A Year Since CubeSpace

It’s been a year since CubeSpace closed. Today is the first day of summer. Each year, there will be a first day of summer. CubeSpace closed its doors for good on only one occasion. Some events recur, others drift further into the past.

Looking back over the last year, it has, without doubt, been a tough year. The search for work continues. The economy is weak (I know, shocking news to you), and looking for work is no fun at all (also a revelation, I’m sure). Yet time moves on, and with time comes some perspective.

I look back on CubeSpace and remember the wonderful events we helped host: barcamp, WordCamp, CyborgCamp, and so many others. I remember the conversations as people fell into the vortex of the front desk and would sit chatting for hours. The never-ending stream of coffee.

Most of all, I remember the people. So many folks who were so much a part of my (and Eva’s) daily life, whom I see only sporadically now. People who helped out whenever they could. People who stopped by because they happened to be in the neighborhood. People who just had a quick question. Oh, and folks who wanted to get a little work done, as well.

The mix of the various elements of the day, and questions seemed endless. One minute I would find myself wrestling with a computer networking issue, the next answering a question about Judaism, or doing unofficial pastoral counseling, and then brainstorming a marketing strategy for someone.

I also remember arriving at 6:45 in the morning, sometimes staying until 9:30 in the evening. Eva and I needed to plan life to swap off taking care of CubeSpace, and saw far less of each other than we do now. Getting out of town was a major hassle, arranging adequate staff coverage for our absence.It was exhausting, and sometimes we felt like we were dragging ourselves through the wilderness.

A year later, I still miss CubeSpace, and probably always will. I remember the wonderful parts and the hard parts. But it is a time past, which will not come back.

The summer begins, the longest day of the year. There are new beginnings yet to be had in life, but some things drift into the past. As the length of day is changed by the season, we are changed by the events in our lives. I am forever changed by CubeSpace in ways that I hope are positive. I hope many of you have also been changed for the better by CubeSpace.

A year later, I thank you all who participated with Eva and myself in the bold experiment we called CubeSpace.

Closing CubeSpace

Today is the last day that CubeSpace will be open. We still have a little cleanup to do over the weekend, and the farewell party Tuesday (4PM – ?, BYO, please come), but as far as regular business, today is it. I can’t tell you how strange it feels. Nonetheless, I guess I’m going to try.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever had something I’ve invested so much of myself in before. My marriage, perhaps, but nothing else. And to be shutting it down is hard. While I don’t consider CubeSpace a failure because so much good has come out of it, I also cannot consider it a success, since it’s closing. It doesn’t feel like a graduation, or quitting a job. It doesn’t feel like any of the other endings I’ve experienced in my life before. It’s just odd.

It’s also somewhat liberating. No more being tied down to a business that needs me here until 9:30 at night, or needs me here to open it at 6:45 in the morning. Or, more accurately, needs me here until 9:30 at night and needs Eva here at 6:45 in morning, and we try to squeeze in 20 minutes of quality time while we wind down for bed so she gets enough sleep before another day.

But I also won’t be seeing everyone in the community on a daily basis. I’ll still see people, but not as naturally. I’ll have to make time for it, plan it. Life will be different. I don’t know what it will bring, but it will be different.

Today is a sad day. I’m loving everyone coming through to offer condolences, and to say “see you in a bit.” Love that people feel the need to come in and say goodbye to the space. I don’t quite know how to say goodbye to the space as a functioning community. But somehow, I know that I need to.

Tonight, we will lock the doors at 7, and I will be here. I’m not normally here at 7 on a Friday (normally I’ve already left Beer and Blog for home), but tonight, it feels important to me to be here. As a rabbi, I’m used to marking such occasions with rituals and blessings. I’m not sure what the blessing is when you close your business, but perhaps I’ll figure it out in the next six hours.

Plans Post-CubeSpace

A list of a few things I’m looking forward to doing in my post-CubeSpace existence:

  • Gardening. The garden has gotten minimal to no attention the last few summers. I’m really looking forward to having the time to spend in the yard and grow some veggies this summer. Also, it will be great to get grapes trellised, the raspberries under control and reclaim the brick path. Oh yes, and some serious dandelion eradication. We’ll see how many laurel bushes get taken out over the course of the summer as well.
  • Knitting. While I’ve been knitting all along, I haven’t been very creative in my knitting while at CubeSpace. It’s just taken too much of my attention and energy. I’m hoping to be able to do more creative work, and maybe some design work. For me, it’s an outlet for creative exploration, and I want to use it as such.
  • Photography. I love taking photographs, but haven’t really spent the time to practice recently. Hoping to do some of that this summer.
  • Beavers Baseball. I’m hoping to go to a baseball game or two this summer. I’ve been meaning to for years, but the last game I made it to was the summer before we opened CubeSpace.
  • Cheap Movies. We live walking distance to the Baghdad Theater, the Laurelhurst Theater and the Avalon Theater, all of which show movies for $3 or less.
  • Paycheck. It will be lovely to get work where someone is paying me for it. Just one of those dreams of mine.

