Monday, May 30, 2011

God, isaiah and volleyball

This is going to sound silly, but Saturday when we were setting up the net for volleyball, someone said something to me--I can't quite remember, possibly cort, the word for tent. And as I stretched out the rope to drive the stake into the ground, I couldn't help myself, and in some incoherent mix of Romanian and English I found myself attempting to exclaim: Isaiah 54! I don't think anyone was actually listening to me anyway, but suddenly this verse came to mind:

"Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes."

I love this chapter, and God has brought me back again and again to it, especially to this verse. A change these last months have brought in me is that I do hold back, a lot. And so I'm praying to understand better, to live it, to not hold back. And am thankful for unexpected ways and places the Spirit is working.

Imagine: stretch your curtains wide, do not hold back. Imagine: strengthening your stakes, digging in, and perhaps this looks different than I ever expected it would. But to be certain, it is good, it is wrapped up in a God who cannot be shaken.

Anyway, volleyball? Who would have guessed :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011


“And I added another resolve—to be as wide open toward people and their need, as I am toward God. Windows open outward as well as upward! Windows especially open downward where people need most.”
–Frank Laubach

Saturday, May 28, 2011

tension on the autobuz, flashbacks to the dirty south

Today we went back for round two of volleyball with much success, without getting rained out. It was a good day, and unexpected for a handful of reasons. There is a relief that comes with entrusting things to God, even while it is also hard, and it always surprises me, every single time. I see that I shrink his goodness to fit into my own hopes. But to walk away from even those hopes--I realize that he is my hope, my good Father in whom there is freedom. And it is sweet.

But this was hardly the most unexpected thing that happened today. On the way to volei, I took the bus. There seems to be an unwritten rule here that if you are on public transportation, you're relatively quiet, mind your own business and generally just wait to get where you're going. It's very subdued. Mostly people just seem to be in their heads, in their own worlds. Sometimes people talk on the phone, yes, and every once in a while if the bus slams on brakes, someone will yell at the driver. But on the whole, we are homogeneous, straight-faced people

And I don't know what it is, but it seems to me that people get tense quick when other people don't follow those rules. Up till now I've been writing about (ethnic) Romanians, but if there's something else that's generally true, it's that Gypsies are boisterous people and I can't imagine them at all conforming to these supposed rules of travel.

So on the way to the park, a group of Gypsies got on, a girl who couldn't have been more than seventeen or eighteen and four filthy kids, at least two of which were hers (not assuming--she said this to one of the other kids). And the whole time they were being loud and rambunctious, hitting each other, laughing across the bus and shouting. And you could see the Romanians around them getting more and more uncomfortable. The girl had a stroller and was blocking the back entrance and there was a man beside her who kept getting hit by the door because there wasn't much extra room. They got off pretty quickly, but immediately another group got on, mostly teenagers and kids. Also really loud and rowdy. At this point you could see the Romanians around them squirming. But no one said anything. They just gave them sidelong glances (or often just looked at them, as Romanians tend to do with one another in public transit), sighed loudly, adjusted their bags. It's the most uncomfortable I've ever seen a group of people here.

Sitting there, I realized two things. One, these people have never been to the dirty South. And two, I've seen this before. I remember I must have been thirteen or fourteen, I don't know. My mom and brother and I had gone to Golden Corral one Sunday afternoon. The place was surprisingly empty for that time of the day/week, except for us and a group of white middle-aged people probably just come from church. And halfway through the meal, a group of mostly kids and a few adults comes in. Important to the story: group number two is black. And the kids were all over the place, running up and down to the buffet, one little girl with mashed potatoes in her fro, yelling back and forth at each other like it was their living room. And the group of white people were getting visibly more frustrated, looking at those dirty kids running wild, the clean white ladies sighing and looking at their husbands like, do something. But again, that's the thing. No one said, hey, do you mind be a little quieter? We'd like to enjoy our meal. Meanwhile the girl with the mashed potatoes in her hair had spilled soda down her front and her brother was sprawled out on the floor laughing at her. Somebody's baby somewhere was crying and their mother was hollering from the end of the table to quit acting a fool. The white people kept huffing and puffing and eventually just left, saying I'll-let-you-guess to one another on the way out.

