Thursday, 31 March 2011

I Promise I'm Not Done Talking About The Week of Awesome.

There are going to be some type A personalities who will read the following, and then want to punch their computer screens. Just a warning, type A's, that will be a very expensive and painful reaction to these words. You might want to click away now.

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There is a person who drops by our apartment from time to time, and it's a visit I don't usually look forward to because I know word-for-word how the brief conversation will unfold.

"Hello! Nice to see you. How are you doing?"

"Oh! Oh! I'm SO BUSY. Gah. Ack. Busy. Busy. Busy. Never a day off. Every day I'm busy. Busy."

"Oh dear, that's not good. Will you have time off next week?"

"No! Never. Busy. SO BUSY. I'm busy!" this person always cries. And as far as I can tell (because we never talk about anything else) that one adjective must sum up this person's entire existence.

Last night as Dan and I closed the door, we looked at each other as he said aloud, "I think [they] only came over here to complain about being...busy?"

And Internet, that is my absolute number one biggest pet peeve: people who have over scheduled their lives, then feel the need to complain about being busy.

And right about now you are all probably rolling your eyes and thinking, well isn't THAT rich coming from you Mrs. Living in Swiss La-La-Land. But here's the deal, do you *really* think you know everything about my Swiss life? Because call me crazy but about 95% of real life should not be discussed on the Internet. It's boring, personal, and...busy.

AND NO ONE CARES IF YOU'RE BUSY.

But for some reason, it is becoming increasingly obvious that if someone asks how you are and you don't respond with a standard sigh and 'oh, just really busy', you've become some sort of 21st century societal failure because today, if you aren't busy then your life is obviously slothful and void of meaning.

Because here's what gets me: this is a day and age where professional happiness is celebrated and accoladed more than personal happiness, which means that people's desperate need to reach professional super-stardom is now collapsing backwards on personal lives, and--please, correct me if you think I'm wrong--personal lives appear to me to now just be a reflection of ego driven professional ambitions.

My personal life is my professional life, because if you don't love what you're doing then that's just sad.

The kids are in soccer, and swimming, and dance, and music, and everything because they must be exceptional people to reflect that we are EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE.

I think children and childhood is an unfortunate blip on the road to becoming a real person, but I'm still coaching little league  and teaching finger painting seven nights a week anyhow, because god damn that will look good on my CV.

I am volunteering at the food bank, at the animal shelter, at the hospital, at the tennis club, at the school not because I'm passionate about it, but because it means I'm busy, and EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE ARE BUSY.

And now some people may be menacingly poised over their keyboard, ready to yell at me for hating on doctors, or hand models, or other people with professional ambitions that require a lot of hard work and time. Relax. Chill-out (if you know how). I'm not criticizing people's desires to have a career they have to put effort in to. All I'm saying is that in the working world, the idea is that you don't slow down if you want to get ahead, and if this same attitude carries over into your personal life (should one exist), don't ring my bell to complain about your busy life if you are the one who has filled your calendar with so much red ink, the only way you can tell what day it is is based on what activity you have to go to that night.

Because you know what the result of all this complaining to be busy is? It's becoming a giant competition to measure who's life is busier, hence more important.

"Oh, you think you're busy? Well I just ran a marathon, baked organic bread, taught an illiterate to read, and pruned my hedges. That was all just this morning. Now I'm going to work where I will talk on five phones at once, give a motivational speech wherein I inspire disgruntled teens to turn their lives around, and accept my employee of the century award. Tonight I'm going to cooking classes to learn proper French cuisine and then I'll just whip up a meal to deliver to the homeless."

"Oh yeah? Well I haven't slept in fifteen years because I'm too busy!"

People, am I the only one who sees how ridiculous we can be?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I Guess I'll Start At The Part Where Dan Gets Old

I'm not sure how to recap our Week of Awesome.

Do I tell our stories chronologically? Numerically? Alphabetically? Or on a sliding scale starting with: "Holy shit, that was embarrassing," to: "Excuse me Earth, feel free to swallow me whole now." Because seriously Internet, I really am a disaster sometimes.

Especially when snow sports are involved.

