Friday, November 27, 2009

[thanksgiving adventures]

Flying was smooth.

I got up at 6:00 AM to leave the house by 6:30 for Geneva.

Left Geneva for Frankfurt.

Then Frankfurt to Vancouver - that flight was 10 hours long. My poor energetic body wanted to move.

Anyways, it was Vancouver that gave me grief.

Dear Canada,
I do not wish to get my checked baggage, drage it around the airport, and then check it in a second time.

No love for Canada from me,


Anyways, I had to wait some 30 minutes for my checked baggage to arrive so I could transfer flights. After getting it, I was ready to get on my final flight home. I knew I would be home in less than two hours.

That's when the lady informed me that it was too late for that flight.

I was frustrated, I had gone as fast as possible.

You also need to see that I was quite sleep deprived at that moment. I had been traveling for 15 hours or so by then and was ready for my turkey dinner. I was ready to see my family. It was Thanksgiving.

Well, here I am right now, when I should be eating that meal, or at least pumpkin pie. I should be. But, alas, I am in Vancouver on a laptop.

I just drank my Thanksgiving meal - Odwalla. That delicious, thick green goo. How I love it.
After the lady told me I would have to wait 3-4 hours, I felt very emotional. I was so ready to be home at that moment and not ready to just chill in an airport again when it wasn't my fault.

I took a lot of deep breaths, controlled breathing is my friend! I got it together and told her I was sorry I wasn't smiling. I thanked her for getting me a new boarding pass. I moved on through security.

The next step was checking in my baggage with the three guys who stood their ground. They were amusing and asked me where my parents were.

In fact, I got that question a lot. Where are my parents? My parents? Ummm.... not here.

They asked how old I was.
I said 19.
They said they had thought I was 15.]
I chuckled.

In security, they had to wipe down my laptop with a cloth on a stick. They then put the cloth in a machine. The only word I could read on the little screen was "explosive." I explained to the man that my laptop was very friendly and not my mothers. He then tightened the screws on one part that has been loose for the past month.

I am glad my laptop is not a bomb.

While waiting, I got to talk to my dad for around 52 minutes and I applied for three jobs - including one as the wait staff in the galley of a boat for 60 days. That would be cool if that one worked out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I think I'm getting good at this.

Good byes. I hate them, I really do. But I've had a lot of practice.

Just like I couldn't ride my bike well the first time I got on, I couldn't say good bye well my first time either.

These aren't the, "I'll see you later" good byes that I'm talking about. These are the "I don't know when exactly I'll see you again" good byes.

The ones that make you ache all over.
The ones that fill you with longing for just 24 more hours.
The ones that never really hit you till it's over.
Where you just can't believe that it's the end.

Anyways, I've had experience with them now. I think I'm getting a bit better, but I bet I just look like an unemotional, cold au pair.

Oleann. Alex. I honestly do love you guys. Maybe not like your parents, but I absolutely adore you both. I'm going to miss you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

[natation synchronisée]

I was swimming on my back when heard this strange voice speaking to me from under the water. It was calm and relaxing, like one of those voices on the therapeutic tapes.
"Raise your leg, and twirl, and under."
It was creepy and soothing.
Then the music started. I couldn't help but dance along with as I floated along on my back.
Last night, I discovered one of the most amazing experiences. Swimming at the same time as the synchronized swimmers. They are pretty fantastic kids, all spinning upside-down under the water together.
Me? I just learned to swim this summer with Monica and Caitie. I am glad that as an 18 year old, I can now sort of kind of swim. I like being in the water.
I couldn't help but laugh and singing along when the song Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head started playing. That has been one of my favourite songs, if not the favourite of songs, since I was 11 or so, I think. I was floating along. Laughing. Dancing. Swimming.
The music was so much clearer and better under the water. It felt surreal.
I like swimming at the same time as the synchro people... I just have to be sure I get in the showers before they do.

Monday, November 23, 2009


So the last post was a review on emtions on leaving Switzerland.

Now, how about coming home?

This will be my first time in Kenmore in which I will not be attending public school. Last time I came back, I came back to the exact same life as I had had before. I went back to high school and tried to learn to slip back into the rhythms that had been laid out before me.

Anyways. Another question I get a lot is, "Margaret, what are you going to do when you get back?" I do get that question, although no one here calls me Margaret. No one in this entire tiny country calls me by my real name.

What am I going to do? I don't really know. I have a list of plans. A list of potentials.
And now it's a new day, I never finished this blog and might not ever. Probably not. I'm jumping on that airplane in just 8 hours or so. Pretty crazy, that's what I think it is.
Can't wait to see everyone, if anyone is left. December shall be my experimenting month, see what I like in life. Do I want to work, study, study, or work, or volunteer?
See you soon Seattle.
I hear a turkey calling my name.


