Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I laughed yesterday to read this post on Samantha's blog. Look at how happy she is. Read how she is suffused with contentment.


Meanwhile, I have had a headache since Saturday. Typically, I'm not very prone to headaches, but they are hard to avoid when you have been clenching your teeth all day long. I am a long-time night clencher and have a dentist-approved plastic device that prevents me from engaging in hot tooth-on-tooth action all night long. But until now this has been a completely unconscious and utterly mysterious manifestation. Now, I am doing it in my waking hours. My head hurts. My jaw hurts. My teeth hurt. But mostly. I think we can safely assess that this is not an indication that I am suffused with contentment. Apparently I am filled with stress and/or rage. This both surprises me and saddens me. (Update: I am filled with stress, rage, surprise, and sadness.)

What to do?

Perhaps if I, like Samantha, were unemployed, I would become slack-jawed with joy. It seems a dangerous gamble though. Once my meager savings had gone, I would be worried and sure to go back to my old ways. Then my teeth might crumble altogether and there I'd be--penniless and without dental insurance.

Maybe I should just drink more.

Friday, August 21, 2009


You know what might be rather depressing?
Scrolling through online personal ads and suddenly realizing that the song playing on the ol' iTunes mix is "The Sound of Settling."

Not that I'd know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Swiss Miss

I know. I am a big liar. We've been all through that. Really, it should no longer be a surprise to you.

Let's be frank: anything clever or witty I might have had to say about my seemingly distant vacation has long since evaporated from my brain. Still, I will soldier on and try to catch up.


I went to Lausanne from Geneva by boat. It took about four hours. When I later recounted this to someone in Lausanne, he looked at me blankly for a minute and then said "What was it doing?"

Turns out that Lausanne is really not far from Geneva. In fact, on the train it's about thirty minutes. Therefore, it would appear that any boat that took four hours to make the journey must be doing figure eights or deep sea diving or some such. But no. It went at a pretty good clip, actually, it's just that it made the journey in a sort of zig-zag fashion, stopping at small (and ridiculously picturesque) towns on either side of the lake. Sometimes we were in Switzerland; sometimes we were in France. Frankly, I never noticed the difference. I bought a fancy first-class ticket and sat in a canvas deck chair on the top deck like a lady of means from a bygone era, only more poorly dressed. I tried to be consistently in awe of the view, but awe is difficult to maintain for four hours straight and I might have fallen asleep. Just a little.

The morning began in a very dark and rainy fashion, such that I seriously considered not putting on any sunscreen. I know. What can I have been thinking. Finally, the weight of my skin-cancery Irish heritage was too much too bear and I dug the sunscreen out of my suitcase and lathered it on under the lowering skies. Upon arrival in Lausanne, I discovered that the almost perfect circle of my right ankle bone was lobster red and stinging. I missed a spot, apparently. But let us take a moment to be grateful that it was such a small spot. I might well have been bright red and in agony from head to foot. I have (again) learned a valuable sunscreen lesson. May you learn from my example.

Swiss children are smarter than I. They travel with hats.

Lausanne is a very steep town. I don't have, nor can I find a photo which makes this clear, so you'll have to take my word for it. I arrived, obviously, at the lowest point of the town at lakeside. But when we then got in the subway to go to my friend's house, it immediately started going straight up hill. A peculiar sensation. In fact, at his stop, the station platform is steeply inclined. There are benches, but they are at precipitous angles. Hmm. Surely it is possible to make a flat bench even on an inclined surface, no?

There is a parking garage on the street behind my friend's building. Mind you, it is in no way related to his building. Still, his system is to enter the garage at street level and then take the elevator to the top floor where you are able to exit at what is essentially an entirely different section of the town. I initially thought this was a little ridiculous. That is, until we didn't do it one day. Um. Wow. The citizens of Lausanne must be the fittest people in the world. It was about 90 degrees out the day we did the climb, which certainly didn't help anything, but I really wonder what they do in the wintertime. It must be a dangerously slippery town indeed. Maybe they just toboggan down to the train station to go to work. On the bright side, there is a lake view from almost anywhere you might happen to be. Did I mention that Switzerland is not ugly?

Other things.

1. We went to the Montreux jazz festival, at which there was no jazz (at least none that I witnessed) but there was plenty of Bb Marley playing through the speakers (why? why?) and a great deal of smoking. Oh, the smoking. Swiss people: I thought you were all sporty and brimming with wholesome health. Ha. I say to you. Ha ha.

2. It is possible to purchase a sort of pre-made chocolate ice cream cone (produced by Nestle, as is everything for miles around) that has some sort of chocolate covered nuts on top, a small chocolate bar buried somewhere in the middle, and a cone that is coated with chocolate on the inside. This was clearly invented by a genius.

