Thursday, November 29, 2012


An illustration of the state of my brain right now:

I'm sitting at my kitchen table, waiting on a skype call, looking for a specific verse, when I decide I'd like some hot chocolate. Not too many better ways to spend a morning. So I put a little pot on to boil like usual and go back to the table. What feels like about ten minutes goes by and while I can hear the stove, I still haven't heard the water start to boil. So I get up and peak around the divider wall thing and see that the water's still not boiling and then sit back down to wait some more. At some point I notice that it smells funny. Three or so minutes go by and when I see it hasn't changed at all, I walk up to the stove and realize, heyo! I've managed to put the pot on the left eye while always use the right one.

Set it on the right eye, sit down shaking my head at how frazzled my brain is with all the packing and getting ready to leave. Then the skype call starts, and I'm all, haha I'm doing crazy people things! Let me tell you this story about how absentminded my last half hour has been. So I begin to tell the story and as I explain about having smelled something, my brain's thinking about why I'd smell something this time when I don't normally. And mid-sentence--

I haven't even lit the eye! The pot's just sitting on it while the gas is wide open. I run over, grab the lighter to light it, and finally, twenty minutes after this story began my brain activates, I put the lighter down and open the window.

In the end I got my hot chocolate. No explosions, no getting gassed.

What's great too is that just a week ago I saw a hysterical Romanian film and one of the (supposedly true) stories in it is about this greedy policeman who gets a pig for Christmas. He lives in Bucuresti, it's during Communism, and I got the impression that it was illegal to cut a pig in the city. But not wanting to get caught or share it with his neighbors, he and his brother wrap it up in a blanket and carry it upstairs, all the while it's squalling.

The family can't figure out how to kill it without waking up the whole bloc and the boy suggests they gas it. They tape up all the windows, unplug the fuse and lock it in the kitchen with the gas wide open. When it's finally dead, in order to cut it up, they've got to get rid of all its hair. So the greedy policeman pulls out his handy blowtorch and as he goes to burn its hair off... yep, exploding pig.

So it seems I'm culturalizing well.

history and memory

Tomorrow I leave Pitesti and then Friday morning, before the sun even comes up, I will be on a plane headed west. All my life, in order to go home, I had to travel east, toward the ocean. Home was toward the sand and the pines, a place as far as you could go. I think of the line of the coast, growing up on the edge of a continent.

Tonight my dad put up pictures of the men in his family on facebook. That is an impossible sentence, one I never expected to write. My French family I never knew, a culture and a language I might have learned if I'd grown up with--this is how he refers to them--["my"] Pepe and Meme. There were eight kids, four boys and four girls. Now three of the four sons have died, both parents, and I don't know the first thing about three of the four daughters except that one has a daughter of her own living in Paris. And from the fourth sister I have a cousin, one I've never met but talk to on facebook, who looks more like me than anyone on my mom's side. And they live in the Bay Area, where my mom was born, a place for more and more reasons I'm feeling more and more connected to.

It feels like so many things are converging, lines overlapping until it becomes a solid thing. Imagine a city from space, the bright concentrated center, lights spider-webbing outward. Except the motion is inward. Not toward a place, exactly, but some shared, common thing. I can't articulate it yet--I don't understand. And there's more to it that I'm not writing, but I wonder, what's God doing with this?

Every time I sit down to write lately, it comes back to this. The idea of home, I mean. There's this, watching the bones of a history I first saw four years ago fill out. Watching it all connect to so many things that are true now, both new and old, seeing the way history and memory weave themselves into a thing with flesh. (Oooh!, but I don't think either of these are what puts the heart to beating--real, but not living?)
And then there's the fine line between identifying and being identified by--I look at these pictures and we all seem to have the same eyes, the same hands even, and yet it is not in their image that I was made.


I left this off to talk to a friend and by now the thread is gone. So many thoughts, and all of it underscored by the uncertainty of what follows December. Thinking about this place, the homeless man to whom we gave a half-eaten kebab that no one could finish, then realizing what we were doing, spent the next few hours wishing we'd at the very least bought him a new one and had given him that. The woman today who discovered I wasn't Romanian because, she said, she noticed I thought before I spoke. And the way I thought about that on the walk home, how in English you would have said that I needed to think, not just that I thought. Besides the unintended social commentary it made me wonder if I might want to be marked by that, among other things. Being pensive, pausing, considering my words.

Anyway, these are the things I'm leaving with, these are the pictures of Pitesti that will stay with me the next few weeks. Coming back home richer in both the understanding of a history and fuller in the sense of what I remember about where, for now, I'm leaving. Thinking about ten hours above the ocean, rocketing between those two things, wondering what they'll make themselves into.

Monday, November 19, 2012

xkcd ftw!

Pretty much what my Romanian sounds like half the time. Here's the original link. You should be able to look at it bigger over there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

thinking of home and feeling hopeful

Two in the morning and I'm up because I'd had to stay up to skype with a friend and suddenly it seems I've caught my second wind. Tomorrow's a full day but it starts around noon and ends around eleven, so I've got the space to do this. Be awake with my thoughts, sit and pray or write without having to give up anything to do it. It's so easy to be thankful for this thinking back on being a full-time student and working two jobs plus doing a ton of InterVarsity stuff. It's also easy to feel guilty. But I think--I hope--I will sleep in tomorrow and wake up grateful for good gifts, for how differently life can shape itself in different spaces. Living in a part of the world with real calendar seasons has taught me that much.

