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The Boy, 2 Muttleys and I have finally realized our dream of living 1 mile from the Lindt Chocolate Factory. Leaving Atlanta (the World of Coke) for Zurich (the World of Chocolate) hasn't come without challenges, incredible fun or giggles. Follow along as I chronicle our adventures as we acclimate to this new Swiss lifestyle.
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Friday, June 10, 2011

That Tram Stop is so Sexy

I hear quite often that the Swiss are reserved, uptight, boring, etc. I find labels rather annoying, not only because I am an American who gets labeled constantly, but even more so now that I am an Expat. I want to be respected as an American and at the same time, I want my new host country to be respected. Since I am always looking for ways to disprove gross generalizations in any form, I have been searching high and low for ways to argue against the stereotype that the Swiss are yawn producing chocolate and cheese makers. And then it hit me...P D A. No, this does not stand for a new gadget or Personal Device that is Awesome. No, it is not short for Please Don't Ask me for the billionth time where the Hauptbahnhof is. It stands for Public Display of Affection and boy do the Swiss like to mug down.

Let's talk about bus love

There is a couple that rides the 7:27 am bus from my neck of the woods to the city every single day. This couple walks to the bus stop holding hands while managing to also gaze into each other's eyes. I have tried walking while looking to my left, and let me tell you...it is hard. I have even tried imagining that Johnny Depp is off to my side and I still can't manage to do it. This amorous couple then boards the bus, takes the same set of seats as every trip before and proceeds to get in the most incredible argument I have ever seen. And then like clockwork, they make up with a make out and then once that is complete, the female component of this dysfunctional display of "WTF did I just witness?" sprays the most hideous perfume onto herself, which makes you wish she instead sprayed the bus full of tear gas. Needless to say, I no longer take the 7:27 bus.

That tram stop is so sexy

Waiting for the tram two weeks ago, I was startled when a couple who was hand in hand, decided to suddenly stop in front of me and make out. At first I was annoyed that my view of the oncoming tram was being obstructed. But then I realized - they were making out in front of me at a tram stop. There is nothing sexy about a tram stop. Tram stops are notorious for having overflowing garbage cans, 13 year old girls in jean stretch pants and at least 5 different people smoking cigarettes. In other words it is unattractive, unattractive and well...unattractive. As they were making out not two feet in front of me, I thought to myself "so this is what young Swiss people in love do when they are waiting for their tram to come". As I was thinking this thought, the tram pulled up and the making out couple stopped making out, turned on their heels and continued walking down the street...

When I touch what other people touch, it makes me HOT

I have described the increase in the amount of times I have gotten sick since moving here. It is quite easy to explain: Public Transportation. There is no getting around the fact that you will touch what some other person has touched. No amount of washing or sterilization will completely protect you. So imagine my surprise when I witnessed a hot and bothered couple on the train, who had both just grasped onto metal poles for support, take each other's faces into their hands and make out. I heaved a little and then watched as they slathered each other with microscopic bits from other people's parts. Hey, I guess when you are Swiss and in love, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I am sure you have seen a pattern here. Transportation makes the Swiss horny. While this may very well be true, I have witnessed many other unsexy occasions or places result in a random make out session. So continue to call the Swiss reserved, but when you call them rigid or stiff...just know what exactly you are explaining and it ain't their demeanor.
Friday, May 13, 2011

Zurich...We Have a Problem

Wouldn't you want to keep this beauty spit free?

I was issued a "rolley" bag (short for Laptop Trolley, I kid you not) for work in an effort to save my back and shoulders from unnecessary pain. If you don't know what I mean by "rolley" bag, it is a computer bag on wheels, a trolley for your computer, the San Francisco treat of business, I could go on...

As a result of owning said "rolley" bag, I now spend a good deal of my time looking downwards. I do this to avoid things like trash or puddles or anything in the gross or ewwwwwwwcategory. I really want to keep the integrity of the bag...I love my "rolley" bag.

