Monday, November 17, 2008

Laundry, this is the Last Time

Readers, I have HAPPY NEWS!!

I just realized that tonight was very likely my LAST trip to the laundromat, ever!!!

I am going home on Saturday for a week, and then I return November 30. After that I am in Geneva for just 2 more weeks. And readers, let me tell you, I can make my laundry str-e-e-e-tch (it's all about the handwash). So it's not likely I will have to go again.

Oh laundro, I will not miss you. I will not miss the randoms that hang out there who come with 25 garbage bags full of clothes. I will not miss when I have to fight people for dryers. I will not miss men looking at my sexy underwear when I manage to drop JUST those on the floor on my way to the dryer. I will not miss lugging my clothes 5 blocks away and having you use up all my good coins and refusing to take my 10s and 20s. I will not miss that time you locked my clothes in the machine!!

After this, I will either be using:

a) Justin's new common washer and dryer in the basement of his building
Pro: It's in the basement
Con: The basement is scary and you have to go outside, requires quarters

b) Aimee's in-apartment washer and dryer
Pro: It's in a cute "laundry closet" and it's free
Con: Aimee will probably force me to "just throw in a few things with mine"

c) Mamoo's energy saving, super quiet, totally awesome washer and dryer in Naperville
Pro: Comes with Mamoo's free laundry expertise; if you are lucky it will be folded and packaged just like if you sent it out!
Con: Have to drive to Naperville to do it

To commemorate this happy occassion, I have written a small ode to the laundromat:

(to the tune of ABBA's "Dancing Queen," since I saw Mamma Mia! again)...

You can wash, you can drrrryyyyyy
having the time of your life
See that girl, wash those jeans,
She is the washing queen!

Monday night and the lights are lowwwwww
Lookin out for a place to gooooo
Where they got the right washers, getting in the swing, I've come to wash my things
Any washer could be my guyyyyy
Night is young and the setting's hiiiiiiiiiiigh
With a bit of detergent
Everything is fine
I'll soon have some clean pants
And when I get the chaaaaaance

I am the washing queen,
Young and sweet, gettin my clothes clean
Washing queen,
Get those coins from the change machine!
You can wash, you can dryyyyy
Having the time of your liiiiife
See that girl, wash those jeans
Diggin the washing queen!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is cool

I just woke up and saw these words on my internet homepage:

"Barack Obama est devenu le premier président noir de l'histoire des Etats-Unis. Après son écrasante victoire, il a déclaré que "le changement arrive en Amérique".

Which even if you don't understand French, you know.

It's been super cool to be over here for the election. People in Europe have been very interested in the race, curious about both candidates and how our voting process works, and hopeful that whoever was to win the election, this individual could help to repair America's relations abroad.

So now, on verra!! Time to head to work to spread the good word!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Down on the Farm Part II

Hi readers! You thought I forgot about this, didn't you? No, I've just been lazy. So let's back up, shall we?

When we last left our heroine, me, I had just tucked in for the night down on the farm near Stein am Rhein. So I slept in the dorm, not the straw, but it was still pretty darn cold - there was no heat in there. I slept in my long johns under an old Swiss military blanket and felt warm and snuggly...till I had to get out of bed the next morning!

I went down for breakfast and spoke for a few minutes with Doris, Heinz's wife. She was super nice and making us breakfast of fresh bread, cheese, meat, yogurt and fruit. The coffee was AWESOME (Doris did not make the coffee though - I think that was Nespresso). Being a farm, there were bugs buzzing around inside, which I was NOT a fan of. At one point, a bee buzzed over my head and landed on one of the ceiling beams. Doris reached up with a kleenex and smushed it. "Wow, you're brave!" I exclaimed. "Oh, that was a male one...they don't sting, and they are very stupid and slow," she explained. Naturally!!

As I sat down to eat, my bunkmates appeared. It was a middle aged German woman with short grey hair, and her daughter, who seemed about 14. I found out shortly that the woman, Dorothea, spoke english, so we were able to chat over breakfast. We talked a bit about how I got here, why was I traveling alone, etc. I was also curious to speak with her about German vs Swiss German. I didn't realize this at first here, but Swiss German (or Schwyzertuutsch, which sounds like "Schweizer Deutsch") is purely a spoken language and completely incomprehensible to "regular" Germans. Most newspapers etc are written in high German, which is the same, but when it comes to speaking, Swiss German is basically a totally different language which is not written down. I was always glad that I was in the French speaking part!

Anyway, as we finished up breakfast, Dorothea and Lea offered to drive me into town. This was HUGELY appreciated because otherwise I would have had to wait for the random bus by the woodcutter's house, which I'm pretty sure came only once per hour.

We packed up to go and I went in to say goodbye to Doris and Heinz. Inside, their 4 kids were running around - all little blond haired ones, 3 of them holding baby kittens and playing gently with them. It was really one of the sweetest scenes I have ever seen (try that 5 times fast). They were such a nice family. There is a link to their farm here which is in German, but you get the idea. And this page is the family one - so cute!

Stein am Rhein was just a short drive away. When we arrived there, I told Dorothea and Lea that I was going to walk through town...kind of giving them an "out" in case they wanted to ditch this random American. "mmhmm," Dorothea hummed, and discussed with her daughter in German for a moment. "We will walk with you, we have all afternoon and are not in a hurry," she announced. We wandered to the town square, and she pointed out many of the buildings and the history. "Oh there's a museum I want to show you!" So we walked through a small museum and again got a history lesson. "Oh this is a famous shop!" I walked around with them for about an hour or so, enjoying the cute little town, and then we parted ways with warm handshakes and a "Tchuss!"
This is a picture of the town square. I have seen things like this before, but only at like, Epcot. Switzerland continues to surprise me.

For me, it was back on the train, now to Schaffhausen to get to the Rhinefalls. The ride was not long, and I was soon walking down a hill towards the sound of rushing water. I won't discuss the falls too much because the pictures say it, but it was pretty impressive.

While my day started off cloudy, it cleared up quickly, so I spend a long time lingering by the falls and enjoying the beautiful colors and scenery. The Swiss being Swiss and clever like they are, had built a number of different viewing platforms in order for you to be able to experience the water from afar, below you, right next to you, etc. It was really cool.

The most amazing thing was there was a huge rock in the middle of the falls where a tiny viewing platform had been built. To get there, you had to take a small boat into the falls and hop out. Of course like any sucker, I paid the 6 CHF and got on the boat. It was well worth it. The view of the falls from on the water was gorgeous, and as we crossed the Rhine, the green water beneath the boat was bubbling excitedly, giving the impression that we were cruising through the inside of a san pellegrino bottle. From the top of the rock, the water crashed down on either side of you while you stood under a brave Swiss flag. Very cool!

After I had enough fun in the water, I stopped for a beer and to send a postcard to Justin, before heading to catch the train to Winterthur, Zurich, and eventually back to Geneva.

You can see more pictures by following this link.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had a really Euro-style day today and found it pretty amusing -

-I went to see a movie (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and even though there were several parts where the characters were speaking Spanish and the only subtitles were in French (or German), I found I could still understand everything going on. yay! The movie was good and I noticed that some of Rustbucket's friends made cameos!

-I went to the pool for a swim and afterwards was standing under one of the dryers - side note - they have these AWESOME big dryers mounted on the wall that you can move up and down to dry your hair etc...such a good idea and you don't have to bring a hairdryer to the gym. Anyway, I was using the one just inside the locker room and seriously, this pool boy came by to vacuum up the water on the locker room floor and I suddenly realized he was vacuuming in a circle around me. Literally every time I would shake a droplet of water on the floor he would suck it up. It was hilarious, I mean who has the kind of patience/desire to keep things in such a good order EXCEPT in Switzerland??

-As I was riding my bike home around sunset, I passed a slow moving Italian on his bike. "Ciao bella, comment ca va?" he said. "Bonsoir!" I yelled and pedaled off in a hurry. Don't be jealous J man, he wasn't cute, but seriously I thought it was hilarious. Hitting on a someone while riding bikes?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One last thing

I know I've been kind of veering off the subject of Swiss life lately, but what good is a blog if you can't use it as a soapbox every once in a while? I promise this is it. The video is worth it.

I actually know some people who told me they are not voting, so I hope this changes their mind:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Me, Ms. Absentee

So I voted today!! I can say first hand that I understand how they screwed it up in the past. It's a bit confusing, at least the whole absentee thing.

I was already registered to vote in my state, so it was easy for me to request an absentee ballot for the primary. But I found out the hard way in college that at least in Illinois, if you have never voted before, you can't vote for your first time as an absentee. That's how it was in 2000, anyway. So I didn't vote that year.

Anyway I did vote in 04 and as I said, was then able to easily request the absentee ballot this past winter. You have to put what it is that makes you an absentee - are you in the military, are you a citizen temporarily residing abroad (me) , are you a citizen in jail currently awaiting bond and cannot go to your polling place (hmmm, not me), etc. Then I put my political affiliation, even though I don't have one - but I guess in some states if you don't put that, you don't get to vote in the primary. Anyway, then a few weeks later, I got my ballot for the primary. They send you like a MAJOR envelope that's super official looking. That little parcel is definitely on official U.S. business. And inside is a ballot and a secret envelope, and another envelope for you to put the little secret one in, in order to mail it. Then you have to practically sign your name in blood saying that you voted in secret. Finally if you happen to live near the embassy, you can take it to them and they mail it for free. Unfortunately for me, I do not. So essentially I had to pay to vote in the primary.

