Monday, 31 January 2011

In the Interest of Full Disclosure

Preface: Any parents of small children who may read this post, I acknowledge that you will not sympathize with me one iota. Consequently, I warn you that the below may cause you to roll your eyes so far into the back of your head, blindness ensues.

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On Saturday morning, Dan and I had plans to go to a hot air balloon show...somewhere (hey, I know it was in Switzerland). We'd heard this event was pretty awesome and we love to participate in awesome things, so our reaction was: AWESOME, let's go.

Except...we didn't go.

And the reason?

Oh, because somebody in this relationship *coughmecough* wouldn't get out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to make it worth our while to travel for the show. Is this completely shameful? That I willingly opted to stay in bed instead of checking out a scene that's supposed to be...err...awesome?

Pfffllt.

I don't care.

And the reason? Because I am NOT a morning person. And for you early birds out there, who have worm breath because you're always the first on the scene, let me fill you in a little something about night owls like me: the answer is 'no'. No we do not like to get up in the morning. No we do not like to go to bed early at night. No we don't care how awesome it feels to get in an early morning workout. No it is not childish to gnash your teeth and shout obscenities at your alarm clock (even if said alarm clock is your husband. *shame*) And no, we will not 'grow-up' and accept the fact that adults have to be responsible and get up at 6 a.m. or earlier.

I am not a morning person, and proud of it.

And why am I boring you with details about my sleeping preferences? Because this country is breaking me, people. IT'S BREAKING ME. An entire country populated by early risers is obscenely unnatural; like vampires, or people who don’t like potato chips.

You see in my early morning comatose state, on my way to class, while I am slumped down in my bus seat trying not to rest my head on a stranger’s shoulder or drool all over the window, I can see into office buildings, and I see a lot people sitting at their desks at 7:15 a.m. typing, shuffling paper, having round table discussions, and looking generally busy. And furthermore, my bus is packed with little kids on their way to school who will be sitting in their desks, ready to get their learnin' on, all before 8 a.m.

WTF?

Also, there is construction happening on the apartment building across the way from us, and the construction dudes are all busily sawing and hammering and working away just before 7 a.m every weekday morning. This is considered reasonable. I, of course, consider it to be f-cking crazy.

Does Switzerland not know of the 9-5 workday? Dolly Parton wrote a whole song about it! It's super catchy!

Consequently I think that the Swiss government needs to seriously consider putting the following question on all Visa applications so night owls know what they're in for:

Do you like to be awake before the roosters? Do you like to obsessively consult your Omega watch to check if the rising sun is tardy that morning? If you answer 'No' to these questions, don't bother getting on the plane you pathetic sloth. We have no use for you.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Have You Brushed Your Teeth Today?

Every morning on my walk to class, as I'm heading down Bern's main drag, I pass a display box that has a television inside of it broadcasting a repeat video of...DENTAL SURGERY.

What the what?

Dental. Surgery. Every. Morning.

The video is completely unavoidable and every day I see a close-up shot of a dentist working in some person's pink and slimy mouth, prodding around in a gaping hole where a gnarly tooth once was. And what is the dentist doing? Oh, just drilling straight up into the patient's gums.

Did you hear me, Internet? I said drilling. There is a drill involved. Like you know how you drill a hole into the wall? Or how construction crews drill holes into concrete? Well, the dentist is drilling a hole into a person's gums!

The horror! The horror!

Who is responsible for this video, how did they get to broadcast it on Bern's main drag, and why the f-ck IS IT STILL PLAYING?!

Now excuse me, I have to go floss. Superb dental hygiene has become an even more pressing concern of mine, these past three weeks.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It's Like Frying An Egg On The Sidewalk, Except It's Winter

Is there anything better than telling your German language teacher something so extraordinary that she staggers backwards and clutches at her heart? And readers, thank-you for having so much confidence in me! I can sense that when you read that last line your minds all jumped to the immediate conclusion that I am clearly such a rockstar at learning German that my impressive news must have been that I am in the middle of translating my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into German, just for kicks.

No-no friends. In terms of where my German language abilities lie, let's just say a pre-schooler and I could have a kick-ass conversation wherein we rap the alphabet and tell each other our names. That's about as much as I can do at the moment.

