the early days of the Church. One of the advantages of clerical dress is that it draws attention to the office as opposed to the person. In any event the statement that the Pope is to be derided because he doesn’t, in public anyway, wear the traditional mode of western attire is a huge insult and slur against all of those who don’t, which I would estimate is over half the population. If I were to talk about Arab men wearing “frocks” and therefore this somehow diminishing their sense of reason or rationality, I would no doubt be arrested under the  equalities or race-hatred laws.

It amazes and worries me in equal measure that so-called intelligent individuals proudly display such ignorance. This is why  I am ceasing membership of an otherwise generally supportive and friendly forum. Because it is only by suppressing my Catholicism, it is only by not mentioning my faith and putting it away neatly in a little box and not alluding to any NFP difficulties or spiritual struggles am I to be assured of any sort of welcome. Any sort of defence of Catholicism or denial of Vatican conspiracy in the child abuse scandals renders my judgement flawed, illogical and brainwashed, because it does not conform with the mainstream mentality, namely that my faith is “batshit” and I am told what to do by a bloke in a frock in Rome.

The most amusing irony, was that a link to a Catholic Forum, designed to show quite how crazy these Catholics are, provided me with the spiritual answer which I was seeking. And where dissent/questioning from the mainstream view was accepted and welcomed, not dismissed as lunacy, the product of impaired free will  or countered with ignorant spite.

It just saddens me that comments like this are deemed acceptable and funny in a country that traditionally prides itself on tolerance.

I’ve lost my mojo

To use the vernacular, life is all rather – meh, at the moment. Although I’m only 15 weeks pregnant, it feels like it has been an eternity already, due to the non-stop sickness. Following a bout of horrific gastroenteritis a few weeks back, this week we seem to have been struck down by another stomach bug, which is proving debilitating to say the least.

I’m finding the thought that I am not yet half-way there somewhat depressing. Although I am not ill, simply pregnant, the symptoms of pregnancy result in illness. I was informed last week that my iron levels have dropped to 7.5, requiring a blood transfusion and also explaining why I have felt more than a little tired.

Like Austin Powers, it feels like someone has taken an enormous hyperdermic syringe and sucked out my very life essence. Everything aches, from the joints in my ankles to the temples pulsing away in my head. Simply walking down the stairs leaves me in need of a recuperative sit down and I’m constantly breathless and faint.

I will elaborate in a further post, but all this has left me grappling somewhat with my conscience in that open to life is the last thing I feel. The thought of ever going through this physical experience again, together with the demands of three children, is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat and clouds of gloom.

Having reflected on this however, a few thoughts occurred. Right now, in the midst of a difficult pregnancy, is not the time to think about whether or not I am open to life. The fact is, at this present time I am, I am doing my best to nurture the baby I have inside me, I can’t physically get pregnant and thus I am being open to life in my actions, though I am more than a little daunted and afraid of the prospect of 2 babies, 16 months apart, I will undoubtedly love this baby when he or she arrives. The fact that I have not aborted the child and have been prepared to endure the physical suffering it entails (even if a little grudgingly) is testament enough. I had a similarly difficult pregnancy with my youngest daughter therefore I had some inkling that I might find the experience a grueling one. The proximity of these two pregnancies is not helping. This time last year I was heavily pregnant, anticipating the first signs of labour, Imogen being due on 3 November. In the end she didn’t arrive until the 17th, via a hastily planned section, following several false alarms.

At the moment, due to the debilitating nature of constant nausea and fatigue, my mental state is more than a little fragile. I probably am skirting the borders of ante-natal depression and thus I can’t decide on the future whilst in the midst of enduring a very physically demanding pregnancy. I am also pondering on the whole issue of “openness to life” and NFP given my current state of mind. That said I do have a just reason to be attempting not to conceive for at least a year post the birth of this next child, given the general state of my health. I was advised not to attempt to conceive for a least a year, preferably 18 months post Imogen. This child was conceived around 7 and a half months post birth. Therefore I do need to give my body a chance to recover, for the sake of my physical and emotional health and those of my family and children.

Having just cause to avoid isn’t quite the same as having a contraceptive mentality. The difficult for me comes in being prepared to accept that if we choose not to abstain, then we have to accept and entertain the possibility that more children could result. This would be the same however, if we chose to contracept, no method being 100% efficacious. This is where I fall short, where I am having my current struggle, in that at the present moment, I find the prospect of another pregnancy in a short space of time, almost impossible to deal with. Which means that as a married couple we have difficult choices and sacrifices to make in the future.

Still all I can do is concentrate on the present – looming University deadlines and an imminent house move on Friday. Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.