30 January 2009

Pix'ish Play

Here's a poem I wrote one day last summer when I was bored. I think that particular day, my best ten-year old friend Sophia and I had been seriously discussing what we would do if we ever saw the pixies that live in her backyard. Feel free to leave feedback, but please don't judge too harshly. This is, quite literally, the very first rough, untweaked version. :-D

Deep amid the twilight glowing
Tiny pixie eyes are showing
And between the darkest leaves
Slip and slide immortal thieves.
Yet never laid my mortal eyes
Upon these tiny, naked spies.

Hither as the wind blows free
Glinting pixies jump and flee
Where my larger eyes can't follow
To the magic pixie hollow,
And behind them, to and fro'
Grassy tendrils gently blow.

There, these pixies choose to dance -
They swirl in circles, leap and prance
Till black leaves are all awhirling
And dark blades of grass are swirling.
Then by evening's fading light
The hollow drifts to shades of night.

Then if pixies chance to doze
And if their eyes should ever close
If around the little hill
Every noise were very still
Could I, yes, against their will,
See them sleeping, sleeping still?

If in the stillness of the night
My lucky eyes should chance to light
Upon this dainty pixie sight
And widen in surprised delight -
Would they hasten from their slumber?
Would they quit their dreams, I wonder?

Or in the early purple dawn
Would they awake with careful yawn
And sing to morning's glist'ning dew
Until the sun's first rays peek through
To touch the world where pixies dwell
In hidden lands we love so well?

Will they begin a whole new day
To spend in pix'ish, idle play
In making mischief, morn till dusk,
Till daylight turns to evening's rust?
I wonder now if perchance you
Believe in pixies? I do too!

Lol...so yeah...the meter is somewhat bad, and it's kind of dorky, but kind of fun at the same time. :-P Let me know what you think.


That girl in Switzerland

24 January 2009

Emo-Vamp Sucks on the Big Screen

So Twilight. A modern-day teen flick about high school, love, and...vampires? It's not as bad as you might think. Actually, it's worse.

Excuse my pun, but this movie sucks big-time. Although I had sworn in a previous post that I would never be caught dead (undead, perhaps?) watching Twilight, the other day, in a moment of serious boredom, I actually did.

Let me set the stage...

I recently reread Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm intrigued by that book, and have read it several times. Upon finishing it, I watched two different versions of the movie. Then, one random night about three weeks ago, I was looking for a good romantic comedy to watch - but instead, decided to scratch the romance and see Van Helsing, which I found to be quite interesting, though definitely a tad cliché. Yeah - I've been feeling blood-thirsty.

So was it really any wonder that, though I had sworn off this movie forever, when I found it the other night on watch-movies.net, I decided it might not actually be that bad? At any rate, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wasn't working at that time, and there wasn't much else to see that my host dad doesn't already have in his movie collection.

But enough justification. I watched the movie. I hated the movie. Allow me to go into detail.

Twilight is more than a little blatantly directed at the pig-tailed, giggling, bubble-gum chewers of the world. In fact, had not the books, written by Stephanie Meyer, previously enthralled the pre-teen girl population - who wouldn't recognize a truly great book if it fell on their heads and knocked them all out, which wouldn't exactly be a tragedy - I doubt that this movie would have seen anything more than mediocre success, if even that.

To be fair, and to satiate all of you who will no doubt raise one eyebrow and say in judgemental tones, "But you haven't read the books," I will admit that while writing this post, I thought the same - I can't really write a decent review of this story without having read at least the first few chapters, now can I? Maybe the movie doesn't live up to the books. So I looked up the book online, read the first few chapters...and - wait for it - was not at all shocked to find that Stephanie Meyer made numerous grammatical errors as well as frequent punctuation mistakes, and was versatile in her methods of creating run-ons and fragmented sentences - though, contrarily, used little or no imagination when it came to varying her sentence structures.

I feel dreadful for the little fan girls who read these books. They'll all grow up with a terrible concept of the what it is to live within a really amazing novel, all the while thinking that a book is wonderful if the main male character has dreamy eyes or is considerate enough not to kill his girlfriend while he feasts on her blood. (Not to mention, none of them will be able to write a paragraph or have a decent vocabulary.) This is how the trash romance genre was started. And now begins the era of the glittering, trash vamp?

These are the kids that I'm going to teach. Yay, me.

Throughout my own pre-teen years, my favorite book was Howard Pyle's 1883 novel, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Fantasy? To be sure. Genius? Quite. Pyle pulled me into the world of those jolly, green-clad men, and made me wish I could live under the trees and learn to fight with a yew staff, and when evening came play a lyre in the moonlight and sing songs with the best of Robin Hood's men. I still have my copy from fourteen years ago - it's minus a cover, but it's just as loved now as then.

But not one of these Twilight teens will ever pick up a Pyle tome, because sadly, Pyle is more than just a notch above these fan girls' intellects. They could never master the intricate, archaic language that enthralled me at age ten, or fall in love with Pyle's poetry that flows straight from the page to the soul. This is the book that made me want to write. It literally influenced everything about who I am. Even now, at twenty-four years of age, I find this book fascinating.