So today during our break, a few classmates looked out the windows a moaned about the snowflakes that were lazily drifting from the skies. There was general agreement amongst my class that yesterday and today have been 'very, very, cold'. I squirmed in my seat and wondered if I should tell everybody that -8 degrees Celsius isn't really that cold. Would I seem like a bitch? Normally I would have simply agreed with everyone that it was cold, but this YouTube video was just emailed to me and I couldn't listen to people complain about -8 when there's people on the prairies who have to endure THIS.


Science Rocks!

Especially since -8 or not, this has been our January in good old Bern.

Last Sunday:

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Hey, the grass is green...

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...and Dan is only wearing his sweater...

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and...ooh!...ooh!...ALPS.

And this past Sunday:
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Oh geez, we have a skiff of snow...

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...and Dan had to put on his toque...

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...but these blue skies are rocking my socks!

Fellow Canadians (who don't live in Vancouver or Victoria) please don't hate me. I have you in my thoughts.

P.S. I totally crack-up every time I listen to the dude filming the video shout "WHOOOAAAA!" and then the girl in the background declaring an awed "It did work..." 

I miss you Canada, just not this January!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Let's Talk About How My Dermatologist Lied To Me

There's no gentle way to break this to you, so I'm just going to be blunt: this post is about zits.

Ew. Gross. Sick. Disgusting.

Okay, now we've gotten that out of the way let me shout this loud enough for Karma to hear:

I'm bloody sick of having acne, and if you don't get off your meditating ass and start paying attention to all my good deeds (ah, Karma just don't put on your reading glasses for that task 'kay?) and banish this bad skin of mine, I am going to get you fired from the tribunal of 'Things We Can't See But Still Believe In.' 

Is it a good idea to threaten Karma? We'll see. If I wake up tomorrow with leprosy I'll be sure to blog about it so you all can learn from my mistakes. But until tomorrow, let's discuss why I'm threatening Karma. It all started the day I was born because in addition to getting a new baby girl, my parents got a new baby girl with acne. Super score! But it was in my very early teens when acne struck with vengeance, and I like to think that if I was a villain in a comic book (which Karma, I'm totally NOT a villain. Just sayin'!) my villain name would have been Pizza Face.

"Here comes Pizza Face to terrorize small children, just by looking at them!"

I remember going to one babysitting job where the kid opened the door, looked at me, then ran up the stairs yelling that I had chicken pox and he shouldn't be around me.  I pretty much wanted to die on the spot, and the parents looked absolutely mortified--like they were raising a terrorist. Which they were: a linguistic terrorist.

My parents took me to a dermatologist who prescribed me some awesome orange and green pills that cleared up the zits. Then when I went off the medicine, the zits came back. Then I went back to the dermatologist; more pills; no zits; off pills; acne; dermatologist. Repeat. Repeat. My dermatologist was a very nice man who sponsored foster children in Africa, and when I went to his office I liked to look at the kids' pictures and read the cards they made for him. This detail about the foster kids in Africa has nothing to do with the story, but I just want Karma to know how closely affiliated I was with this very nice man and his humanitarian actions.

So anyhow, on one visit to the dermatologist he delivered a serious blow: my acne wasn't just going to be teenage acne, but likely adult acne too. And then, to try and pillow the punch he had just landed to my psyche, he said, and I quote, "I know this won't sound like much now, but the oily nature of your skin probably means you won't be prone to developing as many wrinkles as you get older."

What's that you say, Doctor? You say that I will never get wrinkles.

Sounds good to me.

It has been this contorted belief of a wrinkle-free life that has helped me get through having had acne for as long as I can remember. Of course as I've gotten older I definitely don't have as serious an acne problem as I did six years ago, or even three years ago, but I still regularly wake up to discover I have way more zits than I actually want. But that's always been moderately okay, because Karma was on my side offering me an olive branch: if I was going to have a Pizza Face, at least it would be a supple Pizza Face for years and years to come.

But that all changed yesterday morning when I looked in the mirror and noticed I have two faint creases on either side of the bridge of my nose, and two faint creases on either side of my forehead. These creases were NOT there last week.

