Sunday, January 31, 2010

Old wisdom

1 Corinthians:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

One of my favorite verses from the bible, a good friend mentioned it tonight when while we discussed relationships. We both are in the waves of confusion of relationships. The waves seem more frequent but less large than when I was younger. Somehow I feel more patient, more peaceful and less stressed about knowing the future and knowing outcomes. When I was younger, I wanted to to plan, to have predictions. But so many dreams crashed against the rocks. I think now, "One day at at time, no rash decisions. Wait for peace. Let it happen."

Trying to see others from a place of love in my heart gets me further in my understanding (who can see much through anger?) and softens me to a place where I want to be. I'd forgotten this lately. I'm going to work again on seeing the world from place of love in my heart. I think it if we all did this, the world would be a better place.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Home again, home again

Being back in Vilseck clinic today was a welcome homecoming. My little office, my little desk, my loving staff, my nice post. Sleeping in my own bed, under my covers, in my little house, above Ernst and Helga.

It's good to be away. It's good to be home.

I spent a good deal of time on the phone and email organising the logistics of my next TDY operation- two days a week covering a clinic in Katterbach, which is about an hour and a half away. I'll do a late start the first day, overnight at the hotel on post, then return home the second day. So it will be two shorter work days and one overnight. I spoke with my Katterbach assistant on the phone today and have a good feeling about it. It's not really what I was hired for, but I don't mind the change of pace and change of place. It keeps things interesting. It keeps me social.

My patients today were mostly sweet, ranging from retirees, dependents, new-to-Germany soldiers, and walk-in acutes. All races, multiple nationalities, all ages. I love the diversity in the population and the conversations I have with my patients. Of course there's a lot of eye talk, but there's also a lot surrounding life and adaption, backgrounds, and experiences. I find interesting stories every day.

Some say the army is a giant welfare system, and I guess in a way, it is. But then I guess you could say all employers, all countries are giant welfare systems. We are really all here taking care of each other in a way. And I think that is good.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Returning from two weeks in Schweinfurt...

Yo Yo Ma swiggles through the candle-lighted kitchen space.

Feigning peace.

Phone conversation dins in the living room.

Exhaustion over recent developments. In life. And career.

Working in the army. Men are sexually charged, discriminatory and nice.

Even bosses.

It’s challenging. Interesting. Different.

Returning to medical optometry. Which I sort of forgot in New Zealand. Even though they like to think we are equals in practice. We are not.

Wondering if this is the point of life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Second week into my first TDY stint.

What is TDY?

It is "Temporary Duty Assignment." Yes, "Y" stands for "A." Okay, I made that one up.

I'm doing some optometry coverage in a town called Schweinfurt. I think means "pig fart" auf Deutsch. That's just my guess, so don't quote me.

The town is industrial and a business center, well off the beaten tourist path. It's interesting to be in a town again. When I first drove up, it seemed so big that I felt a touch of anxiety. Have I become a country girl again? Perhaps.

The reason I'm here is that one of our regular optometrists in Bavaria (from Katterbach) was deployed, thus creating a hole in the optometry coverage, which needs to be filled by juggling people around a bit. The regular optometrist here (Major Eddis) is going to Katterbach a couple
days a week. So I'm here in a hotel helping the locals.

I think anyway.

This morning, I racked up 12 patients in about 4 hours and this afternoon, another 8. I have to thank Kaiser for the speed of my skills and the ability to create meaningful social interactions with just ten minutes of patient contact time. Not a small feat.

In the menagerie of patients this morning, I also managed to lock up my ID card, which is how I am allowed to log into the computer and chart. I had the pleasure of driving to the other post here over lunch to plant my right index fingerprint on a reader and reset my pin, so that I would
not have a zillion charts to fix tomorrow.

The day is nearing the end. The sky is darking... My shoulder is paining. It is time to go.

Until tomorrow,
your trusty army optometrist,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good news

My cousin Amy pulled through a 5 hour brain surgery on Wednesday to have the brain tumor fully removed. She will be going through a lengthy recovery period, as it's affected some of her ability to move the left side of her body. However, spirits are high and we are all grateful for the outcome so far. If you wish to read more, you can see her webpage at Caring Bridge.

Monday, January 11, 2010

On being Away

In editor's page of this month's Oregon Humanities, Kathleen Holt quotes Pico Iyer as saying, "'The most distant shores, we are reminded, lie within the person asleep at our side.' In this sense, away is about attachment and detachment, about allegiance and commitment, about seeking and, if we're lucky, finding."

If being away is about finding, then I'm on the right track.

