Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm supposed to get fingerprinted today as part of my clearance to work at the school (where I've already been working for a week, I might add). I had my fingerprints taken by the same Sheriff's Office about five years ago, but apparently, they don't keep them! Here I've thought these five years that I had missed my window of opportunity to start my life of crime--that if I ever did anything criminal, the Sheriff would just look me up in his database by my prints (which I'm pretty sure I'd be stupid enough to leave at the crime scene for him). Well! Apparently, I was mistaken, and shouldn't rule out crime just yet.

In other news, I graduated from college 6 years ago this week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reading Chaucer

I'm re-reading The Canterbury Tales, because "Chaucer's heroes regard love when it comes upon them as the most beautiful of absolute disasters," and sometimes that jaded perspective just hits the spot best when it comes in 14th century rhyme.

"I'd like to warn you; it is no child's play
Choosing a wife. It needs consideration,
In fact it asks a long investigation.

'Is she discreet and sober? or a drinker?
Or arrogant? Or, in other ways a stinker?
A scolder? Or extravagant? Too clannish?
Too poor? Too rich? Unnaturally mannish?"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

one banana, two banana, three banana SPLIT!

Last week I thought that Brian had taken to calling me "Howard the Un-hirable" when I came home from a job interview to that greeting. After a couple days it came up again and he said he didn't call me Howard--he only asked, "How're the Un-hirables today?" By that time I'd spent two days wondering why I didn't at least merit a more feminine name, like Henrietta or Harriet. It doesn't matter anymore, however, because I got a job.

Actually, I got two. I was selected for an internship with Mercy Corps. I'll be working on expanding their partnerships with global universities to improve their ability to recruit interns with highly specialized skills. That job will start next month.

The other job I got is a position tutoring reading at a grade school. Three first-graders and two kindergartners, all Spanish speakers, and I sat at a little table for an hour and a half this afternoon reading stories, practicing same/different concepts, colors, shape names, and learning about "sequence." I hope some learning occurred, anyway. There are several challenges with this group: the fact we meet after school; the fact they speak Spanish and I have to remind them to speak English; the fact that it's four wiggly little boys and one very silly, equally wiggly chatter box little girl; the fact that they basically don't know their letter sounds yet. The first graders know some sounds, but still take the "throw out random guesses" approach if they try to read. After meeting them today, I think I'm going to have to find resources for strategically teaching phonemic and phonological awareness skills (check out my happenin' new lingo!)as if they haven't had it before. I also was reminded how NOISY five and six year olds are, even when they think they're being quiet! It's like they don't even notice that animal sounds and humming and beat boxing is coming out of their mouths, even though they just very correctly and very sincerely told me that one of the rules is that "we work quietly."

It was an ok first day, I think, despite the gleeful use of Spanish potty-mouth words (they know I don't understand). Christian is having trouble remembering my name. He says, "Miss..uh..miss...hey, teacher! teacher! I'm done!" The first thing he said in class before he even unpacked his snack was "Read us a story!" That's a good start for a reading group! He also was caught climbing the stalls in the boys bathroom on our break, and his feelings were a little hurt by the (harsh!) scolding he got from one of the guy teachers. Gilberto follows directions well, when he understands them, but when he's in Spanish mode it's hard to get his attention. Saray says her dad builds ships, too, and enthusiastically said "YAY!" when I said I'd be their tutor from now on. Alejandro is as sweet as they come, and wanted me to draw him a duck, then a tiger, than a snake, as part of his story about the duck visiting the snake's planet. Gustavo, who their last teacher said "likes to be contrary" gives articulate answers when asked anything directly, and otherwise acts like he has better things to be doing than sitting in some stupid reading class. He also runs in the hall as soon as he's out of sight, makes funny faces almost constantly, likes Jack and the Bean Stalk, and overstays his turn at the drinking fountain while the other kids chant, "One banana, two banana, three banana SPLIT! Hey! You're supposed to split! We said split! Teacher, he's taking too long! Hey! He's drinking it all! Hey, he got too many drinks! Teacher!'