What the what?!

I have the start of...WRINKLES.

Um Doctor, aren't I supposed to be wrinkle free for life? That is what you said, isn't it? Come on! Doesn't years of enduring these angry red bumps all over my face mean that I'm supposed to get a free pass from aging, and will end up some baby-faced grandmother? All of my contorted beliefs are being proven a lie, and will probably be chiseled into my face, line by line.

The injustice of it all!

So Karma, listen up. I refuse to continue to have acne if in the future I'm just going to end up looking like a Shar Pei anyhow. So blow out the incense, stop paying attention to people who sponsor foster babies in Africa, start paying attention to their former patients, and do something about my acne!

After all Karma, I would hate to have to post this rant about your failure to care about my skin on the Internet, and then appear superficial or something.

Like, totally.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Weird Window Displays

I have been scrolling through pictures I took this summer because it makes me feel warm. It is my only option at the moment for feeling close to those long days, because I've found that shutting my eyes, clicking my heels together three times, and saying 'Come on Summer, kick January's keester right off the calendar' isn't working.

I miss summer.

Not that I can actually complain too much about this winter, but still.

So anyhow, I was looking through pictures and stumbled across some serious gems. When I first got here in June, I spent pretty much every day walking the streets of Bern and trying to get to know my new city a little better. And you know what I learned?

Well if you want to know, it'll cost you CHF 20.00. Email me, I'll give you my address, and once I get your cash I'll tell you.

Juuiiicceeee.

Okay fine, I'll tell you for free.

Firstly: I learned not to shout 'juuiicceee' when I was saying good bye to people, and to actually say "Tschüs".

Secondly: I learned that the businessmen and women of Bern have set up some seriously odd window displays to promote their businesses.

See?

EXHIBIT A:
(It was a really sunny day so it was hard to get clear pictures through the glass reflection.)

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'Help us! Help us! They took our bodies and replaced them with flower stems!'

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'I don't know what happened, officer. I don't know! One minute I was sitting at the table, being poured imaginary tea and eating imaginary cookies, and then...and then...OH GOD.'

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This one will never again know the joys of being pushed around in a baby-doll carriage.

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These two live in fear of what's going on behind their side of the glass, and so try to remain still to avoid further maiming.
They are on display at a hair salon, after all.
There are scissors.
Lots and lots of scissors...

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'Am I being Punk'd?...Do you think? Sigh...My head is so heavy without a body.'

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'I'm on display at a hair salon, and these freaks can't do anything about my cow-lick! For shame!'

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I think the poppy red that is pillowing their heads is a particularly gruesome touch.
Don't you?

And the third thing I've learned?

Well, it's this: It's probably not a good idea to get your hair cut at a salon that displays decapitated doll heads.

'Uh miss, you're getting...too...close...the...scissors...AH!'

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Good Year? Good Grapes? Good Grief. Just Pass the Red.

I have met a really nice woman in my German class, and during our breaks we have been comparing notes on Swiss living. We did the obligatory gasping over the cost of food, we marvelled at how accessible the outdoors are, and we laughed about how it's a myth that the Swiss are socially reserved: we have both found that as soon as you open your door to them they get all up in your personal business. But the big shock we both have in common is this:

Can you believe how much wine you're drinking now?

Please, any Puritans reading these words, I am not an alcoholic: I just live in Europe.

So prior to moving to Switzerland, my experience with wine goes as follows:

(1) Age seven my grandad gives me a sip of his red wine and I promptly proclaim it to be 'sick' and declare I will never try it again.

(2) Beginning of university I have a friend who's mom answers the door at 10 a.m. in a leopard print bathrobe, holding a sweating bottle of chardonnay in her right hand and a near empty glass in her left. I think to myself: Even if it is wine, you're still drinking at 10 a.m. and that ain't good.

(3) Near the end of university, after beer ponging our way through three years of learning, it is decided it's time to 'grow up', so now when house parties are attended it is imperative to appear sophisticated and worldly so we drink wine. When going to the liquor store my main requirement to choosing a brand of wine is it has to be red, it has to be cheap, and it would be nice if it didn't come out of a box.

