Indonesia 2: Cat-poo-chino

Last summer I took a two week trip to Indonesia for a vacation, as well as to attend my flatmate’s wedding. I finally got around to typing up my journal entries, so here they are. I’ll take my chances that you won’t mind if they are 8 months late! Forgive the lack of serious editing; sometimes travel writing should be left as it is, stream of consciousness and abruptness and all.

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The second day I managed to sleep from 9pm-5:45am; not too shabby! I really wanted to finish the Wizard of the Crow. How could I resist a fantasy novel by a Kenyan author who once secretly wrote an entire book on toilet paper while in prison? So I sat on my balcony watching the world come alive once again and ended up getting to breakfast later than I intended – just as the van for my Eco Bike tour pulled up, 15 minutes early.

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Despite no breakfast and after an hour and a half of picking up 10 other passengers and driving up to the Lake View Lodge, we had our breakfast. But not before passing through a village called DalaDala, which mass produces many of the “handicrafts” seen all over the world. I’m talking absolutely everything from anywhere that is made out of wood. Boomerangs for Australia, giraffe statues and masks for Africa, Tiki statues for Hawaii, Dreamcatchers and Native American chiefs for the US, everything. Apparently the wood is right for that sort of thing, and they take special orders from wherever and ship it all out in bulk. So funny. I would have expected China, but not Bali of all places.

Along this stretch of road, somewhere between the 6-foot-tall giraffe and the Benzin (petrol) stands displaying their wares, I realized I forgot my camera in my room. When we got tot he Lake View Restaurant there was a gift shop, but it was closed. Apparently the person with the key was a Grandma who hadn’t shown up yet. I could see the disposable cameras through the window mercilessly taunting me. So close and yet so far! I took it as a sign that I simply was not meant to take pictures that day.

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Mt. Batur is actually an active volcano – the whole southern slope was still covered in volcanic silt from the 1963 lava flow. After properly meeting the rest of the crew (a German couple, an American couple from Portland, Oregon, a Japanese couple living in Spain, a Belgian couple, and a mother-daughter pair from Perth) we were on our way to the Agro-business center, where we tried 6 different kinds of coffee/tea (ginger coffee, Bali Arabica, Bali Robusta, lemongrass tea, ginseng tea, and hot chocolate). I split a cup of the “Bucket List” cat-poo-cino. This is the coffee that is made from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of the Luwok cat. In other words, the cat eats the coffee berries, shits them out, and then people roast the coffee beans. How on earth did this come about? When the Dutch East India Company still owned Indonesia they banned the Indonesians from growing or picking coffee. People found a way around it by discovering the beans were undigestible by the Luwoks who roam all over the area. How it turned into a delicacy I have no idea, but now it is 240 AUS$ a cup, or $20 a cup normally, but because we were at the “factory” I split a cup with one of the German girls for $6 a cup. Score! Nothing like getting a good deal on your cheap cat crap coffee. It was thick, lots of sediment, and a totally different flavor than normal coffee. Mmmmmm! The Agro-business center also had cinnamon trees, cocoa, ginseng, tumeric, ginger, and loads of other fruits. Finally we were off after a trip down memory lane fueled by the use of a bucket water to flush the toilet.

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We hopped on our bikes, and proceeded to “ride”25 km. I put “ride” in quotation marks purposefully because it was less riding and more gliding. It was downhill pretty much the whole way. My fingers got more of a workout from using the brake handles than my legs did. The scenery, however, was gorgeous. Rice paddy after rice paddy in varying hues of green.

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Men and women bent over with straw hats moving slowly down their rows, plastic bags on bamboo poles to keep away the birds. Stone mini-temples to place daily offerings at their corners. Palm trees laden with coconuts swaying in the background. Then on through villages – streets lined with parked motorbikes, family compounds behind pinkish stone walls topped with grey stone carved decorations, family temples visible in the back corner – some topped with palm tree bark fiber. Many homes and businesses with enormous flags for whatever European cup country team they support – also on top of bamboo poles which create an arched canopy for the streets just over the Frangipani trees. Their yellow flowers brightening up the ground. Children waved and yelled “hello” and dogs barked or looked on curiously – but none of it in a menacing way like some other continents I know.

