Friday, December 29, 2006

Wrong Exits

npr replayed a terri gross interview with stuart murdock of belle & sebastian. terri played murdock's lyrics . . .

if you find yourself caught in love / say a prayer to the man above / thank him for everything you know / you should thank him for every breath you blow / if you find yourself caught in love / say a prayer to the man above / you should thank him for every day you pass / thank him for saving your sorry ass . . .

You talk of freedom / don’t you see / The only freedom that you’ll ever really know / Is written in books from long ago / Give up your
will to Him that loves you / Things will change, I’m not saying overnight / But something has to give / You’re too good looking not to live . . .

i was supposed to drive straight home to denison tonight from lewisville after the movie. so i pulled out of the theater and headed toward 121 and turned right. when i found myself almost to dfw airport, i realized i had gone the complete opposite direction of home. tat had to be in bed by 9:00 tonight because she's opening at work at 5:00 in the morning. so i stopped for gas, put the ethanol kind into my dad's car instead of the premium, and proceeded to take 114 to dallas instead of 121 back toward denison. i was so irritated with myself . . .

i was supposed to be heading home to bed because i was tired and i knew tat was tired . . . and then i saw a 747 fly just a few hundred feet in front of me right over the freeway. "wow!" i said outloud. i had forgotten how much i had wanted to watch the planes land sometime while i was home. so i slowed down on the freeway and waited for the next one to head in. i watched it from the rearview mirror as i missed my exit to 121 again. i realized it twenty minutes later as the dallas skyline appeared over the curve of the superhighway. "crap!" i shouted to my dashboard. and then i looked again at the neon green building that had been in the opening scene of every imax movie i had seen as a kid on school field trips to the dallas museum of natural history. and i held my breath for a moment, remembering how beautiful the dallas skyline at night really is.

after this lovely little moment, i promptly took the next exit and turned around heading north again, away from the skyline, back to my sister and my bed . . . and my computer -- because at this point i just wanted to write. interviews with murdock and with radiohead's tom york (and with two mothers of mentally-retarded sons who have published their letters to one another about their lives) have been circling in my brain and pummeling my fear of writing, my fear of creating. i just had to get home and get at least some of it out of me.

it's not enough. i keep thinking something's going to be enough. i have been made aware during this trip of my constant, nagging desire for more, something better, something that will make me enough. each new book on the subject or cup of coffee with a friend, i think i've finally grasped it, finally come to realize that God really is enough. every time my heart gets broken, i think, yes, this time i've got it--this time it hurts enough for me to say with permanence: My God is sufficient.

but over the past days, i've come to abhor the phrase, "this is my friend--she lives in germany" simply because i like to hear it so much. living and working in europe, in part, has been just one more pursuit of my heart to be enough. to have done enough. to have it said of me that i am enough.

staring into blinking ruby taillights tonight, i faced the familiar realization that even this, even this part of my life that i have given away, even this is not enough.

he really is -- he really is -- he really is -- enough. sufficient. complete.

and i feel my striving, trying, tired muscles relax once more into sweet sleep.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fall Party Fun, Part 2

be sure to watch after the first one. that's why it's called "part two."

line missing between Part 1 & Part 2:

"...I didn't know."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Summer Bloggin

A friend of mine was playing with a roll of duct tape on the couch tonight. After it had hit me for the third time I said, "You know some people have made whole purses and outfits and things out of that stuff."

To which he replied, "Yeah, I've even heard about people showing up to prom completely decked out in it."

I just kind of stared at him disbelievingly and grabbed his laptop. Knowing me well, he chortled, "What, are you going to google it?"

"Just hang on there, bucko," I retorted.


It's been good and hard to be in Kandern this summer. I almost put the word alone with the in Kandern part, but I haven't really been alone. It's just somehow felt more lonely without the students and most of the staff around. The pile of books by my bed has been a bit taller, and there's been some travelling, some hiking, some sewing, some picture-taking. I've met some cool new friends and hung out with some cool old friends, too.

But I haven't really felt like myself, and though I feel like I've been learning a lot , it seems to have gotten to a point of "naval-gazing," as my graduate music research professor liked to call opinions created entirely from one's own viewpoint. New staff is arriving, and I feel out of practice in simply saying hi and asking questions. I actually shook the hand of a new resident assistant at church this morning, said hi, and then just kind of stared at her. "Oh right, where are you from?" I finally stammered out.


