Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lost and Found

Christmas has passed.
2013 is right around the corner.

I have to ask myself, "Whitney, you crazy redhead you. What have you accomplished this year?"

I'm at a loss for words.
For once.
Maybe it's the fact that I know I won't see my family for another year. Making the total count one year and a half--of only Skype, letters, and intense Facebook messaging. I wouldn't say I'm homesick.
No, not homesick.

I just feel comfortable when I'm so close with my family.
So it must be true, that sweet old saying.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Why yes, it certainly does.

I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I'm almost overwhelmed with the thought that THIS is it.
I am an ADULT. I've been living abroad, on my own, for one and a half years and most of that was in a third world revolutionary country no less. 
This really isn't an accomplishment. 
I would probably say that the fact I haven't gained 40 pounds from all the amazing food I've consumed is the largest accomplishment.

I keep feeling this thrilling pulse racing through me, like deadly lightning. I'm afraid and yet enthralled, but motionless. 
Does this make sense? 
 I've spoken with a few of my best friends, who happen to be activists and world travelers, and they too have these feelings of manic uncertainty.
I can't help but remember one of my favorite quotes, by Henry David Thoreau.
 "My life is like a stroll upon the beach, as near to the ocean's edge as I can go."
Thinking of this mantra satisfies me, and reminds me that it's okay to be uneasy. I personally believe that if your life is too comfortable, then you aren't living properly.

It's okay to be a little lost, because eventually you'll find yourself again...
Even if you happen to meander through several shoe stores, ice cream shops, and European boutiques along the way. 

Merry Christmas everyone, and happy new year!
In love and peace,

Monday, December 17, 2012

"There's a terrorist in our hostel..."

Charming, enchanting, and absolutely more enticing than I expected.

My German boy and I spent about three days in this captivating city, and unfortunately I quickly fell in love with it. Sure, we had a few mishaps but that's what makes life exciting, right? For instance, the Budapest airport caught on fire before we landed so we had to reroute to Bratislava, Slovakia. This turned out to be quite problematic, as the Slovakian airport was overcrowded and no one really knew what was going on. After commandeering a crowd of airport security "professionals" in the only way a feisty, loud American woman knows how, I quickly decided that my travel partner and I would have to take drastic measures into our own hands.

After waiting for an hour or so out in the cold, we crept into a jubilant herd of British folk that was waiting in line for a bus to take them to Budapest, even though we were supposed to be waiting for our own bus that would come hours later.
 I asked my German boy how his British accent was and he said, "Nonexistent."
Curses, my plans were foiled!
After accidentally bashing about six people with my gigantic carry on bag, before the bus manager could check our tickets, I managed to force my way onto the bus with Sebastian tearing in behind me.
*Angels sang and mental happy dancing commenced*
We made it!

It was much colder than I expected, but that didn't stop us from sightseeing or mountain trekking!
 After arriving in Budapest, I thought for a moment I was back in Egypt! The decaying buildings on the outskirts of the city, and the ancient metro cars, did nothing for my travel-appetite. However, once we stepped out from the caves of the metro station and out into the city, I was smitten! Our hostel, the Maverick Hostel, was only right around the corner and we luckily found ourselves in the middle of Budapest. *I really shouldn't say "luckily" since Sebastian is literally a walking GPS device. Fortunately, I am usually able to navigate with a map but normally rely on his skills for gallivanting- purposes.*

The view on our climb to the Citadel. Budapest is really so beautiful and the buildings are mesmerizing, regardless of their dingy tint due to years of neglect.
After a filling and over priced Hungarian dinner of Chicken Paprikash and Noodles, we made our way back to our hostel (which actually used to be a royal mansion that was built by the Habsburg dynasty) where we planned the rest of our adventures.

I love food and wish I had at least three stomachs. My German boy and I found this little Hungarian restaurant late in the evening on our first night in Budapest.
 More tales to come, stay tuned! :)
I promise this statue isn't headless, although it certainly looks that way!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Ultimate Christmas Wish: "Imagine No Malaria"

Dearest Family and Friends,

I know Christmas is quickly approaching, and many of you have asked about sending a small package or gift to me in Germany. However, I would prefer it if you send $5, $10, whatever you would spend on a present for me-- instead to my church! Oakland United Methodist Church in Greenback, Tennessee is participating in the Holston United Methodist Conference's "Imagine No Malaria". I would be forever grateful if you could help my congregation reach their goal. 

Please click here to view the Imagine No Malaria website. 

