Sunday, December 31, 2006

Back-in-the-US Observations/ Thoughts/ Comments/ Etc...

I love and miss my family. It's weird that I live so far away. *scratches her head and thinks*

People are friendlier. Example: the airport security guard chatted with me and wished me a Merry Christmas as he was checking my passport. I was confused.

Commercialism. Shopping. Billboards. Advertisements. Flashing Lights. Keeping up with the Joneses. Ugh.

The Government is clueless. *decides not to expound*

But I do kinda miss Big Brother and his socialistic tendencies.

Movies. TV. People watch quite a bit of this stuff. And it's often the topic of conversation.

Unlimited drink refills, yes!

The roads are extremely wide and the cars are freaking huge.

Southern accents are kinda funny.

It's nice not having a language barrier... though there have been quite a few times where a German word or phrase would have fitted much better.

People aren't as fat as I thought they'd be.

It's nice not to have to separate trash into half-a-dozen trash cans.

In general, people seem like they're in a hurry. And they seem slightly unfocused and unable to concentrate.

Water fountains are a brilliant invention and ought to be exported to Europe.

Stuff is generally less expensive.

Customer service actually exists... though it's nice, I would like to enjoy a meal without the waiter coming by every two minutes and asking me if I still have enough to drink.

The Spanish language is more present than ever before.

Mexico is taking over the Southern States.

It's weird talking in English to strangers. At the mall with my sister, I bumped into someone and an "Entschuldigung" slipped out.

Thunderstorms with tornado watches make me really nervous.

My heart is torn between Austin and Neukirchen.

Anyone else experience Weirdness when traveling between countries? Let me know - we'll add your stuff to the List. :)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Family Christmas Letter!

Well, Mom wanted me to write our Family Christmas Letter this year... and she wanted it to be obvious that I'd written it. So, here it is.

Dear Family and Friends,

Mom’s hoping to start a new Christmas tradition of me (Mary) writing our family Christmas letter. As I didn’t fly in from Germany until the 18th, we’re a little late this year. It’s been an incredible year of growth and challenge for everyone… here are the some of the highlights:

Dad (Chuck): in his down-time between hunting trips (be it for wild boar, deer, or even cougar), Dad is still on staff with Hill Country Bible Church. He actually took on the new role of Small Groups Pastor this year, which he is really enjoying.

Mom (Libby): still working as the receptionist at Hill Country Christian School of Austin, Mom’s also had a great year. Highlights include visiting me in Germany, learning how to quilt, and counseling younger couples with Dad. She’s also enjoyed being able to see her family this year, as several nieces and nephews have gotten married.

Me (Mary): having made it through my first year in Germany, I love my new life and circle of friends and families. I’m involved with the youth, help lead the worship music on Sundays, and host a weekly Bible Study group. Unfortunately, my company filed for bankruptcy, so I’m in the process of trusting God and job hunting because I’d love to stay exactly where I am.

Katherine: now in her upper-level nursing courses at the University of Texas, Katherine is enjoying the hands-on side of nursing and is gaining excellent practical experience. She even practices IV administration on Dad - what a family. She’s also involved in children’s ministry at the Hill Country Bible Church UT Church Plant in Austin and works part time at the hospital.

Emilie: in her second year at Texas A&M University, Emilie declared Speech Communications to be her major. She’s had a great year, which has included Bible Studies at her church, moving into a little house off campus, starting to play the piano again (Pride and Prejudice music is her specialty!), and even taking a Scuba-diving class.

Christina: this Christmas letter isn’t the only place you can read about Christina… just check out the local newspapers. As a high school Senior, her Volleyball team had a 14-0 Season and was 10th in the State of Texas. She’ll graduate in May and is still deciding where to go to college and what her next steps will be.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and may God bless you in 2007!

The Barber Family

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Break...

*takes a brief writing break, as there's so much going on*

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back in Austin...

Well, I made it home, and without any type of drama.

It. Is. So. Good. To. See. My. Family. Again.

My goodness.



