Saturday, June 30, 2007

Voulez-vous parler avec moi chez soir?

Normally I don't go out too much on the weekends, which is actually kind of a nice change from Chicago (although I always enjoy a night out dancing with good music!). However Thursday night was my last French class and afterwards we all went out for a drink. One girl proposed that we meet up again on Friday night for drinks as well.

The interesting thing about the group was that the girl, Sylvana, is from Bolivia, and the guy, Shekip, is from Kosovo. Neither of them speak any English whatsoever. I speak some Spanish, but now that I have learned French, when I try to go back to Spanish I get extremely confused and it is usually some sort of melange of all the foreign words I know. Example: "Yo no recuerdo, mais je pense que c'est ca" (I don't remember, but I think it's that). So we were really forced to communicate only in French, a situation I don't find myself in very often. Even at Pasha's there is usually someone who speaks English.

I was really tired on Friday and nothing is more difficult for me than trying to understand French when I am tired. If I zone out for like 30 seconds suddenly I have missed the entire conversation and then have to pretend that I understood (easily accomplished with a "oui" and nice smile, I generally find). Anyway, we met up at 8 at the gare and went to a little terrasse for drinks. We all had panache, which is beer with limonade (ok, see I just used the French word automatically there...I think a transformation is underway!). It's really quite nice for the summer, not as heavy as beer itself and very refreshing. Shekip also brought one of his friends who is from Chile. Finally my Professor (yes THAT one!) also joined us. Sylvana and I made sure that we sat on the opposite side of the table from Professor. So we had quite an international group! In fact, I told Sylvana and Shekip that they were the first people I had spoken with from Bolivia and the Balkan regions (respectively) and Sylvana told me that I was the first American she had spoken with.

So for 3 hours we spoke in nothing but French. Sylvana has a much better vocabulary and spoke a lot with Chilean friend. Some of the conversation was about Latin American politics (boring, sorry but when you can't understand everything, this is difficult). But mostly we talked about things we liked to do and food, things we used to do before we moved to Geneva, etc. It was actually pretty cool and very good practice for all of us. We also saw a fight that was absolutely ridiculous - about 8 guys, one guy got thrown into a window pane and it broke, then the guys picked up the pieces of glass and started swiping at each other, another guy was trying to hit people over the head with a bottle - this was happening like 15 feet from us!! Then all of the sudden it broke up and they all ran off. Bizarre. But it was a fun night, and in any case I now have some true French-only friends!

Today I woke up a little later than I wanted to but still ok. I have a lot of shopping to do to prepare for JUSTIN!! He is coming on Monday and will stay here for three months. Yeaaaah!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The scariest night of my life (so far)

Sometimes things happen to me that just blow my mind. They are just so beyond bizarre and weird that you couldn't even dream it up. I'm trying to think of another one in recent memory that I could compare it to. I guess maybe last weekend when I was in Norway and had to get off the plane to physically confirm my checked luggage was pretty bizarre. Have you ever heard of anything like that? It resulted in a 1.5 hour delay. I can't think of any other ones right now but I will try.

The reason for this is because last night was so freaking weird and was the scariest night of my 26 years and 11 months so far. Even scarier I think than when I was held up at gunpoint at Starbucks; I think because that one I was kind of in a daze while it happened and panicked after. Anyway, I went to bed around 11 because on Saturday I wanted to get up super early to do a lot of laundry and errands etc. Intending to get a good nights sleep and be responsible.

I am on the first floor and have a huge balcony around my apartment, which is awesome. The only problem is I technically don't have any windows; only french doors that open out on to the balcony. And since I also don't have air conditioning, I leave my doors open almost all day and usually when I am sleeping as well. My apartment is probably 20 ft off the ground, so I am not concerned about any break ins.

So around 330, I am awoken out of a sound sleep to hear this strange noise. Like something scratching on my floor or being pushed around on my floor. I sat up and lifted up my sleeping mask (because there are about 10 streetlights that shine into my room) and through my blurred eyes, instinctively look at the bottom of my open bedroom door. Then, a freaking BLACK CAT scampers into my bedroom! I shrieked. Not screamed. It was a high pitched "AIEEE!" and jumped about 3 feet in the air; the cat seemed to do a sort of Scooby Doo running move and scampered right back out of my room.