Oh, grade-schoolers.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Antique stores and driving on ice

Christi was in the area this weekend for Thanksgiving! She made the trek over the hill from Sherwood to share a cup of coffee and do some shopping in the bustling metropolis of downtown Forest Grove. (If you have trouble keeping my friends straight, Christi is a former roommate turned hospital dietitian who lives in Southern Oregon). I had plans to revive my day-after-black-friday tradition of attending the Verboort Christmas Bazaar, but they don't do it anymore, so...other sorts of shopping had to suffice. Christi was in the market for a tea pot and I can almost always be persuaded to buy a tea cup (but I haven't in years!), so we considered every tea pot, saucer and cup in the big antique store downtown. Christi bought a classy white coffee pot and sugar bowl, made in Poland, which will double for tea duty until she acquires a full china set. I bought this Royal Albert tea cup:

It's now living on an international shelf with my other blue and green tea cups, next to my Swiss fondue pot, and with the South Africa wildlife.

I can't divulge the other fabulous things I picked up on Saturday, but I can tell you about the beautiful snow we had this week:

I love snow, but icy roads are the down side of it. The boys decided at 9:30 on Wednesday night that we should drive to town in the mustang for snacks and drinks. The mustang doesn't have traction tires or anything! Gregg hadn't even made it all the way into mom and dad's driveway that evening. Brian called him a pansy and went out to show him how driving on ice is done, but he too got stuck at the end of the drive. I offered my car with studded tires, but no--"where's the adventure in that, Stephanie!?" I said nooo way was I going to town with them! My idea of an enjoyable drive on snow and ice is not the same as theirs. But, profuse promises against sliding and one guilt trip later ("You lived far away for how long, and now you won't even go to the store with us!?"), I agreed. We drove super slow. There was no intentional sliding. I picked the music (hey-negotiated terms of the deal!). And I had fun. Yesterday with the boys: long talks while de-molding a bathroom, followed by dinner at an Italian restaurant. I'm liking all this time with my brothers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

They wouldn't listen to the fact that I was genius!!

Happy Tuesday evening!
I'm sitting here applying for jobs (how predictable), when what should come up on itunes but Jim Croce, with thoughts on work. :) Enjoy.

Jim Croce - Workin' At The Car Wash Blues
Uploaded by asjacks75. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

I had a couple interviews yesterday. I felt like they went ok, but a positive interview doesn't always a paying job equal, in my experience. I liked both teams and would be happy to hear from them, so that's good at least. One position is retail. Beats rubbing fenders, doesn't it!?

I've been working on Christmas presents in the form of embroidered pillowcases, based on patterns out of Doodle Stitching: the Motif Collection. Don't worry, if you read this blog, you're unlikely to be in danger of receiving any pillowcases from me. I know some of you will be as relieved by that news as Gregg was that these cute, artsy birds weren't for him:

Monday, November 15, 2010


This very long German word is brought to you today by my latest translating project. It means Organizational Development Initiatives, and it's a good word for what I've been doing lately. You've probably been wondering what's been keeping me too busy to write, huh? I mean, how much can one under-employed girl have to do in a day?

Well. It's been one part busy, and two parts "I don't want to talk to anyone." Next time I graduate, particularly if it's with an obscure skill set, remind me to not do so during a recession.

If you've talked to me lately (but I know most of you haven't), you're probably tired of hearing about my job hunt. Sorry if it's getting dull. I know it's been over a year. It's the biggest project I have going right now and I spend a lot of time every day working on it. The latest news is: I applied today for holiday retail work. I got a very kind and personal rejection letter from Omya in Reinach (same problem as usual; it's too hard to hire an American). I'll be speaking soon with the Chair of Humanities at PCC about teaching African History at the college. I've re-applied at Google on encouragement from a recruiter there. And, I have an interview Monday for a pretty cool internship developing Mercy Corps' recruiting relationships with global universities (it's strangely like the Google position, now that I think about it...)

