Note: Since I can never finish anything here, so it seems, I am just going to hit publish for this mess, and update it regularly. So, MESS warning… I will fix this when I FINALLY have enough time to myself. Maybe tomorrow…
So, today I snapped.
I partially melt down, here and there, because there is so little that is easy, comfortable, or painless, though everything is beautiful, glorious, exotic; a roller coaster adventure in Nounou-ism, de la maison et le chien, en Suisse. It took me days to figure out how to use my mobile phone because it is in French, and it navigates counter-intuitively, like the Blackberry I tried for two days and returned. After taking a picture of the washing machine dials and then sending them to a friend who is fluent in German, I finally did a proper load of laundry.
But I exaggerate only un peu; mostly it is Shangri-la here. I made a new song last night — when I had a meltdown-ette over the big, BIG, inexplicably huge and very loud, frog that now lives in my house; the tick I stunned with dissolvant (nail polish remover) and wrenched from Leon’s face; the giant hornet in the house which sounded like a helicopter; the broken ‘Insekt Tenschroter’, which means I now cannot kill the bugs and hear the popping sounds when they explode anymore (one of my favorite sounds); the big FROG in the house, redundantly rattling around somewhere in the pots and pans; the screaming cat who won’t eat her food… and etc — so my song, “I’m fou-uuuuu, fou for feeling so blue…uuue.” sung to Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’. Fou is crazy, in French. I am not really blue, just at times overwhelmed about everything that prevents me from getting sufficient rest.
Today I receive hope for all good times and no more discomfort, from the stars:
Hi Mo! Here is your Daily Horoscope for Tuesday, July 13
You’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all the crazy action going on around you, but there’s good news as well: you’re reaching the climax of this insane time. Things should be settled by tomorrow.
Adrianna, Creo que puedo encontrar la manera de llegar a mi casa desde aquí, así que está bien si usted desea ir a su casa desde aquí. Voy por mi cuenta. No quiero que usted tenga que caminar padre que es necesario porque hace mucho calor y una tormenta está llegando ahora. Eres tan dulce. Le doy las gracias por ayudarme. Estaré encantado de verte el sábado o el domingo, cuando próxima vez que vengas.
translation: –> “Adrianna, I think I can find how to get to my house from here so it is fine if you wish to go to your home from here. I go by myself. I do not want you to have to walk father than is necessary because it is very hot and a storm is arriving now. You are so very sweet. I thank you for helping me. I will be happy to see you on Saturday or Sunday when next you come.”– my note to the housekeeper, who helped me find the market, for the first time, after weeks of “going” there every day to get food.
It had all been leading to this juncture in the journey. Fortunately no one I knew was there to see it, well, except Adrianna, but she was not entirely listening and she does not speak English. (I didn’t actually yell any of this, I internally-musttered [love that typo! Mustered + muttered; keeping it] it, but for the sake of this post let’s say I quite firmly spewed it). <– Oh, the tangled grammatical webs we weave, when at first we set out to… relieve….? (what? my conscience? MY God says it is not so much a bad word, but rather a word that means, “exponentially, whatever I just said, like, to the
googol (aka, ten duotrigintillion, which is how many mosquito bites I have, to date, more or less, which the garlic tablets, evidently made of gold, are for)”, though it does have a naughty, naughty, angry sound. I mean it endearingly and frustratingly, and not literally.
And then, everything was fine. Hilarious even. The calm after the storm. By the way, a real weather storm is moving in and I am la-de-da-lighted! It is finally cool! I am comfortable! I am wearing jeans! socks! and even my Bearded Lady Piercings Sweatshirt! I made her a blog in exchange for swag, which is now the property of a few Genevans, and they will now send in photos of themselves wearing them in Columbia, Paris, and wherever they go, as a favor to me, because I talked my amiee Amiee (the Bearded Lady) into this blog, saying of course people will come and comment and send in their pictures! I digress a lot.
Anywho, the breaking point for me was, “Eighteen Fucking Francs for Garlic Tablets?! 50 FUCKING garlic tablets? For… 18 fucking francs!? FUCKING FRANCS!? GARLIC FUCKING TABLETS? CHINGANTE TABLETAS DE AJO? Putain 18 francs pour les comprimés d’ail!?” (I had made my shopping list in both Spanish and English, as Adriana helped me shop today. Usually I make it in English and French, but then, I come home empty-handed as I rarely actually find the market). As opposed to… whatever!? It – the opposite of anything — does not need any opposition; it is my illogical, ludicrous, POO TO THE GAZILLIONTH, Naughty Swiss Miss MELTDOWN. I forget what I am saying. I am losing it, un peu, a veces. Soon I will be staying at Belle Idée (Hôpital for Adultes Difficulté Sociale et Psychologique)!
