Dix Jours

Ten Days Left. As I write this, Julie informs me that she found Tom’s reservation confirmation email, and his plane indeed leaves on the 4th. We’re all breathing yogic sighs of relief and Om. Actually, they are sitting on the porch entertaining guests and I am balancing my computer on nose and typing with my toes for fun.

Today rocked as far as days where you take it ultra easy and do nothing can possibly rock. I don’t remember much of my bleary-eyed morning except for a dream I had about my brother telling me not to say some curse word which was minor in a sentence that I used a major curse word. I will allow you to divulge your imaginations and insert your own best version of what the words could be here. I also had a dream where my mom said, “Can you have breakfast ready uh….say, right now?” And so that made me think, perhaps the internal self-nurturing part of me needed breakfast. I got RIGHT on that mission.

After the morning flew by, we went down the Farmer’s Market where I got some souvenirs (these awesome boots for my aunt’s new baby) and a scarf for myself and other things for other people, items which I obviously can’t tell you in case you’re one of them because the surprise would be ruined and that is worse than a rotten sock in your mouth! Trust me, I know. I took Tom and Julie out to lunch at our favorite restaurant: The Horse of Iron and we sat in the sun as if it was Tahiti in July. I ate a salad with an egg on it, Julie had her last and final serving of Foi Gras, and Tom downed some salmon with “salad” (one lone cherry tomato). We sipped Coconut Rum Daiquiris and Piña Coladas. Ok, that last part about the cocktails was a lie. We saw some girl throwing up in the parking lot, that was pretty exciting. And then we came home and Tom fell and got an egg on his head (not the one from my salad). I asked if we could hard boil it for dinner, but he didn’t find that funny at all. Don’t worry, he is OK, and I didn’t really say that.

Here is the deal –tomorrow is Poisson De Avril which means we get to play jokes on our dinner guests: Mary Lou and Lionel. I’m thrilled to be doing this and let me give you a sneak preview as to the produits alimentaires of the evening. Sorry, I am practicing my French because they will BOTH be speaking it at our table tomorrow evening so you have to be exposed to the hypocrisy of my own personal pet peeve: English-speaking people speaking French to English-speaking people. Note: This does not apply in most educational settings.  

Each place at the table will include two forks, a spoon, a knife, appropriate glassware and a McDonald’s Happy Meal Box or Bag…which I need to get tomorrow morning, while I am back in town.

Starter: Carrot Ginger Pear Soup. For many this will be the most delicious part of the meal and tantalize their taste buds with the winter’s final root vegetable crops, coupled with the gingery spring-like awakening punch and anticipation of what is to come with fresh fruit. Unfortunately, for one guest, it will be saturated in VINEGAR and virtually inedible.

Second / Main Course: Exotic Mushrooms and Cheese in “Peasant’s Purse” Phylo dough,  Salmon 

Third Course: Salad with baked apples, crispy red onions, and whatever else I find in the soil to toss in there. No pun intended.

Fourth Course: Bread and cheeses, grapes

Dessert and Tea:  The desert will of course be a homemade piece of styrofoam decorated like a cake with all the fixings and our guest of honor will be asked to graciously cut us all a slice. The real desert involves berries and buckles, and all the other bells and whistles.

I love a good April Fool’s Joke. As long as it’s HARMLESS.
In saying that, I hope I don’t have any played on me by Julie, she is a hardcore April Fool’s die-hard, WWF smack down, and full of ideas I couldn’t dream up in my most Tylenol with codeine-filled dreams.

Tomorrow I have lots to do to prepare for all of our company, and little places here and there to ski daddle off to. Not literally SKI daddle, but you get the point. Indeed, this week has potential to be pretty full if all goes as planned. I guess even if all doesn’t go as planned, the key is just to keep making plans anyway, just so you can feel important. Isn’t it amazing how before you even know it….a day is gone right before your very eyes and you’re contemplating how many hours of sleep you’re about to get? Herein lies the blessing and curse of time. Feels like I just woke up!