I'm tired of applying for jobs. And moving--even moving home--has its lonely points, and requires a lot of starting over. I appreciate the old friends from here who have been inclusive and sought me out to spend time together (and I really do have some faithful, persistent, steady friends here!!), and the few from Basel who have been in touch. I anticipated before I left that about a month, or month and a half of post-move directionlessness would be how long I'd be "pretty content" and that after that, it would get harder. I was right, so add that to your "useful knowledge about Steph list." When she moves, she's T - 5.5 weeks to Grumpyville.

But...a wise person I know says when you feel sad and discouraged and disappointed, it's a good time to focus on other people's needs and feelings. It's also a good time to be thankful for the good things we have.

In Pfeffingen, we used to sing grace before lunch:

Jedes Tierli hed siis ässä
jedes Blüemli trinkt vo dir
häsch au euis no nie vergässe
liebe Gott mir danked dir

I think I'd get it wrong if I tried to give you a straight translation of it, but the idea anyway is that God provides food for the animals, and water for the flowers, and he never forgets us. We remember his goodness, and give thanks.

(Feel free to correct me, you Swiss German readers, if I have it wrong)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sherman County

The great thing about waiting until election day to vote is the gratification of finding out the very same day what (and who) passed and what didn't! I don't think I'll ever come around to sending my ballot in early.

I think elections are wonderfully entertaining! What's more fun than a nose to nose gubernatorial race, an interactive map and a stream of live tweeted comments like the one at the top of the list? :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

das Imbergässlein

(charcoal and pastel on paper, 10.5 x 14.75 inches)

I know some of you are thinking, "Wasn't she 'almost done' with this one months ago?" Yup. It's just that "almost" often ends up being a more elastic state of being than I wish it were. I had some persistent trouble areas, but I resolved most of them and thought of some additions that I am pleased with.

It's on its way to Richard Nixon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New songs on the new guitar

Brian is teaching me a few songs on the guitar. Today we worked on these three:

Jimi Hendrix, "Hey Joe" (sorry about the violent lyrics...):

Jack Johnson, "Flake":

Flake isn't my favorite Jack Johnson song, but it's the one Bri knows...so that's why I'm learning it.

Daphne Loves Derbey, "Pollen and Salt." Every time I tried to remember the name of this song I could only think about sea salt and vinegar chips. "Think Daffodils and the Ocean, Steph," Brian suggested. et voila. Pollen and Salt.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

wi-fi in the wilderness

Mom and Aunt Heather and I are painting in the Mt. Adams wilderness this weekend with Eric Jacobsen. Turns out the modern wilderness has free wi-fi.

Mom's easel

Friday, October 15, 2010

On receiving flowers.

I was surprised and delighted last night when I got home to find a box of flowers sitting on the porch waiting for me. :) A thoughtful guy sent them.

I'm off shortly to paint in the mountain wilderness all weekend. bis nacher.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Three things I'm pleased about

Two pairs of barely-worn Goodwill shoes, and a beautiful balcony!

I'm enjoying October from my flower-lined balcony this afternoon while I whittle away at my long list of outstanding obligations, emails, applications, and ideas.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

