And the Time Went Where?

If I hadn’t been so productive this morning and early afternoon, I would have been a little mad at myself for piddling away so much time this afternoon. Earlier in the year I wouldn’t have felt this way, but now that my days are numbered (sounds a little morbid, no?) I’m trying to make the most of the time I have left. In any event, I came thisclose to finishing my Christmas shopping this afternoon, therefore I feel some mindless Interwebbing was in order.

This morning at the au pair gathering in the Coop, Michelle, Rebecca, Whitney and I were sharing some of our favorite “time-wasting” websites. FMyLife* kicked off the sharing, and we all agreed that many of the entries sound contrived or too absurd to be true. I know there are a lot of crummy situations, but come on, let’s get real. This one I thought was quite humorous though.

Today, I have to choose between one eyebrow or none because I’m a heavy sleeper and my brother is a moron. FML

Another questionable site of this nature is LameBook. Again, some of the wall posts, photo uploads, and status updates can induce a full belly guffaw, but others seem so impossibly lame that only a bunch of teens sitting around a table chugging energy drinks could have dreamed them up. I passed this photo along to some of my friends this afternoon, although I’m not sure it provoked the same reaction in them as it did in me.

The caption reads: "This is terrifying." It is.

The next three sites were shared with me this afternoon by Rebecca and Michelle. When I got home this afternoon from a couple hours of power shopping I opened up my Facebook to find these gems on my wall. Knowing what was in store, I put on my favorite pair of tattered boxer-short jammies, curled up in bed with my laptop, and perused these sites, which then of course led to more sites, for too long. If you have some time (or don’t, and are looking for some decent procrastination material, give these “time-wasters” a glance and watch the afternoon disappear.

Below I included a couple of my favorites I stumbled upon whilst reading.

Things 90s Kids Realize:

Before school, after dinner and every Saturday morning with cartoons – breakfast cereal was being consumed. To this day I still eat massive Jethro bowls of Fruit Loop but it’s simply not the same. The thrill is gone. Back then there was so much more to enjoy. You had the cheap a[zz] prize inside the box, the crossword puzzle or maze on the back of the box AND the sugary milk to drink afterward. I mean, I actually judged kids based on what type of cereal they ate because I believed that your breakfast defined you. If you were a Frosted Flakes eater, you were an athlete. Trix, you were a spazz. Lucky Charms you were artsy. Cocoa Puffs/Cookie Crisp you were persuasive because my parents refused to believe anything flavored chocolate was a healthy part of a complete breakfast. And if you ate Cornflakes or Shredded Wheat you were lame because honestly, that cereal is for when you’re old and have to eat bland foods due to diabetes.

Dear Blank, Please Blank:

Dear Talent,

I’ll take it from here.

Sincerely, Autotune

 

MyLifeIsAverage:

Today, I went to the library. I was wandering in the Non-fiction movie section, when I saw The Matrix on the shelf. I’m worried. MLIA.

 

*Mom, in no way do I condone this type of offensive language.

Advertisements

So Much to Share!

This past weekend I ventured to the southern part of Switzerland to visit Zermatt and the much-famed Matterhorn. It was, no exaggeration, the most awesome (in the true sense of the word, inspiring awe) sight I have ever seen. Truly amazing. I will tell you all about more when I get some pictures from my partner in crime who came with me. He takes impeccable photos and I want to be able to post them here. OK, maybe just one little taste…

Ahh, Magnificence.

In the meantime, there are so many things I want to share with you. There’s really no cohesiveness to the bunch, so I figure I will just list them out. Make of it what you will.

  • Stumbled across a blog this morning while reading yet another blog. Dear Ex Girlfriend is dedicated to cathartics. Th author can write either incriminating and damning or apologetic and pining notes to girls from his past. I thought it was such a funny concept and after reading the two that are posted, the man proves to be a wee bit heartbroken, yet comical and lighthearted. A perfect middle-of-the-day, take-your-mind-off-of-things read.
  • Honestly, I should be hired to do publicity and marketing for Stuff White People Like. I feel like I am sharing samples from it all the time. This morning’s agenda is a perfect example of a tiny piece of my life. If I didn’t know it before I am convinced now, I work for White People.
  • NANNIES

    When Hilary Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child, she wasn’t kidding. She was talking about white children and she didn’t mean that it takes a full society to properly raise a child. She was actually talking about a small village in the Philippines* that produces the finest nannies in the world.