These Twilight readers (though I hesitate to actually label them readers, as they are more like propagators of the junk novel genre, and the term "reader" really implies a bit of intellect) will never know who Pyle was, much less be able to name his works. It's a sad concept to grasp - that the decent literature of the past will be lost to this generation of emo, blood-sucking, pig-tailed, glamor-glossed idiots. Soon there will be no true intellect left in the world, and Pyle will remain on the library shelves gathering dust, to be at last pushed off by some new poorly-written series of teenage trash fiction.

And the saddest part is - instead of being changed and influenced for good as I was by Mr. Pyle, the only things these girls will take away from Meyer's unimaginative, high school vampire tales are a complete disregard for literature and the idea that two people will be compatible if they stare deeply enough into each others' eyes. Stephanie Meyer has just made laughable one of the most-loved monsters of all time, and she can now also claim to have had a direct hand in teaching a generation how to effectively have bad relationships.

People should stick to classics. Like Jane Austen. Or George Elliot. Or Alexandre Dumas. Or what I'm currently reading - Victor Hugo. And if they absolutely need a good dose of the sci-fi or fantastic genres, they should turn to the well-written books that have stood the test of generations - like Bram Stoker, for example, or the Dune novels (from which Star Wars was essentially stolen), Tolkien, or anything at all written by my long-standing, yet lesser-known favorite, Stephen Lawhead, from whom I learned the subtle art of a good tirade. I'll even admit to a slightly-misplaced, left-over-from-the-teen-years love of the world imagined by Terry Brooks.

However - since I always try to find something nice about everything, I will say this: You will never lose interest while reading Twilight.

Because Twilight doesn't have the ability to capture your interest in the first place.

Well, at least I tried to say something nice.

But I digress. I'm actually here to critique the movie. So here goes...

I didn't have to read the whole book to know that if the majority of the people it enthralls are the previously-mentioned, giggly, pink, pig-tailed, pre-teen fan girls, and the other people it enthralls also live up to those adjectives, then the movie would suck just as badly as the intelligence employed (or not) by its fans.

Shall I discuss Bella? I have never before seen such a glum, sour-faced heroine. She is instantly unlikable. Her dialogue, though obviously mimicking her dialogue from the books, creates the image of a self-absorbed brat who has been coddled too much at home. She is sarcastic, though not in an engaging way, and just the low, grating sound of her voice makes me cringe at times. Perhaps, in retrospect, that's the real reason they didn't let her talk much. She is so predictable - very dependent on Edward, very needy character - basically, the typical, shallow heroine of any romance, whether for teens or not.

And here's another thing - this chica is actually okay with Edward sneaking into her room every night to watch her sleep, following her around constantly, just "turning up" wherever she goes. So this teaches us what - that we should want to be stalked by the undead? Or that it's okay for men to be jerks if they're hot or if they "love" you? These are great life lessons. I'm so glad Stephanie Meyer has made it all so clear.

And Edward...ok, so yes, I admit to the fact that he has compelling eyes. It's the only nice thing about this movie. But - this self-loathing, indesicive, vegetarian vampire who has graduated from high school numerous times isn't great at pulling off a look that says anything other than serious egocentrism. His staring gives me the creeps. It's like he's saying, "I'm know I'm god-like. Worship me."

And he can't act worth a flying flip. He was obviously hired for the fact that he knows how to stare. However - in the books, Edward is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. In the movie...he has good eyes, but the rest of him could use some help. He's too skinny, too obviously stuck on his own looks, not to mention has pretty bad makeup in some of the scenes. He isn't vamp and beautiful. He's just vamp. And not even a scary one.

He is also controlling and manipulative. And he would never admit to being wrong. Sounds like a winner to me. My real dream man, right there. Self-righteous, snobby, undead villian. Right on.

Also, he needs to inform his eyebrows that he's undead. Maybe if they knew that they would die off a little too.

The plot of the movie might have been able to stand on its own two feet had it actually been revealed before the movie was three-forths finished. As it is, the majority of the movie can be summed up in the following basic dialogue:

Bella: "Why are you ignoring me?"

Ed (may I call him Ed?): "Because it's better if we aren't friends."

Bella: "But you basically stalk me."

Ed: "Well, yes, because I can't stay away from you."

Bella: "But now you're ignoring me again."

Ed: "I told you - it's better this way."

Bella: "But I want you. You have good eyes."

Ed: "Ok, but don't blame me if I end up drinking all your blood."

The impression I got from reading parts of the books was that they were actually written after the movie was made, just because it didn't seem like any thought went into it. No originality, whatsoever. It's as if a ghost-writer sat down, copied lines directly from the movie, threw in more than too much first person, and self-published without editing. When I write, even my rough drafts aren't as dull as the writing that placed Stephanie Meyer on the best-seller list.

