Only in Kansas

This afternoon Courtney and I had our first Skype sesh since she left Switzerland. It was high time we caught each other up on our weeks and the thrilling, exciting activities that comprise our lives. I, for one, was jumping out of my skin to tell her about the over-the-top entertainment the children provide. She had much more exciting things to share, such as her recent grad school visits. All the sudden an hour and a half had gone by and I had a train to catch. Naturally, I was scrambling to finish packing my bag and do a few last minute tasks around the house. Next thing I knew I had 6 minutes to catch my train. After lobbing a trash bag into the dumpster I began my speedy ascent. I often wonder what the people at the top of the street think when they see me, more often than not, hauling my a-double “S”nake up the hill. I arrived on the platform with one minute to spare. Panting and sweating I was a hot mess; perfect for the over-populated 5:40 train. While I’ve managed to meet next to no one in this town, I have a feeling I’ve made some kind of impression that will be running through the villagers heads long after I leave.

In honor of my dear little sissy (that’s what you get for calling me “Sissy Krissy” in your last card, Courtney), I would like to present you with this stimulating video. Courtney posted this on my Facebook wall, though I’m not quite sure on the message she was trying to send. Perhaps this is one of her school comrades, participating in a little recreation; maybe it’s an activity she’s debating trying out; most likely, she wanted to share her pride in the beautiful, intelligent, crafty state we know as our own. In any event, I hope you enjoy the following image as much as I did. And, please, if you’re not a native Kansian (thank you, Allie, for making it sound like a disease) please don’t judge us too harshly.

The Only Souvenir I Forgot is the Accent

It took me approximately 19 hours to fold and put away laundry this morning. This is due to two things: it is my least favorite step in the entire laundry process and I was Skyping with Jill. It went about like this: fold a shirt or two, type some witty quip, read her response, roll on the floor whilst laughing, put said shirt (or two away). A sample interchange is as follows:

  • Jill: So if I’m eating a yogurt that expired, ohhhh 6 days ago, what are the odds I’m going to die?
  • Me: Slim to 50%
  • Jill: I’ll take it.
  • Me: So I may or may not see you for running today? Is that what you’re saying?
  • Jill: Yeah, I don’t think so. Or ever, because I’ll be dead.
  • Jill: See ,people that only see our hilarious wall posts don’t even know that these are like all our conversations. We’re this funny all the time.
  • Me: How do we put a trademark on our hilarity?
  • Jill: Two words: Comedy Troupe.

Jill and I have dreams of becoming a Dynamic Duo, taking our shtick on the road. I can see us now, jumping on a tram doing the double-wave screaming, “Hoizame!!!! Wie geht’s?!”  (Hello All! What’s up?!) After our routine is over and people are slowly stitching their sides back up, we will once again throw the double-wave and exclaim, “Thank you Banhof ______!! You’ve been awesome!” But, for now this is just an aspiration I often alight on while riding home on the train. Until then I guess we will have to settle for clever commentary via Skype, Facebook, and face-to-face communication.

Now for more important things: I just got home from my trip to England! It was great. I really liked seeing the country again, as well as checking out a new city, Manchester. And to be totally honest, it was nice to be in a place where I didn’t feel guilty for speaking my Mother Tongue. I arrived in Manchester on Friday night and set out to do some exploring. My hostel sent me a handy guide with places to see and visit. I started with the first place in the “Nightlife” section, Trof. It’s a three-story bar located just down the street from my hostel, which sits in the Norther Quarter. The NQ is Manchester’s trendy and upcoming neighborhood. I’m really glad I ended up staying here because not only could I glean some tips on how to become cool someday, but it also had a hip vibe and I enjoyed seeing the area without many tourists; it gave me more of a native feel. I grabbed a pint at the bar at Trof and started talking to the Manager. I asked him if he had any suggestions of where to go and he sent me to The Ruby Lounge, a sort of underground club around the corner. A couple bands were playing there, and although the crowd was considerably younger, I still had a good time.

The next day was for sightseeing and aimless wandering, both at which I have become quite proficient. Manchester is definitely a place you want to see with others as it’s a very social scene. I got along fine, however, browsing through vintage clothing and record stores and perusing the streets. The Manchester Art Gallery was also a good stop with an especially interesting photography exposition. The weather was great and I managed to relax in a park with Mancunians and travelers. As I mentioned earlier, the John Mayer concert was cancelled (cue me shaking my fists at the sky) so I had to find other means of entertainment. The bar Night N Day across the street from the hostel was having a concert, similar to every other joint in the city. Seriously, you couldn’t walk down the street without hearing live music. So for £6 I could listen to 6 different bands, including: Polka Party, The Books, Loubeta, and Rubika. They were all surprisingly good and it was great to listen to the local sound, which differs slightly from what I am often drawn to.

