Monday, August 20, 2012

Tell The Truth

Tell the truth. Tell the truth. Tell the truth.
*Except when you've eaten the last of your sister's favorite candy.*

I could never understand why some people are compulsive liars. When they say one thing, then three days later the story changes drastically so confusion ensues and trust is possibly broken. Words may lie, but actions will always speak the truth. I appreciate honesty and integrity over anything else. I remember EVERYTHING that seems important to me. Exact dates, times, smells, clothes that were worn, facial expressions. I remember my excitement when I discovered Betsey Johnson, the day I was old enough and brave enough to wear red lipstick, my first day at the University of Tennessee and how I moved into the dorms with a gigantic May Pole and way too many pink decorations, when I met my little pup Kacey for the first time, my Mom's face when my sister and I were saved at church, the night I met "my cousin" Elliott N. DeVore, when I did my first backhandspring without crumpling into a sweaty mass, exactly when I fell in love with a certain Germany boy...

This may seem like a very lucky trait, which may explain my bizarre and very effective study habits (not including guzzling gallons of coffee, mangos, and blue shark gummies) during my undergraduate academic career, but truthfully it's almost a curse. I often overanalyze and sometimes stress over things that are out of my control, but try to remain as calm and collected as possible so not to worry anyone else--which I find very important, because I want to look after my loved ones instead of focusing on the miniscule. 

Honesty is most-always the best policy. Right? Tell the truth or face the consequences. Especially when shoe shopping or making important decisions regarding love and all of its complicated forms in general. For example, it's hard to love thy neighbor when he blares Bohemian Rhapsody at 10:00 a.m. but unless you tell him it bothers you, nothing will change. Also, I suppose it's easy to make up "little white lies" every once in awhile, and sometimes it's almost necessary. Especially when you have visitors in Cairo and must tell your bowab (Egyptian doorman) and landlord that your "German fiance" and "completely straight brother from Poland" is visiting for a few weeks. 
Thankfully this does not occur to our human noses every time a little white lie is told!

I've had a lot of friends and family ask me, "Are you happy in Berlin?

Do you want the truth?
I say, "YES. YES. YES."

I love Germany. 
I adore everything about this country and this city. 

While I'm being truthful I suppose I should admit...
1. I have still not completed my thesis proposal and must turn it in on Wednesday morning!
2. I really don't like honeydew melon. It tastes like old lady perfume and stale water.
3. I am OBSESSED with chai tea and the Weisensee swimming area so close to my flat.
4. The thought of returning to Cairo makes me want to hide in the Black Forest. 
5. Halloween is coming, and I've been planning my costume and actually have a Halloween 2012 folder on my desktop. 
6. Berlin has disappointed me just once. SEPHORA is now where to be found in the marvelous city!
7. I could probably eat kasespatzle every day. *Thank goodness Sebastian knows me so well, and has already planned a kasespatzle dinner for my arrival in Bamberg! I'm such a lucky girl.*
It's so delicious and addicting! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Follow The Light


Well, forget the camera bit since I normally do--I'm a terrible tourist and always have to be reminded to snap a few shots of the world around me.

For a moment, focus on the light.

Last night I went running again in Berlin. I love it, and I feel amazing both during and after. For the eleven months in Cairo never once could I run outside. Even in Tennessee this summer, it was just too hot to think about doing much besides eating cool fruit or basking in the lake. As I was running I could hear my feet thudding in rhythm along the pavement and somehow became sidetracked by all of the precarious shops and things around me. Before I knew it, I was lost. Again.

There was not a lot to be seen, and I couldn't hear anyone or the sounds of traffic. I wasn't worried but noticed the sun was no longer on the horizon so I picked up my pace, all the while thinking about the time I had to walk to my home in Uganda during the darkest night I have ever seen in my life.

That evening was during the same summer as the 2010 FIFA World Cup that took place in South Africa (fortunately I had made the bet that Spain would win--so I thankfully received some free lunches and drinks that week). On this day there was a huge bombing in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and people all over the country were stricken with grief and fear. There was a curfew placed in the post-conflict town of Gulu and I remember that I was visiting my friend Erin, and her boyfriend Sam, in the bus park about fifteen minutes away from my home. I stayed much later than I should have, but I missed my dear friend, Jayanni, who had left only days before and just wanted to be around other friends during such a trying time.

I left Erin and Sam, then began to walk out of the bus park in search for bodas (which are motorcycle-taxi's where you basically sit behind the driver, side saddle if you are a woman , and then hold on tight) so I could be driven home. A strange sensation washed over me and I realized that there were not any bodas on their stages. I stopped for a moment, pulled out my mobile phone, and turned on the small flashlight before making my way farther beyond the bus park. Everything was pitch black, stained in ebony. There wasn't a soul breathing, nor children playing. I remember pulling my cardigan closer into my body and descended into the darkness. I walked for a few meters and knew that there should be lights or candles burning in the humble windows. I searched for the kind women who always sold grilled corn in the evening, my eyes strained to see the last of their kindle in the night. There was nothing.