Now if you're from the sort of South I grew up in, you're used to chaos. And so people could do pretty much anything short of shouting through a bullhorn two feet from me without really bothering me. And besides, if you like your peace and quiet on the bus, yes it is annoying to have a smelly little kid accidentally elbow you, but he probably weighs forty pounds and your day will go on. So what do you do? It's cultural, 100%. I don't want to generalize more than where it's actually true, but ethnic Romanians and Gypsies are worlds apart culturally, and the straight-laced white people in Golden Corral lived in a different world than those unruly black kids. (Yes, these things do not apply to every Romanian/Gypsy/white American/black American everywhere. Clearly. Besides, we're talking cultures, not ethnicities, and you'll easily have fifty cultures for one ethnicity and maybe vice versa.) I'm not saying there should be barriers, but it is the simple truth that there are cultural divides and they are worth talking about, particularly if you hope to bridge them.

Now it's easy to say, hey I'm a white American who loves white Jesus who loves red and yellow black and white hey free the Gypsies! But it's more nuanced than that. I love culture, I think there is value in every culture. And I have my own cultural background that is surely different from yours, and yes, sometimes it clashes with other ones. That doesn't mean I deny mine or yours or say whose is better--it means I recognize it, try to understand it and then get to work at what it looks like to love in a way that honors God.

So what to do?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

white fluffy thing season

In Wilmington we have a fifth season called "Yalluh Pollen Season." In the brief month or so that resembles Spring--I have since learned what real Spring actually is, and I don't think we have it there--there are two weeks wherein the entire city is turned yellow. All the pollen from everything comes out at once so every car has a layer of it, the sidewalks, the street. And then if it rains, you get these really toxic-looking streams and puddles everywhere.

And so what a surprise for me when I learned that here in Bucuresti there is a similar fifth season, one I have been calling "White Fluffy Thing Season." It turns out the white fluffy things are actually called puf de plopi, or poplar fluff. I've never seen anything like it in my life. I wrote this to my friend a few days ago:

I wish you could see this white fluffy thing season. I was gonna tell you about it last night--it really is beautiful. Right now I'm writing at my desk and the sun is shining through my window on my legs and these little shadows kept floating across them. At first it scared me, I thought it was a bug or something and then I looked out the window and four stories up are all these white fluffy things floating around, so thick I swear it looks like snow falling. You'd like it, I think. It happens when you're out and about, one minute it's summer and the next the air is full of them.

And it is probably the prettiest thing I've seen in Bucuresti. Unfortunately it appears that I may be allergic to it. Maybe not--I've never had allergies before. But it's wonderful to watch.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

saturday: weird turned wonderful turned disastrous

I've written about it a ton already: this impatience with the Romanian language, this longing to be able to really engage in it. There are some days when it comes easily, when I could talk all day long without a problem. And then there are others when it won't come at all. I'm thinking of last night, when all I wanted to do was have fun with my friends, get to know them better. But I couldn't speak at all. Every time I tried, the Romanian would not come. It was enough to just listen. Someone even asked me--I just about died--if I speak. As in, Sara, do you talk? It's a melodramatic example, but ask a guy in a wheelchair watching a soccer game, do you not play soccer? How badly he wants to! (The example is ridiculous because a guy in a wheelchair clearly has at least some obstacles to playing soccer, whereas who knows, if you don't know me it's easy and totally fair to assume that maybe I just am that quiet.)

Now I think there are several things going on here in general that just so happened to sync up last night in a most inopportune way. First, being an introvert, even one who loves hanging out with people, predisposes you to getting drained really quickly in this sort of situation.

Second, it seems much easier to talk with people one-on-one. The dynamic there is completely different, and in the instance that you have maybe intermediate language skills, with a little bit of conversational know-how and leading questions, you can get the other person talking. This is a win-win because you get to know the other person and it is without the stress of having to immediately (without thinking) respond, while engaging. And people like to be listened, to be heard, I think.

Anyway, the rhythm is just different. The group dynamic is another beast altogether. It's fast, it bounces back and forth, it requires the ability to make small talk, witty banter, all that--harder than you'd expect in not-your-language. But all this back and forth, it's enough just understanding all of it. There's lag here. You're understanding things five seconds after they're said and by then it's onto something different. Imagine a lagging computer, everything bogged down by a slow system and too many programs running at once. It feels this way so often, like when the audio is a few seconds behind the video, which explains my very passive response to a creepy dude in the park yesterday when normally I might have karate-chopped him. Maybe. "I'ma slap you in yo' eye and see how you like it!"

