December 2, 2016

December 2

picture of a black and white rat on a man's shoulder

"Is that a rat on your shoulder?" she asked.

Christmas is around the corner and like last summer, I will once again find myself making small talk at a DNA gathering that includes people who are nothing like each other. That’s family!

I made a hair cut appointment today because it’s so long I have to look twice to confirm what end of me the hair is coming from. I’m also beginning to understand that the longer my hair is the younger I look and the less respect I get from people my age. I can not tell you how many times Europe has been explained to me by someone who’s just been told that I live there.

“The Italians are so…The French always…The Germans never…The Swiss only….”

I’m assuming it’s the hair.

The rest of the day I spent looking for gifts, or at least ideas. Switzerland’s not the best place to shop if your annual income is less than a million but one thing they do really well is packaging. Almost every store will wrap, for free, anything you say is pour offrir (a gift). They’ll put ribbon and bow on a pencil case if you want, so occasional I’ll get something wrapped just for myself but it also means getting out the door takes that much longer.

"This hot dog's for my husband."

And that’s my post for today!

December 1, 2016

The Advent of Stobby

"No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect."           
George Bernard Shaw 

That being said, the force of blogging has not been with me this year. I blame it on a combination of passivity, indecisiveness, and who-gives-a-shit attitude. It's a difficult thing, I don't do it very well, and my self-respect always wanes throughout the day, especially after an hour of watching Murder She Wrote (yes that's how bad reality has become).

So I've decided, for December only, to post daily. It will be like opening a little door to an advent calendar my grandmother used to buy me. I should mentioned she liked to stock up during the sales. What you get might be disenchanting, stale, and recycled from last year but after the last few months, we can all agree it will at least be unexpected.

July 6, 2016

I Should Be So Lucky

Sitting at a cafe, enjoying the cool air and warm sun, a bird pooped on my head. It was sloppy and disgusting and fortunately my companion had a similar story to tell while we sat there ignoring it. Getting pooped on (by a bird) is said to bring good luck because the odds of it happening are less than stepping in it but equal to the odds of sitting across from someone with the same story when it happens. Two days later and it happened again. Boy did I feel lucky.

So how was I not prepared for the second coming when I had been hammered so well by the first? Am I being followed? Preparation is my thing and I’m very rigid about it. Thirsty? Screaming child? Open wound? I carry remedies for all of those things. The truth is I haven’t got the mental stuff to get me through something I don’t see coming. I realised this the day we landed in Switzerland. Dreams do not prepare you for reality. No one yodels.

“Be prepared.” This is the motto they teach in Brownies. Knitting tea cosys, selling cookies and building a firelook out world, I'm ready. Being prepared is about fortifying yourself for the worst, carrying an umbrella when it's sunny. It cuts down on worry, and I’m a big advocate for that but, as I look around me  I've also noticed it's a good recipe of cowardice. It can reduce our ability to adapt to sudden change, dull our decision-making skills, and create mistrust out of just fear.

“Be ready.” This is Chris Hatfield’s approach. In An Astronaut's Guide to Life he advocates using spare time and energy to focus on things that come in handy when opportunities arise, improving your ability to grab them. Oprah Winfrey believes "luck is preparation meeting opportunity." For me, luck is something that passes on the things I wish for and shows up for the things I need.  

So, with two helpings of poop in my hair, I’m ready, prepared and apparently very lucky. I have a coupon for a hair cut I fortuitously purchased a month ago. I’m armed with a picture of the cut I want, so she’s not winging it  (a lesson I’ll never forget). And maybe, on my way home I won't get dumped on like last week. I should be so lucky.

June 21, 2016

Writer's Block

I don’t want to write. I’m avoiding it like bad news. I’ll end up writing something that disappoints, discourages and makes the whole process more difficult tomorrow. I’ll take a passage that I had some respect for and destroy it with too much, like a painter who keeps adding until everything turns brown.
Training for a marathon is very much like training for a story except you get to keep your toe nails in the end. Intrinsic motivation, commitment to dull hours, and a balance between too much and too little. Above all, there are moments where you think your not made for it, but you keep coming back to it anyway.

Today is the first day of summer. Summer is 4 months long. It takes 4 months to run a marathon. So get writing!

May 6, 2016

May 6 9:09

a vase with drooping white tulips
I bought these tulips to lift my spirits
Apparently, we suffer from the same malaise

Housebound. In hindsight it wasn’t the wisest move to use flowers to remind me of the outdoors which, until late, has been a flurry of chestnut pollen and Saharan dust (yes, the desert can reach all the way to Switzerland). I can’t breath out there. So I sit at my desk and inhale tulip pollen—revenge. But now that May is here, and I have served my time, I pick up the phone.

Ring, ring.

“Hey, do you want meet for a coffee?”

“Sure. How about next Wednesday at 3 p.m.?”

A few things about adulthood confound me. Like why I can no longer show up on Stacy’s porch and ask her if she can come out and play. Why everyone is so busy, but when you ask them what they did, they say “nothing.” Why conversation is about the boyfriend who doesn’t do enough, the co-worker who undermines, the noisy neighbour, inconsistent bowel movements, and goals permanently trapped in the conception stage. Talking it through rarely makes people feel better but it explains the three-hour time slot scheduled a week in advance.

Nowadays, relaxation is not a dance party, a pillow fight, a board game or foursquare. Relaxation is turning on the television and watching Kim Kardashian getting a massage. Kids get playgrounds and adults get the coffee shop. And at any given moment, there are six people inside it. They are sitting by themselves watching me write and talk to myself (an unfortunate side effect). Occasionally someone asks to charge their computer in the wall behind me. And so I move to a table next to the men’s bathroom and look like someone who knows the code.

I shouldn’t really complain about the fact that my friends are busy. I'm full of life and have the same problem with priorities. A month sequestering was probably a good thing. I'm learning to lead my life instead of manage it. For example, I'm going to need allergy shots or a visit to the chiropractor to prevent this from happening again next year.

How does November 23rd, 10:37 sound?