Friday, January 29, 2010

Le Weekend

Sometimes there's nothing you can do but blame yourself.

Before Christmas TM brought up that they were going to her hometown of Reims, France for a weekend in January and that I was welcome to go. Of course both TM and TF kept saying, "You should really see Reims," (they have a Cathedral that is supposedly more beautiful than the Notre Dame, and it is where they make the best champagne in the world, plus a free trip to France). So there were definite reasons to go. After I accepted I began to see all the downsides to the trip. The first being that we were leaving at noon on Friday and returning around midnight on Sunday. Super. So I miss out on my Friday with TB (so the trip is no longer free because Fridays I make the most money). Then I "Google Map-ed" the route and it will take six hours. Six hours. In a car. With your boss. And your two charges. This is like my own personal hell (fortunately I just saw that they set up the DVD player in the car so they can just watch movies). When I'm there I don't need to work or anything which is nice, but since her whole family will be there I'll just be an afterthought hanging out alone. (And if you know me, I hate to be alone.) Plus Sunday TF will be with us for the return journey, so not only will I spend six hours in a car with both employers and charges but I would be stuck in the middle seat. Not okay. (Before you accuse me, non-au pairs, how many of you go, or want to go, on road trips with your employers? I thought so.)

Luckily I had my trusty map of Europe (thanks dad) with me last Sunday. I went to show my friends how far away Reims was when I noticed something; though Reims might be far from Zürich, it's awfully close to Paris. Ding ding! I would go to Paris. When I got home that evening I mentioned to the mom that maybe Saturday, after I toured Reims, I could take the train to Paris and stay there until Sunday. She had the brilliant, sanity-saving suggestion (albeit more expensive idea) to take the train home directly from Paris on Sunday. Avoiding six hours of middle seat? Yes, please! So though my "free weekend" is no longer I am excited to see Reims but even more excited to see friends of my parents, Mr. P & M. Mr. P & M live and have lived in Paris for 19 years (and are now French citizens, those lucky ducks!) and are just about the coolest people I know. (They are very cool, and I mean, they live in Paris, I think that might make them win automatically.) They are so gracious as to let me impose on them and their couch for Saturday night, and it's always nice to see people who knew you before you had "au pair" behind your name.

So now my dreaded trip has turned into a great weekend! I'm excited to see Reims and be back in Paris again, if only for 1.5 days. I guess that's the beauty of Europe though, in four hours you can be in a whole other country whereas in Minnesota, in four hours you can be in... Minnesota.

I promise to take pictures and to put them up on Sunday or Monday. Happy Weekend!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Repossessed

I don't know what it is about me, but people have always tried to take possession of me. It sounds weird I'm sure, but in my 23 years, I've had some really possessive friends.

The first instance I truly remember was in 3rd grade when a friend of mine called me on the phone to ensure that I would sit next to her every day for the entire school year. Sure, I guess you could say it's flattering but also a little weird. (If you want to know I actually stood up for myself and said, "I don't think that's fair," [I mean what if I got stuck on the edge and wanted to sit next to my best friend that day? I can't limit myself! Perhaps why I've had so few boyfriends...]. She and I made a compromise of sorts, where I ensured I sat next to her on even days or something like that...)

In college there were numerous people and groups claiming ownership of me. At one point in time (when I was still in my overachiever phase) my lacrosse team, my sorority, and student government all claimed to be my first priority, after academics that is. So that was tough to negotiate. My friends didn't like that lacrosse owned so much of my time come springtime and wanted to take me back... look who won that battle. (To be fair though it was either warming the bench or staying in Molly's already warm bed to watch Oprah...)

Like I said, people have always claimed possession over me.
Of course it isn't always with words that people have "claimed me," a lot of times it's also with actions. Like lately I feel like TM and TMoTB have been showing their "possession" over me. For instance, a couple weeks ago TMoTB had a lunch for her "French Women Club" and TM was there. At the start of the party I made myself scarce by taking TB on a 2 hour walk (meaning she slept and I read my book). When I walked back in the luncheon was in full swing, so I just popped my head around the corner to tell TMoTB that we were back. TM saw me and got a huge smile on her face and waved with both arms to say hello. I was so taken aback I almost turned around to see who was standing behind me, because clearly she was very excited to see them. TMoTB then introduced me around and when ladies spoke to me in English TM looked at TMoTB and said, "She understands French you know. She has lessons." And TMoTB said she knew. Feeling more than a little awkward I took TB away and when it was time for the cake (it was a special Galette des Rois--King Cake--for epiphany) TMoTB served me first. Now if you know etiquette you usually serve the most respected person first, so that was also a little awkward. TMoTB kept coming over to talk to me (which is fine because I love her) but every time she did TM did too.

A couple days ago TM said, "Some people brought up that TMoTB really likes having you around. We think it's because she more enjoys your company than she needs your help." Well, sure. But it's also easier to go grocery shopping without lugging an eight kilo mound (baby) and Jeep (stroller) and all the accessories (hazmat suit). When I told TMoTB that I was spending Saturday/Sunday in Paris (more on that later) she said, "Only one night in Paris!? Don't come in on Monday and stay another night! You must!" I told her I would but that I needed to be here for Boy & Girl to get them ready for school and feed them. She couldn't believe that I had to help get them dressed and pour their cereal (no lie) and kept reiterating what I always think, that I am pretty much unnecessary. I was telling TM that their Cleaning Lady (who is the bomb) told me I should stop saying the polite form of "you" in French (vous) and say the informal "tu" because she's only six years older than me. (Six years, one husband and two babies older...) The mom said, "Yes I noticed TMoTB says vous to you, whereas I say tu," pointing out that TMoTB and my relationship is more business-like and formal. But what TM didn't realize is that I say vous to her. So I constantly feel the pulls from either mother, maybe this isn't as awkward as it sounds, but I promise I feel it!

Yesterday when TF and I were discussing the new dishwasher (oh man, is this what my life has come to?!) he said, "I really wanted this model blah blah, but it wouldn't fit." I couldn't help but reply, "Oh, well that's the one TMoTB has."

Perhaps because TMoTB literally possesses me less I like her more...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So Very Swiss

We are getting a new dishwasher today. They guys were supposed to come between 11-12:30. When I walked upstairs at 10:15 to go take my shower I saw a new dishwasher and two workers outside the front door. Coming 45 minutes earlier than you were supposed to? Now that's Swiss.

Other Swiss things:

Sexism. Yes, it reigns supreme here. Women are actually looked down upon if they have a full-time job and are a mother. Women who work but not full-time usually feel the need to explain, "Well I only work 70%..." The first day I arrived we went to Ikea and there were a bunch of parking spaces at the front of the store marked specifically for women, not just t
he expecting mothers and/or mothers with small children like they have in the States but just for women. Because they don't want them to walk too far with their Ikea loads. I guess some might consider it polite, while some might consider it a wee bit sexist.