People have been asking me about how I feel about leaving and how I feel about leaving Switzerland a second time.

For those of you who didn't know me around July 2008, when I had come back from Switzerland, I was quite the messed up child. Coming back from Switzerland the first time was very difficult for me. I started having panic attacks and it would get so bad that sometimes I would have to go to the nurse during school. Anyways, that was then.

This time in coming home I am a lot more emotionally prepared than last time. Last time when I came back, I didn't do much to equip myself for coming back. I also was a lot more rooted into that Swiss life. My entire life, every aspect of it, had been rooted into the Swiss soil, every area. Leaving was like being uprooted.

In this blog I want to address leaving Switzerland, entering America will come in another blog.

First, I want to emphasize how much I loved it here. The family I lived with, the Coddron family, was fantastic. They were welcoming and accomidating. They treated me with respect and I have no complains. They gave me privacy, space, and told me exactly what they expected from me.

Working, or playing, with Oleann brought me so much joy. She is such a loving and giving child. She would always be giving me surprises or floweres she picked on the way home. We would skip down the street together, hand in hand, singing whatever song we could, even if it was Jingle Bells. We developed a lot of jokes together that I knew could make her smile from, "Bing bang," to our secret handshake, to porcupines, to Maggie's Boulangerie, to Puissance 4, to hot chocolate. She knew what I expected of her and in turn, I tried to make our times together enjoyable.

Alex was also awesome, although I did not spend as much time with him. He was always up for playing, always. I hope that part of him never leaves him. He also had one keen sense of humour and I wish I could have understood more.

Sometimes, I wish I had just two more months in Switzerland. I spend my weekends traveling the country and my weekdays taking care of Oleann, going to French course, playing badminton, going to youth group, and wandering when life calls for it.

I am going to miss the peace I have here. I have no worries in my life when I'm over here. I know what to expect each day and life is very routine. I have mornings to myself where I can wake up slowly and try and accomplish things.... or watch a movie.

I have to do just a hour or two of college work each day which keeps my brain moving and firm and toned.

A lovely hike is just outside my door. Nature is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Life here is simplicity. I don't even have to worry about finances. Room and board is taken care of and almost everything I invest in is optional. I have a job, but it is so doable and enjoyable.

So yes, I am sad to leave. I am going to miss it here.

But I am glad I came here. See, coming here gave me the closure I didn't get last time. In coming back, I am able to see what my old life was, live it a bit, and finally move on. You hear that? I can move on. I hope that this will release me more in America and give me more peace. Before my mind was stuck in Switzerland and I couldn't really get past the fact that I had left it.

Anyways, I can now leave Switzerland in peace.
The only thing I have to brace myself for is a stress filled, corrupted, money tight, overcrowded country.

Welcome to America!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

[avant et en arrière]

Things I Will Miss
  • My fantastic host family
  • Daily walks with Oleann to and from school
  • French class
  • Chillin' in the German part
  • Lovely au pairs
  • My huge bedroom
  • Beautiful train rides
  • Shopping in France
  • Rhubarb yogurt and beets
  • Living above the clouds
  • Badminton and swimming
  • Legal alcohol consumption
  • Abundance of cheese
  • Those exchange student people
  • Wandering and hiking

Things to Look Forward To
  • Seeing my family again
  • Seeing friends again
  • Making music
  • Going back to church
  • Square dancing
  • The 522
  • Clogging
  • The Burke Gillman and Gas Works
  • Curling, if it is possible
  • Baking and cooking for the Christmas season
  • Lovely walks
  • Seattle
  • Ethnic foods
  • King County Library System
  • Volunteering
  • Cheap prices on many a things
  • All sorts of new opportunities and adventures

Thursday, November 19, 2009

[tu peux]

What determines a good au pair?
Is it better to keep the kid happy at you all the time, or more so be firm and work on creating a independent, capable child.
Lately, a phrase I find myself saying often is, "tu peux" or "tu peux faire."
It literally means: You can.
The kiddo has been asking me to help her with many tasks lately. It's not that I'm not willing to help her, I enjoy helping out. It's not to make my life easier. In fact, it would often be so much easier and quicker if I did do it for her. But, I want her to do it herself. So she'll ask me to do something for her and I'll say, "No, you can do it," if she glares at me I'll tell her, "you're 7."
Here are a few instances in which my help has been requested. This is not speaking of her character or capabilities, she's a great kid and very capable, she just asks for help a lot and glares at me when I say no.
  • Can I tie her shoe?
  • Can I zip up her jacket? (I tend to help with this one)
  • Can I buckle her helmet? (again, it can be difficult)
  • Can I spread the soft cheese on her bread?