(For your sake, Readers, I'll announce a rabbit trail...starting right now...) I think the real problem here is that there are no more Harry Potter novels to look forward to. J.K. Rowling's first HP book wasn't all that great, but the imagination was; the writing drastically improved over time. How do I know this?? Well, I've read them all, you see. I'm not dogging on the whole modern-teen-monster genre...just these Twilight books. So because Potter's ten years in the spotlight were finished, the teen population had to turn to what they see as the next best thing. Anyone notice that, though Twilight was first published in 2006, it wasn't nearly so popular until 2008?

But let's talk about the actual vampire-ishness involved in this movie, eh?

Aren't vampires supposed to be the ultimate villians? Aren't they supposed to personnify complete evil? Isn't it the idea in a nutshell that vampires must drink human blood to survive? That they are corrupt and that they corrupt others? And that they like it that way? Isn't that why we thrill at the idea of a vampire? And isn't that why we get chills when we read their stories?

But here we have vampires with consciences, vampires who are still playing god-like moral humans. Who don't drink human blood. Who are not corrupt, and who believe that they can still make the world a better place. Who save people instead of slaughter them.

Yes, it has all the makings of a really good thriller.

Here's something that irritated me - in the movie, when Edward and his siblings didn't show up at school on sunny days, I thought “Well, of course they can’t…because vampires combust in sunlight.” Imagine my disappointment when I found that these emo-vamps lack that feature. They just…sparkle. Was Stephanie Meyer herself thirteen when she wrote this crap? “Omg! I love vampires!!! I love glitter!!! OOOOO…..glittery vampires!!!!” Come on. For real. No research at all went into this movie, or apparently the books responsible.

If the punishment were suitable for this particular crime, I’d recommend driving a stake through Meyer's books, chopping them in pieces, and burning them in a large bonfire before they can resurrect and do yet more damage to the human race. But I'm not convinced that she, or her "readers," would catch the sarcasm in that.

My official Twilight rating - the dumbest vampire movie ever made - dumber even than Winona Ryder being in a vamp movie, and that's saying a lot. It's a movie that can only be fully enjoyed by revolting fan girls who are more interested in mooning over Edward's eyes than absorbing what plot there is - girls who will probably spend most of the movie texting girlfriends on their Hello Kitty cell phones, "OMG!!! HIS EYES ARE LIKE GORGEOUS!! I BET HE'S LIKE THE BEST KISSER EVER!!! OMG!!!!"

I have heard Twilight referred to as "a collection of feces on paper" and "Stephanie Meyer's brain abortion." And I'm not inclined to disagree.

Recommendation: a serious amount of espresso for this one. Or an alarm clock.

Yawning even now,
That girl in Switzerland

P.S. As an afterthought, here is a good link to Howard Pyle's novel, "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood." This one is worth reading. I promise.

23 January 2009

Whether the glass is half empty or half full...

...never place it within reach of a four year old who has a fork in his hand and is threatening to stab everything in sight. A mess will be easily avoided.

Making your life easier,
That girl in Switzerland

18 January 2009

Conversational Play-Doh

Transcript from a conversation with Felix this morning. We were playing with Play-Doh. The whole conversation was thoroughly serious. (Keep in mind that Felix's first language is French.)

F: Heather, you know my friend Arnaud?? He one time eat some play-doh and some more one time he eat some paper.

H: Did he get sick?

F: No. You know why, Heather?

H: Why, Felix?

F: Because he's a robot. He is mechanical.

H: Cool! How do you know he's a robot?

F: 'Cause he tell me.

H: Neato! But...he told you.

F: What?

H: He told you.

F: Yes, he tell me. You want me to make you a pizza?

H: Of course, but only if it's purple.

F: Ok! And you can make the one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple pizza eater.

H: (laughter) Felix, he ate people!

F: What?

H: It was a purple people eater.

F: No, it eats pizza like the kung fu chickens.

H: ...ok.

Hence...our one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple pizza eater...his rock 'n' roll band...and a kung fu chicken (because apparently - little-known fact - they also like short shorts...and what chicken wouldn't, with legs like that?).

Children are wonderful.
That girl in Switzerland

14 January 2009

"If you have found that you can change the past...

"If you have found that you can change the past by dwelling on it, then continue to do so until you meet your desired goal. Otherwise, I encourage you to learn from it and let it go." Ray Basile

Monday evening when I arrived home from Bible study, I turned on my computer screen and was greeted by a potent image of what it looks like to live in the past. I am not going to say what that image was, only that it turned my stomach. And I've been thinking about it ever since. This concept of living in the past has been on my heart and mind, and so I have a few thoughts I'd like to share.

Philippeans 3:14 says, "One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Trust me, I've had my years of being stuck in the past. I more than understand people who find it difficult to move on - I've been there myself, and it wasn't an easy or peaceful place to be. There was so much pain, emotional turmoil, jealousy which admitting even now makes me blush, years of hiding myself from people, and what seemed like gallons of tears. It took me a long time and many painful experiences to learn that moving on hurts far less than living in a time to which you can't return. No matter what sort of pain it seems you just can't put behind you, you'll never have a fulfilled life unless you actually start living - and that means moving forward and not looking back.

