Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unceremonious Beginnings

I have been waiting . . . for what? For a desk to be clear and a light to shine so that I can sit down and begin a chronicle of this new phase of my life. I'm calling it Chapter This. (It isn't easy to find a blog name that hasn't already been taken.)

But the desk is not (yet) clear, and shining lights remain elusive.

My daughter, Miriam, and I arrived in Germany on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. We joined Markus, who had been in (and out) of our new German home since late July. A forty-foot container filled with our material possessions left Salt Lake City, Utah on July 28th to travel from Oakland, California via the Panama Canal to Bremerhaven in northern Germany (this link opens a world map that shows shipping densities, and you can imagine the route if you locate deep red area in the middle of the California coast, look for Panama, and find another deep red area east of the UK). Estimated arrival in Bremerhaven: September 6th.

It's not that I haven't blogged from the midst of chaos before. I have. Back before we even said "blog." In December 2001, Markus and I began Simon's Place, the website that helped us communicate about the illness and eventual death of our son (and Miriam's older brother), Simon. Hospitals. Medical procedures with a four year old (then five year old, six year old). A cross country move from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Salt Lake City. End of life care for a seven year old. Devastating loss. Grief. Looking for new footholds, tiny handholds. Six years have passed since Simon died. He would be an 8th grader now.

Miriam, who turned 11 last week, has started 5th grade at Justinus-Kerner-Gymnasium in Heilbronn. After 7 years on the faculty of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Markus took a position at the German Graduate School of Management and Law (GGS), where he is Professor of Strategic Management and Leadership. So far so good in their new endeavors.

I have left a job at the Salt Lake Arts Academy (grades 5-8), where I taught German, choir, and creative writing. Here in Germany I am going to build my writing life. Perhaps I'll find my way back into teaching. For now, I'm butting heads with Miriam, who doesn't really want to learn German from her mother. But I happen to be a pretty good German teacher . . .

And so I need my writing desk. We're getting closer. Our container took another week in transit from Bremerhaven down here to Flein, just south of Heilbronn. It arrived on Monday, September 13. Try fitting the contents of a 2500 square foot house (plus full storage basement and garage) into a 1600 square foot apartment. We discarded like crazy before leaving Utah but brought the bulk of our household here (nothing in storage stateside). As our mover said, more than once, we have a lot of books.

Markus, my live-in electrical engineer, spent the last two weeks preparing for and teaching a 5-day intensive course. He basically disappeared into work right about the time the container arrived. So, it's been two weeks of me unpacking (with help from some kind souls) in a half-lit apartment. Now that Markus is back putting time in at home, lights and switches are going in everywhere, and pretty soon I'll have a working office.

Meanwhile, I am off tomorrow (Thursday) for a day of bringing in the grapes. Flein is in wine country. I've managed to volunteer myself onto a team of folks who enjoy helping a local wine grower with tending and harvesting the crop. Last week, we cut a red grape called Acolon. I'll be back to tell about what happens tomorrow.

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