I’m quite certain I’ll come up with other activities, and that I’ll discover that I have not nearly as much free time as I imagine I will. Nonetheless, these are a few of the things I’m looking forward to in the next stage of life.

It’s the End of CubeSpace as We Know It…

For the moment, I’m just going to send you to the post I wrote for the CubeSpace blog.

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CubeSpace’s Saga

So, it’s been abusy  few days, and the best way to catch you up on it is by directing you to some other blog posts. First, I’ll try to tell the story very briefly.

As many of you know, my wife Eva, and I own and run CubeSpace. Last Tuesday, our landlord, US Bank cause a summons to be issued to begin eviction proceedings, to take place on Wednesday (1 week and 1 day later). It took Eva and myself about 2 days to figure out what they were up to, at which point we realized that we and CubeSpace were pretty much finished financially. Friday, around 12:30 PM we posted this letter on the CubeSpace Blog: http://cubespacepdx.com/node/2012.
That’s when the fun began.

It ignited a twitterstorm. Almost immediately, a website to collect contributions was put up by friends of CubeSpace. Someone else put up an auction site to benefit CubeSpace.  Friday afternoon, this article was posted to the Oregonian’s website, and was printed in the paper on Saturday.

We received a response from US Bank, with some options Friday afternoon around 2:30.

Saturday was not a Shabbat, by any stretch of the imagination. We spent all morning responding to emails, well-wishes, and the like. We put up another blog post with updated information: http://cubespacepdx.com/node/2013. Eva posted another letter to her personal blog yesterday afternoon: http://catherder.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/the-little-engine-that-might/ .

This morning, we gathered with a small group of advisors, and we are in negotiations with US Bank. We will  go radio silent about progress until these negotiations are concluded because we are legally bound to be quiet about them until they are concluded.

Again, we are so grateful to everyone for all the support we’ve received. And we’ll update you further in a few days.

CubeSpace Spiritual Community

Eva and I have one rule we try to abide by: we don’t do CubeSpace work on Shabbat (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. We don’t always succeed, and there is one event a year we know we will be working: BarCamp Portland. We do this for 3 reasons:

  1. It’s a lot of fun.
  2. It’s great marketing for CubeSpace to have 350 people come through.
  3. We aren’t set up to have 350 people come through CubeSpace without us being present.

Nonetheless, it does mean working on Shabbat. Which made me think about the intersection of spiritual community and CubeSpace community.

In many ways, it feels like the CubeSpace community has become my spiritual community: it is the group that it feels “right” to spend Passover with. It is the community I share news with. It is the community I enjoy partying with (see above re: BarCamp). So spending Shabbat this way does not feel entirely inappropiate.

While there is definitely the resting and recharging element of Shabbat, there is also the celebration and joy element. This week, clearly, is going to be more about the celebration and joy. This week, will be about connecting to the community. Partying with some of the folks I see daily, and some I see only once a year, and no doubt meeting some new folks. It is the opportunity to learn something new…and maybe teach something.

Tonight and tomorrow will be a whirlwind of food, fun, friends, and general geekery. I will emerge at the end exhausted, but having had a good time. In Judaism, we most often pray in community. We most often practice spirituality in community. Today, the Portland Tech Community gathers together, and joins in a spiritual event, even if I’m the only one labeling it as such. It will involve our spirits, affect our spirits, which makes it spiritual (the fact that we’ll be drinking spirits is just a bonus).

Shabbat Shalom, all…or at the very least have a raccous Shabbat of celebration.

The Week Improved

After my lament of earlier in the week, I thought I should let you all know that, 1, I’m still alive; and, 2, the week has gotten better.

I may be a touch bleary-eyed at the moment, but overall, the remainder of the week has been a massive improvement. The vet prescribed a course of antibiotics of colitis for Diana, and she seems to be feeling significantly better. The new tires, while expensive, do make the car much quieter, and somewhat more fuel efficient. And I had a good afternoon of learning with my bar and bat mitzvah students yesterday, so I’m looking forward to having more group lessons (it helps that a number of them are looking forward to the continuing group lessons).

My only remaining complaint is that I still can’t find the cone of yarn for Eva’s second sock. This is beginning to drive me crazy, but I’ve looked everywhere I can think of. And I really want to begin this sock. And it’s a custom constructed yarn at Yarnia, so it’s not like I can just wander out to the store and buy more. I am getting to the point of going over to Yarnia and seeing whether Lindsey and I can reconstruct the yarn, so the second sock will match the first.

I’m looking forward to Shabbat, though it is very much a working shabbat. Tonight, though I’m not leading services, I’ll be present for the Jew Crew (our youth group) service. They’re leading it entirely on their own, and I’m pretty excited to see what they do. Tomorrow morning I lead services, and then tomorrow night, I’m performing a wedding.