Romans 12:1-2 commands us as Christians to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of spiritual service and worship, and not to conform to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

And so I pose this question - how will we present ourselves as living sacrifices to God if we are clinging to what is dead? The past is dead, you see - we can't do anything about it, we can't change it, and we certainly can't go back and relive it.

God is not the God of the dead - He is God of the living, as Jesus said in Matthew 22:32. This was said within the context of a conversation about resurrection that Jesus had with the Sadducees, in which he told them that they did not know the Scriptures or the Power of God. The Sadducees were well known for their opposition to the idea of resurrection. Contrarily, a popular Jewish belief was that God showed His power most visibly through resurrection. So what Jesus actually said was that when the Sadducees dismissed resurrection, they dismissed the power of God. Now, who knows if Jesus was simply referring to physical resurrection in this case - but surely if the God who made the body can resurrect the body, the same God who also made the mind can resurrect that as well. We also reject the power of God when we live as though we reject His resurrection of our minds.

Shortly after this experience with the Sadducees (literally five verses later in the same chapter - see Matthew 22:37), Jesus told the Pharisees that the first and greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." With all your mind. It is so, so important to love God with all of your mind. In fact, we must love God with our minds to love Him properly at all.

In a famous sermon, John Wesley asked his listeners, "Now what is to love God, but to delight in Him, to rejoice in His will, to desire continually to please Him, to seek and find our happiness in Him, and to thirst day and night for a fuller enjoyment of Him?" And I ask you, how can we delight in Him, unless we understand what delights Him too? How can we rejoice in His will, unless our minds have studied the scriptures and know what His will is? How can we please Him, if our minds don't know what He desires? It is only through our growing understanding of God that we can grow into a deeper and deeper enjoyment of Him.

This concept is shown clearly in other relationships as well. Dating, for example, does not begin with a deeply-founded love. Oh no - it begins simply by two people being attracted to each other - seeing something they like in each other. The deeply-founded love that I mentioned only happens as those two people get to know each other, learn each other's likes and dislikes, find out what makes each other tick, and grow attracted not just to what they can see physically, but to each others' minds as well.

Am I making my point yet? To love God, we must know God. To know God, we must know His mind. And to know His mind, we must use ours. We must get to know what makes God "tick." But we cannot do this if our minds and hearts are looking into the past, dwelling on memories, and thinking about how things used to be, instead of allowing God to renew our minds so that we may love Him more deeply.

The first and greatest commandment is to love God.

I think I already adequately stated that the first two verses of Romans 12 make a clear command for us to let God renew our minds. But here's the encouraging part - God really, really wants to do this for us, just because He loves us. Zephaniah 3:17 - The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. It is a litany of joy! I just love the thought of God singing over me. For me, there is hardly a more beautiful image of God's love than the one of Him singing a love song - for me.

And I wonder - what would happen if we brought our own songs into harmony with the Great Song, the song the Creator sings for us? How our lives of dissonance would change into lives of resonance and peace. If you have ears to hear...please hear God's music and join along.

I'm not writing off pain and making it trivial. Pain is real - of course it is. Everyone experiences it. But letting that pain rule you is where you go wrong.

And I'm certainly not writing off the lessons learned or the experiences themselves that taught us who we are and what we need from life. The past, with our experiences, is our basic foundation for who we are now and all the things we know. Don't divorce yourself from the past - just from the chaos that is created from holding onto sins or other pain. God said to remember the former things, yes, it's true - remember His works and His power and His ability to be the Yahweh of your life - a position that can be held by nobody else. God Himself is not limited by time. But we are, you see, and there's no going backwards.

I'm not even writing a rant or a sermon here. This is for me too. I myself refuse to become bitter at the world by looking backwards and keeping painful memories fresh. I myself choose to allow God to renew and transform me every single day. All I want is to press forward, and by doing so, glorify God and win that heavenly prize. I love God. I want to know His heart - and I want Him to know that my own heart belongs entirely to him. I myself refuse to dwell on the past.

What you do is always up to you. But life can only get worse if you cause your own strain by living in memories and not allowing God to fulfill you. So make your choices, dear Readers, but do so with the full knowledge that God wants you to choose Him - His love, His mind.

That girl in Switzerland

12 January 2009

Life Needs Its Outer Horrors

For H.D.

Life needs its outer horrors.
You are right, my new friend, with all of your wisdom -
There must be a Hideousness
To stamp upon our hearts the marks of Beauty.
We are as children, all -
Running in our own already-trodden footprints,
Hanging our hats or letting them fall
Carelessly to the floor;
We search for things of Beauty
That we threw away - retracing our steps -
Looking for the fallen pearl,
The soft feather lost, the
Memory of a leaf-shadow or
The contrast to laughter
Mixed with the hyacinth or
Sprinkled along paths we have walked before.
Life needs its outer horrors -
Its scavenger's pits where we find black violets
And blood-red treasures
Among the bones and harrowed gore of all the days.
Life needs its outer horrors -
So bring them - bring all the hideous elements -
And let me brand my heart
So that it never forgets.
I love the Beauty.
I embrace it.
Life needs its outer horrors.
You are right, my friend.