It would mean so much to me if you sent your monetary gift to children and families who cannot afford medical treatment. I experienced the pain and suffering of malaria on a first hand basis when I was living in Uganda. Many adults will go through violent periods of malaria-induced trauma throughout their lives. I've seen tiny, little babies in such suffering just because their parents cannot afford several small pills or mosquito nets! Please help those who are much needier than I am.

Please send checks to:
Oakland United Methodist Church
234 Trigonia Road
Greenback, Tennessee 37742

Pay to: Oakland UMC
Memo: Whitney Buchanan "Imagine No Malaria"

Thank you, and God bless you and your family during this holiday season.

In love and peace.

Monday, November 26, 2012

All I Want for Christmas...

Be still my heart, Christmas time is right around the corner! Oh, how happy am I! :)
 Unfathomable amounts of toe warming gluhwein, monstrous Christmas trees and markets (in Budapest AND Germany), hot chocolate with large amounts of amaretto, watching my most favorite childhood movies, frightful winter weather, catching snowflakes on my tongue when I feel as if no one is watching, silly stockings and the brightest Christmas lights...
This time of year makes me ALMOST as excited as Halloween.

I never know what to ask for when my mother says, "What do you want for Christmas?" Well, besides a white Christmas, here are a few things that are definitely on my Christmas Dream Wish List!

I have fallen head over heels in love with all of the adorable, little French bulldogs roaming around Berlin. It's quite unfortunate, since I won't be able to have one for at least several more years! When I do get one however, he will be perfect--like the cute little fella you see here.

I have been absolutely obsessed with FURLA bags for some time now. The PVC material and sleek design of this bag is so endearing somehow! I especially love this unbelievable sparkly, red color. *Urban Decay could make an incredible lipgloss out of this shade!* It reminds me of Dorothy's unforgettable shoes from the Wizard of Oz.
Damn you, Black Milk. I made a post about this brand recently and I am still flabbergasted by these leggings in particular. Napoleon and an artistic battlefield, what's not to love?

I have a thing for lockets. There's just something romantic and old-world about them, and I've always wanted a beautiful gold one like this. Don't the emerald and diamond pieces on this gem just make it so exquisite?
It would be even more exquisite if it were hanging around my neck!

Two plane tickets to Knoxville, Tennessee please! *Santa, my German boy has to come with me too!* :)
I always get a little homesick around this time of year, no matter how many gingerbread cookies I stuff myself with. This will be my second Christmas in Germany though, and I'm terribly excited for it!
 I realize that I am very lucky indeed to have such a wonderful German family to celebrate the holidays with.

On an ending note, I've been playing Dolly Parton's Christmas music nonstop for the past few days. My poor roommate probably wants to murder me with one of the tofu-rauch "smoke" dogs I recently bought. However, Dolly's the sweetest woman and her angelic voice is entirely too contagious. If you've never heard "Smoky Mountain Christmas" you must listen! 
Good night everyone, wherever you are.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Slow down, Father Time! Why the rush?

Time creeps by so quickly when you're happy and loving the life you were given.
It's been almost one month since my last post *sorry everyone*, and sleepy November rushed by quite silently!

My November was filled to the brim with so much love, excitement, and adventure--just a few of the things I enjoy most. One of my best friends, Maria, came to visit me from the States for one week and we didn't stop exploring...AT ALL! Sometimes I forget how big and devious Berlin is. There were so many little nooks that I had not explored, and even I was overwhelmed with the amount of things I had put on the week long itinerary. (I have this habit of wearing myself out more-than-frequently due to the fact I want to see EVERYTHING as soon as possible, and as efficiently as possible. Yes, this is difficult whilst wearing heeled boots but the trick is to have two cups of coffee in the morning and a third one after lunch, and to make sure you have a piece of fruit--perhaps some Haribo Vampire gummies as well--stuffed down into your purse).

The lovely Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam! Unfortunately Maria, Sebastian, and I arrived to the palace just as it was closing--we had a pretty late start that day, but it was still worth the visit!

