Sunday, December 28, 2008

there ain't nothing like... mint chocolate chip ice cream
...being able to buy everything online
...being able to buy everything on sale online
...sunny, relatively warm December days
...freshly steamed lobster, $8/pound, even on the West Coast
...driving almost 400 miles on 8 gallons of gas (yay, Prius!)

Happy Holidays!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

then and now

Six months after moving from Zurich to California, I'm back in Zurich for a week, visiting friends and checking out my old stomping grounds. Most people flock back to the States for Thanksgiving, where turkeys, yams, and canned pumpkin are plentiful. Not me. I stopped by Safeway to pick up marshmallows, canned yams, French onions, a turkey brining bag, and cream of mushroom soup, none of which are easy to come by in Switzerland, and crammed them into my suitcase in preparation for my first visit back.

Eighteen hours and two flights after waking up to go to the airport in San Francisco, I stepped off the plane in Zurich. First thought -- wow, it's cold here. I had been complaining that it was only getting up to about 65 degrees in Mountain View, and going down to the 40's at night. In Zurich, they warned us to be careful not to slip on the ice as we deplaned. Ice?! ICE?!?! Really? OK. I remember this stuff. I can get used to it again. 

Wait, ice means that it's so cold that things freeze. So cold that I have to wear more clothes. So instead of wearing a t-shirt and light jacket, I have to wear a long-sleeved shirt, sweater, fleece, ski jacket, hat, and gloves. Oh, and that means I can't type on my BlackBerry as I walk around outside, because the gloves get in the way. Part of moving back to the States and working as a lawyer is that I have become wholly addicted to my BlackBerry. This is going to be a tough week, choosing between having adequate circulation in my fingers and feeding my addiction to constant connectivity.

Walking through the Zurich airport was simultaneously strange and familiar. I've been in the Zurich airport more than I've been in any other airport in the world, and it almost felt like I was just coming back from another of my innumerable weekend trips around Europe, except for the fact that I had to wait for a checked bag full of canned goods. The announcements in German, the unbelievably clean bathrooms, the Swiss-accented English, the piped-in soundtrack of yodeling and cows on the airport shuttle -- all of these things that I hadn't thought about but felt so strangely normal reminded me that I was indeed in Switzerland again.

The entire time that I was in Switzerland, I made occasional trips back to the States, during which I would madly stock up on whatever things I was missing in Switzerland. This time, it's going to be the other way around. I'll be eating things that are rare in the States -- good fondue, a certain kind of salad, and perhaps some sausage. I'll go buy large quantities of chocolate to take back as gifts, but maybe eat before they can be given, and I'll consider smuggling some cheese, as well. If I can find some funky sneakers that I like, I'll bring those, too -- there is space in my luggage now that the yams and onions are gone.

It's strange to visit my old life and realize it's not mine anymore.

Monday, November 24, 2008

roller coaster

I live and work in Mountain View, about 45 minutes south of San Francisco. Mountain View tends to be flat -- you can look down the road and see all of the traffic lights for blocks and blocks ahead of you. Every couple of weeks, I make the pilgrimage up to the city to see friends and hang out with my sister and her family, and it's like a journey to uncharted territory.

San Francisco is hilly. Like, roller coaster hilly. Forget about trying to see the traffic lights five blocks ahead, you might not even be able to see the next traffic light. Getting your car up the hill to the next intersection is an agonizing approximation of the uphill part of a rollercoaster. Adjacent neighborhoods can be on sunny hilltops or fog-filled valleys. A simple drive across town involves so many quick changes in altitude that your ears pop multiple times going up and down all the hills between point A and point B. I'm not kidding. So weird.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

uh oh

I check the weather forecast every day. Force of habit, I suppose. And every day, it comes up the same - warm and sunny. Granted, sometimes it only goes up to 75, and every once in a while, it breaks 90, but usually it's somewhere around 80 and sunny.

Except for this morning, the forecast said that this Friday, there is a 30 percent chance of rain. This is the first time I've seen the rain icon since moving here. I almost didn't recognize it.

Not that 30 percent is that high. And not that I'll be here to see if it does rain - I'll be in London for five days, enduring colder (and probably rainier) weather than they will be having here.

But winter is coming, as evidenced by that 30 percent chance of future rain...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

now entering mordor

I live in Mountain View, which is about 45 minutes south of San Francisco. In any normal place, two places that are a 45 minute drive apart would share a similar climate. Not here.

