Letters From Tour – 22/05

Dear Family,

I don’t know if it’s being in Europe, being tall, being a woman, or having long hair that makes bathrooms in this place just plain weird. I have never craved a regular shower before quite like this.

Shower 1: Our first two nights were in Hungary, at a delightfully American home with Cru missionaries. I’ll have to write to you about that experience another time, because it was lovely. The bathroom was slightly larger than the bedroom and tiled completed in tiny squares of a shocking sea blue. This huge room had a toilet in its own tiny room in one corner, a tiny shower in the other corner, a small standalone sink, and a small towel cabinet. The room was nice and big, however, so I think maybe it was supposed to make up for the size of everything? The plus side to this bathroom, despite the way the tiny shower leaked a surprisingly large amount of water into the room, was that it had a shower curtain.

Shower 2: We stayed in a small apartment in Oradea, being welcomed to the beautiful city by a night walk around the old quarter. It was jaw-droppingly-beautiful, and another post for another time (again). The shower, however, was not. Here was my first introduction to the tiny European bathrooms that have no garbage can, a frightfully loud toilet, a window you don’t realize is uncovered somewhere, a bathtub with a shower head, a recalcitrant temperature gauge that has two options (scalding and lukecold) and no shower curtain. Not for the first time did I wish I’d cut my hair before I came. The bathroom was a lovely purple color, and I managed not to coat it entirely with water by (TMI moment, sorry) laying down every time I tried to use that darn shower head. I took a long time in the bathroom, unfortunately for the other five people also staying in the apartment. In my defense, there was another half-bath at their disposal, and its window was bubble glass.

Shower 3: This lovely apartment in Brasov would have made Ikea proud. The green bathroom was very pretty, but the family had an unfortunate habit of keeping the bathroom doors shut even when not in use. I’d finally gotten used to the light switches being on the outside of the bathroom, and this night I realized a fantastic utility to this: ready indication of bathroom occupancy. This bathtub had a shower curtain; two, in fact. Two little squares that barely hung down to the tub edge and managed to give the illusion of protection while still allowing a massive amount of spray to coat the bathroom, the towel I was supposed to be using, and the clothes I needed to wear.

Shower 4: This was a particularly memorable one. We were welcomed into an apartment in Bucharest, owned by the quintessential Romanian grandmother: immaculate home, eclectic mixes of new furniture and ancient bed sheets, gorgeous library, and no English. Not for the first time was my lifesaver my Romanian roomie, occasionally known as The Angry Gypsy. We were shown to a bedroom with a classic (aka creepy) picture of Jesus–requisite halo and thin white European face–hanging at a 30 degree angle out over the bed. I believe the point was that you could easily see it when laying down. Point taken. We sat on the old bed and looked up to see a large face staring at us from behind the door. It was a giant bear, with a 15″ head, Winnie-the-Pooh yellow in another life, wearing a faded, handmade pajama shirt, and looking not-at-all creepy. To top off our apartment stay, which had no wifi, we were introduced to the beautiful bathroom, all light brown tile and clean white shower, sink, and toilet. The shower didn’t have a curtain, the toilet required a special touch to flush and sounded like it was tearing the bathroom apart, the towels were the sort of thin hand-towel that would manage to get one hand dry before being soaked, and the icing on this odd cake: no hot water. Yep: we had Jesus, Pooh, and no hot water. So no shower.

Shower 5: Instead, our chauffeuring host picked us up at 6:40 on our second morning there and took us, bed-headed and sleepy-eyed, to the church. Not at all awkwardly, we trundled our suitcases to the office on the second floor, where a little bathroom was built into the eaves of the building. The pastor ran the water for five minutes straight while we stood and wondered if there was no “apa calda” here either. Eventually we were in luck, but Gypsy went first and came out with a helpful warning: “It’s not made for tall people.” True story. The bathroom was canary yellow, the shower was cornered in the slanted space, and the shower head had a few spastic sprays heading sideways off of it. Like most European bathrooms, there was no fan, but the 6″ x 14″ screen-and-paneless “window” waist-high in the wall right behind the shower helped. It was another showering adventure as I crouched down in the corner, trying to shower while holding one hand over the shower head to keep the errant sprays from coating the entire bathroom since, of course, we had no shower curtain.