"Look!" and I handed the computer back to him. "Right there!" And I showed him one of my posts from last summer: "You Did What? Part One." There it was--the proud couple with their duct-tape tux and fancy dress. He then proceeded to read aloud one of my most embarrassing moments, which was pretty much self-made and which I had completely forgotten about.

"You really did that?" my roommate Julia asked incredulously as we laughed and huddled together on the couch.

"Oh yeah, I did. I can't believe I forgot that."

It made me miss my family. It made me miss writing. It made me miss feeling like I have something to write about.

So please catch up on my most embarrassing moments of last summer, and I'll do my best to pay attention to the new ones. If you need more than Part One, then check out Part Two as well.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Missing Kansas

I stripped my brown sweater yesterday of its brown buttons and replaced them with French-flea-market ones with little pink flowers.

I think the rooster-crowing-at-the-sun thing is a bunch of bunk. The rooster that lives next door to us only crows in the middle of the afternoon. It's 7:00 a.m., I haven't heard a peep out of him yet, and the sun's been up for two hours.

My cat crawled into my lap four times in the past three days. She hasn't done that since we were in Kansas. It reminded me how much I miss Kansas.

I found a Ted Nugent record and was really excited to bring it home and listen to it because Kevin had high-jacked me into meeting the man in KC, and I have the picture to prove it, but I had never really listened to his music before, and now I realize my 2 EURO album is warped and makes shirtless-Ted-with-guitars-for-arms sound like he's been up all night with a bottle of whiskey, which, let's face it, he probably had been.

I dropped Amy off an hour ago to send her back to Kansas. I drove away from the airport with the window down and over the Swiss border to fill up with gas. The border patrol guard waved me through and even mouthed "Morgen," which is German for "good morning." I wasn't expecting a friendly border guard, and I couldn't react quick enough to mouth "morgen" back, so I ended up greeting my dashboard.

We got up at 4:30 this morning to get her to the airport, and I meant to go right back to bed when I got home, so I am going to join the kitty on my bed now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I think God's been taking me down a path of laying at his feet my worries, fears, and hopes of what others think of me and my work. A book called TrueFaced by Thrall, McNicol, and Lynch describes it as trusting God--trusting what he says about who I am already, that he is already pleased by me, and that I can please him no more than I do right now. That's some major trust.

I was supposed to pick up the Gibbons family from Frankfurt this morning at 10:00. The trip began somewhat troublingly at 7:00 a.m. when I couldn't find their car to drive up in. Then about an hour into the trip, I decided to get some gas and put unleaded into their diesel tank. My cell phone went dead in the middle of the call to the tow-truck. I waited at a dealership for three hours, paid for the repairs, finished the hour and a half trip to the airport, rode back another three hours with the Gibbons and just got home tonight at 9:00. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have cried today. I am emotionally, spiritually, physically wiped.

My dear friend Susie drove up to sit with me at the dealership and bought me a sandwich. She's so great. She reminded me that we don't know why God works the way he does. He could have been saving me from a major accident. As I drove away with a newly-cleaned gas tank and headed toward Frankfurt again, I asked God against the wind beating through the open windows of the van if I was able to really say that I felt his love. Could I honestly say in that moment that I felt loved? I had cost this family money and time sitting in tremendous heat after an already long 14-hour travel itinerary. . . I had made a stupid mistake and had been mentally replaying what should have happened for five hours.

I've been reading TrueFaced every night for the past couple weeks and have been trying to understand and soak in yet again a God who loves me just as I am (It seems the more painful times in my life boil down to the question: will I choose to see myself as God sees me?) It's pretty easy to believe I am loved when I am freshly-showered and powdered and lying between clean pink sheets. It is harder to believe when I am stinky, sweaty, using bad German grammar and putting unleaded into diesel tanks.

