Donnerstag, 24. April 2008

testing, testing, one, two.....

My mother in law had surgery on her wrist last month.
Before and after, we were discussing surgery. She said that I would know best. I don't. I don't know best. I don't know anything at all about wrist surgery on a broken wrist.
Here she was with a definite problem, that was totally finite. This very definite problem. There was a surgical solution. The surgery happened. The problem was solved. That is it. Never in my life have I had a problem with my person that was quickly and easily understood and repaired. Until now.

I had a hearing test today. In two weeks, I'll pick up a trial hearing aid that will help me to hear voices a bit (only in front of me) with my right ear. The biggest benefit is that it will keep my left ear from being strained. Apparently it's having to pick up a bit to much slack these days.
Problem - Solution - No Problem. Whole new concept for me. Kind of weird.

Mittwoch, 23. April 2008

guest at home

Ivo and I went with my friend Terry to an FCZ and GZ match. It's called a derby, but it is the Zürich soccer rivalry equivalent of Sox and Yanks.

Ivo has never been nervous as a result of my football attendance before. He was a bit, however, this time. It may have had something to do with the waiting vans of police, the water canon or the scary fans.
The two teams share the same stadium. This is, of course, imperfect, but has to do with renovation and rebuilding of Swiss soccer stadiums in preparation for our hosting the EUFA cup this summer. Previously, the "away" team would walk to the "home team's" stadium. They shut down a nearby bridge for the marching fans. Are you getting the fact that this is a big deal?

Terry was using his work-place's season tickets, which means that we were sat securely in the family section. (This means that I was engaged by a number of papas with daughters with the request "könnt ihr schnell lüege, dass sie ok gönnt?") Looking to our right, GZ was seated in what I have always considered the "away team seating". To my left, the "SüdKurve", where we normally sit, was full of the three groups of rabble-rowsers who are always there, if not, at times, in less of a force.
The two teams were announced and although I am no hard-core fan (I sing along with the songs, cuz it's fun, but I don't live and die for the wins and losses) I was a bit injured when FCZ was announced as the guest, or visiting team. I'm sure that there is some understanding and that this decision makes complete sense to the more regular attendees. I only know that somewhere inside me, I felt pained. A guest at home. I know that feeling. As I fought with the foreigner's police on the telephone and they couldn't find my records and said that I was not listed as a resident, that is how I felt. Guest at home.

The game was lively and exciting. The GZ fans sang a song about a hockey stadium, which slightly confused me. In the all-or-nothing rite of fandom we needed to, of course, mock everything about the fans. From the bread rolls that they threw toward the field in anger, to the fact that they had absolutely no flags. The FCZ fans were practically canopied with flags and banners. Beautifully drawn, cleverly writen and placed here and there to show the three sorts of fans and their diverse levels of crazy. Now and again, they would light a flare and a fire would begin and Ivo and I tried to keep track of how much of a fine they were chalking up and if it would be bigger than last year's derby.
Yesterday, having asked Steff, we discovered that the GZ fans had flags and banners. The fires that we'd seen in the FCZ fan section was the FCZ fans burning the flags that they had stolen off of the GZ fans. He wanted to try and explain the history of tit-for-tat and how this all made sense, but I needn't hear it really. It was pretty much all explained in the action itself and I was still feeling oddly empathetic for the guests at home.

Dienstag, 22. April 2008

Sunday stroll

I visit a new church as often as possible. I like those which are across town the best. This means that I get to take a quiet walk through the city. The whole town is closed up and only the tourists are out blinking in the early light, scanning the street for an IHOP or something, as it would seem. They often seem hungry and confused.
This week, I was headed across town to a baptist church. The city seemed quiet enough. Then I saw barriers. Then I heard cow bells. Then I saw that I was not the only one who was taking advantage of a lovely Sunday morning.

As I passed by tourists shouting things like "HOW IS THAT RÖSTI FEELING NOW?!?!", and an Oschner float with Swiss people dressed in Brazilian costumes I began to realize what I may need to expect this summer when the European Cup rolls in. Ugh.

Freitag, 18. April 2008

silly anicdote.

It's a terrible thing. Whenever I see the word "Haiti" I think of an amusing story that my friend told me. This is unfortunate, as most times, reading the word "Haiti", is no time for amusement.

My friend was saying goodbye to her father and wishing him a good trip. I asked where he was going.
"To Haiti. It's my parent's anniversary."
"Oh...That's nice."
For some reason, I didn't think of Haiti as a lover's destination.
"Yeah, that's where they went on their honeymoon."
Again I was confused.Haiti for a honeymoon?
"You see, my father wanted to surprise my mother with their honeymoon trip. He took her to a place where she had once said that she had always wanted to go. They board the plane and the flight attendant is giving information and says the destination: Haiti. My mom is all freaked. She asks my dad 'Haiti? Really?' He says 'Yeah. You said you always wanted to go tah Haiti.' 'Nooooo. Ta-hiti. Tahiti, not tah' Haiti.' Anyway they had a blast and they go back every 5 years since to volunteer."

So silly.


I chuckled inappropriately at a child yesterday. I didn't mean to.

It was after lunch, and the child was telling a story. He continued to use the word "gesein" for the past tense of sein (to be). Another child corrected him (quite politely, actually) each time. At some point, the incidental instructor tired of repeating "GEWESEN!" and said it quite sharply with a rather large sigh. That is when I chuckled.

At times, the progress that I hear in the school is something extraordinary. It's an external sound of the opposite of what is happening in my brain. As I begin to make sense of Swiss German from my small store of German, it is the inversion of what is going on with the little ones.

