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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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living in Switzerland
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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.  
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nice Choppers

Some women have nice boobs. I have nice teeth.  Some women receive compliments of "nice rack!". I get "nice incisors!".  I have never had a cavity and the only dental procedure I had was the removal of my wisdom teeth.  Since the laughing gas only succeeded in putting my legs to sleep, I vowed to never shirk my preventative care responsibilities and risk another painful procedure. This preventative care included a teeth cleaning every six months and I never missed an appointment.  Why am I sharing this with you?  Last week I had my first cleaning in two years and I feel so ashamed...so dirty.

I am 15 months into my experience abroad, have a rudimentary knowledge of the German language and yet accomplishing simple tasks can still at times seem so hard. Never in a million years would I have waited two years to get my teeth cleaned back in the States.  I found my dentist and slightly crazy hygienist through word of mouth. As a result of receiving a recommendation, I knew my experience was going to be a good one.

Here word of mouth isn't a common practice and recommendations for doctors, dentists or dry cleaners that won't rape you of your last rappen, are sometimes difficult to come by. People tend to go to the closest doctor, dentist or clothing chemist. There is also a belief in Swiss culture that there is quality in every good or service therefore you aren't necessarily risking anything by choosing a doctor, dentist or dry cleaner using proximity as your guide.  For an American like myself, quality in goods and services varied greatly and if you chose a dentist down the street, you could very well end up with the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.

So you are probably chomping at the bit to find out of my experience was a good one.  It was incredible and not because I am still cavity free, but because I am now officially 1 degree from Roger Federer.  My new hygienist cleaned his teeth this year. She was in his mouth!!!  Nadal can't even say he has gotten that close to Roger. There is even a good chance I have Roger DNA somewhere on my person.  Do you think shining a black light on my body would uncover some Roger DNA? All I need is a good recommendation for a black light.  Anyone have one?
Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'll Take my Nuts Extra Roasted Please

Heisse Maroni, aka "Hot Chestnuts", aka "Roasted Chestnuts" have become an obligatory subject on many a Swiss Expat Blog.  It is such a polarizing topic because you either love them or hate them. If you are an Expat and actually love them, then you may be accused of being one of those Expats who loves Switzerland so much that they blindly love anything it has to offer.

I had a lot of Heisse Maroni Angst last year because most people I knew who tried them for the first time, hated them.  They complained of weird texture and lack of taste.  It was because of these common complaints that I decided to pass by the cute wooden houses billowing smoke without offering up a glance, let alone buying a sack.

During the Spring of 2010, I focused my energy on working up the courage to try them as soon as they were available this Fall.  I am happy to report that not only did I try a hot sack of roasted chestnuts, I also loved them.  Strike that...I am PROUD to report that I loved them. Whoah...that was cathartic.  Admitting liking something that may make people gasp in horror has a way of liberating you.  And to all you naysayers out there, YES, I love Switzerland but I don't blindly love everything about it here.

I do have to admit, I can see their consistency being an issue for many.  They are sort of in between mushy and firm.  I also admit that I prefer the ones that have roasted the longest.  The extra smoky flavor really pushes the right buttons.  If you are like I once was and have "Heisse Maroni Angst", then it likely occupies all of your thoughts. I am afraid the only cure is to try one of these hot nuts.  Love them or hate them, at least you can go on living.      
Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Pizza Resistance

When I learned the Boy would not be with me for my birthday, my first reaction was self-pity.  It was short-lived however as I was determined...DETERMINED...to have a great birthday.  Instead of  being the solo guest to my pity party, I decided to throw one.  Jupiter and Mars must have been aligned because most of my friends could make it and all who attended, much to my upstairs neighbor's dismay, were ready to party with vengeance. It was a great time and I felt pretty loved.

