Friday, November 30, 2007

tonight i cried at buy for less

Tonight, I had my first intense moment of homesickness since we arrived here three weeks ago.

Ed and I went grocery shopping at Buy For Less after eating dinner at Zorba's. Zorba's is Greek fast food, and the homesicknessfeeling started while we were there, because I started thinking of Palas Athen, our favorite Greek place in Chemnitz, where we've spent so many wonderful hours and had so many great laughs (not to mention spectacular food!!!) with great friends and with the jovial owner. Zorba's, with its hectic atmosphere and high-decibel noise level, didn't exactly measure up to what we're used to. (The food was good, but their idea of gyros isn't what we've gotten to know at Palas Athen, either. However, we're remaining open enough to give Zorba's another chance. We'll just have to put our minds in a different gear beforehand. Or would that be 'beforefood'? ;o)

Anyway, by the time we got to Buy For Less, I was already feeling somewhat melancholy from missing Palas Athen and the fun times we've had there--and especially the people we had those times with (you know who you are). Then, at Buy For Less, Ed ducked into the bathroom for a few minutes, and I found myself in the foreign/specialty foods aisle.

And suddenly, I saw it: German food.

Buy For Less has Klöße. And Rotkraut. And Sauerkraut. And Rittersport and Lindt! And Spätzle! And Semmelknödel! And Bratkartoffeln! And Gurken pickled in Thüringen! And Buy For Less even has pickled herring, which I absolutely despise, but it's a staple of Saxon kitchens, and it all reminded me so much of home that I suddenly found myself standing in the middle of Buy For Less, crying and thinking that I probably looked absolutely ridiculous but not caring whether or not I looked ridiculous, and then Ed came back and just hugged me, and I took him to see the German food, and slowly I started to feel okay again.

Oh, and Ed and I also spent the evening speaking German with each other, and that probably added to the sudden burst of homesickfeelingyness as well.

I think what helps is that I knew this was coming. It had to happen at some point, and I'm kind of relieved that it happened. It needs to happen--and it will happen again and again for awhile--so that I can acknowledge my feelings, accept them, and move on.

Coolly enough, Buy For Less also has Twinings (Erin!) and PG Tips (Ed!) and Branston Pickle (Boynses!). And Turkish Delight, which I don't eat, but I still think it's keen that they have it!

*sigh* I probably don't sound like it, but I do feel better now. :o)

Monday, November 26, 2007

movie review: "Babel"

Scott asked me to let him know what it was I didn't like about "Babel" so that he could hear a trustworthy opinion about it before he watched it (Scott, thank you for the vote of confidence!), so I thought I'd just post a brief review here while I'm at it:

"Babel" is about four different groups of people--two Moroccan goatherd boys; a husband and wife traveling in Morocco; their children and their Mexican nanny back in California; and a deaf-mute Japanese girl in Japan (Tokyo?)--and how all of their lives intersect. Conceptually, it's a very interesting idea, because it's not till the end of the movie that the viewer finds out how they're all connected; and the viewer then realizes that these people's lives all intersected in one brief moment that occurred toward the beginning of the film. From that angle, the film was very well-made and thought-provoking, in that it brings home how we cannot view ourselves as individuals completely independent of others: Each of our actions, each of our decisions has some kind of significance because even in some small way, each of our actions/decisions affects people we've never met and might never meet, people who are continents and (in a great sense) years away.

I have a tag for this concept: "brighten the corner where you are". It's a concept I believe in very firmly and have discussed in this blog before.

Linguistically, it was also interesting: in each of the four groups, there were communication difficulties resulting either from personality differences (emotional and social barriers) or from linguistic differences (Arabic - English, Spanish - English, Sign Language - spoken Japanese). Very effective in portraying the "Babel" aspect of human relationships.

Okay, now for what makes me recommend not watching this film: a boy, approx. 12 years old, being shown masturbating; the same boy being shown spying on his approx. 14-yr-old sister as she takes off her clothes, and both of them enjoying it; and another teenage girl exposing herself multiple times to various people, then taking off all of her clothes and trying to seduce an older man (full frontal nudity).

