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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More of that "Do it Yourself" Beauty Care

A drum roll please for my second great attempt....

Avant:


Kind of weird and poofy



Apres:



Hm, not as short and/or awesome as I wanted it...




Yes, my t-shirt says "Falcons." And yes, that's my high-school mascot. Gooo Falcons!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flip-flop

Obviously, right this minute, I should be feverishly highlighting pertinent passages from the skillfully photocopied version I have in my possession of the chef d’oeuvre of a certain Mr. G. Hess. I was doing just that, not a few minutes ago, I swear. In fact, I was so overcome with the sheer volume of relevant facts and theories before me that I perhaps was a little over-zealous and sometime this afternoon my highlighter dried up. (Oh! Stabilo Boss, purchased way back in this very town in 2004! The reams of papers we have highlighted together!) I was forced to go to the Super U nearby and purchase a new Stabilo Boss. (green before, yellow now)

There is really only so much high-lighting one can do before one’s wrist needs a break. I also have been thinking about something recently:

Last week, a guest pastor came to church to speak. He was Quebecois, and had left a healthy, growing church in Canada several years ago in order to minister in France. He explained the trouble he and his wife had encountered—both administrative and spiritual—in their journey to obtain the legal right to live The Hexagon. Seeking some advice, he began calling churches and pastors in France. He said he contacted 6 different church organizations. Of those 6, 4 told him, “Don’t come to France.” And of those 4, one church leader confessed that not only did he think it was a bad idea for him to come to France, but that he himself was in the process of trying to get OUT of France.

Sitting there in church, his story made me think of something my sister had said. She currently lives in Nearly the Arctic Circle, Finland, because Helsinki wasn’t quite cold enough. Anyway, she had mentioned how she had one time encountered missionaries sent from Korea at their church in Helsinki.
Koreans…evangelizing…Finns? When did this weird flip occur? What does this tell us about the state of the church today, when countries that were “colonies” or unacquainted with the gospel, now see such a need to take the gospel back to the “colonizers?”

Someone! Please do a study of the implications behind formerly non-Christian places (the Americas and the Far East) sending missionaries to evangelize historically Christian ones (Europe). And then tell me about it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Triptych

For the last week I’ve had three different post ideas in my head, but recently my brain has been busy buzzing with theories regarding India, America and anything Indo-American. Since my meager quantity of grey cells has been thus distracted, (or is it lingering caulk fumes from the landlord trying to fix my kitchen sink this afternoon?) I haven’t been able to devote the necessary brain-space to develop these post ideas past a few sentences. So, I thought I’d mash them up into one post here. Mash blindly and hope for the best, like how I get the DVD player to work.

-I’m still desperately trying to not think about my still nonexistent exam results. But, in sword of Damocles style, I can’t help but be a little bit constantly bothered by them. Seeking some relief, I asked a couple of my French colleagues how long one might expect to wait to know how they’ve faired the previous semester. “C”, from Normandy answered, “But this will take weeks and weeks. And weeks.” Another, “ E” responded to me via text saying, “We won’t have the results before a longtime. We don’t even have the grades for the oral exams yet (taken in November).” How grim.
It just reminds me of the time I got my first Internet bill here. I opened it the day I received it to discover that the “pay by” date was just 2 days away. Frantically I rushed to the post and paid an exorbitant sum to ensure the Internet folks would get my check the very next day. Recounting the incident later to a frenchie, she seemed amused that I had made such an effort to send off my payment. “It’s not so serious if it gets paid by the date they’ve marked,” she said.

-I somehow caught Le gastro Monday morning. Last time I had it a couple years ago (also in France!) I was telling anyone who would listen that I was most likely dying. It is a sad decision—perhaps the saddest—trying to determine which end of one’s person needs to be pointed towards the porcelain waste receptacle with the most urgency. Sometime mid-morning on Monday, I had disposed of everything my body could possibly dispose of, and so I pulled on some sneakers and a jacket over my pajamas and shuffled downstairs to the pharmacy next door. I asked the pharmacienne for something to help with le vomissement and as I stood there, swaying on my feet, in some nutrient and sleep-deprived corner of my brain I thought for the millionth time what a shame it is that such a nice sounding word like vomissement has to mean something so unpleasant.