What I learned from my bag love is that Zurich is covered in spit, sputum, phlegm, cough juice, etc. You can literally see me dodging tiny piles of goo on a daily basis because it is everywhere and I am not quite sure why. It could be the insane amount of people who smoke or have allergies. I would think it be common sense to cough up your nasties in a bush or in a trash bin. No such luck I am afraid. So I am left to dodge and weave tiny piles of mucous much like Michael Jordan did, well anyone, in his heyday. If you spot a blondish, brownish, reddish headed woman who looks incredibly intoxicated at 8:00am on a Tuesday morning while dragging a square "rolley" bag, that would be me. (I am uncertain of my hair color these days)

It is a good thing Zurich takes cleanliness to obscene levels. I can vouch for the fact that if there is a pile of spew from New Years Eve, it will be gone in less than 24 hours. Considering places like London rely on their pigeon populations for puke control, we are quite fortunate. Since Zurich has anti-pigeon campaigns, someone or something has to clean up the piles of human expulsions. Even though Zurich keeps the presence of vomit to a minimum, it cannot seem to get a handle on the spit. No street cleaning machine or mere mortal can clean the spit sheen that blankets my fair city. It is like I live in the most beautiful spittoon in the world.

Eat your heart out Jesse James and all the other scary dead cowboys.
Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bacon Free Since November

Actually, you can only click and look inside if you are on Amazon.com.
Thanks for the pic Amazon, you are a pal.
Considering I wrote blogs about the stuff, took pictures of the stuff, daydreamed about the stuff, searched aimlessly in the local Swiss supermarket for the stuff, ate it on a daily basis once I found the stuff...I am sure it comes as quite the shock to you all.

So how did I kick the habit? Did I wear a bacon patch? No, although that does sound strangely delicious. I read a book called "Eating Animals". This book wasn't about kicking obsessive bacon habits, rather it was about factory farming. It explains, in graphic and honest detail, how the meat you consume gets to your plate. I not only stopped eating slices of pure heaven, I stopped eating meat all together.

So the boy and I are vegetarians living in Switzerland. I liken it to being a Mormon who lives in the Vatican City, sometimes lonely and definitely weird. This is a germanic society and many times it seems like there are two food groups - meat and Roesti. Ok, so it really isn't that bad. There are some incredible vegetarian restaurants, plenty of ethnic eateries and many stores that carry a variety of meat substitutes, but the fact of the matter is, only 3% of the population is vegetarian or vegan. This means many people don't understand the lifestyle choice and have asked us some very difficult questions like:

1. Even fish? You don't eat fish? No, that is meat.

2. Do you still wear leather? You do? GOTCHA! No, you didn't get me, rather you just learned that I am not a vegan. Leather products are a product of factory farming for sure and I have tried to find a pleather outlet, but after my search, there were none to be found. I would happily buy pleather shoes if they were available.

3. Do you miss it? Only when I smell a BBQ. I don't dislike meat. Rather I love the taste of the stuff, but I can't shake the imagery and the truth about how meat is produced from my brain.

4. Are you going to try and change my mind. You know, get all crazy PETA-ish on my ass? No, but I will tell you my story if you ask and I may ask that you at the very least get educated about factory farming. It is  up to you whether or not you want to change your eating habits after you become educated.

5. Will you ever eat meat again? Maybe. If we know for a fact that the animal being offered had a good life, one without torture. Honestly though, I don't miss it enough to have it even under those circumstances.

I actually welcome the questions, especially if they come from a sincere and genuinely curious place. All I ask is, for every question you ask me, ask yourself a tough question like this one - Do you really know what you are eating?
Monday, March 28, 2011

So Cute that "Cute" Doesn't Cut It

Just a little diddy from the Serengeti. I think you are looking at the 3rd Cohen brother with my film skills. Think they have room in their family for this rising star?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh Deer

The Boy and I were looking at various hotels in Switzerland for an inpromptu weekend getaway. One particular hotel caught my attention as it had a very liberal animal policy:

