Friday, October 2, 2009

Ironic Snapshot

So for the past couple weeks I have been kind of frustrated about my job. I think mostly it's because in Madrid I had a job that allowed me to be creative, be in leadership, have a say in how and when I worked, etc. Coming back to an hourly job where I answer the phones and have to stick to a pretty strict schedule and ask my manager for permission to deviate isn't coming naturally.

It occurred to me this week that it's probably a pride issue more than anything. I hear myself saying "I have a college education, I have work experience, I have blah blah blah and I deserve better than this."

Do I?


Even though it's frustrating, I think it's good for me to not be in leadership for a while. Maybe I'm actually still really young and still have a lot to learn from, well, pretty much everybody.

So this week..

New attitude? Check. Feeling good. On Wednesday I came across the verse "May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in you." (Ps. 119 something). I made that verse my prayer and decided to try to treat all the patients who called in like I was talking to Jesus on the phone.

The first few went well. Hopefully I made a few people smile and was a cause for joy. Feeling pretty good about myself.

And then this guy calls in and asks for an appointment. No please, no niceties, demanding tone. I try, in my sweetest voice, to explain to him that there aren't any slots left, but I could try to see if I could squeeze him in the next morning. I remind myself that I'm talking to Jesus on the phone here. I am a cause for joy here, people, even when I don't give them what they want.

I got out the words "I'm sorry, but we don't have any..."

"Go to hell!" he yelled, and hung up.

I guess I still need a few more lessons in humility :).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

We're Ok

I just realized yesterday that I only write on this blog when I am upset. I think it's just because most of the time I'm really ok and don't need an outlet, or at least can talk about things with Paul rather than just write it. I wanted to post a quick update of how we're feeling so the last post and all of it's culture-shock tantrumness wouldn't linger too much.

We went with our friends Kara and JP and their fantastic kids to the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival downtown today. We had a blast, heard some great music, and were able to just relax with friends and feel like ourselves. I think one of the thinks I like best about the Moses family is that it doesn't feel like I've just known them a few months--I'm just myself with them, which is sometimes hard for me to feel like that's enough.

We've been really enjoying our church, too. This morning as we were eating lunch together after church in our friends' house, I was thinking how nice it is to feel comfortable. And how that almost feels strange to me. Is it oxymoronic to feel strange that you feel comfortable? Ah, the joys of adjustment. It's all one big contradiction. I hate it and I love it, I'm comfortable and I just don't fit, all at the same time. No big freakouts, just life.

My job's going well--I get to speak Spanish about half the time, which is a huge plus, and I start classes next week toward my health care interpreter certificate. I'm super excited about the class, mostly because what I really want is to be in a clinic or hospital interpreting rather than just setting appointments, but also because there are other Spanish speakers taking the class.

Oddly enough, I think my Spanish is actually better here than it was in Spain. I speak it a lot, which could be it. Or maybe I'm just more confident. I'm still surprised sometimes that people don't discount what I say on the phone just because I'm a foreigner or think I'm stupid. In fact, because they're calling me for information, they actually treat me like someone who knows what she's talking about! Having been una extranjera in Madrid, the assumption that someone who is not a native speaker knows what they're talking about is a new experience to me. Anyway, truth be told, I understand the Spanish here better than the English on many days.

The move has been both rough for me and Paul and good for us marriage wise. All in all, I think it's pulled us closer more than anything else. Sometimes it's hard because when we do get mad at each other, all of a sudden it's like I realize--"Wait! He's the only person I know! I can't push him away!" Which infuriates me in the moment but forces us (in a good way) to talk about things and work through stuff rather than staying mad or holding grudges. We're learning that since we're not walking every day, the more we work out, the nicer we are to each other.

And Paul has been wonderfully caring and sweet and romantic and good at making me feel like I'm not insane. I've taken a lot of the stress of the past few months out on him and he's been so good to forgive me over and over. He's a great husband. Having moved cross-culturally as a single person, and then again married, I have to say that even though it can put a strain on our relationship (understatement), it's absolutely a gift from God to come home and have someone who KNOWS you. To have that constant. Moving cross-culturally is probably in the top ten list of most dangerous things to do to your marriage in the first year, but more than anything it has made me so thankful for the wonderful man that Paul is.

So all in all, I think we're ok. I still miss Spain. I still call it "home" without thinking, call dollars euros, put trash in the "bin," but that will just take time. Spain still feels like home to me. But I can say that we are making a home in Memphis.

We're ok. And for now, I'll be thankful for that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Three Month Point--I want out

"We have a car--we can drive all the way to Mexico and we'd be fine. We speak Spanish."

This is what I said to Paul--on break from his 4 hour licensure class. You know when you'd rather live illegally in Mexico that you don't want to be where you are.

It's not Memphis per se, although I've never met so many rude people in my whole life in any other place. It's...well...America. I miss Spain.

