Sunday, July 30, 2006

Majors to Minors

Music-wise, this was an excellent week, and progress has been made. At least one area of my life is positive and progressing, right?

As our dear church pianist has been sailing around Croatia for the past two Sundays, Helmut and I had the joy and privelege of leading the music again. Last week, we played this song that was in a painfully major key, and even sounded like "America, the Beautiful" in certain parts. Let's just say that it didn't help the given situation.

So, as we were practicing, I had the brilliant idea of slowing the song down and changing it to a minor key. You know... it's possible to take a nice, positive upbeat song and make it hauntingly melancholy by changing merely a few notes around. Of course, as a general rule, misery loves company, so we decided to share our little dirge with others and play it as the prelude the following week at church. Which is what we did this morning.

To make it more climactic, we played the original melody first, and then did an obvious and semi-dramatic switch from major to minor, and followed it up with two rounds purely in the new, realistic minor key. It was lovely and fun in a kind of weird, twisted way.

I've also been working on the Funeral March by Chopin, which would make a charming little Sunday morning prelude. There's nothing like a nice funeral march to get your day started off right.

Lyric of the Day: "Oh beautiful, for patriot's dream that sees beyond the years... thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears." (Thanks to an unknown author)

Thursday, July 27, 2006


It's due time for something good/ funny/ entertaining/ unusual/ happy/ different to happen.

For instance... why can't a Steinway drop out of the sky and land on my balcony? Or John Lennon come back from the dead and smoke hookah with me? Or I have a brilliant idea that changes the world? Or I miraculously develop Sydney-like-improv abilities? Or Constantine give a concert within biking distance of my flat? Or the world morph into Candyland?* Or the local grocery stores carry non-liquid deoderant? Or I not be so clingy, delusional and dependent? Or the driving school go up in flames? Or little elves wash my windows and mop my floors? Or I figure out the meaning of life?

Maybe someday...

*a children's boardgame, where the world is happy and made out of candy. I used to wish I were "Queen Frostine", the queen who ruled an island in a sea of ice cream. Em, I actually kind of still wish I were Queen Frostine.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Slightly Homesick

I watched my soul as she flew away
Half-way 'round the world today.
She had enough of life's frustrations,
Analysis and complications.

Now she's far across the ocean,
Rolling waves and tides away.
My sweetest five, with my devotion,
Unlike all others, eternally.

I'm... feeling... slightly... homesick... but... just... slightly.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Driving test...

Em... bad news again. I've really never fared well under pressure, and as far as I know, there's nothing I can do about it.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Heat Strike! (Or, someone from TX please send me a care package w/ an AC unit! ASAP!)

Going on a heat strike and refusing to work until air conditioning units are installed is becoming a more appealing option with each passing day. It's time to contact the Betriebsrat*, folks. One thing I never liked about Texas is the heat... and it's almost as bad here.

Mary: "This is disgusting. Sweating is disgusting and should be avoided at all costs."
Miscellaneous German People: "But you're from Texas!!"
Mary: "That doesn't mean I want to live in a sauna."
MGP.: "But you're used to the heat!"
Mary: "And I'm also used to air conditioners."

Air conditioners. They're marvelous inventions that technologically modern Germans have, for some reason, refused to incorporate into their daily lives. The result? Sitting in a stuffy office, chugging water by the liter to avoid dehydration, running around barefoot in the office, wearing semi-scandalous-non-professional clothes when I have no meetings, heat headaches, and early wrinkles due to squinting.

One nice thing, though, is "Hitzefrei." This is what younger school children (and sweaty employees) have when it's too warm and impossible to work: you simply give up and go home early for the day. And it's allowed.

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is an AC unit!!

*a council who works for the employee's benefits/rights

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Operation Lightbulb Exchange

How many stereotype-defying, delusional 23-year-old Austinites living in Neukirchen-Vluyn does it take to screw in a lightbulb?



ONE! And she doesn't need a man to help her, either. (Sorry, Kenny - you know I love you.)