Sometimes it's hard to explain the need to move, to travel, to meet new people on the other side of the world, when I could do just the same in the United States, within a few hours' drive from home. I know as well that people are similar everywhere. I've found most to be trustworthy and helpful when another is in need.

When then, with the move?

For me it's about the learning, the experience, the socialness, the discovery that people truly are the same underneath it all.

And so I have found some things since moving to Germany. Besides my German skills, I have found my soft side, my empathy, my interest in other people's stories. I've found my love of snow, my capacity for relationships and my interest in running. In two short months, I've found a feeling of home, a feeling of stability and of place in this world.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Life is fragile

I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and I believe in the power of love and prayer. I am asking the universe to take care of my cousin-in-law Amy.

Amy, who is married to my cousin Chris, is my age (33) with two little kids, Alex and Lucy (they have appeared on my blog before here). She has to undergo brain surgery next week to remove a tumor that was just found this week.

I am asking you to offer up a little prayer for our Amy and her family this week, that she is taken care of and delivered safely home.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Poland for first breakfast 2010...

"Be careful!" I just liked the sign. (Probably not the best idea to take while driving.)

"Polish" is different. There's something artistic in the austerity.

A 24 Vegas cafe/bar. It looked a little closed to me.

Ok moving on to buildings. They look different here. Maybe it was just the town, but it didn't feel the same as Germany... not at all. You wouldn't think by crossing a bridge there'd be that big of a difference, but a friend of mine (who is Polish) had said that the US didn't let them in (with tourist visas) because "They don't want poor people to visit; they might stay." There are simiar notions regarding the EU-- and why they didn't want to give Poland full status. I will have to explore this country much more than this first quick cursory glance. There is something beautiful in the difference.

Everyone was out walking...

To church!

For the new year, luck and happiness to all!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bautzen, New Years

Neue Jahr aus Dresden (von meiner Pension Fenster) war "Zehn, neun, acht..." Und dann, Feuerwerk und Kirchenglocken für eine halbe stunde. Es war magisch.

The next day I ran into a cool building while doing a u-turn. It reminded me of the wintergarden that I walked past daily in the Auckland Domain.

Beautiful walk...

To a graveyard!

Of course, if you know my family, we are not afraid of graveyards. Since I come from a long line of dead people, I find them interesting. And this was gorgeous, all the little headstones draped in fresh snow.

Me and a headstone.

Back to the remains of the day... the mustard museum.

And the streets of Bautzen.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What you do if you're an insane person on New Years Day

You wake up, pull the rollershade, discover winter’s returned again overnight. After getting dressed, you hop in your mini and decide what the heck, it’s only another thirty minutes to Poland, why not have breakfast there? So you get on the autobahn, which is terribly reminiscent of your younger years in North Dakota, one lane open, following a snowplow at times. There is no 100mph today.

You arrive in the twin cities of Görlitz- Zgorzelec. Crossing the bridge into Poland is a palpable difference. Buildings are chipped. Some have corrugated metal siding. But the Polish people are going somewhere. Literally. Hoards are out walking. Maybe breakfast? But nothing is open. You discover they are walking to churches. Maybe to pray for money. Or food.

Where is this place that you were going to eat? It turns out to be the Wild Bean Café in the BP petrol station, the same store you had in New Zealand. Strange. You have a chocolate wafer bar, some popcorn in a bag and large coffee to start the new year. Poland sure has a lot to offer. You can’t wait to come back.

You return to Germany, which now seems boring after a couple hours in Poland.

You find your pension, which is run by an elderly woman named Christina. Her son is visiting from Frankfurt and gives you directions to the Esso station and old town.

You leave, excited to explore Bautzen.

Only everything is shut.

Except for the mustard museum. No, you are not kidding. You pore over the miniscule mustard museum, languishing in your lack of time constraints. Who knew mustard auf Deutsch could be so interesting.

After the magical mustard museum, you wander the oldestadt on foot, to a coffee shop. A cup of coffee and house kuchen for dinner seems right after the nutritious breakfast you had earlier.

A couple hours pass. You think you better find the Esso station, so you don’t have to pay Euro prices. So you head on your way and actually find it.

Afterward you attempt to get back to the pension. Without a map or navigation. You have (over)confidence in yourself again. Thinking that you are above these things and you will find your way. After taking some turns and two u-turns, you come to the right road. It is shocking. It must be work of the gods.

You pull into your pension, and the woman shows you your room, which has two dead blowfish on the walls and three dead animals on the floors. You are reading a book called, “Eating Animals.” You wonder again if this is the work of the Gods.

You know this is going to be a great new year.