-Recently on the phone with my mother she mentioned, as she occasionally does, how she is not sure with what exactly I’m using to cloth myself “over there,” as all my drawers in my bedroom in America are full. She expressed an anxious hope that I’m not going around with “my bucket* hanging out.” It amuses me to no end to imagine just how I’m dressed in her head, as I tromp about town.

*”bucket” being a euphemism for one’s derriere, naturally. Is it just my mom who says this…?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60B5IZ20100113

So what are we supposed to do? (Please excuse this post as completely rhetorical, as I look for the answer myself.) We could send money and supplies. But in a country with no infrastructure, how far do the money and supplies go? With so much devastation, who will physically be there to meet the shipments at the airport or docks or banks or wherever this vague notion of ‘aid’ eventually ends up? Aren’t we just applying the same (il)logic as we do when we send money and loans to Africa? How much does our ‘quick-fix’ support actually accomplish, besides simply assuaging our guilt and sense of obligation?

Obviously, people need to go to Haiti. People who can spend long periods of time assessing the situation, making informed decisions, working with the communities. People to organize, people who are well-acquainted with the ideas of infrastructure and triage and a properly functioning socioeconomic system, they need to go and help. But who’s going to go? I’m not. You most likely won’t either.

So what am I supposed to do? Pray? Is that ‘enough?’ Surely Jesus had something ‘more’ in mind when he told us to love our neighbors…so, what then? I believe that long-term participation and engagement with the local people is the only way to help, but yet I’m not willing to pause my life here to go commit to helping others long-term. Can I really just let myself off the hook with a “Meh, emergency response is someone else's job, somewhere. I don’t have to worry.”

From the outside, praying is a more 'convenient' way to help than actually taking time out to physically go and assist. But I know in reality, both are equally important.

Hm.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Seeing as how I’m still engulfed by this crappy post- exam- week gloom, and trying to forget the disaster that was my three hour written exam on Tuesday, I thought I could do with a break from all the nasty rehashing of my incompetence and reflect on the loveliness of the past holiday weeks. Because, wow, was that ever a crap exam that I took, handled with all the elegance and intelligence of, say, Warren G. Harding. I’m pretty sure if he could’ve come back from the dead, he would’ve walked right up to where I was sitting in the lecture hall, writhing in emotional distress over my official pink exam paper and said, “Uh, my excuse was the prohibition. What’s yours?” (little known fact: I know next to nothing of American history, but the Teapot Dome Scandal is one of my favorite American historical moments. It’s also pretty much all I remember from 11th grade history.)

My sister and brother-in-law kindly descended from the frosty North, braving plane delays and RER strikes, to spend a week and a half with me. They even didn’t mind spending the majority of that time all mashed-up with me in my teeny 20m2 shoebox-studio.

As for the actual holiday-making, we stayed pretty low-key. A few presents Christmas Eve, traditional Christmas Day dinner at an Indian restaurant, lots of movie-watching and candy-eating (they brought me yellow balls from Finland! Yay!) We did manage to get ourselves organized enough to take a day trip to St. Malo, and then later an overnight trip to the Mont Saint Michel. It was one of those visits that are hard to recount later because everyone gets along and so nothing really extraordinary happens, but it’s exactly what you need at the moment. There was just a lot of ridiculous laughing and jokes and stories that form the center of my own universe, but probably aren’t of that much interest to anyone else.

And then there was the New Year, which I look forward to more than any other event during the year. More than my birthday. Oh yes.

We all clambered aboard an already very noisy bus and went to la place de la mairie to see a light show/performance/fireworks display thing, with a DJ. And I must say, it did not disappoint. Sometimes, I get a weensy bit cynical about life over here. Just when I start to get a little bit tired of seeing run-down university buildings, or inadequate public toilets, France reaches down deep into those tired-out, nearly empty coffers of public funds, and finds enough resources to pull off something really classy. That wacky light show/spectacle we witnessed New Year’s Eve was one of those classy somethings.

And then when the show wound down (at 12:05 am, according to the main clock in the square) we—along with every other Frenchy in the square—popped the cork on our champagne. And then we got biz-ed by many, many strangers.

And THEN, a few days later, just several hours before la soeur and beau frère had to leave, we had the good fortune to witness a now fairly common tradition in France. In the wee morning hours, someone in the neighborhood kindly thought to light a car on fire, in honor of sister and brother-in-law’s departure. How sweet. Dear sister and brother-in-law actually were sent off with a bang (and the stench of burning rubber.)
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