Doing the dishes, however, is another story...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Uncle Dub'ya in Deutschland

Well, folks, George W. Bush made it to Germany this past week. The goal? To discuss current world issues* and foster the US-Germany relationship over barbeque. And as far as I know, he neither embarassed himself (or the US) or spilled barbeque sauce on his clothes. *breathes a sigh of relief* Progress is being made.

In order to give a nice impression and keep rabid protesters from attacking, they met in a little town called Stralsund, where approximately 12,000 police were on duty. There were less protestors than expected, though, which was a nice surprise.

It's interesting... several German people I've talked with think that Angela Merkel's** beliefs and actions don't accurately reflect what the majority of German citizens think or would do. For example, they think she's too soft and permissive when it comes to Bush and US foreign policy and behaviour.

Anyway. He was only in Germany for a couple of days... so the whole thing was more of a political show than anything else. And an expensive one at that - the whole thing cost Germany between 14 and 20 million Euros.

I was invited to the Grill Party with him and Angie, but was unfortunately unable to make it cause my driver's license is invalid.

*or the World Soccer Cup, that is

**the German Chancellor

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I've developed a new fascination: Chords. Until recently, I've simply played the exact notes on the page when playing the piano. In the past several months, however, I've begun to discover an entirely new world of of music in Chords, the way they operate, the way they overlap, and their patterns. I never realized that music has such a mechanical/technical side (sure, I've had a little music theory... but never thought about what it means practically!), but it most certainly does. And it's fascinating.

Helmut and I have been getting together to practice various songs for the coming Sundays, as our dear Pianist will be out and about. He's shown me some common chord patterns that quite a few songs use... for example, we played several very different songs, all with the chords A minor, F major, and G major. One song had a C major thrown in, but other than that, it was a simple circle of the three aforementioned chords.

Forget the Drehleier... I think I want to start a band, afterall.

Positive Quote of the Day: "Every cloud has a silver lining."

Monday, July 10, 2006

British English *tee hee*

British English. Why is it so intriguing? Maybe because I've only seen mass quantities of people speak like that in the movies, so I somehow assumed "real people" don't speak it. Oh, but they do. It's different, it's proper, and it's hilarious. I'm going to list some BE words with their American English equivalents, for your reading pleasure.

boot: trunk (of a car)

lovey/darling: sweetie/honey
(what you'd call a child)

nappy: diaper

rubish bin: trash can

right: ok

fortnight: two weeks

Mum: Mom
(yes, they really spell it with a 'u')

coffee: cheap, watered-down instant coffee

tea time: dinner/supper time

biscuits: cookies

give way: yield
(street sign)

motorway: highway

to collect: to pick up
(as in a child or someone from the airport)

to wash up: to do the dishes

washing up liquid: dishwashing soap

plait: braid
(a hairstyle)

trousers: pants
(for either men or women)

pants: men's underwear

knickers: women's underwear

Ok, now for a rather embarassing conversation I had with a man I'd just met... background information is that Gladys had a birthday party with the Sound of Music as the theme, which means that some people dressed up in Dirndls and Lederhosen.

Brit: "Is this ok to wear to the party tonight?"
Mary: *jokingly* "Don't you have any Lederhosen? The theme is Sound of Music."
Brit: "Lederhosen? What's that?"
Mary: "They're leather pants... it's the traditional clothes for men in Bavaria and Austria."
Brit: "Leather pants?"
Mary: *wonders why he's looking at her weird* "Yeah... leather pants. I think they'd look good on you."
Brit: "Oh... I have to run and check on the barbeque."

I later realized that in BE, 'pants' specifically means 'men's underwear'... what I should have said is 'trousers.' So... yes... I'd told a man I'd just met that I think he'd look rather nice in leather underwear. Scandalous!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

BIOMUELL AMBUSH!!! (Or, Biomuell, Part III)

Augh!!! Just when I thought my Biomuell and I had taken a few steps forward in the right direction, he turned on me when I was least expecting it! He was cruel; he was manipulative; and he stunk (like the last guy I was semi-interested in).

Seriously, folks, I'm an idiot. A complete idiot.

Readers: "Oh, no you're not! You frequently do stupid things, but I wouldn't call you an idiot."
Mary: "You obviously haven't finished reading this post. It'll change your opinion."

