Let’s go back to Switzerland

Let’s go back to Switzerland

I’ve been home from my grand European adventure for almost a month now. In the last three weeks I’ve started three new jobs, gotten a year older, and donated even more of my apartment to charity (forever en route to minimalism). I’ve slipped gracefully(?) back into Toronto life– aka big-city-life aka sirens-never-stop-life aka never-see-the-stars-life aka it’s-actually-okay-here-life.

I usually find it a little difficult to adjust to my regular world after being away for so long (I was gone for over two months!) but this time it was rather unremarkable. Instead of being all ~woooowww I’m home! How novel~ I was just like –oh yeah. This is Toronto. Okay-

This morning I ran out of soap in the shower and it was time to bust open the last remaining piece of my adventure– a bar soap I purchased in Cologne, Germany. As far as I’m concerned I’m still overseas in my heart so long as the soap remains….

maybe that’s a little out there. But hey! This is my inner dialogue and I can pretend, okay!

Alright… let’s go back to the beginning.

On August 26th I was hastily cramming my new backpack full of what I thought was necessary for two months of life on the road. I went through my mental checklist– clothes, toiletries, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, collapsible pillow– seemingly I was good. My boyfriend was a lot more confident in our packing abilities than I was, and so he waited patiently for me to say “oh but!” and “wait! what about” at least a few dozen times as we were preparing to leave.

We were subletting the apartment for two months to a couple from the UK who were miraculously a lot like us. The girl was around my age and we connected on some very key points so I felt pretty confident leaving my place in her care. I gave her my key and she said,

Okay, bye! Happy Travels!

Thus I left my home to be someone else’s home for a while, and I sauntered off to the airport weighing much more than I usually do when I leave my front door. As I mentioned a while back, this was to be my first ever proper backpacking trip. I was mostly excited, although somewhat unnerved… I mean, what was waiting for me across the pond? So many doubts running through my head: Can I really make this work for two whole months? What if I run out of money so fast that I can’t afford to eat and I end up sleeping in my backpack on some unknown European street, unable even to ask for help because I can’t speak the local language!? Oh god.

Despite these nagging doubts I actually went into this trip with a healthy attitude– I knew it wasn’t always going to be pleasant or easy (I was right), but I also knew the adventure would teach me so much (also right).

After checking in and with our burdensome backpacks vanquished into the ether it was time to board and get ready for one of the least pleasant parts of traveling… the dreaded flight. We were scheduled to land in Zurich around 8:30 in the morning, which I think is pretty brutal. I’d much rather land just before bedtime so I could sleep and adjust to the time difference. The thought of landing after an exhausting flight and then having to face a brand new day was a bit daunting. But hey, maybe I could sleep on the plane. I once slept through an entire flight (Auckland to Calgary) from beginning to end. Maybe flight miracles can happen twice?

 

Though our faces and hearts were optimistic, it was not to be…

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Somewhere, way up high in the sky, amidst this beautiful and seemingly zen window seat view, I got yelled at by the woman in front of me as I was innocently trying to sleep.

I think most people can agree how agonising it is to sleep on planes. No matter what you do there is absolutely no way to get a good night’s sleep or even moderately enjoy yourself. *inhale* You flip through inane magazines, watch movies you don’t really care to watch, half-heartedly read a book, or play chess with the computer and when all of that inevitably fails to entertain you, you toss and turn and pray to the universe that you might get just a small sliver of shut-eye, even though body part after body part is falling torturously to sleep and everything you ever learned about your breath and meditation is coming up short until there you are – somewhere in the sky in no man’s land – questioning your entire life and wondering how you ever found yourself on this god forsaken plane in the first place. *exhale*

Or at least that’s how it is for me.

So back to this woman… at some point during all of this turmoil I suppose I accidentally bumped her chair as I was shifting between uncomfortable positions, and where most people would feel a slight sting of annoyance and shrug it off, she decided to turn around over top of her chair to aggressively poke me and wake me up.

“You kicked my chair,” she just about yelled.

It was apparent that I had ruined her holiday before she even landed at her destination.

I was a bit dazed, but I immediately apologised and told her it wasn’t on purpose. I think most everyone in the world would understand, but no…

You’re making it so I can’t sleep!!” she exclaimed, and then she just stood there looming over me with hatred in her frazzled looking eyes, waiting for a more satisfying response.

So I said, “Yes, well I can’t either because there’s a crazy woman yelling at me…”

….

..

.