Scrunchies. I have a bunch of pet peeves, it is true. But scrunchies are right up th
ere on the list (right behind the overly loud eaters--Moll you know what I'm talking about--and PDA). A woman sat next to me on the bus a couple months ago. She had on: a Prada dress (the tag was sticking out), a Louis Vuitton bag, and Christian Louboutin heels. She looked very chic until she turned her head and I saw a Burberry scrunchie. Not only did this woman have designer overload but she ruined it all by wearing a scrunchie! Swiss women seriously love their scrunchies.

Safety. Coming from America where it's the land of the free and the home of the over-bearing parent (I worked at a summer camp, I know firsthand) safety is pretty big on my priorities in childcare. But the Swiss? Not so much. When I took Girl to her first swimming lesson I was shocked to see all the parents hanging out on the side of the pool and the kids swinging (literally) from ropes hanging on the ceiling. They were jumping all over one another, bashing every child in sight with pool toys, I mean causing general mayhem. But no one was phased. Even the pool employees (I can just see the YMCA lifeguards throwing a fit) didn't seem to mind! In fact, of all the pools I was at this summer I didn't see one lifeguard.

Last but certainly not least: PDA (or public displays of affection). Now if you know me you know I have a severe allergy to PDA. It's true. It really freaks me out, makes me uncomfortable and just generally awkward. I know it's bizarre to have such a strong reaction to something but I feel like it's a private moment between two people that the public is intruding on. Even watching it on film makes me uncomfortable! (I think it started with my brother and his willingness to PDA with former girlfriends... Sorry Jack, just saying...) Anyway, here in Switzerland, or make that Europe, people have no sense of privacy. Sometimes I feel like the odd man out because I'm not partaking in PDA. You think the reserved Swiss would feel just as awkward as I do, but no. Thank goodness I have friends that will warn me, "Jill, do not turn around right now," because really, who wants to see that?!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Grounds for Removal

I received the following e-mail from The Father earlier today. Third time is definitely not a charm...

Jill,

Just so you know - apparently there is another outbreak in kindergarten, so we need to monitor Girl and Boy carefully.

TF

Let's hope they don't catch it for the THIRD time this year...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sledging, Not Sledding

Friday night a bunch of au pairs headed up to a CouchSurfing Zürich weekend sledding party. (CouchSurfing is really cool, look it up if you don't know what it is!) We all meet up at the train station, grab our train "adult beverages," and settle down for our train-bus-bus-train rides. On our first bus my friend Danielle and I squeeze in (squeezed literally because my stupid-ass-Vera Bradley duffel bag was filled with an inflatable sled, sleeping bag, snow-suit and warm clothes) next to these two teenagers. The kids are speaking English, so me being me, I strike up a conversation with them. The girl kept asking us the same questions (and giving us the same answers about how she had friends in Minnesota et cetera...) but the boy was cool. He was telling us that the Swiss summer was pretty great, but he was bummed because he missed last summer because he was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy to get rid of his cancer--we were impressed by him but less so by the girl. The boy got off, wished the girl luck and we continued on our bus route. She said it was a "rough night," I assumed she had been broken up with or something to that extent, when she looked at us and said, "Do you have a bag?" Now I knew exactly what kind of "bag" this girl meant, and luckily (for all of us) I had a plastic bag holding all my food. I dumped the contents of the bag onto Danielle and held it out for her. Immediately she began vomiting. Violently. I mean it was so violent that it literally splashed from the bag back onto her face (not that she noticed). Danielle being the ever-prepared au pair gave the girl tissues so she could clean off her face. That's when the girl looked at me and held the bag out over my S.A.V.Bradley bag and said, "It has a leak." Like hell I was going to let her disgusting vomit drip on my stuff so I grabbed the leaky vomit-receptacle while she said I could just put it into the bus's trash can. I was also not going to let the poor bus stink of vomit so luckily we were nearing a stop and I opened the door and threw it vomit bag out. Sorry for littering, it was a necessity though.

After the vomit incident the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Until our last train started to slowly creep down the mountain we were supposed to be going up. And I realized that I had 3-4 drops of VOMIT on my jeans. Sick. We made it there, met our host who took us to his family's cabin which was a strenuous upward hike. We made it there and took off our shoes when disaster struck. You know when you have a best friend, who has been there through thick and thin? Who comforts you at the coldest, darkest moments of your life? Who knows you so well, it almost feels like they are made just for you? Well my best friend deserted me. Yes, I am talking about my Ugg boots. (Hate on them all you want, I don't think they are ugly and they are comfortable.) My Uggs RIPPED. Photographic evidence of the tragedy. The only silver lining that came from this was later, when I went to go sadly stare at my former-friends I found a beer sitting in one of them! Free shoe-beer! The night was fun (even when a Google employee told me that "It was all a lie there." Apparently no one, save for him, uses the fun slides and igloo/ball pits. He did offer to give us a tour, which I will definitely be doing.) but I called it a night earlier than most of the cabin's inhabitants.

Saturday morning we woke up to blinding sunlight (how I've missed you). Because we arrived at night we didn't get to see our surroundings, but it was incredible. The clouds were below us and we had blue skies and mountains for as far as the eye could see. A girl could get used to this kind of view! We hung around outside, warmed by the sun and ate a lovely breakfast (which included Nutella!).

We trekked up the hill to go sledding, and by sledding I mean sledging. Sledging is what Europeans call sledding, but it is very, very different. There are a few main differences: sledges are wooden with a plastic runner on the bottom, you go down the course and take a train back up and there's a distinct possibility that you could die by zooming of an Alp. (All in a day's sledge.) When we started our Danielle was going to use our friend's plastic sled (they won't let you use a tube-sled, for a good reason--you'd surely fly off the mountain and die) so when she asked if she could ride with me I was, at first, a little irked. Danielle likes to go fast, I like to go slow and enjoy my scenery (and, you know, stay alive). I agreed however and thank goodness I did. We were so grateful to be together (it helps to know that you aren't the only one scared out of her mind!) plus it helps to have four feet digging into the ground trying to stop you from sudden Alp-death. It was tons of fun, despite our constant shouting (we seemed to hit every bump on the courses) and everyone around us was very amused. (Except for some parents who probably weren't happy when two girls whizzed by going, "Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit! Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!!!" We had a blast but after four runs we were tired, cold and ready to rest for a bit.

We made it back to the cabin, hung out until 6:30 and then walked back to the train station for our 7:05 train. Of course, there wasn't a 7:05 train. It was 6:40 and then next train arrived at 8:10. Well I didn't want to sit in the cold for over an hour, and I certainly didn't want to hike back up the hill so I suggested we walk down to the train station. Yes, walk down and Alp. No big deal. Some girls said it was a bad idea, but I thought it would be an adventure, so the believers reassured the nervous ones and off we went. In the dark. Down a mountain. With the stupid ass Very Bradley on my shoulder. We started singing (well mostly my friend Allie and I) Journey and Spice Girls to keep all our spirits up when we heard shouts coming from next to us. I, of course, shouted back, because it's always good to make friends with strange men, at night, in the middle of a mountain--right? Of course as we were trudging downhill the only thing I could think to do was to text message one of my best friends Molly. Molly who lives in America. (Sorry about you cell-phone bill Moll.) She of all people could empathize most with the plight of a Vera Bradley carrier.