In the end what you get is straight-up exhaustion. I hate to go back to the computer metaphor, but it locks up. Meanwhile, by the end of the night, everything I wanted to do I couldn't and ended up so withdrawn and disengaged and awkward I feel like I ought to apologize to everyone there. And these are people who are patient with me, these are my very understanding friends!

The logic balks, it says, I understand this, it is on its way to being fixed. True that I learn more every day. But the question is of now, of being tired from it. Today I had to ask a friend if I could just speak in English and nearly started crying, in fact would have had it not been for a well-timed interruption. I'm not really an emotional person (despite what the blog might lead one to believe), but I do know this is normal. The question is what to do--or will I have to wait it out?

I'm in the park writing in my notebook now, watching and thinking and praying, as has become my habit. I want to have these conversations, can't wait for it to come easily. So tomorrow, God-willing, I will jump back in.

p.s. if any of you actually read this, sorry for the rant. I hope if you'll ever be immersed cross-culturally/ this will help to prepare you for some of the craziness and frustrations. Or that if you are now, it's encouraging somehow--we shall press on! And if you are/have: how did you deal with it?

p.s.s. just realized i never made it around to the context of the title. In summary, my day yesterday: some creepy dude tried to pick me up in a park (the weird), we got caught in an epic storm, complete with Wilmington-worthy flooding of the intersection at Tineretului and running across Bucuresti barefoot and up to our ankles in water (the wonderful), played Settlers with awesome people and laughed and ate olives (more wonderful). And then system crash (see: above).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

God as a mountain (mighty and unending)

(This is one I wrote while I was with OSCPi at Piatra Craiului.)

We're at Piatra Craiului right now, and let me tell you, there are few other places I've ever been as pretty. We're the only thing around besides trees and rocks (and maybe some bears) for miles and miles. In front of the cabana are these big mountains, snow still on them. And behind us are these huge white rock mountains that jut straight upward. It's no use trying to describe them.

During worship this morning someone read from Psalm 19: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." It's exactly that.

I was thinking about how when people talk about God's creation and say it's impossible to see it and not believe in God--well, I have always had a hard time relating to that, honestly. I don't really know how to say. As if the mountains or the stars were the ultimate proof of God, that if you had doubts or questions, his creation would fix it up quick. To be fair, that is certainly over-simplifying the approach I'm referring to.

All these things--the sky and enormous mountains--none of it proved to me there was a God. It did help me get there, and as C. S. Lewis says, it gave me words for things I'd otherwise have no meaning for (glory, fear of God). I remember very clearly one particular moment in really giving my life to the Lord (becoming a Christian for me was more of a process than an altar-call decision), and I was looking at the stars, praying, had just recently begun to understand about Jesus, and all of a sudden it occurred to me that it was real, all this business about God, it really is real. Not that I was actively doubting it before--that would come later--although I wondered a lot, had tons of questions, but then there was this overwhelming sense that it was real and true, and joy like you wouldn't believe.

And the stars I was looking at through a gap between furniture above me (we were moving, and I was in the bed of the truck underneath it all--not enough room in the cab)--there was suddenly so much more depth to them. I don't know how to explain it more than that. I think I saw God in his creation before I knew it was him in the sense that I experienced awe and wonder, but until I knew him I didn't know it was him I was seeing. With some people I know it is the inverse, that a mountain too big to climb led them to God. And so it is. I t
hink he brings each of us to him differently.

But the questions remain, and I think about the students who have so many of them. And I know that I can point to these lunging mountains, to the places in my life where he has changed me, again and again to my God wherever he is made known. But I must point to him. I am reminded that if I don't, even the rocks will cry out. But the questions--it's a wrestling with them, and how do you explain to a student that the vastness of a mountain is nothing next to the vastness of God when what they see behind it is empty sky? If eternity leads to a wide emptiness and not to life, then what? How? I think at some point it is only G
od's work--but what a blessing it is to be a part of it now.

Yesterday when we were hiking we climbed to the base of those huge white rocks, the ones that jutted straight upward. They're crazy-looking even from here, from a place where I can behold a stretch of them at once. But there, right at the place where they came up out of the mountain against nearly dark-blue sky, well how do you describe it? I got dizzy and nearly fell down the very steep incline beside us. And I could only see this one small part at a time, no matter how much I looked. I had to keep craning and opening my eyes and still it was impossible.