    Obviously, the presence of a nanny allows a white parent to return to work. But white people will still hire nannies even if one parent stays home.** This then enables the parent to focus on art, writing, or their consulting business. It also helps them avoid dealing with any gross things produced by the child, such as diaper messes or the aftermath of macaroni art.

    If you want to make a white person feel bad, just tell them that your mother was a nanny to a white family and that you are glad that at least one of you could have a happy childhood and a mom with a career.

    *or maybe the United States

    **unfortunately, true

  • Little Bean is slowly learning to potty-train (see above quotation). A pink, plastic, mini-potty has been sitting in the downstairs bathroom since my arrival. Perhaps just looking at it will inspire LB to whip off her diaper and give it a go. The grandma was encouraging her to give it a “go” (so to speak) this morning. LB removed everything from the waist down and first walked around the first floor, enjoying her new-found freedom. She then made her way on the teeny toilet and began to contemplate. Sensing something wasn’t right, she jumped up and ran out to the cabinet to find the keystone to the WC situation. She ran back into the bathroom and resumed her seat; sitting on her lap was a picture book. She crossed her legs and began flipping pages in her little book. I couldn’t help but explode with laughter at the sight. Apparently she’s inferred a thing or two based on the stacks of magazines left in there by the parents…
  • I went running on the treadmill this afternoon and this song came on my ipod. I had just created a new playlist for working out, aka mutating into a sweat monster. “Fader” came on and I was surprised to find how perfect it is for running and throwing around weights. There’s not much to say, other than I think it’s super upbeat and worth listening to while jogging, walking down the street, or doing as I later did: playing it through your speakers and dancing around your room like the dance machine you are born to be…with the curtains open.

Home is Where You Make It

Warning: This one gets about as heavy as one of Nonna’s cream-based sauces.

Last night as I was reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving I came across an interesting passage. To be honest, I’m having a difficult time finding enthusiasm for this book. A Prayer is interesting and has an inspiring plot-line (the movie “Simon Burch” is based on it), but it just doesn’t excite me. Therefore, I feel like I’m muscling through it and not enjoying it as much as I’d like. But, I really don’t like to leave a book unfinished, so I must persevere.

Back to the passage. The narrator, John, moved to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War, became a citizen, and has yet to return to America. His ardent interest in American politics has never wavered, however, and he finds himself constantly engaging others in a one-sided debate on the state of our country. In the midst of a tirade about breaking the arms agreement with the Soviet Union John remarks,

“Every American should be forced to live outside the United States for a year or two. Americans should be forced to see how ridiculous they appear to the rest of the world! They should listen to someone else’s version of themselves– to anyone else’s version! Every country knows more about America than Americans know about themselves! And Americans know absolutely nothing about any other country!”

This thought-provoking passage, while a little extreme, has some truth in it. I believe Americans tend to lean toward the naive or ignorant. We often have an opinion about everything and facts about little. We believe it is our duty to go into other places and “fix things” as we see fit. Were we invited? Were our duties requested? It rarely matters. Yet, we perceive ourselves as the Greatest Nation on Earth. Our understandings of others are vague and limited. Living abroad I have gained some sense of how Americans are viewed and it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. My own host Dad says that whenever he thinks of America he pictures cowboys and the West. Slightly outdated perhaps…

Living overseas has opened my eyes and exposed me to new cultures. While Switzerland may not be the most diverse country (understatement of the year), being an expat has thrown me into a minority position I have rarely experienced. It has helped me appreciate the things I have and opportunities afforded to me. This experience has reminded me how big our world is, and that my home is such a small part of it. I do think it’s important for people to spend time outside of their comfort zone, outside of their residence, purely for the maturation process. I’m not renouncing my citizenship or even criticizing America. I love where I grew up and I’m proud of my country. But I think a little perspective has greatly enhanced my appreciation for my upbringing, as well as realize there are countless other amazing places to live, experience, and learn from.

On the Road Again

I’m on my way back to Italy with the family, we leave in T-minus 1.5 hours. We are once again headed to the Dad’s parent’s home in the northern part of the country. The house is cozily situated on a vineyard, surrounded by hundreds of others–literally. When I walked up to the neighboring town last time I was afforded a spectacular view and all I could see in the near vicinity were grapes. Far, far off in the distance you can see the Italian Alps. It truly is other-worldly.