We finally arrived at a train station (not our final destination) and looked at a map. We had made it a little over 1/4 of the way in 30 minutes, when we got to the station the two strangers sledged up to us and immediately offered us a drink of their alcohol. The first two girls declined but not being one to turn down a free shot (sorry mom) I accepted. The boys gave us their bottle (thank you) and when the other three caught up with us we thought (and sipped): should we wait here for the train in 50 minutes or continue walking? Next thing we know the guys are back and saying, "Are you hungry? We have cheese fondue." Never offer six girls free cheese, because you know they'll take it. So we walk the 100 meters to their cabin where it turns out there are 20 boys drinking and eating (with one 70 year old cooking). Well apparently they were a German soccer (I mean futboll) team, there for a weekend of bonding. Bonding with a lot of alcohol and food. This was turning out better than expected... When I texted Molly our whereabouts (some one had to know!) she replied, "Oh my god your life is so fake right now! Wait fondue? I love texting you." (And I love being able to text her!) I told you girls would do anything for cheese. During the time at the cabin I never felt unsafe though, don't worry mom, and besides the guys were so skinny I knew I could have taken any of them in a fight! So they gave us drinks and food and then tried to get us to stay for a later train. We were working out the logistics when one girl finally came to her senses and we packed up and moved on. It was the best 50 minute respite I've ever had!

Finally made it home and crashed into bed after a long day of sledging and trekking. It was definitely an incredibly trip!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where Do I Go From Here?

[Just so you know, when I say I stood up for myself I did it in a respectful way not an accusatory way. I just explained my issues (Boy) and that I was having trouble dealing with it (him).]



What I really wanted to write about today was where I'm headed next. I feel like I'm being pulled in a bunch of different directions, but the only one pulling is me.

-There's a part of me that wants to stay in Switzerland and/or Zürich area. Get a job and an apartment and make a life here for a couple more years.
-There's a part of me that wants to move to a new country and try to find my way there. But I would need a job separate from my house.
-There's a part of me that just wants to save money, move to France for the summer, rent a shitty apartment and drink French wine and speak French for a few months.
-There's a part of me (this part I realized yesterday) that wants to be with my friends from college. Now I always want to be with my friends from college, but yesterday I realized that I don't want them to remember me in the coming years only from my e-mails. People always say, "This is the only time in your life when you can do this." But this might also be the only time of my life where I can live in an apartment with some of my best friends in the world.
-There's a part of me that wants to move to a new city in the States, away from everyone and anyone I know, and start afresh. I think I have some weird need for change. To prove it to myself that I can make it in a new place. I always went to sleep-away camps alone. I switched high schools again, this time alone. I wanted (and did) to go to college alone. I wanted to study abroad alone (but two of my best friends came and I couldn't have been happier to have them there). I wanted to move to Switzerland alone. I can do things alone, but I'm not sure I want to anymore.
-There's a part of me (that has grown bigger since I've been reading this book called, "A Walk Across America") that now wants to walk across America. My friend Kate (Mondays suck without you) and I entertained the idea before my dad gave me the book for Christmas. Now reading about it (even though he went in the 70s, and was a man. Two definite differences from what I would do. By the way, Jack are you interested in going with me? Come on, brother/sister gimmicks would be all over this!) I think about it more and more. I mean I travel all over Europe but what do I really know about America?

I have all these options, I just don't know which one would be best for me.

Any suggestions and/or votes?

All Cracked Up

I have this teensy, weensy little problem of letting things build and build and build until finally it all falls apart (in other words, I explode).

Today, after 200 days, I finally said something. Well I said a lot of things, but after being taken advantage of a few times too many I stood up for myself.

And the kicker is? I feel bad. I feel bad for standing up for myself. For saying what's on my mind. What the hell is my problem?

In the end I think things will change so I'm glad I did it, despite the residual guilt factor.

Happy Weekend!

23 Days until Korea!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

Okay so it wasn't a Manic Monday, but a Manic Tuesday/Wednesday? Definitely.

Tuesday I got up (already awake from a fitful night's sleep of coughing) and I was in a Bad Mood. (Capitalized for effect.) The kids didn't want to get up (I later learned that The Father let them stay up waaaay later to put together a toy... No wonder he told me I could go at eight, he didn't want me to know he was sabotaging my Tuesday!) and Boy started yelling (yelling!) at me because I opened his blinds and "let too much light in." The hour I spent getting them ready for school I was crafting my "I-quit-this-god-forsaken-job letter" (utilizing numerous choice words). I still didn't really have my voice so I canceled my French lesson and researched warm places to take me away this weekend (I think I'm running low on vitamin D).

When the kids got home my day got drastically worse. The Mother told me earlier that Boy, who had forgotten his homework the day before on the bus, who would actually forget his pants if you didn't lay them out for him (but not if you told him he could play Wii for 15 minutes), would have to do 1.5 hours of homework that evening to make up for it. She always gives me the longest homework time frames, I think as a punishment. So I told boy he had to 1. review his French vocabulary words, 2. do two pages of handwriting practice from his book, and 3. the "Language" section of his homework (that being a 5-8 sentence paragraph about something he learned over Christmas break. I seriously think this school is worthless). But those three things shouldn't be that difficult, right? Wrong. Boy has a hissy fit/tantrum/breakdown EVERY time he does homework (whether with me or his Mother) and these freak outs make mine pale in comparison (now that is a scary thought, eh mom?). I mean there are tears, gnashing of teeth, flailing legs, arms, every appendage that can possibly be flailed, is. And all this was because he couldn't think of anything that he learned over his three week Christmas holiday and he was, "Just sooooo tired!!!!!!!" I offered up how he learned he should stay on the skiing trail (the idiot went off it in an attempt to find his dad and promptly got lost) this only made him cry more because he said it was a really bad experience and "WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BRING IT UP?!?!"

This is when I took a deep breath and channeled my saintly mother. "Boy," I said through teeth clenched so tight I have a jaw ache, "there are things that I do ALL THE TIME that I don't want to [i.e. seeing your face] but, like my mom said, it is really all about your attitude. You are going to have to do this, and the sooner you do it, the sooner it's over." After giving him countless suggestions (I wasn't even here during most of his break) I finally said, "What about the solar powered car you put together last night?" (So what if it didn't happen over his break!?! I was desperate.) Finally he mapped out his five sentences and was done. FIVE *%&^#(@ sentences!!!!! If I had taken that long to write five sentences I would still be in my freshman year at Denison. So after two grueling hours, homework was finished and Boy could play with Girl and I, I stupidly gave Girl a "High School Musical 3" microphone (because she really needs the encouragement to be louder and sing more High School Musical) and we pretended to do the news. Of course this led to bickering and fighting so much so that I entertained locking them in a room far, far away from me.