Potsdam is a really beautiful area on the outskirts of Berlin! I'm really looking forward to a return trip once the weather is nicer. The detailing on the building was beautiful!
Also, I spent the first two weeks of November fasting, which proved to be extremely difficult since Berlin's food is so tempting. I had been speaking with one of my dearest friends about my plans to partake in the fast when she commented, "Whitney, you are one of the most hilariously-destructive people I have ever met. You are thrown through life to wherever God wants you to go, trying to help everyone around you, and you will kill yourself if you don't rest and take your of yourself. Stop swinging, just rest."
My mouth hung open as I started to retort.
*Crickets chirping...*
Well, this friend of mind is wise beyond her years. 
"Rest, you say?"
Yes, that's exactly what I did. I rested and fasted. If you've never fasted before, I highly recommend trying (but NOT during exams or a busy week of WILL go insane, or pass out from exhaustion. This is clearly not healthy). I have been doing the Daniel Fast for two and half years now, and it's excellent when you're feeling down in the dumps, uncertain, or when you're family and friends are having a difficult time. I put up a list of loved ones to pray for during the 14 day period, and found myself much happier and more thankful than usual--which was the goal after all, since Thanksgiving was right around the corner. One should also note that participating in the Daniel Fast makes you EXTREMELY emotional, especially if it's that time of the month. Eeeeee! I found myself being completely overwhelmed, but not necessarily in a bad way. When I read a quote that touched my heart or when music seeped into my ears and trickled down into my soul, I was so in tune and just...happy and thankful

I have felt more complete in this past month than any other time that I have been living in Germany. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it home for Thanksgiving but I did have a massive Thanksgiving party at my flat which was composed of the following:
1 French girl, 1 Norwegian girl, 1 Russian girl, 2 American ladies (myself included), 2 charming German fellows, chicken, stuffing, deviled eggs *the BEST deviled eggs in all of Germany, I am sure*, macaroni salad, incredible pumpkin-mango chutney, Norwegian salmon wraps, corn, mashed potatoes, delicious apple crisps, and fruit salad.
My stomach exploded shortly after and I went into a food a coma for at least 24 hours.

Only a small fraction of what was actually prepared! It was all too entirely delicious.
As you can see, my November has been most eventful and I've been spending this whole week in anticipation for the BERLIN CHRISTMAS MARKETS ! Plus, the weather has been lovelier than expected--Jack Frost has been painting my windows, letting me know that the Christmas season is definitely here. That scoundrel. ;) I'm still dying to go to to see northern Germany or Dreseden while the Christmas markets are up, but I may have to wait!

If that weren't exciting enough, my wonderful German boy and I are going to Budapest during the first week of December! I haven't really started planning for that trip yet since the Thanksgiving food is still meddling with my regular thought processes and motor skills.

I hope all of you have had a wonderful November and that you remembered to give thanks on days other than just Thanksgiving! :) 
With love to you all,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Black Magic & Milk

I caught myself humming "That Old Black Magic," the Frank Sinatra version of course. 

The song was perfect for the moment since I was headed to a silent 12th century church on top a hill that solemnly overlooks stunning fields, peculiar woods, and a large portion of Bamberg--which just so happened to appear darker than usual, and curious since snow was falling onto it at such a lazy pace. Quite "Sleepy Hollow" like...
Bundled up in my winter coat with all the buttons snapped up to the tip of my cherry-red nose, I could barely contain my delight knowing that the Church of St. Michael was warm and cozy on the inside, and because I was eager to see the unique tombs and architecture of the historic building once again.
The remarkable ceiling of the nave is one of the most impressive parts of the church and is so unlike many of the other European churches that I have been in. 
Over 580 types of magnificent flora, and 6 trouble-making parrots, grace the highest points. My mother would love this, and would spend well over an hour looking at it, I'm quite sure.

However, my most favorite part of the whole sanctuary is unexpectedly at the very back corner of its belly. It's a beautiful and captivating blue room inlaid with creamy white curly-q's all around its crevices. Skeletons of death, delicately holding hourglasses, are warmly welcoming you to stare into their eyes high above you--so unusual and yet I feel at peace here.
Again, the melody began to creep slowly in, 
"That old black magic has me in its spell, that old black magic that you weave so well.
Those icy fingers up and down my spine
That same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine.
I also began to question my sanity, since most church visitors probably don't mentally hum songs about "black magic" in their head.

Perhaps it's because I've been so overly excited for Halloween this year? 
It must be.

It must also be because I have been OBSESSED with Black Milk. You can see more of their incredible products here!
My best friend "officially" introduced me to this amazing brand (even though I had been swimsuit lusting after I saw Black Milk products on the blog of my favorite blogger). 
These perfectly enticing Haunted House Leggings are my favorite at the moment, and would look wonderful on All Hallows Eve.
The leggings come from Australia! All of the patterns are so unique and mouthwatering, to say the least.

Here's a closer look! I love the divine detail--devilish, little bats flying over the spooky house that's lit up underneath a giant full moon.
Oh, Black Milk.
How you have bewitched me.
Back to thesis research.
Happy haunting everyone! :)