Now a few weeks ago I got the biggie ballot. I was kind of confused though because it was a federal write in ballot. Not the scan tran one. The instructions said that my county's ballot was not ready yet, but when it was ready, they would send it to me. And to mail it in as soon as I got it. But if it was too late to mail it in, that they wouldn't count it, so I should mail this one in, and if I mailed both in, they would know which one to count. Got that? Of course this was in September, so I ignored it. Lo and behold, I got my REAL scantron ballot on Friday from my county. I went back and checked the write in again, and I guess they throw it out if you send the real one in by the deadline. The deadline according to my county is that it must be postmarked the day before the election in order to be counted. So since I have a lot of time, I figured to ditch the mail in and just go with the real one. I don't think they need any additional confusion over there in the church basement where they're counting the votes all night.
Word to election officials - you should probably write what color pen to use to mark the ballot ON THE BALLOT. I was lucky and guessed black after looking everywhere for the instructions on how to mark it. Then on the back of the instruction sheet, there was a short sentence about what color ink to use. Of course the entire instruction sheet is in caps, underlined, etc about all the things you need to do and not do, so it didn't exactly stand out. Again - on the ballot. This should be as fool proof as possible.

So I voted and put it in the secret envelope. Then I had to sign again saying it was secret and yes, I was temporarily residing outside the country, not awaiting bail. This morning I excitedly waved my official looking ballot around my office (it was ok, because I had already safely sealed it at home so NO ONE could influence my vote). Then I took it to be mailed and to send it "recommande," which is like registered mail, cost me 12 CHF!

Anyway, I'm proud to say I did my civic duty. It has a nice feeling to it. Kind of like when I give directions to a lost random person or workout first thing in the morning. Except I don't get a cool "I voted!" sticker like I normally do from my polling place.
And remember if you don't vote, you don't get to complain. So get out there and vote!!! We can all do it, doggone it, yes we can!!

Here is a picture of the super secret envelope to put the ballot in - actually it's the one from the primary. See how official looking it is?? Hope I don't have to mark my next ballot from jail for posting this...


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sports Redemption!!!

Vanderbilt is ranked #13 in the U.S. and is 5-0 for the first time since world war II!! yEEEAAAH!!

who ya with VU?!

This is so FREAKIN typical, part II

Yes of course I woke up at 6am to watch the second half of Cubs game 3 against the Dodgers. For whatever reason my wasn't working too well (the whole point of why I bought it was to someday watch playoff games, so WTF?), but fortunately I was able to at leat listen to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. The two of them sounded frustrated and desperate, just like all of the Cubs fans out there. Clutch hitting...we don't have it.

Everyone said before the playoffs started that the Cubs were a solid team because they were so well rounded. If their hitting was bad, their pitching could pull them out, and if their pitching was off, their hitting could pull them out. Everyone contributed and there was no one player for whom we had to rely on success. So I guess since EVERYONE on the team played awful, is the reason that we lost (maybe DeRosa gets a pass since his hitting was great - but that error...).

It's really sad and frustrating but we're getting kind of used to it now. Maybe we need to lower our expectations a bit? I don't know what the answer is.

I find the most ridiculous thing is that the Trib is publishing a book called "this is the year" or something like that and that they were having a camera crew follow the cubs around in the postseason...this was of course before anything good had happened. Does anyone think this is a good idea?! Things like that are an obvious jinx!!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This is so FREAKIN typical!!!!!!!!!!

I have to interrupt my story about the farm to discuss: THE CUBS.

Remember, I was here last year too. And so were they. And they got swept by the freakin DBACKS.

So, it's 2am. Cubs are up 2-0 in the top of the fifth. Dempster looks a bit shaky but hey, postseason jitters. He has given up some walks but the important thing is that he is getting the big outs when it counts.

Then he gives up another walk to Furcal. He has Manny on an 0-2, 2 out count. Walks Manny and all his stupid hair. He walks Ethier. Bases loaded.

Then he gets up on Loney. 0-2. Looks like strike three but he juuuuuuuust got a piece of it. And then....BOOM. Grand slam. Like that the Cubs are down, 4-2.

This is so Cubs!!!

Now it's 2:20 and the bottom of the 5th, finally, thank you Mr Marshall. Here I was thinking we would wrap this soiree up by 3. But no. So now you will get me and some live Cubs blogging. Are there any other displaced Cubs fans out there? Like on that cute Coca Cola commerical for USC vs ND where they watch it in China at 3am? I mean a REALLY displaced Cubs fan, like me. Not someone who lives in like, Boston or something. Give me a break, your city wins everything anyway.

Ok we go. Bottom 5. I'm trying to stay awake. Nothing good here. I'll come back when things are more interesting.

Bottom 8. More interesting now...if you're a dodger fan.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Down on the Farm

Readers, you wouldn't believe where I am right now even if you were here drinking a beer with me. Which I wish you were, since I'm doing that alone at the moment.

I'm currently sitting about 15 feet from a bunch of muching cows, with the scent of hay hanging sweetly in the cold autumn air. I'm about a 5 minutes drive from Hemishofen, Switzerland. And I'm spending the night on an organic farm - the Bolderhof farm.

How I got here...we'll have to go backwards to get there. Basically - because I was bored.

All of my friends (five) are out of town this weekend, and they were also out of town last weekend. I can only watch so much TV at home - plus up until this week, RB was rusted solid to his post (more on how that happened later). It has been unseasonably cold and crappy so wakeboarding, etc is out of the question. My eye is still not healed so a lot of other activities are out. And since I have officially (as of today) 79 days left in Switzerland, I kind of decided this weekend I needed to get off my ass and go explore my country.

But where? I've been to most of the hot spots - Lausanne, Basel, Zurich, Lugano. Pretty much to a lot of random towns in west Switzerland - Montreux, Chateau D'Oex, Gruyeres, Leysin, Neuchatel, Yverdon Les Bains. Zermatt and Lucerne twice. Interlaken region 5 times. I'm hoping to go to Liechstenstein for a work trip (because then it would be free). So I pulled out my lonely planet and rick steves to see where was left to go.

I decided at least for this weekend on the northern area of eastern Switzerland, which includes Appenzell - a town with a very tasty cheese. Also I figured I could check out the Rhine Falls - Europe's biggest waterfall - on my way back to Geneva. So this morning I got on a train at 1045 heading to Appenzell, which gave me almost 5 hours to look at the Swiss countryside and figure out what to do next.

I really had no clue about lodging, until I saw this advice in one of my books that during the summer and early fall, many Swiss farmers rent out the straw area, which is normally for the cows, to tourists. The cost is about the same as a shared bedroom in a hostel. That sounded fun to me. I started looking for one that was kind of between Appenzell and Schaffhausen (town close to the falls) and that spoke english. What amazed me was that there was about 200 farms all over Switzerland that participated in this thing, and that a lot of the farms had their own fax machines and websites!!

I called one and spoke to a nice man named Heinz, who apologized for his screaming kids. He gave me directions (take the bus to the only stop in the village, turn left at the woodcutting shop, 1km later you will find the seriously, that's what they were) and told me to come any time.

With that settled, I checked about 50 different combinations of train timetables (as some of you know, I am slightly obsessed with these things) until I arrived in Appenzell. I was a bit disappointed, which maybe is my own fault because I only stayed there for 30 minutes. But as far as I could tell, it was just one huge smelly souvenir shop (smelly like the cheese, so in a good way). I decided pretty much immediately to blow that popsicle stand and head to Ebenalp.

Switzerland has, in addition to a bad ass public transport system, about 100 million cable cars. Anywhere there's a mountain, there's a cable car. This middle of nowhere place was no exception. I took another short train ride to Wassueren (I'll check that spelling later) and then a cable car up to the top of Ebenalp. There were tons of people going paragliding off the side of the mountain, which was pretty crazy to watch. I don't really get why they wear helmets. If something bad happens, I don't think a helmet is going to really save you if you are like 5000 feet in the air. Anyway, I decided that I couldn't stay long if I was heading to the farm, because I didn't want to have to find my way in the dark. I did a short hike down into these cool caves, snapped some photos, then hiked back up which was DIFFICULT...I almost passed out. Then cable car down again.

THEN I got on the train again, after about a 10 minute confusing discussion with the man in the ticket office. He spoke only German, which I don't speak at all, and someone was even helping me translate, but he could not for the life of him figure out why or how I was going to get to Stein am Rheim. I made the train with about 10 seconds to spare. I took this to Gossau, to Winterthur, to Stein am Rheim. Overall I spent probably close to 7 hours on trains today. I LOVE the Swiss train system though. It's amazingly quiet, always on time, normally not super crowded and normally quiet (unless you are coming down from the Jungfraujoch with every tourist in the world). And the view is incredible - picturesque houses, rolling hills and mountains, azure alpine lakes and cows cows cows sheep goats chickens and more cows!!

By now it was about 745p and it was dark. I suddenly freaked out realizing I would definitely not be able to find my way to the farm. I was pretty much resigned to staying in a boring hotel in town after convincing myself that even though I had an ipod AND a cell phone, that would not be enough light to help me find my way to a random ass farm on a pitch black night.

But as fate would have it, I called back to the farm to ask how dark it would be and Heinz offered to pick me up at the bus stop. Which, incidentally, when the bus left me there, I was shocked at how in the middle of nowhere I was. Really, I could be completely screwed if he didn't get me. But thirty seconds later a minivan pulled up and it was him.

So we arrived at the farm, where I was immediately greeted by Funny the dog, and Heinz explained I would either be sleeping by myself in the straw or I could have a room in the small dorm. The straw part was a big loft above where all the cows were eating which to my complete surprise, had a shower, sink and flush toilet (for the people, not the cows). Just across the way was the dorm which looked brand new, with 4 cozy rooms, a kitchen and bathroom.

