importance of sequence

I am indeed in Stuttgart, Germany. I have been here for roughly 48 hours now, and have actually seen quite a bit, either directly walking or various aerial perspectives from higher elevations. My friend who is hosting me described the landscape of Stuttgart as similar to San Francisco. (She would know since she is a U.S. expat.) Anyway, it is a very green (many km of parks and vineyards within the metro city), and hilly, and abnormally (so I've been told) wet and chilly for August.

Yesterday, after I wandered my way to a church (for what we thought was a church the night before was in fact not), and so I followed the sound of church bells until I found myself inside a worshipping community (and was only 10 minutes late). By 1pm ish, the two of us left on a "walk". 7 hours and 20,500 steps later we returned home to lovely chili dinner. Our walk was almost entirely in green spaces. The only city site we explored that day was a monument garden museum that collected rubble in Stuttgart from the war. There were sculptures, tombstones, columns, and entablatures from 1500s into the 20th century; some really beautiful craftsmanship. Oh, and we did pause to eat some wurst and lintel soup and pommes (french fries). Quite a lovely day really. And then I attempted to understand a German TV mystery show (I guessed the wrong murdered).

Today looked very different. One, it's really cold. Okay, cool. But for a south Texan girl when a cold rain is falling heavily while I am walking about without an umbrella, it's pretty cold. In any case, today I wanted to get mein neu Handy (my new mobile phone for Germany). I was there twice, and it didn't happen. Apparently there is a sequence to these things when moving to a new country, and I am completely ignoring the laid out steps.

So let's say getting a mobile phone is step F (it probably should be lower in the alphabet, but oh well). Well, so apparently the mobile contract has to be tied to a German bank account. So off I went to the new first step. I now have a German account ... with some money in it (but I need to wire more over, soon). But when setting up the account, I discovered the bank wanted to know my visa residency number. But I haven't done that yet either because before that I have to register with Stuttgart. Anyway, I have to go back to the bank in a few days. So back I went to O2, my almost mobile phone provider. We went through all the contract info, everything was signed, SIM card in my possession. And then as my info was processing, I was told they could not accept me yet and had to put everything on hold because nothing shows that I am actually in Germany yet.

So after being so hopeful, tomorrow I need to wade through different bureaucracies to first get health insurance then to register in Möhringen, where I am actually living, (you can't be official without proof of medical insurance), then back to Stuttgart to get my full residency visa. And finally, I should be able to have a mobile phone. All this for a phone. Well, these things have to be completed soon anyway. And I am praying things work out. Especially when I begin every conversation with "Guten Morgen/Tag. Sprechen Sie Englisch bitte?" So far people have been very helpful, which makes the process seem less chaotic. I just want to get all this done before class begins.


flying drama

I have arrived in London! (minus my checked bag and cell phone) ... with just a bit of drama.

The flight to Boston was delayed hour and a half. I had 2 hours scheduled before my international flight to Dublin. That meant 1/2hr upon arrival at the gate to departure. At some point while rushing off the plane, trotting down the corridors, taking a bus to the international terminal, and re-going through security, I lost my cell phone. In any case, I got on my international flight just 10min. before they closed the gate. So I'm pretty sure that's where my bag failed to make the journey across the ocean. But none of that really matters because I can't use my cell phone here and I've packed everything for the week of holiday into my carry-on.

So all is well. I've either been in an airport or on a plane for 20 hours now. It feels good to stretch out in my hotel room. Now it's time to tour about the city. And undoubtedly get a little lost. Fist stop: the area around St. James Park; then the Thames River.


heading over the pond

This last week has been a whirlwind of preparations and running around. So much so that I can't wait to get a "good" rest on my flights (first to Boston, then to London). I do not know how many different plans we had to make with all the changes and things not working out. But it all will work out, one way or another.

I have been in this planning phase so long that it just feels natural to be finally flying out. I've worked out an itinerary for my two days in London, two days in Paris, the train rides between the two, my arrival into Stuttgart, the shipping of my luggage, studying London's Tube map and Paris' Metro map, where I'm eating, where I'm sleeping, financing and housing and registering for the University, canceling insurances and bills and leases and memberships, saying goodbyes, and everything else it takes to move to a different county. I probably would be more excited, but in fact, I'm simply tired. I'm sure when I arrive in Europe (at 8am their time; 2am CST), it will finally click that I am no longer in the U.S. of A., and this major new step in my life has truly begun. Until then, guten Tag und guten Nacht.



I seem to be having a rough go at this complete packing away/giving away thing that I find myself in.