I got them settled, fed, and ready for bed (love rhymes) an hour earlier than normal (I figured that if they were "so tired" they should go to bed earlier, of course The Father let Boy stay up to put together another toy so Girl wanted to stay up too). That's when The Mother said, "Hey Jill can I show you something?" What she wanted to show me was what, in Boy and Girl's rooms, I should clean/put away/organize tomorrow. "I'd do it myself but I just don't have any time." So for the next half hour I cleaned up Girl's shelves and desk. I then read to Girl for the following half hour after that. What was The Mother doing for that hour? She was chatting on the phone. You know what? You're right. You are too busy.

But this story has a silver lining. A bright light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel being February and March, the bright light being another week of holiday!!!!!!! (That will bring my grand total up to five weeks.) The Father this morning said, "Oh we booked The Mother and Boy/Girl's trip last night. They are going to New York [to visit her brother] for the first week of their Spring/Easter break." Hallelujah! Sure the next week will be all Jill, all day, but still another week of holiday when I thought I was finished after Korea! As I tried to hide my excitement about another week of freedom, I couldn't help humming "Just Another Manic Weekday."

Also a little amusing. Today, at the au pair meeting, a girl who I only met once before said, "Yeah every time I'm folding laundry I always say to myself, 'At least I don't have to iron boxer shorts, at least I don't have to iron boxer shorts,'" because I told her about my fun with ironing before. She then went on to talk about how she has to scrub toilets. From now on, when I'm ironing boy's boxer shorts I'm going to say, "At least I don't have to scrub toilets, at least I don't have to scrub toilets!"

It really is all about your attitude.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Prince and the [Au] Pauper

My friend told me that if you make less than 2,000 CHF per month the government considers you "poor."

When I was home my dad said, "So how does it feel to be poor?" and my brother thought this was really funny. But it's true, even the government thinks so!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Best Part!

I forgot to write the best part of last night:

I lost my voice!!!!

I know this sounds weird to most, but my friends know that I love losing my voice. Yes, I know it's not good for me. But I still love it. Mostly because it makes me laugh, tonight I was trying to sing along with a song on my iPod and my voice was cracking and squeaking and dang it was funny!

Yeah so a lost voice definitely signifies a good night, right?

A Social Experiment of Sorts

So after my 17.5 miles the only logical thing to do would be to go out. (Hey it was a Saturday night!) I decided, however, that even though I was going out I wasn't going to drink. Here are my reasons:
1. I've waxed poetic on it before but drinks in Switzerland are expensive, and since I have a large trip coming up (yeah Asia!) and I'm relatively poor buying drinks isn't always the best way to spend my money.
2. I developed this cough Friday. But it's not just any cough, it feels like a cat scratched down the inside of my throat and when I cough I sound like a seal barking--I thought perhaps alcohol might not be the best medicine.
3. I moved in a forward motion for 17.5 miles. If I put my body through any more torture (in the form of a vodka soda) I think it might have mutinied me.
4. Everyone says, "You don't have to drink to have fun!" so I thought I'd test it out as a social experiment of sorts.

I met my girlfriends at a pretty usual bar/quasi nightclub early in the evening and we had a good time chatting and catching up. A lot of our au pair friends joined so I was having a good time, but I think I was the only one. Every girl seemed to be in their own sort of world and wasn't into the place where we were. So we decided to leave around 12:00 and it was pouring down rain, now I should have taken that as a sign that I should just take my last bus home and not have to walk up the hill but I was determined to make my social experiment work. I went with some girls (had to say goodbye to people which forced me to run down the street to catch up--god bless you legs) to a new bar which was fine until I counted, one couple, two couple, three couple. And Jill. Since I'm not really one to be the 3rd wheel (or 7th for that matter) I decided that it was time to go home. I looked at my clock, 12:59. My train comes at 13 after the hour. I was far from the station. I would have to run. Damn. I booked it and made it to the station with three minutes to spare. Bought my night train ticket and looked to see where my train was supposed to be leaving from, track 51. But no, it was leaving from track FIVE. More all out sprinting, some guys thought it would be funny to stand in front of me and block my way but my shouting, "Ich habe kein zeit!" (I have no time!) and perhaps my barreling through them stopped the harassment. I got to my train at 1:13 and when I pressed the door to the button nothing happened. The ticket checkers were at that door and I pleaded with them to open it but they either couldn't or wouldn't. I ran down the train pressing every door with no luck, just as I was about to give up and succumb to sitting in the cold for an hour until my next train I saw three kids holding the door open for one of their friends. I ran to them and said what I believe to be the German equivalent of, "Holy [pant pant] shit [pant cough] thank [deep breath] you so [pant] much." I was hot and tired but at least I made the train! When the ticket checkers got to me the man looked at my night train pass and said a bunch of stuff in German to which I said (in German), "I'm sorry my German is very poor, please if you could speak slower." Then he explained that I bought the wrong night train ticket, for the wrong city. He said he didn't care (perhaps it was the look of dejection on my face) but to take care and buy the correct one next time. If I hadn't been using my arms to hold up my poor body I would have hugged him. I was so happy that I made the train and didn't get fined that I didn't even mind my mile uphill trek.

So perhaps my social experiment didn't go as well as planned but I'm not giving up! I'll definitely try it again, hopefully when everyone is in better spirits!

Today, however, was a great day. The sun was shining (for the first time in ages!) and the weather had hints of springtime. A wonderful day in Switzerland.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dear Body, I'm Sorry

I've done some pretty stupid things to my body in my 23 years. I've spent too much time in the sun (love you Barcelona) with too little sunscreen. I've had too many drinks at Brews' resulting in too many everything bagels from River Road the next day. But today might be the most detrimental thing I've ever done.

Before my mom freaks out (I got a lot of my dramatic nature from her), let me explain. Last weekend Kristen and I were on the train to Luzern and I saw a path, she explained it is the path from Zug (close to her house) to Luzern. Since it was paved and plowed when she suggested that the next Saturday we try to run it I agreed. Did I mention it is 30 kilometers (which equals roughly 18.6 miles)?? It only looks lovely from the confines of a warm train.

So today we got a little lost trying to find the path (a small two mile detour) but once we got on I got into a five minute run/five minute walk stride. I was going along swimmingly for the first two hours, then the usually very well marked path began to get weird. Weird as in taking me up through the woods and placing me out on a farm (where I may or may not have run back and forth through the fields trying to find the path). Kristen and I were separated for the first two hours but with all my confusion we were trying to meet up, we figured she was about 20 minutes behind me before my little detour. Next thing I know I'm coming down the path and she's coming down the street.