I've been living here for four months now, and it has been warm and sunny every day. It rained once, for about five minutes, and there have been days when I have seen clouds. Otherwise, it's like the movie Groundhog Day - every day is exactly the same - except that in Groundhog Day, the weather was always cold and snowy, and here, it's been warm and sunny. I'm not complaining, I love it, it's just a bit disconcerting.

Every week or two, I drive up to the city to see my sister and friends. I toss my dog and a change of clothes into my car, as well as a fleece and a jacket for later. On the drive up, I wear a t-shirt and sunglasses, and turn the air conditioning on - sitting in a sunny car can get warm. About 30 minutes into the drive, right around where I pass the airport, however, I usually start feeling a little bit like Frodo, leaving the Shire behind for dark and dangerous territory. Driving in a sun-drenched car under blue skies, I can look ahead and see ominous clouds and heavy fog looming ahead. In the space of five seconds, I drive from perfect sun into misty darkness, and it feels like I'm entering Mordor.

Most weekends, by the time I get to my sister's place, the sun no longer exists, even at 2 in the afternoon. I hop out of the car and scramble to put on my extra layers as quickly as possible before the chill sets in. Fiver refuses to do his business, because he's too busy shivering.

Strange place, the Bay Area...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

happy lungs

Some coworkers and I decided to go play some pub trivia after work yesterday, and I stopped by my apartment before heading out to the pub. While I was in my apartment, I was debating between a sweatshirt and a jacket, and found myself mentally weighing which one would absorb less smoke, and which one was already dirty (and would therefore require washing, anyways, regardless of the smoke). Then I started dreading coming home with my hair reeking of smoke and I wondered if it was really worth going out at all.

And then I remembered...!!

California, unlike Switzerland, is wonderfully smoke-free!!

I spent nearly three hours in a pub full of people, and didn't smell a single cigarette while I was there. Bliss.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

five more things

Five more things I miss about Zurich:

1) Good chocolate and cheese  
2) Summer street festivals  
3) Uniform cell phone network coverage  
4) Having everything in walking distance  
5) The outdoor women's swimming pool-slash-bar  

Five more things I love about the Bay Area:

1) Readily available Lactaid and dill pickles  
2) Proximity to the ocean (and therefore diving)  
3) Testing pre-release stuff at work  
4) Unlimited cell minutes and free local calls  
5) Air-conditioned office buildings

Monday, August 25, 2008

ten things

Ten things I miss about Zurich:

1) My people  
2) Best. Public Transportation. Ever.  
3) Can you say five weeks of vacation per year?  
4) Dozens of countries within a two hour flight  
5) Dog-friendly restaurants  
6) Grilling by the lake  
7) Leaving for the airport an hour before a flight  
8) Clean streets  
9) Assigned seating in movie theaters  
10) My gummy candy store  

Ten things I love about the Bay Area:

1) Being near my sister for the first time in 18 years  
2) Ethnic food  
3) Shopping on evenings and weekends  
4) Cheap haircuts that aren't mullets  
5) Cheap everything  
6) Movies without intermission or subtitles  
7) Being fluent in the local language  
8) Not being mistaken for a mail-order bride  
9) Sun. All day. Every day.  
10) Coolest. Company. Ever.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

stranger in a strange(r) land

A little over four years ago, I moved to Zurich without ever having been there. I had been to Switzerland once during college, but that was to sing a concert in Geneva, which is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is vastly different from Zurich. Being a brave (or naive) 25-year-old, I just picked up and moved from Manhattan to Zurich, less than three months after first hearing about the job. I didn't really think about how big of an adjustment it would be, leaving my friends and life behind for a new job in a new city in a new country full of people I didn't know. Duh. It was a bit of a shock - everything from laundry schedules to store opening hours to local dialect to restaurant prices left me feeling like I had landed on some alien planet in a parallel universe.

It all worked out in the end - what started as a random "Hm, let's see what happens if I move to Switzerland" experiment turned into one of the best decisions I've ever made. Leaving my life in Zurich was one of the hardest things I've done, but I left older and wiser. Or so I thought.

As it turns out, only one of those was true. I am now 30, so I'm definitely older, but I'm not sure that I'm any wiser.