3. There are croissants available that basically have an entire chocolate bar melted into them. This is a breakfast pastry. Thank you, Lausanne.

4. I can't vouch for all restaurants, mind you, but at least one of them has a menu that involves ridiculously adorable snacks.

5. That horn from the Ricola commercial? It's a real thing.

6. Not to be bested by the smoking festival, Jules and I did go back to Montreux with actual tickets in hand for something called the Jazz Boat. I bet you can guess what that is. My favorite part was singing along with a Canadian swing band to "Just a Gigolo" while drifting past various Alpine vistas. "IIIIIIII ain't got no buuuhhhdy (nobody!) ... Oh. bonjour beautiful view."

7. We played quite a lot of Scrabble (Jules is totally cut throat. Beware of him) and I had a birthday. See?

And London, to London to buy a fat pig. Well, that wasn't actually a goal of my visit, but I did go there. I will tell you about it. Sometime. (See how I didn't say tomorrow? Thus setting myself up to commit yet another falsehood? I'm getting so crafty in my old age.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Liar, liar

So, I lied. The tomorrow to which I referred came and went several days ago and still no Lausanne. Sorry about that. There were some transitional computer-less days there during which I executed the purchase of a brand new Mac. Oooooh. This one is all raring to go, unlike my old one which really was very tired and unwilling to to many computery things. So..who knows what our future shall be: yours and mine, mine and the new computer's. Perhaps it will be a fruitful time for us all.

Today, still no Lausanne, I'm sorry to say. But let me share with you instead this very lovely thing I just found on the Radio Lab website.

Also, please note I just embedded a video like a grownup blogger for the very first time. See? The computer and I are already bonding.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home again, home again. Jiggity jig.

Bonjour. I am back.
Shall we just level with each other? I have actually been back for two weeks, but I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with my blog. (Oh, that word. How I continue to hate that word. How can one have a warm and fulfilling relationship with something that sounds like a more than usually smelly swamp?)

When I logged in, I saw that I apparently have one follower. I find that pretty amusing, actually. It's like a fledgling cult. Anyway, follower, whoever you may be, I am sorry to have let you down. I will now try to mollify you (and any passers by) with the unprecedented use of...PHOTOS. I know. It's a big step. It is also highly likely that it will never happen again, but for now, let's just enjoy it, shall we.

Let's see. I promised you stories. I'm not sure that I have stories per se, but I have remarks aplenty.


First of all, two things. Switzerland is beautiful. Really beautiful. Like the way you imagine Switzerland? It's just like that. Even as we descended toward the Geneva airport, it looked like we were flying over a storybook kingdom: tidy little fields, imposing mountains, stone chateaux, little people frolicking lakeside. Switzerland is also staggeringly expensive. If you have a whole lot of cash lying around that you'd like to get rid of, I recommend a Swiss vacation. $22 salad? No problem. More than a hundred bucks for pizza for three? Absolutely.


1. Geneva has a lake. Well, it doesn't really belong to Geneva; it is a very, very big lake. However, perhaps best to keep that to yourself. The fine people of Geneva don't know it. In fact, they call this very large lake "Lake Geneva." Turns out they're the only ones. Everyone else scattered around the perimeter of this lake for miles and miles calls it "Lac Leman." It is extra special in Geneva though, because it doesn't just lie about being all flat like an ordinary lake. No, no. It also shoots straight up into the sky. Those crazy Genevois.

2. If water shooting into the sky isn't enough excitement for you, you can also play very large chess. Or have a Hugenot villager help you with a computer.

3. Geneva, incidentally, is festooned with banners and posters about Calvin. Not the boy with the tiger. The other one. I think maybe they don't know he wasn't that fun of a guy. Keep it under your Hugenot hat along with the news that they share the lake. Those posters can't have been cheap and I'd hate to disappoint them.

4. Ice cream seems to be available every six steps in Geneva. Obviously, this is as it should be.


Ha. You weren't expecting that, were you? Among the things available in Geneva, is a very fast train to Paris. Three and a half hours, in fact. I tried to resist it, but I couldn't. I have no pictures of Paris, but you surely know what Paris looks like. If not, at least you have the internet. Go ahead. Google "Paris images." See? It's a very beautiful city, isn't it? I was there for one day. I know. Terribly extravagant, but that was enough time to have lunch with a friend, buy some fancy tea, and say a general bonjour. I have only one thing to tell you. If you are in Paris on the 13th of July, people may tell you that there will be fireworks because there is an alleged tradition of celebrating Bastille Day the night before Bastille Day. You are right to be dubious. Do not sit on a bridge for an hour waiting for these fireworks. Because these people are liars.

I'm not too adept with this whole photo thing and as a result it has taken me an uncanny amount of time to tell you very little indeed. But this is fine. This creates suspense. Tomorrow....Lausanne.