back in town

My last few days in Switzerland were filled with lots of packing, drawing, and some fun times with friends (typically immediately followed by not fun goodbyes). I enjoyed a long and leisurely lunch with my friend Marianne in the garden at her house in Pratteln. I went to M1's 7th birthday party, where her grandma asked if I was leaving Switzerland "für immer" (forever). I hope not. M1's Great Aunt Friede said not to worry, I'm young and can come back. It would be different if I was as old as she is and leaving. :) True, I guess. I wish you could meet Friede (I talked about her once before in 2008, here.) She's the younger sister of the girls' grandma, and she lives close enough to come over every Tuesday afternoon and evening to watch the girls, so we've spent a lot of time together. We watched the inauguration together, and she cried as the new president was sworn in. She thought it was such an important and promising turn for the world. She's calm and consistent with the girls, and lets them tie a rope around her waist and pretends with them that she's their horse. I hope I'm that much fun when I'm 70 something! And she's honest about what she's thinking and worried about. She's a bit pessimistic about the world, but talks about prayer sometimes--last week she was telling me about some of the difficult things her family is dealing with right now and said we often think we need to do this or that to make things happen and in the process forget to entrust our lives to God's hands. Timely words for a jobless, directionless 25 year old about to move half way around the world with no clear idea of what she ought to be doing next!

After M1s birthday party I hustled off to Claraplatz to meet Raph for a mystery going-away-present-event (the sort of going away present I wouldn't have to pack), which turned out to be a Mya Audrey piano concert with a couple of his friends. I am increasingly a fan of event/together time gifts. They've often been my favorite gifts (besides Tinkerbelle, of course, who is my all time favorite birthday present).

Friday night before I left I had dinner at the Reinle's...and got to pick my last meal. :) I think if Barbara cooked up enough Alpine macaroni with apple sauce for Israel and Palestine, they'd be so happy and content with the world they'd become friends on the spot. Of course, it wasn't ACTUALLY my last meal, because I stuck around for breakfast Saturday morning. There was already a fire crackling in the fireplace when I woke up, and I don't know whose idea it was to keep the marshmallows in the same cupboard as the coffee cups at their house, but as I went to make myself a cup of coffee, inspiration struck. S'mores for breakfast!

I went to the bookstore the other day to look for a book by the (late) Ghanaian theologian Kwame Bediako. They didn't have it. So then I asked for books on monitoring and evaluation in humanitarian organizations, and they didn't have ANY books on that! none! and that's a huge topic. Bookstores these days. But back to Bediako. He's great. He's one of the authors I read in preparation for my MA exams on the history and anthropology of Christianity in Africa. More on him soon, but here's a sneak peak, as an introduction. He's speaking here about the unity of the church, but the article I read and found so interesting was about the public role of African Christianity in the 21st century. Enjoy this little clip for now.

Later dudes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

goodbye party and rock climbing

On Sunday, I was the soon-departing and thus honored guest at a "So Long, Switzerland" party at Diana's house. I've had more than my fair share of parties thrown for me while living here, and I'm honestly surprised and flattered that people keep showing up for them! I would have boycotted a long time ago if I were anyone else. On the up side for everyone, these events invariably include really good cakes.

Diana asked me a few weeks ago if there was anything from this area that I still wanted to buy before leaving, or that I wished I had been able to get. I already have some stuff--a fondue pot painted with pictues from the story Schellen-Ursli, books and cds in Swiss German, prints from an artist in the Alsace. But I have always really liked the black on white Scherenschnitte (here's an example), which are maticulously cut out by hand, and I said I regretted that I wouldn't be able to take one of those home. She shared that little bit of information with about 25 of my friends, and they gave me TWO on Sunday as a collective going away gift! two! I am really delighted with them.

Monday night I went indoor rock climbing for the first time ever with Raphael, Valda, Elaine, and other friends. I am still trying to find something I'm better at than Raph, but I was smart enough to concede ahead of time that it wasn't going to be rock climbing and he could just consider this a freebie. I wouldn't try to beat him. Well, he was disgustingingly good at it, naturally, though I am pleased to report he fell off a wall and I didn't. He fell off the same wall last night when we went again, and, once again, I sucessfully made it to the top of all my climbs. We just won't talk about the fact that his routes are a full grade more difficult, include some overhangs, and I tend to cheat by using holds that aren't actually on my color route. Yup. But now that I am feeling comfortable with the whole idea of scaling 30 foot walls, next time I'll try to be a bit more serious about sticking to a route and grade that's right for me without using the other holds that happen to be there.