I think I did feel his love today more than I have in awhile. By the grace of God I understood a bit better how to trust him with the all-masks-off me.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My World Cup Tribute

that crazy screen you're seeing in the background (that is, unless you're blinded by the cuteness in the foreground) is the official fanfest area in frankfurt. that baby was double-sided, double-stick fun for the espana game in which we partook.

those crazy germans.

a skyscraper in frankfurt. the word for skyscraper in german is "Hochhaus," which literally means "high house."

germany hasn't seen this many flags waving in a long time.

drive-by waving.

the teens at the local cafe hanging out together. the guy up on the mantel was the self-proclaimed cheer leader. they love them some football.

thar she blows!

the best part of wakin' up . . .

i woke up to this email today:

"i have a very reserved, kind of nerdy first-grade student who always plays ahead in his book. so whenever we are starting a new piece he can already play it, but just with a screwed up rhythm. he is very small and polite, and he is asian but does not have any kind of accent--but he said something today that shocked me so much that i thought at first he was speaking a different language or something. after playing through 'skip to my lou', he very politely said, 'miss nicole, once i held my poop so long, i had a seizure.'

well, i couldn't believe my ears so i said, 'ooooooh! look at the next song! it's a really cool one!'"
blessed be the ties of bodily functions that bind. or, in this case, that don't bind . . .

Thursday, July 20, 2006

meet the newest family member

hit ctrl + end to meet the new baby!

kittyrific will now be here to entertain you for those long months between posts.

treat her nice. no knives or flame-throwers allowed. and myles, watch where you're driving.

Friday, July 14, 2006

idylls & idols

“When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere…then the artist listens.” -Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

worship makes me uncomfortable.

i had been looking forward to tonight's worship concert all week. "looking forward to" really means "experiencing simultaneous enthusiasm and dread." there's a stirring and then just staring.

dr. parsons spoke last sunday morning on the rich young ruler who came to Jesus. he emphasized that the young man had initiated the conversation with this esteemed teacher and yet walked away unable to give what He had asked of him. "are you listening to what God might be asking you to give up?" he asked. "are you willing to lay down your riches--your Idol?"

i don't know whether to put my hands in the air or clasp them together when i sing. more often than not, they're gripped white-knuckled in front of me. it's more comfortable. in fact, i like the title "worship concert" because concert gives me license to stay seated--also more comfortable.

was that a IV chord or a V chord?

after dr. parsons' sermon and the visible school had led worship, someone asked me if i ever led worship at the church. two weeks earlier at a wedding party, one of my german friends had asked why i had never helped with worship at our german church. i answered both questions with something like, "well, it's not really my thing." "i haven't really had much experience." "i've been classically trained." what i wanted to say was: because it's scary as hell.

i live with a piano now. it's not greatly in-tune, but i find myself at it often. especially mornings and rainy afternoons. i've been drawn the past few weeks to bach's partita in c minor, and the sinfonia melody gets stuck in my head.

the last performance i saw at ouachita was the great god brown by eugene o'neill. the play had brilliantly captured the fear of rejection and the masks that we have grown to love and see as our true faces. i couldn't leave my seat when it was over. the actors had removed their masks for the curtain-call, and i had inadvertently reached up and removed my glasses.

what does it feel like to play the sinfonia for bach's ears only? how hard would i have to listen to only hear what chopin said about my fingers on his ballade?

my masks, my idols . . . they are c chords and d chords. they are green glasses and paisley skirts. they are cat hair and geraniums. they are tattoos and toenails. i'm serving the wrong art, i'm tired.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

ok, as promised, it was a hazy day but if you look closely, you can still make out a bit of africa in the distance to the left and the geat continent of europe (spain) on the right. we were standing on the rock of gibraltar, which is technically britain, and also the very spot where timothy dalton walked as 007 in "living daylights." now if that ain't vacation . . .

this was my new friend carl. we met on gibraltar, but it was a short-lived relationship. i refused to give him any sugar.

se�or pepe peep, our faithful traveling companion on spring break, enjoying a little sun.

se�or peep climbing the rock of gibraltar.

these are the two ladies responsible for our beautiful vacation in spain. thanks, guys! we had such an incredible time. they each received a mr. pepe peep tshirt for inviting us to accompany them.

our feet on the mediterranean shore.

gena and her camel. watch out -- they spit.

a stop for coffee. this was our second attempt at photographing ourselves. this one's better.

it was holy week, and in spain that's a big deal. every town has its own parade with elaborate floats dedicated to the memory of Jesus' final moments. this parade was in malaga in a reach-over-the-maddening-crowd kind of way.

