Sunday, October 17, 2010

scribbling on napkins in foreign ports...

Hello, blogosphere!

I guess I should probably update this here blog thing sometime... anyways, I've been in my project for almost two months now, and am probably about as settled in as I'm going to get.  Church bells have slowly become part of the normal rhythm of my life -- since I'm right next to a Moravian Brethren congregation, there are bells every half hour and sometimes (like just now, since it's 10am on Sunday) lots of bells.  I want to go to a Sunday service over there at some point, but I'm rarely awake enough on a Sunday morning to make it there... plus, I don't want to go alone, because I feel weird enough in a lot of church services as is.  Although since the Moravian Brethren expressly believe in not converting people, at least it probably won't lead to awkward attempted conversion situations.

When I'm at work (which is just downstairs from where I live), I mostly spend my time sitting at a desk, listening to music or NPR podcasts, and trying to convince myself that I should actually get my work done.  I'm mostly sitting and doing office droney work things, and I didn't realize how much  I needed intellectual stimulation and challenging work until I didn't have any.  I expressed it really well when talking to one of my coworkers over dinner on Friday night -- "I need to be challenged to really stay engaged, and I'm not challenged by my job anymore.  I've learned most of what I need to learn and can do it all.  Now I'm bored and want new things."  So we'll see.  My most direct supervisor is almost not sick anymore, so he'll hopefully be working part-time again in about a month.  Maybe then I can get more exciting things to do.  Also, I get to go on a business trip to Bonn in about two weeks to go to a conference about volunteer service and international development.  I am really excited.

Another important facet of my life here is the regularity of my library visits... I go 2-3 times a week, mostly to bring back movies and get more.  Although I still read quickly in German, I read more slowly than I do in English... and I'm usually reading multiple books at once, so it sometimes takes a bit for me to get through something.  My main book lately is Cornelia Funke's Tintenherz, which was published in English translation as Inkheart.  I read a lot of German young adult literature, which has confused the librarians in the past -- I'll be checking out non-mainstream films, random non-fiction history/politics/sociology books, and a YA book or two, and they're like "WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW OLD YOU ARE AND WHAT KIND OF THINGS YOU DO." 

When not at work, I'm probably reading, watching a movie, wasting time on the Internet, or knitting -- or playing Ligretto with assorted coworkers and flatmates.  I also enjoy going for walks along the Rhine, but the weather has been getting less pretty and more German-winter-like.  I've also joined a choir, but I'm still feeling kind of lukewarm about it.  It's half an hour uphill by bike, and it's kind of your typical German church choir filled with people over 55 who have all been in the choir for, like, 30 years.  They feel different than my demographically similar choir in Bargteheide, but maybe that's a regional thing.  I'm definitely more Norddeutsch than Rheinisch.  But we do get to sing some music I really like, like Heinrich Schütz!  (I love me some Schütz, seriously.)

Sometimes I get lucky, and have the whole flat to myself for a weekend (like this weekend!), so I can spread out a bit more and spend lots of time in the kitchen without worrying I'm keeping other people from doing stuff.  Yesterday, I baked Nutella biscotti and a batch of ginger spice cookies, and I have dough sitting in the fridge to bake some more this afternoon.

Also, I'm sort of starting to consider getting my Masters here in Germany after I'm done with my volunteer service here, but we'll see.  I'd have to get a lot better at writing things in German, but I don't really know how to improve my German academic writing skills (which I've never really been taught anyways) without, well, studying in Germany.  But since I already have a BA and a fulltime job, I'm not really sure how I would fit academic work into that.  We'll see.  I still have a bit of time to decide.  And fortunately, a lot of my coworkers/friends (I'm stating it that way because I don't really have any friends who aren't my coworkers) have the German equivalent of Master's degrees, so I can talk to them about things.

And, as seems to be usual for me, the title of my post is from a song.  This one is Ani DiFranco (it was only a matter of time!)... the quality in the video is really bad because she recorded these songs onto answering machine tapes when she was, like, 18.  She never re-recorded this song, but I quite like it.

And, as usual, I'm reachable via e-mail, Facebook, assorted messengers, and the good old postal service at
Ellen Zemlin
Postfach 13 22
56503 Neuwied

If you send me mail, you'll get mail back!