Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Anal-Retentive Observations of Dubious Relevance

Bon jour indeed! Today is my day off, it’s spectacularly bright and sunny, and I feel inspired. Tomorrow I attempt my first paid teaching gig, three hours a day to start. How is it that it took me so long to find a flexible line of work? Damn if that’s not the quality of my life going up in a hot air balloon…! There is much to convey of a very important nature, i.e. of life and love, but for now I will indulge my tendency for anal-retentive observations of dubious relevance;

As we prepare to say goodbye to what is essentially the best month of the year; as the chill slowly penetrates more and more layers of my clothing; as I give up and finally spend 20 excruciating minutes blow-drying my hair, I have found myself contemplating the merits of the metro.

The biggest (functional) difference between the Montreal metro and the DC metro is that the one in Montreal doesn’t have the mini digital billboards to let passengers know when the next train will arrive. Let's consider this further.

I mean, getting to the metro station and not knowing whether you will be waiting for two minutes or twenty-two minutes for the next train would really suck, wouldn’t it? Add in the fact that you probably have somewhere to be, and, if you’re me, you also tend to bolt randomly from trains (which generally results in a few more repetitions of the scenario and a quadrupled travel time), and the idea of just not knowing seems almost psychologically cruel.

In DC, you know exactly how many minutes you will have to suspend your uber-important schedule: two minutes, seven minutes, maybe even fifteen, but at least you know it will be fifteen. You can settle in with a good book if you want. More options and less stress equal better deal, right?

But in the end, it turns out that neither system is more efficient. Everyone still waits what they would have waited either way, whether they knew how long it would be or not. So the total time spent waiting is the same in both cases, meaning no time is actually saved. Thus, metro efficiency is the same in both cases.

The only real difference is that the people in DC feel better about themselves while they wait. Knowing to the minute how long it will be helps people feel like they have more control over the details of life. Sadly, this is an illusion.

Judgment: both metros are equally efficient, but the DC one also promotes mental dependence by encouraging everyone’s personal delusion of control. Non-psychologically damaging metro system: plus two QOL points.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ciao from Moreal…

As you might imagine, things are cooling off in the city (today is 5 degrees). The trees have been shedding leaves for at least a week and, mixed with the steady supply of rain, most streets are carpeted in layers of dirty, soggy leaves. It’s all so organic.

A couple of notes on the ORFFM (Operation Relocation Fact-Finding Mission) Part I: Montreal:

I find that Montreal, and especially downtown has a distinctly alternative feel. This is, of course, after six shocking months of life as a DC peon, and must be taken with a little lime. I’ve stayed North, East, and now West of Centreville and I’ve had a feeling throughout that not only is the mix of people feel quite diverse in itself, but they are also dressed more randomly. Almost an “anything goes” philosophy. Some people really get into their appearance, but the point is if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. What you wear, how you look, and whether you groom is more of a non-issue.

Minus another life detail: Plus 5 QOL points.

The Winter Factor (TWF). On the other hand, one tenet of life in Montreal has finally become clear to me. As I now understand it, Montrealers must be AT ALL TIMES prepared for every possible emergency that could possibly occur outdoors. For example, what if you get a flat tire in the winter? What if it’s forty below? What if all the petrol stops are closed and it will take you an hour to walk to the nearest help? Will you live to see another day? NOT IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

That’s right. if you are not properly prepared with the proper gear and equipment at all times, you can DIE. This is a fact. And the chances of LOSING IMPORTANT EXTREMITIES like noses, fingers, and ears are much, much higher. The lesson here folks is that weather can kill. That’s why we have to educate ourselves about weather and how we can protect ourselves. (This has been a Public Service Announcement of the Coalition to Educate Southern California Natives(CESCN).)

Winter season may cause death: Minus 50 QOL points

The Swiss Contingent is living it up on sick leave and plans are in the works for New Year’s Reunion 2005: New York City. Theme: Nothing but Blue Sky

Time is running out kiddies and I’ve got to run. Nausiated by my Bleak Future has just signed in and now that I’ve chuckled myself silly about it, I must return to the front lines of teacher education. Until next time,


Monday, October 17, 2005

Tabernac! It's been six weeks since I last blahgged!

Once again I have managed to reinvent myself, in the most charming city of Montreal. A fine North American metropolis deliciously painted in all things French, starting with the language. Montreal is a city that dares me to adopt it, something I fantasize about, but the jury’s still out on the weather factor..

My Southern California heritage has not prepared me for things like the need for expensive and cumbersome weather gear. And those worrisome stories of frozen boogers and eyelashes keep me skeptical, okay afraid, of temperatures that drop to minus thirty in February. (What is minus thirty anyway? Any temperature that significantly hinders the body’s ability to function can’t be healthy…right?) And as someone recently pointed out, Montreal is still snowing in April while much of the continent is well into spring. I’m not quite sure what to think about that...

For better or worse, I’ll be gone in December, so for now I am simply basking in the relief of living in a city that isn’t a vortex of greed and karmic poison. On the contrary, Montreal feels refreshingly neutral. People here don’t go out of their way to be overtly friendly, as Southern Americans might, but it’s not because they are angry. Montrealers seem to prefer a simple, practical coexistence. Imagine that.

For the first time in a long time, I can say that I feel comfortable in my surroundings. I feel a subtle yet significant sense of relief, my breathing is a little deeper and my awareness a little sharper. I am not frustrated, and this feels very, very good.

My respite here in Montreal will pass too quickly, and soon I will be heading back to the district for another go. How long I will last there or where I will go next is pure speculation at this point. For now, I’d like to make a simple toast;

To the love of family and friends, to making others’ lives a little more bearable, and to the ability to suffer confusion and emerge with renewed focus.