Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I seem to attract crazy people and crazy situations and general shenanigans. Meaning if it's unlikely to happen except once in a blue moon and it sort of defies reality with its weirdness, it will almost certainly happen to me.
A few mild examples (the crazier ones are just too crazy to believe): the first being that two years ago I got stuck hiding under a giant blanket on a really squishy couch (so that you couldn't tell anyone was there) because I was not, shall we say, having slept on that couch, dressed for guests. Anyway I was stuck because when I woke up there was a cable repair guy in my living room (no one else home but me) and I wasn't wearing pants. The kicker is that I had to be at work at 9, it was 830, and I laid there without moving for forty minutes while he worked (and it was hot, oh man), praying the alarm wouldn't go off so he wouldn't know I was there. Such is the sketchiness of our old neighborhood. Anyway the great part is that I didn't get in trouble for being late to work because how often does something like that happen?
Well, let me tell you how often. They're doing work on the side of our bloc right now. When I got back into Bucuresti, I saw that my blinds had been closed and remembered. But I opened them the next morning, and the following night I got back really late and just kind of collapsed into bed without thinking. So come 8 the next morning, I wake up because I hear someone knocking. Most of the time, as with this time, I sleep completely under the covers, including my head, so I peeked my head out to see if my roommate was knocking on the door. But instead I saw: a man standing outside my fourth floor window knocking on it. Which took a second to register. Because we're four floors up. But then I remembered the scaffolding, somehow managed to get out of bed with every blanket on it wrapped around me and shut all the blinds. Meanwhile homeboy outside is telling me he needs our electricity. Exit room. Roommate laughs at me. She already knows about these shenanigans and their frequent occurrence.
Then today I was in my room packing when all of a sudden I heard our front door open and close really really quietly. So I went to investigate, and there in the kitchen is my eighty-some year old neighbor, half her body leaned out the window. So I said buna ziua and she told me she was looking at what all the workers had done (she has a key). She then informed me she needed an onion, where were they, and I told her I wasn't sure we had any but they'd probably be in the kitchen closet. So next thing I know she is practically crawling around rummaging through all the stuff on the bottom. And I'm thinking, is she even gonna be able to get up?? But sure enough, she found the single onion hidden who-knows-where and shuffled back to the door, and as I told her I hoped she had a good day, she saw my feet. My bare feet on the kitchen floor.
Something about Romanians for those who don't know: they like to wear papuci, which are slippers or flip flops, and anyway you don't want to get caught (especially by older people) walking around barefoot. But I've always run around without shoes and can't seem to break the habit, especially in summer. And so began a scolding of righteousness and what could I do except put flip flops on immediately and say that I won't forget again. But she kept grabbing her stomach and then I realized she was telling me I was going to get a cold in my ovaries. Another thing you should know if you don't: here it is said that if you sit on a cold surface and you have lady parts, they will catch a cold (raceala) so you should never do that. Find a chair or something or stand. But I didn't realize that it was for being barefoot too. She's a nice enough old lady though, and I'm assuming that, like the guard in the park who told me to go home because I was sitting in the sun and it was strong, she was just looking out for me and my future babies.
Anyway, shenanigous. So it goes.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Because let me tell you, the fruit here is amazing. So glad to live in a place where you can get it fresh and cheap. And the really cool thing about it is that it actually comes in seasons here. You know, like fruit is supposed to do. First it was the strawberries, and then the cherries and the sour cherries. And when we got back to Bucuresti yesterday, all over the place were these giant piles of watermelons. I do mean big, big enough that I'm certain a kid could scale it. I'm not sure which fruit comes next although I'm looking forward to finding out, but I'm told that you start to crave the fruits alongside the times when they're in season.
As for last week, I ate my weight in visine, which I'm pretty sure are the sour cherries. So sitting at the table in Baile Herculane, having eaten probably twenty already--you can't stop eating them, they're so good--Mike walks by me and says:
"Be careful of the worms."
To which I replied: "...Poftiiiiim?"
And then someone explained to me how they usually have little worms in then. That one time they opened each one and every single one had a worm in it. That sometimes when they're selling them there's a sign over them that says: "Fara Carne," meaning without meat. Heh. Anyway, how do they know?
Well. For as many cherries as I ate this past week, I don't want to think about how many little worms might have been in my stomach. But, as another person with us told me with a wise and knowing nod, better not to think about it. After which I helped myself to more.