Okay I didn’t really say that. I took the boring road and just said I would be more mindful which I guess she accepted because she finally turned around and slumped angrily back down into her chair. But jeez it was a really awkward situation. I mean if I kick your chair, and you yell at me, and I earnestly apologise, then… what more do you want from me? Should I sing you a lullaby? Guide you into savasana? Prostrate myself at your feet? What?

Anyways there wasn’t much getting back to sleep after that, but it didn’t matter. The hours went by and we would be touching down soon enough. Switzerland was finally in sight through the plane window, and that little magical feeling was beginning to set in.

It was happening.

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There’s not much to say about that first day, it was all a bit of a haze. One thing I can say with confidence is that I took the world’s best nap which more than made up for the grind of the flight. We were lucky enough to stay at a friend’s apartment who was out of town, so we had a cozy bed, a kitchen, and a base to make the most of the first day– which was mostly wandering as you might expect.

Zurich is a lovely city with some really nice architecture and even nicer canals. Also, the day had literally PERFECT weather. Clear skies and bright sun. It was so hot and I was so glad I decided to pack shorts, although it turned out to be one of only three or so days where shorts were acceptable attire, and the rest of the time they just took up space. Another thing we learned that day which we had to relearn every week thereafter– grocery stores in Switzerland are closed on Sundays, and many restaurants as well. Just doesn’t happen where I’m from.

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When we finally felt tired from our long day, we decided to hang out with some ducks and get our feet wet in the water…

Well that pretty much sums up day one.. so that’s one down and another sixty or so to write about.

Have a great weekend everyone! xo

some inner dialogue

Good vs Evil brain, a conversation.

Good: I think I’ll write something today.

Evil: Are you sure that’s a good idea?

Good: Sure, why wouldn’t it be?

Evil: Are you kidding? Read your drafts! Every word written there is barf.

Good: That’s a bit harsh.

Evil: It’s the truth.

Good: Well screw you, I’ll write something anyway.

**writing**

Evil: ….. so?

Good: You’re right, this is really shitty.

Evil: You should have just listened to me to begin with.

**crying**

fin

This is what mindless work does to me

So after working a mind-numbing job I hate all day I came home unnecessarily grumpy and proceeded to wonder why on earth no one in the world is paying me millions of dollars to write poems and dance all day. I mean that’s not such an extravagant request, is it? Sort it out universe.

Anyway. After that I proceeded to get more and more tired, which led to being more and more grumpy. However, within the last hour or so I’ve moved on to the more fun stage of being over-tired. The everything-I-do-and-see-and-hear-is-funny-but-only-to-me phase. This phase is great for the first 40 minutes or so before you miss the sleep window and then you’re in the twice-as-grumpy-as-before-except-now-you-can’t-sleep-and-the-world-is-awful phase. But before I get there, I thought I’d go ahead and take advantage of the stupid fun and share with all of you unfortunate enough to be reading this what I spent the last half hour of my life thinking about.

You see, I happen to think I’m pretty hilarious, although only my best friend would agree with me and everyone else thinks I’m just an idiot. But let’s junk with the naysayers and assume for the sake of this awful blog post that I’m right. A long time ago (we’re talking 8+ years) I used to write down what I thought were some highly amusing jokes in a journal and assume that one day, when I was a talented artist (which has/will never happen) I’d compile them into some sort of comic book. I hadn’t thought about that ridiculous notion for many years, but then I started to think about comic books, or graphic novels (I’m hip with the modern terms). Then I started to think about villains and superheroes.

I don’t know why.

Anyways, this train of thought progressed until I got it in my head that I could write an awesome graphic novel centred around my dog, Buttercup, who is very much a villian and a hero in one. Pretty exciting premise, right? If you’re not yet convinced, I present you with this:

ButtercuptheHowlerss

Amazing.

I envision her as an impossible-to-contain mega hero with zero tolerance for injustice. She strikes at the slightest infraction of the law, and only with the help of me, her sidekick, can she be contained. She is both menace and hero, loathed and loved. I named her the howler because she likes to bark incessantly at home. It drives me up the wall, but now I realise she must be using her barks to alert her superhero friends of various crimes happening around the world that she detects with her superior hearing powers. It’s all starting to make sense.

Actually here’s an incomplete impromptu list of her powers, as I see them:

  • A bark that deafens and incapacitates foes.
  • Breathes underwater, thus can drag enemies into the depths to drown (she is a water dog so this makes sense).
  • Digs holes which enemies fall into and are stranded until someone comes to dig them out. [addendum: Buttercup leans over the hole and drools on them while they are stuck there. And she has an obscene amount of drool, so this is a particular punishment.]
  • Menacing growl which paralyses.
  • Uncontrollable temper which frightens and strikes fear in the hearts of those who cross her.
  • Humongous canines capable of piercing through an arm, or leg…or heart.