A ton has changed, though, it really has.

Ah, life.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Biomuell* Conquered!!!

Yesterday was a Day of Victory, a Day of Conquered Fears, a magnificent Day in the History of Biomuell that will always be remembered and retold by generations to come.

It all began as a normal, peaceful day in the little German town of Neukirchen-Vluyn... while walking back to my appartment, day-dreaming and humming a lovely old hymn (without a jazz motiv), I couldn't help but notice the plethora of brightly coloured Fall leaves scattered over the cobblestone streets.

Bizarro Mom had evidently noticed them as well, as she was outside raking when I got home. So, I stopped to help.

[Aside for my dear American readers: leaves, branches, plants and such all belong in Biomuell.]

There were so many leaves, however, that we couldn't fit them into the Biomuell trash can.

Bizarro Mom: "I think you ought to stand in the trash can and press the leaves down so we can fit more in..."
Mary: "Em, what?"
Bizarro: "Here, I'll lift you into the trash can... you're light."
Mary: "Ok, but let me take my rings off first."

So, believe it or not, I was inside the Biomuell trash can, jumping up and down, trying to smash the leaves down and make more room. At first I was rather frightened... frightened that the Biomuell might swallow me up or eat me alive, or that I might dissolve right into the trash can.

But yesterday was victorious... not only was the Biomuell conquered, but my deep-entrenched-stemming-from-traumatic-past-events fear of Biomuell was conquered as well.

Driver's licence: obtained.

Biomuell issues: resolved.

Packing for Texas: Em...

New Job: Em...

Sanity: Em...

At least there's a certain degree of success in the chaos and confusion that can often be My Life.

*biological waste

[Aside II... for my new readers who haven't followed the drama and for my regular readers who are interested, here are the links to the previous Biomuell blogs, in chronological order:
My Biomuell is going to kill me in my sleep,
And the Biomuell Saga continues...,
BIOMUELL AMBUSH!!! (Or, Biomuell, Part III).]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

LU Granny Bars?

This blog is especially for my German readers
***end of warning***

Hallo meine Lieben!

Da die meisten, die mein Blog lesen Deutsche sind habe ich mich entschlossen, den Blog ab jetzt auf Deutsch zu schreiben. Ne, Scherz. :)

Aber jetzt ganz ernst: habe eine E-mail von meiner Schwester Tiny bekommen und die will etwas, was sich "LU Granny Bars" nennt. Kennt irgendjemand von euch die? Die sind scheinbar Kekse und kommen aus Belgien. Die kenne ich ├╝berhaupt nicht und dachte, dass einer von euch die vielleicht kennt oder wisst, wo ich mir welche besorgen k├Ânnte.

Ok, das wars.

Und ja, Eleanor, du darfst mein Deutsch ruhig korrigieren. Aber nur wenn du mir gleichzeitig LU Granny Bars besorgst.

Quote of the Day: "Hey, das ist nicht normal..." (Thanks to Karin)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Return of the Beatles* (with Ukeleles)

Here's the Little Rascal (left) and Tobi's (right) rendition of Jingle Bells. This was taken during our Advents Christmas Service.

They really ought to start a band. We all should start a band.

Syd could play the piano.

Karin could be our Tour Manager and Group Mom.

Helmut could play the guitar and be the lead vocalist.

Tobi could play the ukelele and do set-design and band art.

The Little Rascal could play the drums and back-up ukelele.

Lizzy, Anne and Miri could be our back-up dancers.

Christiana could be the lead female vocalist.

And I could be the Finance Manager and back-up pianist.

*for those of you who don't know, the Beatles were known for wearing tuxedos when performing. And they had kind-of-long hair. :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Picture Update Post

As usual, I'm behind on picture uploading and posting, so I thought I'd do a photo collage to catch up. So, my Dears, here are some of my favourite photos and memories from the past several weeks.

To make the picture larger, click on it. If you're not sure who someone is, check out the List of Characters.


