Archive for the ‘So ist das Leben!’ Category

Latest Read: Nectar in a Sieve

May 28, 2011

I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads.  It is simply written, making for a fast read, but it is also beautifully and poignantly written, giving it a quiet intensity.  The author is a keen observer of human nature and the world around her, and these observations are reflected in the very real personalities of her characters, and her vivid use of descriptive language.  Your heart is drawn to the main character throughout her story.  Set in rural India in the 1950s, it begins with her arranged marriage at age 12, and follows the struggles she and her family face to in order to survive.  The simple wisdom by which she lives has the ring of truth to it, despite being constantly juxtaposed against her utter innocence of the harsh realities in the world around her.

When I first started reading it, I couldn’t put it down all night, but after a while the constant stream of tragedy & catastrophe started to get me down, and I went a little slower.  It’s a good book, but don’t expect to be heartened by it.  If you want a laugh, grab something by Dave Barry.  This one’s more likely to bring you to tears.

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Color my World

May 26, 2011

The company I work for expects us to “make each customer’s day.”  Despite our excellent customer service skills, none of us ever did that so well as the little boy who was in Jing Jing Garden when I went to get some takeout last night.  He’s the son of the couple who operate the restaurant, and he spends a lot of time there while mom & dad work.  Consequently he often amuses himself by involving customers in his games and activities, and last night was no exception.

I placed my order and sat down to wait.  He came over and peered unabashedly into the shopping bag I’d placed on the table.  It contained three books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in German and English, plus my German dictionary).  He gave me a puzzled look and said, “What do you need those for?”

I replied that I liked to read them.  He then informed me that he liked to color, and pushed my bag aside to make room for a coloring book and a box of markers.  Then he asked, “Do you want to color with me?”  I said, “Sure.  Why not?”  He flipped to a page with a picture of a cement mixer, handed me a lime-green marker, and told me to color the barrel, but to stay in the lines.  So I started coloring.

The marker was clearly long-used; the felt tip was smashed flat, and it was nearly dry.  I remarked on that last point, and was informed that, no, the marker was not dry, I just had to press hard, which he demonstrated for me before handing the marker back and allowing me to continue.  Thus chastened, I suppressed a smile, pressed harder and finished the barrel, then asked which part I should do next.  He gave me a dark green marker and pointed out the sections I was to color:  the windshield, cab, front bumper, and the one tire he had not already colored gray.  I finished the first three and moved on to the tire, at which point he looked down and exclaimed in exasperation, “No!  Not that part!”  Fortunately at that point his mother announced that my order was ready.  So apparently I won’t be getting high marks for following instructions, but at least I stayed in the lines.

Rock, baby!

July 3, 2010

Scene:  I’m sitting in a plastic wading pool in the backyard with my six-year-old nephew and his dad, surrounded by bits of broken water balloons.  My nephew (who knows his way around an iPod) suddenly sings a fragment of “Fire and Ice” with all the enthusiasm, styling and mannerisms of a stage pro.

Me:  My nephew’s gone pop star!

Him:  I’m singing rock, baby!

Hair today, gone tomorrow!

May 23, 2010

Well, it’s done.  I finally took the plunge and chopped it all off.  I am less 12 inches of hair and ready to mail what will be my third donation to Locks of Love.  My head feels about ten pounds lighter, and I don’t have to spend so much quality time with my hairbrush now, so that’s a relief.

Losing that much hair all at once takes some getting used to.  It was quite a surreal experience the first time a stylist chopped off my ponytail and waved it in front of my face.  It’s even weirder the first time you try to run your fingers through your hair afterward… and run out of hair.  This time around I nearly gave myself whiplash after washing my hair.  Flipping my head over to wrap my hair in a towel used to require a certain amount of momentum, and after showering the day I had it cut, I flipped my head like normal only to find that there was nothing left to flip.  My neck didn’t care for the experience, and I nearly lost my balance.

But anyway, it’s all for a good cause, so if any of you long-haired folks out there (and I don’t just mean the ladies, boys!) are thinking about cutting your hair, don’t let it go in the trash!  Locks of Love needs a minimum of 10 inches, and most salons will either send it in for you or give you a form so you can send it yourself.  It’s a simple thing, but every ponytail they get can make a big difference in someone’s life, so if you’re like me and have more hair than you need (or want!), why not let someone else benefit?  🙂

I’m so cool, too bad I’m a loser…

November 30, 2009

That’s the first line of the Barenaked Ladies song, “Falling for the First Time.”  I’m normally not into popular music.  My iPod is filled with what Harvey Reid calls un-pop:  a mixture of classical, folk and musical soundtracks, with a few other oddities thrown in here and there.  But while working at Bath & Body Works and being forced to listen to the same annoying CD on a repeating loop every day until the next one arrived, I fell in love with “Falling for the First Time.”  The lyrics of that particular song just really struck a chord (har!) with me.  After hearing it maybe half a dozen times, I had the whole thing memorized and had worked out a harmony part for myself.  Every time it came on, I sang along, provided there were no customers in the store (which in the Logansport Mall was usually the case).  I eventually wound up buying the CD.  I just love the lyrics; they’re a perfect metaphor for how I’ve felt most of my life, which is to say out of place, out of touch, and utterly misunderstood within the realm of my peer group.  It’s a wistful song of contradictions and confusion:  of sometimes feeling helplessly out of control.  But in some strange way that’s difficult to pinpoint, it’s also a little hopeful.  Just like me.

We learned a charming little concept in 7th grade science:  “Diversity is normal.”  It’s a nice thought, and when asked, anyone would tell you they agree.  Das stimmt.  But in reality, I fear most people rarely think on such terms.  They believe they do, but they don’t.  Everyone, to some degree, has personal biases and opinions that they define as “normal.”  If you don’t conform, you’re weird.  Crazy.  Abnormal.

I bring all this up because these thoughts and feelings I’ve always mulled over to myself were prominent in my mind this past weekend.  Fabiana took a long weekend and went home.  She invited me to go, but I would’ve had to miss school for a couple of days, so I decided to wait and visit her over Christmas break.  I was so desperate for companionship after my lonely Thanksgiving that I wound up spending both Friday and Saturday night with large groups of other students.  I tried to like the smoky bars.  I tried to like the music so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, let alone converse with anyone.  I really did try, but I just couldn’t.  The other students may well think I’m nuts (or anti-social), but I simply can’t enjoy myself in that kind of environment.  Everyone is so kind; they always make every effort to include me.  I genuinely  appreciate their thoughtfulness, but I just can’t get into it.  Every time someone invites me somewhere along those lines, I think, “How bad could it be?”  And every time, I wind up sitting quietly and miserably with my own thoughts, which are usually along the lines of “I’d so much rather be in bed with a good book right now.”  I’m just going to have to stick to quieter activities; that’s all there is to it.  Or maybe I should have my head examined.  Think any of Freud’s descendents are still practicing?