This particular hotel doesn't want to lose out on the very important "families with companion deer" demographic. If you don't already know, 100 Kilos is about 220 pounds. This 5 star resort not only allows giant deer, they apologize in advance if you want to bring a deer that is too gargantuan and exceeds their policy. At least the mystery of where Old Saint Nick spends his holidays is solved.
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dolly Parton Has Got Nothing on Me...Except Boobs

For the past year and a half, whenever anyone asked me how being a Hausfrau was, I would answer: "It is great...I keep really busy". Once I started working again I found out that there is a huge difference between keeping busy and being busy. Now that I have a job, I AM busy. It isn't an option or a choice anymore. The verdict on the new job? I am really enjoying it and I thought I would share with you a few random thoughts on my new life.

1. Hammer time - I have often wondered what dressing professionally would be like. Prior to this new gig, I had two jobs in my professional career and both had no dress code. I could wear jeans and sneakers if I felt like it and often times I felt like it. The mystery is now over. I look good but I don't know if I necessarily feel good. The restrictive panty hose, the getting up at 6 am so I have enough time to style my hair and paint my face, the shoes. Oh the shoes. After 10 hours in a 3 inch heel, looking good never felt so bad. It seems like my lifetime of being flat footed and fancy free has meant that my toes, specifically my left big toe, were ill prepared for the impact of daily high heel shoe wearing. I seem to be on a crash course for a full scale hammer toe. The good news is, we now have a tool to hang pictures up with on our very white, very bare apartment walls. It is too legit, too legit to quit.

2. Too PC - When the Boy and I have our work laptops at home, we have a total of 5 computers. FIVE. We have more computers than a NASA station but that doesn't mean we can do anything amazing. In fact our computers do nothing amazing. Our brand new MacBook aka "Bad Ass Mo Fo" managed to delete our external hard drive in less than 2 seconds. Unfortunately that is the only thing it has managed to do faster than "Old Girl". Old Girl is the PC that prompted the purchase of Bad Ass Mo Fo. She was obviously entering menopause as she had uncontrollable heat flashes that could only be managed by a rather large book that I will never read and a bag of frozen peas. The remaining 3 computers are all work machines, which the Boy and I have nothing against, but we can't use them for anything outside of work.

3. The Swiss like to party. They like to get down - The company I work for is in two buildings, each consisting of 5 floors. On every floor there is a break room and in every break room there is a sparkling clean refrigerator. In each unbelievably clean fridge there is some sort of alcohol. I have seen champagne, wine, beer, wine coolers...you name it, I have seen it. It is not uncommon for people leaving the company to have their going away parties at the office and I have heard other occasions have prompted the popping of a cork or two. This wouldn't fly in most companies in the States for fear some idiot would get way too drunk and do something way horrible resulting in the company getting way sued while the idiot gets off with a slap on the wrist. Call the Swiss boring if you feel the need to (I don't), but don't call them "Too PC"...that name is reserved for me. (If you didn't get that, refer to #2 and be amazed by my brilliance.)

As I said before, the job is going really well. I am learning a ton and getting to know a lot of great people. Most of all, I feel like my life is feeling more normal...well as normal as living in the middle of Europe and down the street from the Lindt Factory can be.
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

My Story, My Reason...

I looked at the old brown desk for what seemed to be the 100th time. I had to make sure I had everything. Insanity...check, sunscreen...check, rain gear...check, Xanax...check. It seemed everything was accounted for, so I sat down to use the mirror for what would be the last time over the next 7 days. Staring at myself turned out to be no ordinary exercise. I searched, I looked, I cried, I shook. I realized something was missing from my packing list. My reason. My reason for hiking a mountain with "kil a man" as part of its name.

It would have been easy to stare back and tell myself I was doing it for my Father. Deceased since I was 13, I have spent a lot of time trying to devote different things to his memory. It would have been so easy to do it for him too. He always told me I could do anything, be anything...as long as I didn't become a cheerleader. Even he had his limits. But this time, doing something like this for him seemed unfair. Unfair to me.

