Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31st

At approximately 9:35pm tonight it will have been 7 years since I lost my dad.

I had almost forgotten until I looked out the window this morning to see the temperature on the pharmacy sign across the street, when the date, January 31st, flashed across the digital sign.

I thought of my mom for a moment, and then went for a run. I forgot again.

After running I sat on my living room floor, stretching and listening to my ipod when this song came on, and I remembered again.

by Switchfoot

Flowers cut and brought inside
Black cars in a single line
Your family in suits and ties
And you're free

The ache I feel inside
Is where the life has left your eyes
I'm alone for our last goodbye
But you're free

I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone
I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
And until I'm with you, I'll carry on

Adrift on your ocean floor
I feel weightless, numb, and sore
A part of you in me is torn
And you're free

I woke from a dream last night
I dreamt that you were by my side
Reminding me I still had life
In me

I'll carry on

Every lament is a love song
Yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone
So long my friend, so long

It's interesting: I really did have a dream about him the other night. I can't remember what happened, but I do remember he was helping me make an important decision, and and it felt so good, so natural, to have him there, guiding me with his words of wisdom.

I woke up feeling so content, so secure.

I miss that.

If you happen to read this today, please say a prayer for my family, especially my mom.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Language Milestone

The past week I've had two huge language milestones.

It's not that I said, heard, or learned anything spectacularly profound, but rather just two small, almost forgettable moments in which I realized that, despite persistent struggles with vocabulary, idioms, crazy accents that cut out the "s" of words, etc, I really have come a long way.

Moment 1:

Saturday night. I was walking down the street with two Americans when I heard some locals say, "look at the 'guiris' here..."

"Guiri" is a word used for tourists, particularly Northern Europeans or Americans. It often implies somebody who is wide-eyed, doesn't know where they're going, taking pictures of everything, getting in the way, wearing goofy tourist clothes, or annoying study abroad students who run about making loud spectacles everywhere they go.

Well these guys were talking about us, who at the moment were involved in none of the aforementioned activities but merely walking down the street.

So I turned around and said in their language, "I understand you. I speak your language."

What a wonderful feeling that was!! It was a small moment, but it felt so good to throw those guys for a loop!!

Moment 2:

Yesterday on my way home I passed through the train station and decided to buy a sandwich at the snack shop. I silently handed the clerk my sandwich, she rang it up, pointed to the price on the screen and I paid her. When she handed me my change and receipt I said to her, "have a nice day!" I must say, my accent was dang good that day, which might explain her reaction.

She let out a little scream and put her hand over her mouth, her eyes as wide as saucers. She said, "oh my goodness! I thought you were Polish or something...I had no idea you were a...oh wow, I thought you were a foreigner, that's why I pointed at the, it's just you look..."

She was stumbling over her words with nervous laughs and brief pauses while she examined my foreign-looking face yet native sounding "have a nice day!"

I smiled sweetly at her and said, "well, I'm an American, but I've lived here a little over a year."

She let out a sigh and a laugh and complimented me on my language. Granted, I only said a few sentences but apparently I said it good enough to confuse her quite a bit!

The longer I live here and the more I learn about this language, the more I realize just how much there is to learn.

Learning a language is not a simple matter of new vocabulary but rather a new way of thinking, a new way of expressing meaning, gaining a cultural understanding and a context for the language, learning how to play with words and ideas and phrases and so much more. It's far more complicated than grammar, vocabulary, and pronounciation and I still have so far to go.

But it's worth celebrating each and every milestone. From being able to order at a restaurant by yourself to reading the first 5 Harry Potter books (and eventually 6 and 7 as well!) and hopefully one day being able to verbally express the deepest parts of me without stumbling over my words - each step is one more ahead of your last and worth celebrating, so celebrate I will.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Tonight I just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Last night I read several chapters on the metro, and when I arrived at my destination with 20 minutes to spare, I sat on a bench on the platform and read some more, quickly wiping my tears to avoid being seen crying.

For the last third of the book, I curled up on my couch, put my iPod on the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and let myself go, crying freely without inhibitions.

Yes, it's a well written book.

Yes, it's a moving story, full of drama, love and war.

But I didn't cry for any fictional character in this book.

I cried for the women of Afghanistan.

For the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, who have suffered at the hands of husbands, fathers, warlords, government, often in the name of Islam.

I cried for the men of Afghanistan.

For husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons who watched helplessly as their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters were raped, beaten, stoned, or starved to death.

For the millions of lives lived with no hope.

For the millions who continue to live without hope.

An excerpt from the book includes the decree of the Taliban when they first took over in 1996:

"Our watan is now known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. These are the laws that we will enforce and you will obey:

All citizens must pray five times a day. If it is prayer time and you are caught doing something other, you will be beaten.

All men will grow their beards. The correct length is at least one clenched fist beneath the chin. If you do not abide by this, you will be beaten.


Singing is forbidden.

Dancing is forbidden.