I am not even certain off the top of my imploded head what a franc equals in American money; I just know that my entire groceries — including pate de whateverthefancyfuckingshmancykindofmushrooms that I had just bought — cost 70 francs, and NOW the pharmacist with her poo of english (“peu” is little, and is actually pronounced “pueh”, like a short burst of garlic breath. When I asked if she parlez vous anglais she replied, “un peu”. My french = 1/2 a poo, literally, and one of my pet peeves is how people say “literally” when they mean “actually”, so when I say “literally”, I generally mean literally, but all’s fair in an actual meltdown. I might not even be spelling peu correctly but at this point I am on a roll and will NOT stop to look it up. I am sicksicksick and tiredtiredtired of looking everything up. THIS is a meltdown; THIS is a situation we have here), sigh I no longer have any idea what to do to complete that pile of illiterate lint/”sentence”, with all it’s horrible, jaunty grammar; a reckless disregard for the structure and formality of language, and I am languaged-out. I lost that one. I have lost a lot lately; pints of blood, my way, the ability to sleep well, the ability to do laundry, the ability to figure out how to use my mobile phone…
So, to start at the very beginning (“a very good plaaaaace to start….”, a la Doris Day, which I am singing aloud as I type (have I mentioned that this is really a meltdown?). BTW, I know every word to every song on that album. IN ENGLISH.
Oh, and then the pharmacist said, sweetly, helpfully, “You take two tablets, three times a day!”
WTF?! I can do that math and it means I will be spending more on garlic tablets than pate during my month here.
So back to go, (or, Doh! — a deer)… Today I arranged for Adrianna (the housekeeper here) to go to the market with me, and to only do a perfunctory job of cleaning the house, because every day I take my Fiat Punto HSD out to find places and I circle endlessly till I get home, often empty-handed.
Oh, by the way, I am house and dog sitting in Switzerland. I don’t speak French. I speak some Spanish and am fluent in English, Spanglish, and jaunty grammar. I am in Loëx (pronounced Looh-AH), population 48 + me, and likely 4 dozen illegitimate puppies fathered by the unfixed, randy, Leon, but we’ll get to THAT part of the meltdown later.
I was (e-motion-ally) sick of driving in circles and sick of craps (the crepes I taught myself to make, which are actually pronounced sorta like that) and of living off the eggs from the hens and whatever I can pick from the gardens, so, as Adrianna comes on Mondays, I arranged for her to have a field trip with me as opposed to actual cleaning, and of course she agreed, she is being paid. Mutually advantageous. I think at first she was not terribly psyched as she was on her cell phone while she swept and mopped and I could swear I heard, “Americana Estupida”, followed by giggles, but I have learned to enjoy being paranoid here and as I call myself that, she is free to do so as well, with my blessing. Fair is fair. I love Adrianna. I look forward to Mondays.
We got in the car to go and at first it was awkward; I had only spoken a few paragraphs to her over the last 2 weeks and I am not exactly sure what tenses I had used and what I had said. I believe I said most things correctly but I might have skipped around tense-wise. I might have even said, “I am going to be so hungry last week so I thought I would have needed more food for my tomorrow day, and some killing things for the very evil swimming, which I had liked to have swum in yesteryear, which is part of the razor why I come here and kill mosquitoes, as well as grand batteries for my tenshooter.”
I have a tennis racket thingie that they gave me which is a bug electrocutioning thing and it says, “Electrk Tenschroter” on it. Swear. True, that. My favorite sound here — over the constant tinkling of the bells which the oh-so-sweet cows in the yard wear; over the myriad birds, including the one who does a wolf whistle, even when I am not in my bathing suit, every day; over the roosters; over the hens that make a sound like they are laughing hysterically at me when I tiptoe into the henhouse; over the crows that sound like horses whinnying; over the actual horses that go by, authentically whinnying; over the wind flowing through the wall of bamboo between my front terrace and the trail beside which I live, which so happily reminds me of riding an elephant in Chaing Mai in August of 1996 — as I have developed a bloodlust for revenge.
In actuality, I only have 200 or so bites. They hurt like bee stings when they happen. They then spontaneously combust into bleeding scabs. The crows have it wrong; I don’t look haute in my bathing suit, I look ravaged. Some of you have seen the pictures I sent privately. I’ll NOT be posting those. Many people can attest that any comment like, “Oh, they love me too!”, would be insensitive and irrelevant at this point. Anja – the woman who owns the house with her husband — presented me to the chemist the second day I was here, who Frenchly gasped. Aloud. And gave me sprays and lotions. It took only one day (in the Alps, I am actually having the time of my life) to get over 100 bites. Chemists/Pharmacists here seem to be mainly female, in my limited experience.
