I really like writing posts in list form. So here's another one. You're welcome.
Last Saturday I went to an early 4th of July celebration at the Vogelweh army base in western Germany. We went there to visit Husband's aunt and uncle and their four kids, who are stationed here. What better place to celebrate Independence Day while in Germany than a United States military base? It was like an oasis of American culture in a desert of Germanity. Seeing all the stuff I've been missing has made me realize just how much I love "Amurrca". I have compiled is a list of reasons I'm proud to be an Amurrcan, in light of my recent experiences:
1. Food is cheaper and comes in bigger quantities in America. I've never been an "I break for Costco" kind of person, but our current state of poverty has shown me the virtues of buying in bulk. Our charitable relatives took us to the Commissary, the American grocery store on the base. It was like Christmas had come early. We ran from aisle to aisle, collecting as much nonperishable food as we could carry. This included huge cans of fruit, four packs of Kraft macaroni and cheese, a 12-pack of root beer, Craisins! and several jars of real salsa (as opposed to the German version, which is basically ketchup with chili powder in it). We peed our pants when we found the enormous jars of peanut butter (due to the prevalence of Nutella, peanut butter is virtually extinct here. We have found this to be problematic as PB&Js are pretty much the only thing we can afford these days). There's no such thing as a gallon of milk in Germany, and the rare package of Oreos contains a mere sixteen cookies within. Apparently Germans are used to going grocery shopping every day. This does not suit me, not only because it reeks of inefficiency, but also because we live at the top of a very steep hill and the only way to the top (for us car-less folk) is on foot. Hopefully the substantial amount of food we purchased will last us for the rest of our time in Germany! Okay, that's exceedingly optimistic. Especially considering that we ate half a package of Oreos just on the drive home.
2. In the U.S. everybody realizes that smoking kills. I have observed the most peculiar phenomenon here in Germany. Yes, the prevalence of cigarette smoking is high, but that's not the strange part. The strange part is that the people smoking are young adults. You'd think the only people smoking would be those older individuals who just never managed to kick the habit. But the number of young people smoking suggests that German youth either don't know or don't care about the risks of smoking. Doesn't everyone have at least one grandparent who died of lung cancer due to a smoking habit? I have two. I just don't understand it. Oh yeah, I'm tempted by fancy cocktails and wines, but smoking is one activity in which I have absolutely no desire to participate; this includes the second-hand variety, which I've been inhaling a lot of lately. So it was nice to get away from the unending cloud of smoke for a while. I smelled all of one cigarette at Vogelweh. It was heavenly.
3. We do not tolerate graffiti in the U.S. In this neck of the woods graffiti is viewed as self-expression. I'm all for self-expression, but please do it on your own property. My heart breaks a little bit every time I see an ancient, historical building desecrated with spray paint. I will admit that the graffiti is quite well-done here in Jena. Graffiti artists strategically tag around words and signs, making sure not to cover up important messages. Some taggers even employ stencils in their craft. I'm partial to a widely-used stencil that depicts busts of two bearded, early modern-day prophet-looking men with the words "boys in the hood are always hard" underneath them (oddly, a ton of the graffiti is in English). That said, it still makes our quaint town look trashy. So it was nice to get away from that for a while. Of course there was no graffiti on the base, and I don't remember seeing any in the surrounding area either. This is probably because the area is largely inhabited by American military personnel. While with our relatives, we also visited this awesome touristy town called Cochem, in the Mosel river valley. It boasts an incredible castle on a hill in the middle of the town. You better believe there was not a trace of graffiti there. It's beautiful hamlets like Cochem that make me realize just how visually unappealing Jena is in many places. Decrepit buildings may be charming, but adding graffiti to them makes them look slummy. Legal graffiti is an acceptable art form, but I fully support the practice of destroying misdemeanorly art that we employ in the States.
4. America really is a melting pot. From the second I walked on the base, I realized that I had been missing the diversity that we enjoy in the U.S. And this is coming from someone who has lived in Utah for the past four years. It was so refreshing to see an even mix of all different races. There were Hispanic kids playing with Asian kids, interracial couples with their halfie children, and even some Polynesian people! My favorite moment of the whole day occurred when a funny little black boy approached an elderly Asian couple and started making silly faces at them. The Asian couple laughed, the boy laughed, and I wept with patriotism. I knew I would never see that in Jena.
5. We have a dang good national anthem. On a seriously patriotic note, I was touched to watch all the military people stand at attention while "The Star Spangled Banner" played before the fireworks show. I particularly enjoyed watching one man try to look solemn and reverent while simultaneously attempting to discipline his rowdy kids. While I stood there, I thought of how the national anthem plays at BYU every evening while the flag is retired. You're supposed to stop walking and talking until it's done. Whenever I have the misfortune of being outside during this occurrence, I usually keep walking to my destination and try to avoid the judgmental glances coming my way. I don't hate America, but I feel like people who stop and gaze misty-eyed in the general direction of the flag are just doing it for show. I don't need to prove my patriotism to anyone. And yet I'm writing a blog post about it. Anway, when I stood for the national anthem at Vogelweh, it was not for show. Something about being out of the good old US of A has made me realize that I really am a patriot. I'm exceedingly grateful that I hail from the sweet land of liberty. I'm still not going to stop for the national anthem at BYU, though.
God bless Amurrca. I miss you.