I am sorry for the couple of blogless months. I hit a Winter slump.
It is hard to explain to someone who doesn't live in Switzerland, but January and February are difficult here. The mountains are often covered with fog, the air is chilled, and the Luzern feels a bit empty and slow. Hodge and I have found that when the fog is thick and we can't see our local giant from our windows, (Mt. Pilatus), we get a little down. Add to the mix my frustrating job search and my constant battle with learning German, and you've got yourself a bit of a mess.
Anyway, the Spring has arrived here ever so slightly with warmer air and the smell of cows, (what causes this exactly?), and I am once again up to writing my blog. So here are some highlights from that past few months:
People seem to always be saying that Switzerland is boring. That's because they haven't been to Fasnacht. Fasnacht is like Las Vegas in the form of a holiday. What happens during Fasnacht, stays at Fasnacht. Literally. A friend told me that in old Swiss law you couldn't ask for a divorce based on anything that transpired during the five days of Fasnacht. The easiest way of describing it is categorizing it as the Swiss version of carnival. This is sort of true...but also inaccurate. It is its own thing, highly different from other carnivals, and is hard to understand if you don't see it in person. I'll try to describe it for you.
It all starts with a big bang at 5am on "Dirty Thursday", which officially begins the ceremony. Everyone in Luzern is awake and already drunk. See below.
The Swiss get in touch with their darkside for 5 days, and Luzern becomes almost unrecognizable. Confetti and beer cans litter the streets. Music blairs into the late hours of the night for five straight days. People wearing masks scream and sing in ways that they never otherwise would. It feels like there is total freedom to be as dark, disgusting, and offensive as you want. In fact, I observed public urination for the first time EVER in Switzerland. Finally.
The costumes were amazing. I saw zebras, giraffes, Romeos, queens, cats, babies, (two teenage girls very creatively put booze in baby bottles and were happily drinking away), Arab kings, penises, (yes, giant stuffed penises), and a Swiss farmer with a blow-up doll. And these fat fairies.
Everyone dresses up in costumes, and there are several parades with creative and sometimes very political floats. Here is a particularly creepy one below.
In addition to all that, there are hundreds of small bands that play in the parades and also just wander around town playing endless music. It is called "Guggenmusik,"and it is basically pep-band style groups playing purposefully slightly out of tune. My high school band teacher would have been most horrified.
So that was Fasnacht. It is tons of fun and a wonderful way to break up the foggy Winter here. I dressed up as a pirate and Hodge dressed up as some sort of 17th century peasant. There is something truly magical about that week, and if any of you reading this could make it to Switzerland during early February, it is well worth the trouble.
The Job Search
Hodge and I are networking like crazy here and getting my CV into companies and NGO's like you wouldn't believe. I have to say, in spite of the fact that I have yet to get a job, I am proud of us. It is a brutal thing to receive emails every day telling you that you didn't get the job. This is my daily reality and I've had to be tough about it. In building up my toughness, I've found that a little bit of humor can really take the edge off. Here are two responses that have disappointed me, but also made me laugh.
"Unfortunately I can't help you. My office is personally and spatially not extendable."
"I was wondering which of the two positions you applied for. Actually you don't appear qualified for either."
I wake up to this sort of message nearly every day. Lovely.
I went skiing in Colorado when I lived in Denver, and I was able to do the intermediate slopes. Well, that was two years ago, and apparently I've forgotten everything I ever knew about it. Hodge and I went skiing the other day, and I could barely get down the bunny hill. I fell three times, and had about four nervous breakdowns at the top of a slope that I felt was too steep. I had no control over my rental skiis...and it was miserable. The truth is, I need lessons. But I mention this because I would like to publicly thank my poor husband for putting up with my antics that day. It was bad. I cried twice, cursed to the high heavens, and if I had been able to get close enough to a cliff, I would have certainly thrown my skis off of it in a blind rage. Hodge was nothing but kind to me...constantly trying to give me advice and encouragement. He sacrificed most of his ski day helping me...and he could have been doing all sorts of more advanced and fun things. That's true love. Thank you Hodge!