Tatiana Warkentin, another home-bred Canadian prairie writer living in Switzerland, is pushing her way through a blog-challenge to post a blog every single day of this month. She’s doing it with the aid of the alphabet and she’s doing great, although, she appears to be sledding through a tough virus at the moment that threatens to knock off her resolve. You can check out her funny, wrenchingly honest blog at The Dubious Hausfrau.
One of her recent posts sought to uncover the veil on this glamorous jet-setting lifestyle by admitting she watches a lot of television. I applaud this: Wasting time is how the most important creative work gets done.
Her idea seems like a good one, and so I’m copying it so that I don’t accidentally fool anyone into thinking our lives here are spent swimming in cheese fondues, conversing in foreign languages and dining on chocolate in many forms. Here are the highlights from my normal weekday. You can skip over what follows without fear. I call it “highlights,” but if you read it, you might call them lowlights.
- Check emails, Facebook, read news on the web.
- Write/edit for two or three hours.
- Exercise for 30 minutes. I can’t do this any longer without lapsing into a comatose state. I get through it by watching a television serial such as Downton Abbey or The Big Bang Theory. A friend can testify how bored I am because she happened on me during a circuit weight session at my cottage where she discovered I talk to myself, counting out repetitions and cheering myself to keep going.
- Hang out the morning laundry, sometimes go high-tech by pointing fans at it (see above).
- Clean up the hotel room.
- Check the mail, which happens to be where the hotel staff go for their cigarette breaks, so I spend some time chatting with them. They are dedicated to schooling me in the ways of the Swiss; a testament to the tenacity of these people, but then, they have rebuffed the French, Germans, Austrians, Hungarians and Italians from taking over their country, so what else could we expect from them?
- Head out for the midday shop which almost always entails some mortifying communication problem where someone tries to speak to me in German or French. This is a daily reminder to be nice to immigrants when I return to Canada. I have, by the way, always been nice to immigrants, but once you have been an immigrant you realize that what looked like nice to you was not as nice as you could have been. Immigrants need every bit of encouragement they can get.
- Engage in a choppy French conversation with an eccentric old woman who likes people to admire her rum-coloured poodle named Candy.
- Return to hotel room. Read blog draft, remember that it has a few pre-teens reading it, gasp in horror, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, then post it.
- Walk down to lake and stare at swans. Take note of daily routine of town drunks and drug addicts.
- Surf the local stores for sales: A necessary survival skill in Switzerland where most things are priced beyond the worst nightmares of most Canadians and Americans.
- Go on another walk along the canal where I stare at the ducks.
- Take down laundry.
- Phone home or online chat with friends in North America who are just waking up.
- Write some more.
- Greet Dave, realize I have not made dinner again, watch him cook a prepackaged meal (I will explain this another day).
- Go for another walk with Dave who is very good at steering me away from drunks and drug addicts, which makes me wonder whether I pay enough attention to my surroundings. Just yesterday he pulled me away from a trajectory that would have put me too close to a man who was attempting a personal relationship with a woman featured on an advertising poster in our town’s main square.
- Back to the hotel where we read emails, surf the web and sometimes sneak up to the hotel fitness room to scarf more towels. We are supposed to get by on only two bath towels a week, a starvation-level allotment if ever I saw one, so we bulk up our supply. The hotel staff know we do this, take away our extra used towels without comment, and look the other way. Bless their hearts.
- If I am in an obsessive writing state, I will do some more of it.
And that is our exciting life in Switzerland.