I have standards.

Cut to our first trip to Switzerland and we were sitting with friends and family, all of us drinking wine, when one of the men held his glass to light and eyeballed its contents before quickly spinning the garnet liquid round and round in his glass then bringing it to his nose and deeply inhaling.

I almost laughed.

Was this guy for real? Did he actually sniff his wine, without a trace of irony? A quick scan of the room showed his behaviour seemed normal, and he didn't appear to be some pretentious poser.  A few days later we'd gone out for dinner with family, and I was happily taking my first sip of wine when I noticed our dinner companion had a perplexed look on his face. After taking one more sip of wine, that he sloshed around in his mouth like mouthwash, he flagged down the waiter and sent back our entire bottle because it tasted like it had been contaminated by the cork. The waiter apologetically hurried to collect the bottle and our glasses, while I looked generally confused and tried to discreetly fountain my mouthful back into my glass, because seriously? It tasted fine to me.

Dan's family has been very interested to learn that in my little corner of Canada, we aren't really a wine culture and it's not common for most people to have large stores of wine for their personal consumption and enjoyment. (Except for the people who U-Brew their own wine, and I have a sneaking suspicion that people in Europe might consider that homemade brew to be blasphemous.) I have been very interested to learn that is not the case here. If you pop into somebody's house for a quick visit, the wine is uncorked; if you are sitting down to a meal with friends, multiple bottles of wine are generously uncorked and the host is praised for his/her good taste; if it's a quiet Saturday night--just you and your husband and a movie--a bottle of wine is uncorked. 

So I am proud to say that even if my German language classes are slow going, at least I seem to be getting a little more fluent in the language of wine. Why just this past Monday Dan and I sat down to a nice dinner and we popped open a bottle of wine; after taking a sip we stared at each other, looking slightly disgusted.

"Cait, this wine isn't very good."

"I agree. What's up with that? It says it's from Italy for God's sake, doesn't that mean by default it should taste good?"

"Yeah, I don't like this one."

"Me neither. Let's just buy that La Sensuelle brand now."

Folks, this conversation might not sound like much to you but here's what it means: Dan and I have now become wine snobs. We will no longer be going to the Denner and buying $2.98 bottles of wine (who says you can't get a deal in Switzerland?) because we are moving up in the world and we will now exclusively only be enjoying $6.00 bottles of wine thankyouverymuch.

*Sniff*

We have standards.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Good Reads

Since I seem incapable of posting anything shorter than a grade 10 essay, I'm assuming that those of you who keep clicking back might actually like to read. That's very convenient because I love reading. And actually, I don't know if 'love' is even an adequate descriptor for how much joy and satisfaction I get from the written word.

I have been a reader since I could, ah, read. The first plastic card I ever maxed was my library card (the Quesnel library would only let you check out--if my shoddy memory serves--eight books in one go) and I was that kid who had a flashlight under the covers, reading well past my bedtime, always at risk of 'ruining my eyes'. Everything from the Little House series to the forbidden Judy Blume and V.C. Andrews books, I ate them up. (My mom wouldn't let me read Judy Blume books because they talked about S-E-X, and I think she would faint if she knew what V.C Andrews was all about, but I got my hands on those books anyhow. Sorry mom.) Then when I entered my extreme romantic period I tried reading Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, but at thirteen I couldn't figure out why anybody would swoon over psycho Heathcliffe, nor what the hell was even going on in Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's world, so I was put-off by the 'oldies but goodies' for many years.

What I'm basically saying is that I need to read, I've always needed to read, and by choice I read a lot. A couple of weeks ago I said I had a good read to share with you, and then forgot to share it but today I will rectify this. And please, by no means am I trying to pompously declare what I read is good or worthwhile. I just know that this book made me feel excited, and I think any read that garners any form of enthusiasm from the reader is worthy of a shout-out, whether or not other people agree.

So this particular pick, well I realize that I am a year too late to the party as this isn't a new release, but I don't care. This book is good, and no matter how tardy the praise it must be praised.

It's called One Day, by David Nicholls, and one day is all you'll need to tear through it if you give yourself the time.