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We visited a family compound, the highlight of which was learning that when their children are born people bury the placentas in a coconut under a rock – to the right of the steps for boys, to the left for girls. We also stopped at a huge Banyan tree – one of the holy trees for the Balinese people. We were warned not to go inside the tree if we were on our periods. This was to be the first of many times I was to be lectured against going into any temple if I was on my period. WTF! I wanted to retort each time I heard the narrative about respecting Balinese traditions – always delivered by a male – “Sorry, my birth control implant in my arm makes it so I don’t ever get a period, but thanks for your concern! It’s right here, why don’t you check right here to make sure I’m telling the truth?” I am usually the first person to insist on being respectful when in a culture different from your own, but good lord this was excessive. Ugh.

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After opting in for the optional 8k uphill bike ride to lunch (finally, some exercise!) we chowed down on excellent food, stopped at the monkey forrest (so cute!) and were done for the day. I tried 50 million shops and finally found something traditional that fits me for S’s wedding and Ketam at the front desk hooked me up with his friend to drive me on a motorbike the next day, and I booked a trekking trip. Dinner of salad and a fruit smoothie next to some sort of anti-drug concert on the main football field and I went home to read and go to bed. Except there was a freaking HUGE lizzard on my wall when I got in. I may or may not have shrieked. Ahem. This thing was HUGE (in case you didn’t note the all-caps emphasis the first time), easily a foot long.

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I waged war on the guy for a good 15 minutes before giving up and turning the lights out. It just didn’t want to crawl back out the window!

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Indonesia 1: Running…and running…and running

Last summer I took a two week trip to Indonesia for a vacation, as well as to attend my flatmate’s wedding. I finally got around to typing up my journal entries, so here they are. I’ll take my chances that you won’t mind if they are 8 months late! Forgive the lack of serious editing; sometimes travel writing should be left as it is, stream of consciousness and abruptness and all.

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This trip was off to a glorious start of sitting for 3 hours on the tarmac at the gate in DC because of thunderstorms, but luckily I didn’t realize it until an hour into the trip because true to form I had completely passed out the minute I got into my seat. My ticket from Zurich to Singapore was a separate ticket so there would be no help rebooking from the airline. I was about 10 minutes away from rebooking online via my phone after grilling the flight attendants as to the likelihood of making my connection when the pilot announced that our re-routing was approved. What a relief! I made the connection in Zurich with only a few minutes to spare (one of the last ones on the plane), and did a good job of sleeping most of the way. Sleeping on planes is my real-life superpower. True story. Upon arrival in Singapore I discovered Air Asia has no transfer desk, so I had to clear customs and immigration and actually go into Singapore in order to check in. Just because I could I left the airport and tried to find a beverage (without drinking a beverage of some kind in a place you can’t say you have actually been there). ATMs don’t give out coins and the credit card readers on the vending machines wouldn’t accept my cards so no luck there, but at least I got a couple more stamps in my passport.

I arrived in Bali looking and smelling like a homeless person, drove the hour and a half to Ubud (much more traffic than I expected) with the perpetually cheerful Alit and got settled into my room. Nick’s pension is located away from the main center of Ubud (thank god!) and has views into a garden with palm, Frangipani, and other kinds of trees.

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A pool, a restaurant, a tour agency, it’s all self-contained.

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I had the intention of staying awake until at least 9pm, but succumbed at around 7:30pm after a dinner of mango juice from a really nice lady down the street who recently opened a juice stand next to her house. Lunch was at 3:30pm so I didn’t need much to eat at that point. Indonesia is 12 hours ahead of DC, so due to jet lag I was up at 3:30am, then 4:30am, stayed in bed tossing and turning until 5:15am and finally got up and read on my verandah, watching the sky lighten and the birds tweet themselves awake until 6:30am. After breakfast and reading some more, I walked to the Spa 300 meters down the road to get a massage, body scrub, and flower bath. All for $16! It was fabulous. I tried to keep my thoughts present and breathe through the muscles the masseuse was working on, but it was a constant challenge. My mind kept drifting to boys, the Hash, the future, etc. I kept concentrating on my breath but it was not easy. I somehow knocked my hip out of shape on the plane sleeping on it wrong, and it was really, really sore. Interestingly enough, the massage didn’t help but the run later did.

More reading and some pool time, followed by a walk to a different part of Ubud and then I was off on the back of a motorbike to find the Bali H3.