I had accepted this gig thinking many things, one being that I would swim in the pool every day. But it has since been abandoned and is now symbolic of my pain. It is very very hot here, we do NOT get a breeze from the Rhone which is like 50 feet away, and the pool sits rottingly, stagnant, full of standing water, where the “mozzies” breed like uber-bunnies. There is also a pond where they breed, which is fittingly Estanque, in Spanish. There are also no screens but for two of the windows in the entire house. There is also no air conditioning. No fan. Nada, zip. They are in the habit of leaving the door open all day to go in and out and to also let Leon — the swiss chocolate lab I am responsible for — in and out as is his wont or whim. Inside there are almost as many bugs as outside. I battle them. I had cleared out the house for the most part, with great effort, and then Anja’s teenage daughter came by to get some things and… left the door open. I almost sobbed.
So I have been waging an heroic war against the mozzies. I wear bug spray all the time and constantly refresh it. I take shots of apple cider vinegar as often as I can override my gag reflex, to change my PH balance. I have made traps in and out of the house out of two-liter plastic bottles so they go to lay eggs and die. I pick fresh rosemary from the gardens and boil it into a tea, and then soak in it. I spray every drop of standing water in the house with bleach and water. I make traps of vinegar, covered with foil, with a tiny puncture and they go in and die. I put antihistamine on the bites and never, ever, scratch. I keep all windows but for the two with screens shut tightly. I cover all empty wine bottles with foil with a single puncture so they also go in and die. I put tablets in the stagnant pool to kill them and stop the breeding. I wear a vitamin B1 anti-mozzie patch. I soak in baking soda and ginger powder to remove the toxins from the DEET and reduce the swelling. I mix pure Calendula with moisturizer lotion and slather myself till they fairly drown on my skin. I wield my Tenschroter and delight in the ZAP! which means they are fried. Before bed, I go around the house turning on the lights and then kill anything that gathers and/or moves around the lights or anywhere. I keep a double-broiler on the stove all day long, keeping honey-vinegar-water warm, with that aluminum foil with that good ole puncture in it so they go in and…die! And I take million-dollar garlic tablets.
So today Adrianna and I went off to the market! On the way there I gained courage, lost stage fright, and after a while we were chatting — me mimicking bilinguality — and she began to laugh with me, a sign to me of success with a foreign language. We combed the stores for tablets to put in the pond (Estanque, in Spanish, coincidentally, redundantly) which is safe for pets and fishes but kills mozzies and their eggs, to no avail. We scoured stores for gluten-free foods. We made fun of pissy salespeople. We had a lot of fun actually!
And then I felt bad because a storm was coming in and while she had offered to accompany me back to my casa, I did not want her to then walk farther than usual to get to her home in the city. So I said I am certain I can find my way home. I insisted she go home from there. She said, “Remember, to get home you just keep turning right; Derecha, derecha, derecha!” and I said, yes, I CAN do it! I will do it! and we kissed cheeks three times, as one must in Suisse, she left to wait for her bus.
So I drove home, turning right, and right and right, and then I was back at The Coop! I giggled, thinking Adrianna can likely see me from her bus stop and is likely thinking again, ‘Americana Estupida’!, and I quite delighted of that image. So I tried again, driving around the impossibly narrow swiss roads, grinning in the aftermath of my garlic tablet meltdown, and even laughing aloud, and again, I found myself at… The Coop! At the third arrival at The Coop, I was hysterical. On the fourth try I found myself on a dead-end street at which I often find myself, so I pulled a now-habitual, highly illegal U-turn and then, I noticed a car also U-Turning. I kept trying different streets and everywhere I went, this car was behind me. I studied the occupants, at a red light, in my rear-view espejo and they were two men in white shirts. I wondered if they had matching pants
Earlier I had said to Adrianna, in Spanish, “As I drive around in circles each day, talking aloud to myself in Francaislish, I often wonder if one day they will take me to Belle-idée!”, at which she looked at me to see if I knew what I doth said, and then she laughed and laughed. Belle-idée is a mixed-use geriatric and psychiatric hospital in Geneva. ;-)
The men in white shirts following me in endless circles looked young and clean-cut, so I pondered if they might be Jehova’s Witnesses. But they both had such a mad and intent grin on their faces that it reminded me of the creepy cover of an issue of Wallpaper I had at home.
So they keep following me and I keep over-imagining paranoid scenarios. It hits me that they are probably Scientologists! Because of course I have failed their usual, handy-dandy, “personality” tests which they give to potential converts, as reason to tithe away all their future earnings, and now I am hysterically laughing-afraid. So now I start turning only left (“Be like a Marxist, if you keep turning left all the time, you will find the market”, Claudia had advised me on my first day driving here) and they do as well. Finally I lose them, I find my house, and just get inside in time to beat the storm, only to find that the wind had blown my last roll of papel de toilette into the toilet; the one thing on my spanglish shopping list which I had failed to purchase. I can not even accomplish a shopping list with a minder in tow to care for me.
Ok, I am off to get lost in my Fiat Punto and eventually find the Pharmacie in Old Town, and get some Caladium Segium pills which Claudia has them holding for me – the only batch they have — which her co-workers say I must have, after she told them, “I have NEVER seen anything like it; the way the bugs attack Mo, you should SEE her”…
TO BE CONTINUED…