Today we went to English with the bikes. As we went to park them she handed me the lock to the bike so I could lock it. I looked at her and told her I knew she could do it. She said that, no, she couldn't do it. I said she could and I would help her through it. Sure enough, she was able to do it. She wasn't very happy with me, though. I could see it was a bit frustrating at times, for her, as she tried to figure the lock out, but she got it. A lot of things aren't easy without practice, it all comes in time. But if I don't have her start the practice now, she'll never reach the point where it's an easy task that comes naturally.

If anyone knows a better way to say, "You can do it," in French, I'd love to learn.

I think this may have partially come from my upbringing. My parents raised me pretty independently, I think. I wasn't all that old before they started telling me that if I wanted something I could walk, bike, or bus to get it. I wanted eggs to bake with that moment? Well, the store was just 20 minutes away. That's what they would tell me. At the age of 16 they allowed me to go off and explore Switzerland for a year on my own. They used to give me a budget so that, while I still had their financial support, I could learn to manage my money. So now, as I help to raise and take care of a kid, I find myself wanting to encourage them to do things themselves.

Am I simply being cruel?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

[coming home]

"Maggie, I heard you're heading back to America early..."
What? You did? Sigh, get's it's time for me to tell the world.
It is true, the end of my second Swiss adventure is coming to a sorrowful end after a short three months here.
When am I coming home? I will be arriving on Thanksgiving day at around 3:00 PM. Just in time for the pumpkin pie, or maybe even turkey if my family is gracious enough. I maybe exhausted, though, after 18 hours of traveling.
That's just about a week till I come home.
That's just about a week till I have to leave home.
Why am I coming home?
It all comes down to small legalities... and the fact I would be an illegal alien if I stayed more than three months here.
The host family knew this, but I was naive or unaware that I would not be able to get a visa to work here. They are wonderful and gracious, but also encouraged me to stay without a visa. I, however, am not comfortable with this. The Swiss government has been getting more active with their border patrol and I don't want to mess with it. Getting caught could me affecting me coming back to Europe and at such a young age, I don't want to close ay doors.
After a lot of research, prayer, and conversations, I decided I would rather go home early, to be legal, than stay. I told the family about a month ago. I feel so blessed as they have been so gracious and accomidating to me. They don't treat me any differently, even though I am leaving them, which is a new stress in their life.
I will write on my feelings about returning to America tomorrow.
So yes, I am coming home after 3 months, not a year. Yes, it is just because of legal issues.
Guess I'll see you in just a bit, then...


I find it interesting, odd, and refreshing how people just walk in and out of our lives.

Take the people in this picture, for example. I have spent 4 hours a week since September with them on the ever so wearisome journey of learning French.

We laughed together, developed something of a friendship.

And now, for me at least, it's over.

I know I won't see the majority, if any of them, again.

You go to a bar at night and you can find someone, become acquaintances for the evening, but after then, nothing. You could chat for an hour and that is their existance in your life. Nothing more is needed or meant to be. Simply people walking in and out of each others lives.

I like that.

One of the things I find frustrating is that Facebook defies this. People are supposed to leave your life. After high school, sometimes, loosing contact with someone is ok and healthy, yet through Facebook we maintain contact and shallow forms of relationships. It is ok to say good bye after meeting for one afternoon, you don't need to forever know what the other is doing.

Anyways, just found that a good thought to think about.
People stroll in and our of our lives.
They give us a memory to go by, and that is more than enough.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"Elle est presque morte."
Those were the words I heard from Alex today as we walked to pick up Oleann.
It is polite to greet people and during our stroll, we came upon an elderly woman checking her mail. Alex and I exchanged multiple greetings with her from "salut" to "bonjour" to "hallo".
We had only walked a few steps away from her when he told me, "Maggie, elle est presque morte," which literally means, "She's almost dead."
Oh goodness...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"But I wanna pass!"

These were words I never heard in America, well, the word "shoot" directed towards me.

Last night I perhaps had one of my favourite nights in Switzerland.

I've grown accustomed to joining groups in which I know no one. In this case, I knew one member of the badminton club, but I couldn't count on him to show up. I was off playing for 2 months due to my ankle but after it was healed, I jumped back in. All I have to do is show up and ask to play, I don't care who with.

I ended up playing with three guys for most of the time. There weren't any girls this evening, which I found odd. Just 7 guys and I. No no no, that's not why I enjoyed the evening so much. I do admit it was really refreshing to finally be in the company of people my own age. As an au pair, it's harder to get mixed in with the Swiss. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights are my chance to do that.