Some might claim "oh, this is what makes the film so real, so true-to-life" etc. Well, even if that were true, those are still things that were unnecessary for advancing the plot; there are other methods that could have been used for character development and portrayal of character psychology; and I think it's exploitative to have child actors filming scenes like that.

So conceptually, the film had some very good ideas; but the execution of those ideas left something moral to be desired. The scenes with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were very good, as were the ones with the CA kids and their Mexican nanny. But I could have done without some of the rest.

brief update

Hi all,

I've gotten a few emails from some of you who are apparently concerned about my recent lack of posting. *sniff* I didn't know I had such a loyal following! ;o) So here's what's what:

We had one Thanksgiving with Ed's family at his brother's house.
We had one Thanksgiving with my family at my grandparents' house.
(Please note apostrophe usage.) ;o)
Much fun and food and fellowship was had by all.

We looked at rental houses.
None of them seemed right for us. The last one we looked at was totally trashed, and the landlord didn't seem terribly motivated to do anything about it.
We decided we wanted something a bit more secure.
So we went to talk to the manager of the apartment complex where we lived before we moved to Chemnitz.
Bernice, the manager, was thrilled to see us again.
We filled out a rent application and are waiting to hear whether or not we get an apartment.

Ed has filled out multiple job applications and has had multiple come-see-us-after-Thanksgiving conversations with prospective employers.
So, no job yet.
But we're hopeful.

Our shipment is scheduled to arrive in port in Houston Dec. 12th.

We've been reconnecting with lots of family and old friends whom we haven't seen in a long time.
I have really been enjoying this. It's nice to know it won't be another two years before I get to see them again.

I'm also missing my family in Chemnitz.
Ahh, the emotional roller coaster never stops.

I want a place to live, a place with my stuff in it, and the settled feeling I need in order to start writing again.

I also want my paintbrushes and some new paints and canvases. Autumn has ben very inspiring of late.

This is already longer than I intended it to be, so I'm gonna quit now.

P.S. If you haven't seen the movie "Babel," please don't. It's not worth it, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett notwithstanding.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

bookish fun

The Book Meme
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four to seven sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest [unless it's too troublesome to reach and is really heavy. Then go back to step 1].
6. Tag five people.

I'm not doing Step #6, but here's the rest of it:

"I hope that you claim the freedom to be whoever God made you to be in fulfilling your role in His service.
"This is a great time to be alive--especially for those who love Jesus Christ. The opportunities to minister are unparalleled: the millions of searching hearts and agonized souls, combined with the abundance of resources Christians have at their disposal, make this a very special era for the Church. Throw in the rapid and profound cultural changes occurring, as well as the struggles local churches are undergoing, and we have an environment in which the birth of a spiritual revolution is inevitable. The confluence of those elements demands a dramatic response, and the emerging Revolution represents such a historic thrust."

--from "revolution"
by George Barna

It's one of Matt's that he has recommended I read. I haven't yet, but I plan to soon, especially after that paragraph above.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

courtney will euch updaten

Hello dahlings,

Well, it is currently 06:27 a.m. here in unexpectedly mild-weathered Oklahoma. As many of you already know, Ed and I arrived here Tuesday night with no problems. Oh sure, there was a delay in Chicago, and as far as Pippin was concerned, the trip was the worst thing that has ever occurred in the history of the universe, but other than minor frustrations and the quite vocal protestations of the feline persuasion, we arrived here safe and sound.

There was only one minor, teensy-weensy negative aspect to the whole thing.

On the long flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, I had an aisle seat.

Across the aisle from me was an older man.

Who sneezed.

A lot.


In my direction.

I couldn't escape.

I turned my head away.

Apparently to no avail.

Guess what I have now?

"Hi Courtney! Welcome to the new chapter in your life! Wouldn't you like your usual sinus infection to go along with it?"