The day after my party, the Boy returned from his business trip and surprised me with a gift that combined the two things I am currently obsessed with - David Sedaris and squirrels:

Squirrels  +  Sedaris is my Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - Two great tastes that go great together

The following Thursday was my birthday dinner with the Boy and it also happened to be Turkey Day.  Turkey Day is hands down my favorite holiday because it involves my favorite things - eating until a button on my "fat pants" ceremoniously pops off with a ping, belly rubs, football, loved ones, more belly rubs and a few cocktails consisting of my friend Barley and my other friend Hops.  It came as no surprise that I was a little sad this evening, but I put my game face on and was determined to have fun.

We decided on an Indian restaurant in Old Town and as I was chomping on my Samosa, I got to thinking that I have had one of the best birthdays ever. After I took my last bite of the crispy, deep-fried triangle of goodness, the Boy suddenly blurted out "I haven't been quite honest with you".  I just stared back and the first thing that came to my mind was - we didn't have to order the Samosas...that's the great thing about Indian food.  They have so many options which really promotes compromise. He then went on to explain that we weren't doing this and weren't doing that the coming weekend.  Following his nonsensical explanation as to why were weren't going to the Pfaffikon Casino Saturday night, he dug into my bag (which he so gentlemanly offered to carry from home) and pulled out a booklet.

This my friends was a Booklet of Love. Designed by the Boy, the Booklet of Love detailed a surprise trip to Lyon, France and our train was departing the next morning.  My jaw dropped and a little 'mosa fell from my mouth. The booklet was divided into sections with cute little markers detailing different portions of our trip.  As I was going through the booklet, I was letting out all sorts of noises and gasps and "awwwws". The kind of "awwwws" that start at one decibel and end at one significantly higher.  I am sure the diners around us thought we were getting engaged and then they spotted my crows feet.  What could possible top going to Paul Bocuse's restaurant L' Auberge du Pont de Collognes?  Homeboy was the grandfather of Nouvelle Cuisine. Then I got to the section marked with music notes and what I saw next didn't quite register at first. I knew I was staring at tickets but it took about 10 seconds before I saw the words "ARCADE FIRE".  I subsequently yelled out "OH MY GOD!" and totally started bawling in my Biryani.  I was in complete shock and this part of the birthday gift was the Pizza Resistance (or Piece de resistance for you Frenchies out there) to an already amazing two week celebration of ME.

Going to Lyon for the first time was also a great experience in itself.  Although we had drab weather, it was great wandering around their old town and walking along the Saone River.

How cute is this freaking Gargoyle?  I swear he was flirting with this guy:

Mr. Squirrel was too busy with his nuts to respond to cute Gargoyle's advances.  I have a feeling since he has been here since 1684, Mr. Cute Gargoyle has plenty of time to woo Mr. Squirrel.

Um, who doesn't?  

The Boy totally outdid himself and unfortunately for him, set the bar pretty high for next year.  I am thinking tea with Johnny Depp might be a nice follow up.
Friday, December 3, 2010

Video Didn't Kill This Radio Star

Guess what?  I know what you are thinking...Chicken Butt! Nope, something better than a chicken's butt.  I was on the radio last night!  So you wanna know why?  Chicken Thigh!  Sorry, I am so overcome by the emotion of having 3 minutes of radio fame that I am reverting back to my childhood when I thought "chicken parts rhyming with body parts" jokes were funny (um, and still do).  Anywho, I was invited to join a show called The Connectors - a weekly radio show focusing on everything Expat and is broadcast from Geneva, Switzerland.  I was asked to talk about my blog and why I blog.  It was also my golden opportunity to say "evolve" one too many times.  Check it out if you have a few minutes to kill.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Zurich - A Sociologist's Wet Dream

Today has been one of those days where I have felt pushed too far - literally and figuratively.  It all started when I boarded the bus this morning.  On my bus there are two types of seat designs, seats of four where two seats face two seats and the other design consisting of two seats next to each other.  I chose to sit in a group of four seats and sat diagonal from an older woman.  The bus started to fill and I moved over to sit directly across from the older woman so I could free up a seat for someone boarding. The older woman didn't budge and literally sat in her seat like she was lounging comfortably in a Lazy Boy recliner.  All she was missing was a built in cup holder and a bag of smoked almonds. Her lounging style meant I was scrunched up against the bus window with my feet and legs having little place to go.  I looked like a 36 year old fetus.  When I gave her the "Really?" look, she just stared straight ahead and gave me the "F You, winner winner chicken dinner" look.

