Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aiguille du Midi, 3842 meters

cable car from Chamonix

maybe this is why it took so long?

Mont Blanc without Nicholas Cage

Monday, March 30, 2009

No one was more disappointed than I when it turned out that my time at home last week would be so short. The mini Swiss trip I had planned several months earlier sneaked right up on me. Stealth vacation. Not even time for a blog post.

This past week I ventured for the first time into the lands of French-speaking Switzerland near Lausanne. It was surprisingly not at all like Ticino, its own little bustling world of local products, international organizations, and Swiss orderliness. I can only marvel at the variety of cultures and languages packed into this tiny country.

One of my favorite stops was the lovely Gruyères, the peaceful medieval town for which Gruyère cheese is named, in which I set a new personal record for Lactaid pills consumed. 

The turreted castle there was straight out of a fairybook – so evocative that, had I been there alone, I'm fairly certain I would have danced through the hallways and/or cried out of nostalgia. It didn't take much effort to imagine men flinging arrows through the keyhole windows, ladies strolling in the French garden, servants tending fires in the gigantic fireplaces, myself in a pinchy corset reading in the window seat under the stained glass....

My reveries were eventually interrupted by the snickers of my travelling companions, who happened to catch me gazing wistfully at a door handle, trying to capture with my camera the idea, the feeling that someone lived here, used this place, this very doorknob, so long ago, and whose favorite question for the rest of the day became "Do you want a picture of that?" 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hallo! I'm back home now, and home it does seem now that we are here. All is well: the kitty does not appear to hold anything against us, the plants did their usual return-from-the-dead act, the mailbox was not overflowing, and, though the lemon tree seems to be on its last leg, I believe it may bear its first fruit before dying. A fruit before dying – heheh.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Observer of all, participant of none

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest (of the United States), where, for the first time in many weeks, I find myself with a spare moment and a computer. My travels in the past month have taken me far and wide and at the moment I feel like I don't have any home at all. Oddly, perhaps even ironically, it seems likely this place will actually probably be my home one day. But that day seems very distant indeed.

In my displaced, disoriented state, I've found it interesting to observe people who are at home in these places and to imagine what it must be like to have certain things as your "normal." How must it be to hear mariachi music through your window every night? Or to watch a gigantic Mexican flag taken up and down outside your office every day? To grab a coffee at a pick up window on your way to class? To know the differences between 18 types of oysters? Or to feel like you the parking spot on the street in front your house is yours? I am having difficulty comprehending.

Grappling around a restaurant bathroom lit by just one little candle last night, I wondered to myself (more existentially than literally, but also literally), where am I? And how did I come to be living this adult life here, in this place? What is my own normal? And why do I feel like an anthropologist in my own country? It is hard to tell if I am coming or going.