I am off to deliver an apple pie. Later dudes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All Ye

Song for you. I like his attitude, his hat, his message, his song writing that draws on both old and new African-American oral tradition, and the fact he says "holler at yo boy." Who says that!? =)

All ye heavy laden
All ye heavy hearted
All ye heavy-burdened
oh, come.
The Lord will give you rest.
Yes he will.
Oh, come.
He will give you rest.

Oh come, and be healed.
Come, and be filled
Oh Come, and be healed
By the Spirit of the Lord.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I feel like I ought to post an update, even though I don't have much to say. I've been hanging out here at Valda's, applying to jobs, getting rejected for jobs (story of this year!!), drawing pictures and thinking. Monday night Rebekkah, Diana, Lucy, Gina, Janet and Joseph came over for dinner. We went for a walk up near the zoo and came back to play a game. The way the game works is everyone takes a card with a statement or a question on it, and thinks about who in the group best fits the question or statement. They vote for that person, place the vote behind the question card, and pass it along to the next person for their vote. Along with Rebekkah, I was voted most likely to be targeted by a con artist (though Valda clarified that didn't mean she thought he would be successful), most likely to be chosen as a vice presidential running mate if any of the the group ever ran for president, and unanimously identified as the group member who has "perfected the art of flirting." Great. That's a heck of a reputation.

I've been enjoying the woods this week. I went for a nice run yesterday in the Allschwil Forest, and Saturday afternoon Raph and Lukas (and later, Dom) and I took bows, arrows, a target, and a bunch of marshmellows up to the woods near their house. We took turns shooting until it was too dark to find our last arrow, and then focused on the important work of making s'mores. Or Raph and I did anyway. Dom and Lukas don't fully appreciate smokey, burnt sugar with chocolate. While I worked on catching marshmellows on fire, the three of them told military stories. The running trails and grill times and military stories in the woods with friends are some of the things I'll miss the most when I leave.

Sunday I had lunch with Hans and Barbara and Dom, reconnected with their neighbor's cat, finally finished that rose picture I was working on for them, and watched Agatha Christi Movies with Barbara until I eventually got around to going home late in the evening. Hans agrees their house will be much quieter starting in a week and a half.

Brian bought me a guitar "and a pretty sweet gig bag" yesterday, so I am going to get serious about learning some new songs when I get home. It's been on the to-do list too long, and I'm tired of the two songs I can currently play. =)

Friday, September 10, 2010


I think I turned a corner in my soul yesterday or the day before, cuz I am getting SO excited about going home! Bothering my grandparents, hanging out with the boys, country music, meals and projects and jokes with mom and dad, thrift store shopping and hiking and lots of tea with Anne, new friends, a new church maybe, a new job (maybe), a new couch (mom saved me a couch!!), long conversations with Tinkerbelle...and drive through coffee huts, to name just a few marvellous things about going home. Life is good in the Northwest. Oh, know what else? I might just go watch Emily bowl in the national finals in Reno in October and get some lessons from the semi-pros. Uh huh. Watch out Swiss guys...next time we go bowling, I am so going to beat you all. And watch out other finalists, cuz Emily is comin' to town!

In other news...I hear rumor of a new malaria-drug related project at Novartis in Basel, and the new director has my CV, by which he is hopefully exceedingly impressed.

And now...back to editing. I'm cleaning up the English version of the African Studies guidelines for the Centre for African Studies in Basel, and I think from now on when people ask what a person can do with my degree, I'll just hand them a copy of this with the most salient points highlighted for them. The program really is cool and teaches so much relevant stuff! I almost want to do it again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

homeward bound...

I didn't get the job, so it looks as though an intercontinental move will happen this month after all. I'm looking forward to seeing family and Oregon friends, but man! saying goodbye to Swiss friends is (already) tough.

