Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's Keep it Real

(I ended up buying this one, so if any of my German speaking friends KNOW this is not good, please let me know in the next three hours. Danke)

It's interesting to move to a new place and know it's going to be for awhile. I feel that traveling is one of my talents and I've a pretty good knack for it. I get how to direct a cab or train system or hotel front desk in just about every language, and sign language too. I get how to maneuver the airports of the world, get money changed, find my sites to see and order from a variety of menus (though Mongolia's "Flesh Flied Liver" and "fermented mare's milk" will always take the cake as far as dished that have been offered).

And yet today, I've been a bit frazzled. Why?

Laundry detergent.

Yes, laundry detergent got the best of me. In Europe, when you don't have dryers and you wash things nightly in small little washers, you have a THOUSAND choices for laundry detergent. You have small ones for wool and small ones for cotton, ones for bright white and one for colors and all of them come in sizes that are similar to my dishwashing detergent. And they all cost about 15 dollars each.

And even though I'm in the "French" side of Switzerland, EVERY thing was written in German. And my German is Nicht Zer Gut-Words like:
Bei empfindicher oder vorgeschadgter....were lighting up the aisle and a painful part of my brain. I have few clothes here and it would be awful to accidently bleach them all.

But, I did figure out my dishwasher today, so tonight, when I do my first load of laundry, I have faith in me.

Is it good for a pretty smart girl to feel absolutely ridiculous and lost when it comes to doing her laundry once in a while? And let's not forget that I couldn't understand HALF of what the check out lady said to me today, I just smiled and's a good survival tactic.

Yeah, let's keep it real here folks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Packer's Remorse!

The Friday morning that I departed America was full of frenzy. I was finishing up some paintings, packing, trying to shower and remember to put on matching socks....that kind of morning. I had stayed up late the night before playing Rock Band with April & Co. and that whole week had been full of paintings and goodbyes and good food and good fun and everything else you can imagine besides packing.

So, I packed four large suitcases (which cost me an extra $600 dollars on the airplane just FYI), but as was feared, each of them were overweight (why are we SO biased! GRRRR!) I had my sweet mom help me weigh them as I had to remove about 20 pounds per bag. There went my jar of crunchy Jif peanut butter and the good toilet paper that you just can't find here. Out went my books and for some reason my journal AND my Nikon got thrown out too...I was in a frenzy and didn't know what I was doing!!!! My yoga mat was tossed out and my picture frame that housed the one family photo I was going to bring. I kept telling myself I could get it all in June. And yet, somehow I kept my Dorothy Parker short stories...because even I have limits. I didn't pack a blow dryer or curling iron, I didn't pack excess shoes or pants...although SEVEN hats made it into the bags...seriously, was I delirious? Oh yes, I was!

So, today, I finally got a break to go down into the "city" of Sierre, Switzerland to do some shopping. I'll tell you one thing. The Swiss people are FREAKING CRAZY! Who can live here? Who can afford it! After all my years of European travel I was going to buy a hairdryer of my was $90 dollars!!! I was going to get a yoga mat, most of them were about $80 and the cheapest one I found was $40 dollars! Agh! I tried to find a simple white frame to house my family photo and when I found one I had no idea that it would cost $25 dollars! I mean, I already have to pay a preposterous amount of money on food here..but honestly, I couldn't bring myself to buy ONE thing that I wanted. I just couldn't! I think they are about half the price in Paris and since I get to go there in a few weeks, I thought I'd just wait for a bit. I think I might also buy pasta and tuna fish there too as it's ridiculously expensive here. And even though the Swiss Francs feel like play money, I was always too thrifty in monopoly for my own good! Curse you BOARDWALK!

This wasn't exactly the weight loss plan I was going for, but I think it's going to work anyway. And simplifying my life was just made a lot easier. Now, if only I could have packed my other glove, the matches to my socks, and that Zen Buddhism book I was planning on reading.

