Browsing Posts published in October, 2012

Gender Bender

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So after two long and lovely years tucked away in rural France, it’s interesting to be around so many shops and services. I’ve been poking my long giraffe neck into the odd store here and there just to see what I’ve been missing. I don’t actually need anything, but in the midst of a sweater/boots/eyeshadow emergency, it’s important to know right where to go.

Certainly make-up and perfume are present in abundance. Of course they are, the two things in life that I want the least. What I have made a point of sourcing out is pants. I’ve looked in La Tour-de-Peilz, all over Vevey and even in Lausanne and I’ve come to a very clear conclusion: Swiss women are a bunch of short-arses. I’ve never seen such a vast collection of 32-inseam pantalons in my life. Even on the Levi’s shelves that say “34 inseam”—nothing but 32.

I’ve also noticed the clothing skews toward the young and, shall we say, uninhibited. Gem-encrusted hooker heels, crotchless shorts called skirts, and pants that appear to be applied in liquid form. Unless my future involves a stint as a lap dancer, I’ve got myself a problem. Also, anything that seems remotely my speed (although still not my length) would require a sugar daddy upgrade or a place for Finding Me in France at the top of a best sellers list. Neither of which is very likely. Continue reading “Gender Bender” »

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The Choice of Champions

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So. Let’s say you wake on a Sunday morning in late October to snow, howling winds and temperatures typically found in the Arctic this time of year. And let’s also say that, in what has to be the unluckiest turn of events for lunatics who run 26 miles just for the hell of it, the Lausanne Marathon is passing by your window. Several options present themselves.

Perhaps one could draw inspiration from these marvelous athletes who brave all conditions of climate to indulge their obsessive habits. You could bundle up and cheer them on from the sidelines, handing them tiny cups of frozen Gatorade as they chatter and shiver their way toward being able to say they ran the coldest marathon in Swiss history.

Or you could go for a small jog yourself, returning home without a medal or bragging rights, but triumphant all the same; your feet frozen beyond rescue, your face blue and crusted with frozen snot and spit, followed by days of muscle cramps and possibly amputation of a toe or two due to frostbite.

Or … one could choose a different kind of marathon entirely. Closed shutters to block out the biting wind (and the sight of people with thighs of steel). Flannel pajamas and wool socks, back-to-back Jamie Oliver Cooks episodes, bacon and cheddar sandwiches (doubly special after a two year search for non-smelly cheese and bacon that actually tastes like bacon), giant mugs of creamy Swiss chocolat chaud and then a sprint across the finish line with something like this …

You all know me well enough by now. I’ll let you decide how I spent this first frosty Sunday in Switzerland.

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Art and Soul

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I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it’s absolutely sickening how many gifts some people have, isn’t it? Like Ms. Paltrow with her acting and her singing and her cooking and her whole “best dressed woman in the world” thing. Steve Martin is also in this category. I read his latest book An Object of Beauty recently and I loved it. He’s a tornado of talent and a major art collector to boot. If I find out he speaks French I may have to hunt him down and slap him.

Then I read that Eric Clapton dabbles in art as well. Dabbles, as in he just sold a painting from his collection for $33 million. Apparently Slow Hand also has a keen eye.

If I were to collect anything in the world, it would be art. I’ve always wanted to study art history and work in an upscale gallery. I would wear black from head to toe, blood red lipstick and a fox stole, perfect a Russian accent and wax poetic about the genius of my latest exhibition “Penis Unleashed” to fools with more money than brains. Maybe next lifetime.

Anyway, it’s clear that if one wants to be someone in the creative world, one must collect. And Switzerland is very famous for museums and all things artsy-fartsy. So without further delay I’m starting a collection, one befitting my particular talents and varied accomplishments. I know a good piece when I see one …

Just go ahead and tell me that’s not art, I dare ya. I call it Giant Arse Waiting to Happen. Maybe this collection isn’t the wisest of investments, but if it’s worth is evaluated using the joy scale, I’d say it’s priceless.

 

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Of Sound Mind

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Now I couldn’t tell you when the Peace Palace was built, but I can tell you what they used to build it: paper. Sweet Jaysus the noise here. Of course there’s the hubub associated with any multi-inhabitant dwelling, however there’s no denying that soundproofing was not high on the construction checklist.