The next two and last guests (for my stay at least) are coming Wednesday; Emily and Polly…hopefully they will have lots of juicy gossip to chat about over their pasta, chicken, and ladies’ nights. This house is going to be brimming with estrogen. I think I will probably commit my soul to the spa during this week to avoid any nail polish thieving, clothes sharing, yoga pose jealousy, and other female-related conflict.
Realistically Yours,

— Emily —

11. A Good Day to Not Be Bald.

Today I woke up feeling warm, safe, and hungry. I began the day by taking immediate action to stay warm, stay safe, and abolish the hunger. I also happened to walk by a mirror which showed me yesterday’s hairstyle still adorning my head. “Not bad, Emily!” I thought to myself, I think I am onto something. No seriously, I left my hair in yesterdays slop chop all night and then twisted it into a French Swedish cornucopia and it ended up being magical. I wish you all could see it! What’s the point of a good hair day if I am the only one to appreciate it?

I did get to show it off to the ski version of Julie’s Bridge Club when we went out to lunch, which by the way it is ALWAYS warm enough now to eat lunch outside and that makes me very happy. Julie got me a kick-assical scarf in Mongolia and I wore it proudly. Good fashion can really make a girl’s day.

Because it was 21 degrees Celsius, I took a hike to get groceries for our Breakaway Kofta (which I made with beefers not lamb) and Sweet Potatoes.

Nothing happened of note during my walk to Chamonix although I did forget the pistachios I paid for at the market AND I also found an OLIVE bread which I am super, ultra, crazily, and unnaturally excited about. Not because I eat bread, but because I eat olives. When I worked for Nature’s Green Grocer, I used to eat all the olives out of the bread when it was sticking out of it (we certainly couldn’t SELL it like that!!!) And it’s thrilling to be able to do this freely, knowing that Tom and Julie like Swiss bread more than they like olives (that is, bread with holes in it).

Speaking of Swiss, we were checking Tom’s tickets for his flight home and they appear to be wrong on TWO tickets that he has. Each ticket is for the wrong date. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of this exciting adventure!

— Emily —

 

12 Days of Uh, Not Christmas.

Last week, on my return trip from Germany, I was rudely awakened from a wonderful dream by our plane’s landing in the Geneva airport. The dream was that I was flying on my way to Boston airport and landing at that very moment. What a jostle back to reality as I blurry-eyed-ishly grabbed my carry-on, the excitement too much to bear, I was the first to spring out of my seat and ready to run off the airplane into the arms of the rental car company when the pilot let my heart fall to the ground with his words, “Thank you for flying with Easy Jet, and wellllllcoooooommmmme to Geneva…”

I didn’t cry a river, or even a brook, but I did feel a little like Part III of this adventure is going to require a whole new set of tools. I know I have lots of pictures of me lounging and being a lazy potato but the life of chalet chic, apart from keeping up with the

fashion trends, is no day at the beach. Despite the lounging in the snow in a bikini and the daily trips to the spa, and being fanned and fed grapes –I really do miss my friends and family more than my Apple computer could ever express with it’s standard English alphabet. I can’t wait to get home and I am counting down the days until I depart. I am trying to remain present and focused in the moment, but at times it can be tough when I hit a sudden patch of boredom, or loneliness, fear, or sheer insanity.

I have been using my little blog as an outlet for these thoughts, when suddenly, things started to get way too intellectual and thought-provoking for the rest of the world, and since I am all about making people feel smart…I’ve attempted to keep my blogs at a level that makes for an easy read. But now it’s about to get intense, we’re going to count down, to embark into the next phase, which may not be so exciting…but at least it gives you an extra task for your to-do-list everyday. “Read Emily’s Countdown Thoughts”. Come on, I know you all just wrote that down everyday in your day timers for the next 12 days, don’t even bother lying to me and saying you didn’t.

