Month: January 2016

When the lights go out…

See the city's ripped backsides

See the city’s ripped backsides

My mother often lies awake at night dreaming of winning the lottery and what she’d do with the money. She’s got it all worked out. How she would only tell a select few people, how she would quietly deposit an equal amount in all three of us kids’ bank accounts, give some to charity (anonymously) and then her and dad would disappear off on an amazing round-the-world-trip (1st class all the way, natch). Or something. I forget the details; I think she’s constantly refining it anyway. For myself, I seem to spend those sleepless moments lately worrying about what I’ll do when the lights go out. Hardly compares, does it?

What’s lights out?

Another day, another end-of-world scenario…  I’ve read a couple of novels recently that were a bit too close to the bone about this “lights out” situation (slight plot-spoiler ahead…) Station Eleven was one and another was the final part of The Bone Clocks. In my own summation – Lights Out is what happens when we reach the tipping point – when we’ve used up most of the oil and the generators (be they coal-fired, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro or whatever) can no longer cope with the increasing demands of our “always on” society. There’s trouble from the constant streams of refugees, who are mostly fleeing political or environmental situations the rest of us have in some way contributed to… The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good wo/men to do nothing… as they say.  The environment’s fucked because we didn’t try hard enough and we’re all too fond of our comfortable lives – leave it for the next generation to deal with, I worked hard for this. We’re flying everywhere, we’ve got disposable everything, mascara has batteries and half the world’s turning into a dustbowl to support it. While we lucky few live lives of incredible wealth and ease, whole chunks of the population live in shantytowns and pick over rubbish heaps – forced into an existence as human-size carrion cockroaches.

So the lights go out. The internet falls over. Chaos ensues. You know the situation. Roving gangs of martial-law or anarchist heavies start roaming around looting, raping, killing… You’re either with them or against them and even that probably won’t do you much good if you’re in the wrong place at the right time.

So what am I doing about it? Well… a big fat nothing. I feel like instead of writing about hot tubs with Matterhorn views, I should probably be taking courses in survival skills. I would love to know how to kill and pluck a chicken, milk a cow, make cheese from scratch and light a fire MacGyver-style. But it all seems so unlikely. And yet, as though it could happen at any moment.

The thing is, we’d be pretty sweet in Switzerland… for a while. Most of the power is hydro, which (I assume, without knowing very much) won’t fail immediately. The country is surrounded by mountains and is pretty inaccessible. The society is fairly stable. There are lots of cows to eat.

But then, part of me doesn’t want to be trapped in Switzerland when the lights go out. I’d rather be back “home” in Australia. Because once the planes stop flying and the telephones no longer work. I’ll be cut off. Forever. My old friends. My family. I don’t know if I can face that. So, I’ve told Himself that at the first sign of the apocalypse (is that a white horse or something?) we need to get on a plane and get out of here. Uh, Happy Australia Day – I hope you’ll be pleased to have four extra “refugee” mouths to feed!

Maybe it’s already happening. When I heard about the Zika virus in Brazil recently, it seemed like an end-of-days harbinger to me. (Why don’t we press pause on a whole generation in a BRIC country? Even better, why don’t we also make sure half the educated, parent-age people who DO have kids end up having to focus on those children’s special needs for the next xxx years rather than building a better world and solving some endemic problems?). OK, maybe I’m getting too paranoid. But that doesn’t mean it ain’t happening. (And we’re all conspiracy theorists to some degree, apparently)

Anyway – that’s my cheerful and (hopefully) lunatic fantasy for the day. What’s yours?

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I really hope I’m not writing about mountain-top jacuzzis when the Apocalypse comes.

The revolution will not be televised, but it will make for damn tasty clickbait.

Content, content, content, content, content, discontent, disconnect me… please?

 

What a headache. What a ‘mare. What a palaver. What a faff

#firstworldproblems

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The Moon and the Stars

Another Australian Women's Weekly special birthday cake

Another Australian Women’s Weekly special birthday cake

We’re into the swing of 2016 now. Although, in some areas of Switzerland, there’s an oldskool New Year’s Eve – Silvesterchlausen – today!  So I think it’s still appropriate to discuss my New Year plans (they’re not really resolutions), which involve some incremental changes that will (hopefully) make a significant difference to our lives here. Don’t get me wrong, things are pretty good. But I think they could be great. And I’ve given myself a 12-month window to achieve this.

So far I’ve made steps to do three new things – one involving work, more German lessons (finally!), and some exercise – so I think that’s a pretty good start. Now I just have to put in the hours and wait for the payoff. In the way that things suddenly become clear: after all that time last year agonising over work vs. German classes, I just kinda realised that what I really wanted was to do both, so I need to make that happen.

In other news, wir machen party… We had a little party on the weekend because it’s my birthday and the baby’s birthday soon. Plus the two daughters of a friend also had their birthdays around this time. It was so lovely! My local mummy mates surprised me with a present and it kinda pulled me up short. I’ve been bemoaning my loneliness and yet I have made some good pals here already. Not that the two necessarily cancel each other out but I do want to take a moment for gratitude and to say that I know I’m very lucky (or do you make your own luck when you make your own friends? A blog for another time maybe!). They sang me Happy Birthday in German, which felt like a small victory, and we all tucked into the cakes.

