Tuesday, October 21, 2008

transitional meltdown revisited

Things finally came to a head today. I'd been feeling the malaise (or ennui, if you will) coming on, and I'd been doing various creative, spiritual, and mental/emotional health exercises to stave it (that is, the malaise/ennui) off. But I knew that at some point, something was gonna give. I asked the house church to pray for me yesterday, so I knew that God would get something done, one way or the other.

God seems to answer my prayers in the grocery store a lot. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sort of.

So this afternoon, I got ready to go to the grocery store. Crest, to be specific. I finally remembered to bring along my cloth bags and Klappkiste (? a foldable plastic box, great for carrying stuff, staple in every German household). I debated taking the cloth bags into Crest with me and asking the bagger simply to bag my purchases in my personal bags. I decided against that, though, figuring it might throw the bagger for too much of a loop.

Because, as you know, friends and neighbors, baggers don't like to be thrown for loops. I didn't know that before this afternoon, but I sure as turkey-at-Thanksgiving know it now. My leaving the cloth bags in the car must have been prophetic. But again, I'm getting ahead of things.

Went to Crest. Shopped for groceries. Couldn't find chicken broth. Found lots of new food for Pippin. Gave up on chicken broth. Chicken broth and catfood not related.

When I arrived at the cash register, I told the bagger that I'd like for him to place all my groceries directly in a cart without bagging them. The bagger in question made an affirmative noise--"Mmhm" or "Okay" or somesuch. I turned my attention to the cashier and the growing total on his screen as he scanned my groceries.

A few moments later, I looked to my right and saw the bagger putting my squash and northern beans into a paper bag.

"Oh, I'd like for the groceries to go into the cart," I said again, thinking maybe he didn't hear me the first time. "I don't want any bags."

He bagged a can of catfood. "Well, I'm really not supposed to let you do that."


My brain tried to process for a second. Didn't succeed. See, this is the part where the cultural transition issues come into play: I couldn't grasp all the implications of what he was saying. It was literally impossible for me to shift gears in my mind. I grabbed onto the first thing that popped into my head, probably chipping off a few mental teeth in the process.

I would love to say that I replied to him with gentle, polite, but firm insistence.

Instead, all that came out was, "What happened to 'the customer is always right'?" And it was rather snippish, too. I was mortified at my own rudeness, but plowed ahead anyway. "I really don't want any bags."

"Well," said he, "we've been having problems with people stealing food."

I felt my mouth drop open. Rationality was making a hasty exit. I looked from him to the open exit door...seven or eight feet away. How would I steal food, going from this register out that door? Do you want to watch me?

Aloud, I said, "I'll be going from here--" pointing at my feet "--to there--" pointing at the doorway close at hand.

He glared at me. At least, it seemed like a glare. It could have been an expression of abject disappointment in the way his day was going. I don't know. He kind of mumbled something. I gestured in the general direction of the shopping cart. "Please just put the groceries in the cart. I really. Don't. Want. Any. Bags."

He began taking catfood, beans, and other items out of the bags and putting them into the cart. As I turned away with a world-weary sigh, he muttered, "All right, but it won't be my fault if you get stopped."

I forbore replying to that. This whole time, the cashier had continued merrily scanning items and sending them in the general direction of the recalcitrant (!) bagger. The total had risen, but I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to get out of there.

I finally got out of there. I told the bagger, "Thank you for your cooperation," and said it with a smile. I pushed my cart the seven or eight feet from the register to the open doorway. I neither stole food, nor did anyone accuse me of any crimes. I drove home and put away the groceries.

Ed walked in the door, and I cried because I hadn't cooked anything and had bought the wrong kind of light bulbs.

"All I wanted," I wailed, "was to do something good for the environment! I wanted to save some trees! I just wanted to shop the German way!"

A big part of why I'm okay now is that I have a husband who listens, who doesn't care that there's no food, who's perfectly happy to make his own supper, and who lets me cry when I need to. He's amazing. God is amazing, for blessing me with Ed.

So there's the most recent story of my cultural transition. We're approaching the one-year mark, and I think I'm doing pretty well. I'm aware of moments like this afternoon, I recognize them for what they are, and I process them. I don't fret about why this is happening to me or about whether or not this is ever going to go away. I know that eventually, because I have God, I'll be fine. No matter what happens. He has brought me through worse than this.

It's funny, though, how my major meltdown moments are connected with stores. This one at Crest, a previous one at Buy-for-Less. A few years ago on furlough, I had one at Wal-Mart, and in Chemnitz, I had one at IKEA (a sofa and a credit card were involved). That just goes to show what an integral part necessities-shopping is in culture.

And that's all I have to say about that. :o)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sony has recalled a new game for its Playstation3. "LittleBigPlanet" isn't even on store shelves yet, but it's being recalled because in some of the background music, the singer quotes two verses from the Qu'ran. This is offensive to Muslims, so the game is being recalled and the offensive content deleted before the game goes back to stores.

Fine. I have absolutely no problem with that.

But if the content had been something like, oh, I dunno...language offensive to Christians, or inappropriate use of God's name, or something of that sort...would anyone have even considered recalling the game?

I doubt it.

Heaven forbid we offend any particular group of people. Except Christians. They're free game, didn't you know?

2. Timothy 3:12.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

assistance, please; and a few good words

So, I'm entering my hand-written revisions of my first draft into the digital file of the novel. As I knew I eventually would, I have found a sample of my own handwriting that I cannot decipher:

"...if not for the pale furlges splotching her cheeks."