Now I kind of had my heart set on the straw. But I had lent Bhav my sleeping bag for the weekend, and so it would be me, alone, in a dark dark barn, in a rented cotton sleeping bag. Deciding I had been brave enough for the day, I opted for the dorm which Heinz agreed was the better choice.

I came down to the big kitchen with my laptop, feeling inspired to blog to you readers, after I heard they had free internet. I opened a bio beer (surprisingly good) and had just sat down when Heinz came back to check on me and spent some time telling me about his family (wife and 4 kids all under the age of 8 - yikes) and what they do on the farm. It has been an organic farm since 1996. Switzerland is pretty huge on organic products - they have a bio option for almost everything and it's normally not too much more, so I try to buy this when I can. However he explained that supermarkets are starting to push them out because it is more expensive for them to buy the organic Swiss products than things from Germany, Poland, etc. So now in addition to working with grocery stores, they have an online delivery store and they also promote tourism by bringing groups here, tourists or schools, to learn about life on the farm for a week or a few days.

Anyway readers, its 940 and time for me to go meet my random roommates. I think they only speak German so it should be pretty easy to ignore them. Tomorrow morning I am going to try to wake up early and spy on the cows who are just below and opposite my bedroom - they will be getting milked at 7am, then around 830 we have breakfast, and then after that, my random weekend continues.

I will post pictures and definitely, a link so you can see Heinz and Doris!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It just keeps turning up

You may or may not know that I have a strong distaste for: the penny.

Especially now, living in Switzerland where the smallest coin is a 5 cent piece (and you rarely get them), I hate the penny more than ever. When I go back to the U.S., I make it my goal to not come back here with any pennies, even if that means dropping them in the street or throwing them in the garbage. Yes that's right.

So I was shocked to read today that we are giving ol Abe a new look starting next year. What?!Please. I am going to make a plea for 1 and 2 dollar coins and the metric system, but I know those will both fail miserably. But can we please, PLEASE at some point (read: NOW) get rid of the stupid penny!!

I know there is a very good charity or maybe more than one that collects pennies. I have a feeling that most people don't have too strong of feelings towards the nickel either. Can't you start taking those?

Someone at the Tribune agrees with me, and someone running for President also agrees with me.

Who else agrees with me??

If you disagree with me, I ask...will you please take my pennies?!

I'm Movin' Out

As you already know readers, I live in an odd country. I am starting to learn just how bizarre with only a few months to go. Lucky me!

I write to you while I am on my 3rd day on a new job - real estate agent. But I haven't quit my day job. No, this is something additional I get to do. Allow me to explain.

The housing market in Switzerland, especially in Geneva, is VERY full. I read estimates of about 80-85% of the population are renters of property - because in order to purchase property in Switzerland which is very VERY expensive (remember - a large Dominoes pizza is CHF 45), you need to put down a 20% cash down payment. No funny mortgages over here. Anyway, in addition, apparently 99% of the available apartments to rent are already full. This is because a lot of the properties are old and the area is pretty built up - there is not much space to put in a new apartment building without knocking down something else. So it's a bit of a problem. Oh and we don't have big ugly high rises but charming, 6 story buildings as you can imagine. Most people spend months looking for an apartment. Once you find one, you have to apply, and just because you are a suitable tenant - meaning you can pay the rent and the deposit (which is a hefty sum of 3 months rent) does not mean you are necessarily the person they choose. Nor does being the first person help. It's completely at random, and while I have heard that couples have better chances at getting bigger apartments than single people, I obviously got my apartment as a single person. Although the regie (explained below) must find a minimum of five suitable tenants before making a decision, you can be competing against as many as 80 other potential applicants for an apartment.

What does this mean for me? Well, I had to give notice to my landlord - or they guy who runs the thing for my landlord, so the property manager or whatever, it's called a regie here (probably because they lead a regime and totally control the entire housing market) 3 months notice prior to my departure. Then I had a "pre inspection" where someone from the regie came to look at my apartment and make sure that nothing is broken. And then, they must have given out flyers with my personal information because I started getting 5-6 calls a day asking to come see my apartment.

First I swore to myself that I was only going to do it in English, because I was getting so irritated about the numerous calls. Then I found myself switching to French and being my typical nice, accomodating self (damn you conscience!!). I set a time for Tuesday (tonight) at 7 for people to drop by. "Can't you do it earlier/later/another day? Like in the middle of the day? Or at 5pm? Or on a Saturday night?" NO!!! I don't understand where this people get the idea that I should inconvience myself to help them to see this apartment. If you really want it that bad, you can wait for an hour after you get home from your job and come over! I made an exception for 1 person who wants to come tomorrow morning because he broke his arm and needs to go to the hospital tonight (I am going to look for evidence in the morning).

One of my friends came on Thursday which wasn't bad. Another nice woman came Saturday morning (although I made the mistake of offering her a tea, and she stayed for an hour). I feel kind of bad for these people as the situation really sucks. But it's nevertheless annoying.

So since 6:20pm, when I was literally walking up the step to my apartment, someone has been with me. Two people came, then a slew of about 8 who complained I had given ALL of them the wrong door code - which is no doubt because my pronunciation was slightly slightly off on saying "one, three, five, A" in French and I don't feel bad about it. There's a keypad with 9 numbers and 2 letters. Pay attention! Then two more came and since then, it has been quiet.

Someone else was supposed to come at 7:30, but I have lost track of how many people were actually coming, and don't know if it is safe to relax and make my dinner or not. I think I will wait a little bit more. I don't know how it became my job to show a property which I am renting to the next potential tenant. I just hope that they find their "suitable person" so my phone stops ringing every five minutes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Don't you think?

Right now I'm having some breakfast and reading about the Cubs winning the NL Central for the second year on a row.

And apparently the last time they did that was 1908. Which for anyone who doesn't know, is the last year the Cubs won the world series. A HUNDRED FREAKIN YEARS AGO.

And about how they have the best team in the National League (I have to agree) and that they have a different ballclub this year, and I think they do. I follow the Cubs every day, and while there were some tough losses, I didn't hear much about the losing, or some freak injuries, or anything else that resembles a curse. I just read about a good baseball team, playing well and most of all, just going out there and winning.

So let me get this straight...

I lived across the street from Wrigley field (my dream) for one summer. The Cubs lose 96 games. I went to games for like 5 bucks, they were so bad that year.

Following that summer, I move to Switzerland only for 2 years, where the Cubs proceed to win not ONE but TWO division titles, which they haven't done for 100 years. People are partying on the street in front of my old building. If they make the NLCS or WS, Good Morning america is going to BROADCAST FROM MY BUILDING!!

And in 2 months, when the stands are empty, the ivy is dead and the fans are long gone, I'll be home for good.

Is God trying to tell me I should be a Sox fan (although they might make the playoffs too)? Or a yankee fan, because they have really sucked the past 2 years I've been gone?

I've cleared my schedule for Oct 24 and 25. The weekend that the NL team will be hosting games 3 and 4 of the world series. I'm just saying. I don't care what it costs. I will not let irony screw me this time.

Oh and next years World Series? Those same games happen to fall on the weekend I'm getting married. In which case, I would obviously just have the rehearsal dinner on a Cubs rooftop and the reception in the parking lot of my old apartment (it's next to a Taco Bell - I figure we give all the guests $5 and let them go crazy).

So of course I'm bitter and jealous and unhappy that I'm missing it all but anyway...GO CUBS.

Friday, September 19, 2008

101...and Boney M

Hello! Post 101. Guess that means I am a real blogger. I have a lot to talk about as I am starting to think about moving home and all that and of course, like anything administrative in this country, it is 10 times more complicated and annoying. But more on that later.

First, I need to conduct some research.

I saw Mamma Mia! last night at the cinema and it was fantastic. I loved Meryl Streep and the girl who I will refer to as Karen from Mean Girls. She was fantastic!! are still soooooo dreamy, especially in your boater shoes and crisp summer dress shirts, but his singing was a bit off the mark. Anyway, I came into work today with an ipod fully loaded with ABBA in order to share some of my new songs with my office mates.

I was recently promoted to manager and share an office with two younger staff. I'm not sure if I'm the best example. I trash talk HR or anyone else that gives me a hard time, offer my philosopy on how things should be working, curse at my computer when it malfunctions and I occassionally show up in very wrinkled/non matching outfits. Oh and I often blast music and sing while I do my work. Anyway, they seem to respect me and ask me lots of questions, so I guess I am somewhat helpful. I love listening to music when I work and so do Angelina and Abrie. So today we did basically what was akin to a "dance off" and each of us kept finding songs on the internet to see if we could find ones we all liked or maybe to introduce someone to a new song.

Now I'm from across the pond, Abrie is from south africa and Angelina is from russia. Three continents is fairly vast. But we found a lot in common. For example, we all liked hotel california. And we all love ABBA. But then, Angelina suggested this band I have never heard of.

"It's called Boney M." she said.

"Bone what???" I replied. She instructed me how to spell it and I looked up the song on youtube. When I pressed play, I heard some song that I have never heard in my life.

They were both completly shocked. I continued my research later in the day and asked my colleague Theresa if she knew this band. "You're kidding. Not knowing them is like not knowing Michael Jackson." And my colleague Barbara said the same thing. "Course I know them, everyone does. You must be kidding. That's like saying you don't know the YMCA. Or any normal famous group." But every Yank that I asked said they had never heard of them.

