Monday, October 15, 2012

a change is gonna come

here comes a change.

Jens accepted a job offer in Berlin.  We're moving!

We have a few weeks here to wrap up at work and pack up our lovely apartment.  Then, we travel.  Our last day of work will be November 1 (since Friday the 2nd is a Ghanaian holiday).

The plan so far:
A week in Ghana, seeing some sights.  I've never even left the south of the country.
4-6 weeks doing we're-not-sure-what. Certainly looking for a place to live in Berlin.
A week or two with J's family over Christmas.
Get to Berlin.  New year, new job, new phase of life!

He's leaving his 5-year-strong employer for an exciting startup.  I'm leaving my job here and trying for something completely different.  Details are yet to be determined.

Naturally I'm excited-and-scared.  Berlin was a dream of mine just a few months ago.  After we visited Germany in August, I realized my German was pretty darn good, and that (southwest) Germany (in summer) was nice.  I had a week of family and a couple days of shopping.  And somehow, that translated into "Let's Live Here!" (or somewhere nearby.)

Now I'm nervous (of course) because I haven't ever used German for extended periods of time.  At least with French, I have 1 1/2 hours of chatting every week in my class-of-one at work.  It's hard work, and my French has dramatically improved in confidence and fluency.  It has to, when I'm the only student in the class.  With German, though I sat in class four nights a week, I could cruise through an hour of class without speaking.

I'm sad to leave the community here.  I'm nervous about going from a country where everything is relaxed to one that couldn't be more uptight unless they were Swiss.  In Ghana, if something doesn't happen as expected, it's God's plan.  It will happen in God's time.  In Germany, I don't think things are that simple.  On the one hand, things WORK much more often and much more easily.  On the other, sometimes it's very nice to be laid-back.

I'm nervous because I'm leaving an office with people I like.  A place I know.  Year-round warm climate - still haven't gotten tired of that.  And we'll be jumping straight into the middle of winter!

I'm nervous because I was in bad health when we left Ireland but have been almost cold-free since we moved here.  Did I catch those colds because of the temperature in Ireland, and will I get them again in winter in Germany?  Was it just the horrible AC units at my job in Dublin?  Was it the weather fluctuations, changing 10 degrees within 5 minutes?  What will it be like in Germany?

My manager and I told the rest of my department at our weekly meeting 2 weeks ago.  People were quite surprised.  It's only been "potentially real" in my head for the last 3 weeks, too!  Less than a month ago is when J was in Germany for the last interview.  Before that it was still hazy.  It was only two weeks ago that he signed his new contract.  We always thought we'd leave within the next year - but not within the next month.

I found a note from the Head sitting in my departmental inbox, accepting my resignation.  Touchingly, she wished both me and Jens the best.  I don't use "touchingly" lightly - I really was moved by her taking that little step to confirm his name, spell it right, personalize my note.  And most amusing was that she got Jens's name right, but completely missed the ball on the date of my resignation letter.  Someone else must have resigned on January 12, because that's what's on my note.

These are the types of things that will happen in Ghana, and in this context it's charming.  In Germany it would be unthinkable.

We've already started packing up the house, organizing books into keep and give/sell piles, and I'm throwing away almost all of my two years' worth of accumulated German notes.  But keeping the textbooks.  Here goes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the Day of Atonement

It's that time of year again.  Yom Kippur.  The day when nothing but prayers and air pass our lips for 25 hours.

This means settling in for a night of worries.  Did I eat enough beforehand?  Did I drink enough?  When will the first pangs hit?  Will I get a headache this year?  Does my throat feel dry already?!  Do I feel bad for turning on the computer and breaking the chag?

How long can I hold off peeing so I don't feel like I'm losing all my water?

What time does the dream come where I wake up in the morning and absentmindedly drink a glass of water?  Every year I have that dream!!

Along with the bigger questions, such as: Did I offend anyone?  Have I truly repented for the sins I've committed in the past year?  Have I asked forgiveness from everyone who I can possibly think of?

One of my favorite quotes on religion and forgiveness goes like this:
What we remember, God forgets.  What we forget, God remembers.

When we remember our sins and ask forgiveness for them, God will "forget" them and not hold them against us.  But when we remember our good deeds and gloat about them, they become less important to God.
When we forget the good deeds we've done, God will use them as credit to our names.  But when we forget the bad things and don't repent for them, God remembers those.

Inspiration to live a modest and meaningful life.

With that, I'm going to turn off the machine, crack open a book and try not to think of food or water.

Monday, September 10, 2012

trip report.

our trip was decidedly not a vacation.

For two weeks we met with friends, went to appointments, attended weddings, planned our own; discussed, reunited, celebrated, prepared, shopped.