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Picture of my book copy.

What has gotten under my skin the most about this read is the character development. I can't actually recall reading a book lately where I feel as though the characters are more than inked imagery; that they could be  flesh and blood. I haven't read anything else by Nicholls, but if his other books have the same character flavour as is displayed in One Day, then I think he's become my new favourite author. Most of the time I can read a book and I like the plot, but the characters seem contrived: they are too brooding, too intellectual, too lost, too eccentric, too happy, too put together, too spiritual, too needy, too mute, too one dimensional. You can't relate. It's as though the plot is the vessel to carry the character, when really I want the character to be vehicle that drives the story. It is entirely possible to like a story, but to never feel like you're getting to first base with the main characters.

But I dare you to feel that way about Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley. They are the story. They are as textured and dynamic as any one of your family or friends you strain to figure out, and that makes Nicholls my hero because he gave his characters, character.  Dex and Emma are messy, they are complicated, they are so uncomplicated, they fuck up their lives, they feel lost in their need to feel like they've 'made it', they abuse drugs and alcohol, they eat their required seven servings of fruit and veg a day, they feel weighted down by their inability to get over themselves, they are self-deprecating, they are vulnerable, they are so funny, they bore you, they disgust you, they make your toes curl with embarrassment, they excite you.

This book is about the relationship of Dex and Emma, over a span of twenty years, as told through glimpses of their lives on the same date every year. And unless you're one of those freaks of nature who had their life mapped out the minute they stepped off campus with their diploma, you will be able to relate to these two as they uncertainly bicycle their way over the gravel roads, the paved roads, the flat stretches, the downhills, and the uphills of their twenties, thirties, and early forties.

Since I'm not a proper book reviewer I am going to use superfluous language to say this is an amazing and fantastic read, and One Day will quickly become two, then three, as you find yourself going back to the story, to the brilliance that is Dex and Emma and their relationship, and reveling in the pure enjoyment of a book that has character.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Green

I haven't taken a picture in well over a week because I simply haven't felt like it. Today I still felt all storm-cloudy and Idon'twanna about lugging my camera around, but I forced myself to anyhow in the off chance something caught my eye.

Well, today I finally took note that 'Caitie, we're not experiencing a B.C. winter over here.' The only thing that caught my eye was one colour: green.

My world is green, and it's January.

Say wha?

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And you know something else?

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There's also a little pink in it too.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Perils of Public Transit

Much to my annoyance, over the years I have had more than my fair share of what I like to call "Close Encounters With The Socially Inept". These close encounters leave me feeling totally creeped out/annoyed beyond belief, and since I started the blog I have even able to document some of these occurrences. If we go through a bloggy walk down memory lane, who could forget that shuddering encounter with the guy who sniffed my hair, or that pervy old man in the luggage department who didn't understand my withering glare and repeated 'no' meant F.O.A.D., or more recently how for two hours I had to unwillingly sit in the vicinity of the queen bee of the social aliens.

Well today I was on the bus (where all good stories take place) and it was fairly deserted. At one stop, the only person who got on was this teeny-tiny little old lady carrying a purse and a shopping bag, and she walked hunched over as she had a really crooked back. She had iron grey hair that was cut to her cheek with spiked crazy bangs that looked like she'd scissored them herself, and she was wearing a huge smile that deeply creased every wrinkle in her face.

By all accounts and purposes she appeared very sweet, and with the smile she faintly resembled Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

But then the bus doors closed.

As we pulled away from the stop, an old sharp voice rose above the din of the bus motor and oh boy, she had things to say. I glanced back to see what all the commotion was about and there was little four foot nothing Aunt Bethany standing in the aisle, holding firmly to a railing, flailing her purse around and she appeared to be yelling at a lady in the seat closest to her. Whether she was yelling at this lady or this lady just unfortunately happened to be in the way, I have no clue because my German coursebook doesn't have a chapter on geriatric rage so I don't know what Aunt Bethany was saying. All I know is when I looked back, a liver spotted hand was making slashing gestures in the air, her grey bobbed hair was shaking wildly too and fro, and the lady sitting down had her black purse clutched tightly to her chest with both hands, her eyes were wide, her mouth was twisted in alarm, and her neck was strained as she tipped her head as far back as possible to get away from hunched and irate Aunt Bethany. The poor lady basically looked like someone had just jumped out from behind a bush and yelled 'BOO' before trying to take off with her purse.