But life moves on. So, I've applied to five more jobs in the last two days, and I still have three others on my list, including an estuary conservation project manager position in Astoria...I think that sounds really great, but the problem with a degree in African studies is that nobody has any imagination for how it relates to the job they are trying to fill. I don't mind connecting dots for people, but this one is going to be tough to justify, even for me. I'm planning to talk up my thesis on water, the political ecology connections that are relevant in any river estuary context, and my river conservation volunteer experience.

Also, I read that the US needs to create 8 million new jobs before 2011 to be back on track for employment. Well, the smart thing to do, obviously, is create my own job instead of waiting around for someone else to do it. The universities are busy places with unemployment so high. I'll try to drum up an adjunct position teaching African history or a literature course (African literature in English) at one of the universities. There is a surprising dearth of Africanists in the Portland area...time to be a big fish in a little pond!

Meanwhile, I am accepting any and all employment ideas you may have. I'll send you my CV if you ask for it. Any idea will be considered. Gregg has suggested I could be a greeter at the new Walmart...a very depressing thought, until one considers that I could start there, then become store manager, then director of the Walmart foundation in time for the foundation's funded scientists to discover the HIV vaccine. Then, after that, I could become Secretary of State. Walmart greeter isn't so depressing when you look at it that way.

Gregg says I should be sure to mention that in the interview.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The search for gainful employment...

...carries on. Interview Part 1 went well, other than managing to show up late (gosh! that was frustrating!). I was invited to submit writing samples and do a writing exercise as 'round two.' I finished that today and I'm waiting to hear from them whether I've made it to round three or not. They already have a short list of around 4 or 5 people, so there's plenty of competition! However, they need a professional writer most of all, it seems, and that's one of my best selling points. So, we'll see. The office is in a nice accessible part of Basel, near to friends, stores, and restaurants, and I liked the people I met. I continue to have no idea what I really 'want' as far as which continent I'd like to live on, but if I was offered this job, I think I'd be very content working there.

Janet and the little dude stopped by to see me after the interview, and Janet brought ice cream as a 'congratulations! you had an interview' treat. :) Ice cream with Janet is ALWAYS a treat.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.

I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon for a marketing position with the Drug Information Association-Europe, in Basel.

Also, I have successfully moved out and informed the village they'll no longer have the pleasure of my company. I WOULD get a local job interview the very same afternoon I finish officially moving out of the country, hmm?

Raphael said "your whole life is last minute!" but I'd just like to point out it is not my fault this time. :)

Moving out would have been extremely stressful if hadn't been for the help of Lukas, Gina, and Lucy. Lucy cleaned my windows inside and out, Gina scrubbed cupboards and drove my final load to the city, and Lukas moved all my heavy stuff and drove me all over town dropping off clothes and boxes and recycling. And now I am encamped along the corridors of Valda and Elaine's house. Do I have generous and self-less friends, or what?!

Gina, working on the cupboards:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

packing up, moving out

The disaster zone also known as Stephanie's apartment:

I forgot what a bother it is to move...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunny Basel and Rainy Luzern

I feel like I ought to say something interesting, but instead, some pictures and a song will have to do.

On mom and dad's first full day of sight-seeing in Basel, we enjoyed the view overlooking the Rhine from Pfalz, behind the Munster. It was HOT that day! See the first bridge in the background? That's where my eggshell-blue-with-stars-on-the-inside sleeping bag and I plan to move, in the event that we don't find a job. Of course, in Basel we stopped at all the obligatory places, including the Spalentor...

and Barfi.

and we had lunch by the Tinguely Fountain in Basel. Dad was impressed with the fountain's moving parts only until he figured out that they weren't water-powered. Then it was just your garden variety, sorta-artsy metal with motors. :)

We went to Luzern on foggy, damp day. My britches were soon soaked from hem to knee.

The flower boxes on the bridge were worth the trip all on their own, I thought! Even on a rainy day.