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Only one false positive for the temple marking the meeting point and we were there. This Hash** is slightly different than others I have previously visited – instead of separate runners and walkers trails, there is a short and long trail and you decide which one to run or walk. We climbed up vertical cliffs, forded swiftly-flowing rivers, ran on 6-inch-wide rice paddy dividers, and pushed our way through bamboo. No circle at the beginning, only at the end (which is all conducted in Bahasa Indonesian, so I didn’t understand anything), only one down-down song, and lots of the walkers start ahead of time – people sort of start where they want, and no beer check. The pack is never together. I met a bunch of great people, including a retired Brit with 43 years hashing (!) and a delightful young chap who agreed to trade shirts with me so I could have a souvenir from the Bali Hash. Fantastic stuff. My five finger Vibrams were a hit. And there was food. A parcel of minced chicken over rice in a banana leaf wrapped in paper (which I saved for later) and Chicken Satay.

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Another gorgeous motorbike ride and I was home. So great to look at the stars and see the Southern Cross. I love how different the stars are in this hemisphere – it has been far too long…

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**Confused? This should help…

Posted in Indonesia, Running, Travel | 2 Comments

Longest word contest contender

49 letters long! 49! Yowza!

Weihnachtsbaumschmuckausstattungsspezialgeschaeft. Translation: "Annual Special Christmas Tree Decorations Store"

Posted in Switzerland | 3 Comments

Teaser

Rice paddies. Motorbike burns. Surfing. A four-day wedding celebration. Cat-poo-chino. Stay tuned – this and more coming your way pronto.

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Wisdom sits in places

First of all, Happy Pi Day y’all!

My friend Marie shared a link to this article in the NYT Travel section by Eric Weiner and I just loved reading it. Absolutely loved it. Hearing about his “thin places,” or more specifically,

“locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever,”

threw me on a trip down memory lane thinking of all the places around the world where I felt that way. Here for example:

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That’s the Lotus Temple, the house of worship for the Bahá’í faith in New Delhi, India and I took the picture in 2004. It is hard to describe the enormous scale of the place, but it’s a big, towering, marble lotus flower. A series of pools, fountains and waterways surround the temple and keep the air ten degrees cooler than the surrounding areas. New Delhi is hot and this is a tranquil respite from the dusty city. Inside there are no decorations or furnishings of any kind – just you and stark marble all the way to the top of the building – and you must be completely silent, no voices. I have an incredibly vivid memory of sitting cross-legged on the cool marble floor with my eyes closed and hearing nothing except the swish of saris, the soft padding of bare feet, and gentle tinkle of tiny bells on silver anklets as other women walked by to find their own quiet space on the floor. I don’t remember if there were men around or if they were in a different section; at this point I don’t even remember if my boyfriend at the time who I was traveling with was sitting next to me. For some reason it was the sound of other women passing that I remember. Something about those gentle sounds, the feel of the marble, the coolness of the air somehow combined to make the space around me feel lighter, like I could touch some hidden clarity if I was only willing to be receptive and patient.

Some places like the Lotus Temple feel light as if you could reach through the veil between worlds (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon anyone?) and some places feel heavy like you can feel the weight of all the people who passed through there. Bookstores are like that for me. The best ones are the really old ones where the floorboards creak and you worry about books falling down on you from towering stacks that go up to the ceiling. Where the owners or employees hang up quotes and cartoons on the shelves cut out of magazines and newspapers, cellotape the only thing between the scraps of paper and disintegrating oblivion. Crates of old LPs (are there any other kind at this point?) and sheet music and comic books stashed away in the back. Extensive poetry sections. There is a bookstore on a side street near the Angel tube stop in London that comes to mind, and even The Strand in New York City. Yes it’s touristy, but I have a soft spot for the place because it was only three blocks from my apartment in the East Village where I lived when I was discovering Led Zeppelin at age 19 and there I found one of my favorite books – a collection of essays by E. B. White. When you enter, keep your head down as you pass the tourists buying branded tote bags and turn left at the Literature section. The smell of lovingly worn hardcover tomes with their yellowing pages and fraying cloth covers is intoxicating and you can feel how many people have stood in the same spot as you, fingertips lightly brushing across names of literary giants and not-so-giants alike. The feeling is similar to Italian cathedrals with their pews, stained glass windows and likenesses of Saints all heavy under the weight of centuries of prayer. Bookstores are just as much temples as churches.