That girl in Switzerland

11 January 2009

Fanny Ribbon, in Duplicate.

Since my stock downstairs had been recently depleted, I found it necessary to raid Charlotte's toilet paper stash this morning. To my delight, she had bought a new kind...one that I had never seen before but that I found quite amusing when I also...er...found a reason...to use it. (I am not normally delighted by toilet paper...it's mostly one of those overlooked blessings...but do read on...)

Rolling the first bit off, I noticed its apparent strength and durability. My goodness, I thought to myself, just how thick is this stuff? (You can see that my thoughts are often not as impressive as my words.) So, being of the curious nature that I am, I proceeded to take the square of toilet paper apart. SIX LAYERS. Six beautiful layers of glorious soft whiteness. And each layer as thick as a normal bit of the stuff should be. I looked at the edge of the roll - every layer was perfectly visible, as we all know is not the normal status of layers of toilet paper. Is it not natural that one should wonder which will be the last square of toilet paper? This is why we begin to conserve as the roll shrinks - because we never know when our bounty will run out. It has always been a natural mystery of the known universe. But not anymore.

What was my first thought?? I've gotta blog this! I told you I think about blogging way too much.

Nobody needs six layers. It gives a whole new meaning to the term "quilted toilet paper." One square, and you're totally finished. You could diaper a baby with it, or even an adult. Do they sell this stuff in the States?

Six layers. When I was growing up (and even after I started buying it for my own place), I was doing good to get two or three. Who cares about layers...buy the cheap stuff. I thank God we don't still use various foliage. And six layers can't really be good for the pipes, now can it?

But six layers. Ahhhh...

Seriously Amused,
That girl in Switzerland

Ok, Nicole - Here You Go...!

It was a birthday for the history books - or at least for facebook, though Mathias might lose a few of the memories, if that is the case...Spirits were high, extra chairs were in demand, and pants were sparse (Nicole, LOL) as we partied into the night.

Well, ok, to be a little more precise, the rest of them partied into the night. I hopped a train back toward Geneva and my two hour journey home. I find it strange that I would never have considered traveling two hours in the States (so four hours altogether) just to go to dinner with friends, but here I think nothing of jumping up to Nyon or Lausanne on random evenings. Nyon isn't quite as far...just an hour and a bit, but I still end up there three nights a week or so...

But back to our evening. So Nicole is turning twenty-three on Tuesday (here's a shout out to her) and since the thing to do in Switzerland is to throw your own parties, she invited a bunch of people to Lausanne for dinner, dessert and dancing. I only made it to the dinner part of the evening, but it was FUN. The restaurant we went to was a hole-in-the-wall German place called Le Bavaria where the tables were close together and the atmosphere was loud. It was hard to hear myself think, but that wasn't a problem since I was doing more laughing than thinking anyway. lol...good memories, good memories.

Nicole, who is from Rhode Island, followed the current European trend of wearing leggings instead of pants and ended up freezing the entire night. She did look adorable, though. :-) She also wore the tiniest bit of blush on her nose, which made for a lot of laughs as she rubbed and rubbed to get it off when she realized that it was showing up too much in pictures - and all the rubbing just made her nose more and more pink! We took loads of pictures! And all of them amazingly happy. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in my haste to get out the door, so I'll have to rip pics off of friends' facebooks at a later point in time. But there were a few I really hope don't end up on facebook...(please, Nicole, if you read this, as I'm sure you will...please, please don't put up that ugly one of me...please, I beg you...just put up that last cute one...please.)

My personal biggest laugh of the evening (which won't seem nearly as funny now, but I'll blog it anyway for the memory's sake) happened as we were wrapping up our dinner. I had told Mathias earlier in the evening that there was a picture of him on my facebook (TNT evening album, pic of three guys and a girl holding up their pinkies, man to the right), but he said that he isn't a member of facebook because he "is a member of various other internet portals." (Mathias, btw, is from Germany, and he is cool.)

So when the subject came up later and Nicole asked me why Mathias wasn't on facebook, I said, "Because he is a member of various other internet portals," thinking that since I was just quoting, it would make perfect sense.

Instead, about six people started laughing as I heard Mathias say over my shoulder, "Heather, that sounds weird."

So then I couldn't stop laughing as I told him that I was just quoting him, and then he got confused because he didn't remember saying it, and so we all just laughed and laughed for a long time. But I think I laughed the hardest. And the others were really just laughing at me. But it was funny!

Maybe stuff like that sounds better when it isn't said by an American. But who could really know until after the fact??

The most insulting comment of the evening happened when the waiter got really aggravated as he was cleaning up our plates. Tension was already high with our waiters because instead of the nine people who were supposed to be there, thirteen showed up, and there weren't any extra seats to be had...They had to ask some other customers to move to different tables, and tell even others to come back later...it was kind of a big mess for a bit there, and just when we thought people would stop showing up, another one of us would walk through the door. So the waiters were aggravated. So later as they were cleaning up, we girls were still taking pictures, and Nicole and I heard the guy closest to us mumble, "...you girls are really stupid!"