We stepped into this church to get out of the rain. A traveling high school or college choir had the same idea at the same time, and since they were in such a lovely place (or maybe because the acoustics were irresistible), they sang a couple songs for the rest of us as we all stood around with our collapsed umbrellas and soggy shoes.

With just a few hours left before our train home, we decided we didn't really have enough time to adequately explore the Transport Museum. We headed for the Richard Wagner Museum instead, because I wanted to see their exhibition about the pioneers of Swiss hiking who criss-crossed the alps when there were no yellow signs to tell them where to go or how long it would take to get there. Wagner liked the mountains. I reckon long hiking excursions were his way to clear his head temporarily of his many complex and doubtless stressful relationships. He had a house on Lake Luzern, and today it's the museum. Now, if you're ever in Luzern looking for the Richard Wagner Museum, please note it's a long, long walk from the train station. We had the address and knew the general direction, but, after walking for ages, we thought we must have missed it for sure. Fortunately, there was a gas station nearby. Mom and I just popped in there and consulted a map of Luzern. Then we put the map back, smiled at the teller, and left without buying anything. We found the Museum, and this very large bust of Wagner himself.

Other highlights from our trip to Luzern would have to include the extendable dam. Why didn't they just do that at Bonneville or Grand Coulee?

Lastly, for someone who doesn't like sap, I like some awfully mushy songs! David Gilmour sings "The Dimming of the Day":

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I may be going nuts.

Or...I might just be demonstrating fascinating signs of stress. A couple months ago, I had an odd dream about my teeth falling out for no reason. Really, no reason--they just fell right out of my head. I mentioned it to Rebekkah, who said, oh, that's a very common dream associated with anxiety. Hmm. Interesting, I thought. I was feeling anxious about a particular set of circumstances, so it seemed plausible. I haven't had any more strange dreams, but my latest abnormality is a twitching right eye. It's been throwing fits for a couple weeks now...and a quick Google search has just assured me that it's probably fatigue and stress and not a brain tumor (as I was beginning to suspect).

Whew! At least that's one less thing to stress me out!

Monday, August 16, 2010



I know you thought I fell off the face of the earth. I had to change the background colors so you'd notice something was different and actually read this! I am back, and I have about 15 mostly unrelated thoughts, ideas, stories, and ambitions to share with you. I won't write all of them today. Let's start with a quick summary of the most important and/or interesting bits since last time we spoke: I've finished my MA in African Studies(longest MA in the history of the universe!). It was a privilege to travel with my parents for three weeks (and I'm so thankful they could come). I went shooting with Raph and I'm now on friendly terms with the M16, however it turns out I'm a lousy shot at 300 meters. Well, not TERRIBLE. I have it on good authority from Stephan that my score would be passable in the Swiss military, but I clearly need practice. I'm considering applying for a Fulbright scholarship to do some more work on Hydro-politics in South Africa (mostly because I'm having trouble finding a job, and a Fulbright--henceforth referred to alternatively as a voll bereit, mann--is a paid, productive, and fairly interesting alternative). In September I will mostly be drawing. Hurray!!

Now on to other things. I think I've mentioned my respect for John Green of the Vlogbrothers youtube team. He's an author of young-adult fiction, but I enjoy his thoughtful, intelligent and often funny videos that he records for his brother and their mostly teenage audience. I like the way that he pulls together topics that would appear unrelated to make one good point about something. Take for example, this recent video: Other people who do this quite well include comedian Stephen Colbert and essayist Anne Fadiman. I've mentioned them before too, I think. (Watch Colbert's great piece on "being known," social media, and the meaning of the human experience HERE. It's better than John's video, in fact, but...perhaps a little crass for some people's taste. Anyway, I find these people quite inspiring, and I had an idea a while back for a small collection of essays about Switzerland which I'm starting to work on a bit. I hope that they'll have a similar mix of personal experience, humor, and observations that will stand out from the average crowd of "American living in Switzerland" writings. More on that if it goes anywhere.

