Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ahoy, There!

So. Blogging. Right then.

Anyone who knows me knows that I find it hard to stay consistent with writing stuff – ask my roommate Emily or penpal Julie. >.< Letters, stories…and now apparently blogs. In my defense, my Internet has been messed up the last week or so: I ran out of data, tried to buy more and bought the wrong “pack” (went through it in ten minutes, what the heck?) and I’ve decided pretty much to rely on Starbucks for my Internet connection. Besides, they’ve got amazing hot chocolate. :D

But really, I ought to have been writing up entries as I went and posting them when I could. So – sorry. You get one big cumulative summary rather than a bunch of entries.

Mainly, we’ve been getting back into the swing of things around here. When last I wrote, Anna and the bitties were still gone, but they came back last Wednesday and Anna’s mum (Frau Voigt) came too. The crèche was still closed until Monday, though, so we spent a few days chasing the bitties around and trying to wear them out all day long. :D There was one night last week where the kids were running around the house, chasing each other and giggling, and Anna, Frau Voigt and I were all sitting in a line on the couch. We’d been out and about all day long, and it was nearly eight. In unison, we all heaved a massive, tired sigh – then looked at each other and burst out laughing. How two small kids can manage to drain the energy from three adults is beyond me – I’m half convinced that kids are some sort of vampiric breed that suck away an adult’s energy and use it themselves. It seems a logical explanation. :D

I’m now officially a resident of Frankfurt and of Germany and have the paperwork to prove it. On Thursday, Anna and I went to this corpse-gray government building (dark and hot because Germans believe in conserving energy to the point that most office buildings don’t even have air conditioning, and no one turns on the lights until it’s dark out) for the interview that was to determine whether or not I got to stay in the country after my 90 days expired.

I was rather stressed – this interview also was to determine whether or not I had to retake the German language test. I took it in March (had to go all the way to Chicago over spring break. Went with my mom and grandpa – it was an absolute blast) but failed at the time, and while my German is definitely improving, I’m still nowhere near “proficient.” On a scale of one to ten, I think I’m probably a four. Maybe a five. So I was rehearsing all of these phrases and things to say in my interview so they’d know I was trying and wouldn’t make me take the test.

 And then the lady hardly even looked at me. I was surprised, rather relieved, and maybe a tiny bit disappointed. But I’m not complaining – we were in and out of there with my papers in less than thirty minutes. I said on Facebook that I don’t know if it counts as an interview if they don’t actually ask you anything, but on the whole I was relieved. So I’ll keep taking my language courses and I don’t have to worry about getting kicked out of the country because I can’t speak the language well enough.

I have to wait another six weeks for the work visa papers to go through, but I’m a registered resident, I have my monthly go-anywhere-in-the-city train pass, and I got my library card. I feel like I’m actually here – not just visiting for a while.

Of course, I’m pretty homesick some days. Not just for familiar faces and places, but for weird little things – like hearing English in normal conversation in the street. And free wifi nearly everywhere you go. Midwestern architecture (whatever that actually is…). And tacos. I’m absolutely craving Taco Bell, which doesn’t even exist here. There is Pizza Hut, though, and I broke down the other day and bought a slice of cheese pizza.
It was amazing. Like manna from Heaven. It was the first thing I’ve tasted (or smelled) since I’ve been here that felt absolutely 100% right. Not that other things haven’t been good, but sometimes having everything All New, All the Time can be exhausting. Next time I get that desperate, I’m going to get a McDonald’s cheeseburger and see if I can’t cure the homesickness instead of making it worse. LOL

Another thing I miss is chapel service from school. Weird, I know – almost everyone else I know literally counts the Sundays until they don’t have to go to chapel anymore, but I really loved chapel and I miss it. The church I’ve been going to is nice, but it’s not the same. It feels very…temporary. Like when you go on a mission trip and have church services in the park instead of at the church. This is done deliberately, and is a conscious choice on the part of the church, they’ve explained. Their heritage is that of a church for soldiers and temporary residents, and they embrace the idea of being “strangers in a strange land” and that this world is not our home. Which is great, and I can appreciate it.

But part of what I loved about chapel service was the permanency of it. We recited creeds that the Church has shared for generations. We sang songs that have been sung by thousands of Christians through hundreds of years. Even the chapel building had a solidity to it that was reassuring and comforting. When semesters changed and people graduated and work stations shifted and dorms moved – chapel was reliable. I cherished that more than I realized, and the almost make-shift feel of this church is…What’s a good word? Uncomforting? Disheartening? I enjoy the worship and I learn from the service, but there’s no sense of eternity – it all feels very here-and-now. Which has its purpose too, but… yeah. It’s not what I’d prefer.

Of course, I haven’t even been in the last month. For two Sundays I was gone (or packing to go) to Bavaria/Austria, then I was sick, and this Sunday I got from my train station to the one where I change trains to go to church only to discover that there was no train. The line was shut down for the day. Since I didn’t have money for a taxi and it was far too far to walk, I ended up just going home. Next week, I want to try the other English church in the area, but I need to find out about a ticket – it’s beyond what my in-the-city pass will cover, so I’ll have to buy something additional.

Let’s see – what else has been going on? I went to the fleamarket on Saturday, and got two new sweaters and two scarves, so I should be set for the winter. Or – as soon as I buy a coat I will be. But it hasn’t been cold enough to need one yet.

Actually, I should probably finish this up. I have a dozen other things I need to write today – letters, chapters of The Bell Tower, etc – and only a couple more hours free until the kiddies are out of the crèche. So this will be all for today (and I’ll probably post this tomorrow, from Starbucks) and I’ll try to write more consistently.



  1. To be honest, I'm jealous of your church experience, and even told our church that on Sunday night. To catch of glimpse of heaven in the sense of "every tribe and tongue." But I know what you mean about stability and comfort. Glad things are going well overall. We love you and miss you!

  2. Glad to hear that you admit it. I mean, you are a horrible penpal, but still a wonderful person. And it's great to hear more about your month.

  3. Hi LoriAnn,

    I've been enjoying your blog these past few months and I'm glad you're getting to experience all of these new things. Good news--they are building a new Taco Bell in Hollister next to McDonald's :)

    I'd like to ask your permission to use part of this blog entry for a devotional at church. The paragraphs where you describe missing chapel are beautifully written. May I share that with a few people next month? We've been talking about the direction of our church and your words seem most appropriate.

    Danke schoen!
    Gwen Simmons

  4. I don't mind at all, Ms Simmons -- glad to be of service. :D Hello to all at the library!


Greetings from the Magpie! Feel free to leave a comment -- ask a question, leave a note -- but I reserve the right to delete untoward messages.