12 Days.
Today I woke up to Tom and Julie racing off to an early morning doctor’s appointment. This meant I could wake up at my preferred pace of a tortoise rather than sprint out of bed to make it to McDonald’s to get everyone Egg McMuffins before they get out of their sleeping caves. I ate my breakfast in a peaceful way, cleaned the kitchen, dishes, bathrooms, etc, etc, brought the recycling out, vacuumed, drank my 30th glass of water, paused to twiddle my thumbs, washed all the windows, fluffed every pillow in Argentiere and one single one in Chamonix, opened my drawers and wished I had more clothes, looked at the wall, looked out the window, listened to music, read, tried to think about when Tom and Julie would come home and whether or not I should leave the house, decided against it, ate an apple, started to read again and really considered leaving for a walk of some sort, opened the door for Tom and Julie because they came home, made Tom tea and got him a cookie while Julie went to ski (love a good rhyme), fell asleep (I think), made Tom lunch, ate way too much of my own lunch of lentil chickpea soup with Greek yogurt on it, considered dwelling on the fact that it is sunny and 20 degrees outside and I have yet to have the opportunity to go enjoy it, decided it’s best not to think about it, thought about a bunch of other stuff instead and tried to send psychic messages to my friends, did my hair in braids, undid my hair, did my hair in braids again, took a hike to town to get the groceries, made dinner, sang along to the tea kettle, washed up, Skyped with Lydia Loo Hoo, read some more, talked to my close friend on the computer chatter, and prevented a second Cuban Missile Crisis via snowballs from the chalet next door.   I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, Emily had such a productive day.” But I kid you not, I accomplished everything in a matter of two hours (I might have even left some stuff out like brushing my teeth and practicing my self-love mantras in the mirror) and every other waking moment was spent wondering why I was even awake at all. I wasn’t bored, I feel it’s nearly impossible for that too happen –especially when I have a good book, some legs to stretch (my own obviously, otherwise that’s just WEIRD), and a wall to graffitti. But, one can only do the same things by herself so many times before it really becomes less of a routine and more of just time killers. Plus, now there are neighbors that can see into my window and I can’t do handstands in privacy anymore.
Bored people do not like to be thought of as BORING nor be accused of having bored minds, so, sometimes they allow their brains to make lists like this:

1. What is reality? This one is still bugging me and I have yet to figure it out. I’ll save it for tomorrow.

2. You get what you pay for and you pay for what you get. I used to think that the best things in life are free, those that come simply and easily, what falls into my lap, so to speak. Not always, but sometimes free things are well….just plain old cheap. The things we pay the highest price for are often the things that give us the most sterling quality, and they usually last the longest. Like the necklace I am wearing that I had to swim to the bottom of the Titanic wreckage to find; I’ve owned it for YEARS. We may find that when we put in the work and pay the highest cost (I’m no longer talking about CASH here, people) we gain the most back. And then sometimes we don’t get any return on our investments, or so we think. However, what seems like a dead flower bud may just be making room for new blossoms. Lesson and moral of this thought is keep sowing kindness, patience, trust, understanding and all those other virtues your mom taught you would get you places in life. And try not to use prepositions to begin sentences, that’s a tip that will get you even further in life.

3. Kindness. I’ve been thinking about this all day because I read two quotes on it this morning. Made me feel like committing some random acts of kindness! Should I offer some squirrels here an acorn or two? I made Tom oatmeal raisin cookies this morning…all in a day’s work. Oops, it was supposed to be anonymous! I will tell him the Tooth Fairy made them. 

Only 3 more hours until 11 days!
Time flies when you’re having fun!