Nicole and I were just shocked. We thought about complaining to the manager, but since Nicole's boss owns the place, we didn't want to cause a scene. And they guy would just have said that he didn't say it...But still...thirteen people show up to eat their food and instead of saying "thanks for coming!" they have to call us stupid?? Come on??! We were just having fun. And I have to say, if I had been that waiter, I could have found a less adolescent word than "stupid." Just a thought.

So once again this has turned into a much longer blog than I meant it to be. This is how you can tell the difference between a writer at heart, and those who blog just to keep up with friends or share jokes or pictures.

Nicole, have a really happy birthday, and I'll see you at church tomorrow!

Ta, daahlings,
That girl in Switzerland

09 January 2009


LOL! I've been following this online comic strip for years...I check it almost every day...today's just made me laugh and laugh! Check it out! (And yes, I have looked up the word "chalant" and it doesn't exist. How do people think up these things?)

Still laughing,
That girl in Switzerland

Bored Blogging

Well, it's four in the morning, and since I'm not sleeping, I might as well blog, yes? Yes.

I left my gloves and the Hilda Doolittle book at Jules' school today - we were dashing to get the bus and I realized halfway home that I'd left them. Was really bummed. Will get them tomorrow, though. I missed the book more than the gloves today, though it was quite cold out tonight.

Went to the au pair club in Nyon tonight. Can't wait to get paid again so I can renew my train passes. I was spoiled by those train passes. I loved only paying 4 CHF for the trip to Nyon, rather than the 16 I've payed twice this week for church and the club. Hopefully by next Sunday, I'll have renewed them. That would be good.

So the au pair club. Went with a new girl from down the street - Erin - she's fun. It's always nice to make new friends. The subject at the club tonight was "What Dreams May Come." I found it very hard to describe my dreams, so I just didn't. I haven't spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking about what exactly I want for my future, other than more education. That has always been a given. But the rest is all unknown. But Canadian Culture Night is in two weeks, so that should be fun.

I'm tired. Am heading off to bed again.

Ta daahlings. Sleep well.
That girl in Switzerland

07 January 2009

Longer than I meant it to be...

So I feel like blogging, and I had a somewhat interesting day...but don't worry, I won't blog about my whole day because you, darling Readers, would be bored if I did; instead I'll just say a few random things that apply to my day, and you can fill in the blanks yourself. Hopefully, this strategy will leave you more scope for the imagination. Some of these thoughts apply to all of my days, but I leave it to you to infer which ones.

1. This morning when I greeted Arnaud, he said, "No, it's 2009. From now on, it's French only." This is really scary. My French is still limited to extremely simple sentence structures, and when people speak quickly (so - normal speed for them) I don't understand. But Arnaud is right - the more I speak French, the faster I will learn it. This, of course, is obvious. So from now on, whenever I can say something in French, I will - no matter who is around to laugh.

2. Song stuck in my mind today - "Furious Angels" by Rob Dougan - a great song that equates love to an invisible bullet, a dirty needle, a blow to the head, a cold piece of steel between the ribs, a knife in the back, and a death sentence. A blow to the head, btw, sometimes results in dizziness (i.e. the whole world spinning around), severe nausea, and vomiting (much like the symptoms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo). I'd say this song has it just about right. I've never experienced a blow to the head, but I've got love and Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo down pat, along with the various symptoms shared by both. This song, ironically, is included on my ipod in a playlist that I will have had for three years in February, and that I both loathe and love. Mostly loathe. I should just delete it. But then I might miss it. It's a conundrum. But if you think I'm equating love to being sick...well, wait...yeah, I actually am.

3. Speaking of three years, I hate the number three...bad things happen in my life in random spurts of three days, three weeks, three months, or three years. It is my personalized unlucky number. We'll see how it all looks in thirty years, huh?

4. It costs 60 CHF to replace train passes. My customer number was 454 as I stood in line to learn this. Unfortunately, this is one replacement that will have to wait until at least next week. Oops, Nicole, I can't go to Lausanne with you Saturday night. Happy Birthday, though!

5. You know those girls we all hate who primly twist the chapstick all the way back down the tube before primly replacing the cap?? I HAVE BECOME one of those girls. And I didn't even realize it until today. Help!

6. Allow me to vent for just one minute, ok? Where does the blasted bank get off charging me 60 CHF to block my cards? It took the man less than two minutes to go onto the computer and do whatever was necessary to stop access to my accounts. And they're already charging me 40 CHF to get the new cards. And another 14 just to withdraw cash without a card. "Excuse me, sir, I'd like to report a possible future fraud." "Ok, miss, thank you. That will be 100 CHF, s.v.p." GRRR...I miss 5/3 Bank. Over the years, they've replaced my cards four times, with no charges at all. And I didn't even have a good reason to lose those ones - I found more than one of them afterwards in various coat pockets, which, in retrospect, weren't good holding places for bank cards. It's not my fault my bloody cards got stolen - they were in a bag inside another bag which was zipped and hung tightly over my shoulder. How did those gypsies do it?? And it isn't as if the Swiss banking system isn't among the world's richest and most stable. Do they need my 114 CHF, I ask you?? NO! 100% NO! Do I?? YES! Money-hungry blighters...And outside the Poste there are people begging for signatures on a petition to raise the wages of women who work for under 3000 CHF per month. Petition, bah - they should petition to get rid of the bloody banking fees. A pox on Swiss banks.