Anyways, this is something I wish we had in America. A place in the evening where you can just go and play a sport, nothing official. It's just pure fun.


Ok, ok, I'm going.

I'm glad I'm not horrible at badminton. Am I good? Not the best. But can I hit it back and sometimes make the other guy miss? Yep.

After a while they asked if I wanted to play "basket."
Basketball? Sure... even if I haven't played it for some 3 months.
It's ok if I'm horrible, let's play.

And so, the game of 2 on 2 began. I was on Tobia's team and surprised the first time he passed to me. Dang. I must have looked so surprised, or horribly unathletic... I think it was a mixture of both.

Here's the thing. In America, I never got the ball. There were so many kids in PE class. It is horrible but at an early age in life, I was taught by my bigger, more athletic peers that if I ever, ever got the ball, I should pass it to one of them immediately.

So, here I am in Switzerland and I am being passed the ball.
Goodness, that is something new.
And my instinct is to simply pass it back.

A bit later, two more guys joined us.
Three on three.

A favourite phrase of the night was, "Shoot!"
It was some sort of cruel humour, but when we started out, Tobias would pass me the ball immediately, since I was open, and tell me to just shoot.

So I would shoot. Sometimes I would miss it but sometimes I made it! And that made me quite the happy girl. For once, I was given the chance to play. I was incorporated into the team.

They would sometimes give me a hard time for missing, but not in a cruel way. Just a way that made me feel like I wasn't just being treated like a guest. I know I'm the out one here. I'm American. I'm a girl. But I got to play and that made my day.

We simply played basketball, and I liked that.

Monday nights are good nights.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Two questions I get often:
  1. Kommst du aus Holland?
  2. Do you like boys?

I am going to be focusing on question number one today.

Komme ich aus Holland?
"Do you come from Holland?"

I get asked that whenever I speak German with someone who doesn't know me.

Last night on the train, once again, surrounded by the military. After a while, Mossdorf asks me, in German, "Where do you come from?" I responded, asking, "Where do you think?"

"Why," he said, "you come from Holland, right?"

No. No I don't.

I am actually quite pleased everyone thinks that. See, I do have an accent when I speak my German, it's almost inevitable. But, my accent is not from America. I rarely have people guess that I come from the USA. I have a Dutch accent when I speak German.

I have a Dutch accent when I speak German.

Since I originally, back in 2006, only wanted to go the the Netherlands, this suits me even more.

I guess I would rather they thought I was from there than the United States. I am glad they can't pin down where I'm from because I speak the language with a strong accent.

Here are some other encounters I remember when people asked if I was from Holland:

  • the guy who helped set me up for the shooting contest in Obwalden
  • the man who served me pizza
  • the random drunken kids at the Sarnen train station
  • my friend's friend at that one meeting I was at
  • multiple military encounters
  • my friend's host parents

And the list goes on.

I am Margaret and I am from the United States of America.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


In Switzerland there is a major city called Zürich.
20 minutes from the main station is a small station called Schörlistrasse.
3 minutes from Schörlistrasse is a small appartment complex.
On the second floor of the complex is a near empty appartment.
In that appartment is a well lit kitchen with onions on the wall.
In that kitchen is a delightful, joyful, dancing girl.
In the hands of that delightful, joyful, dancing girl is a brand new Jamie Cullum album.
I've been waiting for quite some time for Jamie to put out something new and finally it is here.
I rarely purchase actual CD's, but in this case, I felt the desire to (plus, it wasn't on iTunes yet). It came out today in Switzerland, or perhaps yesterday. It comes out March 2, 2010 in the United States.
I went to Ex Libris and immediately found the new album.
No dissapointment in this purchase.
54 minutes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

[rien à faire]

Not having to do anything is such a blessing. I think it is something we take for granted.

I think many people would be so happy if they could actually afford to be "bored." There lives are go-go-go from the time they wake up till late in the night. There is not time for them to simply relax and do nothing.

I like my lifestyle right now. I do work, I do move, I do have things I need to do, but in the middle of it all I find quiet times and times for rest.

Between watching 13 toddlers scream, doing a college course, making lunch, learning French, vacuuming the house, keeping my room tidy, and playing with the kids, I still have time where I can curl up in my bed with a book and read it.

I think, however, that being bored is lame in itself. Not just the fact that you are bored is lame. You are lame for being bored. Being bored means you have time that you should be using to do something awesome. You have time to use how you wish, and having time to use as you wish means time to explore or pursue some sort of project or skill. Bored is something of a dangerous mind set.

I love that I can find peace in the midst of the checklists and to-do lists that fill my life.