— Emily —

Drinking Dinkel and Devouring Daikon in Dresden

My experience of the German variety began at the Floghafen airport in Berlin. After landing and fishing through the sea of suitcases to find my enormous antique steamer trunk, I passed through the throngs of people in search of the balloons and streamers and parades that I was sure would be announcing my arrival. Nothing. Not even anyone holding a cute little sign with my name on it; I was hoping at least for the bus driver to dot my name with a heart or sunshine. In fact, I couldn’t even find where I was to be looking for this bus. Outside was a flurry of buses with words I could barely distinguish as letters, it looked more like Wing Dings font on the computer. When I wandered back inside, all I found was a small over-priced cafe, a staircase, a desk that said, “Tourist Help”, and a gift shop where I later found myself buying some fruit chews made with real apples for sustenance after being informed that my bus wasn’t arriving for two hours.

The lady at the desk didn’t want to learn the secret handshake I had made up in my head on the plane ride over, so I just got straight to the point in asking her about the bus’ arrival. She told me I would wait outside under the sign that said “Dresden”. Made perfect sense, so I apparently was stupid. I went out under the sign and tried to make English of the bus schedule, as well as where I pick up my tickets. Seeing, I was going to be waiting quite awhile, I meandered to the ticket counter to inquire how I show proof of purchase, I had written down the confirmation number they emailed me. The woman just stuck out her hand and said, “To Dresden? 18 Euro.” “Oh, yes, yes I know but I bought my ticket already and it said to pick it up at the counter.” “18 Euro.”
Ok….so, we’re obviously not gonna be pen pals. I decided to go find a place to comfortably await my chariot. There were no seats in this terminal. As in, none. Zero. Negative. There was however a radiator, which four other people were making themselves at home upon, so I joined them. Two hours on a heater makes for really warm buns. After sitting alone for 8 hours, I was in the mood for small talk, so I tried to strike up a conversation by asking if anyone was waiting for the same bus. The Polish woman to my right looked really excited about her sandwich and gave me a quizzical look after I had been staring at her for five minutes trying to get her attention to talk. The older gentleman to my left looked like he was poised and ready to snag my water bottle out of the garbage the second I threw it away. And the girl on her way to Warsaw, two heads down told me, in Spanish, that she doesn’t speak English and she is not waiting for the same bus. So, I sat by my lonesome and watched my fingernails grow.

Precisely on time, the bus shows up, and wordlessly the driver and I reach an understanding about the ticket, which is in an envelope waiting for me on his dashboard. Now, the next quandary. Leah didn’t tell me which stop it was…. actually she did I am sure, I think I just was not paying attention. I find out that there are TWO stops in Dresden. Big station. Small station. I could have sworn she said small station, so after marveling at the size of their TRUCKS and BUSES which are absolutely HUGE, I close my eyes, make my bus seat my own, and find time slipping away as the dreams begin…

I awake to a HUGE bus station and everyone sifting through luggage and getting off the bus. I panic and wonder if this is my stop; stepping outside, I see no signs of Leah and decide to follow my gut and get back on board. I have left her address in my email, which I was unable to get to and I am getting worried now about the lack of love given to me when I try to ask questions. I found out, from my German seat-sharing pal, that the bus station we were just at was the “SMALL” bus station! The next stop sounds like “YouGetOffHereEmily” or “Hubbernoffigrigerhoffenbonn” (something like that) so I decide now is a good time for the ride to end, and step off to see the lovely face of LEAH greeting me!!!!
 We have a 90-minute hugging session, drink a beer on the walk back from the bus (it was sort of warm after the long hug, but Leah reassures me, that is the German way), drop my luggage, and EXPLORE. We started at the massive library, which would take me days to write about, days to walk through every room, and I would have to be a cat with nine lives to read all the books in this place! Leah had no class on Wednesday, so we spend our second day exploring the city like children in a zoo. We visit an amazing organic grocery store, an Afrikan wares shop, a bunch of fair trade clothing stores, a head shop which had a huge sign advertising that it sold Absinthe, and got a veggie Falafel sandwich called a döner for lunch.  Then we took off again for some giant store Leah is in love with (ForkenFolokenHafen?), got lost, and took note of the intriguing marketing skills of the German, wishing we could walk as straight as they do, envying their bicycles, and the way they make shorts and tights look like it actually IS a fashion statement. After a day well-lived, and the nine flights of stairs to get to her apartment having been climbed three or four times, we crash upon our Ikea-like uniform mattresses with barely enough energy to dream.