After the first ten miles my hips were hurting (I'm getting old!) but otherwise I was fine, but getting mixed up really threw off my stride. We mostly just walked and wandered for the next five miles. We ended up going up this massive hill where, being my father's daughter, I was obnoxiously upbeat about going directly uphill. (Moll & Britt remember Cinque Terre? It was like that...) I think I remember my mother describing my father like that after their Colorado "vacation" hiking the Maroon Bells passes. Obnoxious uphill hiking must run in the family... After deciding that uphill climb was getting us nowhere and we didn't even want to go to Luzern we got on a [warm!] bus and headed back to Zug for a much deserved kebab. So we didn't make it to Luzern but I am very okay with that.

Of course my train home left me 20 minutes early for the bus and since I could either wait 20 minutes outside or walk the 15 home (more uphill!) I walked. Bringing my total mileage for the day to 17.28. Why? Why would I do this to myself? Maybe since I know the path I'll attempt it again. But certainly not anytime soon!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Too Hot to Handle

So I've stopped cutting but I have started burning. No I'm not so horribly upset about anything that I cut myself, it's just that I am a terrible chef (with terrible aim apparently). Remember when I cut myself two or three times in one week? Well I'm more careful with knives now but apparently less careful with scalding hot metal things.

The Mother has been asking me too cook (more on that later) lately and when I was poking something in the oven it decided to poke me back. Ouch! Later that day it wasn't the kitchen that got me, but the iron. Probably payback for when I accidentally dropped it on the floor and broke it... So now I've got two unsightly burns, one on each hand, but I definitely think burns hurt less in the long run than knife wounds. But I'm really not trying to make either a habit!

So back to the cooking. The Mother last week asked me to cook chicken. No problem right? Yeah, no problem for those who have cooked a chicken breast before. I know, I know 23 and never cooked a chicken breast but seriously that's what Denison gets when it makes me live in a dorm all four years, it's really not my fault! (Plus when we did cook I was usually in charge of getting the alcohol, my friends clearly know my strong suit.) Whenever I have cooked meat I like in constant fear that it will be undercooked and I will poison the kids so what usually ends up happening is I cut it into smaller and smaller pieces to make sure it gets cooked all the way through, so at the end I have cooked meat, just really gross looking meat. That same night The Mother threw on the last piece of chicken and just left it there for ten minutes! She then asked if I could just turn it off and leave it. How can she be so confident in her cooking when salmonella is on the line? Better her to poison people than me!

Last night The Mother was running late to some sort of meeting so when she came in from grocery shopping she said, "Can you make a chili?" The woman might as well have asked me to ride a pogo-stick across Switzerland. Make chili? Are you nuts? At least I didn't lie (like when she asked me to get a leak from the market. How was I supposed to know what a leak looks like?) and I told her I didn't know how. She walked me through it and I made something that at least looked like chili. My cooking experience was not without accident however. I was putting the brand new salt box into the cupboard when, as I was lifting, it spilled all over. All over the counter, all over the floor and most importantly, all over me.

I'll take a salt shower over bodily harm any day though!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

101

That last post was my 100th!

Holey moley I can't believe I've written in this 100 times.

(And I've sent out my first Swiss job application!)

Change is a Good Thing, Right?

A lot of people do not like change. Some might even abhor it. Me? I love change. I know, it sounds bizarre even when I type it, but I do. (I just rearranged my room because I was bored and needed a change.) I used to not like change, I had my life planned out (I would finish at my small, private, all-girls school in Maryland, go to UVA to play soccer [hi pipe dream] and then live in a Maryland suburb for the rest of my life where I would be the Redskins athletic trainer--of course I would day dream about this in Biology class Freshman year, note to self, you might have needed all that Bio to get into UVA and be an athletic trainer) anyway I had my life planned out. But as my dad (who quoted a Yiddish proverb) said, "Man plans, God laughs." So we moved to Minnesota. I started a new school which, to put it lightly, didn't suit me. I realized that if I could succeed and make friends at this new school I could transfer again and I'm sure I'd be just fine. I realized that change wasn't so bad.

Then I started to crave change. After two years at the same high school I was getting bored. Good thing I was off to Denison. Denison was constantly changing, the parts of campus we lived on, the seniors and freshmen, so though it got old sometimes, it was always changing. After school, as you all know, I came here. But now that I've been here for six months there is one change I do not like, nor will I get used to: The constant ebb and flow of au pairs. Most au pairs either start in January of the summer months, meaning that a lot of my friends just left. I went back to the au pair meeting yesterday and Kate (my Monday coffee friend!) who was always the first one there and usually having a showdown with the Swiss moms for our spot, wasn't there. And Kylie never showed up. In fact there were so few girls there that we almost didn't need our huge table. Although I look forward to meeting the new girls, a part of me wishes my friends could have just stayed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reunion

This week has brought back the return of my "normal" work schedule (is there really ever "normal" for au pairs?) which has also brought back some of the characters that haven't been around since I returned to the land of chocolate and cheese.

First up, T.B. She actually remembered me! I was surprised because it had been three weeks that she hadn't seen me, but I guess I'm just so memorable. She's sitting up by herself which is a nice change of pace, and she still sleeps with me (thank goodness). Today her mom hung around for a bit and she would not take her nap despite all the thumb-sucking and eye rubbing which signifies her nap time, literally two minutes after her mom left the house T.B. was asleep. Thank goodness America didn't take away my Baby Whisperer status.
Second, The Mom of T.B. I was wondering if I only really like TMoTB because I get to leave every day (clearly I'm a big fan of separation between work and home now) but every day I find myself leaving later than when I actually "finish" just so I can hang around and talk to her. Yesterday we were talking about The Biggest Loser t.v. show (not that she would need to know anything about losing weight) and today we were discussing jobs and my current situation (en français bien sur). She was incredibly helpful and its just nice to bounce ideas off of some one who has worked before. When I told her that, "Uhh I think my dad would be mad if I stayed to au pair for another year," she burst out laughing saying, "Sure! Blame it on your dad!" (So maybe I'm not such a good actress!) I realized that I don't like TMoTB because I get to leave but because I think she is the first adult who treats me like an adult. I know, there are plenty of adults who treat me with respect and dignity (thanks, by the way) but she doesn't have to. Even in a position of power and authority she is great. It's good to be back.
Next up is my French teacher. I was glad to see her because I get to practice my French AND (more so) because Girl isn't taking swimming lessons until March. So I don't have to see her son! My homework over the break was to write the end to a story about a neat-freak family with a disorganized son. Well in the first half of the story (that I didn't write) the son ruins the family dictionary and tries to hide it. In the original ending the parents start using the wrong words and get into a huge fight until he admits what he had done. In my version his family pesters him about why he is so flustered until he makes up that he has a girlfriend. When his dad sees the dictionary he blames it on the imaginary girlfriend and the dad says their relationship is over. My French teacher said I must have watched a lot of American t.v. while I was home.
Today marked the return of the cleaning lady, C.L. C.L. has been on "maternity leave" since about August and her mother-in-law has filled in. Her mother-in-law is perfectly nice but only speaks Portuguese, bits of French and German and no English. Since I speak English, bits of French and German and no Portuguese we've managed to have conversations, albeit broken ones. The one thing the mother-in-law never could understand? My name. She always, always called me Jana (not like you, T, but more like Yaaaa-naaa) even when the kids called me Jill in front of her. Anyway, happy C.L. is back, she is lovely and practices French with me. And whoever said "Cleanliness is next to godliness" must think C.L. is bordering on sainthood (clearly, I missed that memo). The woman can iron and fold fitted sheets so well that you have to take it out and open it to see whether its a fitted or a duvet cover--amazing really. When I got in this afternoon C.L. said to me (in French) "Oh Jill! There's a surprise downstairs! There's a man, in your bed!" I love C.L. and her new baby can sleep on my bed as much as he likes--I just hope my sheets are clean enough!
Lastly the return of a person I don't particularly care for: Jill on Monday and Wednesday around 5:41 (European time). At this time I am wrestling with hockey goalie equipment, trying to put it on a lump (Boy) before his practice at 5:45. Now I know I've lamented putting this equipment on before, but seriously? Seriously!? I didn't grow up in Minnesota so, sorry to say, I have no allegiance to hockey. In fact, now I am pretty sure I dislike it. I was next to another flustered American mom yesterday and I looked at her and said, "If I ever have children, they will not play hockey." Maybe regular hockey isn't so bad, but all that goalie equipment? I'm the one getting a work-out just by putting it on Boy!