Showers 6 & 7 have been in regular hotel-style bathrooms, with their own collection of oddities. But all in all, I have to say that I am grateful for a bed to sleep in, and a spout somewhere with water that lets me do my thing.

Maybe missing you and the promise of hot water,

~Rae

 

Favorite Things

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My favorite view of this city, even at 2 A.M.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.” 

Acts 18:9-11 (NLT)

What’s Up Wednesday

 

It’s Wednesday again, and the end of the first week of Ready. Set. Write!

WHAT I’M READING

Barely started The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr. This is mostly because I took a small detour and read Mind Games, by Kiersten White…and I didn’t regret it a bit. Loved it! This week’s schedule didn’t give me a chance to review them, but I’m working on it.

WHAT I’M WRITING

My goal last week was to write the first chapter of my WIP, a total rewrite of a five-year-old project. I didn’t finish the first chapter, but after experimenting with several different beginnings, I’ve finally found where I want to start. Not a first-chapter-completion, but  the writing is coming well simply because I’ve found a point to begin with.

This week’s goals are different, though. I thought that I had enough memory of the old project to be able to simply take the barest skeleton–main characters, basic geographical world, and five or six tentpole plot points–and start all over. But despite my success in finding my beginning, I’m feeling very behind on my worldbuilding. Yeah, way to do things backwards…but this week I want to write character sketches, and do a little bit more research on my world. It’s a fantasy in the vein of The Blue Sword, and I write best when I have specific images and descriptions in mind, regardless of whether those make it into my writing. I need to rebuild some of the visual, cultural, and moral aspects of my characters and countries. So the goal(s)?

1. Finish writing Chapter 1

2. Write a character sketch for each of the main characters

3. Pull out the old country maps I created and answer five basic questions about each of the three countries involved

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Friendship. And God’s faithfulness. I drove to see my best friend over the weekend, a chance for us to spend time together after only brief meetings in the past six months. Five of the eight hours driving were through severe thunderstorms and hail (hello, hail damage on my car. Great to see you again…), eventually adding an hour and a half to my original travel time, and nearly killing myself on a lonely gravel road in the middle of nowhere at 1 AM when sleepiness and hilly roads took over. Not kidding: somewhere in rural Kansas there are impressive swerve marks, the alternative to flipping my car as it went airborn on gravel at 60 mph. Sometimes you have moments where the only explanation is the hand of God, and that was one of them. I was able to enjoy one of the most refreshing weekends I have had this year. On Sunday we sat at her kitchen table and talked. Just talked. For five hours.  This was after four hours doing the same thing the night before, and countless hours together with her and her family during the rest of the day(s). Some people wear you out. I have been blessed with a friend that fills me up.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Last preparations for my sister’s grad party. It’s this Saturday, which means yet another weekend away from home. But I’ll get to see hundreds of people from my hometown whom I haven’t seen in years.

Swamped at work. I love my job, truly, and while I’m enjoying the added responsibilities, there’s a lot to be nervous about. I’m struggling to find the balance between having delegated authority over people and respecting the innate authority they have that comes when they have 20+ years on me.

Settling into summer. Finally running consistently again, playing volleyball, and getting into the full swing of summer. Sunsets are still my favorite, and while I have to walk half a mile to get where I can see them, it is totally worth it!

Check out Jaime’s blog for more links on this bloghop! 

Tell The Truth Tuesday

Today’s list is Things-I-Should-Have-Done-This-Weekend-And-Didn’t-Because-I-Was-Doing-Other-Things

1. Grad pictures. My sister is graduating this year, and she’s having a party in June. We were going to shoot a fresh batch of pictures for these invites, but it keeps not happening. This is mostly thanks to the rainy weather, too much traveling, family coming to visit, and general lethargy.

2. Comics. Three years ago a good friend of mine had major leg surgery. He was in a children’s hospital in St. Louis for over a month, and wore a leg brace with sixteen pins inserted into his leg, allowing the doctors to rotate the lower leg bone into the proper position over the course of nine months of therapy. Yeah, it was a big deal. As a get-well gift, I drew him a series of comics detailing our friendship, including the origins of our nicknames for each other: Charlie. Well, Charlie is graduating, and I have given myself a deadline of two weeks to finish a second Charlie-is-an-adult/goes-to-college comic. For being mostly stick figures and colored markers, it takes far more time than I usually give myself through my endless procrastination.