Allow me to explain what happened between me and my Biomuell...

Thursday, as I was getting ready to leave for England, I thought of a conversation I'd had with Bizarro and Syd the evening before. The topic was my evil little electrical box... they informed me that if I pushed the primary switch downwards, it'd shut off all the electricity and water in my appartment. If you're gone for extended periods of time (key word: extended), flicking this little switch would be the clever thing to do. Being the genius I am, I decided to turn it off for the weekend... ya know... save some energy (it's the German way) and prevent anyone from using my washing machine, which is in the basement where everyone has access to it.


The Point of No Return.

Well, as I was returning home from the airport (thanks, Helmut, for picking me up!), I was thinking about how lovely a tall glass of chocolatey milk would be.

See where this is heading...?

Well, when I got home, the first thing I did was head to the fridge... and lo and behold... all my food had morphed into BIOMUELL!!! All I wanted was a cold glass of milk and maybe a joghurt. But instead I have heaps of reaking Biomuell that I have to deal with. Yeah, when killing the electricity, the fact that the fridge really ought to keep running somehow slipped my mind. Freaking idiot.

Das Leben ist ein Biomuellberg. Life is a mountain of biological waste.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

England for the Weekend

Today, it's off to England to visit Gladys! I'll be back Sunday afternoon with interesting stories and a thick English accent. :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Choir Pictures...

Today feels like a Picture Day as opposed to a Word Day... so... here are some pictures from our Choir summer party a couple of weeks ago.

Lounging around and talking... what a life.

Here I am with my dear fellow Alto Singer. :)

Thanks to Narcissus Helmut playing the guitar, we spent much of the evening singing praise songs under the stars...

One of the neighbor's cows escaped, so Biff tried to chase him back...

Hehe, I brought marshmallows for us to roast, which was fun. Everyone was fascinated by them, which was hilarious. Well, except Bizarro - she thinks they're too gooey/messy.

This picture makes me miss my Mom, who'd probably tell me not to sit on the ground in a nice skirt (a) cause it'd get dirty and (b) cause ladies probably shouldn't do such things. :(

It really was a lovely evening.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Life is a... bowl of cherries*

Or, in a very literal sense... life is eight buckets of cherries. Well, at least in Hoerstgen**, where Bizarro and Syd and fam live. And I have pictures to prove it. :)

They have a huge cherry tree in their front yard, and we spent the afternoon picking and eating cherries.

Here we are up in the tree...

And, another tree picture... here, you can kind of see how high we were. They have a fork-lift which lifted a platform up into the tree...

And, the fruits of our labour. You can only see 6.5 buckets here... it's because we'd already canned 1.5 bucket-fulls.

Bizarro taught me how to can cherries, which was great fun... here, I was shaking the jar to try to pack more cherries in.

The excessive-cherry-consumption-stomach-ache at the end of the day was definitely worth it.

*to my dear German readers: saying that life is a bowl of cherries is comparable to saying that life is a Ponyhof or a Zuckerschlecken. :)

**the center of the Universe

Saturday, July 01, 2006

And the results are in, folks...

As many of you know, I had my practical driving test this morning... and... I failed it. For the second time. Seriously.

It's bewildering, really. So many people have been so supportive, both in words and in prayer (you know who you are - THANK YOU!!! You're precious to me!). I even gave the whole issue over to God. I knew I couldn't pass it on my own, so I told Him that if He wants me to pass, then He'll have to intervene and work a miracle. At the same time, I said Thy will be done.

So... I'm going to take a leap and assume that God is real and is Who He says He is. If this is true, then He's a God Who takes care of His children and hears their prayers. Which means He heard our prayers... and the answer was evidently, "no." Or "not yet." Sure, it's baffling, frustrating and discouraging... but I trust that, for some as-of-yet-unknown reason, I'm not meant to pass the test and drive at this point.

I've learned a ton in the past several weeks... maybe there's something I'm still missing or not seeing. We'll see.

Forward, soldiers.

*smiles a weak smile, but a smile nonetheless*