But I suppose I shall start neither at the beginning nor the end, and will tell you all about Dan's 30th birthday, and how it will be inked in our history book as one of the best days we've ever had...ever...in the history of Ever.

It was that good.

On March 21st, Dan rolled out of bed and raised the shutters, then gave an involuntary shudder as he realized he was looking out at the morning world with the eyes of a 30 year old. I snuggled down further into bed and gave him his first birthday wish of the day: "Haha sucka, you gettin' old now. I'm still 29 and doin' fine!"

(I'm not sure why, but sometimes very early in the morning I channel the vocabulary of a suburban teenager who wants to be more badass than her surroundings actually warrant.)

Damn grown-ups though, because Dan ripped the covers off the bed and made me get up to eat breakfast so we could get on with our day's activities.

Talk about crampin' my style, yo.

Sledding was the only thing Dan wanted to do on his birthday, and so as we eagerly awaited the day, weather forecasts were obsessively consulted, sun dances were performed (or not) (or maybe) (or not), and on Sunday we burned down the telephone lines trying to locate a decent sledding track that not only still had snow, but one where it would take us more than three seconds to reach the bottom.

We had really wanted to take Marc and Wynter to Grindelwald for our day of sledding, but alas the hill was bald. When I found this out, I may or may not have been a bit panicked because OMG WHAT DO WE DO IF WE CAN'T GO SLEDDING? THERE'S NOTHING ELSE TO DO IN THE WHOLE OF SWITZERLAND. SLEDDING IS IT!

Could a sledding track of awesome still exist? In March? On the first day of spring?

Oh but it could.

But it does!

It was a birthday miracle!

WE WENT HERE!


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Through the trees, can you spot the famous peak?

Or is my recent love of taking pictures of things through the trees getting really annoying, and you can't actually make out the famous peak?

Okay fine, here's an even clearer picture.

WE WENT HERE!

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That's right Internet, we hit up the Matterhorn for a full day of sledding and hot damn if those sun dances didn't work. You may want to put on your shades for the rest of these pictures, because I feel like I'm getting snow blindness just looking at them again.

In order to reach the sledding track, we took a cute little mountain train up and up and up, until it dropped us off at the mountain stop of Rotenboden which is a very deceiving name, because if anyone has a 'Roten' time up there they must be dead inside. Luckily there are sleds up in Rotenboden so you can make a speedy getaway from any potential downers.

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Our mountain train, disappearing 'round the bend.
The Rotenboden stop.

Once we got to Rotenboden and rented our sleds, I then proceeded to get all paparazzi on the Matterhorn's ass and would probably still be up there now taking pictures if Dan didn't snatch my camera away from me and force me down the track of doom.

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Clearly you are looking at these pictures and wondering what I could possibly mean by a track of doom? Could anything so sinister be real on such a beautiful day?

The answer is yes.

Now when we went sledding in Grindelwald with my sisters, I ripped down that sledding track without a trace of fear. I was a speed demon. At the end of the day I was quite confident that I could challenge Bruce Willis to a sledding competition and I would totally kick his gun-toting ass all the way to the bottom where I would then point and laugh at him in truly congenial winner's fashion.

I expected my experience at the Matterhorn to be no different.

Oh, I was painfully mistaken.

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The start of the track.

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I'm even smiling.

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The boys as they take off for 5km of fun.
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How did I manage to be in a position to get such great action shots, you ask? Oh, really not a big deal. I just so happened to be riding the one sled that was powered by jet fuel so I went whipping past everyone at warp speed until I crashed down an embankment and needed a net to keep me from rolling even further down the mountain.

Luckily my camera wasn't harmed.

These Matterhorn sleds were not made of wood like their lighter Grindelwald counterparts, and bless Wynter's patient little heart, but no matter how many times she tried to teach me how to lean into my turns and transfer my weight on the sled, I just wasn't getting it. I would like to say that I continued to be sledding deficient because I'm still such a delicate young thing (only 29!) and not because of the fact that I'm so pathetically weak a fifteen pound sled proved to be too heavy for me.

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Maybe if smile really big, it will make the pain go away.

