Thursday, June 25, 2009

sad truth

Before leaving New York in 2004 at the age of 25, I had only been to 20 countries, including the one I was born in. That's an average of 0.8 new countries per year. Not bad, but not that impressive, either.

In just under four years spent living in Zurich, I took 56 international trips to 34 countries, 27 of which I had never been to before moving to Switzerland. I'm not even counting the dozens of day trips I took within Switzerland during my time there. That's an average of 6.75 new countries and fourteen international trips per year, which is quite respectable.

In the thirteen months that I've been back, I've only managed to make three international trips, all of which were to countries I've already visited in the past. That's a completely unimpressive average of zero new countries and three international trips per year. As for domestic travel, there hasn't been much of that, either. Lots of weekends spent 45 minutes away up in San Francisco, but otherwise, just a few weekend road trips around northern California and a few days spent in New York.

It's great living near family in a warm and sunny place, but my passport and frequent flyer account feel rather neglected.

Maybe it's time to start planning a trip to Chad or Belarus...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

not my kind of bandwagon

Things that are popular that I just can't seem to get into:
  1. Goat cheese (it tastes the way goats smell)
  2. Blonde hair (unless it's natural)
  3. Really big handbags
  4. Having kids
  5. SUVs
  6. The Great Outdoors (exceptions made for picnics and dive trips)
  7. Cats
  8. Going to the gym
  9. LinkedIn (I'm on it, but don't see the point)
  10. Uncomfortable shoes
  11. Mexican food (I don't like wraps, beans, overly spicy food, or flavored rice)
  12. Coldplay
  13. Skinny jeans
  14. The revival of 80's fashion
  15. Twitter (it's like Facebook, but without the interesting parts)

Friday, June 19, 2009

share the wealth

Not content to look silly in just one measly corner of the internet, I started making embarrassing comments on my friend Wendy's blog. That wasn't enough, and so I contributed an actual post, to make sure that as many people as possible would read of my self-imposed moron tax. If you're looking to tell the world about your own moron tax, she is eagerly awaiting (and dying to post) your stories.

Monday, June 8, 2009

idiom idiot

One thing that I really used to take for granted was being able to speak English as quickly as I wanted to, with slang or puns or idioms, and knowing that it would be understood, as long as the people I was talking to were roughly in the same age group as I was.

Living abroad for four years made me appreciate both how much English is spoken around the world, such that you have a very good chance of being able to converse with random citizens of other countries, and also how much more English is spoken by native speakers, such that you need to remember to speak more slowly and simply to minimize the misunderstandings that might crop up with non-native speakers. You don't realize how strange and complicated the language is, and how much it is constantly changing, until you find yourself trying to explain the meaning of certain turns of phrase. Eventually, you just try to speak basic textbook English, to make it easier for the people who are nice enough to spare you the pain of struggling along in their native tongue.

And then you come back to the States.

I came back, and was excited to be able to speak at will, to hear and use words with many syllables and hard-to-define meanings. I soon realized that in four years of trying to learn German and speak simplified English, parts of my English-speaking brain had gotten a little bit rusty. Even now, a year later, I sometimes find myself searching for a word, fumbling around in a dusty corner of my brain, thinking, "I know there's a word for that, now where did I leave it?"

And idioms. Idioms have proven to be just as tricky as words that had been put away for safekeeping.

Note to self: Having a "wandering eye" and having a "lazy eye" are two very different things, and one should avoid saying that someone has the former, when they actually have the latter.