I’m not dead yet! This may very well be my favorite line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail –  it’s a close tie with Silly English kuhniggits! and Run away! Run away! Spoken with the proper accent, each phrase has served me well in response to a variety of situations I’ve encountered across the years.

You might very well have wondered about my status, since my last post was about a month ago. I saw my trusty CTO Dave not long ago on a trip to the US, and the issue came up.

Dave: You haven’t posted much to Gydle lately.

Me: I don’t have anything to say.

He shrugged, and that was that. Yesterday he sent me a comic from the Oatmeal that explains it much better than I did. Make sure you scroll down to the part that says “I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have anything to say, you shouldn’t be talking. And if you don’t have anything to write about, DON’T WRITE.”

See, I didn’t post anything because I didn’t want to crowd your precious cyber-attention with useless drivel. Wasn’t that thoughful of me? You’re welcome.

But in the spirit of closing out the year, I have put down my box of chocolates and my novel (Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver – I really like it, but then I like almost everything I read).  If the Republicans can work on Sunday to avert a fiscal cliff, I can certainly make an effort.

The main cliff we appear to be plunging off at the moment is yet another installment in the saga otherwise known as The Parlange Family Globe-Hopping Adventure.

We’re moving to Vancouver.

Next summer I am going to be once again in the land of Costco and Whole Foods and English language television, although since this is Canada, it’s the high-tax, government-sponsored health care version. (Suits me fine, since it also means we can finally stop giving the IRS a sizable chunk of our income every year even though we don’t live in the US, we don’t earn US income, and we don’t own a single thing there.) We made a visit in December and I was smitten  – friendly people, lots of trail running opportunities, did I mention Whole Foods?

I am, at heart, an adventurer, otherwise I would never have married such a flighty man. Every time we’ve uprooted ourselves I have been a willing participant, even on occasion an instigator. But this one is going to be tough. Granted, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Switzerland at the moment. I have made some very close friends here, more so than anywhere else we have lived. I will miss them with every ounce of my being and it’s only because Skype and airplanes exist that I’m even considering this. On the other hand, I recognize that no matter how long we live in Switzerland, I will never be anything other than a foreigner, and no matter how good my French gets, the everyday language around me will never be my mother tongue. Those things get to me more than I’d like to admit. Then there’s the whole Swiss attitude towards wild animals, which drives me totally bonkers.

Only hitch is that Luc still has one more year of high school left, and he’s finally happy at school here now that we’ve pulled him out of the public system. When I was a senior in high school, my dad took a job in Washington, and I gamely followed them into the jungle of suburban Maryland. It was a complete and utter disaster. In December, shell-shocked and shaken, I retreated to Los Alamos with my mom and finished out the year with my class, forever marked by the “B” on my report card from the horrible goggly-eyed Maryland calculus teacher.

On the other hand, the experience vastly simplified my college search, since it enabled me to eliminate the entire east coast of the US. I certainly didn’t want to run the risk of encountering any of those kids in college. In fact, I even applied to their most coveted choice, Amherst, on purpose just so I could turn them down if I got accepted. Which I did. Take that, snobs!

It wasn’t a disaster for my parents, because going back and forth from DC to LA that spring, my dad built up a truly massive frequent flier balance. In fact, I think my mom is still cashing in on it.

But DC to LA is a time change of 2 hours and a 5+-hour flight. Geneva to Vancouver is a 9-hour time change and a 20+-hour flight. It took me a week to recover from jetlag on this last trip. That’s not something one does every few weekends, carbon footprint notwithstanding.

We’re still working out the details, but I am almost 100% sure that the kids in Vancouver will be nicer than they were in Bethesda, and it looks like Luc and I will move with Marc this summer.

I still have an extremely deep-seated aversion to the college search process, though, and both my children are paying the price. Brendan got into college automatically just by graduating from high school. He’ll stay here next year, on his own. He’s almost 20, after all, and we’re slowly driving him insane by insisting that he wake up before noon every day. Good riddance, he thinks.

The upside is that applying to college in Canada is not as insane as it is in the US, and if Luc gets decent grades on his IB exams he will get into a good university. So there’s a good chance we will be able to get both boys launched into college without having to make a single campus visit or going into a lifetime of debt. No, I’m not mother-of-the-year-award material, but I’m okay with that, and have been ever since I plonked Brendan down in front of Firefighter Joe at the tender age of 2 so I could have a half hour of “me time.”

The other consequence of this move is that if you want to come and visit us in Switzerland and take advantage of a free bed in this outrageously expensive country (breakfast is strictly do-it-yourself, i.e. open the fridge and see what falls out), you’d better hustle. Brendan’s flat is likely to be 1) too small and 2) a total disaster.