My destination this morning was the gym and once I disembarked the bus, with moderate to severe cramping, I hobbled to the nearest tram stop for the next leg of my trip. My tram had arrived and what happened next happens EVERY time I board a tram in the city.  Flocks of older people come from nowhere and storm the door, trying to get on before any passenger has the chance to get off.  It is shocking, annoying and funny all at the same time.  This morning was no different except this time I was hellbent on getting on when it was my turn.  Cue an old lady in a fur coat, which seemed to have come from a grizzly bear, who cut in front of me and saw out of the corner of her eye that I wasn't having any of that.  She then proceeded to stick out her elbow. This time I actually said "Are you kidding me?" but she just scurried on the tram without a moment's hesitation.

These two events really ticked me off but they also got me thinking.  If I had a gun pointed at my head and was forced to divulge which group of people had the highest "asshole quotient" in Zurich, I would say the older generation.  More specifically, women aged 70 and over.  Before you start brandishing me as an Ageist, hear me out. I started thinking, why in the world are these older women so rude?  Why must they push and shove and cut in line and give you dirty looks when boarding public transportation?  Why aren't the Swiss women more of a domineering presence in the international basketball arena? Because these beeyatches can box the hell out.

The Boy and I discussed a few possibilities last weekend.  I even posed the "maybe it is because they are the descendants of world wars...they always had to fight for what they had and perhaps it has manifested in their everyday life".  But the Swiss have seen little, if any war.  I am sure they have seen the effects trickle into their society over the years and there have certainly been times of famine or hardship.  All cultures have experienced bad times.  Then I saw something on the tram that made this hypothesis null.  An elderly woman who was fitted with a cane was having a hard time boarding the tram.  A younger woman turned around and smiled at her but proceeded to board the tram in front of her.  When I saw her turn around and smile at this incapacitated woman, I thought for sure she was about to give her a helping hand.  Instead, it was more important for the younger woman to board the tram vs help this struggling woman.  I then witnessed the same older woman get off the tram and again, no one helped her.

Independence is fiercely revered in Switzerland and it is taught at a very young age. While it is adorable to see little 4 year old kids hold hands and go to school without adult supervision, it is more a lesson in self reliance being taught.  Swiss independence is something to be admired and yet I can't help but think it comes at the expense of compassion and manners.  Perhaps by the time these women have reached their 70's, they are so fiercely independent and so used to not being helped, that they could give a rat's ass if they cut some young whippersnapper in line.

The Boy and I have heard more than once that us Americans rely too heavily on others and that we are "too nice" allowing ourselves to get pushed over.  By no means do I think Americans have cornered the market on how to treat people but I do always come away from a visit to the US thinking "God, everyone is SO nice!".  For the longest time, I thought a lot of the negative experiences I have had here were the result of not knowing the language but all of the examples above required no conversation at all.  I was satisfied with my new hypothesis, the Swiss are fiercely independent...at all costs.

On the bus ride home, as I was patting myself on the back for figuring old Swiss women and the Swiss in general out, I witnessed a young boy and his mother eating lunch.  The young boy was eating a banana and a portion of it fell to the ground.  I thought to myself, surely this boy will pick up the banana that just fell to the ground...nope.  Then I thought, surely his mother will tell him to pick up what he had just dropped...nope...and quit calling me Shirley!  Argh, back to the "try to figure the Swiss out" drawing board because not picking up 5 inches of banana has absolutely nothing to do with independence.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tales from the ATL

Dirty Old Men on the Plane -  I am not a "chatter" and I especially don't like to chat when I am on a plane.  I want to sort of sit back, sort of relax, sort of sleep and choke down the awful food they give us peons in coach. On a recent flight from Zurich to Atlanta, I was a bit unlucky.

