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The region between...


On Monday, I stood next to a kitchen counter/bar that I was trying very hard to own, and I listened as intently as I could to the nice inspector.

He was perhaps the most down to earth person I've ever met, a sensible guru of home management who had a ready solution for every problem. Ancient dryer lint stuck in an upward-flowing trap? Use a leaf blower to flush out the debris. Termite fears? Most the wood fence post connected to the house an inch away so that the 'mites don't have a clear pathway to the siding.

It was remarkably reassuring to meet someone who was so good at what he did that even the most bizarre home problem that came up in the inspection could easily be solved (at least to have him tell it) by a quick call to an electrician or a $20 trip to the Home Depot.

The home inspection was the last obstacle, the last hurdle into the multi-month process of finding a new home in which to live. Every time I've ever moved before in my life, it's taken two week tops to find an apartment or duplex. This will be the first home I can actually call my own. And with the relatively clean inspection, and the subsequent agreement with the sellers to have them fix the major problems we found, it's smooth sailing toward the end-of-November closing date.

The inspector gave me a five-page summary of all the things you do to maintain a house. It was in tiny 8-point type. There were hundreds of things, literally, divvied up by "do every week," "do every month" and "do once a year." Seriously, I would have to quit my job and hire four handypersons to ever get even half the things on that list done. Things like, "scrub spokes on dishwasher" (once a week) and "make sure storm drainage is secure and cleared" (once a month). A scary future indeed.

So here I am. In my old place. A few weeks away from moving. The U-Haul isn't ready. I have exactly one moving box so far, courtesy of Andy, and I filled it with books, some empty computer game boxes and a few of the growing menagerie of stuffed animals I have a knack for winning at the claw machines at the grocery store.

One box down. Several dozen to go. There's a refrigerator to buy and books to pack and dishes to wrap in newspapers and arrange for maximum non-breakage.

But that's a little while away.

This is Dante. He was very into the idea of Limbo.

Right now, there's still some time before all The Busy.

It's like that at work. I'm in a temporary position, helping out, while I wait to move into my new assignment. I know what I'll be doing, but so far it's been kept a secret from most of the staff. For now I'm just a guy who's back out in the newsroom, blending in again after two years of isolation in a back office.

Again, a period of time in limbo, a few weeks where I'm in the region between, marking time between what my life was before and what it soon will be.

Last year, I started writing a novel. I was pretty happy with the progress until several new projects and more work on Terribly Happy caused me to abandon it. Now, if things continue on their current path and I sign a contract that's been presented to me, I'll have a literary agent for that novel, which I plan to continue work on. That was the good writing news I'd alluded to before.

I'll be an aspiring novelist with an agent, which is something I've dreamed of for so many years, but now that it's happened, it seems like part of the work: Just a reality for the continuing path of my life.

While I gear up for that, I'm in a get-ready mode, a percolation time for ideas and concepts.


It's been a lot of good news, a lot of movement. Frankly, and I've said it before, it's scary. It's wonderful, but I never imagined it would happen this soon in my life that I'd have a mortgage, a car payment, an agent and a senior position at my newspaper.

It's good. But then it's balanced, in full yin-yang style, by some scary, anger-inducing or just all-around bad moments.

Someone came along and cybersquatted a domain I worked very hard to build up for more than a year. That hurt, on a professional level and hurt even more on a personal level, in the place inside where I assumed that people don't really go around taking advantage of other peoples' work. My naïveté didn't shield me this time.

In my family, there was a scary moment recently where I thought someone's life might be in danger. The scare passed, and everything was OK, but for a few minutes, the world became dark, fate became unyielding and the happy sphere of life burst with surprising, horrifying ease.

This is a Jazzercise group from Duncanville, TX. They are into a whole different kind of Limbo than Dante.

And it happened in reverse, too: Through a miscommunication involving a missed cell phone call, those closest to me thought my life might be in danger, and before I even knew what was happening, I was getting frantic calls and voice mails because everyone thought something had happened to me.

There was a disaster and a subsequent war that doesn't feel real, not only because it's something far too vast and removed from me personally to make any real gut connection, but because it feels like only the largest of the earthquakes to reshape the fault lines of life right now.

Friends who are unemployed and become more worried by the day about their situations. Holidays approaching quickly that have never given us more reason to reflect on our shared humanity and to humble us into giving thanks for even the air we breathe, day in, day out. Love and panic and growth, creativity and coffee, late nights, bleary early mornings and regions between.

It all feels like transition. It all feels like a path to something else. Greater or worse, I don't know. But something new, something different.

All of it.

We're all of us in Limboland.

And I'm not exactly sure who or what I'll be on the other side of this tunnel.


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