So there you have it. I’ve been very preoccupied with all this, and my creative juices ran almost totally dry.

The good news is that while writing this post, I had an idea for another post! I’m not going to spill the beans, but here’s a hint: garbage.

PS I took this picture of the Vancouver skyline this December using my iPhone. It really is that beautiful.

11 thoughts on “Vancouver!

  1. Hi Mary,

    I’ve missed your missives and the personal bent that you give them. As an honorary Canuck, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunity for stimulation of the creative juices. To me, Canadians seem to have a national obsession with being genuinely more friendly and accepting of people than their southern neighbours, and certainly more so than the stolid Swiss. Of course, my impressions may be a little coloured by the Chardonnay I’ve been drinking.

    While not having experienced your jetsetting lifestyle, I am familiar with the disruption of major (and frequent) moves. I found that it took time to get may head around new job positions and living environments, although I loved the adventure of it all. My children had far more difficulty, in leaving friends and finding their way in new places.

    Please keep us all informed of how things progress (yes I realise the move will take place next summer).

    Forgive any alcoholic incoherence in this message.


    Les K

    • Thanks, Les! It’s nice to know I’m missed. Stay tuned for some more garbage.

      Our kids are kind of used to it, in fact, this jaunt in Switzerland is the longest we’ve ever stayed in one place (it’ll be 10 years total this summer). I noticed how nice the Canadians were and coming back to Switzerland it struck me even more how reserved people are here. And what somber and staid clothing they wear, too. After San Francisco, though, anything looks regimented.

      My experience with Chardonnay is that it puts a certain perspective on everything. A welcome one. Bottoms up!

      happy new year and thanks for being such a loyal reader!

  2. Yeah!!! You are only 5 hours away and on the “left” coast again. So, I’ll come up and help you unpack if you need/want me……I owe you that big time. Also we can introduce Luc to Keara (Tori’s daughter from Baltimore) who is a sophomore at UBC and can give Luc the student point of view without the usual college tour BS that we parents get.
    You are SO lucky to avoid the whole college admissions thing…a nightmare and we have loved having Annika @Reed with her dad, close to home and at no cost (although she lives in the dorms to take full advantage of the student life/experience).
    Welcome back.

    • I am SO looking forward to being able to visit you and Margaret in Portland, and my uncle in Bend! Marc’s sister lives in Spokane, so we’ll go there, too.

      I have heard Vancouver has great food, and we will have a great time breaking our 10-year asian-food fast next fall. (Asian food in Switzerland is terrible and muy expensive). You and Jay and company will have to come and partake!!

      And I definitely will take you up on an offer to help – you are SO good at making an interior look great and I seriously suck at it. I run out of patience, like with the weeds in the garden. I just give up and go find a book. We’ve lived in this house for 6 years now and I never got around to getting the drill out and putting some pictures up on the walls. I hate concrete. Good thing I didn’t, though, huh? now the walls are still virgin.

      We’re going out to Vancouver in February so Luc can visit the school we’ve lined up. Maybe we could take Keara out to lunch or something. I would SO love for him to love it so I don’t have to do ANY college tours. But we shall see.

      Looking forward to being on the left side of the pond/country once again. it’s been a long time!

  3. How exciting! That is wonderful! You will love living up there–great skiing, hiking, food, etc. And, I’m sure you’ll get lots of visitors you haven’t seen in a while : )

  4. Welcome back to the western hemisphere!
    Regarding moving your Sr yr in high school– I can easily visualize your experience as I had the reverse one. Moved from New Joysey to South Dakota, from a negative learning and social atmosphere in my particular old home town to one supportive of learning and healthy relationships in my new one. It would’ve been such a shock to go the other way. That move was one of the best things ever to happen to me. SD more than made up for its under-resourced schools by the respect kids showed for each other and teachers.
    I’m confident that Luc will have a wonderful time, and will look back at this coming year in Vanc as the best possible transition to college, as I did mine.
    May I also mention the joys of sailing in the San Juans and seeing Orcas?

    • Hey, Ben! Thanks for your optimistic words, it helps! Let’s hope Luc likes it as much as his school here. In any event it’s tough to leave friends behind. But he would have done that in a year anyway…

  5. We’ll be happy to have you closer to us! I had a lovely weekend in Vancouver once. Pretty nice for a city. You’ll still get to feel like an adventurer. Enjoy!

  6. Hi Mary, just want to know if you’ll keep blogging from afar? I was so pleased when I happened upon your blog (I can’t even remember how it happened now) to find such interesting writings on different subjects, so I do hope you’ll keep entertaining us,

    Jill (avid reader)

    • Hi Jill – and thanks so much for your comment! It does me good to know someone finds my ravings interesting! I will try to continue to blog from afar… if I can discipline myself, that is…

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