You think about this massive thing that from far
away you can frame all of and even miles and miles away it still looks enormous and then you come up close and it's just beyond comprehending as a whole. My mind brings this to God: the closer you get to him, the bigger he is? The more there is to know? It's easier to comprehend from a distance, more like the idea of God as opposed to knowing him, but as you get closer--well yes, you see the details better but I could walk around and climb those rocks the whole of my life, touching the crevices with my hands and still I wouldn't know it all. And even if I could, I'm still only really understanding in any given moment parts of the whole. And imagine God as a mountain--surely he would be bigger than these.

(Here I got chased inside so we could start the talks for the day--b
ut the questions keep going. How much of our God there is to know! How unending it is!)

(Sorry for the low quality on the picture--swiped it off of facebook.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a curious behavior in bucuresti

And by that I am referring to a certain inclination toward different degrees of nakedness. So far it seems to be mostly limited to the parks. The first thing I noticed was guys who would go find somewhere to pee (sorry!) in broad daylight. In both cases of course their backs were to me, but they were definitely close enough to me to have called over their shoulder. The second guy was the craziest though. I was walking down one of the parts of Herastrau that's alongside the road, and there in the middle of the street on the median with the (really skinny still very young) trees, his back to me but his other side most definitely facing the other half of traffic was a guy who apparently either couldn't hold it or...

Anyway, no surprise that people here would be more comfortable/open with this sort of thing, if I can generalize far enough to associate Spain with Romania. Two years of Spanish professors and a semester with one especially crazy one taught me that. And no worries, I come from the great, wide south where everything is bootleg and out in the open and unpredictable. It would seem I have this to thank for the ability with which ma descurc, as the Romanians would say. To manage, or maybe more loosely, to roll with it, "I got this."

So the eight naked kids playing in the fountain at Tineretului was mostly just amusing. And it seems it must be perfectly normal as no one seemed in the least bit concerned as they chased each other up the sidewalk naked as they came.

However there is another curiosity in this park. He's an old man who has a couple of friends, all of whom like to lay out in nothing but their underwear, clothes hung in the tree nearby. I've walked past three times now in the last few weeks and every time he is there, and the most recent time, let me tell you, the man was dark. A little observation reveals that he doesn't like to sit still too long. Every so often he gets up and does what can only be described as calisthenics. I'm telling you, this sort of thing (all of it, not just the old man or the nakedness, mostly how strange and interesting people are) will keep me people-watching as long as I'm alive.

Monday, May 16, 2011

just for fun

A small sample of the crazy things one says when trying to learn Romanian (these being from the last week or two):

1. E puras. What? Yes, I said the same thing. E meaning is, puras meaning--poftim? Do what? I sat there and asked the person offering me the little bunny three times what puras is. I thought she meant it was made of puras. Turns out the word is iepuras, little rabbit. Makes sense.

2. Copiii vor pizza. The children want pizza. This one was at the camp I went to with the Pitesti students. A few of us were talking and started telling jokes. Now, I can understand way more now than the last time I was with them, meaning I can follow what's happening fine even if I'm not understanding every word. But jokes are still pretty much over my head. However I kept hearing the word pizza and they want (vor) right before it. And every so often I'd hear copiii. So when the joke was over and I wasn't laughing they asked me if I understood, I told them something about kids wanting pizza and then they laughed at me for about five minutes. The joke was really about:

Vulpita. A little fox! You know how the l sometimes sounds like an r (the tap, I mean), and vice versa? Tricky sometimes. And the u is so open, easily sounds like an o if you're tired.

3. Peste (as in pesh-te) and peste. One means fish and the other means over, as in peste-ntreg pamant, which means over the entire earth. Or fish-entire earth, if you mix it up. Which I do every single time. (You'll note that I didn't say which means which.)

4. And the best for last. I have one single American friend here and she doesn't speak Romanian which means I get to have a blast attempting to translate and communicate for her when we go out. Easy enough, most times. But we went to Herastrau the other day and she wanted to go out on the lake in the little paddle boats. And I had no idea what the word for boat was--or, I had learned it at some point and couldn't remember--but when I saw the word vaporas written on a sign near the boats I figured that was it. But for smaller ones, the paddle boats--what could it be? So I applied my logic (or rather, my ear) and decided that they must be called vapori mici.

Vapori mici. Yep. It's a wonder the people I asked didn't straight out laugh at me because it means small vapors. Four days later I found out that the word I was looking for is actually hidrobicicleta and what vapori mici really means. But this is a logical mistake! Vapori sounds plural because it really is!