Leah and her roommates live in an International housing unit for people visiting Dresden (for school, work, etc). They can stay weeks, months, days, years, and it’s pretty much an everything included room: Beds, linens, dishes, pots, pans, dustpans, etc. While Leah attends class in the mornings, I walk about using my fake German photo bus ID that we created and her highly skilled mapping system that she has drawn all over and ripped into a puzzle for me to piece together while I wait for various modes of transportation. 

In the mornings, I awake to eat foods like Quartkspeitzel and I put Dinkel milk in my coffee. Then we make amazing vegetable smorgasbords for our lunches and wash it down with the most amazing of cheap beers one has ever tasted. They are all about .87 (Approximately $1.00) for the best of the best. My favorite was the organic, wheat-free, and locally brewed Dinkel bier (spelt). The pickles are everything one could hope for and more, and Leah does a good job of making sure I am well fed and cared for. Together we create food masterpieces chefs only dream of devising!

One of my favorite moments, though there were too many to recall, was when Leah and I were relaxing at the Bierstube, a local university hang out, when the server sees our empty glasses and says, “Möchten Sie noch ein Bier möchten Sie zu einem Spaziergang, wo Sie kommen nicht aus gehen?” Or something like that…and Leah replies, “No, thanks.” With all the confidence in the world that her answer was the right one. This has been an eye-opening and awesome trip, the three major lessons I learned were:

1. Do not pack two huge expensive containers of honey in your carry-on luggage because you will get to watch as they throw your hard-earned Euro’s into their handy dandy security trash can.

2. All it takes to be the happiest person on earth is to create the life you love and be thankful for every bit of it!

3. Jars (and all packages of any sort) in Germany are way harder to open than jars in France, a bicep workout with every pickled beet sauerkraut feast I crave. By the time I get home, I will be able to open American jars with my pinky finger.

I am back in my mountainous temporary home now, just went to the Farmer’s Market and got my body weight in spinach –a bonus string bean came in with the lot! Now just 16 days in these foreign lands before coming home!!

I hope I can remember how to cook since I start working again in four days…

Indeed seeing you REALLY soon and counting down the Samtags, Montags, Dienstags Mittwochs, and Sonntags until it becomes reality…

— Emily —

Bicicletes y Besos en Barcelona

If only my parents had known that one day I would come in third place in a sailboat race in Barcelona, I am sure my childhood would have looked vastly different. I imagine it would have involved crowns, servants, and a shower of jewel-lavish toys to play with rather than homemade balls of yarn, chores-a-plenty, and many nights with just porridge and gruel to eat for supper. “Please, mummy, may I ‘ave some more?” No one could have known this would be my destiny so at least I grew up a humble girl. I can’t yank your chain too much because I hardly had a hand in pulling the ropes that won the race. But, on March 18th, I was indeed aboard the 3rd place sailboat on it’s oceanic triumph.
 As far as cities go, and when comparing it to most other places on earth, Barcelona is BEAUTY-FULL! The sights, the sounds, the cultural array splayed out in front of me. I was happy that my Spanish in high school was slowly being refreshed to my memory, but unlike French-speakers, the Spanish and Cataloyna (a variation of Spanish with slang, lisps, and excessive speaking speeds which is local to the region) were happy to practice their English on tourists like myself. I arrived at night to the comfortable home of two artists, UB and Will, and their daughter, Stassa. They had previously been visitors in our Chalet and welcomed me with open arms and a “make yourself at home” attitude. Their “apartment” is across from Picasso’s mother’s old apartment, and one can step outside for a walk in a neighborhood with Gothic churches, or head to the newer constructs on Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is also a good place to get rambled on by tourists.
 The goof troop kindly escorted my ten suitcases and I up to the guest bedroom on the terrace, literally a stone grotto-style room on the roof of their apartment where I could open my door and hear the sounds of motorbikes, Spaniards enjoying the night life, and all sorts of unrecognizable happenings. Despite any noises, my sleeping was deep, comfortable, and unbridled. I woke up in the morning to birds chirping about how much they loved life, and the bells of the cathedral next door alerting me to the fact that it was 8 o’clock in the morning and I was just being plain, old lazy. I toured their house with plenty of wonder and amazement. It is like a livable, comfortable art museum, full of baubles and bobs that are more interesting than clipping my toenails on a Saturday afternoon. If you can believe that.

