Friday, July 17, 2009

Sitting at Corner Bakery using their free wifi and eating breakfast. Trying to prepare for my first job interview since returning home. Pretty nervous.

It's a phone interview, so at least I won't have to concentrate on forcing myself to stop fidgeting with my hands. And I won't have to wipe my sweaty palm on my pants before shaking hands with my interviewer. Still pretty nervous.

I typically interview well. Acting skills at work and all that. It's a one-man performance called "Every Positive Quality I Possess and Some I Don't." Typically performed in three acts.

Job hunting is all about patience. Waiting to hear back on applications, hoping to hear from some jobs over others, counting the minutes, hours and days that go by. It's like fishing without the beer.

Then when you finally get past all the modern filters (online application, resume request, background check, reference check) you get to speak to a person. Then you get to sell yourself. Without sounding too much like you're selling yourself. It's a complicated dance.

I'm a little bit rusty on the steps. Which is why I'm prepping for the big sales pitch over hot tea and scrambled eggs.

I'm distracted though. My mind keeps wanting to go over our moving plans for tomorrow. We've decided to move into an apartment for a year. We've discovered some serious commitment issues with settling on a house and a home. We think time and more research is the solution.

And if we find the location of our dreams in three months, we can always buy the lease out and be on our way. But I'm really not looking forward to two more moves in the near future. Moving is a singularly loathsome activity, both for the expense and the hassle. For such an involved activity, surprisingly little of it is very interesting.

But we're both ready to be living in a space of our own again, however temporarily.

Well, I'm going to get back to prepping for my sales pitch, er interview now. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Something I've been avoiding doing for about 2 weeks now is unpacking.

Chris and I are still living out of the same suitcases we've been traveling with for over 100 days.
Same clothes, same toiletries, same everything.

I look at the suitcases and boxes at my parents house and my in-laws house, and I cringe. I want to run away and hide.

Sometimes when I'm feeling really brave I slowly unzip a suitcase and peek inside, and I'm immediately overwhelmed.

The wedding gifts, the Turkey suitcases, the memorabilia from childhood, the drum kits, it's all there, waiting to come out.

Which begs the question, if we've lived without all this stuff for this long, how much do we really need it? Why do we have so much stuff that we don't fundamentally need? Why unpack any of it?

Part of the answer is that we've been using other people's stuff. As we're living at my Aunt and Uncle's and with parents, we use their pot holders and their plates and cups and trash bags and sheets.

When we have our own place, we'll need our own set-up.

As for the rest of the stuff, I can only chalk it up to sentiment. Framed wedding invites, Bible, journals, old birthday cards - all that stuff for me is a good reminder of where I've come from and where I'm going.

As of Saturday (or Monday), I'll have to overcome my avoidance of unpacking.

Chris and I have signed the dotted line on a new place to put all our stuff.

A fabulous 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment.

It isn't what either of us planned on doing when we returned, but I think it's a good compromise.

As much as I've been avoiding the unpacking, I am curious to see what's in all those boxes and suitcases.

Let the parade of stuff begin!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


(Pardon the lapse in MAC has been getting a post-European adventure tune-up)

On Thursday Chris and I saw the newest Pixar creation, "UP".

We saw it in Disney 3D, hence the rocking glasses.

UP is the animated story of a 78 year old man who, in search of adventure, ties thousands of helium balloons to his house and flies away to South America. Mid-way through flight he discovers an eight-year-old stowaway; comedy and emotion ensue.

I left the movie theatre over 48 hours ago and I am still thinking about the movie.

I think I've only written about 2 movies on this blog, this being the second, and they are both Pixar movies.

The messages in the movie are solid.

The three that stood out most to me were:

1. Even in the midst of life's grandest adventures, it's people and relationships that matter most, not things.

2. Middle-class can mean happy and fulfilled.

3. It's never too late.

For Chris and I, moving back to the States has been a whirlwind.