Of course, I am not afraid of cats, and this one was black just like my Rookie at home. In fact I see a black cat in the alleys sometimes and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same one. But waking up to some animal running into your room and screaming just gets your heart racing about 200 kmph. I was shaking as I walked slowly around my apartment, checking all the nooks and crannies to see if I still had a squatter. I thought for a minute maybe I was going crazy. But then as I was pushing the sofa around to make sure the cat wasn't under it, I noticed some dark marks on the side. It was water that undoubtedly Kitty Cat left behind when rubbing up against my nice sofa. I wonder what else he was doing while I was sound asleep. Fortunately my apartment is relatively clean so there were no glasses or anything to be knocked over.

So of course I could not fall back asleep. I called everyone I knew (only my mom answered of course, because she loves me best) and then watched a really good episode of Queer Eye. As I finally drifted off to sleep around 5am, I thought that the cat must be one of my neighbors that had gotten outside, walked on the teeny little railing between our apartments and popped in.

But today I'm not so sure. There is a fairly big tree outside my apartment, but any sturdy branches seem to be at lesat 8 feet below my balconny. Then I realized that the cat could have come not just from my next door neighbors but any number of people on the first floor even in other buildings. So I decided I do not need to play french detective and go interrogating all of my neighbors, because they will probably think I am nuts and I would have to do a lot of questioning about this cat. I honestly have no clue how he got in.

So anyway, today I am tired and my allergies are awful, but I at least figured out a way to keep the doors just slightly open and taught so no more animals can get in. I mean are you kidding me?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Je suis malade

Apparently I have some sort of Swiss hayfever. I don't really know how it happened, but on Tuesday of this week I was suddenly sneezing and nose dripping disgustingly everywhere. It has only gotten worse since the week has wore on. I guess a lot of people develop new allergies when they come to Switzerland. Probably because the air is so damn clean that your body gets used to breathing open and carefree, and then some little Swiss pollen comes along and ruins everything.

Anyway, I am not the only one. My entire office is suffering from this right now; which makes it slightly humorous and I guess ok. I just wish I could sneeze when I want to!

I realize I still have to write about my trip to Norway which was fantastic. I highly advise everyone to visit Norway! It is a wonderful country. Maybe even more wonderful than Switzerland, although the winters would seem to be pretty brutal. I have a lot of cleaning to do this weekend in order to prepare for the arrival of Justin in 10 days, but I will try to get in some blogging or at least post the photos! Ciao!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jac goes to Oslo

Over the weekend of June 15 I was in Oslo, Norway, one of the coolest cities I have ever visited and at least, the most northern place I have ever been in my life! It has always been a dream of mine to go to either Scandanavia or Alaska in the summer so I can experience 24 hours of daylight. Well, I got to experience that this weekend! Sure it was not like the middle of the day, but the darkest point, around midnight, was still pretty bright.

I went to Norway with my friend Ingvill from work, who is from Norway, to visit her twin sister Anniken and hang out with a bunch of their friends as well. They are actually both from a place farther north but her sister lives in Oslo now. Have you ever hung out with identical twins? I think it is hilarious and fun, but of course as we all know I am easily amused...

Anyway we got there on Thurs at 130 in the morning after ridiculous flight delays and it was still light out! It was kind of that dusky light the entire night. Really really cool. I never got over that even after experiencing it for 3 days straight. On Friday we went to walk down to the castle where the King and Queen live (looks more like a really big house). We also went to the harbor and got some "soft ice" which is basically like DQ that they dip in various things like chocolate powder and strawberry sugar to make different flavors. Mmmmm!

Norway trivia - What 80s band with a very short name originates from Norway? Hint, they are essentially (for U.S. purposes) a one hit wonder and the song features some very high pitched falsetto singing.

Friday I also had a Norwegian hot dog which is basically a really kick ass American dog. It comes on a toasted wheat roll and you can get all sorts of crazy things like potato salad and bacon and toasted onions on it. Super good. So like 6 hours after all of this eating we cooked dinner at Anniken's (to which I contributed by drinking wine, playing sudoku and setting the table) and then went over to a friend's house to just hang out and drink. Drinks (well, everything really is) are very expensive in Norway so it is common to do LOTS of pre-partying and also BYOB and DYOB and no one else's...not even at a party.

Saturday we went to this famous park and tried to do a little shopping but it was very crowded and panicky so we didn't really. The weather was perfect yet again on this trip - I have had really good luck with that so far! So we did a lot of walking around and eventually made it back home to enjoy a few drinks on the balcony. Later that evening we barbequed (again, MAJOR contributions by yours truly to this effort) and some people came over for drinks, including some of the girls I had met from Lisbon. It was great fun to see everyone again and I learned some good Scandanavian songs!

You should download "Sommartider" (Summertime) which is a great fun summer party song from Sweden. I swear it could easily be a hit in the U.S.