So I did a little more research on my beloved Wiki (and I have donated, I love it so much) and apparently Boney M is like another ABBA type band, popular around the same time and coming out of Germany. The music is actually really good. I mean, if you like fun cheesy pop, which I do. But apparently the albums were only released in the U.S. for the first time last year. And they are def not in the itunes store. I just checked.

So can you please go on youtube and look up this band and leave a comment if you have ever heard this song in your life? It will help with my multi cultural research. You can look up Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin and Sunny which are the ones we listened to today.

Other things we had in common (just a few):

Angie and Abrie - Dr Alban (he wrote scatman)
Me and Abrie - How Bizarre and that stupid ass song about girls that wear A and know the one??? how does crap like that make its way over here but we don't get bands like boney M which have global appeal?
all of us - Fascination (by Alphabeat...also only over in Europe for the moment I think...but I love it)
Me and Angie - Debbie Gibson (except she liked some new song and I played "out of the blue", and neither of us had ever heard the other one).

Fun right??


It's my 100th post!! Well I don't want to ruin it, so I will go ahead and move on to post 101. However I have included my most Swiss photograph ever as a celebratory image here on post 100. Merci to all my readers for sticking with me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I can't resist...

For my concerned readers out there, you ARRRRRRRE (in a pirate voice) going to be happy to know that my eye is healing well according to the Swiss doctor. I have to go back next week just to be sure. And don't worry, I can work on my computer ALL DAY and there is no need for me to take any sick leave. I can continue to review with one eye just fine. Hooray!

Next topic - I found this gem today and I could not resist posting it on my blog. I am probably going to lose a lot of respect from my random fans, co workers, all of my friends and definitely my fiance and my future new family. But I can't help it. This video is from my childhood, and my sister Aimee and I must have watched it at least 100 times (NOT in the past 18 years or so though until today. ok maybe 15).

My entire office had a really crap day today, and I'm going to do my part by singing this to all those surly Swissies first thing tomorrow morning.

There must be one of my readers out there who also knows all the words to this song?? (besides Aimee and I'm sure my brother, who was force fed girly culture and cartoons from a very young age and still turned out to be a super cool dude).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Madrid y mi ojo en fuego

Hola readers! I have just returned from quite a weeend in Madrid. Before I get to that though, let me preface this entry with a little story from my past, which some of you may already know.

It was about this time 2 years ago that Justin and I flew to Switzerland for my look see trip. The day that I left, a Thursday, I woke up with a bad sore throat and what I thought was the beginning of strep. I explained to my doctor that I was going out of the country for a week and got some antibiotics. Nine hours later, across the Atlantic I was not feeling too hot. I woke up the next day feeling worse and Justin got me french fries and an orange Gatorade. I had a fever and a bad sore throat and figured the antibiotics just needed some time to work. Saturday I mustered up the strength to go out for the day and felt a bit better, but Sunday morning again I felt really sick. At night, I couldn't sleep and neither could my jet lagged Justin; we would end up watching the Swiss Animal Planet channel for hours before drifing off. More daytime sleeping (which Justin was happy to join me in doing) and we called a doctor to come to the hotel, who gave me more antibiotics. That night, we went out for pizza which seemed fine. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and threw up, crying because it hurt my throat so bad. On Monday morning, we called the doctor again who declared I had an abcess behind my tonsils (which were grape sized and white) and I needed to go to the hospital and couldn't eat because I would probably need surgery. So we went to the hospital and fumbled through in English, and would eventually wait for over three hours to see a doctor (during which I was passing out from hunger and lack of sleep). The doctor said that he didn't really want to operate and did not think it was an abcess. Also strangely, I tested negative for strep. He gave me more antibiotics and set up an appointment for the next day. By some miracle of medicine, my fever finally broke in the night and my tonsils began to heal. Needless to say, it was the sickest I have ever been in my entire life. I rarely even get colds. But somehow I end up in the emergency room in a foreign country.

Needless to say, when I boarded my plane to Madrid on Friday evening and my right eye felt a bit scratchy, I figured my contacts were just dried out and my eyes were tired. It looked slightly bloodshot but nothing serious. I slept a bit on the plane, thinking that closing my eyes would help the situation. But when I woke up, my eye hurt more than before. By the time we landed, my right eye was pretty squinty and painful. Everything seemed to bother it, especially light. I high tailed off the plane and wandered through what has to be the biggest airport I have been in in all of Europe to get to the baggage claim area. I made a mad dash for the bathroom and looked at my eye. I could have drawn the ire of a bull, it was so red. I immediately took out my contact and left one in my left eye, not knowing if I had any spares. When my luggage came, I ripped out the eye drops and begain dousing my eye with it. This did not seem to help. Again the bright lights of the terminal were really bothering me, and I had both of my eyes barely half open. The entire terminal must have thought I was high. Ignoring the weird looks I saw out of my half raised lids, I made it to the taxi stand. No way could I take the metro when I could barely see where I was going.

I sat with my head in my hands and eyes closed in the back of the cab. I knew this was probably really really dangeous, but I couldn't help it - my eye was killing me. We arrived at the hotel and I stumbled up to the 3rd floor, where I was meeting my friends. My friend Robyn opened the door and I exclaimed, "Hi, I have a problem, I think I'm going blind." Immediately I took out my other contact lens and put on my sunglasses, laying down on the bed and explaining to her this strange turn of events in the past 2 hours. My friend Aya then appeared with some contact solution, which I used to try and rinse out my eye. Hoping it was an allergy (I get bad hayfever in Switzerand and France that I never had in the US), I popped a claritin and continued to rinse. After about 45 minutes I had not improved, so my friends left to go to dinner.

Not knowing what to do at this point and starting to feel desperate, I immediately turned out all the lights. Then I started hysterically crying, thinking that at least the tears might help. But they didn't. I filled up the sink withh water and dunked my head in, opening my eyes underwater and looking around in an attempt to get out whatever it was in there that was hurting. This soothed the pain for maybe 10 seconds. Then nothing. Back to crying. I started totally panicking and thinking what would happen if I did go blind. I would have to quit my job. I would never see the Cubs win a world series. I would never get to see Justin's cute scruffy face again. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I picked up my phone and called my parents.

My mom and dad suggested I go to the doctor and tried to calm me down. I felt bad but sent a text message to Aya, and told her I needed to go to the hospital. At this point it was around 1130 and the pain was absolutely excrutiating. It felt like someone was pouring acid into my eyeball. Just a constant burning feeling, with occassional bouts of searing pain. About 30 minutes later, Aya came to my rescue and we went to the hospital princessa. At least it sounded nice.

When we got there, I explained to the receptionist that I had a problema con mi ojo and then proceeded to respond to her, stupidly, in French (I now automatically respond in French, even though I understand Spanish very well). I was taken back to a small room where two nurses came in to look at me. They leaned over and cocked their heads to get a look at me, and both of them winced. "That obvious huh? That's not a good sign" I said to Aya. They asked me, "Itchy?" And I replied, "No itchy, burning, en fuego." They sent us back to the waiting room at that point.

I then sat with my sunglasses on, squeezing my eyes periodically because they pain was really out of control. I kept my eyes closed and chatted with Aya. I felt like Ray Charles and an old grandma wrapped up into one. After about an hour, Aya went to go chase down my paperwork, which had been lost and hence the delay. Good thing because about 5 minutes later, the doctor called us in.

Although I was half blind, I could tell my doctor was a cute girl who looked friendly and about my age. The opthamologist squeezed a tiny drop into my eye and I felt instant relief. "Anesthetic," she explained. She looked at my eye, up and down, etc, and then pulled back to explain. "You have...on your eye...como se dice...when you fall, on the ground, and you get this thing on your knee, what is it called?"

"A scratch?" I offered.

"Jes, a scratch, jou have a big scratch on your cornea. This here is your eye," she said, as she proceeded to draw a picture, "and here, dis is the scratch," and drew my iris, then a giant blob which covered 2/3 of my iris. No wonder it hurt so bad!

"Jes it is a very bad one and you need to be careful contact lens for 2 weeks and you need to go to the doctor when you get back to Ginebra." Then she gave me 3 different eye drops and an ointment, warning that one would sting and that the ointment would make my vision very blurry. "But, jou have to do it," she said firmly.

We walked out to check out and to my surprise, I was not charged for the visit or the medicine. I was told later that when the problem is simple, they normally just fix it for no charge. Of course, I was also told that Spain's doctors were not that good which was why the treatment was free. I hoped that the former one was the real answer.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 230 in the morning and I did my drops regimen and ointment, then crawled into bed, exhausted from the night's ordeal. When I woke up on Sautday, the pain had slightly subsided but was still pretty strong. I put in more drops and took a shower, feeling generally crappy. We were going to watch a soccer match played by some of Robyn's friends. On the way, I got a really good ice cream (Banana Split) and a box of eye patches. We were REALLY hoping for the black piratey ones, but instead there was only the band aid like boring ones. I was worried about dust blowing into my eye at the field, so I slapped on a patch there.

Literally, I was a sight for sore eyes. Of course I couldn't see any of the game, what with my one squinty eye open and my other eye sealed under a patch. It was incredibly bright, and while my friends continued to talk about the hot Spanish men running around on the field, I was quickly bored. I found a shady tree and took a siesta during the second half. Later we had some beers and cold tapas, by which point the swelling had gone down. After a second siesta later that night, the pain had mostly subsided and it was just dealing with the blurry vision.

The rest of the trip was short but much better. We had a delicious nighttime meal of tapas and vino tinto. Saturday happened to be "La Noche en Blanco" or the white night, which had tons of perfomers and street acts plus cool exhibitions all around the city, open until 7am. We tried to go to the Reina Sofia Museum which was unfortunately closed.