So there's that. And talking with a friend from such a different part of my life, heading back in two weeks to Wilmington, heading home. But here feels that way too most days, and here's where I've surprised myself: while I'm more excited than I can say, it feels routine somehow. It's the wrong way to say it altogether. But you spend a month in Berlin, you head to Bucuresti once a month and by the end of it flying to another continent, even one you've been away from nearly two years, doesn't seem so big. Exciting, the sort where you count down the days, but not like the bigness of going to a new country.

I realize what I just did there. On the one hand, in two weeks time I may eat every last one of these words. We'll see. On the other, what if it is? Like going to a new place, a new country. Not so new there's nothing to recognize, but the small things. Some things strained by time and distance, other things worn smooth--you run your hand over it, turn it over, hold it up to the light. This is new and old, all at the same time, and no easy place to put it in your mind.

There's something about living fragmented--is that what it is? Is that the right word? That, despite the way the internet draws the pieces into mosaic, I can pause my life here to go back to my life there, the one that's been some ways paused (for me), and other ways moving forward, an image or feeling of all the weight of a train (for others from the perspective of one who isn't moving). But then that's not true either. I am moving, but it's stepping outside of this movement into what's been a fixed point and--

And I could get lost in this, could do this for the rest of the night. I'm thinking of home, of going back to it, of that word I can't quite pin down for all its changing shape. But I am hopeful for the newness of it. And glad that instead of having one place that is surely, fully home (while in all the rest I look back toward it), there are pieces of it here in Pitesti and back in Wilmington and that because it's so mutable I'm as likely to find it anywhere, my heart caught when I least suspected.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

there's a joke in here somewhere about twitterpated>>twitterpation

Many moons ago, knowing the sorts of inane things I am usually inclined to share, I vowed never to get a twitter. If you are curious, this is why.

I caved a little short of two years ago. But I had a good reason. If you connect twitter to your phone, you can basically text people on the other side of the world for the cost of a regular text. (By the way, I realize it means I'm way behind on the rest of the world, but I found out a few weeks ago you can do the same thing between two iPhones without twitter. What do you know.) The short version of what happened next is that last night I discovered some holes in my control over what's visible where and to whom. So between the swing from I hate the internet! to I quit! I'm deleting it all! I never existed!, reason did what it does best and I decided to peruse the privacy options. Instead, I came face to face with two years of... well. You can imagine.

Internet, if I am not careful, if I ever have a legacy, this will be it:

6 Oct 10: thinking about the physics of my bagel not flying away (too heavy?) till i put it on its baggy that made a really good sail.. bye bye bagel.

23 Oct 10: Walking down market, lots of cars passing by, headphones in. Nobody can hear me singing, right?

6 Oct 10: just watched buddy the elf get chased by ringwraiths through central park! how have i never seen this movie?!

29 Jan 11: listening to a song in mongolian and they have this u sound that is so far forward and so rounded it sounds like it's gonna push itself out.

23 May 11: dear gracious, somebody somewhere in berceni is cooking fish.

23 Jun 11: Drinking milk with reckless abandon

12 Aug 11: a car just drove by blasting what sounded like the 80s, nintendo & laser tag. buuuh.

27 Nov 11: doing rly difficult ab exercises w the roomie & she yells at me not to give birth. well. first time anyone's ever said that to me.

28 Nov 11: at a meeting & just said i was yawning (casc) & someone thought i said i was giving birth (nasc). that's twice in two days, y'all.

14 Jan 12: my brother josh: "are you barking?" me: "NOOOO! i'm singing!" man... harsh.

26 Feb 12: still don't have hot water, only frigid, hurts-to-wash-your-hands water. anyone wanna guess how many days it's been since i last showered?

16 Mar 12: weird things you find cleaning out your bookbag: a squashed subway cookie from orientation in aug (in england) and a $2 bill.

17 May 12: unable to move this morning from: sleeping on a bench last night at petra, falling on my head, boot camp booty blaster or all of the above.

26 May 12: after narrowly avoiding it this morning, i realized the only thing worse than stepping in dog poop is stepping in rained-on dog poop

27 Aug 12: taking off a wetsuit: probably the most un-ladylike thing i'll ever do apart from giving birth.

7 Nov 12: as long as we're sending out tests, 'every year you grow, so shall i'--my butt says to me. apologies to cslewis for my irreverence.*

7 Nov 12: why stop now: war! HUUNHGH! what is it good for? absolutely nothaaaaang! (anyone else think abt throwing up at the HUNH! part of that song?)*

(Not the slightest clue of how to end this.)
(*These will be familiar to one of you... I had to send out a few test tweets to figure out the privacy options and all that came to mind were those snippets from this week--not sure whether to apologize for the repost or thank you for all the whack things that come out of my mouth when we talk. But having a blast. Thanks for that.)

Actually it's clear now that the only possible way to end this is to point out that if you include the one about the u sound pushing itself out, there is very disproportionate number of tweets represented that have to do with giving birth. I feel like my head just exploded.