All in all (well maybe not all) it's good to be reunited with some great people.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Over-dramatic? Me?

For as long as I can remember I have been rather dramatic. It's true. And even though I know (usually) that I am being irrational, oftentimes, it is hard for me to stop. Of course during every freak-out my [saintly] mother tells me, "Jill in X amount of time, this won't be a big deal." And of course every time I think/say, "It is a big deal, and I'll never get over it." Who can forget my high school senior portraits? Oh yeah, that would be me. My need for Adidas track pants (the authentic, three stripe ones)? I like to pretend that I didn't have a track pants phase... The time when Jack lost (or thought he lost) the memory card to my camera (which still had pictures of my trip to London and skiing in the Alps on it, from a year before. Bad with loading photos as you all know)? Well I would still be mad but I probably shouldn't have has such a fit... So, of course, my mom is right. It never is as bad looking back (though I won't take back my opinions, because, at the time, it was a big deal and those were my real feelings!) I just know it isn't as happiness-threatening as I've made it out to be.

And, of course, my latest overly dramatic moment: freaking out about my job. Now I'm not saying it's all gravy now, but I think having two weeks away (not just off, but totally away and separated from my job) refreshed me. At least for a little while. Kristen and I were talking about this the other day and she said, "There's a reason most nannies only stay for six months. You burn out." Right before Christmas not only was I burnt, but I was charred, cremated and incinerated. (Told you I was dramatic! But I mean working eight straight weekends? That's a lot when you aren't supposed to work weekends...) So granted my job isn't making me miserable like it was for a while there, it doesn't mean I will extend my stay (like they keep offering).

I might be over-dramatic but I'm not crazy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Semi-Swiss Stuff

There are a lot of cultural differences in Switzerland. To name a few: (most of which start with the letter S)

-Six. What is so important about this age? Well apparently being six years of age makes you nearly a grown up in Switzerland. Before the age of six you don't go to school. Maybe to a nursery but not school. At the age of six though, you go to school and you walk (sometimes across a highway!) alone. Swiss kids also come home for lunch daily so around noon every day I see them walking around, riding buses and doing things that are slightly more than your average six year old.

-School. Schooling in Switzerland, aside from starting at the ripe old age of six is rather different. It is different for Girl and Boy because they go to an international school, but Swiss kids have a different system. At the age of 11 Swiss kids take a test to see whether they are intelligent enough to go to "Gymnasium" (or high school, the college track) or to go to trade school. So in five years you have to cram in as much information as you can, because at 11 your future is almost set. What the hell?! If I had to start my career path at 11 I probably would have picked to be in the Babysitter's Club. Oh wait...

-Smoking. Now the Swiss are known for being anal about punctuality, cleanliness, quiet, but smoking is something they cannot live without. They can still smoke in bars (whereas most European countries have banned it, and some cities in Switzerland as well, Zurich is lagging behind). Nothing is fun about waking up the morning after going out and smelling like you bathed in an ashtray. (I'm mostly bitter because I got burned by a cigarette last night!)

-Recycling. (Okay not an S word, if you think of one let me know.) The Swiss are nuts about recycling. You have four types; soft paper (magazines, newspapers), hard paper (cardboard), glass and metal (self explanatory), and plastic. With the plastic and glass bottles you have to take them to the grocery stores and put them in the appropriate bins, and the paper items go out on a specific day and must be tied, in neat bundles, with string. Now, not to insult my home country, but this shit would never fly in the States. I mean really, people are much too lazy to go through all that trouble. The reason they do it here is because of garbage. Or garbage bags to be more exact. Instead of paying for the trash removal service you pay for the bags (about $2 per bag!). So the more you can recycle the less trash bags you have to use. If this were the case at Denison we'd have either had a lot less parties or recycled a lot more cans of Natural Light.

-Smiling--which falls under the general category of Swiss girls. Okay, a lot of Swiss girls that I've met are wonderful (i.e. my lacrosse team). But, a lot of times, Swiss girls aren't the nicest. In America, or at least the sheltered parts I've lived in, if you like a girl's dress/purse/headband/et cetera you'd say, "I love your ____! Where'd you get it?" or something to that effect. In Switzerland if a girl likes your ____ she'll give you a look like you kicked her dog and say, "That ____ looks stupid on her." Excuse me? Swiss guys love American girls. Oftentimes when we're out they'll come over and say, "American girls are so wild!" and we look at one another thinking, "What the heck? We're just smiling." Granted not all Swiss girls are rude! Last night I met this lovely Swiss girl (with great bangs!--Wish you were here to cut them Cait!) who said most of the rude ones reside in Zurich (she isn't a native Zuricher, so maybe it is the location).

-Cell phones. (Okay it sounds like a S word.) Everyone here has these incredible cell phones, and all I can think, "How do you afford this?!"


Oh and on a completely different note. We made two new American friends last night who just moved here a week ago. The woman is from Philly and said she goes to this one liquor store in Pennsauken all the time (double points for knowing where my family is from AND for liking cocktails). Better yet, she went to IES Vienna. And had my German teacher. Wild!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Proof of Paleness

I loved my trip to Barcelona for a number of reasons. It was a week of holiday (yes I am now one of those obnoxious people who refers to their vacations as "holiday"). It was a week of holiday at the beach. It was a week of holiday, at the beach, with awesome people. And it was cheap!

But let's get back to the beach part. I was tan. Really tan. So tan it looked like I had rubbed dirt on my face. (Which, to me, is ideal.)


This is me then:
This is me now:








Can't see it? That's because I am so pale.