Not that being connected requires something created by humans. There is nowhere on earth I feel more in awe of our universe than standing on the edge of an outcropping of rocks and looking out over an angry ocean. A horrible storm blowing in Biarritz, France. The last windy reaches of a hurricane on the beaches of New Jersey. And, to take the cake, the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina.

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This was in early 2005. You can smell the ice, you can feel the ice, you can hear the ice creaking and groaning and finally big chunks cracking apart and splashing into the water.

Check out this clip from a Time interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and existential philosopher extraordinaire where he explains:

“When I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than most of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up — many people feel small, because they’re small, the Universe is big — but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity — that’s really what you want in life.”

Everyone should have the opportunity to learn science, or learn anything for that matter, from someone so passionate. In the presence of glaciers and mountains and oceans remembering that we are all stardust means that the boundaries of our mindset and creativity can be pushed and it makes me feel differently my place in the world. Life is indeed beautiful.

Where are your “thin places”?

And, more importantly, when is the last time you listened to Moby?

Posted in Random musings, Travel | 9 Comments

Lyon part III – urban shiggy

Despite the fact that I was particularly inspired by all the galleries I went to over the weekend I spent in Lyon, in general I love taking pictures of street art and interesting lines, colors, shapes etc that are found just from walking around cities. Lyon did not disappoint as a subject. Here are some of my favorite parts of walking around the Croix Rousse and Vieux Lyon neighborhoods.

Looking over the Pasarelle Saint-Georges from the Presqu'ile

Davey, Davey Crockett, King of the wild frontier

Fontaine Bartholdi and the Opera de Lyon. Did I mention it was FREEZING the whole time I was there?

Une ville sans voitures

Montée de la Grande Côte

RW, this one's for you

The traboule (covered passageways that make short cuts through buildings) that acts as the entrance to Passage Thiaffait - one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. On the other side is the Village des Créateurs which are businesses of young designers.

My souvenir from Village des Créateurs - do you get the reference??? 🙂

Passage Thiafait - the way silk-weavers used to transport their goods through the city

I think the might be my favorite out of the bunch.

Saône river

Another Bouchon, but far more touristy

A restaurant window

A little taste of the USA

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Lyon part II – the food

Despite the fact that I have several sports-related injuries preventing me from running or getting much exercise at the moment (every morning when I wake up I pray my jeans still fit…), most of my weekend in Lyon centered around food and eating. And oh boy, was it glorious. You don’t even want to know how many croissants and pain au chocolat I ate.

Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France and on top of that it sits right smack in the middle of two amazing wine regions – Côtes de Rhône and Beaujolais. The city is full of officially-licensed and not-so-official Bouchons, which are traditional restaurants serving typical Lyonaise food and wine. I visited one called Le Bouchon de l’Opera located on the rue des Capucins in the Crois Rousse neighborhood.

The choice was made for me when I saw the hundreds of little ceramic pigs in the window as I walked by. I would say the theme of this place is “Pork and Rockabilly.” The interior is super cozy with thick stone walls, wooden beams, ceramic pigs as decor and traditional farming implements adorning the walls, but then there is Elvis playing on the radio and posters of Betty Boop and Harley Davidson.

Ah Hipstamatic, how I love thee

The kitchen, and the HUGE wooden refrigerator!

To start off I had a carafe of the house Beaujolais wine which also came with pork rinds/scratchings/chicharrón. Melt in your mouth yummy.

Then came the salade Lyonnaise. Now, I ate this dish three times over the course of the week and this version was by far the best. Huge homemade croutons, a perfectly poached egg with the faintest hint of vinegar, and big smokey chunks of back bacon. Such an improvement over the little shredded pieces I had seen in previous salads. So good.

See the huge pieces of bacon??? YUM!

Finally came the main course, Quenelle de Brochet. Brochet is Pike fish, and a quenelle is…interesting to try to explain. The quenelle is ground up and formed into a dumpling, then oven baked in a cheese sauce. The dish smelled and tasted like baked fish, but had the texture of creamed scrambled eggs. It was absolutely delicious.

Also notice how the wine has slowly disappeared over the last 3 photos...