Sorry. Call me unpatriotic if you will (actually, please don't. I know there are good things about America--I'm just going through the normal process of cultural adjustment so cut me some slack). I'm just at the three month point and all of the things that I don't like about living here are surfacing.

My current big beef:

The American work schedule/pace. Hardly any vacation and ridiculous obsession with your life revolving around your job. Why do we earn big paychecks? So we can work more? I was happier when Paul and I thanked God for another 20 euros that would buy us food for the next 3 or 4 days. I would trade our big apartment, our car, and our paychecks for that again, and for being able to see each other before 9 or 10 p.m (seriously, on our current schedule we won't see each other til 9 or 10 Mon-Wed).

We were happy in Spain.

I miss good, fresh food that didn't have things injected in it to make it last longer so it could be mass produced. Are we any healthier or better off for all the mass produced non-fresh junk that's EVERYWHERE? Seriously people, can we just eat good food???????!!!!!

I miss actually having time to get together with people during the week, and not having to make plans weeks in advance.

I miss trying to make inroads in relationships with the women on my street, little daily conversations in Spanish about how the baby's growing, the weather, etc. I miss neighbors that actually talked to each other.

I miss being in a mixed bag racially and no one caring.

I miss being able to walk or take public transportation everywhere I needed to be. I'm like the cute different one at work just because I bike. And everywhere else needs a car. So more time has to be carved out of the day for exercise because we don't get it naturally. No matter how much I work out at home, I feel like a skin covered blob. I feel like all I want in the world right now is to walk out my door and go somewhere on my own two feet without the fear of there not being a sidewalk or of getting shot.

I don't want to be here.

You get to a certain point in cultural adjustment (and I guess cultural readjustment) that you don't want to be where you are. In Spain I told newcomers that it was the "I hate Spain" phase and it was to be expected. I guess it's the same here. I don't even necessarily want to go back to Spain (who am I kidding? Yes I do.) I just don't want to be here.

Please don't take offense, friends and family. I know there are lots of good things about living here. I just need to be allowed to go through this.

And, if anyone has a couple spare tickets to Spain, I'd take 'em.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Overwhelming, Bleeding City

I just read a news story about a 14 year old boy in Memphis who accidentally shot his sister and then ran away. In another part of town, a pregnant 17 year old girl was caught in the crossfire of a dispute that wasn't hers. The baby's still in critical condition.

At Paul's school, they had a discussion the other day of better ways to control the entering and exiting of the building at the beginning and end of the day, to protect the kids from possible drive by shootings.

With my job, I talk on the phone to so many people who sound just plain beat up and tired. The women who call in for pregnancy appointments often sound like children to me.

I cried when I read the last news story. It was like the last straw--reality hitting.

When Paul and I prayed about what our mission is as a couple, we came up with this: "We want to live in a city and do what we can to make it better."

Right now that feels like a little pink bandaid in the middle of--quite literally--a bullet hole. Right now I look at Memphis and I see a big, gaping, wound. What on earth can we do, if anything, to make it better?

I like Memphis. I'm glad we moved here, and I think God has been leading in this all along. But I feel like I've been transported into a war zone with an ace bandage. This is overwhelming!

God, heal this city.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear American Concept of Customer Service

I appreciate that you want to help. I understand that you have been trained to introduce yourself, ask certain questions, and say certain friendly phrases. But there are a few things that you should know:

•Go away and let me shop. It's creepy being followed.
•I didn't need anything five minutes ago, and I still don't.
•I promise I have a good memory. I know you work here, and if I need you I can find you.
•If I am looking for something in particular, I would rather look for it than talk to you about it.
•Again, I promise that if I need something, I will ask you.
•Cutting someone off in your rush to open the door for them may not be as polite as you think.
•Just actually be nice. Not fake rehearsed cue card nice.
•If I say I want something specific, don't try to sell me something else that costs way more.

Thank you. I assure you, if I need anything, I will let you know. Don't call me. I'll call you.

Valued Customer

I know, it's been forever

We're alive. Sorry about the delay. Come to find out, there is so much to process that it doesn't fit in a blog. Here's a basic rundown of the past 3 weeks.....

Week 1 (ish):
Apartment hunting, staying in a weekly rental, jet lag, buying a car, getting phones, signing a lease, moving in, exploring.
We loved:
•Midtown! Beautiful old houses, big trees, funky cafe's
•Mud Island River Park--and the Mississippi River in general. Gorgeous sunsets.
•Sleeping. A lot.
•Meeting a few new people
•Pei Wei--cheap asian food and a gluten free menu.
•Getting to talk so much to family!!!!

•In the grocery store--labeling is ridiculous here and it's practically impossible to tell what could be contaminated with gluten.
•Leaving a church service realizing that I feel ridiculously foreign and don't know
anybody. Missing a family of internationals that tends to swarm new people.
•No house, not much money, no friends, new country, etc. Feeling stranded. Lots of tears week 1.