Today the 4 other girls left around 10, so me and my one good eye were on our own. I ate a delicious Napolitana (it's the best chocolate croissant I've ever had...and I have had them from France) and then went to the Reina Sofia museum and quite enjoyed it, although I had to stand SUPER CLOSE to the paintings to see them. I really love Picasso and some of his contemporaries like Braque and Dali, and this museum had a whole floor of it. I even got an audio guide. After a bit of shopping it was off to the aeropuerto.

So all in all, I got to really see Madrid for less than 24 hours. The first 20 or so I was half blind so I don't count them. It was a super friendly (although some girl did get robbed on the metro, right next to us apparently), very modern but also very old and beautiful city and I definitely want to go back.

I have written this entry with basically one eye, so I apologize for any spelling errors. I have to now go on another fun adventure, which is finding a Swiss eye doctor. Tres bien!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beeg Bong, part deux

I forgot that you probably were thinking I was smashed to smithereens yesterday.

Remember when I went to CERN? Well they finally turned on the LHC which was pretty exciting for all those cute little geeks. I was on the plane at the time. Anyway, guess it worked and I'm still here. So it's all good!

My Day Off

Hey there upper East Siders...

Just kidding, this has not turned into a blog about rich high school yuppies, but I am really into Gossip Girl now (sad, I know). I was in the U.S. for 2 weeks playing with some old friends, making business deals and of course hanging out with my awesome fiance. I flew back on Tuesday afternoon and arrived Wednesday morning, worked the entire day and went to bed at 9pm. Fortunately, today is "Geneva day" or something, I think it is a cantonal religious holiday but the google translation I got was not great. Anyway, it gave me an excuse to sleep a lot, make kraft macaroni and cheese, and totally binge on season 2 of "Heroes."

So now I am going to unpack and repack, because tomorrow I am headed to Madrid to meet up with some friends. A quick recap about what I missed about the U.S. (besides the obvious old friends and awesome fiance):

-cheap beer
-really cheap taxicabs
-american football
-TV that I don't have to download

Things that were really lacking:
-public was ok, just really slow and fairly inconvenient
-bizarre weather trends (ok, this is just Chicago, but still)
-croissants...they were awful
-a mountain or two

Finally, two other small things to share with you all. First is that I have about 10 weeks left here. Well I am likely returning in December for 2 weeks, but going home for 2 weeks in November, so overall, it would be a wash, and 10 weeks total. Which is crazy. Second, my palate is all messed up. They don't have spicy food in Switzerland as you might have surmised...considering their national dishes are comprised of cheese and bread or cheese and potatoes or chocolate. I LOVE spicy food, but I am way out of training and could not eat anything when I was home! Even delicious chipotle set my mouth a blaze (it was only the medium salsa!!). Fortunately, my dairy and alcohol tolerance has risen waaaaaaay up...

Hopefully I can train my tastebuds a bit in Madrid. Until then, hasta luego readers!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another rant

I actually am a very happy person, as most of you know, but there's just one thing I am starting to get a bit sick of.

I know that Ameri.cans have gotten ourselves a bit of a bad reputation for being notoriously bad at certain things. To list a few:
-Poor at geography
-Culturally insensitive
-Culturally overly sensitive
-Self obsessed/no idea of what is going on outside of the U.S.
-Loud and obnoxious
-Wasteful and constant need for instant gratification

I would say that the above list is somewhat fair. I know a lot of people who fall into at least a few of these categories.

HOWEVER I will also say that some of them are maybe not so bad after you think about it. For example, is there really a need, in 2008, to make numerous sexist jokes in the workplace? Regarding the instant gratification bit, is it really so bad to ask that a store be open until 8pm once in a while or that you don't have to wait 45 minutes to get your freaking check at a restaurant? I don't think so.

I find that I get labelled pretty badly as an Ameri.can, which means people think, for example, I am the following:

-Poor at Geography

Ok, I was once asked where "Aiti" is. "Excuse me?" "Aiti." I had to apologize and say that I had never heard of Aiti, to which this person replied it was pretty pathetic that I didn't know the islands in the Carribean considering how close it is to the U.S. "Oh, HAITI!!" I said. I mean is it really my fault that people don't pronounce their H's here? I know that a lot of people probably expect me to speak Swedish when I come home. But I won't. And I would like to inform you that I came in 4th place of the entire Kennedy JH 7th grade geography bee. My geography is not bad.

-Culturally insensitive or overly sensitive

Sure, a lot of people don't make an effort to learn French. I have, and it is also not my fault that my country does not use the metric system. I like the metric system!! Also I get made fun of a lot for having a positive attitude and wanting things to be "fair" and "equal" and everyone to play on a team together. What is so bad about this? I realize that the world is not so sunshiny and wonderful, does that mean we have to always be trying to screw each other over??

-Self obsessed

OK, this is the main reason I am writing this post.

First of all, I just got in a long argument with a guy who was telling me that it is "50 times cheaper" to ship my things by sea than air freight. Yes, I know. I work with expatriates on a daily basis. I am an expatriate. Yet, he was trying to convince me that instead of paying for an extra bag on my flight on Thursday to the U.S., that I should ship it through the post office. Because apparently, since it is 50 times cheaper, it is only going to cost like 2 francs to ship it, because the extra baggage fee (and I JUST checked) is 100 bucks. I have several small packages of like 2 kilos each to the U.S. through the post and it cost like 40 CHF each. So don't try and argue these things with me and act like because I am not so wordly like you, Mr, that I don't know how much these things cost. I do.

Second, what the heck is Can.adian thanksgiving? Apparently there is such a thing. I first heard about it on HIMYM but my friend Anji verified that it is real. Ok, so fine. There is CT. Do you think in grade school we learned anything but about the AT? No, of course not. And by 3rd grade, we were a little busy learning multiplication tables and didn't have time to hear about yet another group of settlers and indians who got together. I accept the fact that it exists and it's unfortunate that we were only informed of our own tradition. When I was discussing this new found fact with a few people, one girl said to me "How long have you lived in Geneva? One and a half years? yes, well, that's the problem with your people, you think that everything that exists in the US can only exist in the US and no where else." Hello!? I'm not saying we are the only ones with independence day or christmas. I'm saying thanskgiving, which is kind of a unique holiday. That would be like expecting me to believe that something like the Escalade also happens in say, Italy, which it very well might but as far as we know, no one else threw soup over the wall at the french except for the genevois.

Everyone has their faults and just because I don't speak 5 languages and want things to be open on Sunday and might not finish all my food and tu someone when I should vous them doesn't mean that I should be a social pariah. We have nice things too. Like late night food. Really, REALLY awesome customer service. TJ Maxx. All the good movies and songs that euros LOVE. Maybe we are a little bit less cultured, but we sure as hell are not so stuck up and are much more friendly. And we don't wear tapered jeans or ankle booties.

So my point is, I am really sick and tired of having these pre conceived notions. Of course they probably think I'm being overly sensitive.

And by the way, the brits are by far louder and more obnoxious. I'll never look at one of their cute red phone booths the same way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I have about 3 months left of my assignment and I still don't understand:


I got stuck at work and raced home in an attempt to make it to the pool. But the pool closes at 830. Why can't it close at 9? 9 is normal. 830 is like...annoying. I was walking out the door at 805 and came back in frustration. When things close here, they are SHUT. Seriously they turn off the lights in the grocery store when it closes. At 7pm. So I could bet you anything that had I tried to get just a 15 minute swim in, they would have denied me even to get in.

Other annoying things:

A light blew out in my kitchen, or should I say, THE light, and I can't get another one because the stupid store is closed. So I had to cook in the dark.

I am out of toothpaste and conditioner. Again, I cannot go to the store. I realize I can go to the corner store but I don't want the random brands. I want MINE that I normally get, at a normal store, that is open at normal times!!!

To top it off I now get to go to the laundromat. The bane of my existence!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Busted Rustbucket

I know you have all been waiting for a picture of my dear friend Rustbucket. Here he is, in all his rusted, grey glory:

This is taken outside of my work. He's much rustier in person.

And I know you're tempted to make fun of the basket. Feel free. It is so practical. I put everything in there - laptop, workout clothes, towel, groceries. Two weeks ago, I tried to put Bhav in it. That didn't work so well and we ended up crashing onto the pavement (not to worry, we were drinking and didn't feel a thing until the next morning).

As you already know, RB accompanies me to work every day that it doesn't rain. And we go wakeboarding together and other errands. But lately, me and RB have been having even more adventures. For example, he now gets to come out late with me to bars and escorts me home at 2am. It's really sweet. And because he is so ugly and rusted, no one would ever want to steal him. He has become my constant companion.

We had quite a big weekend together. On Saturday, we went to wakeboarding at 8am (15 min ride) , then home, then back to wakesurf at 230pm. Wakesurfing, by the way, is awesome. Everyone sits on one side of the boat and it makes this little wave. You have a mini surfboard which is not attached to you at all, but somehow you just surf in this wave. And I got up on the first try!! I have to admit I was pretty darn pleased with myself. There are not many things I can get on the first try. Anyway, after that, we rode across the lake to the windsurf club (30 min but we did in 20), then rode home (30) then rode back to windsurf club (20) then rode to this boat to have dinner (15) then rode to a bar (10) then rode home (20). Then on Sunday we went to Versoix, which is maybe 40 minutes away, and of course we rode to dinner and then we rode back home.

This morning was a bright sunny day, and we were off for another adventure. Until some frenchy mechanic started yelling some jibberish at me about my velo. "Mademoiselle!!" And they pointed to my tire. I got off my bike and bent down to take a look.