I had a dream the other night that I was on a lake merging my boat into a lane of jumping fish. Only, the more I merged, the more jumping fish there were. So many that they were smacking me in the back of the head and I couldn't see anything beyond them.

I psycho-dream analyzed myself and decided this dream is a metaphor for how I feel about merging back into American life.

Slowly trying to drive our boat into home ownerships, jobs, cars, relationships with friends and family, mortages,'s blinding.

Where before I was taking time to enjoy my tea, snap pictures, enjoy nature and live with only the things I needed, now I am driving through restaurants, barely remembering to bring my camera places, avoiding the outdoors in fear of dying of heat stroke, and staring down boxes and boxes of "stuff" I own.

Where does this feel to rush and value stuff come from? How much of it is the culture of America bearing down on me, and how much of it is just me feeling like I need to go-go-go?

I like to believe it's 90% culturally driven, but even if it is cultural, who in the end decides how to act?

That would be me.

I've never been to China, but in my travels around the world I have never experienced a more face-paced culture than the States.

This may anger a few of you (though I'm not sure why), but Americans have trouble slowing down.

When someone asks you what you did today (Saturday), how good would you feel about telling them "slept in, cooked lunch, took a nap, and watched some TV." I'm willing to guess that would cause embarrassing feelings for most of you.

Or if you're a teacher and you have the summer off, how good do you feel about saying "I'm just going to relax all summer."

It's not really in the American psyche to think doing nothing is okay.

We're always suppose to be wanting more, doing more, seeking more.

What's the rush?

Where are we going and why?

After 5 days of mortgage hunting, house hunting, bank switching, hair cutting, social eventing, car searching, utter and pure exhaustion, no one suggested we slow down.

No one.

No one asked us "what's the rush?" or encouraged us to take time to get over our jet lag.

Sure, people said, "don't make rushed decisions," but no one suggested we don't be rushed.

There was one person, one very professional person, who recommended we slow down.

And I ask - Why had that never occurred to us? Or to anyone else?

UP is a beautiful reminder that there is no need to rush. And, that it's important to separate working to live vs. living to work.

There is so little that we really need to do over the weekend.

See our families. Re-connect with friends living far away. Keep our bodies healthy. Take the dogs on a walk.

I'm going to try to remember this as Chris and I fumble through moving back to this fast-paced environment.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When You Need A Pro

It's only been 5 days in Texas, but it feels like weeks.

Being back in Lewisville/Flower Mound is something. I can't quite put my finger on what though.
It's a mix of excitement and exhaustion for sure.

Most days I go to bed at 11 pm and don't sleep well, then wake at 6 am and get out of bed. By about 11 am I'm usually so tired I'm lying in Chris's arms crying from fatigue and re-entry shock and over-stimulation and the feeling that all my stuff is spread out across Denton county.

It's great to eat the food you like and be around the people you love. It's fun to search for your first home and dream about what it will be like to finally use all your wedding gifts.

Monday we went on our first round of house hunting.

This house is older, but looked normal enough from the outside.

Inside was a time-warp of dramatic proportions. We didn't even know where to look first.

The whole experience was both terrifying and hysterical.

We have a fantastic realtor that we feel very comfortable with, so for the moment we're just going to chalk the whole thing up to "funny, bloggable experience."

I think we looked at 5 houses in total that day.

Yesterday we hit the ground running and drove from bank to bank, closing, opening, ducking, diving, depositing, withdrawing...

We ended up at a bank that has branches in Spain, so that's convenient.

At lunch, I went to get Chris a lid for his tea - I had three choices; small, medium and large lids. I looked at the cup and thought "yeah, that's a large."

Nope. That's a medium folks. How is that possible? Who needs more cup than this?

Next, on account of needing two professional haircuts, we went to ProCuts and let some random lady cut our hair.

About half-way through my cut, she dropped some knowledge (quite extensive knowledge really) about medical marijuana. After explaining that her dad has his medical marijuana license and her husband as well, I asked the obvious: what does one have to have wrong with them to get a license for medical marijuana?

"A headache," she replied.