Playing cards, playing chess, gambling, and kite flying are forbidden.

Writing books, watching films, and painting pictures are forbidden.

If you keep parakeets, you will be beaten. Your birds will be killed.

If you steal, your hand will be cut off at the wrist. If you steal again, your foot will be cut off.

If you are not Muslim, do not worship where you can be seen by Muslims. If you do, you will be beaten and imprisoned. If you are caught trying to convert a Muslim to your faith, you will be executed.

Attention women:

You will stay inside your homes at all times....

You will not, under any circumstance, show your face. You will cover with a burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.

Cosmetics are forbidden.

Jewelry is forbidden.

You will not wear charming clothes.

You will not speak unless spoken to.

You will not make eye contact with men.

You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.

You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger.

Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately.

Women are forbidden from working.

If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.

Listen. Listen well. Obey. Allah-u-akbar."

A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Go read it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Do I Smell Like Alcohol??

Tonight on the way back from church....

Standing on the platform looking into the windows of the train, I could tell just by looking at them that the two guys sitting facing me were trouble. So when the doors opened, I hoped to get a seat - but not by them. So of course the people getting on the train first would sit in every seat EXCEPT the one next to them.

I sat down hoping to avoid any communication with them, when the one next to me, let's call him Rico, said, "Do I smell like like alcohol??"

I took a moment to sniff.

"A little bit, yes." And by "a little bit" I really meant a lot.

He and his friend laughed.

"Where are you from?" he asked me.

"What do you think?" I said.

"What? I said where are you from?"

"I know. What do you think?"


"You to tell me. Where do you think I'm from?"



"UUUHhhhhhhh....(muttering)....(slurred words)....."

Now go watch this related YouTube video: (I would embed it myself but I don't know how, and I'm watching LOST at the moment so I don't feel like taking the time to figure it out)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Whrlwind of an Update

Well, I know I promised some updates but this past month has been so crazy, and I was not expecting to not have internet access* where my mom lives so I'm afraid I've been keeping all of my avid readers in the dark for quite some time. I apologize.

I did take pictures in London but on a friend's camera, so at the moment I have no way to upload those photos. Sorry :(

But London was a great time of catching up with old friends and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have gone (thanks to my Mommy for gifting me the trip). I didn't do a lot of touristy things aside from looking at the sights from the outside, so I guess I'll just have to go back sometime so I can actually see the INSIDE of Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. But it was great. My friends Chris and Angie took me off the beaten path and showed me parts of London I never would have seen as just a tourist. It was great and definitely inspiring to my future coffee shop dream.

Then there was a big fiasco trying to get my paperwork sorted out to go visit my mom. That's a long story that I'll put in another post, perhaps tomorrow or the next day. The important thing is that after too many tears, a few train and metro rides, a cult lady who doesn't want to "lose me", a lot of people saying "it's impossible", a few people trying to help me, and one smart guy who finally figured it all out....

I got to go see my Mommy!!

It was a great trip and a real blessing to be able to see in person the place she's been living and get a glimpse of what her life has been like these past 2 years. We visited a city on the ancient Silk Road, went to a few museums, watched the Harry Potter movies, visited her friends, celebrated was wonderful. I also took pictures with her camera but until she emails them to me I can't show you any. :( I really need to get a new camera soon!! They're just so stinkin' expensive!

The trip back turned out to be quite exhausting and resulted in just a few more tears and an extra 24 hours.

After waking up at 2:30 am Saturday morning, we went to the airport and waited...and waited...and waited. Only to find out after 2 hours of waiting that my flight was delayed until later that afternoon due to weather.

That meant that I would miss my connecting flight and have to spend the night in Istanbul. So we went home, took a little nap, finished the last Harry Potter movie and then returned to the airport.

The airport itself was a bit frustrating since nothing was clearly marked, the passport control guy had a problem with my passport and had me waiting for 15 minutes while he "checked on some things", the plane was delayed even further...and then I finally made it to Istanbul where I was supposed to be given a hotel room. The only problem was the airline official didn't tell me I would have to buy a visa and gave me very unclear instructions as to how to find the person who would give me a hotel room. That was the part where I cried. I had been up since 2:30 that morning, it was now 9pm and I was exhausted, confused, frustrated...put all those things together and it's a recipe for tears.

Eventually I made it to the hotel where the fed me, gave me a room, and the next morning I returned to the airport and made it safely home with just enough time to jump in the shower and head to church for our 6:30pm service.

Since then I've been running errands, going to the dentist, visiting with friends, unpacking, cleaning, trying to catch up on sleep, looking for new blue jeans since mine fell apart, running to prepare for the New Year's Eve 10K, running in the 10K, sleeping some's been a busy 4 days!!

Alas, that is all for now.

*Sort of. To get internet we have to pack up the laptop and walk up the hill to a cold, empty house, plug in the compy, sit there in the freezing cold while you check your we only did it twice. Only that which was necessary to let important people know my flight schedule.