"Ah merde." I said. My back tire was completely flat. Remember the story about Justin's flat tire? Yes, it was just as flat. I had a ton of stuff to carry and hated the idea of having to drag it all on the tram.

As I was parking it back by the other bikes, frenchy mechanic and friends came over to me with a hand pump and offered to blow up my tire. I have to say I was really touched that some stranger would stop and do this. Yes, I was freshly primped for work and yes, they were 3 crusty mechanics but still. The pump was tiny and it took quite a bit of effort. After a few minutes, RB was in stable condition and we pedaled off to work after many merci's were doled out to my new friends.

However, once at work, I solicited the help of my colleague Simon, and when we went out to check out my bike at 11am, once again, the back tire was completely flat. So today I bought a new tube, or as they call it in French, a "chambre a air" (literally means "a room for air") which Simon will help me install tomorrow. Let's hope this does not spell the end for our dear friend RB!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad Jac

I know, I'm SORRY. I don't have any excuse other than I have a totally awesome, action packed social life. So now let's take a trip in my time machine and see what it was that kept me away from all you lovelies for so long.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Sailing Trip

This post is LONG overdue. And it's going to be lengthy. So get yourself a glass of rose and get ready. Or skip straight to the pictures.

Sometime near the end of June, I was down by the lake drinking rose and suntanning with Bhav and Annie and some other friends, and Bhav's friend Anjali's boyfriend Markus came along and stopped by to chat with us. The next day he sent a message to invite us on his catamaran on Lake Geneva in the afternoon. So the 4 of us sailed around the lake on this baby cat for an hour, which was really fun. He was telling us about a sailing trip he was planning beginning July 5, to go between Mallorca and Ibiza, Spain, for a week on a 10-person catamaran. Unfortunately there were still 2 places on the boat which were not full and the trip was 2 weeks away.

Something started buzzing up in my brain. "Well, give me the info...maybe I can go." I said.

The fact that I have never been sailing and that it was with 9 random people kind of scared me at first. But then I kind of looked at it with the same philosophy I had when I was considering Switzerland. What's the worst than could happen? I get seasick? Everyone is mean? I would still get to see beautiful beaches and get a tan. Plus Bhav knew some of them, so it was like having a referral (I found out later they included me partly for the same reason). So I decided that not really knowing the people was a stupid reason not to go, and the other thing I was worried about (missing work) was an even more stupid reason, so I decided to go for it and ask for the vacation. I was supposed to go to Greece the weekend before and it ended up the flight was cancelled. So I saw this as a sign that instead I was supposed to go on the sailing trip. Right? Right.

Overall we were 2 Germans (Markus, the Skipper, and Voelker), 1 Swiss (Carola) , 2 French (Youcef and Flo), 2 Canadian (Anj and Sherrie), 2 American (Greg and me), and one Polish (Agnes), 6 girls and 4 guys, ages from 24 to 40. It was like a little floating UN. Or a week long version of Real World, Semester at Sea. All I knew was that I was flying into Palma, sailing to Ibiza, and at some point sailing back to Palma to fly home. And also that I had probably packed too much.

There were 6 of us who flew out on July 4th, which happened to also be Greg's birthday. Random small talk was made at the airport and on the way to the hotel. Later we met up with the rest of the crew in an area of Palma that had somehow been transformed into a pub-filled street in Germany. We ended up going into this bar called Uberbaynen where one half of the bar played techno and the other played traditional German songs. Guess which side was 10 times more popular? Markus translated some of the songs for us, my favorite of which had a chorus which went "I'm a doner kebab, I have an onion on my head." Next thing we were all sharing one of those fishbowl type drinks with long goofy straws and belting "Country Rooooooads." Yep, I pretty much knew from then it would be a great trip.

Saturday morning we took a bus to Porto Colom, which was where we were picking up the boat. We sat in 100 degree heat and tried to figure out how to buy food and drinks for 10 people, for a week. Of course there was always someone who wanted apple juice, not orange. Whole milk and not "lite milk." But overall everyone was pretty flexible. Being the accountant, I was assigned the task to track all the money for the trip and promptly collected 100 EUR from each crew member. Then me, Voelker, Greg, Youcef and Flo headed to the grocery store. 50 liters of water. 60 cans of beer (lasted for less than half the trip). 6 bottles of rose (gone by Weds). 3 kilos of tomatoes...387 euros later, we were headed back to the boat to stock it and get ready to leave. Markus gave us all a very detailed safety lecture and showed us how everything on the boat worked. There was a spot for everything and all sorts of nifty things like all the sitting areas were actually the cabinets.

I am sure you want to know. How did one shower and use the toilet on the boat? Well there were 2 bathrooms (SMALL), one of which had a shower. To use it, you just basically sprayed the water around the entire bathroom. So no one used that one. There was another outdoor shower on the back of the boat. To use the toilet, you had to bring in water by pumping this handle 10 times. Then you would turn a switch and pump another 10 times to "flush." It worked fine, but I will just say that the crew took advantage of every minute we were in port to use the "land toilets."

Around 4pm, we set sail from Porto Colom. We sailed for about 3 hours and then anchored near a nice beach for a swim and to make dinner. We had a stove and oven on the boat, so it was fairly easy to cook (when we were anchored of course...while sailing, even making a bowl of cereal was difficult). I didn't do very much cooking (or cleaning, or anything), but everyone was very helpful. It seemed that everyone took turns with responsibilities, and there were never any arguments about who was supposed to do what. After a nice spagetti bolognese and waiting for the sun to set, we picked up again and started sailing through the night towards Ibiza. This was to be done in 2 hour shifts (Skipper let me sleep through mine, so I never had to do anything).

There were 4 cabins on the boat which were very small. As there were 3 couples, then 2 other girls who roomed together, Greg and I had the last room. What this meant for the trip was that at any time one of us had the room all to themself and the other one would be sleeping outside, which was really nice since the beds were so tiny. So the first night, I slept in the room. But it's not so easy to sleep on a boat when you are not used to the rocking motion. Or the fact that my room was under the captain chair so I heard everyone walking about that was sailing. Or the fact that the freaking MOTOR was right next to my head. I think I slept about 2 hours.

At 6:15, Markus rose the crew to watch the sunrise. I emerged from "down below" to a rosy-blue sky, with nothing else around. No boats, no land. Just our Gemini and the sea, and then after about 15 minutes, a bright red sun. Less than 24 hours since our sailing had started and already an incredible memory.

I have to say that the trip was a bit of a blur. Not because I was TOTALLY WASTED which I know is what you all are thinking (maybe, I was a little wasted at times). Just because...well, you wake up everyday to a clear blue sky and a clear blue sea, and you have some breakfast, and then you think, hmm, which sunscreen do I put on? Where should I sit on the boat for the next hour? Do I want to read a magazine or nap? And meanwhile we sail around to beach after gorgeous beach and then sometime in the afternoon we start to drink and then anchor at a another nice beach or cozy port and watch a sunset. And then repeat it for a week. No one ever knew what time or day it was, and no one really cared (ok, maybe Markus cared because he had to keep us on course and was checking the wind and crap like that). We had music but obviously no tv or anything like that. It was really difficult to be so relaxed and do NOTHING. But I got the hang of it after...I think about 1 day. Anyway, I will not go into so much detail about each place we went. You can see the pictures (there are a total of 1800 which were taken by the crew - I have condensed them). Everywhere was gorgeous and perfect. I will just go through some of the many highlights while taking you through the rest of my week.

After Sunday's sunrise, there was napping etc until we anchored at a nice beach for a swim. That evening after over 1 day of sailing, we checked into port (don't ask me the name - I think it was St Eularia or something like that). I had MAJOR land sickness. Everything was moving so much - especially when I used the nice port shower and leaned over to get my shampoo. Whoaaaa!! Also at dinner, I had to practically hold on to the table. I was so happy when we got back to the boat. Totally bizarre. Incidentally, I did not get seasick on the trip, but I did feel a bit sick at times. Anytime you were sailing and you went inside the cabin...everything was moving around SO much, and it was so was awful. So I was inside the boat for as little time as possible, less than 1 hour per day (and I was usually up at 9 and in bed around 1...or later...) Also there were these "seats" on the two front hulls of the catamaran that would kind of "surf" up and down on the waves. This was my favorite spot on the boat. You would think that you would get totally seasick, but maybe because you were moving even more with the water and all you could see was water, which basically just looked all the least for me, it was perfect. At times we were in big waves, and it seemed like the cat was going to fly out of the water.

Other things about the boat while I'm thinking about it...there was this awesome hammock type thing in the front where you could lay and get a suntan and underneath you, hear the waves and occassionally get a splash. It was SO nice, and I always fell asleep there. Come to think of it, that was maybe my favorite spot. Also, we didn't sail very much. We had the sails up for part of the 12 hour trip each way between Mallorca and Ibiza, but most of the time we were using the motors, because the wind was either blowing the wrong way or not fast enough. It was really nice and peaceful with the sails though. I drove the boat for an hour or so when the motors were's hard. So most of the time we were also on autopilot.

Ok, back to the trip. On Monday morning, we had a nice brekky and left port to sail to a nice beach (like I repeat). I think at this point we were in Formentera, but I'm not entirely sure. We anchored and made lunch, swam a bit and afterwards, a group took the dinghy to shore, where there was a nice Shark bar serving caiprainhas and pina coladas and that sort of thing. We hung out there for a bit, jumped back in the dinghy, at which point, the motor broke, and we had to paddle to the boat (as we approached the boat, it started working again - go figure). We left this spot, and sailed for a few hours to a completely natural beach. Nothing there except sand, palm trees, and of course...naked Europeans sunbathing! Come on, of course they are! Fortunately there weren't too many, because they let it ALL hang out. Really.