Now that I know what to expect while we’re there I think I will be able to enjoy myself. The weather should be warmer than here and we will have plenty of outdoor time. It feels a bit like falling off the face of the earth as my contact with others sharply diminishes. Everything slows down considerably and there’s a significant amount of “downtime.” The family will stay there for the next two weeks, while I will leave after 9 days. It’s a long time with them. They’re nice people, of course. But being on a family holiday when you’re not actually a member of the family is an awkward experience (image: me sitting and watching the kids play with their grandparents and generally feeling uncomfortable for intruding). A case of cabin fever is imminent.

Why am I leaving before the rest of the crew? Well, well, well, perhaps because a little visitor will be making her way over. And maybe I’m so crazy psyched out of my mind to see her I can hardly contain myself. You guessed it, COURTNEY IS COMING!!! It’s impossible to put into words what it’s like when we are together under normal circumstances. Compound this extreme insanity/social awkwardness/constantly running inside joke into 8 months and that’s what the week of October 11-17th is going to look like. I’ve mapped out an itinerary, one that includes a quick jaunt to Istanbul, Turkey to visit Jill and many other hot must-dos whilst in der Schweiz–many food-related. I can’t emphasize this enough: I’m so excited. Man, I’ve missed her.

So, I’ll be gone for a while. Never one to leave you down and out I have provided some entertainment. Pei Wen gave me The Encyclopedia of Useless Information by William Hartston before she left last week and I have been scanning it this past week. Below are a few tidbits I thought intriguing (by randomly opening the book). Feel free to use them at your next dinner party, water-cooler exchange, or random interjection in conversation. Tschüss! Bis Später!

DANCING: On August 21, 1923, the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, passed a law forbidding dancers to stare into each other’s eyes.

GOSSIP: Researchers in Michigan in 1995 reported that American children aged nine to twelve gossip on average eighteen times an hour.

NEPAL: The Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal is the only country that does not have a rectangular flag. Its flag is shaped like two slightly overlapping triangles.

BIRTH: Every seventeen seconds, an American is born

SANDWICHES: IF you eat a sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it will take 168 days to get through the amount of bread produced from one bushel of wheat.

GOLD: One-third of all gold ever mined on earth comes from the Witwatersand Basin in South Africa.

LETTUCE: On August, 28, 1988 the Yantlee Polyclinic in Bangkok published a claim that you can get rid of hunger by pressing lettuce seeds into your ears ten times before meals.

KANSAS: Kansas has the largest population of wild grouse (or Prairie Chickens as the Americans call it) of any state in America.

Growing Up is Hard To Do

Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.

Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t,

Because, sometimes, you won’t.


I’m so sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true

that Bang-ups

and Hang-ups

can happen to you.

You can get all hung up

in a prickle-y perch.

And your gang will fly on.

You’ll be left in a lurch.

-Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Forget breaking up, it’s the growing up that’s really hard to do. Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be like this? People speak of graduation being the beginning of “the rest of my life.” Well, to steal sentiments from my own graduation speech, what the heck have I been doing for the last 23 years? It may be the start of a new chapter in my life, but it certainly doesn’t come with a manual like everyone promised. And this whole making decisions thing? Yeah, well, it should only be done with serious supervision and a seat belt. Puh-lease! I can barely decide what I want to wear in the morning, and who sees me? A two year old! How in tarnation am I supposed to make “major life choices” that could (read: definitely will) set me on a path toward my elusive future?

This all probably sounds a little drama. It is. I will be the first to admit it. I sat on my high horse last year at this time, thanking my lucky stars that I was not one of the millions of people looking for a job in an economy that looked about as pleasant as a jug of sour milk. I thought, I’m so glad that’s not me. Cut to one calender year later when I have to figure out what comes after this year of adventure and general slacking off. So far I’ve made one major step in my walk toward What I Want to Be When I Grow Up. I’ve scheduled myself to take the GRE in Geneva in November. Yes, I’m not going to go into teaching after all. At least not yet. Oddly enough, in fact, I want to go back to being a student.

What to do with these test scores, you ask? A mighty fine question indeed! I don’t know. I’ve begun the painful (literally, my eyeballs were starting to twitch and burn from looking at my computer screen this morning) search for a school. How does one decide? There are so many considerations, one can’t help but feel battered by them. Are you my school? Are you my school? I feel like that little bird, hopping around, hoping someone will claim me. The process is ridiculous. It’s hard to be removed from the school scene, not to mention the country. I wish I would have begun this process whilst still in college. But hindsight is 20/20. At this point all I can do is throw on my suit of armor and head into the fight. You want my transcript(s)? Fine. Letters of recommendation? OK, then. A writing sample (or two)? Well, I’ll see what I can do. $50. Now you’re just getting greedy.