Week 2 (ish):
Week 2(ish) was our "transition" week. We signed a lease and moved into the new duplex--we love the apartment and the location! My "gluten free shopping guide" book came in and made life at the grocery store much less stressful. Then the big storm came, possibly tornadoes, and the power was out for a week.

I'm actually super thankful for the power outage--we went to our new friends Kara and Johnpaul's house (seriously new friends--we had met them in person once) for dinner Saturday night and ended up staying until the next friday b/c of the power outage. What a great way to make new friends! We connected well with them and their adorable girls, and actually miss them now that we're back in our own place. As we were leaving I told them it felt like a cultural adjustment halfway house.

•Staying with the Moses family.
•"Vacation" days where we just had fun. We even went to the zoo!
•Indian food. There's so much you can do with it and most of it is gluten free!
•I finally had time to go to the social security office and tell the government that my name is Kelly Jennemann now. Much less confusing to only have to sign one name.
•Video chatting with Christine and Lisa.

Week 3:
Week 3(ish) is called "Reality." Paul started work. Stephen brought us a couch. (Thanks, btw). I can't find a job and am home all day.

•Paul really likes his new job and the people he's working with.
•I got a haircut--and found someone to go to regularly for haircuts.
•Met up with some great girls on Wednesday night. I was proud of myself for
actually leaving the house and not holeing up all homesick and shy. It was fun.
•I broke down and bought workout videos b/c we can't afford a gym membership yet
and it's too hot to run. I feel much better emotionally and physically for it.
•Central air conditioning.
•Video chatting with Christine.
•I've done better than expected health-wise. Haven't gotten really sick from gluten.
•Easy Way grocery store--fresh produce, mostly local, cheap and friendly. And
around the corner.

Not so high-lights:
•I think I've sobbed and yelled "I want to go home" 3 or 4 times now.
•Marriot hotels told me I wasn't qualified to work front desk. They're the only
people who have actually bothered to even return a call.
•It's hot. Not just oh it's uncomfortable hot. I'm about to throw up hot. And
humid. Today there was literally an "Excessive Heat Warning" for our area. Evidently that's the next step up from "Heat Advisory." It looks beautiful outside, but it's frustrating to not be able to enjoy it since our first week here because it's miserable to go outside.

We're doing well, all in all. I miss Spain. More like a constant dull pain in the background. I miss walking, and our market, and lack of humidity, and Spanish. But mostly I miss Oasis. I miss our church, our family. I miss the familiarity of calling up to Casa Tetuan 30 minutes before dinner time and planning a feast with our "neighbors." I miss all the girls who have known me for years and are happy to see me. I miss parties and games. I miss good food, good wine, good conversation. I miss Phill and Lydia. I miss the couches and the company of the Cady's, knowing that I am welcome, known, and loved at their home. I miss community group, the gathering, and services. I miss leading worship.

I know that it takes time. We're liking Memphis and I know that one day I will feel at home here like I did in Spain. I'm thanking God for all the relationships that we've already been able to start, and for lots of time together with Paul.

Ok, I hope that catches you up. Thanks for praying!

Monday, June 8, 2009

it's been one week

With apologies to Barenaked Ladies, it's been one week since we've moved from Madrid to Memphis, so I wanted to share what we've been through, uh, I mean, done in the past week.

-Moved out of our apartment on Dr. Santero to stay with our pastor's family for two days. Relaxed on their lovely hammocs!
-Ordered shuttle to take us to the airport in Madrid.
-Leave Madrid for Memphis for a new job and missional living.
-Happen to have the exact same flight as a friend we know in Madrid who's going to Memphis!
-Land in Memphis, rent a car, so to weekly rental.
-Deal with lost luggage (actually a blessing since the two bags that didn't come from Madrid would be delivered to our door! They actually came the next day.)
-Day 1 in Memphis: have two appointments to see apartments and get mobile phones.
-Day 3 in Memphis: buy a car (2007 Nissan Versa from Dobbs Nissan. They worked with us from Spain, so definitely visit them!)
-Day 4 in Memphis: have dinner with a couple I know who live here, but I know him from church in Augusta.
-Day 5 in Memphis: visit a new church. Quite a different experience since Kelly has been working for a church the past five years.
-Enjoy an afternoon at the Mud Island River Park on the Mighty Mississippi.
-Day 6 in Memphis at noon: sign the lease on our new home (duplex).

Can we go on vacation now?
Adjusting back to America has been hard work this past week in finding a home--finding confirmation as to why we moved from a city we loved and a culture we were perfectly integrated in to a city in America we had only been to once and knew very little about. We are excited at the new opportunities God has given us here in Memphis, and yesterday's message at church about using the unique talents God has given us to work for his glory in the church and in the city.

But seriously, can we go on vacation yet? ;)