In other news, language learning also teaches you to laugh at yourself! And you are provided ample opportunity. My language professor tells me I learn language like children and Africans--how Africans learn language I have no idea at all, but the part about children is encouraging. And you know children sound silly. But in the end, I've had people not realize I'm not Romanca until five minutes into the conversation (in which clearly he spoke much more than I did)--this happened the other night. So, getting there. Putin cate putin.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


"This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feelings for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment."
--C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Been thinking of this for the last several weeks. Anyway, I'd just as soon quote the whole essay. Definitely worth reading.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

following osceb's talk about love

Last night was hard. I don't know why. It comes all of a sudden, one can hardly expect it. But I found myself writing an email to my best friend and it's overwhelming, this longing to be with the people I miss, my beautiful friend, my brave brother. And all the people that made that city a home to me. Here the English falls short; missing them does not hold it all. Mi-e dor de ei.

At OSCEB last night the message was about love--not really romantic love, although the person speaking talked a bit about that in the beginning, but mostly what it means to love one another well. It was a really good talk, and he gave an example about how a small thing like his roommate not washing his dishes made it hard to love him. I thought about family, about all the people throughout college it was difficult to love, how difficult I made it for them to love me as well.

I think about the lessons in all this, how much God has taught me, how it is a hard-learned thing and one that leaves the proof of its passing. From 1 Cor. 13: "[Love] always perseveres." It is no wonder that in the Romanian translations you see "sufera totul." It brings to mind English's long-suffering, and then I realize that this is actually in that same chapter: "Dragostea este indelung-rabdatoare," which in my English Bible is written "Love is patient," but also translates as long-suffering. We talked about how God's love is unconditional, that it is not merited but then it doesn't depend on us.

Afterward, as a few of us walked back to the metro, I asked them what they thought about the message and it turned into a conversation about marriage. It always surprises women here when I tell them that for a while I didn't want to get married, even after assuring that I do want to now. And so I tried to explain--loving people this way is hard, you will most certainly hurt one another, how it seemed to me easier if it were just me and God, because then I'm the only sinful one in the relationship. And I still think it's true, but it finally occurred to me that this is in no way limited to marriage and so it is with all relationships. I must risk it, and it is good to do so. I want to, and certainly by now my God has given me many occasions to persist, to forgive. Once again my friend comes to mind, how we learned to double back and love one another when we were least lovable and in the end held out skinned knees, calloused hands, but open tender hearts, full of all hope. It's work, the kind that might harden the outside the way your muscles harden, but soften the inside, if you let it work right.

It's strange to not have that challenge here--it's always been so hard for me. But I don't know anyone well enough for that yet, am not close enough and it is true that proximity charges this sort of thing. Of course, there's always something. And I find that without this thing, here there are different things that try to pull me from God, that ultimately he uses to bring me more into him. His will is good, I know this, I hope in it.

Tomorrow the women of OSCEB are getting together and talking about what it means to be a godly wife and mother. And so I except there will be more conversations like this in the future. It's good to be able to have them a little better now. I'm reminded of the comparison between committing to my students here with commitment to marriage. Anyway, interested to see how it goes tomorrow, excited. And hopeful about the conversations to come!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

getting approached

So much on the mind right now and I wouldn't even know where to begin, so with the hope of more to come later in the week, working it out into words, here's a totally unrelated post about this thing that happens to me all the time.

It's starting to get crazy. I get approached all the time here, and when I say all the time I am not exaggerating at all. Nearly every day now and it's been happening since I got here. Usually it's in the metro, sometimes on the street. And most of the time it's been people asking for directions with the exception of last week, wherein I was asked three different times if I had a lighter.

The thing is, I do not draw attention to myself when I'm out in public. I blend in really well--Romanians think I am Romanian all the time, and even one the other day thought I was even after hearing me speak (which to me suggests she didn't hear me well, but...), Americans think I'm Romanian. To be fair, if I'm hanging out with people I'm really smiley and in that way I think my American-ness shows, but if I'm going across the city by myself, I'm as subdued and in my head as anyone else. The point is, the reasons that might immediately come to mind to explain this fall through in this case.