Meanwhile, CubeSpace will be mobbed with people for BarCamp. Eva will be working incredibly long hours this weekend, since BarCamp runs until 11PM tonight, from 9AM – 11PM tomorrow, and from 9 – 3 Sunday. She takes off Monday, but I’ll be back at CubeSpace. I am sorry I’ll be working throughout BarCamp, because it was a lot of fun last year (if exhausting), but there’s only so much one can squeeze into life.

Oh, and Eva is going to be on a local public radio show this morning, Think Out Loud, talking about the economic slowdown and how it is affecting microbusinesses. All in all, life is about as busy as it gets.

Life’s Full

Life feels busier than normal recently. A few of the measures:

  • I’m not posting here as much as I have been recently.
  • I realized yesterday that it had been weeks since I’d been over to Ravelry.
  • I feel like I’m constantly running behind.

So where is all of my time going?

A few items I have been doing a little more of recently:

  • Gardening. The seeds have sprouted, and many have been transplanted. Also, as I mentioned last week (I think), I got the front yard cleaned up.
  • Passover: Getting stuff ready for the congregational seder last Sunday took more time and energy than I expected, somehow.
  • Preparing for Weddings. The summer wedding season is coming up, and I’ve been meeting with 1 – 3 couples a week in preparation for upcoming weddings.
  • CubeSpace. We’re getting ready for a big open house on May 14, and trying to get the word out about that.

In between all of this, I’ve been doing a little knitting, trying to keep my sanity in place. I’ve concentrated my knitting on a single project for a while now, since I felt like I wasn’t seeing any progress on anything while splitting my time between my 4 projects. I’ve been working on Eva’s socks, and am finally up to the ribbing on the first sock (it’s a toe-up design). I switched to the magic loop method of knitting recently, and am finding it nice, especially in terms of not losing stitches off the needles when I shove them in my pockets.

In a nutshell, that’s life of the last week or so.

Driving Through Life

Recently, I passed a significant milestone:

This imaged then morphed into:

Yep, 100,000 miles on the car. When we got the car, in October 2001, there were roughly 20,000 miles on it. A lot has changed since then.

That was the car I used to drive to my student congregation, Beth Abraham, in Bridgeton, NJ. I served them for two years, but the congregation no longer exists. It closed up shop about a year ago due to declining membership (which was mainly the result of the changing demographics of the community).

This is the car we drove to Blacksburg, VA to meet my first niece, and in which we again traveled to Blacksburg with my grandparents so they could meet their great-granddaughter.

I drove this car for the last three years of rabbinical school, as I progressed from a frustrated and often angry student into a much calmer and more spiritually centered rabbi. This was the car I used to get to the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for three years, and which my wife used to ferry my grandparents to my graduation (I think…I could be wrong about that). In this car I had many conversations with classmates as we drove to and from school, about hopes, about dreams and about disappointments.

When I graduated from rabbinical school, and we decided to move from Philadelphia to Portland, I drove the car cross-country. A 7 day reflective period of driving, watching the landscape (it may be the only cross-country drive I’ve done that didn’t include a stop at Wall Drug).

This is the car we used as we were setting up CubeSpace. Driving around town to look at potential locations, seeking out vendors for everything from phones to furniture to coffee.

Finally, this is the car I’ve used this year, going back and forth to Salem, where I’ve been serving a congregation.

Over the past 6.5 years, this car has driven me to more weddings than I can count, more funerals than I can clearly remember. I’ve sat in the car in the rain waiting for families to show up at the graveside. And I’ve hung out in car waiting for a couple to show up for a wedding rehearsal.

In the last few years, I’ve of course done some knitting in the car as well (not while driving). While Eva’s been driving, or while waiting in the car for something to happen; waiting to pick up someone.

As the car turned over to 100,000 miles, I was excited about the milestone. Now, thinking back two weeks to when it happened, I’m remembering all the miles it took to get there.

Everyone’s Tired

I don’t know what it is today, but everyone seems tired. Not just me and Eva (we’re used to that), but a lot of the people at CubeSpace. Not only that, but there are fewer people than usual at CubeSpace today, making me think that many people just didn’t have the energy to come in at all (it is possible that I’m projecting here).

There is a profound lack of energy today. It’s quiet, as though making noise requires too much work. The phones are ringing less, suggesting that pushing the buttons might be excessive labor for the mood of the day. People are so tired that this is what I’m trying to pass for humor.

It’s sort of a shame that there aren’t more people at CubeSpace today, because we are dying eggs and doing an Easter Egg hunt. I sort of have a feeling I may be spending a lot of time trying to find the eggs which we hid yesterday.

OK, I just tried and failed to add some pictures of hidden easter eggs, but it completely failed. In fact, it crashed my computer. So we’re done with that now.

I apologize for the lack of material in this post. In the meantime, be amused by the idea of the rabbi with a business filled with Easter Eggs which need finding.