Somehow, I thought that coming back to the States would be an easy homecoming, of sorts. Moving back wouldn't be the big adjustment that moving to Europe had been, I reasoned, because I'm American and I'm moving back to America. Turns out that I should have said that I'm an East Coaster moving to California. Californians are nearly as alien and unfathomable to me as the Swiss. Preliminary observations reveal a marked penchant for yoga and bicycles. 

These aliens seem quite at home in a place that is quite foreign to me. For the first time in thirteen years, I'm living in the suburbs, and I have to drive everywhere, instead of just hopping on a tram (Zurich), the subway (New York), or the T (Boston). I have no idea what to do with my substantial collection of heavy coats and umbrellas. After four years of bringing my dog everywhere except for grocery stores, I suddenly have to leave him at home when I'm going to a restaurant (as opposed to Zurich, where he would sometimes get better service from the waitstaff than I would). I am somewhat discombobulated by the lack of marching bands and church bells.

I think it will take longer than anticipated to get used to this place.

Friday, August 1, 2008

land of the free (or deeply discounted)

One of the things that was most shocking about Switzerland was how they find a way to charge for everything. Nothing is free in Switzerland, and nothing is cheap, either.

On the flip side of that, coming back to the States has been a continuous stream of surprisingly cheap (or free) experiences. I still have my Citibank accounts from before I moved to Switzerland, and regularly transferred money from Switzerland to the US so that I could pay credit card bills and send money towards my student loans. It was easier than trying to do those things from my Swiss accounts, and besides, there weren't any monthly fees on my US accounts, so why close them? 

Now that I'm back, I have a bit of a dilemma - do I keep my Swiss accounts open? On one hand, it's convenient to have them there so that I can transfer money to the tax authorities once my final taxes are calculated. Also, if I closed them, I wouldn't be able to open new Swiss accounts as a non-resident unless I could give them at least $50,000 as an opening deposit. On the other hand, there is no such thing as free banking in Switzerland - every month that my accounts there remain open, the bank takes its cut, and doesn't even give me any interest. It's a great racket they have going on there.

In contrast, I opened another random bank account after getting back here, with a bank I never intend to use, simply because it's free, and the bank offers its customers good car loans and other nifty services. All for free, with a $50 minimum balance. So to recap - the minimum balance is 1/1000th that of a Swiss bank, they pay interest, there are no monthly fees, and they provide lots of free services and cheap loans. I have no idea how they make any money. I would have said that maybe American banks are less profitable and less stable, but it isn't like Credit Suisse and UBS have been having a stellar time of it these days, either.

It isn't just services like banking that are especially cheap - the shopping is ridiculous. I went to Target a few weeks ago, and spent an hour wandering around trying to figure out what, out of the endless aisles of random cheap stuff, to put in my cart. I have never spent much time in stores like Target, since I lived in big cities since leaving home, and big cities aren't really Target country (indeed, I have never set foot inside a Walmart, and hope I never do), so I was completely bowled over by how much stuff there is, and how little they charge for it. Do people really buy all of it? What do they do with it? How do they decide they need it? How do they get it home? Where do they have room for all of it? In the end, I bought a cartload of storage containers and bathmats, paid a measly $180, and called it a day.

Have I mentioned how cheap the food is? I haven't gone out to eat that much since getting back, since the food is free at work, but when I have gone out, the total per person is usually below $30, including appetizers and drinks. That's just absurd, after spending four years in a place where the entrees alone at a mediocre restaurant can run about $40. 

But cheap is still more expensive than free. Everything you have heard about Google food is true. It is all free. It is all good. It ruins your appetite for restaurant food, because why go to a restaurant and pay $20, if you can get better food for free, without even leaving the comfort of your office building? I was afraid I would gain a lot of weight after starting work at Google. Everyone talks about the Google Fifteen - the weight you gain in the first few months at Google - and I am food-lazy, meaning that when confronted with the prospect of having to go to the store, buy groceries, bring them home, prepare a meal, eat it, and then clean up, my tendency is to skip the whole process and watch TV, instead. 

I was worried that without a laziness barrier to over-eating, I would become a big, fat, "Midwest tourist" version of myself. I became even more nervous when confronted with such menu options as bubble tea, oysters, foie gras, Kobe beef sliders with Gruyere cheese, lobster risotto, and made-to-order sushi. So I exercised portion control (usually with success), and compensated for large lunches with small dinners (also free). Add on some stress and weekend food laziness, and the net result so far has been that I've lost maybe five pounds. So for me, I guess it's the Google Negative Five, and my pants don't fit right anymore. D'oh.