And... That's good for now. Work beckons. Bis spoeter.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All quiet at Tipperary

Lara named my apartment "Tipperary" because "it's a long, long way to Tipperary" (from the train station, on foot). The distance seemed shorter and shorter, however, as the visit progressed and their legs got used to walking. By week 3, after a 4 hour hike up the mountain from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, the little green bump in Basel Land where Tipperary sits seemed like a mole hill after all.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps), we've all agreed to a general policy of "what happens in Tipperary, stays in Tipperary," so I'm not allowed to share some of the most entertaining events and conversations from our three weeks together, but here's a few highlights that I think I'm permitted to tell you about.

We spent three days in the mountains last week with Sarah and Rebekkah, friends of mine from church who are the same ages as Chelsea and Lara. We started in Murten, a town I visited ages ago with Janet and her parents my first winter here. We followed Rick Steves' walking tour around town, admired the cannon balls lodged in city wall, thought of the star-spangled banner while attempting pull-ups in the ramparts, imagined Charles the Bold and his 20,000 Burgundians encamped upon the nearby hill in 1476, and enjoyed lunch by the lake, while watching a windsurfer try to right his capsized sail, only to have it immediately fall over the other direction.

From Murten we took the train to Grindelwald. A farmer and her sister were waiting to drive us to our "schlaf im stroh" accommodations nearby.

This is the advantage of being the first one up for a shower in the morning.

After breakfast with the other guests at the farm, we left for a hike.

Cable car and train views on our way up to the James Bond restaurant above Murren.

Silliness at the Shilthorn:

Hmmph. This is taking forever. More later.

In other news, we welcomed Janet and Stephan's son Joseph to the world on Monday. He's a sweet little dude! :) I got to have a much needed catch up chat with Janet today while rocking the baby. I'm looking forward to lots more visits with the two of them in the coming months (thanks, Gina, for the picture).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Home

Ackkkk...busy busy. very busy. I'm traveling, entertaining, a little stressed about work/money/school/moving, missing all my favorite people cuz I haven't been home long enough to call anyone or write to anyone, but in between I'm going fun places, laughing a lot more than normal, and soaking up the summer with my cousins. More later about Italian fishing villages, sleeping in a barn under the Eiger North face and Swiss fighter jets.

Until then...if I owe you an email, a phone call, a thank you note, an edit of your MA paper, an invoice, a painting, a birthday card, a skype date, a google chat, a spending report, an essay, a translation, some photo prints or a pie (and I know I owe at least one person in each category!), thank you for your patience. I know you're all waiting, and I really am sorry.

More soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Just a couple pictures from the week:

Friday we were going to go to St. Ursanne, but missed a bus and therefore missed the train, so we changed plans and went to Basel instead. We visited the market area and the Rat house and took a stroll up the shopping street, with detours for shoe stores (my request), before hitting the art museum. I think I should have started them at the smaller art museum...They've had their fill already and don't want to go to the Beyler, the best one in town. I knew they were done with art by the time we left, but who isn't after a couple hours of paintings? I thought it was temporary. I didn't fully apprehend their reaction to Monet and Picasso until we were sitting on a bench in a parking lot later that night and Chelsea said, "the museum was ok, but this is soooooo much better."

So much for culture.

Friday night we went to the 28th annual Nordwestschweiz jodelerfest in Laufen. That was nice, and an improvement on the parking lot, I reckon. :)

Saturday we finally made it to St. Ursanne, where the bridge is clearly the main attraction in town. We visited an antique store, a jewelry store, and the church, too, and ate an entire box of chocolate cookies.

Today after church we had a barbecue in the park in Basel with friends. Despite an impressive effort on Raph's part, and a less impressive but no less sincere effort on my part, the coals refused to burn efficiently and we finally ran over to Gina's house to finish cooking the sausages. It still tasted good, and it was nice to spend time with Ben and Ed and Ben's brother and sister, here from England, as well as more regular, see-em-every-week basel folk.