Thursday, March 4, 2010


(for those of you in church on Sunday, this is a more detailed version, complete with pictures, of what I shared during CC&C. For those of you not in church, you aren't missing much...)

The month of February brought 55+ inches of snow to the DC area. It was crazy. We went to bed one night with barely an inch on the ground and woke up to more than 18 inches outside. Total snow accumulation during the first storm was somewhere in the ballpark of 25 inches. And then it happened again... 20+ inches of snow fell on the 20+ inches that fell the week before. There were hurricane-strength winds and whiteouts. CRAZY.

Our little house is nearly 100 years old, and although it has been updated and renovated 50+ inches of snow was more than she could take. One morning we woke up to a wet floor in our sunroom. And soon afterward the drip, drip, drip, drip started. Here are a few shots of our "little water problem":

We tried everything we could think of to limit the amount of damage to our home. As you can see, we got creative - using tape, putty, funnels, tubing - to direct the water into buckets and other containers.

The dripping didn't stop until D went up on the roof and shoveled all of the snow and ice off of it. And not long after that we started to smell it.

It being mildew.

We called our insurance company. We had contractors and roofers in to look at the damage and give us estimates. And then the mitigation team showed up. As they were introducing themselves to us they said they would probably have to remove the baseboards and maybe cut a few holes in the ceiling to allow the wood to dry. Worst case scenario we'd have to cut the drywall up to the windows.

Or worst-worst case scenario

they take out the walls in both our office and sunroom, cut holes in the ceiling and rip up the carpet, and remove the carpet pad. Needless to say when we started dealing with the leaks we realized that the damage was far greater than expected.

The walls needed to come down and the carpet torn up and the ceiling diced. Sometimes you need to tear it all down, see just how ugly and messy it is, and then start to rebuild. We have a plan in place, good people lined up to fix the place up, and we're choosing new paint colors.

What has happened in our home has also been happening in my life.

It is all quite poetic.

Before Christmas I started to sense that things we not going well for me with my adviser and dissertation topic. I was seeing drips - unclear and changing expectations, promises that were not kept, and things not moving along as planned. I had the sinking feeling that the drips were signs of a bigger problem. I tried my best to convince myself it was no big deal. I tried to convince myself that the problem could be diverted or mitigated if I navigated it just right and was creative (just like we were in capturing our drips and thinking we were limiting the damage).

And then I started to smell it.

Only this time the it was the need to stop everything and reassess before moving forward.

After the Christmas break, the walls came crashing down around me.

I realized how extensive the damage was. I was damaged. Demoralized. Unsure if I'd ever finish my degree. I was lost. But I found guidance from the head of my department, just like we found guidance and reassurance from our insurance company. The head of my department set me on the right path.

And now I'm rebuilding. I'm on the right course (see a couple of posts ago).

Just as our home is being torn apart and rebuilt, so is my professional/educational life.

The similarities between the two situations are too many to name.

Thankfully, I see that rebuilding in both instances is possible and a REALLY good thing.

And there is hope that both will be better once the rebuilding is complete.

Our home is going to be stronger, dryer, and painted in a way that makes us happy.

And at school, I'm in a better place. And I know that finishing my dissertation is going to happen. I even have a timeline in place.

Sometimes the walls do need to come down. And walls coming down is messy and ugly and cold and hard to watch. But after the walls are down you are able to see what is wrong, what needs to be fixed and how to fix the problem. From there rebuilding can happen.

I'm glad to be rebuilding both at home and at school.

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