Does this mean that I got a free diet, too? I wonder how much such a diet would cost in Switzerland... 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

unidentified driving object

So I took two cars out for a test drive last night - the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius, and apparently, cars are now turning into spaceships. I have only ever really driven a '97 Toyota Camry, and it's a car. I don't know if the trend now is towards making everyone feel like a Jetson, or if it's just the hybrids that feel like that, but I definitely felt like an alien as I drove the Civic Hybrid and the Prius. Not in a good or bad way. It was just different from what I expect when I get behind the wheel of a car.

I liked both of them, but the Prius has a three-month waiting list! It's cheaper, more fuel efficient, more versatile, with more space in the back, but that's only once you get it. So now I'm having a bit of a dilemma. Which spaceship should I drive?

In related news, I finally got my California driver license - in the end, I only had to take a written test (much to my relief, since I never learned how to parallel park, and would surely have failed for that alone). I've moved out of temp housing into more permanent accommodations. And my first two paychecks landed safely in my bank account. So bit by bit, I am becoming a bona fide resident of California, which basically makes me an alien, right?

Monday, June 16, 2008

one stop shopping

I don't think I can overemphasize how different grocery stores are in the US and Europe. I really thought that coming back to American grocery stores would feel normal, but I guess I got so used to the grocery stores in Switzerland that the American ones have become a foreign experience for me.

Several revelations I have had at Safeway so far:

1) Grocery shopping is much different when you go with a car. Instead of having to choose the smallest, lightest, most essential items that you can carry home, you just toss everything you can see into the cart, then haul it out to the car. Then you get home and wonder why you bought half of it.

2) Grocery bags are free in the States, but not guilt-free. The problem is two-fold: first, you buy a carload of groceries, instead of a personload. Second, you then get free plastic bags for a carload of groceries, which makes you feel that much guiltier than when you buy paper bags for a personload of groceries. My reusable grocery bags will be coming soon, but until then, I'm consoling myself with the thought that I'll reuse the plastic bags to pick up after my dog.

3) Who needs ATMs when the cashier at the grocery store lets you charge more on your card so that you can get cash back?

4) Who needs cashiers, however, when you can go through the self-service checkout?

5) Who needs post offices when you can buy your stamps at the grocery store?

On the other hand, having everything in one place can be very overwhelming, to the point of being counter-productive. It doesn't really occur to me to ask for stamps or cash when checking out, because I'm still reeling from trying to pick out one cartload of groceries from the 20-odd massive aisles. Most of the time, I end up buying about three random things, then losing courage and leaving the store, only remembering too late that I had intended to buy specific items on a grocery list.

Monday, June 9, 2008

the weather is wetter in zurich

I am a bit disconcerted, because it hasn't rained since I moved here almost three weeks ago, and the weather forecast for Mountain View for the rest of the week is all the same - sunny, high in the 80s (around 30, for those who think in metric), low in the 50s (around 13 in Celsius). When I first got here, it was cooler than I expected (for some reason, I thought that California would be very warm, but it gets pretty nippy at night - never go without a fleece, even in the summertime, because once the sun goes down, it gets cold). But cold or hot, there still hasn't been any rain. I commented on the lack of rain to a coworker, and she said, "Oh, it'll rain in September, probably."

Um, it's June right now. How can it not really rain for three months? Zurich is similar to New York (and much of the East Coast, for that matter), in that the weather changes from day to day, or even from hour to hour. It wasn't unusual to have a hot sunny day and a cold rainy day, back to back. In fact, the weather in Zurich is so fickle that it will often be both rainy and sunny at once. I've grown so used to weather that has a multiple personality disorder that I can't fathom the idea of having the same weather every day for weeks in a row.


As nice as it sounds to have warm, sunny weather all the time, I've also been warned that when it rains, it can decide to rain for weeks at a time, as well. Ick.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

take two

Note to self: Notes to self apparently are useless. I got scared by another sneaky garbage disposal light switch, this time when I was viewing an apartment with my agent and the owner present. I nearly jumped out of my skin and then had to explain that I had forgotten about garbage disposals.

Also, I may have been a little bit stinky, because Fiver puked on my leg while we were driving around, and while it wasn't visible, it smelled like puke.

Anyone know of a landlord looking for a stinky tenant who is scared of garbage disposals?