As an example, just today I went to pick up my permis de sedere (basically this is the ID that says I'm legal here and I get it instead of a visa stamp in my passport) and while waiting at Unirii, a woman came up to me and asked for the directions to the metro. Since the metro is right there and my Romanian is to the point where I can give directions no problem, I told her the way. And she was really friendly, thanking me and calling me draga (dear), even touching my arm. And then five minutes later another woman approached me and asked if I spoke English. She was from Holland, asked me if I was a Christian. Turns out she was with some group doing an outreach thing and we talked for a while about the sort of things two Christians talk about when they meet each other on the street.

And then on the way home someone in the metro asked for directions like they always do. The truth is that I don't mind at all and in fact I like to be able to help, to try to speak the language. I'm excited that I can finally do it, language-wise. I just don't know what the heck it is that makes them always come up to me--I'm not even from here! Oh and also, I'm always listening to music when they do. Not earbuds, but real headphones. It's not convenient. They have to interrupt me to do it. Again, no problems, but it appears there is something written on my face that says I know how to get anywhere you might ever wish to go. And that I have a lighter to support your smoking habit (sorry, friends, I think smoking is gross). And! This doesn't include the sort of approaching one either ignores altogether or cuts one's eyes at. I'm telling you. You would not believe.

This one I'm leaving open-ended. Taking bets on what the next new question will be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

surprise package

There's so much to write about from this weekend, but for now, three months to the day after moving here, and a two and a half hour trip in the rain:

I am blessed with some amazing friends back home, let me tell you. The dinosaur now sits above my head where I sleep and I am not ashamed to admit that, yes, I ate one of those bags of cheetos for lunch. It was glorious.

So if any of you ever read this, thank you for the letters and the snacks and one baller dinosaur. You all are wonderful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

may day!

I always associated those words (which in this case can only be written in caps, as in MAY DAY!) with bombardment or the like, once even waking up at five in the morning to run through the house shouting it. It's no doubt I was a weird kid, but it turns out it's not just the distress signal but an old communist holiday, something like labor day. Who knew?

But this 1 May did indeed come in with a bang, kind of. Lately I've been waking up between five and six in the morning before going back to sleep a little while longer, but this Sunday as I (was) woke(n) up I realized my bed was shaking. It happened really fast, but I remember putting my hand on the mattress to feel and thinking that specifically: is my--is my bed shaking?? And I heard something rattling so I looked toward the window to see if I could see anything and jumped out of bed to better feel, but by then I think it had stopped.

Right after, I went into the hallway and it turns out my roommate was up, too. I asked her if she'd felt anything and sure enough--cutremur, an earthquake, she said. I've read several different reports, but the one linked said it was a 4,9 so we're not talking about anything big at all. In fact, almost everyone I talked to slept through it. But it was the first one I've been through. The one thing I'm surprised about is that it didn't scare me--not because it was an earthquake, but because I woke up to my bed shaking. My bed shaking. In the dark, alone at night. If that isn't something straight out of some scary movie about haunted houses and all that, then I don't know what is, and that stuff is just straight-up traumatizing to me. When I say that one of the top three reasons to get married one day is not having to sleep alone in the dark (someone to check out the scary noises), I'm being totally serious.

Anyway, the next day my Romanian professor and I talked about it. Usually a good hour of the lesson is us talking about history or some other subject of interest and she told me about the big earthquake here in '77. She was on the tram so she didn't feel it, which one the one hand is understandable because generally public transit here is bumpy, and on the other I can hardly believe it because this particular earthquake was a 7,2. But all of a sudden the tram stopped, the electricity had stopped, and in the buildings they could see the lights swinging back and forth. And then later they saw people running out of the hospital, screaming and acting crazy, and they still had no idea what had happened. Eventually someone told them and as the tram kept going (public transit was apparently still running) and they got closer to downtown, they saw all the collapsed buildings. I can't even imagine--hurricanes, yes. Earthquakes? It's so foreign to me. But then I live here now, so we'll see.

We talked about how people reacted. She kept saying that it seemed, before they realized what had happened, like people were acting like wild animals, running into the streets screaming. So different from how they reacted in Japan, and then that turned into a discussion about how people responded versus how they did in New Orleans after Katrina. How much do socio-economics factor into things like this? Those kinds of questions. A fascinating conversation.

I'll tell you, though, it's a weird feeling. Probably every day I feel more shaking on the metro, but to be four stories up where everything is always still--actually I tried to go back to sleep before church, but every time my alarm went off (my phone was in the bed with me) the vibrating would wake me up and even though it wasn't nearly as strong, I kept thinking, is it another? Crazy stuff.