Old Aunt Bethany's tirade just kept getting louder and louder, and the poor woman in the seat just kept looking more and more alarmed, and as I took the scene in I laughed. It was so ridiculous to see this tiny hunched old lady ranting and raving that my sleep deprived brain thought it would be a good idea to snort out a laugh or two. I just kept imagining wee Aunt Bethany reaching over and trying to wrestle the lady's purse from her white knuckled grasp, and then imagined hunched Aunt B tucking the purse under her arm like a football before hopping off the bus and running down the street as fast as her four foot nothing legs would carry her, knocking anyone over who got in her way.

The more I visualized the scenario, the harder I laughed.

By the time Aunt B did get off the bus (just one stop later, with a huge smile creasing her wrinkled face) I was almost helpless because in my mind Aunt B had morphed from a crazy little old lady who stole people's purses on the bus, to a crazy little hunched old lady who appeared kindly but when she got too close she'd knock out your knees with her cane before taking off running into the night.

As I dabbed the laughter tears from eyes I reflected that ah, yes: close encounters with the socially inept are always funnier when they don't happen to you.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Random Town

1. To guy in the Migros: when you are at the bulk bin of buns and other assorted (delicious) carbs, you will notice that handy tongs are provided. These are to be used so that you don't paw through the buns, dragging your dirty jacket sleeve all over the merchandise. Gross.

2. I should probably cringe in embarrassment at this revelation but *meh*. I have finally started taking German lessons since I believe I have now learned all that I can learn from The Simpsons.

3. I really should cringe in embarrassment at this revelation but also *meh*. I find it incredibly hard to wake-up at 6:00 a.m. in order to be present and presentable for the 8:00 a.m. class start. I sometimes have to sacrifice showering and/or eating breakfast in order to make it on time.

4. Oh, yeah. Today was only the second day. Schiesse.

5. It feels as though spring comes to Switzerland in January. It is crazy warm in my part of the world (well, for me), and I am only wearing my spring jacket. This is why I am perplexed that I see so many women wearing giant fur coats: if it's warm enough that we're getting rain and not snow, maybe you should put that pelt back in the closet or move to Russia.

6. Is it naive that I am honestly and profoundly shocked to see so many people wearing fur coats?

7. I can't find black beans in my local Migros or Coop. Where art thou, black beans?

8. Going to class today a girl was walking in front of me carrying a toque that I recognize to be Canadian (it's the white one with little red maple leafs all over it) and I wanted to ask if she's from Canada, but then I couldn't because there's this tiny problem that I'm shy and feel incapable of approaching people. She's also not in my class either.

9. At what point will I be a grown-up and stop getting acne because it's getting really irritating Face, REALLY IRRITATING.

10. Cosmo is having severe behavioural issues lately and I swear he is a person trapped in a cat's body. I know this because Poppy is so sweet and calm and cat-like, and Cosmo is like a demon toddler who wants to flip their parents the bird and say 'screw off mom, I can walk now so leave me alone' but doesn't have the vocabulary so they resort to yelling and throwing things. That's my cat. My cat yells and cries and bats objects off shelves and picks fights when he doesn't get his way. He really, honestly does.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Brightened Days

So I know that the days are technically supposed to be getting longer now, but for some they might still just not seem so bright. So if any of you out there know of someone who is feeling a little down, a little blue, a little anxious about the fact they went overboard with their 'it's the holidays, I can eat as much as I want!' mentality, well I have discovered an absolute bullet-proof method of cheering that person up.

Want to hear it?

Okay!

Send them something awesome in the mail! Because that's what happened to me, and I'm so cheery now I am firing rainbows out of my fingertips!

I have recently received two awesome packages in the mail, and both arrived in the knick of time to save me from spending the rest of my January slitting my literary wrists by reading Sylvia Plath poetry.