 I wish I had more time in this city, my first day was consumed with our sailboat victory, being on the water, and then having a two hour lunch in the boat club restaurant. My second day, I took off alone, walking for hours and hours, getting only slightly turned around, and using a bit of graffitti to guide me back to U.B.’s studio. I ate a giant fish and experienced  the Barcelona art, Waldorf schools, and let my eyes feast upon amazing architecture.
 Perhaps I am not expressing how much I love this place. There are palm trees. There is a beach! It is a city full of rich art, both old and new. The merging of ancient culture with a youthful expression. There is a bicycle program in which residents can rent a bike from nearly anywhere in the city for a very low price tag. People are thin and trim, for the most part, and do plenty of walking and riding their bikes. Even the pigeons are in better shape than pigeons I have seen!
 The cockroach outside my bedroom was slightly off-putting; but it was playing dead so I let it hang out. I prefer my cockroaches drizzled with caramel sauce, and this one looked a little thin to make a decent meal.

Last night, the German teacher’s assistant/student from Stassa’s school (who arrived in town just in time for some polenta and veggies) and I went to pop our heads into a Spanish bar “La Princessa”. People were indeed eating their dinner at 10:30 and 11:00 at night and just beginning to set off for a night full of escapades. We didn’t participate in the debauchery, but we each had a good lesson in language-changing and culture-charing as he spoke, Spanish, German, and English. I could ALMOST keep up. The German threw me for a Lederhosen Shnitzel though.

There was so much more to see and do in Barcelona, I feel like I just barely had a chance to arrive before it was time to go; I totally forgot to show off my Flamenco moves and was just starting to remember how to roll my “r”‘s in Spanish when it was time to wake up and head to the airport for the last, and final leg of my fabulous journey. A 5-hour wait in the Swiss airport gives me enough time to realize I never want to live in Switzerland (it costs six arms, two Swiss francs, and three legs PER DAY), do some people watching, and self-reflect about how I don’t have the internet and can’t figure out how to use a calling card and how this lack of resources will affect my future.

Unlike most experiences in life, I didn’t gleam any deep, self-reinventing life lessons from being in Barcelona, I was however able to personify the word “relax”. I also heard a really great Bob Dylan song in the Gaudi gift shop, and further fueled my undying passion for living in a warm climate.
Thank you to U.B., Will, Stassa (and Lily and Frieda) for making my stay second to NONE!

Blue Skies and Kisses,

— Emily —

Losing LBs in London

Circa 2012

4:45 on Wednesday, March 14th

Subject awakes with a start.