Monday, June 27, 2011
That said, when I get back and hopefully get my whacked-out computer fixed, I have some crazy stories like how my very mild-mannered coworker and I, the Romanian-as-a-second/third-language speaker had to go off on some guys on the train and also how, one night, something felt like a truck hit the house and the whole thing shook and we never did figure out what it was. And a whole ton more.
In the meantime, can't wait till that and writing about adventures in Germany...
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
--Public transportation. There are lots of reasons not to like this, like the fact that it's crowded and smelly and takes forever. But it's cheap (altogether I spend about $20 a month to get around the city with the metro and the bus) and at least in my experience it's reliable. And you actually get to experience the outside world this way--you don't pull up to the front of the building, walk ten feet and immediately you're back inside under fluorescent lighting again. You walk, you get rained on and dirt blown in your eyes and you breathe in pollution. This isn't a backwards way of saying the city sucks and so does its transit. It is worth appreciating. It seems to me if you want to live in a city, really live in it, use the public transport and walk around in it. You know it this way. You're not just in your 'convenient Lexus cages' (flashback to 2003, anyone?) or Popemobile (not hating, I don't want to see the Pope get shot either), but you are literally breathing in the city. Lots of fun metaphors come to mind, images like blood pumping through the body. Feeling like a Bucuresteana.
--The mountains. As always, it's no use at all trying to describe it. This country surprises you with how beautiful it is. I'm thinking of Piatra Craiului, those jagged rocks the color of white sand, how it was too big behold. Going back to Rasnov for a week in July and I can't wait. Clean air, cool night, all that good stuff.
--The fact that I haven't seen one single gun. Not wanting to get political here, but it's something I've appreciated. And besides, let's be honest, the fat-bellied Scorseze guards in the metro with their nightsticks? Any idiot can (and will) shoot a gun, but somehow the idea of beating the living daylights out of someone with a nightstick is way more intimidating.
--Also, Romanians, say what you want about the people here: there is common decency in this city too, and lots of it. It's a little thing but I see people helping women lift strollers into the bus all the time. Whether it's that we in the States are too afraid of being called sexist or getting sued, I didn't see much of it there. And there's generally more gallantry here--maybe it's just the circles I am in, because yes there are plenty of dirty obnoxious men who yell after you. To the gentlemen I say: you are appreciated!
--Volleyball on Saturdays! I'm not a great volleyball player--meaning I'm inconsistent and can serve like a baller but can't play the net--but it's good fun. I somehow manage to get hurt each week in a different way. A few weeks ago I got my head stepped on (when I played soccer I was the fall-down girl and it seems this has not changed) and last week a pretty solid individual stepped on my bare (dirty hippie) feet with his tennis-shoe-clad ones and by the end of the night it was so swollen and blue I couldn't put my shoe on. But again, a blast. Soon my court-side conversation will be up to par the Romanians. Heh. Anyway, afterward we usually get rained on and then play Settlers, another game I'm not great at but learning how to heckle and tease and be dura and/or smechera in Romanian is always an adventure. Wonderful group of people, wonderful way to spend a Saturday.
--OSCEB, of course. The main meetings are done for the school year, but they were so good. Missing my Tuesday nights already.
--My small group and how they love God, the interesting things we talk about and the genuine sense of community there and how loved they make you feel :)
--While we're at it, my church. Pretty baller sermons.
--Just the fact in general that I'm here and getting to do what I love, even when it's hard, even when I miss people. And on top of the students and the work, getting to immerse in this beautiful, complicated language. It's coming, it really is. I had my last lesson for the next few months with my professor this week and when I was asking her what I could work/focus on during that time, she told me I had no accent. Which of course is silly, I do have one and can hear myself slipping sometimes--and it's easy to say a few words together and sound like a native, but stringing together whole conversations is another thing altogether :) The point though is that it was encouraging, the people with whom I talk are encouraging, and despite my endless impatience, it is coming.
--The fact that I didn't have to sit for hours and try to think about things that are good about living here. And this isn't related but I realized it today and just wanted to throw it out there, but I have not seen one single squirrel since I've lived in this country (should that be something to appreciate or no?)... maybe it's a dumb question, but are there squirrels here?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
--Our neighborhood, our beat-up, sketch neighborhood. In the last few months I've got news of scary stuff happening there, and while more than anything I'm glad everyone is okay, it makes me miss it some. There were so many reminders to persist in love in that place: how our street seemed to be segregated by speed bumps into black/hispanic/white, the scrappy little kids whose crazy life at home we heard in every word they said.