some of the soldiers in the parade.

hannah is my first student on wednesdays at Sitzenkirch, and is quite the loose cannon . . . as you can see here. she also speaks french, but sometimes we talk in our own made-up language.

brooklyn was my first student at Sitzenkirch (the elementary school) on mondays. she looked like this every week -- big smile, mischievous look in her eye. i had to get her off the playground during lunchtime for her lessons, and i think she may have "not heard me calling" a time or two. :) she got through half of her Bastien level two books this year and did an amazing job of improving her playing from memory. that girl gets a lot done when she puts her mind to it!

peggy, the violin teacher, and i played for the staff appreciation dinner this year. they had the most beauuuuuuuuutiful steinway grand at the hall we rented, so of course i had to give it a whirl after the dinner as well. gena and whitney thought this was the perfect photo opportunity. i just like those guys...

fasching was earlier this spring, and is a pretty big deal in this area. this is a view out one of our skylight windows. there's a little band gathered around the fountain, and if you look closely, you'll see people dressed up in furry costumes as well. those crazy germans.

nobody would play mad libs with me at beth's bday party.

clockwise around table from left: whitney, micah, sharri, julia (nice face!), and heather (she belongs to micah)

clockwise from left: me, Chrissy, Chris (behind my big head), beth, heather, sharri.

i found this little record player earlier this year, and designated myself DJ for dave & beth's bye party. it was our first use of the little porch we discovered two months ago.

my roommate gena was head girls soccer coach this year, and her girls gave her this huge chocolate soccer ball as a thank you present. it's nice living with the coach, especially when you get to eat smashed chocolate soccer balls.

dave and beth have been such a fun part of this first year in kandern. beth and i led our small group of sophomores together, and saw each other on mondays and wednesdays when i taught at the elementary school. we both like newberry medal award-winning books (madeleine' l'engle's wrinkle in time is on that list) and took up felting together -- her felting skills have really taken off, however, and her credits include a nativity scene and a cat-head cat toy for edwina. dave likes to borrow my simpsons and laugh with me at my birthday season of seinfeld. :) it's just been really nice to have dave and beth as friends. i'm going to miss them terribly next year as they move back to the chicago area.

they came in contact! we'll miss you, dave & beth!

there they are -- the graduates of 06!

football fever is going strong

so here we are today -- cleaning

Monday, April 10, 2006


I'm in Spain! We went to see the Rock of Gibraltar today and there are wild and free monkeys! A baby walked right up to us! It was amazing. I promise to post pictures--including one of the Spanish and Moroccan coasts in the same picture! Oh my goodness this world is incredible!

Love you guys!

Monday, April 03, 2006


to Kevin

We couldn't find the nails.

We had sought and sought. We were exhausted from the soughting. Gena and I had been up and down the aisles of Bauhaus, the German Home Depot, looking watchedly for the little boogers. We had found circular Christmas lights, browsed magnetic photo-covers for your washing machine, and finally located hammers, but no nails. And as much as I say I am loving learning German, I am probably just as equally hating the actually-using-it-and-possibly-looking-stupid part. Sometimes it's all I can do to gruntingly grunt out a "danke" or "tchüss."

"Oh, allright. I guess I'll go ask that guy over there," and I was already half-way to the info stand.

*cough, cough* I politely coughed.

"Ja, kann ich Ihnen hilfen?" Not even upwards looking up, the man helpfully asked if I needed any help.

"Um . . . ja, ich suche die . . . " and here I realized that I didn't actually know the word for nail. It was the pause that must have prompted my especially-helpful employee to join my playful game of foreign-language charades. I held up the pretend nail in my left hand and began to pound poundingly at it with the pretend hammer in my right hand. After what I considered to be a sufficient number of pretend whacks for the pretend nail to have been appropriately and sufficiently erected by the pretend hammer, I stopped and grimaced over at him.

"Achso. Sie suchen diese oder diese?" he asked questioningly, pointing to each of my pretend items.

"Diese." (I would hope by this point in the story that I wouldn't have to spend a great deal of time telling you which of the "not real but just pretend" items it was that I gestured to. That would just be a waste of my time and yours.)

"Ah, ein Nagel."

"Genau! Nagel!" and here's where I decided to get fancy and form the plural of nails on my own and try again . . .