At this beach, there was a mud lake which Markus led us to. It was a huge lake that reeked of sulfur, and had a thick salt crust on top. Markus sold it by saying that afterwards, our skin would be baby soft. Then he promptly stripped and sat down in the mud, happy as a piglet in a pen. "Come on," he said, "It's really perfect!" Some people followed his lead while others of us maintained our bathing suits, but nevertheless proceeded to get completely covered. Afterwards, we strolled down to the sea, no doubt scaring all the small children we encountered on our way, and swam around in order to wash off the mud. It totally worked for my skin by the way!

We played around on the beach while the sun was setting and then headed back to the boat (me, Agnes and Greg swam back). For whatever reason, maybe it was the mud, it ended up that Monday night - day three, I would like to remind you - was the craziest night on the boat. Me, Anjali, Greg, Voelker, Markus and Agnes were up quite late drinking, chatting, generally acting stupid (see the photos). The night ended with everyone jumping in the water, then getting out, then Greg puking, then me sleeping outside on the boat which was really nice until I woke up the next morning with a massive headache and had slept next to all the booze bottles. Classy, I know. So how did I cure my hangover? I immediately jumped in the water, of course.

Because Monday night was pretty late for most of the crew, Tuesday was a fairly calm day. We left our nice beach spot around noon and sailed back to Ibiza (this was the time when I drove the boat...I think). We stayed that night at a port in San Antonio, which is I guess the big city in Ibiza. All the big clubs and everything are in the area. I agree that Ibiza does have a big party scene (and far too many annoyingbrit tourists, in my opinion), but I also saw a ton of families there and chill couples. And it's GORGEOUS. So don't rule it out.

Tuesday night we went to the famous Cafe del Mar to watch an amazing sunset over a beach packed with tourists. The sun was so red that it looked like it would blow up. We had some more drinks at the cafe and then tapas for dinner, but decided against going clubbing until the following night. Probably a wise choice, considering Wednesday we spent walking around the city.

Did I mention how hot it was on the trip? It was en fuego. I think it was +30C everyday, and I wore 50 sunscreen on the boat for the first part of the trip (totally got made fun of, but what I didn't get, my friends, is wrinkles. so there!). On the boat, you have the sea and the breeze to take off some of the heat. But in town...blazing. No wonder everything shuts for siesta, because I think it is seriously dangerous to be out and about in that. I was feeling pretty lousy when we got off the bus into town - absolutely exhausted and SO hot. I went to lunch with Carola while some of the others decided to hike up to the top of this cathedral. The lunch was pretty awful, and I was feeling progressively worse. Finally, I was really shaky and felt like puking, and had to excuse myself. I felt so awful, although the walking helped. I found an oasis - an airconditioned jewelry store. I hung out in there for about 15 minutes until my core temperature returned to normal, then got a popsicle and big water, and I was much better. Better enough to do some shopping for a few hours and then head back to the boat!

We didn't go out to dinner, but instead just snacked on some remaining boat food and got ready to go out. Around 1245 me, Anji, Greg and Agnes left for two nearby clubs. It ended up that we got into the Eden for free (cover is normally 40 EUR) which was awesome. We didn't really drink, partly due to the expense, but also because we were sailing back to Mallorca the next morning. Hangover + 12 hours sailing = really bad idea. Instead we danced our pants off. The music was so good and really fun. We went across the street to Es Paradis just to see it, which was terrible, at least that night, so we went back to the Eden and stayed there dancing until...5am! We were setting sail at 6am, so what to do for an hour, since sleeping was obviously pointless? We wandered into town and natutally went to KFC - popcorn chicken in Spain is soooooo not the same - and went back to the boat to wake up our skipper. We helped Markus to prepare the boat and took off. Some of us had some late/early morning beers while watching the sunrise over some cliffs. Then around 730am, I went to bed.

Thursday was a lot of napping due to the night before and the fact that there wasn't much to do for 12 hours. We dropped anchor around 6pm near another beach close to Palma. We made dinner on the boat and watched another beautiful sunset. That night was supposed to celebrate my birthday, but everyone was too tired. Around 1am, I watched the moon set into the sea and curled up in my sleeping back on the back deck of the boat.

"Wake up!" was the next thing I heard. Markus and Anjali had woken up to go lay in the nets at the front of the boat, and Markus came back to get me to see the sunrise. I sleepily wandered to the front of the boat and laid down in the smaller net. The sun had risen for about 15 minutes already and was glowing yellow right in front of the boat. It was beautiful. "We ordered it just for your birthday!" Markus said. I tried to keep my eyes open, and contemplated getting up to get my camera, but in the end, I was too tired to move. I closed my eyes and felt the warm sun on my face and thought how lucky I was to have a sunrise like this for my 28th birthday.

I woke up again around 9 when we were sailing to a beach back towards Porto Colom. It was very secluded and had the most fish of anywhere we had seen. The water was crystal clear, with amazing turquoise and azure colors everywhere we went, but it was really funny to see all the fish at this area. Youcef had the brilliant idea to start feeding them the bread from the boat. I was floating around on a raft and suddenly, fish were jumping everywhere. Next the whole bag went in, which brought literally, a huge school of fish that was just swimming around all of us. It was totally weird but also hilarious.

We sailed back to Porto Colom where Markus had to "park" the boat under the worst conditions of the week (wind blowing the wrong way) and not only that, but he had to essentially parallel park it. It was really amazing how much he knew and how well he handled the boat and the responsibility of being the skipper. We went to dinner in port that night for my birthday and drank sangria and ate yummy fish. The crew surprised me with a cake and singing Happy Birthday, which was really sweet. It was so funny to think that a week earlier, I didn't even know these people and now, we were celebrating my birthday together like old pals.

Saturday morning we woke up early and walked 30 minutes to the bus stop, with our bags, only to find out that...there was actually a stop RIGHT next to the port. Oops. The rest of the day was spent walking around in Palma and sightseeing, eating some really good gelato and tapas, and then going to a really cool bar at which I unfortunately kept falling asleep, despite the vodka limons the crew kept feeding me.

And then Sunday morning, we flew back to Geneva. And voila!! That was essentially, the Sailing Trip. Probably one of the best weeks I have had here, if not in my entire life.

So if you still have some free time on your hands, you can check out the pictures now to get a real feel for what it was like!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

From the Left Hand Side

My summer so far has been considerably quieter than my winter here this year. Except of course for the engagement, that was pretty exciting! But you may remember in the winter I was out doing snowboarding or some other activity every weekend. Partly because the weather has been crap and partly because I am somewhat lazy, I haven't done much other than take Rustbucket around town on a weekend (he's a very cheap date).

Well today I think I found a new summer activity. My friend Bhav has been trying to get me to come wakeboarding with her since last year. The idea of getting up at 7am to go jump in a lake is not very appealing to me. I used to get up at the same time to catch the skibus, but at least for that we got on the bus, had a little snooze, got a coffee and a croissant, got on the nice relaxing chairlift, and THEN started snowboarding. Oh and there's that little part about being dressed in 4 layers, instead of practically naked (bonjour!) and soaking wet. But she was going today at 9, which I agreed would be more feasible.

We biked about 20 minutes to the wakeboard club on the lake and met up with 2 other guys, plus the driver, Nicolas, who would be taking us out. The sky was greyish and it was quite cool (60F), but the water was calm and as smooth as glass. I have a longjohn wetsuit from my triathlon days, although I completely forgot to pack my bodyglide which meat it took me a bit long to get on (and was seriously difficult to get off too!!). We all climbed into the boat and headed out.

First up was this guy Alex, a big, happy guy from Norway with a beard. He jumps into the water and the boat speeds up. Immediately he is up, carving in the wake, riding switch, doing all sorts of jumps. Basically, looking super cool and making it look really easy. It was really fun to watch actually. I didn't realize until then that one big bonus of going wakeboarding was that you get to ride around on a boat on beautiful lake Geneva with nice chill people, blasting music and having a little wakeboarding party for yourself. The sun came out while Alex was riding and on the stereo was blasting "Pass the dutchie from the left hand side." Hilarious.

Next was little Bhav who jumped in the water and proclaimed that it was nice and warm. Although she didn't do as many tricks, she could still do jumps and was attemping to turn a 360, where you pull the rope behind your back and then grab it with your other hand. She was able to grab it and turn and stay up for a few seconds before falling. Still very impressive!

Next up was me. I grabbed a life jacket, and Nicolas helped me to put on the board. Amazingly, it is exactly like a snowboard. The bindings look almost like snowboard bindings except the boot is attached and your toes are exposed. Obviously it's wider than a snowboard, and obviously it floats. Very comfy too.

I eased into the Lac Leman for the first time since arriving in Switzerland and gasped sharply as my breath caught in my chest. Warm!?!?! Of course, Bhav is not really sensitive to temperatures, as you might remember from our picnic in the snow. The water was 60 degrees. And the sun had gone back in. Great. "Ok," Nicolas instructed, "You don't pull wiz ze arms, you pull ze knees hup to your chest when ze boat start to go, you stay bent and slowly you let zeboat pull you hup. And you don't try to turn until you are all ze way hup." "Ok," I answered though clenched, chattering teeth, my heart hammering. I felt like I could barely move or breathe in my wetsuit, which I haven't worn in a long time. I gripped the handlebar with white knuckles and yelled ok.