Back on the theme of Ch-ch-changes (Ok so Bowie died this week)…. At the end of last year, I read a post by this self-help dude Mark Manson that made a lot of sense to me. It basically says that, rather than pursing an idea of generic “happiness” to achieve your goals, you should instead ask yourself: What kind of pain do I choose to endure to get me where I need to go? Or, as he puts it: What flavour of shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because everything good involves sacrifice. And it got me thinking  that maybe one of the pains I’ve chosen is that of loneliness. It’s the tradeoff for living somewhere exotic that’s away from what you knew. There’s advantages to my path, of course. But the downside is being away from old friends and family. The people who know who I am and have forgiven me. The people who know I used to be this girl:

I used to be the organiser, you see. The eye of the storm, the centre of the wagon wheel. I got people together and I made stuff happen. Not entirely of course. But I was a little star, with my own gravitational pull. Here’s the thing, though: I actively stopped myself from doing that when I moved to London. Because why? The pressure got too much? It started causing more anxiety than it was providing enjoyment? It got too boring to be the one everyone would call to ask: “what time does the party start again? What’s the address?” Read the invite, lazybones! Or maybe life just got in the way? Once you’re no longer a self-absorbed twentysomething uni student, you actually have other shit to do than organise everyone’s social life. Anyway… who’s to say I could have recreated that sort of influence in a new country anyway, especially somewhere as full of Alpha Centauris as London. Who’s to say I would have even retained that status if I’d stayed in Sydney, as everyone got on with their own lives, wives and families.

Today I was stuck at home with a sick child (again!!!) and I spent a while looking through old photos of all the fun I had back in my 20s. I really did have ALL. THE. FUN. So much dressing up, so many parties, goofing off around the house or down at the pub with my mates. Soo many good times with all the wonderful creatures I called my friends, most of whom, I’m pleased to say, would still answer to that description. I even lived with the late, great David Bowie for a time during this period. He was on our wall. And he came to a few of our parties, dressed up as my pals.

David Bowie died on Monday.  End of an era – he was the (Goblin) king, an inspiration and a permission to all us misfits to let our freak flags fly. Showing us that you might even be hugely successful by exploiting your own special brand of weirdness. I do feel a lot of nostalgia for my Golden Years… But, just as Bowie’s not really gone, neither is that part of me, because that kind of magic endures.

And after this weekend’s party and feeling the love from my local buddies, as well as seeing my plans for 2016 start to creak into action… Well, maybe I am starting to create my own universe over here in Switzerland. These are also golden years.  Let all the children boogie…

 

Dancing

Mountains: I think I finally get it

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New year ahoy! I approached the start of 2016 full of plans for the new year. I figured now that my baby is nearly a toddler and we’ve been in Switzerland for two years, I could get stuck into a few projects as well as getting out and about a bit more with friends and such. However 2016 has also heralded an unwelcome return of those black and yellow dogs – depression and anxiety. Not quite sure why – something about overhyped expectations maybe? Or the fact I still seem to feel lonely no matter how much socialising I do (OK so it’s not THAT much but still…) But let’s stop right here, that was just a little segue in case you wondered why I’d been quiet of late (oh, you didn’t? Oh… okay…). And I don’t really want to talk about that.  I would prefer to talk about mountains.

I may have mentioned in the past that Switzerland is quite an outdoorsy country that’s full of outdoorsy people and and since I’m not, I do wonder if I’ll ever truly gel with this place. Himself loves The Nature and in the past year has started doing regular mountain hikes, which he finds is an enjoyable “me time” break from the everyday. Oh wait, I had some “me time” right before Christmas, do you know how I spent it? Catching a train for 1 hour to meet another parent to buy 5kg of secondhand Duplo off them. Then I caught a train for an hour back home. I also had Burger King. Wooh. Rock and roll!

But I digress – mountain climbing – as well as getting away from it all, you’re seeing stunning scenery, plus a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise etc, what’s not to like? Well… I’ve recently realised that for me, who spends way too much time alone already due to working from home, or with only young children for company, the ideal “me time” – actually, can we ban this term now – the ultimate Good Time is preferably spent with other adults – it’s just the way I am: an extrovert who needs to bounce off people. I’m OK on my own but my best times are with people I love, and/or who make me laugh and/or who I can have an interesting conversation with and/or who are champion drinkers. A combination of all these is the ultimate, obvs.

Anyway – so we had our niece and nephew staying and we went up this mountain (Mount Titlis) and I was blown away. It was a bit of a faff to get to, involving three trains, a walk and two cable cars but… wow. I think now I see how this can be addictive. It was funny because to get on the cable cars, there’s a bit of a crowd, right? Most people clomping along in their ski boots (to this non-skier, they looked very uncomfortable to walk in, but I guess it’s worth it). Anyway, I felt a bit guilty, as I always do, being in the way of civilians with our giant buggy and travelling up to the ski fields as mere “pedestrians” (as we overheard some guy in the queue grumpily calling us – he was Australian of course!)

But as we crowded onto the second cable car to begin the final descent, everyone’s faces suddenly got happy. We were looking out over this incredible vista of mountain peaks and the sun was shining off the sparkling snow, the sky was blue and everyone was grinning from ear to ear – like we were lovers who shared a secret: How good is this?

We had such a wonderful day up there above 3,000m (or 3 kilometres, as my nephew was tickled to note) where the sun always shines (I guess – it’s above the clouds, right?). I think I finally get why people are so fanatical about mountains. Maybe Himself is onto something. He’s usually right about these things, damn him. So, while I may be dogged by loneliness even when I’m among friends; clawed by anxiety over my “hands-off” 1970s parenting style (it’s all cocktails and swingers’ parties… yeah right) and beset by depression over where the f*ck my life is going, maybe it’s not so bad after all. I’m here, you’re here, there be mountains… Happy New Year.