On Sunday I headed to Cambridge for another concert and more exploring. It was a soggy day, which made my 6 hour bus journey a little more palatable; at least I wasn’t missing any sunshine. I arrived and was picked up by my Couchsurfing host. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this experience, basically people can connect all over the world by offering up their place of residence. This is a great way not only to meet people, but also save money while traveling by skipping the expense of a hostel/hotel. After I explained it in further detail to mom she also said I could have died doing this, but that is not what I chose to focus on while finding a host to stay with. It’s actually a great idea and offers a great way to see an area with a local who can often show you interesting bits about the city you might have otherwise missed. For example on Monday, Mark, my surfer, offered to take me to the Evensong service at King’s College Cathedral. It was an amazing experience that I might have otherwise missed out on. In any event Cambridge was great. I hadn’t been there since my high school trip so it was fun to see it again. It was fun to watch students exploding out of buildings as the finished their end-of-term exams. Champagne bottles were being popped and there was a general air of celebration. The night was topped off by an out-of-this-world show by Band of Horses. It was almost as if they came up to me before the show and said, “What would you like to hear tonight? And in what order?” Seriously, it was that amazing; all my favorite songs were on the menu.  They played at a relatively small venue, which gave it an intimate feel. Overall, I was very pleased with their performance. Tuesday was reserved for travel, and thankfully I made it home with no incident. And how great was it starting the work week on a Wednesday?!

To only add to my joy this week, the weather has finally improved! It is beautiful and sunny, and today I will enjoy a run by the lake. The following song is one of my favorites to run to. It’s so upbeat I can’t help but smile as I run. That action combined with the inevitable sweating make for quite a sight.

Manchester Cathedral

Canal Street in Manchester

Trinity College in Cambridge

King's College Cathedral, the place of the Evensong

Cambridge is known as "Cycle City"

Excellent spot for people watching

Students on Cambridge grounds

Risky Business

The Mom decided to take the kids to see her Grandmother, Grosse, in Bern yesterday and they don’t plan on returning until this afternoon. This means I have had the house to myself, for the most part (the Dad slept here last night, but didn’t come home until 10:00), for a day. When I told my brother Matt this good fortune last night on Skype he asked if I was pulling a “Risky Business” and running around the house with shades on and the music blaring. As he asked this I was just about to don one of the Dad’s button-up shirts, but thought better of it. Alas, I have enjoyed the simple pleasure found in having the place to myself; no crying or screaming, no fighting over toys, no terrible German TV shows. I threw on my Mom’s San Francisco sweatshirt (probably the best on all of Planet Earth), made some grub, and saddled up in front of my computer for some serious Skyping. This was a perfect night to do this as the family wasn’t here and I didn’t have to worry about them overhearing me. Sometimes when I am in the middle of a pretty serious Rapunzel-bashing or a heated critique on their parenting (or lack thereof) skills I worry that they are listening in, despite me being in the princess suite on the third floor. The acoustics in this house are just shy of non-existent so I know first-hand that sound carries. But, I usually can’t here them chatting downstairs so I am assuming, however naïvely, that they can’t hear me either. In any event, I was able to catch up with Dad, Elizabeth, and Madeline. It was brilliant. Besides being slightly bleary-eyed by the time I headed to bed from all the screen-staring, I was in great spirits and happy to be caught up on all the goings-on at home. I love hearing updates, so keep them coming! On a similar note, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to Brendan and Claire for the birth of their first son, Sawyer. I saw pictures of him and he is a most precious baby, and I know you are going to raise a heartbreaker over there; some may say it’s too early to tell these things, but I just know. You are both going to be outstanding parents and I could not be more proud of you or happy for you. I love you! And I cannot wait to meet this beautiful, sweet baby angel.

After two missed trains and a missed bus I was a little peeved on my way home from the gym yesterday. As great as the public transportation is here, it’s still frustrating to not be in control of my way to and from places. The cold and dreary weather only compounded the problem, and on my walk home from the train station I was feeling a little peeved and was well on my way to a pity party. Like a kid coming out of a tantrum, my spirits were immediately lifted upon seeing what waited for me in front of the door: a care package from my mom!! She sends/brings the best stuff, and this loot could not have come at a better time. My favorite dress from Anthropologie was sitting on top of the goodies, which you can see below. Each layer of bubble wrap and/or plastic bag contained a new, and often delicious, surprise. Thank you Mom for taking care of me. And, Dad, you rule too. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for you helping to make this year o’ fun possible. You two are the best.

Essentials from home that make surviving that much easier

Below is a hodge-podge of pictures I have taken recently. Enjoy!

The most recent project Taz and I worked on

Above: Taz really enjoys anything we can “up hang” by his bed or Little Bean’s, so we’ve been doing a lot of mobiles.

This is what I see when I look out my window.

A view from the top of our hike up Üetliberg

My outfit for Kristen's Going Away party: White Trash Bash

Above: Kristen had a party to celebrate her time here and decided to give it a specific theme. I came over without the proper attire and managed to get outfitted for the event. Socks with sandals? Anytime.