The first parcel to arrive was from dear Sarah, who you will remember from this post and (more important to today's entry) this post. If you haven't read the latter post, I suggest you do so in order to give you some background on the awesome treat she sent me, and if you just want to put a (pretty) face to the name 'Sarah' go ahead and read the former post too.

So now that you are all caught up, the spectacular treat she sent me was THE HAIR GARDEN. Yes! Major Yes! Triple axel with a toe loop Yes! You see, when I left Toronto I sadly forgot the hair garden bobbi-pins that I had worked so hard to essentially get Sarah to make for me. I was really upset about this when I got to Switzerland and ripped through my luggage to show Dan the wonder that is The Hair Garden, but they were not to be found.

Sarah came to the rescue though and she sent me The Hair Garden in the most awesome packaging possible.

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Aren't you tingling with excitement?

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What could it BE?

Why it's....why it's....

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THE HAIR GARDEN!

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And it looks amazing!

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You see, it really is a garden of flowers...meant for your hair.

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Complete with grass!

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And look how clever Sarah is, at how she fastened them to the card.

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And with the pretty stamps in the background.

Thanks Sarah, I love this!

I think you can all tell quite easily how talented Sarah is, just by looking at the above photos. Sarah is possibly the most artistic person I have ever met, and the above card probably only took her something like eleven minutes to make. Not because it looks like it took eleven minutes to make (quite the contrary) but just because that's how her brain works: she visualizes something and she can make it a physical reality in no time flat and the results are always more than impressive.  I have seen first hand that her creativity extends to painting, sewing, drawing, greeting cards, designing wedding invitations (she did ours!), and so much more!

Sarah...open an Etsy shop! Do it. Otherwise I will continue to send you emails wherein I mispell the header line as I try to harrass you into opening that darn shop and give the world a peep at how talented you are.

And speaking of Etsy, I was lucky enough for my second piece of mail to come from a blogger who also has just opened an Etsy shop to sell the cool bookmarks that she makes.

Jess over at In Search of Dessert held a photo caption contest on her blog a few weeks ago, and the winner was to receive a set of her hand crafted bookmarks. Of course I entered, but I was actually lucky enough to win!

Jess sent me an email asking a few questions about favourite colours, what I like, etc..., and then she customized these bookmarks just for me. Here's what the bookmarks look like, and here's the the link to her Etsy shop, should you be so inclined to buy a set of these for the reader in your life.

But sorry, you won't get the rad ones shown below because these are all mine!

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Get ready for something awesome....

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Ta-Da!

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The front and back of my favourite bookmark.
It is so kick-ass!

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Two more of the four bookmarks I received.

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Thank-you so much for these Jess! I can assure you they are too nice to be marking the place in some sad poetry book of inked tears and melancholy.

In fact, the book that the Hope bookmark was used in is too a good a book to keep to myself so keep your peepers peeled next week for a good read recommendation.

Have a great weekend, Internet!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Cry Me A River

I've heard of post-partum depression, but considering I have birthed no babes, how about we classify my mood today as 'post-party depression'. My sisters left really, really, insanely early yesterday morning and I went up with them to Zurich to say 'see you later'. It was possibly my shortest visit ever to Zurich as I believe I was there for a grand total of maybe twenty minutes. I considered that I should make a day out of it, to justify the cost of my train ticket, but I honestly wasn't fit to be walking amongst people. Even people at the airport were staring at me, and I was in the Departures section where I actually would consider it quite reasonable to see somebody wearing a big purple coat, sporting greasy hair, a pale face, a trembling chin, and red swollen eyes. Considering how patient the lady at the Starbucks counter was with me, as I was buying the most expensive cup of wake-up juice known to mankind, I think that maybe no--I didn't appear quite normal.

I crammed my headphones in and on the train ride back I stared resolutely out the window as I tried to listen to pumped up music to keep the tears from spilling down my cheeks.

When I got back to Bern it was just before 9 a.m. and I couldn't bear to go home to my empty (and uber messy--THANKS GIRLS--hahaha, just kidding it wasn't that bad) apartment so I wandered over to the English Bookshop which I had previously only just discovered the day before. I bought a couple of new books, went to Lush to get a bubble bath bar, and then came home.