So yes, for the entire day, on every single run, not only did I crash, but I completely bit it. It got to the point where everyone was earnestly trying to be first down the track just so they could watch Clumsy Caitie's epic crashes. The most humiliating one had to be when I had almost made it down to the bottom of the hill without crashing; with arrogant enthusiasm, I fist pumped the air over my marvelous achievement and promptly went sailing over the edge of the track where I then skidded down the hill on my face as the sled ran over my head.

That one hurt.

Everyone else was too busy rolling on the ground crying with laughter to ask me if I was okay.

But it's all cool, we broke for lunch.

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The best part about these mountain resorts is that there are little restaurants scattered here, there, and everywhere, where a person can kick back in a sun chair on the patio, eat their lunch and work on their winter tanning.

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Clearly I learned nothing from my morning crashes. I should have been eating a rack of ribs to quickly get some muscle building protein in me, instead of a girly salad-in-a-cup.
I just really like this picture of Dan.

After lunch we hit the trails again (of course I kept crashing but still smiling), and we did break to make snow angels on the side of the track.

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After a full day, we went down into Zermatt where we had a Fondue Chinoise for supper and looked around the table and laughed at each other for the raging burns that were clearly starting to emerge.

That night we got home really late, and Dan blew out the tealight candle on his 30th birthday strawberry tart. And I'm only guessing here, but as he closed his eyes, smiled, and blew out the lone flame, I think he was probably realizing that with a day like the one we just had, there's no possible way that 30 is going to be anything other than a decade of fast thrills.
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Happy birthday sweets.
But don't forget, I'm still 29 and doin' fine (for another five months, at least).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

So It's Been A Week And All I Can Talk About Is My Sunburn?

What up Internet?

Let me just blow a week's worth of dust off this little old blog of mine and check to see if my keys aren't rusty, because Holy-Swiss-Alps-and-Tons-of-Fun-Batman but I've voluntarily been away from the Internet for one whole week and didn't miss it once. Did you guys know that the real world kicks way more ass than the virtual world, and you can get a tan out there? In March?! Without ever having to fly to sunny Mexico, or wherever it is these European sun-seekers flee to?

Well, to be accurate, at first you get a raging burn that really hurts because who puts sunscreen on in March? It's practically still winter. But then that burn settles down nicely into a quasi-tan (aka, all the freckles on my face have just started holding hands) which means I really just thought I had a dirty face that wouldn't scrub clean because a tan? What is that you speak of? I know not of this colour. In fact, on one particularly gorgeous day I was lying out on a bench and decided to remove my (super rocking) jean jacket to wear only my tank top, and felt a moment of discomfort when I realized my brilliant white arms resembled those spears of albino asparagus that are starting to make appearances on grocery shelves. Also as soon as my white arms were exposed, a half dozen birds flew down in front of me and started pecking around and I got a bit scared for my life: I think they might have mistaken my skin for white bread.

But anyhow, oh what a week it's been. Dan turned the big 3-0, his brother was here from Canada to help celebrate, I ate more cheese than I thought was humanly possible, and we have laughed those laughs that are so hard you don't make a sound as tears pour from your eyes and it's hard to breathe. 

Next week it's back to work for us and turning back to my usual shade of Wonder Bread White, and then I'll share a story or two with you all. But for now I need to go soak up the last warm rays of the raddest vacation week 2011 has bestowed on us thus far.

Later, and don't forget your sunscreen.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Cosmanian Devil

Do you see this cat, Internet?


Does that look like a cat who follows the rules?

Rules like, using a scratching post?

Oh golly gee, that is the lampshade from our floor lamp that's been shredded.

I heard a strange sound in our apartment the other day: the sound of silence.

I was concerned so I went to investigate what our resident noise maker was up to. Oh, not much, just lying on his back and gleefully tearing hunks of paper out of the lampshade and then kicking them around with his back paws while he tried to catch the floating butterfly wisps of paper with his front paws.

Pretty typical Tuesday.

But on a not so typical Wednesday, I went to the Zurich airport to pick up two jet-lagged and weary travellers, otherwise known as my brother-in-law and his fiance, then whisked them back to Bern. They will be here for the next couple of weeks, and since Dan and I both have next week off, it's a safe bet we might be doing some adventuring.