Monday, June 2, 2008

i shouldn't be surprised, but i am

Note to self: Just because you lived in apartments and dorms where light switches did nothing but turn lights on and off for the past thirteen years doesn't mean that they can't do other things. Like turn on a garbage disposal. Which then scares the bejesus out of you because (1) you haven't heard a garbage disposal in thirteen years, (2) you forgot garbage disposals even existed, and (3) it was late at night and it was dark in the kitchen, and you just wanted to turn the light on to get a snack, but instead, GRBKFKMGXMK!!!!

Beware the garbage disposal.

Also, beware the cookie thieves! I went to the grocery store yesterday (yes, on a Sunday - this is the second Sunday in a row that I've gone and bought something at a store that wasn't located in a train station, and I'm still immensely pleased) and as I walked down the cookie aisle, lo and behold, I saw that the Cookie Gods, during my four year hiatus from the States, had seen fit to bless us lowly cookie eaters with Cool Mint Creme Double Stuf Oreos.


I bought a package, not for me, but to send to friends back in Switzerland - I am trying to eat relatively healthily, to compensate for the fact that I'm getting free food at work, and the fact that I don't exercise. I got the cookies back to my apartment and found out that in my absence, the Cookie Gods had also invented resealable packaging, and that someone had opened the package, eaten about 1/4 of the Oreos, and resealed it.


Maybe the Cookie Gods had foreseen my intention to send the cookies to Switzerland, and didn't want it to happen, and so they made sure that I bought a package that I wouldn't send. Sorry, Switzerland, you're just not ready for the awesomeness of Cool Mint Creme Double Stuf Oreos with resealable packaging.

I intended to either throw the cookies away (for fear that they may have been tainted) or take them back to Safeway (to exchange for a virgin package), but I ended up eating some of them. So far, no poison, so I'll hope for the best for the rest of the package.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

yellow-tinted glasses

OK, so I know that I complained that Switzerland (and Europe in general) weren't diverse enough, after living in New York and going to school in Cambridge, but San Francisco is at the other extreme. I find myself staring at all of the Asian people as if I had never seen an Asian person before (except for in the mirror every morning). At work, most of my group is Asian, which would seem more normal if we were programmers, but we're all lawyers! I guess there are just so many Asian people in the area, and they have to work somewhere, so why not with me?

The other weird thing is that there are Asian people doing things that I'm not used to seeing Asian people do. I grew up in Delaware, where the Asian population is a small minority, but they are all there for highly skilled professional positions - they are engineers at DuPont or researchers at one of the pharmaceutical companies. Their kids all get straight A's and want to go to Harvard or Yale. Then at Harvard, well, all of the Asian people go to Harvard. Duh. In New York, the Asian people I met were my classmates at Columbia, or lawyers at my firm, or they were the doctor or banker colleagues of my doctor and banker friends.

Zurich was a big shift in perspective - instead of seeing only highly educated, successful Asians, I saw mostly souvenir brides - underprivileged, undereducated women who married Swiss guys who for some reason or other weren't able to get the domestic product. Oh, and then there were the restaurant workers (every place needs random Asian people working in random quasi-Chinese restaurants) and the "exotic dancers."

So I'm used to seeing Asian people at the top and bottom of the ladder, but in San Francisco, there are just so many of them (us?) that they (we?) take up space on the entire ladder. There are Asians who drive buses and deliver the mail. There are Asian receptionists and cafeteria workers. There are Asian policemen and security guards. It's so odd. I mean, obviously in Asia, Asians do those things, because otherwise there would be countries made up of nothing but doctors, lawyers, waiters, and prostitutes, but I'm just not used to Asians who have emigrated and end up doing really mundane things.

And they're doing them everywhere. All over the place. Where are all the white people hiding??

P.S. I bought pants and found my way to the office. So not only did I make it to work the first day, I even did so while wearing pants. Woot!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

pants crisis vs. driving crisis

It has come to this. Which is more important - my need for pants, or my general aversion to driving? I think I'm going to drive to the mall to look for pants. (Yes, shopping! On a Sunday!! Take that, Switzerland!!!) I haven't driven to a mall in at least five, if not ten years.

It's not just my rusty driving skills that makes me hesitant to drive to the mall. It is also my COMPLETE LACK OF A SENSE OF DIRECTION. Seriously. I can get lost going to the bathroom. In fact, I have gotten lost going to the bathroom. The rental car has GPS, but I am not sure that even that can rescue me from my own inability to navigate anywhere I haven't been to at least five or fifty times.