"You know," she continued, "it's too hot here. I just want someone to drop me off in Alaska, but not tourist Alaska. 'Alaska-Alaska,' where it doesn't get above 80 degrees. And I want someone to just place me on Mt. McKinley and I'd just be there. Just sit and chill out, you know?"

It was at this point I realized she was in fact high.

We're less than half-way through cutting my hair, and my "stylist" is high as a kite.


She's not bothered. She assures me everything is going to be "soooo fine."

I leaned over to try to get Chris's attention but he was engrossed in the magazines. I was so annoyed that I couldn't get his attention, that I decided when it was his turn, I would just leave my seat, pass by him and say nothing about the fact that the lady about to cut his hair was baked.

And that's what I did.

Ah, the joys and stories that come from having spent all your money in Europe and now having to frequent ProCuts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Retail+Tacos+Apple to Re-Boot Life

From hang-gliding in Switzerland to a plane bound for Texas - And everyone is asking "what are you guys doing now?"
"How does it feel to be home?"
"Have you eaten Mexican food yet?"

For the purpose of those questions, and for anyone curious what it takes to move your foreign affairs around in this day and age, we took the camera out with us yesterday.

The first day we were home, July 3, I slept off the previously mentioned anxiety medications I have to take for flying. I think the Wehkamp family ate a few meals and Chris did some laundry.

But when I finally woke up yesterday, Chris and I set off to re-boot our lives in Texas.

First stop, Verizon.

Second stop, AT&T.

Third stop, bank.

Fourth stop, AT&T round two where we gave them all our monies and they gave us 2 acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) thermoplastic mobile devices that make phone calls and would probably make me a lasagna if I wanted them to.

Yes, we have phones now. No, I do not know how to use mine so please don't be offended when I don't pick up.
Not that that could happen anyways as neither you nor I know my phone number.

After AT&T and the bank, a close third is always Target. We zipped inside on a whim to try to find cases for the new phones.

As I was walking in I saw a girl leaving and I thought, "hmmm...that girl actually looks a lot like me."

Turns out, it's my little sister Emily whom I hadn't seen in 7 months. Just cruising through Target buying a hat for a day at the lake.

And then, the jackpot, grand prize, first place in all of Lewisville for lunchtime satisfaction: Abuelo's Mexican food Embassy.

After lunch we had to drive back to the Wehkamp house to get my sick laptop. Maya, as I call her, started overheating in Europe and had a Dr.'s appointment at the "Genius Bar" in Southlake.

On the way out of the neighborhood, we passed a lemonade stand. I always stop for these. Even though Chris and I had no more than $1.35, we ended up getting a piece of watermelon, a huge brownie, one cookie, and a tall glass of fruit punch. Have lemonade stands gotten more fancy or have I just been frequenting the wrong neighorhoods?

As we drove off they yelled "God Bless!" and "Happy 4th!" and "nice car!" I'm going to pretend a group of 11 year olds weren't being sarcastic about the quality of my 1997 Ford Escort with no power locks or windows, but they probably were.

Next it was on to Starbucks to blog and work on our new phones. Starbucks has a very complicated wifi system that took both Chris and I and two employees to work out, but we finally managed to log on. (This stuff is just as riveting as France and Switzerland right? Right?)

Apple store to fix Maya

(Chris wanted me to note the pink bag in the picture is mine, not his)

While we were waiting for our appointment, we saw a lady with this purse

That was neat.

Turned my computer in to get fixed, then we drove around neighborhoods in Argyle to look at properties.

I have no pictures of that because I had no idea where I was and for a little while felt like I was back in Italy with Chris navigating and neither of us having a clue where we were.
Until we found Google maps on the iPhone. And now our marriage will forever be bettered by this tiny little mapping device.

Got hungry again, got chips and salsa again.

This picture perfectly encapsulated the way Chris was feeling by this point.

We went home and he immediately ran to the bathroom. Jet lag isn't particular about who it affects. It affects everyone. Chris had his turn at about 8 pm last night. It weren't pretty.