Today, during lunch (hot dogs, because lately I've been worrying about all the meat I've had to cook), Girl said, "The brown spots on your face are disappearing." The brown spots being my freckles. The only thing keeping me from total pale-ness is now fading!

I wonder if it will be sunny in Korea?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pop Quiz!

The Mother has:

A.) Hermès watch
B.) A few Hermès scarves, belts, et cetera
C.) Hermès Birkin Bag!
D.) An underpaid, live-in employee
E.) All of the above


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Coming...

The following post is:
1) Proof that I'm really not a bad au pair
2) Further proof that I'm going to have an awkward, confrontational (i.e. more direct), conversation soon
3) Weird because in exactly 3 months from today my contract ends (but seriously, who is counting?)

Scene: Me, washing dishes, The Father standing at counter after having changed out of work clothes

The Father: Man, I guess we're going to have to start putting out ads for the next au pair... Unless, you want to stay?
Me: Well I do want to stay, in Switzerland.
The Father: But, not as an au pair.
Me: Yeah, I just feel that I need a job-job. If I don't, I think my father will kill me for not putting my college degree into use.* *(Not sure if this is actually factual, but like I said, I don't like confrontation. I am actually the one who feels she is wasting her college education.)
The Father: Well what if we give you a different title? Like "Communications Coordinator," it would be the same responsibilities and pay, but with a different title.
Me: I'm not sure people would fall for that on my CV [European resumé], if I had a different job with the same family... (Awkward laugh & steer conversation towards the process of finding a new au pair.) It is still 6 months away, do you need to start this early?
The Father: Well we like to have a lenient end date for you, I guess at some point you need to start planning your life (insert mental thankyouverymuch here). So whenever you want to go home, and she can get here.
Me: I see. Well I'll be happy to talk to her. Speaking of CVs, can you write my letter of recommendation so I can attach it to mine? I'm sending some applications out.

Despite my being an extreme pushover I can't stay. Kristen and I shook on it tonight--we won't let one another sign up for another year. It's real job time!

Oh wait, does that mean I'll have to start paying rent?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Taking My Time, Literally

No one should doubt my love for public transportation. I really do love it. For instance, when I was home and going out with Allison we had to take into consideration who would be the designated driver whereas when we went out in Zürich we just had to take into consideration what time we should take the night train home.

The one thing that is a small hassle is when people tell you how long it takes to get somewhere, but they tell you in terms of driving. Sometimes public transport is more of a hassle and takes longer than it would to just drive. (Yes, I said it.)

For instance, The Mother was nice enough to give me a 10 day trial at her gym (T.B.'s mom also offered me hers, too bad I couldn't just add them together!). The Mother said, "Oh it's just five minutes away in X" (X being the town next to us). Five minutes, by car you mean. My journey started when I missed the bus (naturally) so I walked the mile to the train station, had to wait 15 minutes for the "slow train" because it is the only one that stops in this particular town. So we're already at a half hour here. Next I get on the train take that for two minutes and promptly get lost. I had to pick up Girl at a birthday party there once so I vaguely remember that it was next to the lake and across from the train tracks. Thank goodness for my sense of direction and good luck because I managed to find my way to the gym (only .86 of a mile from the station). I was starting to wonder if all that walking could just count for my workout? Long story (and aren't mine always long?) short, five minutes by car, 50 minutes by public transport.

Acting Chops

When I was younger, I wanted to be famous. I used to practice my Oscar/Grammy/Emmy/Golden Globe/Tony acceptance speech in my room, except I would get as far as, "What a complete shock. I'd like to thank my family..." and then I'd start daydreaming about what my dress would look like, and who would be sitting at the table, smiling up at my speech that I forgot about the speech entirely. I am also a terrible actress. Despite "performing" in many plays, concerts and musicals I was never particularly good. I was the kid that spent most of the performance trying to find my parents in the audience, then have them make eye contact and wave as if they didn't know I was up there. My singing career got off to a rocky start as I have a bit of stage fright. During one of our church's musicals (Jonah and the Whale, if you were wondering) the choir director asked me to sing a solo. Too crippled with fear I told her I couldn't, but the whole walk to church (yes, walk) my brother tried to talk me into it. I don't like to turn down dares, especially from Jack, so I told the director I'd do it. I remember walking up to the microphone and singing and the choir was so shocked that they all stopped singing--a truly scarring experience.

Anyway, I thought for the longest time that I was a pretty terrible actress. But today it seemed the tides were turning. Sometimes it takes all my mental strength not to freak out at this job (I save my freak outs for my trips home, thankyouverymuch) (oh and, of course, the kids have been lovely for the one day I've been back working, making me feel guilty for hating on them so much. And by them, I mean Boy) but it doesn't show. I was playing Dominoes (the real game, not the line them up and knock them down kind) with Boy & Girl (Side note: Girl age 6, beat both Boy age 8 and I. Beat us bad) and Boy mentioned, "Yeah my mom was talking and she said they really want you to stay. They will do whatever to get you." Me, "I'm not leaving silly! I still have six more months." (Six months exactly on Wednesday, but who keeps track of those things?) Boy, "No, for the next year."

Man maybe I should be on stage!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Comedy of Errors

**I decided to stop calling them their fake names because it is hard for me and everyone to keep track of. From now on little girl is Girl, the boy is Boy, the dad is The Father (I don't want to get them mixed up with my mom and dad) and the mom is The Mother.**


I booked my flight back to Zürich on New Year's Eve for two reasons: 1. because I've never really loved New Year's Eve and 2. because it was hundreds of dollars cheaper (Hey, I'm poor!) I thought, mistakenly, that no one would be traveling on NYE, because it's a big party day. Not the case though.

Let's do this hourly:
This was supposed to be my schedule:
6 am-7:30 am- Flight to Chicago
1:20-4:25 -Flight to JFK
5:25-7:10 am- Flight to Zürich