--Of course the people. And it taking under twenty minutes tops ever to get to them. And movie nights and stretching out on each other's living room floor without worrying about how late it is even if we have class or work at eight a.m....
--Going barefoot just about everywhere (I think the Romanians think I'm filthy or maybe just boyish for not ever wearing shoes at volleyball).
--The pine trees and the sand and Sun Drop whenever I please.
--HUGS! Can't emphasize this one enough.
--Carolina Beach and the whole feeling of that place, impromptu worship sessions and beach camping and the way being at the north end of the island or down toward Kure Beach at night felt like being on the margins of the world, just ocean and a stretch of stars and cold sand.
--Oh, and the river, Kilwin's, the 4th of July fireworks over the Battleship and driving downtown at two in the morning blasting epic battle music from Lord of the Rings and freaking out all the drunk people as they leave the bars.
--And last but not least, a common thread that seems to be appearing: playing. I'm all for being serious and having conversations about life and what you love, but I also like to be silly and do handstands and tease and prank and play. And we do that a little bit here, but not nearly as much and it's harder to share it.
And a whole ton more. However this list is not complete without the things that are making me happy about living in Bucuresti so keep an eye out for that one.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
My mom sent me these pictures yesterday, and whoa, my little greenish-eyed brother is not so little. I realize how this sounds, but let's be honest, I have never shied away from being sentimental and why start now? And just look at that hair! It's all buzzed off now, but I actually kind of like it, it suits him. We haven't looked all that much alike since we were little, except for the face shape. But I can see that more than ever now.
Anyway, I'm just a gushy big sister who can't help herself. This is my beautiful brother. Who is gonna get me when he sees I put the second picture on my blog... oh well, you'll have to come to Romania if you want to do something about it! Teehee :)
Friday, June 10, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting night might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voce chant by Eastern Orthodox women. With each moment the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over the edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed.
At last Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch. They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb. I would think of Haarlem, each substantial church set behind its wrought-iron fence and its barrier of doctrine. And I would know again that in darkness, God’s truth shines most clear.”
--Corrie ten Boom
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The first one has to do with knowing people and being known. It's been something difficult here from the very outset with a wall of language I'm still learning to climb. But I've been realizing lately that it's not just this. I had a conversation with a coworker the other day about how it's a lot harder to hang out casually here--it takes forever to get across the city, there don't seem to be places where you run into people all the time like you might on a college campus in the States--and so if it's not planned, and that around people's crazy schedule, it may just not happen. How do you really get to know people in this context?
I'm thinking about this because it's a large part of my job. And personally it's hard not having the sorts of relationships with friends I had in Wilmington. But then in the metro on the way to OSCEB the other night, I started to think about how we are known by God, how the desire to know and be known stems from this. Immediately Psalm 139 comes to mind. What does it mean to be known by God? How are we known? And etc. Just thinking through all that. And then this quote by Alex Kirk himself:
"We are, in the end, conflicted creatures--about all our relationships, God included. Our deepest longing is to be known and loved and yet it takes more courage than any of us has to enter in relationships of true knowing and loving."
What else? Today at church a man who works with prisoners here in Romania spoke a little. I talked with him afterward, heard about the work he's doing. It's good stuff. It's funny how God works--here these last few days especially I've been worrying about my brother, waiting on some kind of news that won't change, and God reminds me that he is being made known there too. And so we prayed for peace and encouragement, for his Spirit to be with them, certain that there is no man beyond redemption. I prayed not only for my brother but for people here in Romania, remembering the sorts of things God did when Paul was in jail, learning what he's doing here now. Something to be said for perspective, for sure.
And then last Wednesday I went to Pitesti and ended up being asked to talk a little/give a small devotional (in Romanian!) with about ten minutes time to prepare. One more reason having a blog or journal is helpful: if you are suddenly called on to do something like this, your thoughts are already organized! All you have to do is think of how to say it in Romanian and pray a whole ton, and instead of throwing up when you begin to speak, it will come easily and you won't even shake. Small miracles, people. The interesting thing was that, while I spoke out of my own experience as of late, just the first thing that really came to mind, all the songs we sang during worship were on the same theme. It's neat to see how God will orchestrate things like that.
There's more, most of it tangled, waiting to be written out so the threads and themes will suddenly appear. Looking forward to that. Until then--