My neighbor was a 60 year old Swiss man who seemed harmless enough.  We spoke for about an hour and a half about our respective trips and families.  He became progressively more chatty as he guzzled down 3 "Thirsty Man" sized glasses of wine. Then dinner was served and afterwards I took about a two hour nap. I was tired from all the forced chit-chat.

When I woke up, I noticed his movements were a bit slower and could tell he was drunk.  He of course wanted to talk again and introduced me to a brand new Swiss dialect - a mix of German and English words, with a sprinkle of the hiccups and a side of slur.  I had to really focus and listen intently as he was speaking Swisserbish so imagine my surprise when he suddenly said the following in perfectly clear English: "Do you want company at your cabin?  I am serious, I will borrow my brother's car and join you for a couple of days.  I promise I will sleep in the car in your driveway".

At this very moment I wished there were snakes on the plane instead of a dirty old man.  I would have happily shared my space with a 20 foot hungry Anaconda vs. a slurring, hiccuping, 60 year old horny toad of a man.  As I tried desperately to come up with a reply that didn't consist of a slap, a call button, a shriek, a spew; another 60 something year old man came to the rescue  - Captain John "Hannibal" Smith.  The movie the "A-Team" had just popped up on the overhead screens and I replied "Um...thanks but no thanks.  LOOK! The A-Team is playing!  I love me some B.A. Baracus".  I turned to the screen, inserted the painful complimentary ear-buds from Delta and was more thankful than you can imagine that an ill-advised remake of the A-Team came to fruition.

Moonshine Mountain - The one place from my old home that sort of reminds me of my new home, is our cabin in Blue Ridge, GA on Moonshine Mountain Road.

Here we sort of have mountains:

And we have low lying cloud cover:

And we have rivers:

And we have beautiful blue skies and lakes and fresh air...SQUIRREL!

Sorry about that.  Those little buggers are just so gosh darned cute and whenever I see one, I can't help but stop what I am doing to admire their twitchy tails and over-the-top fear of everything that isn't a nut.  OK, back to what Blue Ridge and Switzerland shares in common...wait, what the fudge?

I have seen some pretty awful truck art in my day, with Truck Nutz being the most vile, but this was too much.  Then I saw whose truck it was and things became decidedly more clear:

Apparently for Picky Ron there is no separation between God and job. Picky Ron trusts two things to help him cut your lawn: God and a motorcycle-lawnmower contraption. I have to say, as God is my witness, a two wheel motorcycle-lawnmower can trim a pretty tight hedge.     

I Need a Guitar Hero - The morning of the big surprise, the one that was going to consist of me jumping out of something, preferably a closet, to scare the crap out of my brother in celebration of his 40th birthday, the whole reason why I was in Atlanta, I found out some bad news.  My brother already knew I was in town.  It sort of went down like this:

Setting: adorable pre-teen niece enters room.  Also in room are my brother and sister-in-law. 

Pre-teen niece asks "So where is Kristi sleeping?" 

Quick on her feet sister-in-law responds "You mean Chrissy???"

Focused and determined pre-teen niece replies "Noooooo, Kristi!"

Awesome sister-in-law who is getting more desperate by the second answers "You mean CHRISSY???" 

Quite stubborn yet still adorable pre-teen niece wails "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....KRISTI!"

And the jig was up.  I remember being a pre-teen and I remember worrying that I may lose my bedroom to a visitor for a couple days.  I can't really blame her but I was admittedly disappointed that I couldn't surprise (scare the crap) out of my brother.  I needed a little pick me up...I needed a Guitar Hero.

My brother gets a little obsessed with video games and his newest obsession during my visit was with Guitar Hero.  Watching my 40 year old brother play a plastic guitar with plastic buttons, while bobbing his head and smacking his lips, was the perfect pick-me-up. He really believed he was playing the guitar and he really believed he was a hero.  At that moment in time he was also my hero.  He was proof that even though we get older every single day, you can act progressively younger to compensate for it.  Who needs Botox when you have Guitar Hero?