The proprietor was very chatty and kept me talking all the way through the time I was there, even though there was another large group in the restaurant at the same time. He walked me through the options of the menu and talked a bit about the history of the place, which was apparently a nightclub before they moved to this location. Before they were actually located across the street from the Opera, but had to move when the building had to be renovated. I was there alone, but didn’t have to resort to reading my kindle even once. Great guy.

Verdict: Excellent!

And here are a few more gratuitous food pictures from Les Halles

 

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Lyon part I

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Lyon, France for several days because someone at my office thought it was a good idea to pay me as a consultant to be the “rapporteur” at a two-day meeting. Ah, the glorious life of a consultant for an international organization who shall not be named. The amount I got paid for two days of work was more than my monthly stipend as a student, and should just about cover the amount that I owe Uncle Sam in taxes for this year. Woo hoo!  The feedback was that everyone was impressed with my typing skills and the fact that I was able to listen to the proceedings and take notes at the same time. Um, thank you? Glad all that education is being put to good use. Not long until it will be me giving those presentations instead of taking notes, mwahaha. It was, however, also an excellent networking opportunity and as the meetings were Thursday/Friday I stayed in Lyon over the weekend to check out the city.

Lyon is the second-largest city in France after Paris and is famous for being the French capital of gastronomy and having an UNESCO world heritage site. The prospect of spending a weekend partaking in French food, wine, coffee, and wandering around the cobbled streets sounded fantastic. What I failed to take into account, however, was the sub-zero temperatures. This was the week billed as “the coldest week in 27 years” in Europe and the temperature failed to rise above freezing for over a week. But did that deter me from my weekend plans? Jamais!  I ended up stopping in a store to by an extra scarf, hat, and stockings to put on under my jeans. I haven’t experienced tights-under-jeans weather in YEARS and forgot just how cold below-zero feels.

Brrrrrrr! Why do people on this continent feel the need to have fountains running year-round? Not that I'm complaining - the ice looks very cool.

I would like to take this opportunity to plug a great business I used to find a place to stay in Lyon – it’s called Airbnb and is a similar idea to Couchsurfers, except you pay for your room. I had such a positive experience I just have to gush about it a bit. And no, they are not compensating me in any way to say this. From their website:

We connect people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Guests can build real connections with their hosts, gain access to distinctive spaces, and immerse themselves in the culture of their destinations. Whether it’s an urban apartment or countryside castle, Airbnb makes it effortless to showcase your space to an audience of millions, and to find the right space at any price point, anywhere.

Basically, you can search for places to stay in the city you want to visit that are almost exclusively made up of people renting out rooms in their houses. Generally these are people who are interested in meeting new people, showing off their city, and making a bit of cash from their spare bedrooms. You can see photos of the place, read reviews from people who have stayed there in the past, and you can ask questions and exchange information (addresses/phone number) with the hosts before you pay a dime. Payment is done online so no surprises about the price when you show up.

I like this whole idea because it makes the experience of visiting somewhere new so much richer compared to staying in a impersonal hotel. Especially since I was there on my own. For 65 Euros a night including breakfast I stayed in a lovely, comfortable flat on the Presqu’ile within walking distance to the metro and main tourist areas with a couple who were students in Art History and Philosophy. E and C were very warm, welcoming, and it was a fantastic opportunity to speak French and chat about Lyon, French culture, and our lives in general with people who know the area. Plus, E plays a wicked bass guitar. Now go check it out as an alternative to a hotel for your next trip.

Speaking of the French language, it was such a joy to be in a place where I can communicate with anyone and everyone and not have to preface every conversation with, “Do you speak English?” Speaking only French for three straight days was so wonderful. No one even tried to switch to English with me. I’m not sure if this says more about my French skills or about their willingness to abide tourists compared to people in Paris, but it was much appreciated on my side. I was worried after too many years of neglect I would no longer be able to claim fluency in French, but at this point I can confidently say that is no problem. Some of my vocab is rusty, but that stuff comes back quickly. And as a bonus, in the short time I was there no fewer than four people stopped me on the street and asked for directions. European assimilation ftw! It’s amazing what a big scarf, skinny jeans and ankle boots can do for the perception of your nationality. Oddly enough, this has happened before. When I was traveling with my ex-boyfriend in Romania after college we were walking through the main plaza in a city called Cluj when a girl ran up to us and said (in French) “Ah, you are French, I just know it!” Could it be the unwashed-backpacker-chic that confused her? My ethnic heritage may be a mishmash of various European countries, but French is not one of them.