Cosmo's not invited though.

Oh, alright he totally is because torn lampshade or not he's a loved part of our family unit, and there's nothing better in the world than having family around the dinner table digging in to a big pot of cheese fondue (or, in Cosmo's case, sitting on the floor and begging for scraps because he has no shame and doesn't seem to realize he's a cat).

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Let's Drive

I'm not really a car person. I like cars because they can get you from point A to point B, and they come in very handy when you want to do a spur of the moment road trip through some of BC's finest scenery, and don't want to ride via that ill-named automotive disaster, otherwise known as Greyhound Bus.

Greyhound is not a speedy way to get around (though the name suggests otherwise) and you can never be sure what sort of social science experiment is going to be sitting next to you.

Example: On one Greyhound bus adventure to visit my sister, my seat-mate pulled open a festering McDonald's bag that contained about five McFish burgers. We'd been on the road about, oh, THREE HOURS OR SO before I guess she felt snackish. Eww! Eww! Eww! Hours old McFish burgers. Eww!

Example 2: On yet a different Greyhound bus adventure, a man sat in front of me, regaling the ENTIRE BUS of his sexual escapades. For example, he prefers to go for women who are 'large and in charge' because 'they're more grateful for [his] lovin'. Also, if this large and in charge woman could come from one of the prairie provinces that would be even better, 'because all them men are on the farms, and them womens be starvin' for lovin'.'

He got kicked off in Chilliwack.

So yes, I am very grateful for cars. But here in good old Switzerland, we don't have a car and except for one disastrous attempt at packing home Ikea furniture, we haven't missed it because the transit here is crazy efficient and we live in a nice central location.

So given that I'm a bit *meh* about vehicles, it was quite the surprise when I not only found myself at the Geneva auto show, but also salivating over all cars on display and fighting with people for the chance to sit behind the wheel of some of these beauties. At the end of the day I assessed my frame of mind and determined: Yep, that totally kicked ass and there are some pretty sweet cars...OOH, horses! Look Dan horses!

We were parked right next to a stable, and so I guess I'm just still a bigger fan of the original mode of transportation, but there were some wicked cars on display and I would definitely go to this event again.

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You can't but a price tag on happiness, right Dan?

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The car on the left is a Formula One racer, and looks very dangerous.
The car on the right has a really pretty orange interior, and if I made an offer on it I wonder if they'd throw in a matching nail polish?

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I think the side view mirrors leave for a very large blind spot.

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A transformer!

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The golf cart on the left is just for you Dad!
Be prepared to pay a really large import tax when Canada Post knocks on the door.
The car on the left looks like something a bee keeper would drive.

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I mean sure, I can totally picture myself whipping around Monaco in this snazzy blue number.
But then I spotted the gecko.
Lame.
PASS.

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This car is both pretty and practical.
You can fit some luggage in the back.

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These are shots of the venue *before* it got busy.

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Here's Dan and his uncle, who got us in for free and scored us a free breakfast and lunch!
Gotta love connections.

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There were a lot of iPads around.
I considered snatching one and driving away with it...

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And my getaway car of choice is of course the Batmobile!
(though Dan said this is not the Batmobile)

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The white car had its own theme song, and the red car had an audience to watch it turn in circles.
Divas.

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When I saw this modernized take on the VW camper van, I heard Bob Barker's voice in my head.
"Caitie, COME ON DOWN and meet your NEW. CAR."

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The Maybach: a limo for those who don't want to look like they're riding in a limo.
The angry green car: just rad.

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The future is friendly, and probably also pretty fast.

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This Rolls reminds me of Brittney Murphy singing 'Rollin' with my Homies' in 'Clueless'.

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It was the funniest thing, I also heard Bob Barker's voice when I saw this car too...

And last but not least:

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The only thing Dan wants for his 30th birthday.

Now boys and girls, let's stop for minute to remember that cars can be dangerous. And if you don't wear your seatbelt you might get whiplash.

Just ask poor Dan: he suffered severe whiplash from the sheer act of craning his neck too and fro to look at all the models of the non-automotive variety. Though he'll tell you with some remorse: "There weren't as many models here this year, which is a shame."

Yes, a real shame.