7. It only cost 5 CHF to replace my LIBRARY CARD! Life is worth it after all! This is why I live!

8. I spent time with some best friends today - books, at the library. And what books did I finally check out??
A. Emily Dickinson (poetry, in French and English) - because imitating her makes me want to read her.
B. Hilda Doolittle (same as above, and by the same publisher) - just because it looked cool.
C. Gone With the Wind - frankly, my dear, because I can personally relate (note the last bit of the story), and because it's time to read it again.

9. And since my mind is on literature right now, today my favorite poet is Elizabeth Bishop. Her poem "One Art" is very lovely. Tomorrow, or even tonight, my preference might change, but for just now, this is it.

10. A man on the bus today huffed and smacked his lips whenever we got stuck in traffic. He also grunted and shook his head loudly (causing his sagging cheeks to shift about somewhat) as he read the newspaper.

11. The front page of the newspaper on the bus had a story about the new Twilight movie. I have decided against watching this movie, or even reading the books. They look completely adolescent, exactly like the people who read and love them. If that was what the man on the bus was huffing about, then I thoroughly agree (though I don't smack my lips).

12. It'd be nice to see my mom. I miss her.

13. Felix loves teaching me the incorrect genders for French words. His eyes twinkle when he does this. He's charming. I love him!


15. I need new clothes.

16. Today I made a list of things I needed to do in town, and as I did extra things, I added them to the list - just so I could check them off. I waste lead and ink doing this fairly often.

17. My mind has become a running monologue. All day long I blog things internally. Curse you, blogspot!

18. The man at the Churreria always makes me feel happy. He knows the trick to getting repeat customers (of the female variety) - smile a lot, and flirt just a little. He is old, and Wise.

19. Churros make me feel happy too - but (as with the flirting) not a lot of churros...just one or two.

20. Topic studied in French class tonight - past tense verbs. Yay! My life has finally learned its past! But when will it ever learn its future?

21. Today I wondered - When does "Bonjour" technically stop and let "Bonsoir" take over?

22. Today I decided that were I more punk and less unbalanced (please note my subtle, yet correct usage of double negatives), I would learn to ride a skateboard. It could be a handy skill.

23. All day long, I have known I am blessed.

And there you have it - my day - in a delicate but tough little nutshell - so probably a pecan shell, when I think about it. It's supposed to snow tonight. Maybe it will be good for happy snowmen!

La lumière frappe, tombe sur moi.
Je sursaute -
une feuille, fendillée, craque sur le dallage -
angoisse - déroute.

Anticipating, yet with mixed emotions (or, as always),
That girl in Switzerland

04 January 2009

In Quiet Imitation of Dickinson:

By way of explanation, I began writing a response to a Tennyson poem I was reading on the bus on my way back from church tonight (yes, yes, I know...who reads Tennyson on the bus? Even reading Tennyson on the train would be more sophisticated. Please feel free to leave mocking remarks). A few lines in, I realized that with little or no effort, I could make it look like a passable Emily Dickinson poem - so I revised and five minutes later, had three decent verses in front of me. To be fair, a more successful imitation of Emily Dickinson's poetry might have more dashes and better metaphors :-) ...but I work with whatever pops into my head at the time, so take it or leave it.

What sadness, oh my lonely Sweet,
Hath filled this blighted breast,
And how this heart hath yearned in vain
For quiet, more gentle rest.

But only hurt, and deeper hurt,
Can Empathy portray;
And only Time - with outstretched arms -
Can ice-cold pain allay.

But what a silent agony
And what a silent part -
Is there - the quiet misery
That quells the human heart.

How do you use your time on the bus?
That girl in Switzerland

01 January 2009

"Time Goes, You Say? Ah, no! Alas, Time Stays...We Go..."

See, in what traversed ways,
What backward Fate delays
The hopes we used to know;
Where are our old desires?--
Ah, where those vanished fires?
Time goes, you say?--ah no!

How far, how far, O Sweet,
The past behind our feet
Lies in the even-glow!
Now, on the forward way,
Let us fold hands, and pray;
Alas, Time stays,--we go!

Austin Dobson (1840-1921)

Is it just me or is it really strange that it's already 2009? I mean, I just started college, like, yesterday, and now I'm finished and so moved on that I can't imagine actually being back. Well, ok, that isn't exactly true - I can imagine...but not going back, just moving forward.

And that's what this New Year is all about for me - moving forward. I've always been too retrospective...it's always been too hard to put the past behind me. In 2009 I want to make plans, fulfill those plans, and become the owner of a life of which I can be thoroughly proud.