I’m doing my best to adapt and adjust, but it’s not easy. I knew coming from the silence of Semur would put me at a distinct disadvantage here in the ‘big city’ of 12,000 people, all of whom seem to live above or beside me. I’m learning to accept the 4 a.m. Niagara Falls that is my neighbour’s urine stream, but there’s one racket that rankles me to no end: les talons. Continue reading “Of Sound Mind” »

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Saturday, Swiss Style

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The move-in/settle-in frustrationaganza is finally settling down here. There are still a few outstanding To Do Tidbits, but with temperatures in the mid-twenties and the sun high in the sky, it’s time to get out there and see what there is to see in the Swiss Riviera before the grey of winter descends upon us.

Saturday past we decided to give the very touristy funiculaire ride a whirl. It’s a small train car that slowly (and quite vertically) carts you up through the Lavaux vineyards to Mont-Pèlerin where all the toil and trouble of international relocation just disappears …

Yes, there are churches and actual Swiss chalets …

And further down this road you can even find a Tibetan monastery where, on this lovely day, they were having a grand procession to welcome someone of great importance. There were Buddhist monks all over the place, a sea of bald heads and saffron robes escorting other monks in fancy hats to a large ceremony. I say if you are going to spend your life meditating, why not do it in a place as inspiring as this. Continue reading “Saturday, Swiss Style” »

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Maple Leaf Forever

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I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Goodreads. Basically it’s a social networking site devoted to the joy of reading. People make lists of books they’ve read and books they want to read, review and recommend books to friends and it’s a great way to discover your next favourite book.

Finding Me in France is there and every now and then I click around to see what people have to say about it. In fact, one of my favourite reviews yet was found on Goodreads: “Some good laughs, though the overuse of the word arse gets tiresome.” Who could argue with that one? I laughed my arse off when I read it.

Then there’s this one: “Well written and an enjoyable adventure. While I really enjoyed the style, I was a little disappointed in Bobbi’s anti Canadian attitude. As a tri (sic) blue patriot, I was very disappointed in her lack of Canadian spirit. You know what, if France is so amazing, stay.”

Oh no, dear reader, I beg to differ. Anti-Canadian, my arse (see review number 1). I’m as pro-Canadian as they come. I’d even go so far to say that every single Canadian should buy a copy of my great blook of doodles, that’s how much respect I have for the homeland. Sure just the other day I posted a picture of a naked woman with a maple leaf over her crotch. Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t get more patriotic than that now does it?

Anti-Canadian indeed. Who the hell is against Canada? That’s like saying you’re anti-puppy or anti-dessert. Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’ve never been anti-Canada unless you count my support for an independent Newfoundland, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

I love my country of origin no matter how unpalatable the Prime Minister or disorganized the health care system may be. I’m always proud to tell people where I’m from, and I do it right quick lest they think I’m American. Oh now, I’m just kidding. The point is I’m not overly keen on anyone thinking I’m down on Canada just because I choose to live somewhere else.

And speaking of elsewhere, while a few (very few) fellow Canadians now own a copy of the book, I’m apparently huge with Moroccan boy bands…

This is my French neighbour Jean-Claude with members of the music group Izourane. How he gets all these people to pose with this book never ceases to amaze me. I need to start paying him.

As you can see, from Manitoba to Morocco, I’m willing to be immersed in any culture that comes my way—French, Moroccan, Swiss, whatever. OK, maybe I am ‘anti’ a lot of things: war, sexism, racism, death penalties, political oppression, skinny jeans, but all that proves is I’m as Canadian as any toque wearing, hockey playing, maple syrup swigging Canuck. Plus, I barbecue in the snow and say please, thank-you and I’m sorry a million times a day, definitive proof of my nationality.

So to that confused reviewer: Thank you so very much for reading and I’m sorry to have to say this, but I think I will stay, if that’s okay with you, eh?

 

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Ah Switzerland, land of mountains and lakes, sour cream and driver’s licences, you are shaping up rather nicely as a country I must say. But still. There will always be a longing for the things that make Canada great, specifically Shopper’s Drug Mart. I’d say once a week (at least) for the past 2 years, I’ve endured the wistful desire to roam the aisles of my favourite place to shop.

