28 February 2009

London (being part the first)

Have decided to blog while in London. Here's the beginning of my story. You get to fill in the blanks.

11:48 a.m. Am now crossing the English Channel. Have made the personal decision never to swim it.

11:55 a.m. First glimpse of UK soil. Peeked out of the plane window for crop circles. Saw none.

12:45 p.m. Have managed to flirt with the man at customs. Was not on purpose. Accents get to me.

1:15 p.m. Have succesfully collected luggage and made the train to London Victoria. Already have the feeling that the London Underground will be more confusing than the wonderful Paris metro. *a brief, reflective pause*

1:16 p.m. Finds it rather cool that I am able to personally compare the two cities' tubes.

1:45 p.m. Have just made a man's mouth drop open as he said in disbelieving, British tones, "Ya mean ya dun't know where on earff ya've just come from?" Is slightly humiliated. Will recover.

2:05 p.m. Am delaying the tube frustration by eating an Italian turkey sub at Subway for the first time since last September in Lyon, France. (Ahhh...Subway...food for my soul...)

2:07 p.m. Have just decided that it's nice to hear people speaking English all 'round again.

3:00 p.m. Have just astonished the man at the hostel by showing him my American passport. According to him, he "was 100% positive" that I am Australian. Have decided accents are fun.

5:18 p.m. Have changed my mind and decided that the good ol' king's English sounds a bit like a foreign language here. Keep having to say, "Pardon?" when people speak. Might be nice to hear a bit of French. At least it would be understandable (something is wrong with this picture.)

8:16 p.m. Have now seen Kensington Gardens, dined on a chickpea salad, dutifully emailed mother, and blogged. Am going to bid farewell to readers until next time.

Farewell until next time, Readers,
That girl in Switzerland *currently in London*

12 February 2009

Child Abuse Redefined

Just to briefly redefine the term child abuse: "the physical or emotional abuse of a child-care provider by the child(ren) in question."

Now, it's a really good thing that since I watch Switzerland's two best boys, they would never ever dream of committing "child abuse."

Would they?

Jules, I love you...but for real...that cheek was still healing from the last time you scratched me...not to mention, my neck and chest could have survived without being such a delightful shade of pink.

And yes, you still have to take naps.

Currently in minor pain,
That girl in Switzerland

10 February 2009

Smiles, Frowns, Happy, Sad

There is a middle-aged woman with frizzy red hair who rides the bus quite often from Vésenez to Hermance. I see her at least once a week. But I have never seen her smile. She doesn't look so much sad as angry at the world. I always wonder what has happened to make her so sour. I have caught her eye and smiled a time or two, but she has always looked intensely uncomfortable, frowned, and looked away. She personifies the concept of lonely, stuck in a trap of her own making.

Often as I stare out the bus window into oblivion - squinting into the darkness, lost in reflection - I wake with a sudden jolt and realize that I am wearing this red-haired woman's expression - the same look of annoyance and pessimism that never used to shadow my face. When this happens, I wonder if I have lived out my genuine smiles, and will see the second half of my life appear like this woman - always something to make her sad and angry, always one more thing to make her doubt the validity of her own existence. Will I be the woman on the bus who makes eye contact with nobody, not comfortable in her own skin?

The thought makes me unhappy. But if I were to bet, I would say that the same thought would have made her unhappy twenty years ago. What happens to people to make them like this? What kind of choices do they make? What sort of god do they serve?

I wonder what that woman thinks about when she looks out the window.

Who am I again?
That girl in Switzerland

08 February 2009

No Ranting or Poetry, I promise...Just this week and food...

...just some random stuff about my week because it's really early and I feel like blogging and don't have a better subject.

The day woke up with a bang - or not so much, because I really hated to get out of bed. I was so tired. I've been having some trouble sleeping lately, so when I have to get up before eight o'clock (or get less than three hours of sleep, which isn't unusual for me), I usually don't count on my brain functioning properly until at least nine - or until after I've had a hot peppermint tea. My host mom, Charlotte, asks me almost every morning if I'm ok ( :-P ), and I think this has something to do with the fact that I usually look like a zombie when she sees me.