I recently read a person suggest that this isn't something you do "just to check a box". Did climbing this mountain demand a reason outside of simply checking a box? I respect a person who at least creates boxes to check. Maybe I didn't need a reason after all.

I hiked this mountain with a 70 year old woman whose reflection told her to spread her husband's ashes on the 4th anniversary of his death. She made it.

I hiked this mountain with a man who previously failed to summit. He made it.

I hiked this mountain with a woman whose primary goal in life was to push herself and create new boundaries by stepping outside of old ones. She made it.

Then there was this one woman I hiked with. She lived most of her life from a place of fear. Fear of failure, fear of dying, fear of living, fear of loss, fear of life without chocolate. She always questioned her toughness. It was a constant question mark and at times her reflection looked like the Riddler from Batman. For her, hiking this mountain meant finally proving she was made of sturdy stuff. She hiked every day with a purpose. She found each new day meant more confidence. She enjoyed the natural beauty around her and marveled at the fact that she was not only doing this, but doing it well. Was she ever fearful? Yes, but her toughness never faltered. Not once.

Did she make it? Yes, I made it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Less is More

Hi Gang. As you have probably noticed, I have been relatively MIA for the past couple of months. I am not falling into the "blogging is so last year" trap, rather I have some big news to share. Home-girl got a job! Yeah, you read correctly. I am going back into the workforce full-time or 100% any day now. You have to specify your percentage here because it is not unusual, particularly for females and younger folks, to work 40% or 80%.

I am not going to share with you my new company or role as I want to keep the blog and my professional life separate. I do however want to tell you that I will not shirk my blogging responsibilities but I may not be able to write as much. When I do share an adventure, an anecdote or some other thing that begins with an "a", I promise to make it so full of substance that you wished I wrote less earlier.

Wish me luck, no really...WISH ME LUCK. I want 50 comments telling me how awesome I am going to do and that I am going to knock 'em dead. I didn't really mean that less is more. I am American, remember?
Monday, January 10, 2011

Beer and Wine

A little Vienna Opera action
The Boy and I just returned from a visit to Munich and Vienna.  We traveled with the Boy's brother Andrew and his girlfriend Paige, both of whom had never been to Europe before.  It was a real treat to see Europe through the eyes of two newbies.  Having lived here now for over a year, I have started to take all the oldness and cuteness and cobbly-stoned-ness for granted. They reminded me why I love this place so much and why I chose to uproot my life in Atlanta to move here.

Let's get the painful part out of the way.  It was fracking cold outside making even us seasoned travelers want to shed icicle tears and kill fuzzy bunnies.  It also made us lazy picture takers even lazier. We took photos, just not a lot of them.  The cold weather also made for extended museum stays where it looked like I really appreciated the 500 ways to paint Baby Jesus and his Mom.

If I were to rename both cities, I would call Munich "Beer" and Vienna "Wine".  Munich is considered to be the beer capital of the world and is a very laid back, approachable city.  It is the kind of city that reminds you of throwing back a cold one as you sit contentedly in a "chair in a bag" chair.  It is a city rich in history with every story containing some sort of anecdote about beer. Did you know that beer alone was responsible for preventing the entire city from burning down and even cured thousands of the black plague?  

Nothing says "shop like you have money" like exterior chandeliers
Vienna is "Wien" in German, which looks a lot like "Wine" but not the reason why I would rename it so. Compared to Munich, Vienna appears to be a much more refined city. The architecture is more ornate, the streets aren't littered in broken glass and there seemed to be a Prada store on every corner. Additionally, Vienna is known for its wine shops, wine bars and well, good wine. Even so, it isn't pretentious. It is smooth, like a nice glass of Gruener Veltliner.

Is one better than the other?  I guess that depends if you are a beer or wine person. Years ago I proclaimed that Vienna was my favorite European city but now I am not so sure. The more I travel, the less I want to have a favorite city.  I still love it but I think I prefer it when it is in bloom and a bit warmer.  You can dress up cold and grey, but at the end of the day, it is still cold and grey.