"Wie komme ich zum Nageln?"


You know, you have to wonder how Janet Jackson felt in the middle of her "star-studded" Super Bowl fiasco. At what point did she realize she was giving us a partial monty, baring her . . . soul to the a world that was about to dish it back to her via internet review-sites. At what point was it glaring that even years later semi-monthly bloggers would be comparing their own shining shame to her bare-chested performance?

"Um, you don't vant to say dat. Dat is some-ting else."

Apparently in the dialect of this region, I had just asked him where I should go to get nailed.

"Nägel sind am Gang 12."

"Danke," I grunted as we each turned, reddening.

Anybody have a sweater? It's getting a bit nippy in here.


Monday, March 06, 2006

The Jewish Nation and Me, Part 1: Seder Barbie

Oi! You must watch this film! (It received honorable mention at Sundance this year.)

I got my first Barbie in first grade. She had a purple-sequined gown with a versatile silk wrap that I could twist behind her head or around her plastic arms. Marianne, the daughter of the pastor of the church that had started our little Christian school, gave her to me. She was in second grade. Josh was in second grade. Josh could shoot baskets and make people laugh, and when I overheard him in the lunch line for Frito pies say that he liked girls with ponytails, I wore a ponytail for the rest of the year. Barbie's hair got put in a ponytail, too.

Seven years ago, I found out I was Jewish. Well, an eighth Jewish anyway. My dad's grandmother on his mother's side had fled Germany and changed her name. She changed her name and married my great-grandfather. Their name was Diabell. So Grandma Jean is half-Jewish, my dad is a quarter-Jew, and my brother and I share the rights and privileges of the eighth-Jewish.

I packed up Barbie and her friends a few years ago. Since first grade we had each learned to play tennis, joined a rock band, and collected a few boyfriends. I remembered huddling with them in the bottom of my closet while hurricanes and tornadoes ravaged us. Her legs were sticky and discolored. Her hair was stiff, and stayed pulled back even after I had untangled the ponytail holder. I baby-powdered each leg of each doll and dressed them in their favorite outfits before closing the cardboard flaps again.

As a child, I enjoyed imagining the
total destruction of my beloved Barbie collection. My Barbies liked their plastic men with dark hair. I grew up in the southern midwest United States. I went to my first Passover meal last year and didn't stay for the whole thing. I have always liked my dad's pork chops--medium-well, still juicy with seasoned salt.

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." --I Samuel 16:7
I am a bearer of the image of God's son. I am a descendant of royalty and a rich heritage. I am a princess dressed in white, twirling beneath the snowflakes that fall today in Kandern. I am beloved and caressed. I can take my hair out of its ponytail. For my Abba, my beautiful One, is pursuing my heart and has captured me.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

our living room is now yellow!

the view from my bedroom window

the other view from my bedroom window

Bern Bears

"awwww, beeeears!"

Gena's favorite part of Bern was the bears. These are only two of the ten pictures she took of them... Bern means "bears," and the city has apparently kept bears for over two hundred years. I don't know... they didn't look that old. *mwu-wah-hah*

another bear

285 steps of Bern

beth, whitney, and me. gena was behind the camera. we took a weekend daytrip to the Swiss capital. it's about two hours away from kandern, or, as i like to put it, a full four games of sudoku.

we climbed this there...

in order to see this. looking closer at our view, we discovered dirty laundry, an empty birdcage being used as an outdoor fridge, and i revisited a bout with fear of verticals.

why yes, that is the celebrated ogre-eating-children fountain that you have heard so much about.

now that's a slide.

whitney had seen the spinny-thingy from the top of the cathedral and just had to sit in it...

so we did, too

a musical fly... we apparently hit the city during a protest of the World Economic Forum that was soon to be held in a Swiss resort town. this guy sure made me think twice about my use of the Dsus in a C Minor world...

me, beth, and cappuccino in bern

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dear Miss Emily

Dear Miss Suzanne,
Hi, I am ******'s daughter. They have Awana Clubs here in Missouri. In my Awana book says that I need to write a letter to a missionary and ask them some questions.Could you please answer some questions:
Where do you work? What is your job? What is the hardest part about being a missionary? What do you like best about being a missionary?Thank you for answering these questions!