So, in light of the New Year, and because it is generally expected, here are a few resolutions that this year, I actually intend to keep:

1. Love God every second of every day.
2. Live life to the fullest, because every moment should be treasured.
3. Get in shape (this resolution has obviously made such a difference in the past...)
4. Break that annoying habit of biting my bottom lip when I get frustrated.
5. Take better care of my passport.
6. Take life's little lessons to heart.
7. Smile more often, because it blesses other people, and me!
8. Regain my old optimism for living.
9. Take every advantage that I can to laugh, laugh, laugh.

I was thinking about something today that I thought might be worth sharing...

Life moves so quickly. Yesterday I was a child. Tomorrow I will be old. But life just keeps moving on. Years pass, faces obtain new wrinkles, hair turns gray (and at only 23, even I have found one or two gray hairs). No matter what we want or how we wish the years would slow down, this age still moves on. But I don't have to worry about my life ending. In 2009, my life won't get older...it will only get better, because it is eternal. Not just after I die, but now, as well. It's a beauty of God and His amazing plan of redemption. I don't fear Death. I fear not living. Not living my eternal life, right now.

So let me add one more resolution to my list:
10. Live every day knowing that I'm actually living for eternity, not just for myself. I just want to be a better person.

Time stays, we go...but some of us know that we only go to a better place. And we also know that while we go, we can help others go with us.

Peace and Love, Readers,
That girl in Switzerland

Paris in Love

So Paris is the city of lovers, and I could have had a few romps in the sack myself had I chosen to do so. First there was the keychain vendeur beneath the Eiffel Tower:

"Buy one, buy one, only one euro!" (And really, who doesn't buy one of those cheap things?) But after I bought one, the conversation went downhill rapidly.

"Look! Buy this watch! Only 45 Euro!"
"How much you give me for it?"
"You're so beautiful. Where you from?"
"America. Look, I've bought a keychain. Those women over there need some too." I randomly pointed at a group of women.
"America?! Barak Obama!!?"
"Mm hmm." I would have left the area myself, but I was staked out under a blue Eiffel Tower eating a ham and cheese crepe. This man would have to go. Not me.
"Where is your hotel?"
"You don't need to know."
"You have a lover?"
"Come on - you have a lover?"
He went.
(Don't worry, Mom...I never go anywhere that there aren't hundreds of people.)

And then the man at the metro:
"You have stolen my heart. You grabbed it out of my chest. My heart, it is yours. Let me spend the day with you. You are truly beautiful. Your eyes, they are beautiful."
Unfortunately for him: "No."
"You don't like me, mademoiselle?"
He went also.

There was also the forced-redundancy man in line at the Eiffel Tower:
"Parlez-vous francais?"
"No." (I do, a bit, but there was no reason for me to tell him that.)
"Allamand?" (German)
"Oui." My answering in French threw him off a bit.
"Ah, it's too bad. I only speak few words in English - hello, what is your name, goodbye."
"Ok, then, goodbye."
"Oh, mademoiselle, you from America??"
I nod. I am in a line of hundreds to go up the Eiffel Tower. There isn't much I can do about this guy right now.
"New York?"
"Ok, where you from?"
"North Carolina."
"North Carolina."
"Caroline Nord."
"AH! CAROLINE NORD! J'adore Caroline Nord!!"
Yeah right. Like he even knows where it is.
Anyway, once he realized that I wasn't about to provide a stimulating conversation, he left too. They all leave when they find out their latest muse is cold-hearted.

The only conversation that really made me laugh was the one with the guy at a little shop on the Ave de Suffren. I had bought a Paris bag there two days earlier. After the man had found out I was American, he had asked me if I liked American chili (and yes, I do...I love it, actually). This day, as I walked by, he recognized me, and called out, "American chili! ça va?" I laughed at him and said, "Oui, ça va. You remember me?" He said, "Your eyes, they sparkle. I could never forget your eyes!" And then he asked me to go out with him that night - a request that I turned down, but told him that I was sure he would find a different girl.

His response: " Ah, I only want you. I have passed up six hundred girls before you. Please go with me. You are the only one I can think of."

Now it is true that I was impressed that this guy remembered me. But...I have heard words like these before, and not just from strangers. So with the knowledge and experience that all men who say these words are liars, I once again turned down his invitation and continued on my way.

As a side note, while I jest about romps in the sack, these men were most likely just looking to steal money from me.

Unfortunately for them, they got none of my lovin'. Unfortunately for me, I was alone in a city full of lovers. They were everywhere - at every monument, every museum, every metro. My trip was thoroughly wonderful, except for the fact that I found myself terribly lonely at the most random moments each day (and also except for my stuff getting stolen...there was that). My thoughts drifted to my parents, my brother and sister, and to one other significant person who has recently made the choice to become nameless in my world. How sad that among all the kissing couples in Paris at Christmas, I was completely alone and unsure of my ability to ever find a real and lasting love. I too (per recently ruined dreams) should have had someone with me in Paris.

To be continued,
That girl in Switzerland