After several drinks we headed to a party a little ways away around midnight and it was still light out. I learned how to say "Happy Birthday" in Norwegian and repeated it to anyone who would listen although since can't seem to remember...finally we went out to some bars. While everyone was standing in the queue for one bar, Ingvill and Anniken whisked me around the corner to go to...the Hard Rock Cafe! It was completely jam packed with people. The bar played awesome music including some that took me back to Vandy days (I was not expecting "let me clear my throat"!! and we danced until about 3 in the morning. Afterwards, we got the drunk food of choice in Norway...baked potato. Leave it to Norwegians to eat something relatively healthy after a night of carousing. It had corn and butter on it and was sooo good. We ambled home in the early morning light after that.

Sunday I was very, um tired, so I didn't feel like doing much. It was perfect as it was a rainy day so we all just sat around and relaxed until I left around 3. I had a really annoying flight back wit 20 babies, 5 within 2 rows of me.

Here are some pictures from Norway!! And the band? It's A-Ha.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The 3000th!

Exciting day today...I now have over 3,000 songs on my iPod! woooo! I just downloaded "It won't be soon before long" by Maroon 5 and "Legend" by Bob Marley (a cd I am obsessed with and lost, and have lived without for far too long). So far Maroon 5 CD is excellent.

I am really considering buying Amy Winehouse, because I can't stop hearing about her and also I really like the "Back to Black" song. Any recommendations? I usually prefer to buy the whole album on iTunes if there is more than like 2 or 3 songs worth listening to. I don't have radio here and I don't go out that much so I am relying on you, gentle reader, for new music suggestions!

Anyway, this morning around 7 there was a horrible thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms but this thing was freaking scary!! I was a little hungover (more on this later) and so I was not happy about being woken up. I hopped out of bed just to make sure none of the rain was getting into my apartment because I usually sleep with all the windows open (I don't have AC and it was about 30C here yesterday) There was a really loud thundercrack that rattled my whole room. Then I was just about falling back asleep and CRAAAAAAACK!!!!! I think the lightning bolt must have hit right outside my apartment because this was absolutely the loudest thundercrack I have ever heard. It hurt my ears!!! I was seriously frightened and pulled all my sheets up under my chin and hugged my stuffed animals really close. I laid there like that completely petrified with my heart racing for about 5 minutes, and then that was the end of it.

Then I woke up at 11 and of course it's a gorgeous sunny day now. Does this place ever have bad weather? Seriously, it never lasts for more than a few hours at a time, although there was a torrential downpour last Thursday night.

Anyway now I am headed to work, as I am currently on a quest to get as much done as possible in the next 23 days before Justin arrives. Ciao!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

As Promised...

So, last night was Lisa's performance at the"IKEA house." The performance was AMAZING. Lisa is an opera singer, soprano, and sang with another girl who is a mezzo soprano (other girl sings at a lower pitch). I have never really seen opera before, only "The Magic Flute" which I saw here earlier this year (with Lisa in it).

This was actually in an old greenhouse which was a really cool setting. So the 2 girls sang and one guy played piano for about 100 people. It was so cool because the setting was really intimate, and the acoustics in the greenhouse were awesome! Anyway it was just an absolutely brilliant performance. This might sound weird but when I first heard the notes, it was like being hit with a gust of wind in your face or something, or jumping into a cold pool. Just like, WHOA!! She can sing so loud and has such a range, it's just beautiful. So I really enjoyed it. Afterwards when we were all enjoying cocktails they sang happy birthday to someone and it was the most amazing version of happy birthday I had ever heard. All sorts of crazy harmonizing going on.

OK now for you little gossip hounds, the rest.

1) I found out the guy is not the owner or the founder of IKEA. Apparently he is the architect of all of the furniture, which is much cooler in my opinion. I googled and wikipediaed him though and couldn't find anything. I did meet him, and he was dressed in all black and wearing a cowboy hat. It's June 8th. Naturally.

2) I never saw the house. As I mentioned the concert took place in a greehouse which happened to have a huge guest or servants kitchen whatever around the other side. The grounds on which this took place were about the size of a football field and had all these rosebushes, trellises, little paths, hedges in shapes, etc. Gorgeous. The whole scene reminded me of the old lady's property from the movie "Great Expectations" with a little less swamp and "dark and twisty" elements (as Meredith Grey would say). I kind of saw a GIANT house when passing this gate on the way out, but no clue if it was this guy's.

3) There were not meatballs or cookies. There was however veggies and a ton of cheese, champagne, beer which was left in the fountain as a cooler, and homemade fudge.

I think that's about it. Anything else you want to know?