The boat started to move and I pulled up, and fell forward immediately, getting a huge facefull of ice cold water. It was seriously shocking and not fun. I popped up and gasped for air. "You pulled wiz your arms. You stay bent and let ze boat pull you hup," he instructed from the boat. "Ok, got it." I said. Starting again...I got about halfway up, and fell again. And again. "You don't turn ze board until you are all the way hup. Just wait, zen turn it once you are standing hup." "OK, got it, no turning." And then on the fourth try, I stayed bent at the knees and slowly, slowly let the boat pull me "hup." And I was standing, and I turned to my snowboard position, and I was wakeboarding!!

I decided not to try any jumps or anything on the first time out, just to practice carving a little and get the feel for it. It is pretty much exactly like snowboarding so once I was "hup," I did pretty well. Falling was also similar to snowboarding - impossible to do gracefully, although thankfully I didn't have any more face-first choke sessions like I did on the first try. I ended up having about 4 long runs after I was finally successful. I smiled back at the boat while I concentrated on carving the blue and white wake. Finally, after about 15 minutes, I was done. It is seriously exhausting on your arms - mine kill right now. But it was super fun, and I of course got a huge confidence boost out of the fact I was actually able to get the hang of it pretty quickly (snowboarding took me about 2 full days and I broke my wrist in the process).

I got a "forfait" which means a pass to go back several times. It's not that cheap - about 40 CHF per time. But snowboarding was more, and I did that every weekend, so I can justify it. Plus hopefully it will get my arms all buff.

Next weekend I am bringing my camera so hopefully I can put up some photos and videos. Dude!!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Hi there! I've been putting off posting about some random things because I wanted to keep my super spectacular post about my recent news on top. But I have some things to comment on and can't figure out how to rearrange my posts on here. So I'll just put a link to my love story, in case you still want to check out how it all happened.

I feel I've occassionally strayed sometimes from discussing Switzerland, so I will do that today! Two things I have recently learned which I thought were awesome:

1) Switzerland has air rescue service throughout the country, something called REGA, which can dispatch a helicopter or air ambulance to come get you. Everywhere in the country, except the Valais region (which is the big mountainous valley area with awesome skiing and wine) can be reached within 15 minutes. AND they also cover the ENTIRE WORLD using jet aircraft if necessary to come rescue little Swissies stranded atop some mountains in Peru or Nepal. How much does it cost to get such insurance, you might ask? Like 1000 bucks a year? 500? No. 30 Swiss Francs if you are single or 70 Swiss Francs for a family. That's cheaper than going out to dinner in Switzerland! And it is completely private - not one cent from the government. If I had known about this before, I definitely would have joined for ski season. I honestly don't know how they figure out some of this cool stuff.

2) Geneva has recently been voted by Mercer the #2 place to live in the entire world!! That's right. So how lucky am I that I have been able to live here for almost 2 years? Number #1 is Zurich, which is nice but...they don't speak French and I can't imagine they have as much good wine and cheese as we do here in Geneva, because we're closer to France. So just my personal opinion...I know that normally they are also rated 2 of the most expensive cities in the entire world, but I have to say I have certainly not gone into any sort of debt living here (although if I did more shopping and eating out, I definitely could). The U.S. didn't even crack the top 25 - only Honolulu landed on there, at #28. Even the U.S.'s northern neighbor managed to sneak 2 cities, Toronto and Ottawa in there (clearly, the writer of the article was bought ooout). Obviously if Chicago was able to upgrade its public transport system and recycling programs to a grade above where they are now (D+ for transport, F for recycling), and the winter was 3 months shorter (4 instead of 7) and maybe they could make some big mountains nearby for skiing, it would be just as good as Geneva.

Did I mention the sun is setting at almost 10pm every night at the moment? So cool.

You can read an excerpt of the article here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That's how you know

It's been almost 2 years to the day since I first got the e-mail asking if I might be interested in working in Switzerland. Who knew a one line e-mail could completely change my life. My job, where I lived, my friends, the languages I could speak, my lactose and alcohol intake. I knew it would be exciting and fun (it has been) and probably a bit challenging (I may have slightly underestimated that one). The one question I always got pegged with was "What's going to happen to you and Justin?"

Surprisingly, this is the one thing I didn't worry too much about before leaving for Switzerland. Everyone else worried plenty, believe me. I still remember going to dinner and telling him what I thought were the pros and cons, and getting ready to write out a list (I'm a nerd, I know, he tells me too). Justin just looked at me and said, "Well, it's an incredible opportunity, and I think you should take it if you want to do it. But you have to promise to come back." And that was that. Of course we both knew that living 5,000 miles apart was not going to be easy. Personally I always swore I would never find myself in a long distance relationship and then suddenly, I had created one for myself. But I don't think we ever worried "would we make it?" I didn't. And let's be honest, girls obsess about those kinds of things. We just kind of knew it would all be fine.

This year has definitely been more of a challenge, partly because Justin is working. Which means, he's not home from business school every day anxiously awaiting my call in between rounds of dubious, dilligent studying and maybe a game or two of Tiger Woods golf with an ice cold mug of juice. We can only talk really on the weekends and just email during the week. Now I know you might say "Well, in the olden days, you could only send letters, and people didn't even have email or cheap international long distance!" But I didn't grow up in the "olden days," and so that doesn't really help. We miss each other and a lot of times it seriously sucks. But we've made it this far.

Justin came back to Switzerland about 3 weeks ago for his first visit since last summer. I had last seen him in March for about 55 hours, and that includes time we spent sleeping and on gross planes, so really, it was not very quality time. The week before he arrived was, as usual, agonizingly and painfully long. In fact the only week longer than the week before his arrival is the week after he leaves. On May 23, I met him at the airport and gave him a key and a quick kiss. Then I dashed back to work, because I had to re-do a stupid project that one of my lazy, good for nothing co workers, failed to do correctly (he shall remain nameless but if you come to visit me, I promise to properly introduce you). Plus Justin and I were leaving for Provence on Sunday, so I had a lot of things to wrap up.

I was able to escape around 4pm and got home to find a few things. Justin was asleep. No surprise there. I walked further into the living room. Hmmm roses nicely arranged in a vase? Quelle surprise! That's a rarity. I immediately became suspicious and walked into the kitchen to investigate further. I found cheese and more cheese. Again, not surprising. Therefore, I decided nothing was going on and went to wake up my jet lagged boyfriend.

I'm expecting for Noah to pull up in the ark any day now, which will give you an indication of how much it has been raining here lately (except for when my parents were here, I'm pretty sure it's been raining since April. Every day.). Thankfully the day Justin arrived, the weather was nice again. We went to the store to pick up a few things. We came back and opened a bottle of champagne (my Christmas gift from work) and some cheese and just relaxed in each other's company on the balcony. We decided to watch some Top Chef.

After the episode ended, Justin decided to shower. Then five minutes later, decided not to. Ok, whatever, I understand completely that the jet lag makes us all really confused and tired. I didn't think anything of it. Nor did I think anything of his pacing around the apartment. We had finished our champagne and he suggested we refill and go back out on the balcony since it was still light and now was much quieter, so I went into the kitchen to top off the glasses.

As I was coming back, I noticed him standing and leaning out over the balcony, then turn his head around over his right shoulder, just to give me this look, this half flirting, half serious look, which at the time made me think, "What is that look??" but retelling this now, I realize exactly what that look was.

I stepped outside and handed him his glass, and we did a little impromptu cheers. "Well," Justin said...

...well, gentle reader, you must know what he said to me. What he asked. If you want the story, I will be more than happy to tell you personally, but I am not posting the details of this for the entire world. But, I will tell the entire world this:

I said YES!!!

It was a completely surreal, emotional, laughter and tear and hug filled, deliriously happy moment. We kept trying out new lines like "hi fiance" and "we're engaged!!" and then bursting out laughing. He did have another surprise which I didn't find in the kitchen - a second bottle of champagne (which we followed with a bottle of wine...I mean if you don't celebrate the day you get engaged, when do you?!). We spent a good hour or so just relishing the moment and looking at my new ring (I suppose that was more me...) before we called our families.

Mine of course, were all out (j'ai de la chance!!), but we spoke to Justin's parents, who were very excited. About 45 minutes later, my mom called me back, saying she was out with her friend Kim. Then I said, "Well, you can tell Kim that Justin and I are engaged!," and my mom starting screaming with excitement. My sister as well, was completely shocked, at at Macy's. "Ohmigod, that's so awesome!!! How did he - hold on a sec - yes can I get this in a four? Sorry to keep you waiting like that, but my sister just got engaged!!" This was actually really fun, because Mom and Aimee were pretty much the only two who were REALLY surprised, which is thanks to my dad throwing them off the trail (thanks again Dad). We called Justin's brother Chris (the number one fan of "Jac Goes to Switzerland!") and his wife who knew already, and my brother Chris who confidently announced "Yeah well (insert loud, frat boy sigh here) I'm proud to say I kinda knew something, but I didn't say anything." Our friends we called later seemed to know that it was going to happen, given the circumstances of the trip and of our relationship.

Of course, we've probably known for some time. Since Justin agreed to go to Cubs games with me, or the day I bought a Sox hat. Since the time I tried skiing, and he carried my snowboard. Since five years ago, when I have started force feeding myself olives. Since he agreed to come to my parents' house to do yardwork and move pool furniture. Since we supported and encouraged each other through busy seasons, business school applications, triathlons, internships, working too late, staying out too late, and that liiiiiiiiittle part about me leaving for a foreign country.

There's something else I've always known too: I have no idea how to plan a wedding. I can only hope I learned enough as sorority social chair to plan an event slightly more complicated than a swap with DKE. But I can't wait. All I know is our wedding is going to be legendWAITFORIT...