Thanks to my loving alarm clock’s batteries lasting the entire night and alerting me that it was indeed the day to begin Emily’s Tour of the World. The journey began with my meeting the Alpy bus guy out front in the driveway, the inexpensive shuttle service that will magically transport anyone from doorstep to airport so they don’t have to rollerblade my way across Europe with an overstuffed suitcase. The driver claims he sent me an email stating that he was coming 15 minutes earlier than originally planned, though I still do have proof of this email, and I feel like it definitely should have gotten here by now. Needless to say, I was late, and probably the cause of someone missing pre-flight  cigarette or breakfast sandwich before boarding. Together, we carried his stressed out self down the mountain, into the still sleeping Chamonix to pick up more passengers. Chamonix was still dead to the world in a deep slumber by the time it hit 7am. Every winding street we went down, not a single coffee shop appealing to the bleary eyed, hurried business men…no 24-hour convenience stores here, and not even an early morning Happy Meal from Mcdonald’s. Little did I know, I would soon be exposed to cities great and small, awake and asleep, bustling and bumbling. As I make like Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love for my own little amateur rendition and unedited New York Times’ Bestseller. I have yet to come up with the title for this journey yet, although I am sure it will come to me after. I’m seizing the day for the good chance to get away for a couple days, say that I saw a bit of Europe, and come up with something cool to talk about at dinner parties….not that I get invited to any dinner parties, but in the off chance that I do.

First stop, England. Well, that is, if they let me on the plane because my bag was too full…I managed to talk them into it by sitting on the bag and precariously hiding my second carry-on under my shirt. Then I had to talk my way out of the 20 questions we were playing at the customs gate. “Dudes, I know I look suspicious, but honestly…you simply must grant me access to your land. Wanna hear my best imitation of your English accent!?” My friends Chris and Jamie live here in the land of Anglo-Saxons and cross their hearts hope to die here as well. Not any time soon, but you get the point.

After a not-so-warm-welcome from the customs gate, I  crunched into my friend’s tiny car (again, the problem was not so much the car but the size of my “handbag”) and sped off to the city of Milton Keynes, just outside of London. I wasn’t about to tell him that he was driving on the wrong side of the road, because it looked like everyone was doing the same thing. I don’t know how they got so many people on board to go against the grain like that…really bold moves.

While in England, I felt like I was in the United States because finally people were speaking English to me! Granted, it was a more accentuated (no pun intended), less grammatically correct, yet simultanesouly more proper form of English. Other than people driving on the wrong side of the road and having roundabouts rather than intersections. I wanted to hop on the bus that said “Peterborough” and have it take me home. I literally felt like I was in a giant US shopping mall. This place has been described as the test grounds for evolution, a culture where they are trying out the latest and greatest in new technologies on their citizens. They even had an INDOOR ski place. Yes, inside the mall; downhill skiing. I know they came first and so really Americans are the ones who have it all backwards and roundabout and such, but it must just perpetuate my American-ness because I think we have some things going right for us.

Even though going there made me realize that England isn’t exactly MY cup of tea, I did get to finally have a decent cup of one (there isn’t the best tea in France, but I suppose they can’t have EVERYTHING going for them). I also got a great idea to write a weight loss book and title it: Losing Lbs in London because I lost about 5 pounds with all the walking that we did in London, and the COLD air, and cold showers, and eating infrequent meals, and just plain old steering clear of culinary disasters like “pig’s blood pudding”. The highlight of my trip was that I got to pee in the toilet in a real, honest-to-goodness castle, and got an amazing chiropractic adjustment at ML Chiropractic in London. I also got to see some great modern art at the Tate Modern and watched a seriously messed up movie in a cinema about a group of out of control high school students from Pasadena, California.

I noticed the English have a love for their land animals; all of their authentic pubs and shops have animals in the title of them, “Ye Olde Swan” “The White Horse” (though that could have been referring to something else rather than just drinks and edibles) “The Cock” “The Bull”. I was trying to think of whether or not we do anything similar to that in the States. But my mind drew a blank; actually…my mind drew a blank for a good portion of the trip as I was trying to wrap it around the fact that clicking my heels three times would STILL not get me to Kansas. There is so much to learn about in this world, my brain runneth over with knowledge after just a few days! By the time I left, I really was “Minding my Head”.

Sticking with the theme, the lessons I learned on this short trip came to me in a rather roundabout way. All in all, I was happy to arrive, and happy to depart. The sign of a successful venture.

“Don’t give into your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” –Paul Coelho (The Alchemist)

Prochain arret: Barcelona!!!
Although, I have to sort out which language I am speaking before I get there….