Dear Miss Emily,

Thank you for your letter! I am so glad to hear that you are involved in Awana there in Missouri. I remember having a lot of fun in Awana clubs. I think I enjoyed all of the crazy games the most! :) Our gym floor at school had a HUGE red, green, blue, and yellow circle outlined on it--and it was just for us kids. I felt so special... Which group of Awana are you in now? What's your favorite part of going to Awana?

Ok, now you had asked me some questions...ah yes, here they are. Let's see, first, "Where do you work?" I work at Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany. (I think you probably remember a thing or two about that place! :) ) "What do you do?" I teach piano lessons to 39 missionary kids this year. My youngest student is in second grade, and my oldest students are in twelfth grade. Now, answering those two questions was pretty easy for me to do. It's your next two questions that make me think a little bit more. That might also be the reason I didn't answer your email sooner--sorry. It's just that your questions were so darn good!

"What is the hardest part about being a missionary?" Emily, I think the hardest part for me is trying not to live up to the word missionary. Have you ever known someone that you really wanted to be your friend? What did you try to do to get them to be your friend? Did you make something for them? Did you do nice things for them? Did you want them to see how well you could sing or draw or dance?

I think sometimes I think being a "good missionary" is treating Jesus like someone that I really want to be my friend. I try to impress Him by how many students I can teach or how well I can teach them to play scales (your dad has taught you about scales by now, I'm sure!). But Jesus doesn't want to be my friend because I can do all these things for Him. He wants to be my friend because He already loves me. Wow... that's pretty incredible, isn't it? Can you imagine if every person you ever wanted to be your friend, already liked you! Well, the best friend out there (the one that sticks closer than a brother... that means closer than Calvin... ok, maybe you'll understand that one better in a couple years... Calvin, be nice to your sister!) eh-hem, the best friend out there wants to be my friend already. And sometimes the hardest part is to stop trying to impress Him and to start getting to know my Friend better.

"What do you like best about being a missionary?" I am sooo glad you asked that question! My students are my favorite part of being a missionary. I think it's because they are teaching me so much about the countries they have lived in and the friends they have made there. They tell me funny stories and ask me questions that make me laugh and (not very unlike your questions) make me think. They make me want to get to know our Friend better.

Now, I'm no C. S. Lewis, but I hope this email answered your questions well. And I hope that you will get to know our Friend better, too.

Lots of love, Emily,

Monday, February 13, 2006


Tonight's the Valentine's party at school, and I've been home sick all day sleeping, coughing, blowing my nose, and watching the sixth season of Frasier (thanks, Sharri). On Friday, the high school guys were supposed to wear a hat to school if they were available, and the girls would then pin something to the hat of the guy they asked to the Valentine party. Girls at the dorm on Thursday night were a bit giddy, and I hear that there was a crowd of girls waiting for the guys' dorm vans to arrive early Friday morning. :) Sorry I missed that photo opportunity!

Last weekend, I went with the strings and choir kids to a church in France to do outreach. First, we visited a hospital and a nursing home. It's been a long time since I visited a nursing home. There are two that I walk past on my way to school every day. If I leave early enough, there's a woman who will be in the common room on the second floor of the building closest to school. She'll wave down at me, and I'll wave back up. If I forget to look up, she'll rap on the glass to remind me. I haven't left early enough in a couple weeks. And it certainly hasn't occurred to me to go in and visit her. I'm sure there are whole college courses on this subject--I know it's gotta be related to my fear of being in there myself or the inability to face old age. Whatever it is, it sucks, and I don't like it.

Maybe I expect them to be cranky or not care, because I was really surprised when the men and women in Mullhouse were appreciative and some followed us around the entire time. One old man was walking around and clapping for each song. The ladies with us explained that he was a pianist and had been pretty famous in his younger days. He wanted to give us a concert, too, so we agreed to meet him downstairs by the piano after we were done.

A few choir members and one of their faithful fans.

One woman started yelling unintelligible syllables while the kids were singing a capella in the hallway. I had designated myself official photographer, since we decided not to lug a keyboard up and down the halls. I don't know any French, so I motioned to some of the women that did. "I think it might be too loud for her," I offered. The lady chaplain went in to speak with her. "No, she just wants the group to come into her room so she can see them," the chaplain explained.

