Archive for July, 2010

I have hit the recipe jackpot

July 31, 2010

My medication is making my weight spiral out of control.  It makes me ravenously hungry, so I eat more than usual, and it eliminates my sense of taste for salt, so I eat sweeter things than usual in order to be able to taste something.

My mom’s best friend has come to the rescue  — she’s been working on losing weight recently, and she brought some low-calorie recipe books for me to look at.  I spent today copying recipes furiously — I must have scanned 250 or so.  We are going to be in new recipe heaven…

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Hello from Oklahoma!

July 25, 2010

Yes, I am crazy.  Just two short days after our transatlantic flight with 10 (heavy!) suitcases, we embarked on a road trip to Oklahoma to visit family.  We almost didn’t make it up here — I started feeling pretty bad in Austin, and we wound up in a gas station convenience store with Mom massaging my head and neck as I cried.  But with the help of some food and some pain medicine, I made it through.

So now I’m in the middle of reconnecting with all the aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents who haven’t seen me in at least 5 years — some of them haven’t seen me for 7 years! — and connecting with all those who didn’t have the chance to meet me before.  It can be a little confusing at times… this is the ultimate Brady Bunch family, and I’m never quite sure exactly how many aunts and uncles and cousins I’ve got, or who they all belong to.  We’re all having a lot of fun catching up and trading stories (you should hear about my uncle’s Guatemalan bathroom adventure!) and I’m getting to show off Mom’s and my Geneva scrapbook, which is an added bonus.  So yes, I’m absolutely nuts to be here right now, but it is so worth it. 🙂

First oncology appointment

July 24, 2010

I had my first oncology appointment in the States yesterday, and there are a lot of things about the American medical culture that I’m going to have to get used to.  The enormous amounts of paperwork, and the crazy questions they ask you in it.  The incredibly informal way the reception staff and techs speak to you.  Having people call you by your first name rather than by your last name.  The crowded waiting rooms.

I’m sure I will eventually adjust to all that.  But here is something that I will not ever be okay with:

the lack of hygiene.

In Switzerland, anyone who needed to touch me for any reason either washed or disinfected their hands beforehand.  In front of me, so I knew that they had done it.  Everyone’s nails were short and well-manicured.  The lab was sparkling.

Here, the doctor and the lab techs did not wash their hands in front of me.  The lab was full of dead crickets, and one of the nurses had a cricket crawling up her leg as she was drawing another patient’s blood.  (Everyone is telling me to calm down because our town is just having a cricket epidemic at the moment.  Not an acceptable excuse in my book.)  The receptionist had grotesquely long fake fingernails that were halfway grown out and that had a case of nail fungus.

Not cool.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it… my next appointment is in six weeks, and we’ll see if anything is different then.  I never thought I’d be a hygiene freak, but I was fairly grossed out…

First impressions

July 23, 2010
  • they changed the money
  • they changed the license plates
  • everybody (or almost) wears a cross
  • American toilets waste a lot of water
  • the sky is really big here

I’m sure there will be more later…

We made it back

July 22, 2010

The trip was easier than expected (especially given that we had 10 suitcases!), but of course nothing ever goes off without a hitch…

I’ve never had trouble in Swiss passport control before, but I forgot that my passport is brand-new and totally blank… no entry visa authorization, no entry/exit stamps… so the officer was pretty confused.  Of course, I’d also forgotten that without my entry visa, I needed my B permit with me, and I thought I’d left it in my checked baggage.  Then it was Mom’s turn – and, of course, she’s overstayed the 3-month tourist visa.  She applied for a visa extension with the OCP, and they told her to stay put until they came to a decision, but we didn’t have that paperwork with us, either.  The police let us through but told Mom that next time she didn’t have her papers, she’d be arrested.

I figure, hey – go ahead and arrest our butts.  We’re legal, and we do have the paperwork to prove it… just not in our carry-on baggage.  Enjoy wasting your time and money on us.

Wouldn’t you know, when we got home I found my B permit in my carry-on bag, after all.

Much to my relief, they took all 6 of our checked bags, no problem – sometimes they have blackout periods where they won’t let passengers check a 3rd bag.  Getting through customs in Newark was simple, too, although they charge you five dollars to use the luggage carts!  Of course, I didn’t declare my 8000 dollar chemo meds (or my 900 dollar ring, or anything else expensive that I had with me), but they didn’t check our bags, so that was fine.

The first things I ate in Newark were a chocolate and a strawberry glazed donut.  It’s been two and a half years since I had a real donut, and these were heaven.

On our flight to San Antonio, poor Mom got stuck in a seat between me and a hyperactive unaccompanied minor… there were actually several annoying, hyperactive children around us, and I had a headache by the time we landed.

All of our luggage made it safe and undamaged, which is a miracle given the state of my eldest suitcase (a high school graduation present from my grandmother).

So, we’re here… y’all better watch out!

5.9!

July 19, 2010

So.  I totally rocked my defense.  My presentation fell together nicely and was right on target.  No computer mishaps.  Cool as a cucumber.  Just some warm weather and sweat running down my back.

My thesis adviser put my translation on par with that of  some of his favorite contemporary fiction authors, and he complimented my academic prose, too.  He picked out one sentence from my commentary and read it out loud to everyone because, according to him, it was the only awkward sentence in the entire 92-page thesis.

I knew I’d be getting a good grade, but I didn’t expect a 5.9!  I’m really pleased. 🙂

Don’t jump!

July 18, 2010

My thesis defense is almost here — 5:30 tomorrow evening.  I spent today polishing my presentation and getting it the correct length.  I’ll probably run through it one more time tomorrow just to be 100% comfortable with it, and then it will be over!

From the cathedral in Bern:

Don’t jump!  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

Danse macabre

July 16, 2010

For the 1st anniversary of my kidney surgery.

From the cathedral in Bern:

With accompaniment by Saint-Saëns:

Overheard on the train tonight

July 15, 2010

Grandmother to young grandson:  Don’t sit down on the toilet seat in there.
Grandson:  Don’t worry, grandma, I go standing up!

I wish I’d known this sooner!

July 14, 2010

We’re going to Bern tomorrow as a pre-graduation celebration (I’m defending my thesis on Monday!  Yikes!)  As I was looking at the CFF’s online ticket shop, I just happened to notice a page called “billets dégriffés” that had tons of sale tickets.  I scored round-trip Geneva-Bern tickets for two adults for 73.60 CHF (regular price: 184 CHF).

The whole reason I never really explored Switzerland during my summers here was because train tickets are so expensive… I really wish I’d known about these tickets before!