Books are traded like currency among au pairs as they are grossly over-priced at the English bookshop in Zurich. For example, I went to purchase the latest Elizabeth Gilbert memoir, Committed, and upon looking at the price tag on the back I dropped it like it was on fire. It was close to 40 Swiss Francs (equivalent to $40). There is no way I am going to pay that amount of money for a book, despite the deep love I have for reading. For my birthday I was given a Kindle (Thanks Mom and Dad!), which has been tremendously handy– pun intended. But there is still something I enjoy about holding a book. In any case, my friend Jill (the keen skier) lent me the book The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker. This is, hands-down, the best book I have read while I’ve been here. If you are looking for something entertaining and literally laugh-out-loud funny then you MUST pick up this book. Allow me to explain:
In brief it is about a mid-20’s, single, Mormon girl surviving in New York City. I stress the word surviving because if you are at all familiar with the Mormon religion you may imagine how difficult it might be to live in a city that pulses with temptation. She manages to make her religion accessible and reader-friendly, without pushing her ideals. Basically, she is simply telling her story and allowing you to join in the humor of the natural ups and downs of life. Her style is so unique and the writing so genuine, you can’t help but ask for more.From this book I took away so much, including a valuable lesson she presents in the beginning of her story: If at all possible, just say yes. Say yes to the possibilities that come your way because what do you have to lose? She recalls a time when her friends and she party-crashed a paper supply convention and managed to score tickets to a booze cruise. Never-you-mind the fact that she doesn’t drink alcohol, she still took the opportunity to do something spontaneous and ended up not only having a blast, but also making a toast in front of hundreds of people to top off the night. I’m not saying I’m about to find the nearest gathering of people and bully my way in, rather I have taken the “Yes” mentality to heart and am working on opening myself up to as many opportunities as I can. I have been granted an entire year out of the “real world” in which to be (almost) completely selfish. I don’t know when I will get a time like this again. I want to make the most of it while I can. Perhaps that’s why I take all the walks the parents suggest or go skiing with them even when I’m nervous. Today I hiked 2 hours in the snow and cold because I didn’t know when I would be out here again and I would kick myself at this time next year if I knew I could have been somewhere beautiful and I didn’t go. It’s not like I’ve never heard Carpe Diem before but there was something about this book that struck a chord with me. Maybe it was the ridiculous and over-the-top situations she found herself in that lit this little campfire inside me.
In any event, in the spirit of the book, I have decided to say “yes” to a day-trip to Lake Como Saturday. Rough life, right? An afternoon in Italy. Did I mention I was going to Spain at the end of the month? Southern Spain, tapas, beaches, 70-80 degrees. Need I say more?