Yeah..

I guess I’ll stop there and go get some sleep before I completely lose it. Feel free to unfollow on your way out of the post.

How to pack ineffectively

Liam and I had possession of our house last week, yet somehow we have still not moved in due to being the slowest, laziest packers on the planet. Actually he’s been very good, it’s really just me. I’ve never moved before, so I’m only just discovering the pain that is packing your life away into boxes.

I’m trying to downsize as much as possible so I don’t have immense piles of crap cluttering up my new house… crap that I’ve dragged around since childhood. I’ve been mentally preparing for it for a few months, so some things are easy to get rid of.. others not so much. In any case it’s been more time consuming than I thought, especially since I have the attention span of a nat. This is the method that I’ve been using to pack:

1. Get box and go to room to be packed
2. Place one item into box
3. Take a break
4. Look at box
5. Have a coffee
6. Look at more items
7. Get really tired
8. Take a nap
9. Repeat next day

Can you see my predicament? At this rate it’ll be winter again before I’m in the house.

I know where I live

A couple nights ago I went out for a few drinks with some girls from my program for one of their birthdays. We went to some bar not far from my house, I’d say it takes 15 minutes tops by car if the roads aren’t busy. I took a taxi because I knew I’d have at least a couple drinks and obviously wasn’t going to want to drive, and I ended up staying there for quite a while. By the time I left to flag down a taxi it was close to 2 am.

The point of this story is the interaction I had with the taxi driver. He presumed arrogantly that because I was a young girl leaving a bar late at night that I must be completely plastered. I wasn’t drunk in the least. Tired, yes, but undoubtedly coherent. He decided that I must be so out of it that he could pull one over on me and take me sight seeing in my own hometown. It went like this:

Taxi driver: Hi. Where would you like to go?

I gave him my house address, thanked him, and sat quietly in the backseat. He proceeded to drive on, and I sat there eagerly awaiting my chance to crawl into bed and sleep. Somehow that wasn’t going to be the end of my night, however, as I noticed the taxi driver going in the complete opposite direction of my house.

Me: Umm… sorry but where are you going?

Taxi driver: To your house.

Me: My house is actually the other direction.

He pulls up to the left hand turn lane and we sit for a few minutes at a red light. Since it’s 2 am the roads are dead. It’s just me and him in this horrible taxi ride of bullshit.

Taxi driver: No, I am going the right way.

Me: It’s much faster if you turn right here and go down this road. I can direct you.

Taxi driver: I know where I’m going.

Me: Sorry, I know you can go this way to get there, but it takes twice as long. Can we just go the other way, please?

Taxi driver: Well, I’m already in this left turn lane.

Me: There’s nobody on the roads, I’m sure it’ll be fine if you just go.

Taxi driver: I can’t do that. Don’t worry it doesn’t take any longer going this way.

Me: Yes it does.

Taxi driver: No, no. It’s about the same distance.

I was pretty grumpy from being tired, and my annoyance level was escalating very quickly. I mean who is this guy to contradict me? I’m a paying customer. Don’t try and pull this crap on me man.

Me: Sorry but I have lived here for over twenty years and I can assure you it takes much longer this way.

Taxi driver: No it’s fine. You just relax back there, little girl. I’ll get you home in no time.

Even more annoyed now at being dismissed and called “little girl” in a very disrespectful way.

Me: I think I know the fastest route to my house, man. You just want to go this way so that it costs me more money.

Taxi driver: What? I don’t think so.

Me: ….

Taxi driver: I’ll get you home.

Me: Look, I’ll just get out here I don’t need to spend so much money. I’d rather walk.

I gave him a scowl through the mirror. He sighed at this point and then finally corrected his route and went the proper way.

Taxi driver: Okay fine I go this way.

Me: Thank you.

We rode for the next 10 minutes in horribly tense and uncomfortable silence, although I had a wonderful sense of self-satisfaction from having won the argument.

I think there must be some invisible aura of argument emanating from me because somehow I always end up having bizarre debates with people. Or maybe I just seem really easy to manipulate and rip off. When I was younger I was incredibly shy and so took a lot of crap from people in positions of authority. I also had one really horrible encounter with someone once and ever since then I decided I need to develop a tough skin and stand up for myself. So while I have been developing a confident take-no-crap personality on the inside, my physical self has not caught up yet, so I still have people trying to walk all over me.

Aren’t they surprised when it turns out to be the opposite. I almost enjoy it now. Almost.

Any one else ever have a taxi driver try and take the longest route possible? What did you do?