Things we did not do:
spend lots of time in any one place with any one person (including each other)

We got so much stuff done on this trip. It came at the expense, though, of a lot of time for personal connections. I'm returning to work feeling disoriented, and not just because my body thinks it's still 1 in the morning. I was looking forward to buying some specialty groceries, and I had promised to cook for my parents.

We only cooked four times on this trip. One was breakfast and two were last-minute pasta dinners. We didn't spend long periods of time with ANYONE, which feels like we were denying ourselves and them a rare chance of hanging out. I didn't have any time to browse shops, though I did get to rush around 3 stores for 2 hours looking for wedding shoes. even that didn't work - my mom ended up finding & ordering the winning pair online.

What we DID do:
We touched ground on 4 continents within 24 hours.
I met a long-time internet friend in person for the first time.
Had dinner and beers with friends who used to live in Accra.
I got a great curly haircut.
Celebrated the weddings of two couples dear to my heart, and saw an old friend for the first time in 5 years.
Spent nearly 3 full days planning our wedding. The planner we hired is great.
Drove to/from the Denver airport 5 times in 3 days. I received and resized my wonderful custom engagement ring.
Tasted some gorgeous buffalo and a moist carrot cake.
I found my wedding dress!! shoes, too.

all in all... tradeoffs were made and I'm not happy about all of them -- but we got a LOT done which we won't have to worry about in the wedding-timeline countdown now.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

the festival of noise

Every year around August, Homowo sweeps through Accra.  Translated as "hooting at hunger," this month-long (!!!) festival commemorates the end of a famine some time back in history.  Every night it shifts to another neighborhood.  And the point of the thing is to make as much noise as possible.

I haven't slept well for ages, and was planning to take it easy tonight so I could catch up on some rest.  But when I got home from work I saw TWO houses on our block had set up huge tents, and had cars parked all over.  House guest informed me the music's been going on "a long time" already.

I think my plan's gonna be really difficult.


edit, the next day -- it ended at midnight, not too bad in the scheme of things.  better than that time the music went until 2AM in March.  This time, my attitude was much better, too: "I can't change them, so I'll just relax and try my best to sleep through it until it stops."  I did drift in and out of sleep for about 2 hours.  Better than getting myself allll worked up for something I don't have a hope of changing.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I heard about an hour ago about a shooting in an Aurora theater, very close to home.  They were having a midnight screening of the new Batman movie when a gunman set off a smoke or tear gas canister and opened fire; current numbers are 15 dead and 50 injured.

First question is why this guy was able to have 3 guns; why are guns legal?
Second thought is I'm worried I won't feel safe in any public space in the US any more.
Third thought: he was shooting what witnesses said was "random."  Why?  What could you possibly prove by doing this?

Not to mention, I have friends who are midnight-screening types, and God, I hope they are okay.  I hope they weren't there.

I can't focus at work any more... may end up calling today a wash overall, just trying to do as much as I can. Not much.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


We have our car back with a new engine!  It only cost us an extra 1/3 of the price they originally told us.  Even at the dealership, you can always be sure they will neglect to tell you that your repair needs an extra 500 cedis' worth of parts and labor, which wasn't mentioned to you at all until the day the car was ready.

The engine runs well, anyway, but we are bringing it back because the steering wheel steers crooked (not the car's wheels, just the steering wheel).  They say they can do that repair in a day.  Here's hoping.

The weather's nice nowadays; cool in the mornings and evenings and very manageable during the day.  We're gearing up for our visit to Europe next week - we leave Thursday night and I'm really excited.  We're spending a 24-hour layover in Istanbul seeing the sights. Then I'll be looking at wedding dresses in Dublin and going to a wedding in Germany.  A month later we're off to Toronto, two weddings in the States and a four-day whirlwind planning trip for our own next May.

Work has offered me a new contract and a raise.  All I gotta do now is get my life settled down enough to get blogging again and start planning our wedding...!

Friday, June 15, 2012

a conversation of horns

Yesterday two drivers had a conversation, entirely with their car horns.  It went like this:
Car 1 swerves into the other lane to avoid stopped cars -- into car 2's path.
Car 1: Be-beep.
Car 2 swerves into car 1's lane to avoid stopped tro-tros in the right lane. 
Car 1: Beep beep beep beep!
Car 2: Watch it!  You're about to hit me!
Car 1: Sorry o.
Car 2 swerves.
Car 1: Watch it yourself!  Hypocrite!
Car 2: Hey, serves YOU right for almost hitting me.
Car 1: I'll show you, you uppity little so-and-so!
I promise, this is exactly how it went.