3:30 am- Wake up
4 am- Head to the airport (thanks for driving me dad!)
4:30 am- Arrive at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
4:33 am- Eyes bulge out of my head as I see the winding line to check in on American Airlines.
4:50 am- Begin to remind myself that I am supposed to check in a half hour before flights and at this rate I might not make it. But it's okay because there's a 7:45 am flight to Chicago. Weigh my bag, it only weights 42 lbs--so naturally I add 5 more lbs of stuff, to make it a feathery 47 pounds.
5:25 am- Check in to American
5:35 am- Give my bag to the luggage check people
6:17 am- Finally get through Security. Apparently a man a few people behind me collapsed (what happens when you lock your knees!) poor guy. Run like a bat out of hell to my gate. (Which was very difficult because I had to bring the bane of my existence, the Vera Bradley duffel bag. Stupid J.Crew sales! I know, I know, I do have too many clothes. But I love them all. Promise).
6:21 am- Arrive at gate, right as they are closing the door to the getway. Plead with airline employees to let me on. Refuse. They book me on the 7:45 flight so I feel better. Seventeen people missed out 6 am flight.
7:45 am-Leave for Chicago.
9 am- Land, get my luggage (which made the 6 am flight) and re-check-in for the 1:20 flight to JFK. Hang out, text Ellen, Caitling and Molly all afternoon. I heard a boarding call for an earlier flight to JFK but didn't think I should have the hassle to switch flights (foreshadowing for what a mistake that was).
12:15 pm- Announcement from American Airlines, all flights going in to JFK have been delayed. Ours is now leaving at 2:20 pm, arriving at 5:25 pm. Look at my boarding pass for my Zürich-bound flight. It takes off at 5:25 pm. Shoooot. Go up to the lady at the desk and overhear a woman saying she needs to get to Zürich. American Airlines lady says she'll book her on the 6:20 flight from JFK to London with an early morning flight to Zürich. She says to try and make the direct flight but if not, I'm book on the new one. Figure, there's nothing else I can do! And hey, a free trip to the UK!
2:20 pm- Flight is delayed a little bit more.
5:55 pm- Get off plane in New York. (Start thinking, what the heck was I thinking flying through Chicago AND JFK? Why didn't I just try to fly through LAX and make it really interesting!) Run like crazy to gate.
6:10 pm- Explain to bitchy-Carol (the AA worker) that the woman in Chicago didn't give me a boarding pass because she thought I might still make my direct flight. B.Carol says I have a seat reserved on the flight but she didn't exchange my ticket, and we don't have enough time to do that now. Woman from Chicago comes up and starts freaking out (I wonder if I'll ever be that high strung?). There are five of us, a Swiss-American family (her father was born and raised in Minnesota) and the high-strung woman (at least she gets stuff done) who are stuck. We have to go out through security to re-book our flights.
6:45 pm- Since I am the calmest (Just kept saying, "It's all going to work out.") they elected me the spokesperson. I go up to the lovely Suzanne and ask if we can be placed on the 9:30 flight to London, with a flight to Zürich following. (Because I was prepared and looked at the timetable to see when the next UK or Switzerland-bound flight was).
7:30 pm- Drinks and dinner with my 48 year old friend (the family had some hang-ups because apparently their son wasn't in the system. Dear American Airlines, I hate you.)
8:45 pm- The bartender let us take our beers "to go"--just getting ready for no open container laws in Europe again!
9:40 pm- Flight is delayed again. Woof. But start talking with my seat-mate (I like to chat) who is Nigerian (went to Northwestern and works in London now--so isn't some crazy person trying to blow up the plane. And he was very gracious when I offered him some Twizzlers, people with nice manners just can't be bad, right?) and I got to ask him if he felt he was being more discriminated about now after the Christmas attack attempt. Very interesting conversation!
10 pm- Give two rows ahead of me starts throwing up. Doesn't stop for the duration of the flight, poor girl.
11 pm- Reject the gross "meal" on the plane. But enjoy watching the T.V. in the seat in front of me. I hate when planes make you share T.V.s. Try to sleep.
10:30 am- Arrive in London. Go through the very efficient security there and head to our gate.
12:30 pm- Think I lose my boarding pass, frantic search commences.
12:37 pm- Find my boarding pass in the place where I put it so I could easily access it. (Don't you hate when you do that? Put something in a specific place for a specific reason and then totally forget where you put it?)
1:20 pm- Flight to Zürich.
3:50 pm- Arrive in Zürich! Wahoo!
3:51 pm- Turn on cell phone. (I am pathetic.) In Europe you have to enter a four-digit pass code when you turn your phone on. Did so, responded to some messages and then switcher the SIM card from my Swiss phone into my unlocked American phone (thank you Jack). Turned it on, entered the four-digit code. Rejected. Enter it again. Rejected. Enter it once more. Rejected. You can only enter it three times before you need a special 10-digit code. So I was cell phone-less. Which was annoying because the family offered to pick me up and now I had no way of contacting them. Dang.
4:15 pm- Heading up an escalator towards baggage claim when I recognize my friend Laiza behind me. Always nice to run into a familiar face (although I was with my new four traveling companions.)
4:17 pm- Luggage starts coming out. And out. And out. But no 47 pound navy blue monster to be seen. The bags of my haggard friends don't have theirs either. Perfect.
4:30 pm- Go to the luggage claims office and tell them our plight of flights. The guy with me kept saying, "Cool," or "Very cool." I wanted to say that that is the incorrect usage of the word "cool," but I kept it to myself. At least he was nice. They tell my friends that their luggage is still in New York but will be on the next flight here and will be delivered. They say, "Miss Carr, we can't seem to locate your luggage right now." (Try to keep my eyes from bugging out of my head.) Remain calm, give them my address and a very pleading look that I hope gave off the please-understand-I-got-a-lot-of-things-(on-sale)-at-home-and-I-really,-really-would-like-to-have-them-please. At least I didn't have to lug my suitcase onto the train though. (See a silver lining!) Bid farewell to my new friends and head home with Laiza.
Now I know the losing of luggage is supposed to make me realize that it is just "stuff" and I don't need so many clothes, but it didn't. Sorry. I promise to stop shopping (after putting my clothes away this evening I realized that I really do have a lot). But I swear, I need it all!
5:10 pm- Arrive in my town. And it is POURING down rain--such a pleasant welcome home. Opt out of the mile trek home (not because of the rain but because of the 100 pound, or so it seemed, Vera Bradley that was cutting into my bones at this point) and wait 25 minutes for the bus. Check my account balance (yes!) convert my leftover dollars (yes!) and wait for the bus.
5:50 pm- Arrive back to my house. Am locked out of the basement entrance. Try to remain calm. Go up and around. Locked out of front door (in Switzerland you have to use the keys to open the doors from the inside and if you leave a key on one side you cannot unlock it from the other). Ring bell. Girl started jumping for joy and jumping up into my arms. It was also her birthday so I quickly wrapped her gifts (High School Musical 3 soundtrack and some High School Musical microphone--which will just be painful for me really) and headed upstairs where company was coming over for a little birthday party. I had to be clever and quick though because I had already told my friend that I would go to Interlaken with her that night (so I had to be back on the train at 7:30--yikes).
6:30 pm- One of The Mother's friends was standing with us and she said in French, "Does she have a boyfriend." The Mother replied, "No, I don't think so." Her friend said, "Really? She's got such a beautiful face!" I then interjected, "Thank you very much." The friend was very taken aback and The Mother said, "Oh yeah, and she understands French too." The friend said, "Good thing I didn't say you were ugly!" After so many hours of travel I'm surprised that she didn't ask whether I was a serial killer zombie.
7:10 pm- Leave my house for the bus, train to Zürich and meet my friends. As I was leaving The Mother says, "It's good to have you back." I don't know whether it was my lack of sleep or the three glasses of champagne at the birthday party (oops) or that I was genuine, but I replied, "It is good to be back." Back in Switzerland at the very least!
8 pm- Hop on the train to Interlaken and have a fabulous weekend there. I'll save that for another post.

See it all worked out.

Oh, and I got my luggage back. Yes!