So.......We're at a bit of a crossroads now between old and new.

The rest of the trip pictures are at another location. We still have many exciting stories to tell from our remaining days in Europe. There's still some high speed adventures, beautiful Swiss towns and good-bye sentiments.

We also want to continue to keep you informed of our lives here. Not sure how exciting it will be - but we'll try hard to find an angle.

If there's a part of the blog that you really enjoy, let us know. We're at a point where we're re-evaluating what kind of content we want to include.
Obviously posts about what we had for dinner and who I saw at SuperTarget isn't going to fly for long.

Drop us a line if you want and give us some direction one way or the other. Do you like the personal stories, are you just wasting time at work and could care less what we type, are you interested in re-entry to US life, do you want some stock tips, more photos, marriage's your chance.

I know a lot of you live abroad and might actually be interested in what American restaurants look like and lemonade stands, etc. Others at home might find that as interesting as reading a shoebox.

I'm not saying we'll take all suggestions, but since we're reflecting and repurposing, we thought it would be nice to have your two cents as well.

More to come...first official house-hunt today.

Hang Gliding and Intratextual Yearnings for Telepathy - by Christopher

Unlike Sarah, I don't have any qualms about fashioning whatever makeshift metaphor I can scavenge into the crude shape of my experience (as regular readers can attest).

As a human, every attempt at speech and writing is a failure of communication to varying degrees. The most mundane of personal experiences are utterly impossible to transmit into another brain with accurate intactfulness. It logically follows that relating my first hang gliding experience to you in any meaningful way beyond "I ran off a hill with a guy and then we floated and then we stopped moving on the ground" can't be an act of precision.

It will be an act of writing as precisely as I can in an attempt to convey my perspective. But from my perspective it's perfectly acceptable to use invented words like 'intactfulness.' My name is Chris, and I'll be your pilot today.

The moment of hang gliding I remember most vividly (courtesy of my reptilian fear center) is the first moment we became airborne.

This isn't a picture of that moment.

This is a picture taken probably a minute and a half after my pilot Didu had straightened us out; after I had shakily clamped my feet against the saddle, and after I became composed enough to attempt a dorky smile for the camera.

"Composed" isn't the right descriptor for how I felt in this photo. My feeling at the moment of this photo was "Barely Beginning to Recover From Shock." But I was trying for composed. I wanted to look composed for the photos. In some of them, I think I come close to achieving this strange, subconscious goal.

There aren't cute pictures of that first minute and a half and I think I know why (and it wasn't because my pilot Didu was too busy taking off and steering us into safety). It was because we were doing something completely, utterly, totally illegal.

At least, that's what every organ in my body screamed at me. As we sprinted down the hill and my legs began scissoring stupidly in the air, I could clearly hear the roaring chorus of my guts shouting "THIS IS THE MOST WRONG THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE AND SO VERY WRONG AND MORE WRONG THAN ANYTHING YOU HAVE EVER DONE IN YOUR LIFE!" My head reacted in the only reasonable way it could by promptly turning itself off.

But shortly after this mind-erasing transformation into a blubbering primate, consciousness rebooted and with it came a steady trickle of delightful euphoria. This, coupled with the soaring vistas all around me, produced a ravenous hunger for more speed, more wind, more flight. I felt peaceful and vibrant simultaneously. Gloriously alive and more free than ever before.

We started at 2,500 feet high and ended at zero, but for about an hour after my flight I felt as high as an elephant's eye.

And I felt sure I understood why perfectly sane people would spend their lives sprinting off of hills. The feeling was one of the best I've ever had, and all I wanted to do when I touched down was do it all over again.

Here are the links to the pics and videos one more time for those who are intent on receiving this imprecise communique with as much precision as possible. We salute your curiosity and noble commitment to fidelity and truth:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Real June 29th

It's July 4th, I realize that. I realize that too much time has gone by between posts. Just because we are in Texas does not mean the blog stops.

