The metaphor of the circle of life is cliché, perhaps, but it’s a fundamental human concept. On the same morning that I picked up my Brianne’s baby, sang her silly made up songs in an instinctively driven high pitched voice, and let her kiss me goodbye, I was also indirectly confronted with death by choice. The train route between Osnabrück and Bremen was blocked because of a suicide. Someone threw their life away on the tracks of the Deutsche Bahn. I tried to imagine the strength of emotions or intoxicants that end in this awful choice. In that same moment, I passed the Porta Westfalica, an architectural expression of culture, of human culture. An affirmation of life. Without life, there is no death. And without death, there is no life. Continue reading
The French language has been my way of empathizing with foreign language learners. I am good enough to be conversational in limited situations, but I suck. And I’m only marginally motivated. Any good foreign language educator should know how that feels firsthand in order to better understand their learners. Continue reading
My last long distance train travel for awhile is from Hamburg to Utrecht and back. I’ve always liked the Netherlands as a tourist, but after visiting Brianne, an American friend, multiple times in multiple cities, the country has taken on a new meaning for me. We started out in Europe on the same study abroad program. After finishing our undergrad degrees, we struck out on different, yet somewhat parallel paths. Through her, I got to experience a cross section of life stations in the Netherlands: student life, unemployment and random jobs, long-distance dating, marriage, doctoral research. Visiting her and her Dutch husband offered me a familiar haven during a time when all of my friendships in a new place were less than 4 weeks old. Now I am on my way to meet their baby daughter. Continue reading
We’re going home. Well, I’m going home. Sort of. I’ve never actually lived in Austin, but it’s one of those cities where I can just show up and feel at home. Berlin feels the same way. There are familiar places, familiar faces, and I can always come and go as I choose. I’ve stayed with various people in various neighborhoods in both cities and it was like living there temporarily. Going back always feels comfy, like putting on a favorite sweatshirt. And I often manage to borrow a bike.