As Iadmired the sun was setting over the mountains, watching the stars come out at 10pm and sipping champagne on this well manicured lawn, I was thinking when the heck else in my life will I get to listen to a private opera concert inside a greenhouse? It seems like there is always something special happening over here.

First...some social commentary

I'm sorry to throw this in, but I'm going to have to. WHAT is the big deal with Paris Hilton going to jail and then going back to jail? It is really unbelievable how much coverage this story has gotten. This is the top story on yahoo (ok, explainable) but also on supposedly reputable sites like and I just checked CNN and actually this story is now third, behind the space shuttle and one about 2 guys meeting who just happen to be Bush and THE POPE. So Paris is just slightly less important than the Pope?!

Also all of the pictures of her crying, articles about her being hysterical...come on. I am 26 and if someone sentenced me to jail I might not throw a hissy fit, but I might be pretty uspet. Then again, I would not be idiotic enough to drive drunk on a suspended license or whatever she did.

Anyway I generally do not get involved with this sort of things but the whole thing is a little bit voyeuristic and gross and I had to comment. I will admit that I read the articles, but only for purposes of research for this post. Do people really care so much about this kind of thing? Gross!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

There's a band playing outside my apartment

No seriously. So what happened is, I came home on Friday night and there was a big white tent in front of MY apartment. I have the corner unit on the first floor, so literally it was right in front. I had no clue for what. Then yesterday I woke up and found out there was this random street fair going on on my block. I don't really understand what though, because as far as I could tell, no one was selling anything except the ice cream vendor. People maybe were bartering? There was just all this random crap like records and baby clothes laid out everywhere. Now this morning there is a band playing. I like the sound, it's kind of jazzy salsa type with a good beat and lots of sax. It just makes me glad that I don't have a hangover.

Yesterday I had a solo adventure at IKEA. Dave and Lisa couldn't go but I was bored and decided to go by myself anyway. Actually, what I didn't realize was that the train stops right across the parking lot so it is really easy. I got some things I needed and some I didn't need. I am the most excited about a new backpack I got. My backpack is shot and my laptop bag, being free from work, is of course a piece of you know what. So this bag is perfect for my laptop and other stuff, and it also unzips in the middle into two smaller backpacks. C'est cool!

IKEA is so crazy though. I figured out why they have the arrows on the floor (which I consistently ignored), because if people didn't have something to follow, they would be constantly running into each other like cars at an intersection when the lights go out. It was actually maybe a little better to go by yourself because you can weave around people who are standing around wondering "why are the Cubs SO bad?" (well they are probably not thinking about the cubs, but another question that boggles the mind and cannot be answered) I had lunch there as well because you just cannot pass up those meatballs. The funniest thing was I saw a cart with 1 kid and 2 dogs in it. Can't one of those stay at home? I was only at IKEA for 2 hours but maybe some people really do spend like 6 hours there. Anyway, I recommend that if you ever go on a foreign assignment by yourself that you go to IKEA. I think I may start going more often. After being in IKEA, with thousands of screaming kids, slowest walking people on earth, dogs, etc, all you want to do is just go home and be by yourself!

I went to Ingvill and Laurent's house for dinner which is always fun, because they always make really good food, have lots of drinks, and play good music! Since it has been a little cold, we made fondue. mmmm delicious. Ingvill and I also made cupcakes or "muffins" as she calls them. I love cupcakes!! They are so cute and just make me happy. And they should make you happy too. They turned out really good.

Well I am heading to work and later to the lanudro of course. However I bought some cute new sheets at IKEA so that is an incentive for me to go wash things!


Friday, June 01, 2007

It's Friiiiiiiiday

This has been a LONG week and I am so happy the weekend is here. I like to chill and be antisocial on weekends. I know that sounds lame, but be serious with me. After a long week at work I just like to chill and not deal with anyone or anything. Doesn't drinking wine and watching movies on your couch on a cold rainy night sound perfect? Seeeeeeee? And that's what I did.

As most of you know I am way behind on movies, I have seen probably around 10% of the number of movies of an average 26 year old person. Tonight I watched Mission Impossible 2 on loan from Dave and it was predictable but entertaining. Tom Cruise looks really awful with long hair though and I kept wanting to cut it. It was like he was shaking his bob just to piss me off.

I also read about the Zambrano-Barrett fight which is hilarious. Those two are both crazy and I think they should extend it to a 3 minute cage match to see what happens. At least I am not missing any good baseball being over here because the Cubs are awful right now.

Last item of this random post, I found out about this Chicago band called Red Line District and I finally listened to some of their songs tonight. They are super good, playing around Chicago and you can download their songs on myspace. I am always promoting more good music so check it out.