My excuses are tri-fold: 1. Too much fun with the Mathis people in France and Switzerland 2. Twenty plus hours in transit from Switzerland to Texas (and maybe 10 plus Xanax - yes I know that's too much) and 3. Sleeping for 30 hours straight after said drug overdose.

As Chris says, it's kind of hard to put your mind back to June 29 and write like it's that day. Almost impossible to bring back the exact feelings I had, so I'm going to write this today, in the past tense, as best I can.

Instead of driving from France to Switzerland, my dad found a car train. This train is unlike any train I've ever seen before. You simply drive your car up to the line of cars, wait for the train to arrive, then drive your car onto the train and away you go. It's like watching a herd of cattle queing up to be milked. After all the cars were on, we took a 20 minute ride over to Switzerland.

I thought it might have been a somewhat scenic journey, but I was sorely mistaken.

My dad is one of a kind. When we started planning this trip back in March, he told me that he had a surprise for the Switzerland leg of the journey.

My dad likes adventures and trying new things. He's been known to go white-water rafting, horseback riding, snow skiing - he'll try most anything once.

We all took guesses as to what it could be. I said zip-lining, my mom said a helicopter ride, and Chris guessed grape stomping.

We were all wrong.

On the morning of June 29th, my dad's 58th birthday, we drove to Interlaken, Switzerland and straight into a park where hang-glider after hang-glider were landing in a huge green field.

Chris's jaw dropped and a huge smile spread across his face, I started jumping with excitement and my mom immediately started popping Xanax (we may have a problem - we'll work on it.)

I might be afraid of flying, but afraid of jumping off a mountainside on a kite-like contraption is fine with me. I needed no drugs and no persuading.

I have been trying for a few days to think of the words to describe this experience. It is truly unbelievable.

Chris is going to write his own post about it as well as it was such a neat experience I think all 4 of us would be able to write pages about it.

The first thing you have to do is climb into this old van that makes a sound like a horse when it starts up "neigh!!", then the crew of 4 (Bernie, Didu, Ed and Minda) drive you up the mountain side. At one point Ed told me to look at the view and when I looked, I nearly threw up. It's one high mountain.

When you get to the top you have to help the crew put your hang-glider together. I asked Ed to make sure and check my work as this was my first time. He said you could bet your a$% he was going to check it.

Next step is to get into your bag-like harness, put on your helmet, and practice running.

This isn't normal running. You have to place your right hand on your pilot's right shoulder, your left hand on their hip and run. With a kite attached to you. Downhill. As fast as you can. The faster you go, the better lift you get.

It's not easy.

And you have to have the exact perfect amount of wind. In the exact right direction.

Also not easy.

After you've practiced running, you're standing on the ledge, you take 3 deep breaths and your pilot (for me, Ed), asks "ready for a good strong run?" And your answer must be "yes", otherwise they won't go.

I said "yes!" and before I knew it I was sprinting down the hill, feeling the tug of the glider slowly lift me off of the Earth.

I'm sitting here staring at the screen thinking of all the metaphors and adjectives that I can but nothing comes close to how flying through the sky like this feels.

I felt like a bird. I felt like a peaceful bird just cruising the air maybe looking for a stick or two to fluff up my nest with.

It wasn't bumpy, it wasn't scary, it wasn't cold or windy. All I could think of was how I wanted to do it for another 3 hours. Ed said the most he'd done it was 4 before he had to come down to go to the bathroom.

I had a view of the lake, of the city, of the mountains. It was a dream come true and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The first day we had to go later than planned because the guests before us were late, so only Chris, mom and I got enough wind to go. Irony of ironies, the man who's been planning this for 3 months was the only one that didn't get to go that day. But he got his turn the next morning.

I don't have the patience or the wherewithall to perfectly incorporate all the videos and pictures. After all, I now have a house, a car, a cell phone, etc. to figure out. But they're all online. Enjoy.

Jan's Flight Pattern

Tim's Birthday Flight

Sarah Soaring

Chris Flies High