3. Reading. I was going to read non-fiction this weekend. Get through some of my fat biographies that I really do enjoy. Instead I curled up with To Kill A Mockingbird and was treated to a stunner. While I’m sorry that I didn’t get to read more, I’m not sorry that all I got was this fantastic book. Wow. Sometimes we give classics a free pass because the author is famous or his/her books are revered…but then you get a book that can stand on its own in every decade.  This one needs a reread.

4. Writing. Sigh. I didn’t get a scrap of writing done over this extended weekend, and I’m fit to burst with the need to write. I’m finally settling into the idea of rewriting this old project, and it isn’t taking long to reawaken my love for it. Must. Write. Now.

5. Rest. One of the things I love about my family is our ability to just be together. We don’t have to be planning maniacally or driving six different places to have fun. We can lounge together and drink coffee and tea and make waffles and watch Finding Nemo and be hermits all weekend and simply enjoy the fact that we’re together. Unfortunately, this weekend was travel and traffic and rainy days and less time together than a non-holiday weekend. I was on the road fighting Memorial Day traffic, driving 6 hours to my hometown in order to spend only 16 hours there. We had fun, but it wasn’t restful, and I’m still discombobulated from the whole thing.

How was your weekend?

Tell The Truth Tuesday

Full of randomness today.  Here’s the top 5.

1. It’s 80 degrees outside. I don’t know whether to be excited or confused because apparently it’s summer already? What happened to spring?!

2. Only two weeks of classes left. Whew. I can make it. Although it’d be helpful if my professors weren’t so trigger-happy with their quizzes and homework. I know I’m going to receive gargantuan finals in all my classes next week, so could you maybe lay off with the assignments this week? Give me a little time to prep? Please?

3. I drove back to my hometown (again) this weekend. I love everything about my weekends at home, although it’s still hard to have everyone ask when I’m coming back, as if that is still an option. I’m not sure if they truly believe that my move was on a whim or consider it a possibility that I’ll break my work and school commitments here to return.

4. I’ve started trying to write short stories (again). I’ve been on sort of a writing break for a lot of this semester, and I miss it terribly. So of course I’m writing again, with classes and end-of-the-school-year commitments breathing down my neck. Brilliant me.

5. Maybe it’s just the weather (full moon?), but drivers were crazy this weekend. Phone numbers on paper plates and shirtless college guys hanging out of their jeeps to leer on Interstate, gangsters in souped-up Cadillacs trying to chat at the stoplights (no, I don’t roll my window down on command), and prepsters trying to drag race in front of the mall (Okay, so it was the prime racing spot in the city and famous for what happens after midnight, but even still: I drive a 14 yr old wagon with the engine power of a sewing machine. Do I look like I’m interested?!).

What’s up in your life?

Tuesday Again!

Time for “Tell The Truth Tuesday”, late in this crazy sort of day…

1. Every time it’s Tuesday, I think of this:

2. I realized that I prefer visiting tourist-y towns by myself. It gives me more time to browse without interruption or obligation to be sociable or what else.

3. It doesn’t really matter that my car is ancient or highly unfashionable. I can still drive it like a boss.

4. I had sushi for the first time, in my limited food-allergy-sort-of-way, and discovered that raw octopus is my favorite.

5. I visited Denver for 3 days. I officially love Denver.

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What about you?

Tell The Truth Tuesday…

[…wherein I attempt to be honest, and usually end up being random.]

1. Usually I have trouble writing the new year on things for at least the first month. This year, my problem isn’t writing 2012 on everything instead of 2013. Nope. This year, I keep trying to write 2014.

2.  I’m going to Colorado, and I’m nervous and excited and most of all: happy that I don’t have to pay for gas. I’m such a cheapskate.

3. I actually found some decent things at Goodwill while shopping their $1.23 sale.

4.  I use sticky notes on my desk for my to-do lists. Usually I transfer them into Outlook when I have time. I currently have 18 sticky notes on my desk, and not enough time.

5. Sometimes I wish people would change, and sometimes I think that is the worse thing that could happen.

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