American in Austria

August 4, 2011

I love being an American who speaks German…well, I guess I really only love it when I’m in a German speaking country. I suppose it doesn’t do me much good in Italy. Granted, the Italians don’t acknowledge any other language exists besides Italian…they are very French in that regard.

Anyway, I digress. Back to American speaking German in a German speaking country. When I’m with the Americans, obviously I speak English. I mean, I could speak German, but they just give me X’s for eyes, and there’s nothing like X’s for eyes to kill a conversation. So I acquiesce and speak English.

The fun parts comes in when the German speakers around me don’t realize that I speak German and consequently can understand them! {cue evil laugh}. Case in point. The second week into our trip here, I went out with 2 of my friends. While sitting in the tram, a group of drunk teenagers got on and sat directly behind us. Naturally, they noticed the loud Americans and immediately started talking about us. I eyed them, but they had no idea that I actually understood them. It wasn’t anything mean, just general joking about Americans, though they did try to claim our male counterpart was gay. When I translated this to my friends, they put on a good show to prove otherwise. It was rather fantastic.

I spent the rest of the ride trying to figure out how I was going to get them back. The opportunity presented itself when we got up to leave. In a snotty tone, one of the girls told us goodbye in German. I turned to her and answered sugar sweet in German, “Thanks! You have a great night, too” The stunned expression was priceless. As I got off, I said in German, “It sure is funny when the locals don’t think you can speak German.” I shot a perfect American teeth smile at their stunned faces. We all waved and walked off in triumph.

Junior Boy

August 2, 2011

“Do you wanna play barbies with me?”
“Uh…thanks, but, um, no. Wanna play with my army guys?”

Of course, I did. Are you kidding me?!

My brother and I played together all the time. I mean, not like there was anyone else around to play with, but still…I always wanted to play with him. He was my older brother! And crazily enough, he always wanted to play with me. Though not barbies. He drew the line at barbies. He’d play house, but not barbies. The four main events in our lives were sledding, riding bikes, playing with his army guys or his acquiescence to playing house, which meant him being “Junior Boy” and me being mom. That usually involved him walking around on his knees so we were at least the same height, and me bossing him around….hmmmmm…not much different than real life…

And then we grew up. Sledding went away, riding bikes turned into motorcycles, army guys turned into him actually being a Marine…but he was still Junior Boy. That one he never outgrew.

My brother left us 4 years ago today. At times it seems like yesterday, other times it seems like a lifetime ago.

I sit here at my computer today with a mixed bag of emotions. This year is tougher than others because I’m back in Austria – the same place I was when I got that horrendous phone call from my dad. Today is a day of reflection. While I hesitate to call it an “anniversary”, it is a day of remembering. It’s a time when I remember what happened, when I think about Chris – the good, bad and ugly:) – and allow it. The soul cannot live in perpetual sadness and grief, but a day of remembrance is a salve to the soul. It allows the soul to grieve, to cry, to laugh and remember. It needs that boundary to know that it doesn’t have to stay there forever, but it can rest knowing that the time is set aside for it to do what it needs to do.

I am blessed to have some wonderful friends around me here. There are a handful who know about today, and they have been extremely loving and caring. Like I told one of them this morning, what really counts is that I know that someone cares. Just a hug. Just a word of love. Just a little peck on the cheek. That’s all. It doesn’t need to be anything more. The toughest part about grief is no one really can empathize unless they’ve been there. So if you haven’t been there, just show some love.

I miss him more than I could ever express. The knot tightens in my chest and moves to my throat. But above that knot, my face can smile because I know this is not the end. I just have to wait awhile to hang out with him again…I can’t wait.

I love you, Chris.

Obit and my fresh reflections of 4 years ago.

A memorial webpage for pictures and stories.

Orchestra Concert #3

August 1, 2011

I sang on the 3rd orchestra concert last Thursday and just wanted to let you all know that it went really well. I learned Desdemona’s aria from Rossini’s Otello really quickly, was quite possibly one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had in awhile, but in the end, it came together.

Whew!