Things that Switzerland apparently doesn't have (so if you'd like to bring them when you visit me):

Apple Cider Vinegar
Maple Syrup and Pancake Mix (where you just add water on a lazy Sunday morning!)
Peanut or Almond Butter
Prune Juice
Men over six feet tall and under 40 who just want to kiss in a cafe over hot chocolate....

I'd prefer that last one the most. Cause baby, it's cold here! (And holy cannoli, I think I just revealed the fact that I eat like an 80 year old spinster! Yes, I like prune juice..ok!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

love, loved, loving


Love has come into my life in the most amazing colors and dimensions this year. My capacity to embrace and give love has deepened in ways that only poets might ever be able to understand. Last week, during a painful conversation I wanted to have, I was met with resistance. Why can't we just keep everything pleasant? the other person's eyes were asking me. I realized in that moment that few people decide to get really messy with life when given the chance. It's easier, somehow, to pretend to be ok, isn't it? So many aspects of life embrace the mediocre pleasantries. I'm proud to say that so many things along my path the past two years have taught me to act and be authenticly myself. I like when people live life in Real with me and don't Pretend. Sounds like a funny way to begin a year end letter, I know, but it's been on my mind.

This year I've been more open to the possibilities of people and the potential of the universe than I have ever before. I think a lot of that has to do with me finally getting fully comfortable with who I am. I've given up a lot of labels. I've given up a lot of other's expectations of me that seemed centered in a realm that never quite fit for me. I've followed my bliss and that has made me blissfully happy.

Something I learned from Lucille Clifton a long time ago is the beauty of stream of consciousness, so here it life this year in simple images. In January, I was knocked off my feet by an orange New York love. It was a whirlwind of three months that still have me whirling and twirling and dancing the tango with what I learned to this very evening. To that person I say thank you. You were real. In April, I was asked to be a permanent contributor at the Exponent II blog. Here, real thoughts and real issues are talked about with women who have been more open and real with me than most people dare to be. This experience with exploring Mormonism without the confines of labels and expectations have grounded me in a spiritual way that I had been lacking for a long time. Check it out: In June, I played Julius Caesar as my group of students pretended to assassinate me in the Roman forum...a few days later, in a random train line in Rome, I met the woman who would offer me a job in Switzerland. After a quiet afternoon alone by Yoko Ono's wishing tree in Venice, I took a night train to Salzburg. I climbed up a rainy cobblestone street to the abbey of Maria Von Trapp and sang a little on the way back down. It was a perfect moment. In August I took long walks along the Seine and held conversations with myself in French. The leaves of the September trees rustled at my feet as I walked through Greenwich village on my birthday and ate a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. It was on this little visit to New York that I decided to head back to Europe for good. In October, tragedy struck my family in a way I still can't quite fathom. It made most of November a pretty numb time. In December, I spent the week in New York again seeing plays, running into Jude Law on the street, and planning April's proposal in front of the Rockefeller tree. I flew home and finished directing a high school Bollywood version of Twelfth Night. One week later, I packed up a few belongings to start a new life.

I'm safely settled in my new home in Europe. Crans-Montana is a village in the top of the Alps. I eat quiche and take long walks. I kick my feet through the powdered snow and dip my cheese in mustard. I hang my clothes to dry and I drink tea most days around 4 o'clock. I write and research and love and live and laugh and feel more fulfilled in my life than I have ever before. I've been comparing my dreams to the life cycle of the egg. In America, all my eggs had hatched and grew and found their full purpose...but--here. now. this second. new dreams that are bigger and better, dreams that stand on the backs of my dreams that came before, dreams that have started to crystalize into shining realities, have formed and they look pretty. No room for pretend.

These dreams stem from love. The love that I have for my family and friends and students and lovers and strangers. These dreams stem from love. The love that my family and friends and students and lovers and strangers have for me. It's the most incredible gift in the world. It's the spirit of Christmas and Buddha and Yemaya and Jesus and every God and Goddess who have ever graced the consciousness of humanity. It's the most incredible talent to have...better than playing the violin or painting or running marathons. It's the most powerful force on earth (more powerful than a Broadway musical!). It's the most important thing to me.

And I'm sending it all your way. Real Love. Big Time Love.