I tend to live somewhat frugally with objects. I don't have much furniture because I didn't need it, and it's harder to be mobile and move residences every year or so (since I like change) when there is bulk. I have a twin bed, a small 2-drawer dresser, end table, floor lamp, filing cabinet, rug, and card table. The only chairs I had were camp chairs and I already gave those away. My problem comes into play when packing up to be flying friendly - which means take most of my clothes and shoes, some small sentimental objects, and 2 or 3 books/journal and give the rest away knowing that I will, once in Germany, go and buy those very same things that I just gave away. I have had some things for many, many years, and they function well still. It doesn't bode well with how I operate to buy a new something of what I already own.

And I still have this inner dialogue debating if this really is a permanent move out of the U.S. for good or is it an extended leave of absence. This is a very important distinction, you see. One means get rid of everything not coming with me because I will set up life on some other point on the globe. However, if it's the latter, why not hold onto a few things that I can reclaim into service after my up-coming 2-year stint (like my motorcycle and a dish set I bought a couple years ago). I feel in my gut the finality of the move, not really to return except to visit, but what do I know. My crystal ball has never shown anything except crystal.

And to compound to the dilemma, I am a good last minute packer. Before departing for India, I stayed up all night because I didn't start until the night before my morning flight ... and ended up doing a fun 4am Walmart run to get last minute items. But my current plans don't allow for that kind of procrastination. I am suppose to be packing for my trip to Germany. ok, great. But how am I suppose to also pack for a weekend trip to visit family and a week long stay at my sister's house? So I've decided to mock pack like I am just leaving the country now, make sure everything fits, then unpack what I need for this weekend. And then once again unpack, wash clothes, and re-pack when my flight is closer.

So in summation, ich finde dass schwierig. But I'm not complaining. This is a way cool time of fantastic change in my life, and all this is just details.



I had a discussion with a friend this morning about the end of things and good-byes. (It must be my theme song stuck on repeat). We came to the conclusion that it isn't really about the good-bye or even that things are changing. It's the fact that it's a period.

It is a definite end to something - a thought, a rhythm, an era. Once you put the period after a word, it becomes a last word and you must start a new sentence ... and sometimes a new page. She was saying that periods are like when your kids leave for college. There's no turning back. They are no longer kids cuddling in your arms. Yes, they can return home, but it's never the same. It's the end of something.

The good thing though is that periods aren't the end of the story. It's easy to begin a new thought or a new chapter. Just put pen to paper and make a stroke.

Why are we so against periods? Is it that fear of starting something new and we don't know where it will lead? Is it the angst of closing out something old and familiar unable to ever return to that moment?

I don't think I mind periods. I would rather not live on the period - that place in flux after the end and before the beginning. It's that transition point that something inside me yearns to continue on. I much prefer the hope of the next thought, the next chapter. I get depressed and confined when I'm in the midst of a run-on sentence as well. I desire change and newness of place, of perspective, of being. Maybe that's why I love God's promise that we are being made new everyday. It's not a done deal and then live stagnate for the ages. He is forever perfecting His beauty within us. And the fact that there is purpose and direction in change thrills me.

It gives me confidence to make the next stroke and see where I end up.

bis dann

I have discovered something: I am not a fan of good-byes. Well, that's not quite right. This is hardly a new discovery, so I'll go with a rediscovery of a well worn hat.

I have actually been quite cryptic and evasive with many people for the last several weeks about my last days on this continent. The different circles I travel in provide a varied timetable of leave-taking, and, well, since I don't like good-byes I hesitate telling people the exact time that I will last see them.

Well, maybe there is where my issue is. I don't like the idea of "the last time." I mean, who knows. I don't. I barely can figure out what tomorrow might look like, and I now have a very general idea what I will be doing for the next two years, but after that? Who knows. So this finality thing could really be not-so-final after all.

So, sorry for those who will not get a good-bye from me in person. But you know me. I am much more for the quiet exits anyway.

[Second] So, I have decided to go with the German phrase "bis dann." Bis später. Bis bald. They all mean the same thing. "See ya later." Now, don't get me wrong. I don't fly out of this country for another 2 1/2 weeks, but don't expect to see much of me.

I have a couple of days to pack, shed everything that is not coming with me or holds significant emotional value, and move out of my apartment. Then it's road trippin' time to Abilene, TX to hang out for a couple of days with my grandma, uncle, aunt, cousins, etc. Then down to the gulf coast to spend 1 1/2 week with my sister just enjoying each other's company ... and taking care of whatever business is left on my pre-departure check list.

All in all, I'm stoked. And I don't do good-byes ... or "how are you?" but that's for another time.