Being a giraffe allows mega drugstores to win out over fashionable boutiques. A lifetime of frustration over 32-inch inseams means I detest the average clothing store, but aside from the scary diaper/pacifier/baby food section, I’ve never met a SDM shelf that I didn’t like. When I left they were adding cosmetic sections to rival any department store. Who knows what the hell they’ve done since I’ve been gone. Maybe now they offer massages while you wait for your prescription. It’s too sad to think about.

Not that French pharmacies aren’t wonderful. They have their own merits, but a one-stop-super-shop they are not. Plus, I have a somewhat celebrated history when it comes to la pharmacie. If you’re new here, you may not know what happened to me at the pharmacy in Semur. To summarize: there was a lady problem and a language barrier, vaginale was called out top lung all over the store and the earth, much to my dismay, did not swallow me whole (book, book, it’s all in the book). Of course the worst part was having to repeatedly engage with the vaginale hollerer on a regular basis. I don’t miss her at all.

So this week, when I had to stock up on a few pharmaceutical odds and ends, I stood under the flashing green cross in our neighbourhood and I decided, one, I had to accept that this store was never going to live up to my SDM standards, and two, I would not leave red-faced. No white coat whippersnapper was going to bring me down, no matter how much attention she paid to my privates. Continue reading “At the Risk of Being Risqué” »

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Full Speed Ahead

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Immigration is great fun, probably ranking up there with repeatedly sticking a fork in your eye. It’s hard to say what the biggest hurdle is, but looking back over our move to France I’d have to say that the driver’s licence debacle was the worst piece of bureaucrazy we encountered. Just to refresh your memory, Neil spent 600 euros, endless hours of intensive driving education and a grand total of about 18 months to procure the pink paper that set him legally loose on the roads of France. Continue reading “Full Speed Ahead” »

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Okay, so maybe this move to Switzerland could have been smoother. But honestly now, does any of it really matter? There are people out there with real problems, so today I’m all about being grateful for what’s right in my new corner of the world.

Sure, our apartment is small and apparently lacking in any kind of soundproofing, but with windows grand in scale and many in number, it’s filled with Swiss sunshine (same as Canadian sunshine only more expensive). And yes, the bathroom is small but the water pressure is strong enough to blast the grit and grime right off me. I’ve decided that will compensate for the pink tiles, however the one toilet issue remains an ever present threat to the marriage. Continue reading “Trivial Tragedies and Minor Miracles” »

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I know you crowd won’t settle for some vague and veiled account of what went down last week, so in the interest of keeping you happy and in the spirit of telling it like it is, I’ll lay out the the gory details. You already know about walking into a construction site instead of a sparkly Swiss abode last Monday. Well, here’s what happened from there.

The movers finally left about about 7 Monday evening and any hope of finding an open grocery store went with them. Foodless, phoneless, Internetless, hopeless. Salvation arrived when our friends Anne and Michel stopped by for a visit and gave us the number for a local pizza place. In the discussion about what to order, I heard Neil say “as long as there’s no anchovies or anything fishy, I’m fine.” In 10 years together I’ve never once heard him say that, so naturally what was delivered was a pizza covered in sardines. Of course that little mistake was discovered after the pizza boy and our friends with their handy cell phone were long gone. Who got our delicious veggie pizza remains a mystery. Continue reading “Moving is Such Sweet Sorrow” »

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Leap of Faith

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Now I’m no expert in god and all things divine, what with being a lapsed Catholic and all. Most days I’m not sure if god even exists. But there are times when all my doubts of a supreme being disappear: the minute I make plans. Then all I can hear is laughter and last week I’m pretty sure god laughed her ass off. Where to even start.

The exodus from France was relatively unremarkable with the predictable level of mayhem—a chair leg gouged here, an ottoman cover stained there, small pommes de terre. We arrived en Suisse sometime around 4 in the afternoon. The sun was shining, Julie Andrews, the Von Trapp children and Heidi were waiting at the border to sing and yodel us through, and customs was a breeze. That my friends is where the smooth road ended and the bumpy road began. Continue reading “Leap of Faith” »

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