I do not have to tell you how I feel about this.

So far, at least, it's not too bad. I'm not sure yet if I'll need to go to a doctor. In the meantime, I got up at 6 a.m. because I had this terrific sensation of drowning while I was lying in bed. I didn't enjoy that very much. So I got up. Problem Solving For The Internationally Rootless. ;o) I am so glad I have my nose shower.

I hope that by my sarcasm, you can tell that I'm acutally in a fairly good mood. ;o)

Here's a brief recap of what's been going on so far:

--About 20 people met us at the airport. That was really neat and gave me warm fuzzies. We didn't get to talk to everyone extensively, of course, but it was nice to see faces we haven't seen in a long time and to know that we're of interest. :o)

--From the airport, we went with both sets of parents to my parents' house, where we had Mexican food for dinner. That alone would have been amazing, of course, but what really topped the cake was knowing that this was only the second time the 6 of us have ever had dinner together. It was really neat to look around the table and to know that if life goes as we hope it will, we'll be able to do this more often now. We also sat around and drank coffee and talked all morning. It was cozy and nice and exciting to tell each other stories of our lives.

--Yesterday was our first Wal-Mart adventure. It was scary and overwhelming. I didn't like it. But the first person we talked to in the store had lived in Germany before and was really nice. So that was comforting. But then other people started talking to us, too, and I suddenly felt weirded out that so many strangers chat with each other over cat food and shelves of aspirin. I *really* had to remind myself that this isn't weird, just different.

--Last night, we went to Bible class at Britton Road, our sponsoring congregation. Saw a lot of people we haven't seen in a long time. Got a lot of hugs. Heard a lot of "welcome home"s. I didn't like that part. Heard a lot of "we know you're not coming home, but we're still glad to see you here." I liked that part. One of the elders, Charlie, said he was looking forward to sitting down with us and hearing us talk about Jim, because he's been interested in everything we've said about Jim in various emails. I was really impressed and felt sehr gut aufgehoben when Charlie expressed that personal, specific interest in our thoughts.

I felt out of place because of the size of everything: enormous building, big crowd of people, umpteen different classes to choose from. I felt out of place because of the cultural references made in the Bible class we ended up in. I felt out of place because a lot of people greeted me by name, and I couldn't remember theirs.

But I didn't feel as out of place as I expected to. I think it was good that our first visit there was on a Wednesday night instead of a Sunday morning. I feel like I was able to stick my foot in the water and see what's what before going swimming. Nothing nibbled on my toes, so I guess I'm okay so far. ;o)

So that's the new chapter so far. Today, if I'm not deathly ill, I need to go buy some black boots; Ed wants to stop by Oklahoma Christian Academy to talk to someone about talking to someone about talking to someone about a possible job ;o) and tonight, we're going with my parents to see the musical "West Side Story" at OC.

And at some point, I'm going to take a nap.

Maybe after breakfast. ;o)

Monday, November 05, 2007

brief thoughts before starting a new chapter

Yes, I am awake, even though I have to get up in three hours and so should be sleeping right now. I had intended to put down just a few thoughts before this new adventure begins, but now that I sit down to write, I find that I can't. I'm too tired, I can't think, I'm anticipating tomorrow (with sadness and with excitement), and I can't be coherent right now.

But still, I wanted to write something, so I guess this is the something. My note to my future self is this: God has a plan for everything, his plan is always right, and his plan is always what works best.

Even if it hurts at the time. Sometimes, *especially* if it hurts.

In the book of my life are many finished chapters. Tomorrow, I am beginning a new one. Someday, it too will be finished. Right now, in spite of my sadness and -other-emotions-too-complex-to-describe-right-now, I am eager to put the period on the last sentence of the chapter I have just finished, and I am eager to begin the next chapter. But I do acknowledge and respect the fact that this next new chapter will end someday; it too is temporary, fleeting.

I find permanence only in God. He has put my name in a book that will never, ever end.