Monday, May 23, 2011

Urban living, p.s.

One exciting thing I forgot to mention earlier: there aren't very many places in Basel to buy root beer (like, two), and my new house is super close to the most reliable and inexpensive source !! There are three cans chilling in my fridge for floats with the roomies later. :) Neither has has ever had one. Poor deprived Europeans!!

Urban living

So, this country girl has moved to a proper city. (Pfäffige was just a little village, so small the neighbors all waved when they drove by). Saturday night I thought I'd sleep with the windows open in my new room in Basel by the river, but buses and trams and people on the street made me hop back out of bed after midnight to close the window that faces the busiest street. Other than the bustle and the noise, I like my new apartment, with it's creaky wooden floors and sunny rooms. And I like my two new roommates. I'm still thinking about what to call the two of them in my blog. I doubt they want the whole world to know everything about them! So for now: there's a guy and there's a girl and they're both quite nice. Saturday lots of people were over to help haul boxes and furniture up 66 steps to our front door, and we now have 10 bottles of shower products standing in a neat triangle, like bowling pins, on the corner of our tub. It makes us look high-maintenance, but I think we'll be a pretty laid-back little household, actually, with similar rhythms.

I'm still on the hunt for furniture. Saturday I managed to stop by the flea market just before it closed. Two important discoveries: First, I found a very nice, tall secretary desk/dresser in good shape (better than the other one!) for 25.- (marked down from 55.-). It wouldn't fit the space I had in mind, and I didn't want to buy something big and heavy on a whim, but it helped me decide there is no reason to pay more than 80.- for a perfectly decent secretary desk/chest of drawers. I might not come across 25.- again, but I have found plenty of good-looking pieces for under 100 now. Second, I found a big, old mirror in a wide frame (in other words, it has personality) for 50 francs! I looked at others that were about the same size for 600 elsewhere! The frame has some issues, but the mirror itself is good, soo...that's now standing in my room waiting for a little touch up and a nail. Pictures to follow at some point!

Other than moving-related activities and work (which is going fine) I have been catching up with old peeps and getting to know some new ones. I'm looking forward to rock climbing later this week with Pierrick (my work partner). Friday night I went to an Aargau band competition with a few friends. The whole event brought back fun college memories of concerts at Portland's old Meow Meow club! Except this time, we were muuuch older than the average age. The MC was just 14, for example. Fun to be there anyway, though, and I thought the kids did a good job, except for some repetitive lyrics here and there! :)

And so goes my urban living experience thus far. To end with a little Wordsworth:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pulitzer Prize and other ambitions

Imagine my disappointment earlier this week when I discovered that the Pulitzer Prize for History is only awarded for works on American history! If I'd known that I would have seriously reconsidered my Africanist trajectory. How am I ever going to be successful now!? But not to worry. The Internet is a comforting friend, and soon informed me that there are (somewhat) prestigious prizes for books about Africa, but let's be honest: you've never heard of them, and neither have I, even though it's my own profession! (actually, I have heard of one of them but gooosh. it just doesn't ring like "Pulitzer" does!)

Ah, well. At least I can still be President.

More modestly, I am enjoying being the decorator of my life these days. I've inherited a wonderful assortment of household essentials, which frees up my greenbacks for more exciting purchases like shower curtains, duvet covers and laundry baskets! You probably think those are essential, but they actually aren't. Annnd! They come in so many styles and colors!!I'm sure you can see why they beat spatulas and frying pans. I bought a botanical print duvetbezug (another perk of new digs: I learn new words in German) and a Tanzania-made basket from the Fair Trade shop that's going to work quite well for laundry and which was half the price of similar Ikea laundry baskets. I have poked my nose into every antique and second hand store I've found, trying to locate a small and affordable secretary desk for my room. I found one yesterday. It has a price tag for something like 450.-. But I went back again today...talked to the guy a bit...and he offered 300, without me so much as hinting it was a bit steep. I think I'll keep going by. If he hits 200, he might have a deal.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Switzerland: the Sequel

It's like watching reruns in Stephanie's life right now. I've moved for a second time from the same origin town in the US of A to the same destination town in my favorite little landlocked European country. Waiting with a ticket at the Swiss immigration office? I've done that before! But actually a lot has changed in three years (even if it looks a bit like things are on repeat), and moving to a familiar place is easier in so many ways I can't even begin to tell you all of them.

I started work this week. It's the first time I've started a new job without being nervous. I knew everyone already, and was so familiar with the place and the pace of this type of work that it was an easy transition. It's a good Stephanie job, I think. Thursday, for example, I woke up around 8 and came sauntering into my bright office around 9:30. I worked for a couple hours. "Work" included writing some stuff for the website, sourcing library books, reading about Africa, and researching Africa-related consulting companies. Then I hopped a bus across town to have a long lunch with Valda and Diana. I started to head back, but didn't make it past the bridge. I enjoyed ice cream and a chat with Ed by the water and THEN went back to a fairly productive long afternoon. Today was a similar story, except I took a boat across the river for a Falafel lunch in the sunshine with my two office-mates, and we had our first (and I think only) office "training" today: how to clean the coffee machine. Veit assures us we can earn credit points for that (but I think Veit may be telling us what we like to hear!)

so far, so good. And I'm thankful to have a job.