My alarm went of at 6:40, but I didn't get out of bed until almost seven (a bit later than I meant to), took a quick shower, fed and walked the dogs and waited for the boys to wake up, which they finally did around eight. Well, Jules did around eight. (Exactly right now, as I'm writing this sentence, Felix is still not awake. This is good, as it allows me to fudge on how long I can leave the tv on. Past 8:30, now, certainly, as they're both allowed a half an hour, and Jules won't leave it as long as it's on. So 9? I love being an au pair.)

Remember the old Pink Panther cartoons? Those are good cartoons. They have no words. This allows me to essentially watch the boys "french cartoons" (they think) and understand everything that happens. The boys believe my french to be so good because I understand what happens in these cartoons.

At least someone thinks my french is good. I placed an order at McD's the other night (in french), and the guy behind the counter replied, "Would you like that small or medium?"

8:14. Felix just woke up. So 8:45, the tv will go off. Ok. That's my plan. Well, maybe 9. That's not too late, is it? I'm so tired.

Friday night my host family and I went to this sushi place called the Sushi Train. I'd been there with them before, but this time I was reeeeally craving sushi. On the way there, Felix was whining about something and Charlotte told him, "If you don't stop, we'll go home. There won't be any sushi for you." So of course Felix stopped.

And then Charlotte and I had a good laugh. She said, "You can blog about how your family is so strict. We're such good disciplinarions. We say, 'Be good or you'll get no sushi.'"

The Sushi Train is really fun! Everyone sits around a high bar, and a great electric toy train runs around the top of the bar. The sides of the box cars all say "Pennsylvania," so I told Felix that the train is from America. He was completely thrilled.

The concept of the Sushi Train is really fun! On top of the train cars are small plates of sushi all stacked up. As it goes round the bar on its track, you just take off whatever looks good to you, and add up the prices at the end. I love sushi. I ate six plates. But that was nothing to what Arnaud ate. I think he had at least ten. Felix ate a lot too - at least as much as I did. He pulled up his shirt so I could poke his belly, which was, according to Felix, "completely full of sushi."

Last night my friend Kerara and I went to a fun place in Old Town called Brasserie-restaurant de l'Hôtel-de-Ville. It is just a thirty-second walk from St. Peter's Cathedral (where John Calvin used to preach), and just across from the oldest house in Genève. Very lovely part of town. My favorite part of town, actually. We had a fondue made with Gruyères cheese and white wine. Yummy.

I swear the woman at the next table was a paid escort. She was Swedish, I think - very blond, but with too much makeup and looking old before her time. The man she was with was rather disgusting - he had his shirt open halfway down his potbelly (which was very hairy) and kept his hands all over her the entire night. Kissing and groping. Yuck. She's either with him because it's her business and she's paid to be, or they're lovers because she's shallow and he's rich (and she did look shallow and he did look rich - but it was kind of a pimp rich, if you know what I mean - but I guess either scenerio involves shallowness, money, and vanity). I'm guessing paid escort because she didn't look into him at all. She always pulled away at first when he was leaning toward her, tried to talk instead of kiss, etc. She had a great fake smile, but she didn't look thrilled to be there. Anyway, paid escort or the lover of a rich dude, it all boils down to money. Because let's face it, the sex just can't be that good.

But our fondue was great!

Anyway, I need to go empty the dishwasher before I turn off the tv. Jules has already asked to play his DS. I'm sure Felix wouldn't resist that plan of action either. Should I let them? Nintendo is electronic...so technically not allowed without their parents' permission...but Charlotte and Arnaud are sleeping, and the temptation is running strong...

Contemplating the consequences of au pair insubordination,
That girl in Switzerland

P.S. There is a lot of snow today. Il y a beaucoup de neige aujourd'hui. I wonder what shoes I should wear for my hour and a half treck to church.