A few weeks ago, Tobi, Karin, Anne, Lizzy, the Little Rascal and I went to this old production site that's typical for the Ruhrgebiet. You can actually climb to the top of it and see where/how people used to work.

Tobi is explaining something to Anne and me...

Pretty high, hmm?

Aww, I love everybody. :)

I, em, have some news... just kidding! This is Lukas and he belongs to a little friend of mine.

Mamita and Ellen at the top of a Windmill in Xanten! I'm surprised Mom didn't freak. :)

Here's a picture from inside the windmill. The mill is actually in use - they grind the flour there and then make bread in a little bakery at the bottom of the mill. You can see a little of the shop through the opening in the floor.

Christiana, Helmut and I had a glass of Champagne at our "Stammkneipe" in celebration of the fact that I finally have my *bleeping* driver's license.

Here are Karin and Lizzy helping prepare for the Youth Church Service. Karin and I were in charge of feeding 150 people! *drama* But it ended up just fine. To see more pictures of Youth Service, check out our entry on the church blog.

Helmut, Bizarro Mom and Christiana at the Youth Service. :)

Mr. P. is explaining something to Charlotta Louisa. She's absolutely precious, and definitely a Daddy's Girl. :)

Last week a group of co-workers and I went to the Christmas Market in Moers and then got coffee afterwards. Eve is on the right... she's the one whose boyfriend plays in the band that we're going to see on Dec. 16th. :)

Here's my co-worker Fraenzchen, with whom I worked the closest. *sniff sniff* I really miss working with him and the rest of the group.

That's all for now, Folks.

[The Music Blog was updated yesterday, for those who are interested.]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Three Countries in 24 Hours

So... when trying to find my way to an interview today (Tuesday), I missed my exit and ended up in a different country. That's right... I missed my turn and somehow ended up in Holland this morning.

Poor Syd - everyone's always making fun of him for getting ridiculously lost and turned around... but at least he manages to remain in the correct country.

As most of you know, I was in Madrid yesterday (Monday). So... Spain and Germany and Holland make three countries within 24 hours.


I'm honestly burnt out from everything, but I'll post the Madrid pictures as soon as I get them uploaded. I'd especially like for Emita and Karin to look at them - see how they compare to Mexico.

Hasta luego, mis amigos.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Music School Recital

If there's one steady/stable/never-changing variable in my life at this point, it's my undying love of music. Seriously. And as long as I continue to feel this way, there's less of a chance that the Semester from Hell will be repeated (with new conditions and variables, that is).

After church today, I ended up at a Music School Recital with Mr. and Mrs. E and Syd. They sang mostly classical songs, and quite a few were in Latin... and it was absolutely heavenly!

And I thought that Peter Bay* was a dynamic conductor! The choir conductor today was in her own little angellic musical world; it was insane. I'd never seen anyone as into the music as she was... she lived and breathed it and even seemed to be in a trance-like state a certain points. When she conducted, she was graceful and fluid in her movements - almost as if she were dancing. (Though we did fear that she might knock the stand over!)

She also used her eyes to conduct, specifically when it came to solo pieces. For example, there was a duet with a Tenor and an Alto. She'd be in a meditative state with closed eyes as the pianist played the introduction or bridge. As soon as the singers were supposed to sing, she'd come alive - she'd open her eyes, look at them, and direct them, in a way, right from her chair.

It was all so strange and interesting.

*conductor of the Austin Symphony

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Interview Preparation Questions

Got a list of interview prep questions I've been looking over and working through...

What attracts you to this particular company?
The fact that it's not bankrupt.

What is your biggest professional achievement?
The correction of our allocation cost center cycle... I calculated the necessasry correction and forecasted it. When the correction was executed, my forecast only had a 2,6% deviation from the actual costs. :)

Why should I give you this job?
Because I bought an expensive suit and removed my nosering for this interview. And because I'll put you on my hit-list if you don't.

What will you be looking for in a new role?
Something challenging but do-able, something requiring both German and English language skills, and something offering the opportunity to maybe take on new or different tasks in the future.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?