As a result of that experience with language, back in Basel I am more frustrated than ever about my lack of German skills and inability to connect with people here in a deeper way on their terms and not just my own. It is time. I decided to stop beating around the bush and finally enroll in a German class. I start on March 9th. I’d say it’s about time, after a year of being here and only managing to learn “survival German” (aka phrases centering around food, drink, and curses)!

Posted in Travel | 2 Comments

Roses are red, violets are blue…

“We ourselves and our cultures are all left with a scar or a limp that shows we have mangled or managed our way through a great something. And, we are still here. Crookedy here and there. But in some greater self, whole, and with Love.” ~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

You can find the whole text of “A Valentine For The World: The Lost Story” here

How I spent my Valentine's Day. What? You didn't really think I'd let the quote up top go without a snarky answer, did you?

What has been going on around here? Well, life goes on. After two months in the US which included:

-5 trips up and down the east coast between DC and NY (I swear to god I-95 was trying to kill me),

-4 times that I had to redo  experiment creation and data analysis for my project because of software upgrades,

-3 bouts of illness (two colds and the stomach flu),

-2 very large checks made out to my contractor, and

-1 poster presentation at a work conference

I had a minor nervous breakdown about all the running around I was doing and was cursing my decision to set up my schedule such that all my US-based life is crammed into two months. Remembering “this too shall pass” helped to take one hour at a time, put one foot in front of the other, and somehow end up at the airport at the appointed time with the appropriate luggage. Except without my guitar. Sad panda.  Unfortunately my third arm hasn’t grown in yet and I can only deal with so many bags at once.

Each time I leave DC to return to Basel it gets harder and harder to bring myself to go, but I think that this reaction serves as a reminder of what I want and what I’m working towards. Namely, being able to keep one foot on each continent for now but eventually ending up in DC full time. Do you remember the scene at the end of “When Harry Met Sally” when Harry says “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”? Well that’s how I feel about DC. I realize where I want to be and I want it to start NOW! <petulantly crosses arms and stamps foot>.

No one has ever accused me of being a patient person, tee hee. In general it is far too easy for me to focus on the next step instead of fully living in the now, but very rarely do I get such a strong, decisive feeling about what I want in the future. I don’t make five-year plans, or even three-year plans for that matter. Usually an opportunity presents itself and I wing it to some extent, jumping in with both feet. To be in a situation where I know exactly what I want and have it be two years away (which feels like forever but I know will pass by quickly) is a new sensation and quite frustrating.

New Years resolutions are not something I actively participate in, but maybe for this year a Valentine’s Day resolution is in order:

“…despite whichever challenges you may have, you were born with Unending Courage and Limitless Love to use as brightly as you wish – as deeply as you dare – during your one precious and wild lifetime on this earth.” ~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Unending Courage! Limitless Love! A good motto to live by. As a dear friend said to me a couple weeks ago, “Girl, no walls. You shouldn’t have them. You’re too young and vibrant and fabulous. You, my darling girl, are too young to be so jaded.” She’s right. It’s no good to focus on what isn’t there, we need to bask in the brilliance of what is. This goes for everything in life, not just the topic of that conversation (men. ahem.). Some people are all sunshine and rainbows from morn ’til night. That isn’t me – I’ve always tended to be more introspective – and to be honest I always assume people that are constantly overly happy-go-lucky have to be hiding something or are in denial of some serious personal issues. But I don’t actually want to be that cynical and maybe it’s jealously that is talking here. There is nothing wrong with wanting a little piece of that happiness and joy and making an effort to incorporate it into every day life.

But never fear, all is not doom and gloom, I have plenty of pretty mountains to visit and papers to write to occupy myself here in Basel.

This is what the coldest winter in 27 years does to a fountain. Maybe they should consider shutting it off?

The "Snow Bar" - carved out of a bank of snow in Parpan. Maybe we can strive to be good enough for The Epic's "fuzzy photos of great bars series!"

I wish these pictures could convey just how brilliant and sparkling the snow was. Incredible.

Posted in Random musings, Switzerland | 9 Comments

Ur doing it wrong

And I give thee…a gingerbread crackhouse. See if you can spot all the things that are “amiss” here 😉

Posted in DC | 6 Comments