Power-Walking through the Backcountry Won’t Get You Home

I’m sitting on my bunk bed as I write this, the weight of my ever-expanding brain (I am sure that is what is to blame for my additional heaviness) is causing not just one mattress, but two, to sink down and touch the boards. If I were a princess, I would be able to feel that single pea (in the form of a bunch of springs) under there, especially if it was frozen and did not get squished. 

My dad was just here to visit me for five days and despite his slightly more comfortable sleeping arrangement in the guest room, he could not sleep so well either. He has jet lag, our excessively late French-eating habits, and my late night yodeling practice to blame though. Despite his sleep deprivation, he had no problem keeping up with me on our day long hiking excursions, whistling through the trees, and down all the black diamond trails, on our skis (and sometimes water skiing through the slush),  and ascension to the heavens of high altitude via telegraphique.

My dad never has to stop to eat, to drink, to pick his nose, he never gets low blood pressure and nearly passes out, or a sudden wave of needing a nap NOW, and he never gets bored. His breakfast could be pork liver and fried amoeba brains without his getting sick, he can somehow eat fondue without his cheeks puffing up like a sumo wrestler’s face, and he will gladly get knocked over by hurried Farmer’s Market goers rather than push his way through the crowd. He never has to sit down in the middle of the ski hill and fix his hair, and he can haul the six suitcases I need for a day excursion to town strapped to himself while we jog there. I don’t really understand it! It’s nearly impossible for me to keep up with the Incredible Hulk, but I gave it my best effort and put on my tour guide cap while showing my dad the best, and worst parts of France. The worst parts namely being, his unrecognizable daughter. 

 

I have decided culture shock comes in three stages. One may not have to go through them all depending on the length of stay:

Stage One. Terror mixed with Elation. Total and utter lack of what to do, where you are, who you are, and from where you came. Petrified running from people, gloriously speaking Spanish in the grocery store to the cashier, and locking yourself in the basement of your igloo to catch up on sleep after endless days of exploration and new adventures.

Stage Two. Immersion. This is a long phase but involves learning your way, finally uttering some phrases in another language confidently, and avoiding the “Scarlet F” stares (F is for foreigner). Figuring out the faux-pas that help you fit right in with all the rest of the foreigners here.

Stage Three. Homesickness. As the understanding and knowledge grows, life becomes slightly more mundane and normal, although your bed is still not YOUR BED, you still don’t get organic kale chips fed to you by the pool boy everyday, there is still no washing machine, and your coffee is still not living up to your standards each morning. I’ve been able to avoid the acceptance of this phase for awhile, until the arrival of my dad. With him in tow, I drew much more attention to myself, thereby summoning more stares, and a handful of Scarlet “T”‘s (T is for tourist) to attach to my jacket.

As we were race-walking to catch a train (on a route I had never taken before), just as I was about to have a breakdown of weariness, and my bladder was knocking because I am a girl and it had been hours, and IMMEDIATELY following my lunch it’s usually time for my two hour siesta…and I had no idea why the ticket office was closed for LUNCH when WE were in dire need of a train….as I was about to throw my hands up be ultra annoyed with how no one could understand me even though I know what I want to do and say!!!!

My dad made me realize how very energy-consuming and exhausting it is to live in another country, where you are still learning and struggling through every conversation and new situations are more difficult than when you are in control, wishing someone would just take you under their wing and keep you safe and warm for the last 23 days, and most of all how difficult it gets to be away from everyone you know and trust. It was sort of reassuring that what I was going through was a normal process and I am not just some crazed chick with unruly emotions and mood swings (even though that is entirely the case, my dad makes me feel a little less psycho).

So, because I am a sucker for punishment…I am now about to visit three other countries who I am sure will just LOVE ME. The same way France welcomed me with such open arms. I wonder what the moral of the story will be.


Coming home really soon,

— Emily —