She had explained to us earlier that nearly all of the 400 people in that hospital wing would be in a bed for the rest of their lives. So 20 of us crammed into the small hospital room and sang "Give Me Jesus." The last verse was especially moving to those of us who spoke English..

Oh and when I come to die
Oh and when I come to die
Oh and when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
Oh and when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Dangit, I want to have Him before that! After writing all of this, I have visions of myself becoming the next Florence Nightingale to the nursing homes of Germany. In high school, I started walking to the nursing home across the street with my piano books. I played on the baby grand in the foyer, and there were lots of folks who would wheel or walker themselves in to listen. But then they started asking for requests. I didn't know the pieces they wanted to hear, and I felt like I disappointed them. So I didn't go anymore. Maybe that was just my excuse, though, to not have to go back.

The formerly-famous pianist gave us a delightful concert on the electric piano downstairs. He and his knobby, niccotine-stained fingers played Chopin, Debussy, and a familiar French tune. I sat right by his hands, and he looked up, smiled, and winked while mumbling in French. We cheered and clapped, and some of the kids played for him, too. As we left, I gave him the traditional French kiss-on-each-cheek goodbye. He grinned and reached for his cigarettes that one of the chaplains was holding out for him.

I guess walking in was relatively easy. It was the walking out that was hard. Walking out is still hard. Maybe that means I should be walking back in more often . . .

(pictures from the trip)

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I am now sitting at school at my desk in my office that I am oh-so-proud-of. The walls have finally been hung with a painting of daffodils on a red background, a mirror (for the flute students who need to check their embouchure--I promise), and a music staff-lined chalkboard with the question, "What is a scale?" The tall, curly bamboo that I bought at IKEA last fall is still twisting toward the sun on the marbled windowsill next to my desk. The plant next to it was not so lucky--picture a three-weeks-with-no-shower Kid Rock.... but without the hat to hide under. Ravel's La Valse is swelling and pulsing from the cd player behind me, and Für Elise is seeping through the so-very-not-sound-proofed neighboring wall. I just took a break from this post to give my friend Julia a hug, fill the hot-water-making pot, and wash my coffee mug--it's spiced tea for me this morning, though. It should be ready in a few minutes.

In a bold move, I left my gloves at the apartment door this morning and walked to school with my hands inside the pockets of my lime-green coat. It wasn't as cold as it has been but just enough to force me to tuck my chin behind my thick collar and tilt my head down to avoid doggy treasures on the sidewalk. Success today--my school shoes remain undefiled!

Laurel is coming in 12 minutes for her lesson. I love this kid. She's got the curliest hair in school and just got a short bob over break. She always has a smile stretched from ear-to-ear. In one of our lessons last year, she was telling me about a boy that she liked. Well, somewhere in the story, I picked up the phrase "...and then he kissed me."

"Oh, so that's why it was awkward?" I asked.


"It was the post-kiss awkwardness..." I tried to explain.

"WHAT! NO! HE DIDN'T KISS ME!!" and she burst into the most endearing fit of giggles and snorts.

So I've made it to the leaf particles at the bottom of my tea, and the soundtrack is now Daphnis et Chloe. The post-it on my monitor reads "What's my goal? What do I want (really)?" I think right now I want to change the cd (really).

p.s. the boy in the picture is her brother, Corban.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I Fought the Settlers, and the, Settlers won

It has pursued me, and it has won.

the settlers of catan

I love this game. Mz first invitation to plaz was over a zear ago, and I plazed for the first time last night. Thanks for having a birthdaz, Dave. It has changed mz life.

Germans know their Wurst, snowsports, and games that involve cards. Promise me. Promise me... if zou are given the chance to plaz that zou will take that chance. Zou see, thereäs this island that zou are trzing to ÄsettleÄ on... )i think thatäs where most of the name comes from? and zou can build roads... but onlz if zou have wood and bricks because we all k now thatäs where real roads come from but if zou have too much wood or wheat zou can alwazs trade it in for a sheep or two but thatäs onlz if someone else has a sheep that thez want to trade for zour wood or wheat ... mazbe zou should ask someone else to walk zou through it, though. someone that uses fewer zäs in their explanation...

p.s. couldnät get the kezboard off the deutsche version