Speaking of which, I think that tomorrow, I will probably drive to work a few times so that I won't get lost on my first day Tuesday.

How embarrassing would that be, to have to call your office on the first day of work and tell them, "I know my temp housing is only ten miles away, but I'm hopelessly lost. And, um, I'm not wearing any pants."

next stop, new life

New life, new blog - I've just moved to San Francisco from Zurich, and figured that it wouldn't make sense to post on my Zurich page anymore. So here we are.

I'd forgotten how overwhelming the States can be. Moving from New York to Switzerland, I was a bit stunned at how few choices there were and how the system quickly funneled you into your little niche. I was never afraid of slipping between the cracks, because there weren't any cracks to slip through. Coming to the States is a much bigger and more chaotic process. Cracks abound. I'm not sure yet if I'm in a crack or on safe ground, but will just hope everything works out.

After living in Cambridge for five years, New York for four years, and Zurich for four years (all are cities with good public transportation), I had mostly forgotten how to drive a car. In the last five years, I had driven a car once. For about eight minutes. My driving skills were even rustier than my Chinese-speaking skills. And then I moved here, and although San Francisco itself is do-able using public transportation, my office is about an hour from San Francisco. I can either live near work, in which case I'd definitely need a car, or I can live in the city, but spend two or three hours every day on the shuttle bus to work. I can't decide which is more frightening - sitting on a bus for three hours a day, or terrorizing unsuspecting Californians from behind the wheel of a car.

In any case, my temporary housing is near work, so I have to rent a car, at least for the time being. With that in mind, my mom and I did some practice driving yesterday, and I don't think anyone was hurt. It's just like I remembered it - a big video game, but without any instructions on how to get points, level up, or find the big boss.

I spent the last four years in Zurich missing American grocery stores. The size. The selection. The price. The layout. The produce quality. In the meantime, I got used to Swiss grocery stores, which are small and offer about two choices for each product that they actually decide to carry. So when I went to the grocery store yesterday, I was completely overwhelmed, flabbergasted, stumped, and confounded. How many different types of laundry detergent can there possibly be? There are like ten brands, and each of them has so many options - organic, hypoallergenic, natural, dye-free, scent-free, extra-strong, color guard, black. And each option has three sizes! Don't even get me started on the confusion that ensued when I entered the cereal aisle and the shampoo aisle. I'm still recovering.

Moving was a bit of a hectic process. I gave up my apartment before actually moving, so I boxed up and labeled all of my things and left them in a friend's basement storage area until the movers came. They showed up and started opening boxes and asking what was in them - for insurance and customs purposes, they need to be able to say that they saw and packaged the goods themselves. They were Serbian, and I'm me, and the language we had most in common was German, which resulted in interesting exchanges. "What here?" "Um... neoprene suit for dive. Automatic lung. Little things for dive." Pause. Then he would write the German word for linens or laundry on the box. Dive gear, clothes, shoes, bags, knickknacks, they all became linens or laundry. At the end of the session, they gave me a "detailed, itemized inventory" of my goods, automatically translated into English, and of the 34 items on the list, half of them were simply labeled "Linens." And then there is the mysterious "Bucket," which was apparently "Packed by owner." I don't own a bucket, so I'm looking forward to receiving my bucket and finding out why it was worthy of being called something other than linens.

After my goods were boxed up and taken away, I got an email from a woman at the moving company asking me to pick a box or two to switch from the air shipment to the surface shipment, due to weight restrictions. She sent me a copy of the inventory to help me pick which things to switch from air to surface. Um... linens, linens, linens, linens, or bucket? I have no idea what's in those boxes, and which ones are more essential than others.

Speaking of essential, I seem to be missing a rather essential item. Pants. Yes, pants. Work starts Tuesday. I will be able to wear jeans to work, but I don't want to show up in jeans on the first day. First impressions, you know the deal. So I have jeans (nope), shorts (nope), a miniskirt (definitely not), a few low-cut dresses (uh, no), and several skirts (which would be great, except that the shoes I could wear with them are in a box labeled linens somewhere between here and Zurich). I do have one pair of pants with me, but they're a little loose and tend to fall down, which I don't think is any better than wearing jeans, first impression-wise.

Do you think they'll notice if I don't wear pants? Maybe that's one crack I don't want to slip through.