It might also be:

"...if not for the pale furtyes splotching her cheeks."


"...the pale furlyues splotching her cheeks."

I am perplexed. Personally, I think I like "furlyues" best--it appeals to my sense of whimsy. I might have to start using that one in normal blogversation.

Care to venture a guess? You can haz cybercookeez!

Also, I'd like to note that "mellifluous" and "flabbergasted" are two of my favorite words.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

in which i discover why i hate commercials

It's because I didn't grow up watching or listening to them.

Growing up in Germany, I watched AFN: the American Forces Network. For various and sundry reasons--most, I'm sure, having to do with copyrights and trade agreements and the Geneva convention or somesuch--AFN doesn't air commercials for products on the US market. AFN airs commercials for the US Armed forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force.

So, growing up, I never saw commercials for Cheerios and Windex and Chevy and Atari. (Aye, I hearken back to the '80s, y'all.) Now that I'm an adult, I feel that most TV commercials do little more than insult my intelligence. That probably makes me a snob, but c'est la vie. I can't think of one product I own as a result of seeing a commercial on television. My instinctive reaction to commercials is: "Go away. When I want something, I'll ask for it." (This is also my instinctive reaction to salespersons in department stores, but that is another rant and shall be ranted another time.)

Come to think of it, since I grew up watching info-spots for military service, it's a wonder I didn't join the Army or something. Of course, they wouldn't have taken me anyway, what with the arrhythmia and all. Anyway, here are some of the "jingles" from *my* childhood. You other TCKs out there, feel free to chime in! ;o)

Be all that you can be!
Find your future in the Army!
We're looking for a few good men.
The few. The proud. The Marines.
You shoulda had a sponsor.
Practice good OP-SEC.
Fly Space-A.
Report fraud, waste, and abuse.
Dial 1-1-0. A Polizei emergency team will respond when you need it.
Be a designated driver.
Visit your Recreation Center.
No "jingle" per se, but there were the warnings about suspicious briefcases or packages that might be bombs.
How to marry a local national.
Follow the chain-of-command.
Don't accept gifts from subordinates.
Life. Be in it.
Assorted food-pyramid spots.

Oh, and don't even get me started on some of the random kids' shows on Saturday mornings! Jem & the Holograms, Bravestar, Galaxy Rangers....some great ones like The Electric Company, Big Blue Marble, 3-2-1 Contact....ahh, those were the days. ;o)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

why you don't have enough money...and more important things

I just read this great quote about financial wisdom, so I thought I'd share it here:

"While your job doesn't necessarily need to be your dream job, you need to enjoy it. If you choose a job you don't like just for the money, you'll likely spend all that extra cash trying to relieve the stress of doing work you hate."
--Jeffrey Strain
"10 (More) Reasons You're Not Rich"

I believe this is one reason so many people

shop to make themselves feel better
buy stuff they don't need
own stuff they never use
want more and more stuff
have credit card debt
can't get rid of their stress
feel as though they're stuck in a life they don't want

God built certain skills, talents, abilities, and passions into each of us. I believe that most humans do things with their lives that don't accord with their skills, talents, abilities, and passions. And I believe that's why so many people are so miserable (aside, of course, from the fact that many don't have God in their lives in the first place): They have chosen a life that doesn't correspond with what God has designed into them individually.

What are your dreams? What are your passions? Whatever they are, God has built them into you, and he has provided you with right ways to follow them. (*Right* by his definition, not according to human standard.) He has created you in his image: He followed his passions by creating the universe and all the diverse life in it, he wants you to follow your passions, too.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

important kilometerstone

Ten years ago right now, Ed and I were sitting in Chili's (for my German readers: it's a sort of Tex-Mex restaurant), eating supper. We had just left our wedding reception and gone to our hotel, only to realize that we'd had nothing to eat but cake and punch since lunch. (It would be years, however, before we realized that we were poets and didn't know it.) Figuring that the rest of the, er, evening would go better if we had something to eat, we took refuge at Chili's--Ed in his tux, I in my blue evening gown.

It's weird to think that we've been married ten years. I don't feel old enough to have been married ten years! I remember being a teen and thinking that people who'd been married this long seemed really old--not in a decrepit sense, but so much wiser and more sophisticated than I.

I guess I don't feel wise or sophisticated enough to have been married ten years.

Whatever that means. ;o)

It hasn't been ten years of so-called "wedded bliss." I don't believe such a thing exists. We've had our troubles, our infuriatings, our upsets, our hair-rip-outs. There've been times neither of us was happy.

Such is marriage.

Is it worth it?

Beyond doubt, it is.

Last Sunday, Rob preached a sermon about marriage, and he said something that I think might be the most significant statement about human relationships I have ever heard:

God designed marriage not so much to make us happy as to make us holy.

Marriage has taught Ed and me patience, self-sacrifice, respect, mercy, compassion, honor, courage, exhilaration, commitment. Perhaps we could have learned these elsewhere--and perhaps not. Perhaps God knew that we needed each other and our shared experiences in order to learn these things.

And there's more to learn. There are more *new* things to learn (especially if/when we have kids!). We're not finished--we've barely scratched the surface, chipped the tip of the iceberg, shaved the top layer off the cliche. ;o)

Ten years is but a small step (my grandparents celebrated 68 this August!). I hope and pray that God will bless us with at least ten more years of life, so that we can take another step. Another ten after that, another step. I'm thankful that Ed will be at my side for as many steps as God wants us to take.

I love you, honey!