In that moment of emptiness my mobile phone died, of course, and I stopped in utter disbelief. I raised my hand to my face and couldn't even make out the shape of my long fingers. I was on the road between my home and the bus park, where Ugandan military barracks were located. My skin crawled as I inched forward, while I imagined all of the horrible things that happen to women in the night. Rape, abduction,  torture, and other forms of oppression flooded through my mind. I was mentally drowning myself and sinking under the weight of all the negative thoughts. I couldn't help it. My ears were burning to hear something--anything.  Again, there was nothing.

I quickened my pace and began to pray that I would know when to turn right, around the bend that would lead me to my home. Everyone on that road had seen me before, surely if something happened someone would help me. I began to pray a bit more for direction and illumination, and my feet moved with assurance and soundness even though I was sweating from the anticipation of being at home in my small bed. I remember praying and asking for protection. I thought to myself, "Stupid girl, you should have done this sooner..." I felt immediate comfort, just from talking to Him.

Then I saw it.
I thanked God.
I thanked Him, and I thanked Him, and I thanked Him.
I had found my road, and now there was movement but I was not afraid. I slowed my pace, not wanting to frighten anyone, and before I knew it I was nearing the small, muddy trail that would take me past the hut of the quiet Acholi woman with the three children, and into my yard.

I had been too terrified to realize that every single star was haunting that night--there must have been millions of them just beckoning me to notice them. I felt so small and cozy under their blanket. I realized that there was such a nice breeze that I wouldn't have any trouble sleeping. A quiet laugh forced its way out of my throat. I had been thinking only of myself, and never of God--The Giver of Light. The giver of what I should had been searching for the entire time. As soon as I had spoken His name, my body and mind sprung into ACTION.

Remembering this occasion I felt relief as I ran through the streets of Berlin, which gave me such profound happiness and a sense of power. I said a quick prayer, looked around me, and found streetlights--the light I needed to return home.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Ich bin ein Berliner!"

Folks, I am now a bonafide Berliner!

Well, almost.

There's this whole not-fluent-in-German situation that's getting in the way of things. Oh, and I still can't quite figure out the transportation system with all of the S-Bahns, U-Bahns, and Deutsch Bahns scattered around! However, I did wander about today by myself and re-discovered my awesome school (only because my friend, Thomas, had helped me find it the day before), as well as some other really wonderful shops, nooks, and crannies. 

An H&M is right across the street. That's all I'm going to say about that. Now, moving on! 

Thomas also took me to AlexanderPlatz yesterday, this huge concrete "socialist" jungle in the midst of Berlin that's full of all sorts of banks, shopping, and food chains. Apparently there are also loads of festivals that are set up in this area with overpriced meals and beverages for the unlucky tourist. I did find this rather famous world clock intriguing!

Can you spot the Tennessee time zone? :)

We also meandered a bit more and Thomas taught me a bit of Berlin's [religious] history as well--you can imagine I was extremely enticed by this bit. The French constructed this stunning building to show their appreciation for Berlin after the city welcomed the French Protestants inside of the city walls to save them from fierce prosecution (and religious persecution). This square was really quite old and there were several nice looking, and smelling, restaurants I made note of.

I fell in love with this ferocious lion and the playful, teasing little cherub that floated along his back. What a nice pair they make!

I've also been fortunate enough to taste an an almost-holy delicacy that's only moments from my doorstep. The name of this heavenly eco-friendly and all organic ice cream shoppe is called "Naschkatze," which is a term of endearment that's normally used for little children who like sweet things entirely too much. I have decided that I am indeed a naschkatze, especially when my lion-hair is completely out of control. 

I had coffee ice cream and one other flavor that couldn't quite be translated properly. Nevertheless, it was still delicious. Not all wonderful things have to have a name. 

On another note, I am so satisfied and happy with where I live! My little room is so quaint and QUIET (which was the most important factor for finding a room). I love the view that I see when I look outside my window! I've kept the windows open almost all of time time because the breeze blows in just perfectly.

*Note to self: Purchase a lovely plant to place onto the windowsill. Also, remember to water said plant.*

In my excitement I forgot to pack proper shoes for Berlin. Yes, in my excitement I packed ONLY heels for Berlin (and one pair of flip flops). This was not done on purpose! I had to do a major search at H&M today for a pair of black flats. After purchasing them I feel like they may be a little too small! This is very problematic due to the fact I am very uncoordinated and can barely walk on cobblestones in flats, let alone heels. *Smacks hand to forehead*

At least my closet is practically the size of a secret garden. I've been thanking my lucky stars for the past two days.
So, I am finally getting accustomed to my new home and am also very happy with my two awesome roommates. Although I really have to focus on my thesis writing before school at Hertie starts in the second week of September--which is really, horribly, quite soon--it's hard to focus when I get to see my German boy in only two weeks! Yes, I'm obviously counting down the days. Unfortunately, I've left my other favorite fellow in Tennessee. 

My handsome Kacey boy. I just finished his morning brushing session. Look at his smile!

I think he's buried a bit of my heart somewhere in the woods behind my house, because he knows I'll have to come back and play tug of war for it.