Once the door closed behind me I was a disaster. I was so absolutely upset that my sisters had left the only thing I thought I could manage was cleaning.

CLEARLY I WAS OUT OF MY MIND.

But clean I did.

Vacuum and cry. Cry and strip beds. Scrub toilets and cry. Cry and dust.

I cried a lot.

Then when I had finished cleaning I lay down on the couch for the remainder of the day, the cats piled on top of me, and felt sorry for myself. Oh, and cried.

By the time I peeled myself off the couch to head to bed last night, the sight in the mirror was less than pretty. My eyes were mere slits, my nose was huge and red to the point that Santa might be asking me to guide his sleigh next year, my skin was all mottled and puffy (side note: when you are dehydrating your body by crying out every last drop of moisture, do not make the only thing you eat that day to be salty corn chips dipped in salsa because you will puff up like a yorkshire pudding), and I believe I had jowls.

JOWLS.

Basically I resembled a British bulldog if someone had taken that bulldog and used its face to scrub graffiti off the side of a train.

And thus I have faced my first serious crux of being an expat: it can make you look really ugly.

Well, that, and also there's the major crux of having to say 'see you later' to people that you've always said 'see you tomorrow' to. As I mentioned in my sweatshop labour post my sisters and I are best friends, and I am not saying that in a trite manner, if it's at all possible to be trite about a life long friendship. Because we moved around growing up, and we were (and I still am--they're not) shy individuals, we relied on each other for friendship as we got settled in to new environments. But the thing is that though we all have gone off and made incredible friends, at the end of the day and nine times out of ten we will end up planning to hang out with each other because that's just the way it is with best friends.

When I first came here at the beginning of June, I knew I was heading back to Canada for my beautiful cousin's wedding so I was sad but I had a date when I would see every one again. When I left Canada in November to come back to Switzerland, I knew I was going to see Meg and Ais in five weeks so that made leaving fairly easy. But now, when we group hugged just outside the security doors of Zurich Airport, it was so hard because I don't have a firm date in mind when I will see them again.

I am hoping to go back home in the spring for a quick visit, but my tickets aren't booked. The thing is that Dan and I came to Switzerland because we wanted to see more and do more, and flying home to Canada every few months is hardly conducive to that game plan. But when you've had two and half weeks of constant laughter and delightful gossip fests with your BFFs, it's also really hard to not to look around at the Swiss landscape and wonder what the f-ck you're doing there when all your favourite people (save one) are in Canada.

The problem is it is just not possible to be in two places at once, and it is really unfair to Dan and myself to be physically present in Switzerland and long for Canada. We worked hard to get here, and Switzerland has been far from unkind in terms of the adventures we got up to last year and the adventures waiting for us this year, so wanting it all when it's a physical impossibility is the most poisonous candy to keep sucking on, for the taste bitters everything one might have otherwise savoured. Also, it leaves your face looking totally messed up after you've cried every tear left to cry.

(Fact: I looked worse than that lady who injected cooking oil under her skin in hopes of smoothing out the wrinkles. )

So rather than spend one more minute helping Kleenex stocks soar through the roof, I am going to pick myself up, dust off the Poppy hair (remember she's a perma-shedder), and get back to this moment in time when I am lucky enough to be here--and nowhere else--having the opportunity when a dream is my reality.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello

We ushered out 2010 in the most respectful way we knew how: eating cheese fondue, discussing our favourite moments from a generous year, drinking beer, playing Cranium (Canadian edition!), and lighting table bombs.

A table bomb, you ask?

Why yes, a table bomb.

I had no idea that such things even existed, but they do and they're fun! It's a cylinder shaped canister that is stuffed with treats, and there's a fuse sticking out the bottom of the canister. You strike a match, light the fuse and wait for the POP as the lid blasts off the canister and all the goodies inside--like masks! and party hats! and whistles! and fake noses and lips! and streamers!and News Years Eve pigs!--explode all over the living room.

You buy these in the grocery store!

Woo hoo!

We lit three of them!

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Goodbye 2010 and hello 2011.

It was a blast.