In the language vein: I am a large fan of 10 and 5 minute warnings for children. I don't like to stop a child at work or play without fair warning that the fun will, if not all together stop, need to change. Unlike when my mother said "guys, five more minutes, kay?", my warnings are always followed by the general chatter of one child explaining to another, what it is that I have said. "Die Jessy hat seid, dass mir nur 5 Minute mehr han. Schnell!"
Yesterday, one of the children who had always needed the translation was doing the translating and I was just so cheered.
Now if I only had better hearing. It's so damn frustrating when a kid tries their first turn at speaking English with me and I ask "what" and they repeat what they've said in German. Opportunity missed, dagnabit.

Sonntag, 13. April 2008


When I first arrived in Zürich, I noticed many men buying flowers. My husband is a flower-buyer and I've always found that to be quite special. I would see these men and think "someone thinks that this flower buying man is special. Chances are, he thinks that someone is special too." All of this specialness would result in my smiling, quite broadly. Very very broadly. Freakishly broadly, in fact. If the men noticed they didn't show, and I went of glowing, with aching cheeks and the thought "there goes a special guy."

Not special.

He is not special. They are not special. It is not special to buy flowers for others in Zürich. It is a given. A totally beautiful given. It is such a given, that in order to make flower-giving the kind of special occasion that it is in other places in which I have lived, one must somehow make their flowers stand out. It is so typical, on any given Friday or Saturday, to see every third person in the street with a beautifully wrapped bouquet, that the only ones to stand out must be truly extraordinary.
The flower purchases which get my attention now, are the person climbing in a tram with, what appears to be, a large potted plant wrapped in paper. The pot, however, must be at least twice as wide as the middle of the person carrying it, in order to make any impression on a passerby at all. Also on the list is any long tropical plant. Indeed, any flower or plant which is awkward to carry or lift, now takes the place of the act of flower giving, as being "thoughtful". To give a bouquet, it seems, is simply expected. To give an arrangement which could cause injury: that is special.

Flowers are simply currency. One brings flowers when invited to dinner as a show of even-stevens. Last night, for example I brought flowers to a birthday apero, although I had already given the birthday celebrant a gift. This was, truthfully, in lieu of actually helping the others to prepare the apero (something that may or may not have been expected.)

Donnerstag, 10. April 2008

bugs or men

I have decided that one can never truly know a person, or even oneself, without an infestation. The Kindergarten where I work has been bothered by ants for a few weeks now, and what it has taught me about myself and my colleagues has been priceless. Theories that I had about myself and my co-workers have been tested. Some have proved to be way off.
An example of this would be the fact that I previously had believed that I was not actually a typical American. I'm all, ya know, livin' in another country....learnin' a new language....learnin' that the Cold War is over. (That you George Bush, for the breaking news this week.)UNTRUE!!! I am more American than I ever knew?! And not only because my idea of America has recently been skewed by the release of a book that says that there are more Chinese food restaurants in America than McDonalds and Burger King combined.
Here have been the reactions to our unwanted squatters.
Katrin: "We had ants at my vacation home. They came in and went right out the other way. Never strayed. Never touched a thing.
-I think that they'll just come and go.
-If we kill a few and leave them, the others will take the hint. "
Monika: Bought traps and showed valid disappointment when I attempted to gas them with ammonia.
Barbara: Bowls of beer or wine will trap them.
- I think that they'll just come and go.
(not so, Barbara. Not so.)
Salome: "Don't they only come and go in two weeks?"
(no Salome. Its been longer than 2 weeks and I DON'T THINK THAT THESE ARE THE COME-AND-GO KIND)
My enlightened colleagues are attempting to teach the children the nature and science of ants as they freak and stamp and alert us to each creature. (doing exactly what I secretly want to.)
I do.
I am this peaceful Quaker chick who loves my pacifist husband and was told that I don't belong in America if I don't like the war (not sayin' "I told you so"). Nevertheless, I seriously dream about a weekend long bug-bomb, that'll eliminate every last one.

Guess we'll have to just watch that the floor isn't so sticky. I'll have to suppress my killer-instinct.

Dienstag, 8. April 2008

Not Cock Fight. "Gaggi" fight

Our cat is becoming bored. This was to be expected, as she is meant to be an idoor/outdoor cat. Yet, she couldn't make it below the 2nd floor in the stairwell. Now, her boredom has set her about wandering the neighborhood. In fact, she wanders over to our neighbors home, pops inside and visits the folks who normally cat-sit her. Then she pees on their doorstep.
She's a teeny cat, but she is friends with a massive Maine Coon cat (Ivo's folks)and they go about the neighborhood together. I try not to worry about her, but she came home the other day with a scratch on her side and then.....
...Well see, I was laying in bed, reading. It was late and Ivo was working on his paper. Though we were at opposite sides of the apartment and both had closed windows in our rooms, we both heard a cat scream out and jumped into action. Ivo said that he'd go have a look, and I finished the paragraph I was reading before taking my nervous-pet-owner pose.
The two came in and were a sight for sore eyes. Ivo was holding the cat at arms length. Something dark was smeared across her fur on one side.
"Oh no!" I said.
"Oh yes!" Ivo said in a most insensitive ticked-off sounding voice.
"What did you see? was she fighting? Was it a big black cat?"
"She hissed at me and then I picked her up, and she's got gaggi on her!" He said, obviously breathing through his mouth.
"ja! Gaggi!"
"How did she get poopy on her in a fight?!"
Ivo gave me a look that suggested that he had already put enough effort into this rescue that he need not take the time to imagine how a cat fight could come to involve excrement.
The conversation dissolved predictable into me making low-brow jokes about our S&M cat, as she cleaned herself with her tongue and began to stink less. Politely refusing to sit upon our bed until she was properly clean. Guess that's all part of life as a cat owner.