I’m trying to take baby steps. There’s no sense in trying to tackle it all at once. Today I was just feeling hypersensitive. At one point I yelled at Little Bean for crying because her food was too hot. I was the one who put it in the microwave! It was completely my fault. What is my malfunction?

Tonight the kiddos asked for a story before bed and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was the book Taz chose. The little guy can’t even read English, yet this was the old piece of wisdom his paws landed on. I kid you not, when I got to the middle about times getting tough, I actually started crying. Right there on the sofa, little tears just cruising down my face. I pulled it together to finish the story and send them to bed. I think what hit me was this: Yes, this is tough. It’s hard work, but it’s meant to be that way. If it was easy, then would it really be worth it? Isn’t all the hard stuff at the beginning part of the reward at the end?

But on you will go

though the weather be foul.

On you will go

though your enemies prowl.

On you will go

though the Hakken-Kraks howl.

Onward up many

a frightening creek,

though your arms may get sore

and your sneakers may leak.


On and on you will hike.

And I know you’ll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

as you already know.

You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.


And will you succeed?

Yes! Yes, you will indeed!

(98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

Nose in a Book

Today was undeniably one of the most beautiful days I’ve experienced this summer. The temperature was a perfect 80 degrees, the sky was an endless blue, and an easy breeze came by at just the right moments. I had an inkling this would be if not the last, then at least one of the last true days of summer. I wisely decided to spend it by the lake with my new friend Michelle, absorbing the last few rays of sun and, most likely, a final dip in the lake.

On my train home I was mere pages away from finishing The Help; I nearly missed my stop as I was so engrossed in finding out how the novel ended. I have read a generous amount of books whilst living in der Schweiz. Some have been easy reads, a few have been disturbing, more than a handful have been an enjoyable story, but few have been remarkable, stand-out books; The Help falls into the last category for me. I mentioned last week that I hooked up my Kindle with this read and that I would start it over the wochender. Within the first few pages I had a hunch it would be a great story. I decided that I needed to pace myself through this one. I have a tendency to inhale books, often finishing them within a day or two.

I am reluctant to pick up historical fiction for fear the story will lack authenticity. This story, however, reads as such a genuine account of what it’s like to be a black woman working for a white family in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s (as if I truly know what this is like). Viewing this life from several different maids’ and one white woman’s perspective, the reader is privileged to an insight often neglected. The novel is written in a Southern dialect, of which I am usually wary. I find more often than not it detracts from the story as I must spend time translating and fighting my way through dialogue (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn anyone?). In The Help, however, the dialect comes across genuine and reader-friendly. I find it greatly enhances the story, yet doesn’t take away from the integrity of the voice throughout. I was immediately swept up in the story of the maids who work for these racist, catty, narcissistic women. It is such a deviation from any life I have ever known, I was amazed through the entire novel that this was the norm within our recent past.  It is funny, thought-provoking, and disturbing on various levels. Certainly a book worth picking up.

I was trying to describe to the Mom this weekend how much I was enjoying this book and how interesting I found it. I knew she wouldn’t be able to relate completely as she didn’t grow up in the States, but I was hoping my description would help explain how traumatizing life was for so many people. She nodded and gave me a little verbal feedback, certainly not the Book Club interchange my own mom and I share. As I finished telling her how much I was enjoying it, what a great story it was she says in a serious voice, “Well, do you know what book comes out at the end of September?” I’m intrigued, I always love hearing about new books. “The latest book in the Shopaholic series. That Sophie Kinsella really knows how to write a book.”

“Please,” I say. “You’ll have to pass that along when you’re finished.”

That’s it for now

Last thing I ate: Handful of Snyder’s Sourdough Pretzel Nibblers that came in the care package I got from Mom yesterday.

Last thing I drank: Mineralwasser

Currently reading: Mercy by Jodi Piccoult. Great concept for a novel but poorly developed and written, which is a shame because normally I really enjoy her books. I’ve persisted with it as I have a hard time not finishing a book I’ve started; almost there.

Currently listening to: “When the Night Comes” by Dan Auerbach. This has been my go-to song lately; I can’t get enough of it. It’s so simple and such an easy listen.